Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Despite her personal problems, Yuriko is leading a tour of her studio for some of the students at Mitsukawa High. She's glad for the distraction.


Volume 3, Issue 7

"Inside the Labyrinth"


The crowd that greeted her at the Security gate was somewhat disconcerting. Yuriko looked at the sea of faces and was both pleased and surprised to note that she knew the most of their names. Almost the entire writing club had come, as well as many members of the journalism and media club. A few familiar faces from the basketball team wished her a good afternoon. Leaning against the security desk, Noda Mikan greeted her with a slap on the shoulder, then turned to speak to someone behind her.

"Hey, Kaori-buchou, Yuri-kun's here!"

Yuriko looked in the direction that Mikan called and was surprised, no, *shocked* to see that the basketball team captain had decided to join the tour. Waving at the captain, and the group of girls that surrounded her, Yuriko welcomed them with a puzzled smile. Why would she come? Sayaka and Aya interrupted her train of thought with greetings of their own. Yuriko answered them, and asked the guard at the desk to page her PA.

Hisayama-san came bustling up, accompanied by a male counterpart. For a second, Yuriko thought they might both be related, but realized a moment later that it was just the similarity of their stressed-out body language. Yuriko made a mental prediction that Hisayama wouldn't be with them much longer - she was starting to fray at the edges. Stepping forward, she greeted everyone as a group, introduced Hisayama (for the few who didn't already know her) and Nagai Hiroki, another PA. Because of the size of the group, Yuriko explained, they'd be split up, and taken separately on tour of the building.

"I'll be with each group for at least part of the tour," Yuriko finished. "We'll all meet up in the canteen"

"For surrealistic food?" Aya joked.

"Probably," Yuriko laughed. "Don't bother bringing your appetite. Now," she turned to the group as a whole, "if you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask Hisayama-san or Nagai-san. They've both worked here a long time." Well, about six months, she thought to herself, but here that's a long time.

As the students broke up into two groups of roughly the same size, Yuriko cast her eyes over the crowd. Which one of them was her mysterious lunch benefactor? She smiled as the students walked away, looking for the blushing glance, the shy smile, the hidden grin that might tell her. But as far as she could see, no one even looked at her, far more interested in their surroundings than in the idol they'd come to think of as a classmate.

Shrugging, Yuriko followed Nagai's group. Catching up with the PA, she had a few whispered words with him. They headed for the sound stages, where a few of the crew were going to explain the more technical aspects of filming a show. Yuriko smiled at herself as the "ooohhh"s came from the students, when they walked onto a stage set up as an underwater grotto.

Hanging back, Yuriko watched as the crew set up a pretend shot, using one of the basketball team members as a mermaid, while several of the other students volunteered for camera, lighting and sound work. Togai was placed as lighting chief. He seemed to have a knack for both the timing and the setup of the lights.

As they left the sound stage, Uto caught Yuri's eye and she gave him a small wink. Next stop, costuming.


Yuriko joined Hisayama's group in makeup. They had begun with the more administrative section of the tour, visiting Onda and the director of the show in their offices. That had been followed by editing, post production (including the always popular foley engineering) and were now headed into the production side.

Aya fell back to join the blonde, exclaiming with delight over the whole process. "When you watch a TV show, you never really imagine all this work goes into it."

"No, you don't. That's the magic," Yuriko agreed. Looking around, she asked one of the girls on the basketball team if she'd seen anyone famous yet.

"You mean, other than you, don't you?" Aya laughed.

"She doesn't count," the girl said with an impudent grin. "She's one of us." Aya and the girl laughed. Yuriko felt rather pleased at the girl's words, and wondered at herself for it. Was it a validation of sorts - or was it that she was just afraid of being alone? As they walked along, Yuriko spent a moment in intense self-absorption, which was interrupted by Mikan. The team vice-captain seemed to be at her heartiest today and Yuriko stumbled forward as the girl slapped her on her back.

"Hey!" Mikan said, "None of that thinking stuff today. You're here as entertainment director. I expect you to be amusing." She shot a smile at the blonde, then turned to her teammates. "Isn't that right?" A chorus of agreement made Mikan chuckle. Turning back to Yuriko, she said quietly, "Whatever's bothering you, if you need someone to talk to..."

