Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story so Far: Invitations abound! Yuriko has set up a tour of her studio, and Sayaka's invited her to dinner. Yuri has come up with a clever plan to suss out whoever's feeding her and life at Mitsukawa High seems to be settling down into a rhythm of sorts.


Volume 2, Issue 2

"In Check"


Yuriko glanced at her watch as she buckled it. If she hurried, she'd have time to stop by the producer's office and have a word with him. She grabbed her gym bag off the bench and headed out of the locker room, wishing the few stragglers from the basketball team goodnight. The cameraman tonight wasn't Namba, and he caught her as she left the locker room. Although she smiled at him, she thought she'd have to put a stop to that kind of thing. It was one thing to film her practicing with the team, but it wasn't fair to the girls to have these guys with cameras hanging around them. Particularly not just outside the locker room. Particularly this guy. The look he gave her made her shudder and she pointedly engaged him in conversation, drawing him away from the gym. She bid the cameraman goodnight, made a mental note to ask Onda-san about limiting the filming areas, and headed down the hallway.

She was three steps past Ruriko-sensei's office when she stopped in her tracks. Remembering that she had to cancel their appointment for the next evening, she turned in place and retraced her steps.

A muffled "yes" answered her knock and she stepped into the small room, expecting to be greeted by Ruriko-sensei. Instead, the stony face of the basketball team captain met her gaze.

"Excuse me," Yuriko stuttered, unsure of how to handle this, "I expected Ruri...uh, Matsumori-sensei to be here." Realizing this was no better, she tried again. "I just wanted a word with her..." Sighing, Yuriko gave it a rest. There was something so intimidating about this young woman that everything she said seemed awkward, as if she intended it to have some other meaning.

Kaori's eyes met Yuriko's. Her gaze was even, slightly intense, but gave nothing away. "Matsumori-sensei," she said with no apparent concern, "had to attend a staff meeting. She'll be back in a few moments. You can wait if you'd like." Her voice was polite, but distant.

Yuriko weighed her options. "I'll wait a few moments, if that's alright with you. I don't want to interrupt you." Her own voice sounded weak in her ears. She wondered why.

Kaori shrugged and looked back down at the papers in front of her on the desk. In mere seconds, she was once again absorbed in her work. Yuriko hesitated, then took the chair across the desk from the girl. A few moments passed and Yuriko glanced at her watch. She had time, but she wasn't sure she had patience.

Yuriko cleared her throat. "I appreciate you making a place for me on your team," she began. Kaori's eyes lifted slowly from her papers to meet Yuriko's. "I realize that I'm a terrible inconvenience - ruining the flow of your training for the tournament."

Kaori put her pen down and sat back. "Mikan-kun says that you have some real talent," she said abruptly. "But you say you didn't play in school."

Yuriko sat stiffly, shocked. Was that a compliment? "I, um, that is - I wasn't very athletic in school, no." Something nagged at the corner of her brain, but she couldn't place it. Something she was sure would unlock the enigmatic figure before her, if only she could find it.

"Why not?" There was no accusation in the voice, yet Yuriko felt as if she was being interrogated.

Yuriko smiled as pleasantly as she could manage. "I was preoccupied with other things."

Something flickered in Kaori's eyes, but nothing else in her face altered. "I see," she said and Yuriko knew she had been dismissed. Something snapped in Yuriko and she decided to take a more direct approach with the girl.

"Yamamoto-san," Yuriko kept her own voice bland, "have I done something to offend you? If so, I wish to offer an apology." She paused for a long moment. "If I have not, then I believe you are treating me with extreme prejudice."

The captain's reaction was unexpected. The tiniest of smiles appeared at the corner of her lips. "You have done nothing to apologize for, Yuriko-san." The captain paused, as Yuriko had, then continued. "And neither have I." Turning away from the blonde, the dark-haired girl filed the papers she had been working on, then returned her attention to the desk and her next task. Head down, she didn't look up when Yuriko rose.

Yuriko watched the dark head for a moment, then smiled. "I understand," she said. Pulling out a piece of paper, she wrote a note to Ruriko-sensei and laid it on the desk. "Will you see that Matsu...Ruriko-sensei gets this?" She slid the note forward.

Without taking her eyes from her work, Kaori nodded shortly. "Of course."

Yuriko opened the office door and turned back to watch the girl for another moment. Then she stepped back into the hallway and closed the door behind her. Pulling out her cell phone, Yuriko made several calls as she hurried to meet her car.


The door closed behind the blonde and behind the desk, Kaori unfroze. She counted. One minute, then two, and at last, three. Breathing hard, she sank, her face pressed to the desk. She could feel her control slipping and she let it go, allowing herself a moment or two to fall apart. A moment or two, and that would be enough. No tears this time, but her body shook and her throat grew tight. A moment or two later, her mask slipped into place as she sat upright. Looking across the desk, she caught sight of the note and once again, froze. As if her hand had a will of its own, the young woman reached for the folded paper and drew it towards her.

For a long time she stared at the paper as it sat in front of her on the desk. No one passing that small room would have been able to sense the tremendous battle of will taking place behind that placid face.

Yamamoto Kaori took a shuddering breath. She lifted the square of paper from the desk and unfolded it. Reading the few words, she felt her blood chill in her body. Her lips tightened. She returned the paper to its original shape and let it drop onto the desk.

When Ruriko-sensei entered her office a few minutes later, she found a note indicating the paper, written in Kaori's hand. "Yuriko-san left a note for you." What she could not see was a girl with an angry tear-streaked face that ran out of the school into the cool autumn night.


Yuriko thanked the producer for his understanding and cooperation, bowed deeply, thanked him again and walked with him towards the door. Onda-san wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, but he wasn't a lech or a jerk and that made him easy to work with.

"It's my pleasure, Yuriko-san," the producer assured her. "I've been watching the dailies with some interest. You've assembled quite a cast, haven't you?" He laughed at his joke, so Yuriko did too.

"Well, I want to get a good ensemble feel," she smiled.

"Yes, well, I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle the math teacher." Onda's smile was sincere, if at her expense.

"It's certainly easier with a script." Yuriko's reply was well rehearsed.

Concluding her business, Yuriko spent a few moments flirting with Onda's receptionist who bore it politely, but with no great enthusiasm. Yuriko was well pleased, though, having gotten all her requests granted. It definitely helped being the star of the next big hit show, she thought, as she left the office building.

The night was cold, winter finally having its own say. Yuriko shivered as she walked. Her apartment was across town, but the train station was just around the corner. The walk would do her good. She watched the salarymen scurrying towards their late dinners, the office ladies released at last from their duties and praised whatever god was responsible for her own life. It might consist of long hours and hard work, but her own time was truly her own, something she would never trade.

The smell of food coming from a noodle shop made her pause in the street. Her stomach grumbled in response and she laughed at her own simplicity. She looked at the harried faces eating in the window and the place lost much of its appeal. Looking around her, Yuriko noted that she wasn't far from Hachi's office building. She pulled out her cell phone.

"Yo, Hachi - dj'eat yet?" she said, with no preamble.

"Yuriko!" Hachi sounded surprised, but pleased. "No, as a matter of fact. Obviously, I'm working late."

"How about I bring something up with me?" Yuriko scanned the noodle house menu for a few good take out dishes.

"Sure - I'll be here."