Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko has revealed that Shannon is, despite
all appearances to the contrary, brilliant, and Aya counters with a revelation of her own.
Volume 2, Issue 13
"...'Til Trouble Troubles You"
"Marry?" two voices echoed in a hushed cry.
Aya didn't answer. Tears slipped down her face and she wiped
ineffectually at them. Yuriko pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to the girl, who
thanked her and held it to her eyes.
"Aren't you both a little young for marriage?" Yuriko
Aya shook her head. "We're both eighteen - we don't need
parental approval, well, not legally anyway."
"What are you going to do now?" Sayaka asked. "Are
you going to..." she stopped herself.
Aya looked up at her. "Run away together? That's what you were
going to say, right?" She looked down again. "Don't think we haven't thought
about it. But we can't...our families...."
"You do have a plan, though?" Yuriko asked.
"Yes." Aya nodded. "We've both applied to the same
universities. All of them far enough away that we won't have to come home often. Whichever
is furthest that accepts us both is the one we'll go to. We'll get married in secret and
we just won't tell our families."
Yuriko opened her mouth to speak, then decided against it. Sayaka
had no such restraint, however.
"Aya-san! That's ridiculous! Your families have to be told
eventually. What if you want children?"
"We don't!" Aya exclaimed. "Not after...not after
Yuriko shook her head. "That's now, Aya. What about three years
from now, or thirteen?"
Aya looked at Yuriko, her eyes blazing. "Did you know where you
were going to be when you left home?"
Yuriko recoiled, as the comment struck closer to home than the girl
could have known. "No," she said at last. "No, I didn't. But..." and
she held Aya's eyes with her own, "*my* family didn't care about me. I didn't leave -
they threw me out."
Aya sucked in a breath. "I'm sorry," she said quickly.
"But mine doesn't really care about me - all they care about is their reputation. And
reparation for the hurt done to them." Her voice was full of bitterness.
The three women sat in a silence unbroken until the bell rang for
class to begin once again.
As they moved back into the school, the warm air inside fogged up
Yuriko's glasses. She took them off and wiped the condensation away. Aya glanced up at the
blonde once and with her jaw firmly set she said, "I'm going to marry him. Whatever
it takes, I will do it."
Yuriko looked down at her and nodded. "I don't disagree.
Just...if it's really love, it doesn't have to rush." She glanced out the windows as
they walked past. The leaves were gone now from the trees and the schoolyard looked bare
and unwelcoming. "Don't rush," she said, her voice curiously far away.
Sayaka and Aya both looked at Yuriko as they entered the classroom,
but the blonde seemed distracted and distant.
Yuriko practically sagged against the doorjamb in relief. In only a
few minutes, she'd be home. Home, with no obligations, no interruptions...she glanced at
the mailbox with disinterest. Debating about going up without retrieving the mail, the
slacker in her lost. Better she throw it all out now and not let it build up. She grabbed
the mail and started to sort through it as she walked up the stairs.
She walked out of the elevator and was greeted with the aroma of
something baking - something heavy on the cinnamon. Yuriko breathed in the scent and
envied the person who came home to that.
When she reached her apartment she realized, with some surprise,
that the scent came from inside. Opening the door, she stepped into a steam bath
atmosphere, full of the smell of baking cinnamon bread. Dropping her book bag and mail on
the table in the foyer, she simply stood there and breathed in and out, savoring the
smell, the warmth...
"Welcome home!" Ryo's voice came from the bathroom.
"I'll be right out!" He was as good as his word, his gloved hands attesting to
his current occupation. His long hair fell into his eyes and his face was flushed as if he
had stood up quickly. Yuriko was once again struck by how beautiful he was. She laughed.
"You know," she said sardonically, "you're very lucky
you're not my type. You'd be in severe danger of sexual assault."
Ryo looked at her, his eyes glinting with laughter. "Nothing as
sexy as a man who can clean a bathroom, eh?"
She nodded and slipped off her shoes.
Ryo stripped the gloves off his hands and bowed slightly. "I
hope you don't mind that I presumed to use your oven - I just had a need to bake."
Yuriko shook her head as she stepped up into the main area.
"Nah, someone might as well use the thing. I never do." She tut-tutted at Ryo
then said, "Baking, too? Maybe I should auction you off to the highest bidder. I
could make a fortune."
"Wait until you taste it - it could be awful," the boy
said and headed into the kitchen area.
"I sincerely doubt it." Yuriko seated herself on the sofa
and continued to sort through the mail. Bills, a few pieces of personal correspondence,
and random junk mail. Two catalogs that bore a quick look and three magazines of interest.
Yuriko picked up one of the audiophile magazines and turned to the CD review page. She was
scanning the new releases column, when Ryo came in with a tray of freshly sliced cinnamon
bread, dripping with a drizzled sauce, and coffee.
"I love you, marry me." Yuriko said.
Ryo laughed. 'It would be my pleasure, only I'm underage - and it
would ruin your reputation."
"It'll be a marriage of convenience." Yuriko took a bite
of the bread and rolled her eyes with pleasure. "Convenient for me, anyway."
Ryo poured coffee for them both and sat down facing the blonde.
"And what would the ROI be for me?"
Yuriko sipped some coffee. "Let's see, you'd have instant fame
- paparazzi hounding you day and night and pretty much be my slave laborer." She
finished her piece of bread, moaning with every bite.
"Well then, how could I refuse?" Ryo grinned as he
finished up his own piece of bread.
They chatted for a little while, until Ryo checked his watch and
took his leave. Thanking him profusely for the bread and the help, Yuriko saw the boy out
the door, and sat back down in her usual place. She opened the mail that remained,
throwing out the useless crap instantly. The last two pieces of mail were personal - each
hand addressed to her, not care of her office. That was unusual. She slit the first one
open and saw nothing but a simple card, with only the line, "I'm terribly sorry"
handwritten in pen.
She stared at the card in some confusion. Clearly this was what the
anonymous caller had been referring to - but why? And what did it mean? She turned to the
second envelope and slit it open. It contained a newspaper clipping. She unfolded it and
looked at the article. As she read, the color drained from her face.
"No." she whispered. "No. It can't be."