Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: While Yuriko learns more about the students around her, she finds herself increasingly uncomfortable in her role. To add to her feeling of unreality, mysterious lunches appear every day in her locker, along with the love letters that arrive daily.


Volume 1, Issue 14

"Melt Down"


"It was the weirdest thing," Yuriko sipped at her coffee and sat back in her chair. Mariko had the world's largest collection of comfortable chairs in her apartment.

"So, what exactly happened?" Mari inquired.

"Well, I told you about Abe-sensei, right? My homeroom and science teacher? He looks kind of rumpled, like a shirt that was left under a pile of other clothes for a long time." Both women grinned at the image. "But this week he hasn't been rumpled - he's been fraying at the edges. He looks as if he hasn't gotten any sleep at all. And I swear, every time I look up he's staring at me with this hungry look. It was really creeping me out."

"But I thought you said you thought he was..." Mari said.

"I did think so, but now I wonder." Yuriko sipped her coffee again. "Mmm, this is really good. Just what I needed, thanks."

Mari preened. "Always glad to provide what's needed."

Yuriko raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Mari poked her in the arm to get her talking again.

"So this morning, when he comes in, he looks like hell. I thought he might keel over in homeroom, he looked so bad." Yuriko paused. "I really felt bad for him, but the weird thing was..." she tapered off.

"That's twice now you've said that and stopped," Mari insisted. "*What* was the weird thing?"

"Well...I seem to be the only one who noticed," Yuriko said. "None of the kids even looked at him strangely. And Sayaka, who seems to have a good head on her shoulders, when I asked her if he'd been acting funny, she just shrugged."

"Maybe he's a drinker and this is just another binge." Mariko suggested, as she stood to pour more coffee. Yuri handed her cup over eagerly.

"Maybe," Yuriko admitted. "So, anyway, come science class, Abe-sensei is late, then very late and at last, almost 30 minutes into the class, the principal walks in and says that Abe-sensei has had an emergency at home and had to leave early."

"Maybe his...whatever…was sick."

"Maybe," Yuriko repeated. "I don't know, though...."

The two women sat in silence for a while. Mari watched her friend with some concern. Usually a natty dresser, she had come over in a worn sweatshirt, and her face looked a little drawn. Mariko put her cup down.

"Yuri - you're not looking so well yourself. It's nice that you are working hard at this assignment, but..." Mariko wasn't sure exactly what it was that she was worried about.

Yuriko grinned. "I'm fine, really. I came straight here from basketball practice. I'm just tired."

"Oh, how is basketball practice?" Mariko asked, her eyebrow lifted suggestively.

Yuriko waved away the implication. "If they were five years older, it'd be a whole different story. I feel like I'm working out with younger cousins." She laughed. "Only they treat me like I'm their junior, which in a sense I am - it makes for a strange dynamic."

"Any warming on the cold front?"

"You mean Yamamoto Kaori-buchou?" Yuriko asked. "No. Icy as ever. Luckily for me one Noda Mikan is the vice-captain and she's in charge of my training. Nice kid, bluff, strong, treats me like an equal. She's probably going to figure out she's gay in three years, spend 10 in bad relationships and resign herself to a life of coaching sports and living with her cats."

Mariko choked on her coffee. "Yuri!" she laughed, scandalized.

"Well, it's the truth," the blonde said unrepentantly. She set her empty coffee cup down. "So tell me, how’s Hachi?"

Something odd passed through Mari’s eyes for a second, but she smiled brightly. "Oh, he’s just fine. Busy." She waved her hand vaguely.

Yuriko looked at her stonily. "Hayashi Mariko, don’t try to pull one over on me. What’s up?"

Mari waved her concern away flightily. "It’s really nothing - he’s just been busy this week, with that new account. We haven’t had much of a chance to talk, that’s all."

Yuriko sat back again, nodding. "Feeling lonely?" She stretched out in the chair, extending her long legs in front of her. "I can understand that. So does Hachi. Just make sure he makes up for it, with interest," she grinned.

Mari returned the smile easily. "Oh! I forgot to tell you. I was in the ice cream parlor - you know, the one around the corner from the studio - and I saw a few girls from your school. They were talking about you."

Yuriko groaned. "What now?"

"No, no, nothing like that. One girl was praising you to the heavens. How gorgeous you are, how polite and funny - and that you write exceptional haiku."

Yuriko rolled her eyes. "About this tall?" She held her hand at mid-chest level. "Short, dark hair in a bob? Big eyes with stars in them?"

Mari nodded. "You know her?"

Yuriko rolled her eyes again. "Ohhhh, yes. Her name is Mie, she's in the writing club… and she has an enormous fangirl crush." Yuriko rubbed her face in frustration. "I just hope she doesn't make any trouble."

"She didn't look like much. Is she that bad?"

"Probably not." Yuriko admitted. "But there's something about her - some special quality of insipidity that really worries me."

Mariko smirked. "Start working on your polite rejection speech now…"

Yuriko nodded. "Exactly."

Mariko checked her watch, then stood. "And now I’m kicking you out. You have school tomorrow." She gave Yuriko a goofy grin. "And I’m sure you have homework to do."

Yuriko rose a little stiffly. "Ohhhh! All this sports activity is killing me." Mari laughed at her moans and unsympathetically hustled her to the door.

"Be careful, Yuri." Mariko said as her friend opened the door. "These kids have real feelings, you know."

"I do know." Yuriko insisted. "I wonder if they realize that about me."

Mari closed the door behind the blonde, and thought about that last comment for a long time.