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
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
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
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.
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
"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
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."