Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: The day of media blitz and high drama finally ends, with a surprise appearance by Uto. Yuriko is perfectly happy to let Mariko take care of her for an evening. She wakes with a positive outlook.

Volume 3, Issue 21

"A Pleasant Interlude"


Yuriko had just boiled the water when a loud yawn and shuffling noises warned her that Mariko was awake.

"Good morning!" the blonde chirped, pouring hot water into a teapot.

Mariko mumbled something unintelligible in response and plopped herself down heavily at the kitchen table. "How do you do that?" She rubbed her eyes and watched as Yuriko laid bowls on the table.

"What?" Yuriko asked, placing the teapot in front of her friend.

"Wake up," Mariko answered. Looking over into the kitchen, she saw her friend scooping cold rice into a bowl. "What's for breakfast?"

"You're full of questions today," Yuriko commented. "Good, solid, stick-to-your-ribs Japanese food. Now eat." She placed the rice on the table, grabbed some chopsticks and served herself.

Mariko grumbled good-naturedly, but eat she did. "It's kind of funny, isn't it? Everything you know how to make is pretty much traditional."

"Sho?" Yuriko said around a mouthful of pickled vegetables.

"Well, look at you, Yuri. You're hardly what I'd call a traditional girl."

Yuriko swallowed. "True, but we're talking *breakfast* here. Some things are just too important to screw with."

Mariko laughed and drank some tea.


Yuriko smoothed her hair down as the car slowed to a stop. She felt reasonably competent to handle anything that the universe planned on throwing at her today. Thanks to the tender ministrations of Mariko and Hachi, Yuriko had found herself wined, dined and tucked in bed without the slightest hint of mediasign.

She pulled her coat tightly around herself to keep out the chill wind, and hefted her school bag. Thanking the driver, Yuriko closed the car door and turned towards the school. She hummed an old love song from the 40's, something slow and smoky, feeling like a character in a film noir setting. The clouds were low and dark, hanging ominously over the scene.

Waiting outside the school gate were four figures huddled together against the cold. As she approached, Yuriko could make out the forms of Sayaka, Sato, Aya and Jun. Yuriko gave them all a jaunty wave as she headed for them. To her surprise, Sato, Aya and Jun gave her a bare greeting and left, rather abruptly. She stared after them for a second, wondering what on earth she could have done to precipitate such a reaction, when Sayaka interrupted her train of thought.

"It's all my fault," she began - rather bizarrely, Yuriko thought.

"What is?"

"What happened yesterday."

Yuriko gave the girl a puzzled look. "What on earth are you talking about?"

Sayaka sighed heavily. "I think I know who tipped the press off, and I didn't say anything to you."

"Did you *know,* or is it just 20/20 hindsight?" Yuriko knew what this was - post-situational guilt.

Looking a little sheepish, Sayaka said, "It might be some hindsight, but..."

"Why don't you just tell me what you know? Then I can decide if I need to take action now, or we're just talking about might-have-beens."

"I'm not sure how to say it. It wasn't like I saw her actually saying anything. I just heard a voice, then saw her..."

Yuriko gritted her teeth against the snippy comments that leapt to her lips. She'd never had much patience for this game. "Sayaka-sempai. Please."

Sayaka seemed to pull herself together. "Last week after the writing club meeting I was a little late getting out, since Ogawa-kun and I had some business. As I was leaving, I heard some girls talking - one of the voices was familiar. She said something like 'I SAW them! They were coming out of that gay bar!' Then the other girls said some rude things and the first voice said, 'I don't think they should be allowed to get away with that.'" Sayaka lowered her voice. "I could hear the voices clearly and waited until they passed the room. When I slipped out behind them, I could see who it was."

Yuriko braced herself. She had the sickening feeling she knew exactly who it was who had been speaking about her. Yamamoto Kaori, who clearly disapproved of her...

"I think it was Mie-san."

Yuriko was completely taken aback. "Mie-san? You mean that little girl from the writing club?"

Nodding, Sayaka said, "Yes. Although she hasn't been back to meetings since that day she collapsed."

"Since that day..." Yuriko's eyes widened as several diverse pieces fell into place. "Great." She looked down at Sayaka, who was gazing up at her with worry. "Thank you for telling me. It all makes perfect sense now."

"Did...did you and she fight or something?" Sayaka asked hesitantly.

"Something." Yuriko said, knowing full well we she was getting all "adult" on Sayaka again. She smiled down at the girl and patted her lightly on the shoulder. "I think I can handle this now."

Sayaka's face flooded with relief. "So, you're not mad at me?"

"Mad at you? Not at all!" Yuriko spoke lightly. "If you had told me the other day, I would have assumed it was nothing to worry about - and nothing would have been any different. No, please don't worry about it." She gestured for Sayaka to precede her into the school. "Now let's get to class - we're running late."

But as they walked down the hall, Yuriko couldn't get the sense of foreboding to lift from her. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better...


Namba was standing outside the classroom when Yuriko and Sayaka came up. He greeted the two women and asked for a word with Yuriko. Sayaka excused herself and took Yuriko's book bag into the room with her. The blonde shot the cameraman a look and asked what was up.

"Nothing, really." Namba grinned slightly. "I just want to make sure I catch the look on your face on film."

"The look on my face?" Yuriko asked.

"Yeah," Namba laughed. He lifted the camera and fiddled with the focus. Yuriko watched him suspiciously, until a voice behind her made her whirl around.

"Yuriko-san, I presume?" The voice was feminine, without being childish. In fact, Yuriko thought as she turned, it was a very nice voice.

Yuriko found herself staring agog at the speaker. The woman was absolutely gorgeous. Thin, without being bony, her face was finely crafted, with nearly perfect features. Her hair looked impossibly silky and soft, laying thickly across her shoulders.

"Uh, yes. I'm Yuriko." she managed at last, trying to martial some of her infamous charm, and failing utterly.

The smile that appeared on the woman's face caused an answering grin to cross Yuriko's.

"I'm Yumi Midori. The new PA."

Yuriko stared. The new PA? But this woman wasn't PA-like at all! She pulled herself together enough to continue the pleasantries. "Welcome. It's good to have you on the show Yumi-san."

"Midori, please."

"Midori-san." Yuriko couldn't take her eyes off the woman. There was something so together about her... she could hear the whirr of the camera and but ignored it entirely.

The moment ended when Abe-sensei appeared, clearing his throat politely. Yuriko jumped back a little, and found herself blushing slightly. She quickly introduced Abe-sensei to the new PA, and slipped into the classroom with one last look over her shoulder at the woman, who smiled and gave a little wave as the door closed.

Yuriko sat down in her seat, then immediately stood again as the teacher entered. When they were seated once again, Aya leaned forward and said, "Are you alright? Your face is all flushed - do you have a fever?"

Yuriko shook her head. "No, it's nothing." But her eyes remained on the door of the classroom.

Namba entered, camera panning around the room, followed by Midori. Yuriko caught the PA's eyes and flushed darker. Midori smiled brightly at the blonde, and at a few boys whose mouths were now hanging conspicuously open in her general direction, then moved to the back of the classroom.

"Ah." Aya said knowingly, and pretended to flinch from Yuriko's glare with a laugh.