Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story so Far: Yuriko had a wonderful date last night, and with the exception of Mari's premonition of bad things to come, is in an fine mood. She is also looking forward to coming home to a clean house.

Volume 1, Issue 22

"A Harbinger of Winter"

By the time Mariko and Yuriko finished their raids on the shops of the Ginza, it was decided by both of them that it had been a well-deserved little slice of hedonism. Mariko had bought several pairs of new shoes, a dress (that had raised Yuriko's eyebrows very high indeed, and prompted a comment about Hachi and his comeuppance,) and a coat for the colder weather. Yuriko had contented herself with a silk blouse and a new jacket, but in no way did she feel as if she had come out behind in the race.

Laughing, they deposited their bags in the hall of Mari's apartment as they removed their shoes.

"Did you see the look on that salesclerk's face when I bought the tie?" Mariko snickered. "I thought she was going to choke!"

Yuri grinned at her mischievous friend. "You know that's mean, playing with the saleshelp like that."

"I don't know what you mean," Mariko said innocently. "Just because I referred to you as my husband..." Mari laughed. "I just hate those stuck-up girls in the shops. They act like they do us a favor by selling us things. I didn't like the way they were looking at us."

"I know, I know," Yuriko said. "I know *exactly* how you feel about them - and so do they, now," she said sardonically.

Mari turned to look at her. "You weren't embarrassed, were you?" She peered hard at Yuriko, scrutinizing her friend closely. "You never used to get embarrassed when I did things like that."

Yuriko tugged on the hair that fell in front of her eyes in irritation. "I'm not embarrassed."

"Liar." Mariko shot back.

Yuriko blew out an exasperated breath. "It's not a lie - it's just  that...what if..." her voice faded.

"What?" Mari demanded.

Yuriko turned away and shoved her hands in her pockets. She took a deep breath and let it out. "Don't hit me." She turned around and faced her friend with an embarrassed grin. "I was *going* to say, 'what if one of my classmates saw you?'"

Mari stared at Yuriko for a moment, put down the tea cup she held, walked calmly over to the blonde and smacked her lightly on the chest. Without a word, she turned back to the kitchen area, picked the teacup up and resumed wiping it dry.

Yuriko watched Mariko, and thought about all the many things, good and bad that they'd been through and smiled. Mari looked up and, catching the smile, sent back one of her own.

"You're getting old, Yuri." Mariko said, affectionately.

"Don't I know it."

"And grumpy."


"And conservative."

"Hey! Wait a second! I'll accept the others, but not that."

Mari walked into the living room with a tea tray. "Okay, I rescind it. But only on the basis that I owe you one from this morning."

Yuriko shook her head as she sat. Mariko poured tea for both of them. "Am I really getting conservative?"

Mariko shrugged. "Probably not by other people's standards." She took a sip of tea as she considered. "Am I a worrywort?"


"Then you're not conservative."

They drank in silence for a few moments. Yuriko placed her cup on the saucer, folded her hands together and sighed. "I feel...ugh...responsible for these kids."

"I know." Mariko said calmly. "That's the way you've always been. When you meet new people, whether they like you or not, you feel responsible for them. You care very much about people. Not like me."

Yuri glanced at the other woman. "No, you care, but in a different way - deeper, more personally."

"Umm." Mari said noncommittally.

Yuriko glanced at her watch, which had beeped quietly. "I have to go - the cleaner's coming, and I have an engagement tonight."

"Going dancing again? On a school night?"

Nodding, Yuriko stood. "Well, Ruriko-sensei is new at the whole thing. She's not sure where to go yet. Plus she asked me to be her dance partner until she...well, you know. Anyway, we have to fit time into both our schedules, so..."

"Well have fun!" Mariko accompanied her friend to the door. A thought appeared to occur to her. "Hey - can I come with you next time?" She twirled as she spoke. "I'm not a bad dancer myself."

Yuriko laughed as she slipped her shoes on. "Sure, but remember, you'll have to lead!"

Mari stuck her tongue out. "Not if I find myself a handsome butch as a dance partner," she teased.

Yuriko pretended to fluff up her feathers. "Wait a second - you already *have* a handsome butch dance partner!"

Mari nodded, "Just checking."

Yuriko leaned over the step up to the apartment and kissed Mariko on the cheek. "Tuesday at 8:30 - get dolled up."

Mariko waved as Yuriko opened the door to leave. "I'll be in my new dress."

Yuriko turned, her eyes wide. "That'll definitely get you a dance partner," she exclaimed and closed the door on her friend's laughter.


The doorbell rang. Yuriko shuffled out to to greet her new housekeeper. She wondered if Kishi-san would have arranged for a cute, but easily distracted girl, or a plainer, more competent one. She made a bet with herself for the latter and glanced through the peephole. Distorted by the curved lens she could make huge eyes framed by long soft eyelashes, a delicate nose and a pair of the most beautiful lips she'd ever seen. Yuriko opened the door with a slight bow.

The voice that responded to her was soft, and the hair as the figure bowed was long and flowing. When the figure stood, she was surprised to note that it was actually male. The boy was unbelievably beautiful - a classic bishounen. Narrow waist, slight build, he was nearly her own height, with full lips and deep eyes that were simply captivating. Yuriko realized she was staring and invited the boy in.

Haltingly, unable to stop looking at him, she introduced herself and welcomed him in. Those deep eyes considered her for a moment before he spoke.

"I'm Ishida, Ryo Ishida. Nice to meet you." There was a quirk in his mouth that belied the sorrow in his eyes. She also noted that he had given his name western style.

Yuriko pondered the name. "I've met you before, haven't I?" She shook her head as she led the young man into her apartment. "I'm sorry - I'm usually very good with names and faces, but."

"We weren't actually introduced formally. I'm in the art club - I was there for the leaf viewing."

Yuriko gestured. "That was it. Your sketch was very good, if I remember correctly."

Ryo waved the compliment away. "It wasn't that good."

Yuriko rounded on him, affecting a fierce demeanor. "Let's get this straight, in my house I am the law. If I say you're good..."she left the rest of the sentence unfinished.

Ryo bowed contritely, but as he stood upright, that little quirk reappeared at the corner of his mouth. "Of course."

Yuriko gazed at him for a moment more, shook her head and turned towards the room at large. She gestured broadly. "I don't know what you were actually hired to do, but with the exception of those piles," she pointed to the table and stopped.

"Ryo." She turned to the boy and with her hands on her hips, demanded, "You wrote that note, didn't you?"

The boy turned red, but held her gaze. "I'm surprised you remember it. You must have received," he glanced at the tall piles of notes, and corrected his tense, "are receiving, a lot of them."

"Yours stood out, for several reasons."

"Oh?" Ryo clearly wasn't the type to give anything away. They looked at each other for a long moment, taking each other's measure. Yuriko made a sudden decision.

"Did you take this job out of curiosity, or do you need the money?" She asked suddenly.

Ryo looked nonplussed. "I, that is..."

Yuriko waved away his fudging. "Be honest."

"I need the money." Ryo's chin jutted out with pride. "I want to go to art school, but my parents won't pay for that so..."

"Fine." Yuriko said. "You're hired. And I have a side job for you if you're interested..."