Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko finds that she has friends in high (and
low) places. She's taking a deep breath, as a possible scandal settles into the mud from
which it was slung.
Volume 3, Issue 20
"A Red Sunset"
Yuriko sat back with a sigh of relief. That was the last phone call she'd have to make for
a while. She checked her watch - 40 minutes before she had to attend the meeting of the
Board. She pushed herself out of the chair in Ruriko-sensei's office, thanking the coach
silently for letting her use the space while practice was being held.
Yuriko glanced down at the piece of paper on which she had jotted a few notes. She checked
off the last name on the list and smiled, crumpling the paper and tossing it into the
trashcan. Mariko had been following the news throughout the day by way of her contact at
Yuriko's agency, but she had been happy to hear that the outlook was positive.
Yuriko turned off the light and closed the door to the office. Outside the gym, the school
was mostly empty - she felt like a ghost gliding silently through the darkened halls. The
occasional voice would drift echoingly down to her ears, unintelligible and phantom-like.
Yuriko shivered happily. She loved ghost stories - especially ghosts that haunted schools.
She approached her locker and saw a dark figure standing in the poorly lit corner. Yuriko
pulled her hand from her pants pocket and took her cell phone out of her jacket. She had
no real fighting skills, but a well-placed emergency call could do wonders. She approached
the lockers carefully, but relaxed when the figure looked up, smiling unsurely at her.
"To-kun!" Yuriko said, surprised. "How long have you been waiting
"Ah, uhm, Yuri-chan..." the boy was hesitant, as usual. His face looked worried
and for a moment Yuriko thought it might be about Uto. But then Togai got his thoughts
under control. "I heard about what happened and I wanted to know if you're
Yuriko nodded. "I'm fine, thanks," she smiled. "That was really sweet of
you." A thought struck her. "You mean - you're waiting to escort me home?"
She laughed as the young man blushed. "That was very thoughtful - but I'm not leaving
"Oh. Well, I can wait..." Togai offered, but Yuriko shook her head.
"No, I don't think that would be wise. I'll be here for a while yet," she patted
his arm. At his look of disappointment she snapped her fingers. "Oh, wait! There *is*
something you can do for me - if you don't mind." She rooted around in her book bag,
then her pockets, looking for something. She crouched, trying to find the elusive object and spoke without
looking up. "I haven't seen you hanging around with Ni-ru and the others
Togai made a noise in his throat and a little kicking motion. After a long pause he said,
"They kicked me out of the gang." He didn't sound all that remorseful.
Yuriko glanced up. "Ah. I see. How's your brother doing?"
Togai's face split into a broad grin. "He's fine - so far. He came by today, but you
probably knew that. He left a message for you - he says you owe him a date."
Yuriko laughed derisively. "A date? He's got to be kidding!" She found what she
was looking for, stuck it into an envelope and addressed it.
"Well, after all, he is your boyfriend," Togai said with a grin.
"Well, that's what he told the reporters when he "escorted" them all off
the school grounds."
Yuriko blinked. "Oh no. He didn't."
Togai's grin widened. "Yup."
Yuriko slapped her forehead in disbelief. "I cannot believe him..." She shook
herself, wondering what the papers would be writing about her tomorrow. With one hand on
her head, as if in pain, she handed over the envelope to Togai. "Forget that for a
minute. This is a letter I need delivered to Yamada-san - remember him at the studio? He's
the electrician you met on the tour."
"Sure, he was the one who showed me how to work the
"Right. Do you think you can deliver this letter to him?"
"Will they let me in at the gate?" Togai looked down at his ratty uniform and
"I'll call and make sure they do." Yuriko closed her bag and turned to look at
the boy. "To-kun - how did you like the studio tour?"
Togai nodded with enthusiasm. "It was pretty cool."
"You think you'd ever want to get into the business?" Yuriko leaned casually
against the lockers.
"Sure!" Togai shrugged. "But what's the chance..."
"Better than you think," Yuriko said cryptically. "Can you go now? He'll be
there until about 10, but if you get there early, he might have a few minutes to talk to
"Okay." Togai took the letter, and the business card Yuriko handed him. She had
jotted a note on the back with Yamada's name.
"Thanks. I really appreciate it," Yuriko said and bowed. Togai bowed awkwardly
and set off a lope. Yuriko watched him walk away and hoped fervently that he was smarter
than he seemed. Ni-ru and Heiji saying he was smart was one thing, but...
Togai chose that moment to turn around and face her again. Lifting the letter, he called,
"Hey, Yuri-, erm, Yuriko-san! Thanks for the recommendation. I really appreciate
it," he smiled gratefully at her. Without waiting for an answer, he turned away and
ran down the hall. She watched him until he disappeared, feeling very satisfied with her
insatiable need to meddle.
Still smiling, she opened her locker. Inside was today's bento box, looking as pristine as
if it had been placed there mere moments before. Her stomach growled loudly and she pulled
the package down. There was a small card tucked into the knot at the top. Yuriko picked it
up and read, "You've had a long day - make sure you eat." The letters were
printed neatly, too neatly, the way children write - or when an adult is trying to
disguise their handwriting. She saluted her fairy godmother and crouched in front of her
locker, eating every last bite of the only real meal she had had all day long.
Yuriko bounced out of her seat, made the minimum number of bows and thanks and was out the
door in record time - *just* not being incredibly rude. She practically ran down the hall,
her every muscle twitching with a desire to get out of this place. She felt claustrophobic
and wanted some of that fresh city air. At the door to the school, she paused, getting her
bearing, trying to calm herself down. She heard footsteps behind her and turned to see
Kaori moving swiftly in the same direction.
"You too?" Yuriko said sympathetically. "All that talk was choking
Kaori turned that disconcertingly even gaze on Yuriko. "It had to be done." She
seemed resigned, rather than displeased, but Yuriko felt unaccountably uncomfortable. She
wondered when she had begun to give a damn about this girl's opinion.
"Well, I'll see you." Yuriko broke away from Kaori's penetrating gaze, and
pushed her way through the doors. She took five long steps and cleared the corner of the
building when a figure in a long black coat approached her, moving quickly. She was so
startled, she didn't resist when the figure grabbed her elbow and escorted her rapidly
towards a waiting car.
The car was small and unremarkable. Unmarked, Yuriko thought. She had the unreal
feeling that she had stepped into yet another play within a play within a play. As the
figure propelled her towards the car, she wished the screenwriter would get *on* with it.
Yuriko looked across the street, noticed the lack of press, and said, almost without
realizing it, "Nice job, Uto."
The figure in black squeezed her arm hard and grunted. "No problem."
Yuriko jumped and stopped moving, but the figure dragged her the last few steps. They were
at the car and at last Yuriko's arm was released.
"No time to talk - they're not far. Get in the car-Yuri-chan. We'll talk later."
Yuriko let Uto half lead, half shove her into the car. She could see two people inside the
vehicle, but couldn't make them out. He shut the door behind her with an implacable
"thunk." The car began to move away from the school, and Yuriko managed just to
lift her hand in thanks before he was out of sight. She turned to thank her companions and
was greeted by two familiar faces.
"Relax, Yuri," Mariko said with a giggle. "We're kidnapping you