Yuriko thanked Mikan, but didn't elaborate. She could tell that she looked worse than she felt...all the girls were being solicitous. Rumors must have spread around the school, and she *had* been absent for two days. Yuriko renewed her determination not to lean on any of the students for support. This was not their problem - it was hers.

Smiling broadly, Yuriko began to talk about the studio - what projects had come from the place, who they might be likely to see and so on. Yuriko was by turns entertaining, diverting, fascinating and funny. Of the students that listened raptly to her words, only two were utterly unconvinced by the performance.

The two groups met up at the studio canteen. Jokes about the state of the food abounded, and everyone seemed intent on playing "celebrity bingo."

"Well, I saw the Threetones!"

"You did not - those were just someone's kids."

"Were not. They had the nose rings and Michi had green hair..."

"They are so yesterday anyway."

"You're just jealous."

"No, because *I* saw Hidoru Miki."

"No way!"


"In the makeup room."

"You did not."

And so on.

Yuriko found herself seated at a long table with most of the starting basketball team, her usual lunch companions and a few other students, including Togai. Not surprisingly, when the conversation turned from the actors and musicians that wandered in and out of the cafeteria, the subject was future careers - many of the students expressed an interest in working in television, music or film.

When at last the tour began to break up, Yuriko once again found herself the focus of the conversation. With many bows and thanks, small groups of students left the studio grounds. Yuriko looked around tiredly at the remaining students. Only two were not smiling. One, she'd have to deal with later, the other...

"Yamamoto-buchou," Yuriko said, bowing, "I can't tell you how pleased I am that you came today." Hey, it was worth a try.

"The tour was certainly very interesting. Thank you for arranging it." Kaori bowed slightly, but quickly. Yuriko glanced at the girl as she turned away. She couldn't be sure in the outside lighting, but it almost looked like Kaori was blushing slightly. But then, the studio had just gone to sodium lighting and everyone looked like they were blushing. Yuriko shrugged internally, then thanked Mikan for coming, and the rest of the team.

"It was pretty cool." Mikan said. "Funny thing though," she glanced over at Kaori, who had begun to walk away. "I'm surprised she came."

"Me too." Yuriko admitted, giving the girl a puzzled glance. The team vice captain shrugged and bade the blonde farewell, jogging off to catch up with the rest of her teammates, to celebrate their victory in yesterday's basketball game. Yuriko was left with only a few more goodbyes to make.

Turning to the next person, she was surprised to find Togai waiting patiently for a moment of her time. His shy smile made him look like a big puppy.

"This was incredible!" Togai said with real enthusiasm. "I had no idea lighting could be so, well, cool."

Yuriko smiled. "Anything can be cool, Togai-kun, if you're interested in it."

He nodded. "Yeah, I guess so." After a few more bows, he was dragged away by Uto and the others. As she watched them walk away, Uto turned and made the "OK" sign with his hands. She waved at them.

"Now," she turned to deal with the stragglers.

Sayaka stood there, hands clasped, looking at the ground. Aya was looking off into the distance, and surprisingly, class president Sato stood behind Sayaka, also looking downwards.

Yuriko smiled politely. "Thank you all for coming."

"It was our pleasure," they chorused, then chuckled at the harmony.

An awkward silence filled the space.

"Yuriko-kun," Sayaka began, "we probably should have that talk sometime soon, but..." she gestured with her shoulder slightly. This time Yuriko was positive of the blush on the girl's face - and the matching one on Sato's.

"Goodnight." Yuriko said seriously. "Thank you again."

Sayaka and Sato didn't actually run away arm in arm, but they might as well have done. Yuriko turned to Aya, looking down into the girl's tired eyes.

"You look the way I feel," Aya said bluntly.

"Um," Yuriko said.

"You don't have to talk about it..." Aya sounded disappointed.

Yuriko stood in thought for a moment, then took the girl's arm and threaded it through her own.

"Are you free for dinner?" she asked.

"Sure!" Aya said, her tone considerably perkier.

"Come on then, it's my treat."