Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko managed to make it through the school interview and the following celebration. Today she faces the studio tour, determined not to burden the students with her personal problems.


Volume 3, Issue 6

"Welcome to the Madhouse"


Yuriko sat up suddenly and, just as suddenly, threw herself backward onto the bed, rolling over and clutching her stomach. Her left eye had a spike that needed removal and the joyride that was going on in her stomach didn't seem all that healthy either.

When everything in her body had calmed down to a dull throb or rumble, she slowly raised herself up. Leaning on the wall for support, Yuriko half walked, half pulled herself into the bathroom. Standing under the shower, she fumbled with the faucet, giving herself a freezing cold blast, followed by a scalding hot moment, then another cold stream. Too tired to fight it, she withstood the cold as long as she could, then turned the water off. Strangely, she felt better.

Wrapped in a towel, Yuriko downed several aspirin for breakfast and lay down on the sofa, listening to the blood pound in her head. It wasn't often she went on a real drunk, and for once, it felt really good. At least this kind of sick made sense. She smiled at what she could remember of last night. She vaguely remembered the four of them taking over the dance floor at some point, and she and Ruriko-sensei showing off some of their moves. She thought about the flourish with which they'd finished, and the dip. Yuriko could feel her cheeks color a little at the thought of the somewhat drunken kiss Ruriko had bestowed on her partner. It wasn't nice to tease the lesbian, she thought at the memory. But it was all in good fun.

Yuriko could hear the clock strike the hour. She turned and grinned at the object. She had several hours before she had to be at the studio and planned on enjoying every miserable, self-pitying moment of it. Her stomach lurched and she smiled grimly. Perfect.

With that thought, she fell asleep.

When she woke up for the second time, the pounding in Yuriko's head had been reduced to a minimal roar. She rolled off the sofa with a groan and got to her feet. Shuffling off to the kitchen, she made herself a cup of bracing, if admittedly terrible, coffee.

After a second shower, feeling marginally better, Yuriko dragged herself into the bedroom to get dressed. She stared into her closet, having trouble focusing on the clothes. Yuriko wished Mari were here to help dress her. She smiled at the thought and grabbed a blouse and pants at random.

Yuriko arrived at the studio with plenty of time to spare. She walked along the fence that lead to the main entrance, her hands stuffed into her overcoat pockets against the nip in the air.

"Yo, Yuri-chan, got a sec?" A hand reached out and tugged on her arm, pulling her off balance and startling her.

Yuriko put her hands up to protect herself in case of attack, but found herself staring into a familiar face. She lowered her hands slowly, letting the renewed headache slip away.

"That's terrible – you fight like a girl." Uto said, a cigarette in between his lips. He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and blew out a lungful of smoke.

"I *am* a girl." Yuriko reminded him needlessly with a grimace as she tried to calm her breathing. "And I'm not in the habit of fighting. What are doing here?" She gestured towards the studio gate. "I don't see you being the touring type."

"Nah, I don't care about that kind of crap." Uto took a last puff of his cigarette and threw the butt onto the ground. Yuriko gave him a hard glance. He didn't have any coat and the sweatshirt he wore looked as frayed as his school uniform. But he looked older somehow, more mature, without the uniform on. "I'm here because, well, actually..." he rubbed his head in embarrassment, "I need a favor."

Yuriko's eyebrows jumped, but she kept her voice even as she said, "I certainly owe you one. If it won't compromise me in any way, I'll do what I can." She felt that that was suitably noncommittal.

Uto shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets. Not looking up, he mumbled, "It's about Togai."

"Is he in some trouble?" Yuri prompted, when Uto showed no signs of continuing.

"What? Oh, nah." Uto patted himself down, looking for another cigarette. "Look, I'm leaving school."

"You're what?" Yuriko couldn't help herself from exclaiming out loud. "That's crazy! You're what, four months away from graduation. Why not just finish?"

"'Cause I wouldn't graduate anyway." Uto shrugged again. "I'm not foolin' myself. I'm pretty much a loser. Best I can hope for is that I'll find a couple of jobs that pay under the table."

Yuriko didn't know what to say. They both knew what kind of life that meant....

"Is that what you want?" Yuriko asked quietly.

"Kind of. It's a sort of job security, in a way. As long as I don't screw up." Uto gave her a crooked smile. "Don't sweat me, I'll be okay." His bravado returned with the words and he stood up straight. "Look, I know you're not going to be here much longer, but, well, Togai really likes you."

Yuriko stiffened. Putting her hand up she began to speak, but Uto cut her off.

"Not *that* way, idiot. I mean, he looks up to you." He sighed, exasperated. "Do you know what he did after you told him to look up that word?"

"Huh?" Yuriko tried to understand what Uto was saying. "What word?" Her face cleared as she remembered. "You mean, 'Pyrrhic?'"

"Yeah that was it. Well, he did, and he came back and told us what it meant, and where it came from...and now he's reading all the books on Greek history he can find. He tells us about some of the fights, like the one at Thermo..." Uto tried to remember the foreign word.

"Thermopylae." Yuriko supplied. "Yeah - it's a great story. So, he sounds like he's got potential. What's the problem?"

"That is the problem!" Uto snapped. "He's hanging around a bunch of losers and he's smart." Kicking at the cigarette stub on the ground, Uto made a face. "If I leave school, he'll want to too."

"Oh." Yuriko was starting to see the problem.

Uto pinned her with that near-sighted glance he had. "If I tell you something, you'd better not open your yap to anyone else. Got that?"

Yuriko nodded.

"Togai and I live alone. My mother's dead, our father's a drunk - gone most of the time and his mother ran away with someone when he was a little kid. We've taken care of each other since I was 12 or so. I can handle myself, but I want him to have a chance...he's only a kid. He should stay in school - graduate, maybe even get into a trade school. He's got a good mind and even better hands. He'd be great as a mechanic or engineer or something.

"So, I need a favor. Can you, I dunno, like, take him under your wing? He could use a role model that isn't me, you know?" Uto's gaze was piercing.

Yuriko thought about it for a few moments. "I don't know that I can help...but I'll do what I can. I'm not much of a role model myself." She grinned at the noise that Uto made. "Maybe between us we can get him interested in something else other than a life of crime for which he's completely unsuited."

"Yeah, that's what I meant." Uto said.

"Is he coming today?" Yuriko asked.

"Yeah - we thought we'd bring some life to the party."

"I bet." Yuriko thought about it. "I think I have an idea. When we split up, you guys head off with Nagai-san - I'll have a word with him."

"Thanks." Uto said shortly. After hesitating a moment, he bowed deeply. "Take care of him for me."

Yuriko returned the bow, "I'll do my best." She glanced at her watch. "Come on, we have to meet everyone at the gate."

Uto grinned. "Oh boy - a tour of the studio! I can't wait!" he parodied the girls in the school all too accurately. Yuriko laughed. Together they turned towards the gathering crowd just inside the studio gate.