Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Abe-sensei hasn't yet returned, and he's quickly fading from the schools' collective memory since one of Yuriko's old friends has arrived to take his place. Yuriko is still stiff after a tough basketball practice.


Volume 2, Issue 12

"Don't Trouble Trouble..."


Yuriko groaned as she walked up the stairs towards her homeroom. Each lift of the leg caused stiff muscles to protest their misuse. She promised herself, yet again, that she'd start stretching on the nights she didn't have practice, knowing full well that she'd do nothing of the sort. "What I'd really like is a nice glass of white wine..." she mumbled, prompting the boy who walked beside her to turn and ask if she had said anything.

"Uh, no, sorry." She smiled reassuringly at him, but his puzzled expression lasted another second or two, until he was distracted by someone calling his name.

Yuriko muttered silently to herself as she entered the class. She was virtually the last one to arrive today. Aya's seat was conspicuously empty, however. Yuriko put her book bag on her desk and greeted Sayaka with a grimace.

"I hear the team's really good this year." The girl skipped the obvious commentary on Yuriko's stiffness.

"Yeah, they are," the blonde made a face as she sat down at her desk.

Sayaka laughed at Yuriko. "I expect my kohai to be a bit more energetic in the morning!" she commanded with a smile. "None of this moaning and groaning."

Yuriko made a face at her.

"You're just lucky that I'm not a tough sempai - I could have you running errands for me..." Sayaka stopped mid-sentence as if she thought of something. "Oh, I wanted to ask you before I forgot..."

"Hmmm?" Yuriko hunted in her bag for an analgesic, but found only eyedrops and an extra pencil.

"About Evans-sensei." Sayaka waved away Yuriko's dark look. "Nothing personal!" she hastened to reassure the older woman. "I was just wondering - is she really an actress?"

Yuriko pulled back from peering into her bag. "Yes, why?"

Sayaka furrowed her brow. "Because yesterday in science class, when Sato-san asked that question about  unit vectors..." she smiled at Yuriko's blank look, "I know you weren't listening, but anyway, when Sato-san asked his question, Evans-sensei knew the answer. I mean - she knew it! She didn't have to look it up in her notes or the book or anything!"

Yuriko rolled her head lightly on her neck and smiled at her sempai. "I'll tell you a secret about Shan...err, Evans-sensei."

Sayaka nodded enthusiastically.

"She's a bona-fide genius. Don't let her agent know this, but she graduated high school at 14, finished college by 16 and has a Doctorate in Physics. She left home to take a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but never made it there."

"What do you mean?"

"She was at the airport, when a flight began to board for Tokyo." Yuriko laughed. "This is so typical of her. Here she was, nineteen years old and had never had a day off from studying in her life. So, instead of getting on the plane for California, she traded in her ticket, took the flight to Tokyo - and never left."

Sayaka blinked. "She gave up a job at JPL for an acting career?"

Yuriko nodded with a chuckle. "Yep. Crazy, huh? She came over here assuming she'd take a vacation before she went to JPL. She never expected to stay. But after a week or two, she called her family and said she was staying. She didn't have a job - or even prospects of a job, but that's the way she is. I met her about three years ago, when we worked together on a movie. She comes off as a bubble-head, but don't be fooled, she's as smart as they come."

Sayaka looked thoughtful. "What an interesting story - I wonder if she's ever thought about writing it down."

Yuriko glanced at her sempai, nodding. "No, but it would make a good story. Maybe you can write a fiction piece based on it - I'm sure she'd be thrilled to pieces."

The door to the class slid open and Sato called the class to stand. However, instead of the expected appearance of the teacher, Aya slipped into the classroom, followed closely by Yamazaki Jun. Without a word to each other, Aya and Jun made their way to their chairs. Aya nodded to Yuriko and Sayaka, but made no other comment. Yuriko could clearly see the signs of hastily washed away tears and Aya's eyes were red-rimmed and swollen. The door opened again a moment later and Evans-sensei entered, asked the class to sit and wished them all a good morning.

After homeroom, Yuriko turned to ask Aya something, but the girl excused herself and disappeared out the classroom door. Yuriko raised a questioning eyebrow as she met Sayaka's eyes. The girl shrugged slightly, but nothing more was said. Aya reappeared, but they had come to a silent agreement not to push the subject.

Lunchtime was a quiet, awkward affair. After the daily ritual of checking out Yuriko's mystery lunch of the day, the three sat in near silence. Yuriko packed away the bento box, after writing the usual note of thanks. Placing the box in her bag, she casually gestured for the cameraman to take a break. When he had left, she then turned back to her companions, fixed Aya with a piercing look and said, "Okay, spill it."

"What?" The girl jumped.

"Don't insult our intelligence," Yurko said ominously. "You and Yamazaki-kun had words this morning. Don't even try to deny it." She held up a hand to stall any protest the girl might have fabricated. "Sayaka-sempai and I have seen you talking to him before now. Come on, we're supposed to be your friends. Is it love or hate?"

Aya spluttered a moment, looking wildly back and forth at her two classmates, but her humor attempted to reassert itself. "It's both, of course," she said at last, trying to smile and failing miserably.

"Eh?" Sayaka and Aya asked incoherently.

Aya sighed. "It's like..." she paused in thought. "It's not entirely unlike Romeo and Juliet. Without the obsessive passion, of course." She gave a half-hearted chuckle at her joke.

"Are you going to be okay?" Yuriko asked solicitously.

"Yes. No. I don't know." Aya said. "I have no idea what I'll be." Her smile dropped and Yuriko looked down into a face more haggard than it should have been. Tears threatened to well up in the girl's eyes.

"Hey." Yuriko said softly. "I'm sorry, for what it's worth. We'll leave you alone if you want."

"No, it's okay. In fact, it would be kind of nice to have someone else's perspective on the whole thing." Aya took a deep breath and lowered her voice. "You remember our "history," right?" Her audience nodded. "Well, the problem is...Jun and I like each other." Her cheeks turned a shade of red that belied her simple words. "We have, practically since we met. But with the tensions between our families, we never wanted to be the cause of any problems."

Sayaka nodded to this too, but Yuriko cocked her head in question.

"So you two haven't been talking, so your parents wouldn't find out?" the blonde asked.

"No!" Aya said quickly. "No, we've been meeting secretly for years." Her face flushed again and she lowered her eyes. "When you came, we had had a fight and we weren't speaking because, well, we weren't speaking."

"Oh, that clears that up." Yuriko said with a little grin. "Carry on." She paused. "Wait a second! Are you saying that you lied to me?"

Aya mumbled. "I didn't lie - I just omitted a few things."

Sayaka cut in before Yuriko could respond. "So you were saying?"

"There's not much to tell." Aya looked up at Yuriko. "He just..." she stopped, closing her mouth on the next words.

"Just?" Yuriko prodded. Sayaka seemed paralyzed, her hand over her mouth in anticipation.

Aya looked at her hands, which she had clasped tightly together in her lap. "This morning Jun asked me to marry him."