Disclaimer: I do not own (or claim to own) these characters. Skip Beat! belongs to Nakamura Yoshiki and The Phantom of the Opera is property of Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber (and probably some more people, too). This is fan-fiction for entertainment (non-monetary) purposes only!

Timeline: ~Chapter 215. Directly post Guam, pre-Saena arc.

Author's Note: It's been like 9 years while I took a break to be a serious adult (booooo!) and also got a little disillusioned with the lack of progress on the Kyoko/Ren front. But seeing as it looks like that's maybe, finally(!) about to change, I figured it's now or never! Hopefully nobody has been waiting for this past almost decade. But if you are/did, at long last, I have delivered! Thank you so much for reading.


PROLOGUE

Sho plonked his empty beer can down on the coffee table, letting out a disgruntled sigh. The young musician rubbed a hand over his tired eyes and glanced at his phone. It was well past midnight. But instead of shutting down for the night, his brain kept playing and replaying the events from earlier that day in the parking garage.

"As far as Tsuruga-san is concerned, he's impossible as the object of my regard!"

Kyoko had made it vehemently clear that she regarded the actor more like 'Living Supreme A+ Acting Reference Bible' than 'Human Male'. But while she might be totally oblivious, it was clear to him that Tsuruga Ren wanted to be more than Kyoko's 'esteemed senpai'. For the tiniest fraction of a second, Sho almost felt sorry for the actor. Until he realized how satisfying it would be to shove Kyoko's words in Tsuruga's stupidly handsome face. Sho had even gone to the trouble of waiting around in the parking garage for the stupid actor. The popstar had been savoring the chance to humiliate his professional (and personal) rival. If only it had turned out the way Sho had planned.

"Get out of my sight."

Recalling the actor's savage glare made Sho shudder involuntarily. Tsuruga had looked like he was two seconds away from beating the shit out of the young musician. Beneath the 'gentleman' persona Sho had glimpsed the kind of person who was capable of breaking all your teeth and who had no qualms about doing it. He's a savage. Kyoko's definitely being expertly deceived by that guy. Sho clenched his jaw. How could Kyoko not see that Tsuruga was nothing like what he seemed on the outside? Trusting wholeheartedly in someone like that… she's an idiot, isn't she?

"For that, I will exploit even Tsuruga-san's kindness."

What kindness? If that girl hangs around that stupid actor so defenselessly, sooner or later Kyoko will seriously fall victim to him. There really should be a limit to how naive a person could be. Why was Kyoko such a defenseless idiot?! Sho couldn't believe he was wasting his energy worrying about her. It's not like I care! A plain, boring, unsexy girl like her. The musician decided to stop wasting his time that instant and go to bed, marching angrily down the hall, showing the empty apartment just how much he didn't care.

It's true. I don't give a damn if he likes her, Sho thought, lying in bed awake and still brooding. But if she likes him… That was one thing that Sho would never allow. Kyoko had declared she would never fall in love with Tsuruga Ren, but that wasn't enough. How could he be assured with just those words? Show me, Kyoko. Sho had to see it with his own to eyes, to confirm that she wasn't going to become some stupid, lovesick, Tsuruga fangirl. Sho yawned, finally satisfied with his solution. He drifted off smugly. I'll definitely find a way to make you prove it.