Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko feels confident that the "scandal" involving herself and Ruriko-sensei will blow over quickly. Or at least, she desperately hopes so.

Volume 3, Issue 18

"In the Gilded Cage"

Yuriko stood. "Well, if that's all..." she began to take her leave, but the Principal shook his head, stopping her midsentence. He looked at her a moment longer and she resumed her seat.

"I'm afraid," he began, "that we are not done here." He stood, clasping his hands behind his back. "As I said, I am confident that no serious breach of etiquette has occurred and I am going to argue forcefully that no censure be made."

"You are going to argue...?" Ruriko-sensei asked in a tiny voice.

The Principal cleared his throat. "Yes - before the Board of Governors, this evening. I doubt that any recriminations will be made, however, we must take steps to protect ourselves..." He bowed slightly in Ruriko-sensei's direction. Her face pale, she stood and returned the bow.

"Of course, I understand." She looked at Yuriko quickly. "Principal, may I have a word with Yuriko-san - privately - before I leave? I don't think there is anywhere else I can..."

Yuriko looked from one to the other in some confusion. Leave?

The Principal nodded. "I'll just have a word with Oda-sensei." He turned to leave, then turned back. "Yuriko-san, when you two are done, I'd appreciate it if you'd remain here until I return." He gestured for Taro to accompany him and the young PR man jumped up from his

When he slid the door open, the hall was full of students, worried faces pressing together to get a glimpse into the office. The Principal commanded the students to move on and closed the door precipitously behind the publicity agent.

Yuriko looked back at the coach, worried. "What do you mean, leave? Where are you going?"

"Home." Ruriko-sensei said simply, "I'm suspended until this blows over."

"What?" Yuriko launched herself to her feet. "They can't do that to you!"

Ruriko laughed harshly. "Of course they can. But they didn't. I took a voluntary suspension, until I feel more comfortable about the situation." She turned away from the blonde, the handkerchief still clutched tightly in her hand. "This is all my fault, I didn't think it through. You're so friendly and open; it's easy to forget that you're famous. I never even thought of the consequences..."

Yuriko was so upset she couldn't speak. She could feel the blood rush to her face. " didn't *do* anything! The Principal even said so!"

Ruriko-sensei turned, an uncharacteristically bitter smile on her face. "You don't understand at all, do you? I coach girls - young women. Young women who are in the prime of their lives - some say the sexual prime. Who might be, who are, influenced by my behavior. I'm not concerned about my actions here - but about their reactions."

Yuriko shook her head in confusion. "You're right - I don't understand."

Ruriko sighed, but said nothing. After a moment she said, "My boyfriend called me this morning and broke up with me." Tears slipped from her eyes and fell silently to the floor.

Yuriko took a step closer to the woman, but held herself back. "Because you went dancing with me?" Her voice was tense.

"Because my name was in the papers. Because I am now notable, infamous, marked, however you'd like to put it. Because..." Ruriko-sensei dabbed her eyes with the handkerchief, "because I'm different, now. I stand out."

"But you told him that you were just trying to learn to dance for him, right?" Yuriko's voice rose, pleading for Ruriko-sensei to make sense.

"I did. Right before he suggested we not see each other for a while. Don't you see? It's alright for you - you're so different that it would be ridiculous for you to try and be the same as everyone else! I'm not - I'm just a high school coach, and I have to be just the same as every other high school basketball coach in the country. It's imperative I don't stand out."

Yuriko gaped at the teacher, horror at her words apparent upon her face. "You can't be serious?" she asked, shocked.

"I am serious. The Principal will tell the Board tonight that I'm fit to be a teacher. And then, over the next few days, he will tell every single parent of every single girl I coach the very same thing. And if he's persuasive enough, I may be able to show my face at this school again soon." Ruriko-sensei stood stiffly, her arms at her side. "Please don't blame yourself, Yuriko-san. This has all been my fault." She bowed tightly, then turned to leave the room. As she passed Yuriko she paused. "I really did have a lot of fun dancing with you." And she slid the door open.

Instead of stepping through it, Ruriko-sensei took a step backwards into the room.

Then another.

The Principal entered, followed by a small crowd. As they stepped past the bewildered coach, a few of them shot her looks of support, smiles or, from one or two, a soft word of encouragement. When they had filled the small room to near bursting, Yuriko watched as a tall, dark-haired girl with a commanding presence stepped forward and announced herself and her intentions.

"Yamamoto Kaori, Senior, Class 1-B, Captain of the Girl's Basketball team." She gave a perfunctory bow, which was aped by the other twenty girls in the room. "We're here," she gestured to her companions, "to say a word on behalf of Matsumori-sensei and Yuriko-san."

Yuriko found her eyebrows rising with surprise, as Kaori continued to speak.

"When we found out about the what the newspapers were saying this morning, we had a team meeting, and have spent the morning contacting our parents, letting them know that our coach is nothing less than the most upstanding individual we've ever met." Kaori stood straight and tall as she spoke. "They've agreed not to cause any undue fuss over this matter." Yuriko could hear a choking noise from across the room, but could not see the gym teacher's face.

"In addition, we'd like to make the formal statement that Yuriko-san has never, in her time with us, acted in any way that could be at all construed as inappropriate or questionable. And," the girl's rigid face softened the tiniest bit, "we think we've been in a position to
know." She concluded her remarkable statement with another bow and stood as if at attention.

The Principal pursed his lips for a moment, opened his mouth then shut it. Looking around the crowded room, he returned his gaze to Kaori. "You all spoke to your parents?"

"Yes sir." Twenty voices answered.

"And you say that none of them have the slightest doubt whatsoever about the conduct of your coach?"

"No sir." Kaori answered. "We have all gotten their unconditional support for Matsumori-sensei."

Would you be willing to repeat that statement in front of the Board of Governors?"

"Yes, sir." Kaori responded promptly.

"Fine, be here in my office immediately after practice tonight." He looked around once again, this time including Yuriko and Ruriko-sensei. "You've made your point, ladies. I think we can consider this matter closed. You may return to your classes."

The girls didn't move. Kaori, her eyes still staring directly in front of her, ventured a "Sir...?"

A small smile graced the Principal's lips. "You may all return to your classrooms." He stressed the third word ever so slightly.

A beat passed and suddenly the office was filled the sounds of exultation. Yuriko watched as the team completely surrounded their
coach and escorted her out the door - making enough noise for twice their number.

Yuriko turned back to the Principal with a deep, and sincere bow. "Thank you sir. I'm very sorry to have been the source of any difficulties."

Yuriko stood and faced the Principal, who looked pointedly towards the doorway. In the door stood Kaori, Mikan and several of the other seniors, waiting for Yuriko to join them.

"I don't think this has been that much of an inconvenience," the Principal said, and waved her away. He sat down and picked up a piece of paper. Without looking up, he said, "7:00, ladies. Do not be late."

"No sir." Both Yuriko and Kaori answered.