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Beauty with the Beast

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This story should begin with once upon a time, but it doesn't. This story has happened in many different ways in many different places to many different people. Yet, each story is unique in its own way. This one is as well.

The story begins before either of the main characters were born. It begins with a young man marrying a young woman, both happy and excited for the future. A few years pass and the young man has become a successful businessman, finally owning his first business, a small but superb club called Sion, named after his Welsh wife. Two years later, his wife dies due to complications in childbirth, along with the little baby. The man, distraught, throws himself into work to try and ease the pain and forget. Years pass, and he adopts the son of his business partner, who died with his wife in a car crash. The young child reminds the man of what he has lost, and unable to bear it, leaves the raising of his new child to those who work for him. A few days after the boy's eighteenth birthday, the man is struck with a heart attack, leaving the now huge Sion corporation to his young son. The boy, knowing only the stark world of business, ruthlessly leads the company to even further heights, expanding even to the underworld of the city of Tokyo. By the age of twenty, he has made Sion known to all walks of life throughout Japan.

During a typhoon, after the man has exited his limo at his apartment, a little old woman walks in front of him and asks for help carrying her soaked grocery bags several blocks away to her apartment, offering a candle in return. His limo long gone, the man has no desire to help, especially when there is nothing to benefit from the action. He pushes past the old woman, striding firmly and quickly to his apartment, work on his mind. The woman calls again, but the man doesn't turn around. Once he reaches the top floor of the complex and enters his living room, he finds the old woman there, standing in front of the expansive window. Angry, the man quickly strides to the woman, but before he can reach her, she has become a beautiful young woman, with sadness in her eyes and down-turned mouth. The man, shocked at first, tries again to move towards her, but finds he cannot move at all. The woman tells him he failed, that he hasn't even a shred of human emotion or compassion; that he is nothing but a selfish beast. She places a curse on the man; rather than changing his appearance, the curse causes all those whom he interacts with to respond in the same way he acted towards them. She leaves him the candle, telling him that so long as it is lit, there is still a chance that the curse can be broken, but he only has ten years before the light goes out. In that time he must not only be able to feel and express his love, he will have to find someone who can truly love him back.

After she has disappeared, the man thinks nothing of the curse. He believes it to be nonsense, or that if it is real, that nothing bad will come of it; he wants those under him to work with the same determination as he has. He places the candle in a storage room and goes back to his work. It is only as he tries to find a lover that it dawns on him how his curse becomes a curse. Unable to express even the slightest amount of care or affection, he only receives coldness in return. Over and over again this happens, until eventually, he gives up, living only for work and power. At home, the candle now in a prominent place in his room, he watches it slowly, slowly melt the wax away, until the light has only a few months left to shine.