Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: After confronting the enigma of the basketball team captain and her best friend's fiancÚ about a lie, Yuriko hopes for nothing more than a quiet day at school.

 

Volume 2, Issue 4

"Small Victories"

 

"Yes!" Yuriko couldn't contain her joy as her test paper was handed to her. Flashing a nasty grin at Sawako-sensei, she reveled in the feel of making good against high odds. The math teacher glowered at her, but did not reprimand her. How could he? She had gotten a very respectable score on this week's quiz, and had answered all the problems he had given her correctly. It was with more than a little malicious glee that she had seated herself the last time, standing tall under the fierce gaze of the unpleasant math teacher.

Yuriko was gazing at her quiz with fondness, and wondering if it would be crass to hang it on her refrigerator when the teacher's voice shattered her idyllic mood.

"Yuriko-san, I expect to see you after school today. I will write a note to your coach if need be."

"What?" Yuriko was stunned. "But why?"

"I'll discuss that with you after school." Sawako-sensei turned away and handed out the rest of the papers.

Yuriko was lost in a funk the rest of the morning, responding only to direct questions from friend and teacher alike. Sayaka watched her with increasing concern, but said nothing until lunchtime.

"If you don't feel up to coming to dinner tonight, I'll understand." Sayaka said, as Yuriko toyed with today's bento. The weather was grey and cold, so her benefactor had brightened the mood of the lunch with a few candied flowers.

"What? Oh, no, no. I'll be there." Yuriko assured the girl. "I'll come by the writing club meeting when Sawako-sensei lets me go."

"What is that all about?" Sato asked. "He's not the nicest teacher we have, but he's had it in for you since you arrived."

"Yeah," Aya added, annoyed for her friend, "and today you did better than ever. You'd think he'd lighten up, if nothing else."

"Mmm." Yuriko muttered. She sighed. This week was not off to a good start, she thought. Mariko hadn't been thrilled when Yuri had told her that she had to cancel dancing, and she felt badly about that - especially as she had promised herself to include Mari in her school life. She stood. "I need to go run an errand, I'll be back in a little while." Without looking back, she strode out of the classroom, her hands in her pockets, and her thoughts far away.

***

Yuriko knocked on and opened the door. "Are you free?" she asked.

Ruriko-sensei looked up with a friendly smile. "Certainly! Come on in."

Yuriko seated herself with a sigh. Ruriko-sensei watched her curiously.

"Having a bad day?" The coach inquired.

Yuriko nodded. "I was hoping...I thought...I could use a friend to talk to." Her voice sounded tired and demoralized,, even to herself.

"Of course!" Ruriko-sensei said. "I said I'd be glad to listen if you ever needed me. After all," she said shyly, "you've been listening to my sordid story for a while." She looked hard at Yuriko for a moment. "I got your note yesterday - is everything alright?"

Yuriko looked up. "Oh, that? That's fine. I have a dinner date tonight. My "sempai" wants me to meet the family." She smiled. "Sayaka is a very sweet girl. And tonight's the only night I can make it...I'm sorry for canceling our date."

The coach waved away Yuriko's concern. "Not a problem. Hey!" She looked around her small office with a grin. "I have an idea. We can solve both issues. I have a radio somewhere in here..." she bent over and rooted around in a drawer, grunting as she pulled out a radio. "Maybe a spin or two round the dance floor will take your mind off your problems."

Yuriko laughed at the idea. "In here? It's not like there's alot of room."

Ruriko-sensei kicked a pile of equipment aside. "Don't be silly - there's plenty of room." She laughed as she cleared a small space in front of the desk. She plugged in the radio, chose a station that was playing soft, slow music. "Not for a rhumba certainly, but..." She held her hand out towards Yuriko, who was watching her with amused fascination.

The blonde stood and placed her chair on the desk. Holding out her arms, she pulled Ruriko-sensei into a slow spin in time with the music. The coach was right - this did make her feel better. In a matter of moments, the two women were laughing at their attempts to navigate the cramped space. Several songs later, they parted, and Yuriko felt her spirits lifted completely. She pulled the chair off the desk and sat on it, still laughing.

"Feel better?" Ruriko-sensei's eyes were bright, and her face slightly flushed. Yuriko thought briefly that the young teacher was a beautiful woman.

"Yes," Yuriko said emphatically. "I do."

"You want to talk about it?" Ruriko-sensei leaned back, placing her feet on the edge of her desk.

"Hmmm...." Yuriko tried to frame her thoughts. "Well, let's see, short version? A good friend of mine is lying to his fiancÚ about something and he lied to me about it too, my math teacher hates me and weather like this gives me a pain in my shoulder."

Ruriko-sensei nodded seriously. "Wow, that's pretty tough. I get a pain in my knee, myself."

"Mmm." Yuriko sympathized, nodding with thanks as Ruriko-sensei handed her a can of tea. The two women drank with the satisfaction of the thirsty.

"Are you still having problems with Kaori-kun?" Ruriko-sensei asked.

Yuriko shook her head. "I ran into her here yesterday, in fact. I don't understand her, but I think we've come to some kind of cease-fire."

"Any idea why you rubbed her the wrong way?"

"Nope." Yuriko wisely did not resurrect her original idea about the situation.

"I think," the coach said carefully, "I may have an idea about that."

"Oh?"

The gym teacher threw her empty can into a trashcan across the room. It fell in neatly and they both commented "two points" and laughed at themselves.

"Well, she's alot like a chow."

"Huh?" Yuriko was more than a little confused.

"A one-person dog. Chows only get along with their owners, not their owner's family, or kids... I had a chow once and it hated my sister. Hated her. Wouldn't listen to anyone but me. My parents finally got rid of it when I went away to school, because no one could control it. But for me, it was a loving, sweet dog - as affectionate as could be."

"Ah."

"Yes." Ruriko-sensei said. "I'm not unaware that my students occasionally have crushes on me - one way or another. Mostly they're harmless. Role-model type crushes. I think," Ruriko-sensei pushed her ponytail back out of her way, "that you've impinged on her territory."

"I never even considered that." Yuriko admitted. "I walked in here and stepped all over toes I never even knew were there." She paused in thought. "That probably explains Sawako-sensei's attitude too."

Ruriko-sensei had the oddest look on her face. "You think so?"

Yuriko shot her a look. "Why? Don't you?"

Shaking her head, the coach declined to comment, but a small smile twitched at the corners of her mouth.

Yuriko pondered this, then stood. "Well, I have to get back to class. Thanks. I mean that."

Ruriko-sensei gestured dismissively. "I owe you - for more than dance lessons." She smiled. "Drop by anytime."

"Thanks." Yuriko said and left the office feeling better than she had in what seemed to her to be a very long time.

Continued