Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story so Far: Yuriko's evening with the Akaishi family ended on a very emotional note, with Miyuki's offer of friendship; an offer which forced Yuriko to re-examine her relationship with her own family. Yuriko returned home to find a mysterious phone call awaiting her, telling her to watch for something important in her mail.

Volume 2, Issue 9

"Just Another Day"

Yuriko awoke oddly refreshed. Oddly, because she had been dreaming right before the alarm went off. All she remembered of the dream was being vaguely irritated, which made her mood that morning somewhat suspect. She decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth and promptly forgot about the dream.

She had showered and dressed before she remembered last night's puzzling phone call. While she ate a light breakfast, Yuriko picked up the phone, dialing Mariko's number. Surprisingly, no one answered. She must have stayed the night with Hachi. Yuriko smiled, since that meant they were once again speaking. With luck that little tiff had settled itself amicably.

Yuriko left a message on Mari's answering machine, followed by one on Kishi-san's. Her PA, what was her name, Hisayama, would probably follow up with her anyway, but she didn't want to piss Kishi off. She left her cell phone number, knowing full well that Kishi had it, and rang off.

On the way out the door, she taped the note to Ryo on her mailbox in the lobby. The boy had been coming by twice a week. Once to clean - at which he had shown himself to be both proficient and efficient - and once to deal with the dwindling, but steady, flow of love letters. Yuriko smiled. That had been the best idea she'd ever had. Ryo knew everyone it seemed. Yuriko had dictated a note of thanks, and Ryo sent a copy to everyone he could identify. He was doing a bang-up job, and Yuriko was mightily pleased with herself. PR was everything, Kishi had told her the day they met - and Yuriko had never forgotten it.

Yuriko whistled a pleasant little tune to herself as she headed down the stairs towards the waiting car. It wasn't until the car had dropped her off a few blocks away and she was approaching the school grounds, that she recognized it. She laughed at herself and raised her voice slightly. A few nearby students turned as she made her way into the school, singing her own number one hit to herself.


Sayaka and Aya had their heads close together when Yuriko entered. She greeted them both jauntily and was gratified to see their smiling faces return her greeting.

"Did you hear?" Aya asked, in a breathy, hushed voice.

"Hear what?" Yuriko asked lightly.

"About our new substitute teacher! She's..."

The girl's excited commentary was cut off as the bell rang and the door to the classroom slid open. Sato's voice called out for the students to stand and the substitute teacher entered to a suppressed gasp of astonishment from the class.

The teacher looked young - too young to be teaching, in fact. Her fresh-faced complexion made her look to be a high school student herself. She was short, without being tiny. But none of that caught the students' attention. What they could not stop staring at was the mass of red-gold pre-Raphaelite curls that flowed down the woman's shoulders and back. Her complexion would have been described as peaches-and-cream in another part of the world. Freckles dotted her cheeks and her smile, while not entirely innocent, was amused and pleasant.

"She's American!" Aya hissed, finally completing her aborted sentence.

"Shannon?" a stunned Yuriko asked out loud, before she had time to stop herself.

The redhead locked eyes with Yuriko and for a moment, it seemed that there were only the two of them in the room. Every face in the room turned to look at the tall blonde, and more than a few mouths opened in astonishment as she spoke once again.

"What are you doing here?" Yuriko English.

To their further astonishment, the redhead burst into peals of musical laughter as she nodded and responded, also in English. "I'm your new substitute teacher. Surprise!" She giggled at Yuriko's flushed face. "It's been a long time, Yuri." She winked at the blonde then, at last acknowledging the rest of the class, gestured for them to sit down.

Everyone did so, shooting either or both of the women puzzled looks.

The redhead seemed to have her laughter under control now and proceeded to introduce herself in very excellent Japanese. "My name is Shannon Evans and I'll be your homeroom and science teacher for at least a little while."

While their new substitute rustled through the papers in her folder, Sayaka leaned over towards Yuriko and whispered a hasty question. "You know her?"

Yuriko nodded. "She's..." an odd look trailed across her face, as she glanced towards the camera that recorded her words, "an old friend."

Sayaka glanced at Yuriko, then at Aya and hid a smile behind her hand. "Oh." Yuriko shot her an agitated look.

Shannon, that is, Evans-sensei, took care of the attendance and announcements with dispatch. Homeroom ended much too soon for the students, but not nearly soon enough for Yuriko. She could feel the collective weight of the room's curiosity burning a hole into her back.

When homeroom was over, she couldn't take another second of the tension. Yuriko bounced from her chair and intercepted Shannon as she crossed the classroom. She knew perfectly well that every pair of eyes, and an omnipresent camera, watched her.

"What are you doing here?" she once again slipped into English.

Shannon smiled beatifically at her. "I heard from Mariko that you were here and I wanted to see for myself." She giggled, that irrepressible giggle Yuriko remembered so well. "You're looking well. Did you miss me?"

Yuriko tried hard to look angry, discomfited, or at least slightly irked, but she couldn't maintain it. Shannon's smile was too contagious, too charming. She found her lips pulling back in an answering smile of her own. "Yes. Yes I have."

Shannon placed a hand lightly on Yuriko's arm as she started towards the door. "I have to run now. Can I see you at lunchtime?" Yuriko nodded. "Fine, then, I'll come back here and meet you."

In a whirlwind of red-gold hair and perfume, Shannon was out the door. Yuriko walked back to her seat in a complete daze. Mariko, huh? She'd get her, that meddling so-and-so....

Without even noticing the looks the other students were giving her, Yuriko allowed herself to burst out laughing, stopping only when the class was called to order for first period.