Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Finally, Yuriko is able to put her difficulties with her parents behind her. Ahead of her lies the possibility of reconciliation. But today she's back at school.


Volume 3, Issue 14

"A Fine Morning"


The car pulled onto the street and glided to a stop. Before Yuriko could get out and go up to the house, she saw a figure pass through the front gate. She slid over in the back seat and opened the door of the car. Sayaka got in next to her, thanking the driver, who shut the door for her.

Smiling shyly at Yuriko, Sayaka turned to look out the window as they drove into the morning traffic.

"Thank you for giving me a ride," the girl said.

"No, thank you for joining me. I was afraid we wouldn't have anytime to speak alone today – and I feel owe you an explanation."

Sayaka shook her head, as she turned to regard the older woman. "That's ridiculous! You don't owe me anything."

Yuriko put a hand lightly on Sayaka's arm. "I think I do. I'm sorry I wasn't able to tell you why I wasn't in school, but I had a sudden shock – and I had to take some time to deal with it."

"Is everything alright?" Sayaka asked in a small voice.

Yuriko smiled and pulled her hand back, "Everything will be fine." She sighed and leaned back a little. "I need you to promise me, though, that everything I tell you today stays between the two of us. There's only a few things I won't let out to the press – this is one of them."

Sayaka considered. "If you don't want to tell me, I really do understand."

"I want to tell you," Yuriko smiled at the girl. "After all, you're my sempai – I'm *supposed* to confide in you."

Sayaka smiled. "Then I promise." She paused. "Even if I want to burst, I promise I won't tell anyone."

Yuriko nodded. "The story begins back when I was in high school..."

As the car wended its way through town towards the school, Yuriko proceeded to explain her relationship with her parents, and how she learned of their deaths. Sayaka listened with wide eyes, never interrupting the flow of narrative.

"So, yesterday," Yuriko finished, "I went out to my hometown and visited their grave and said goodbye. It's the first time I've been back since I left. I don't think I'll go back again."

Neither woman said anything for a little while.

Yuriko thought about telling her "sempai" about the letter from her sister, then thought better of it. Until she knew what she'd do, or even what she felt about the whole thing, she'd stay clear of the subject.

"I meant to ask you," she said suddenly, breaking the silence. "How many of the tickets for the tour were turned in?"

"All of them." Sayaka replied. "All fifty."

Yuriko looked suitably surprised - then her mysterious benefactor *had* been there! She managed to get her expression under control and for the rest of the ride they chatted about Sayaka's impression of the tour.

The car let them off a few blocks from school, and they walked together in the cold drizzle. Yuriko took off her glasses and turned her face up to the sky. She stuck the glasses in her pocket and continued walking, no longer hunched against the rain.

"I love weather," Yuriko said, apropos of nothing.

Sayaka laughed lightly. "You're just like a little kid, sometimes. I bet you still splash in puddles."

"Every chance I get." Yuriko agreed with a smile.


"Here, you're hired." Yuriko slapped a portfolio on Aya's desk. The girl looked up at the blonde with confusion.


"Yeah – I need a script reader. They're coming in too fast for me to look at them all. I need someone who's a fast reader, someone with some aesthetic sense, someone that I trust." Yuriko yawned hugely. "Unless you don't want the job? I just figured that Christmas isn't that far away and you might need some extra money – or for college, or whatever. You'll figure out something, I'm sure." She looked over her glasses at the stunned girl, then turned away as Aya bounced to her feet, spluttering with thanks.

Yuriko waved her back to her chair with a grin. "Don't thank me – you haven't read the scripts yet."

Class President Sato meandered on over, casually greeting Sayaka, who smiled brightly at the boy. "Welcome back, Yuriko-san," he bowed. "We're glad you've returned." He gave a surreptious glance at the camera, then turned away almost immediately.

"I'm not the only returnee today..." Yuriko said mysteriously.

Before the students had more than a few seconds to ponder this comment, the door to the room slid open and Abe-sensei entered. Sato scuttled back to his seat and called for the class to rise.

Yuriko's only answer to Sayaka's puzzled glance was a satisfied grin.


Lunchtime was practically a feast. Students kept dropping by to welcome Yuriko back, and to state offers of assistance with homework, advice, or shoulders to cry on. Although the constant flow of generosity was a bit draining, Yuriko found herself genuinely touched. The first time around, she hadn't been nearly this popular in high school - it was a bit overwhelming. Even after discounting the most ingenuous of offers, there were quite a few people whose sympathy was meaningful.

She looked around at her companions for today's unveiling.

"We *were* going to check your locker last week on the days you weren't here, but we thought that would be tacky." Aya seemed to have retained her odd sense of humor, despite her recent trials.

"Whaddaya mean *we*?" Sato said, winking at Sayaka, who blushed. "I dropped by and had a peek."

"You didn't!" Emi, Mikan's good friend from the basketball team cried. "Sato-san, that's awful!" Sato laughed happily.

Yuriko untied the cloth that surrounded the box. She had the sudden urge to hide from all the watching eyes, and she realized with some surprise that she had come to feel a connection of a sort with her mystery chef. She turned to Sato with a sardonic expression. "And? Was there a bento for me?"

"Nope," Sato said. "Not a thing."

"That's not so surprising," Aya cut in. "Almost everyone knew that Yuriko wasn't going to be in Saturday."

"Almost everyone in the senior class anyway..." Mikan said gravely.

"That's true." Yuriko agreed. "So, whomever it is, is more likely to be a senior. Are you sure it's not any of you?" She looked around at the young people who sat, leaned and draped themselves over the desks around her own. They all shook their heads. "Well, that means we've narrowed it down to about 40 people."

"So," Aya was first off the mark as always, "whoever it is, *was* there on Saturday!"

Yuriko nodded, and cracked open the box at a corner for a private peek at the contents. Immediately she began to salivate from the scent that arose from the box.

"Come on, Yuri-kun, let us see!" Mikan whined jokingly.

Yuriko removed the lid completely, unveiling today's creation. Various foods blended color, smell and taste in a beautiful collage. Pine needles lay over a rice bed, as if freshly fallen in a new snow. Everyone "oooohed" appreciatively, then laughed at their own reactions.

After a hastily pronounced "itadakimasu," Yuriko pounced on her lunch like the starving woman she was.

When the lunch part of lunch had been disposed of, and Yuriko had cleaned out the box, she turned around and ripped a piece of paper out of Sayaka's memo pad. The pink paper matched nicely with the cherry blossom pattern on the box. With a flourishing hand, she once again thanked and complimented the altruism and cooking skills of the philanthropist that fed her so very well indeed. She drew a little sakura flower on the edge of the paper, folded the note so that the flower was on the outside, and slipped it into the box.