Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has unloaded her problems onto Ruriko- sensei, who has found new dedication through the news. Now Yuriko can turn her energy and time towards a new goal...

Volume 4, Issue 2

"The Road Lies Ahead"

Gym class was a nightmare. Ruriko-sensei, having been newly invigorated in spirit, was inspired and energetic. Yuriko found herself lagging behind the rest of the class as the final laps ended. With immense relief, Yuriko dragged herself the last few yards and leaned heavily on the bleachers, panting. Playing basketball was one thing, but running endless laps was an entirely different story. She felt very old and tired, until she saw some the girls slumping their own way into the locker room.

A quiet laugh from behind her made Yuriko stand up a little straighter. She turned to give Midori a cheerful wave and was surprised and annoyed to see Ruriko-sensei standing with the PA, giving her an extremely evil grin. It had obviously been a bad idea to introduce the coach to Mariko - Ruriko was picking up some of her worst habits. Yuriko gave her a sarcastic smile and humphed off to get changed.

The rest of the day passed in a haze of tedium and irritation for Yuriko. The weekly test in Japanese might have been in Greek for all she could make heads or tails of it, and in English class, Yuriko found it hard to concentrate. Sayaka and Aya were pointedly not saying anything, which made Yuriko self-conscious to boot. And all the while, the camera whirred as it preserved Yuriko's lack of concentration for posterity. Namba seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. Even Abe-sensei noticed that something was up. The teacher kept giving her what he supposed were subtle gestures of questioning and support. He looked like he'd picked up some bizarre muscular twitch.

Yuriko felt rather twitchy herself, if the truth be told. She was dreading practice, as the final game of the basketball season drew close. The team, on a winning streak, seemed to be at the height of their energy and skill. Yuriko, on the other hand, wanted to lie down on her sofa and whine for a little while.


Yuriko changed for practice somewhat desultorily. When she entered the gym, a pick-up game was in progress, and Yuriko contented herself to watch. She couldn't help but admire the grace with which these young women moved and the strength they possessed. By the time the coach arrived, Yuriko was feeling little more than antique.

Ruriko-sensei startled Yuriko by giving her a hearty slap on the shoulder as she passed. Yuriko gave the woman a suspicious glance and was rewarded by yet another evil grin. Yuriko groaned out loud.

"What's the matter?" Ruriko-sensei teased. "I thought you'd *want* a chance to be impressive today." She gestured lightly towards the stands where Namba filmed and Midori sat with her hands primly folded in her lap. Yuriko smiled weakly at the PA before turning back to the coach.

"I dunno," she said. "You're too energetic by half. And I feel old today - and tired."

Ruriko-sensei laughed. "They say that there's nothing like exercise to make you feel young again!" And with that, she blew the whistle.

Yuriko wasn't sure if she felt young again, but from that moment on, she sure didn't have time to feel old. Ruriko-sensei was really mixing up the team, giving second-stringers a chance for some hard practice, and playing Yuriko almost the entire time. After the first few minutes of her aged muscles protesting, something in Yuriko seemed to give way and she found herself getting into the spirit of the thing. By the end of practice Yuriko hadn't felt so good in many a day. She stretched and sighed with great satisfaction.

She grinned up at Midori, who climbed down the bleachers to meet her.

"That was very impressive!" The PA said. "Did you play basketball in high school?"

"No, but maybe I should have. I might have gotten a scholarship to a good university," Yuriko said.

"Where *did* you go to school?" Midori asked as she accompanied Yuriko to the locker room.

"I didn't. I became an actor practically right out of high school." Yuriko smiled down at the other woman. "Not to change the subject, because of course I love talking about myself, but where would you like to go for dinner? We can always pick up the conversation over food."

Midori's face grew serious. "I'm terribly sorry - I won't be able to go out tonight. Onda-san has asked me to drop by and as it's my first week with the show, I didn't feel I could refuse."

"Oh." Yuriko did her best to not look *too* disappointed. "Well, then, maybe tomorrow night?" She shifted as a few of the girls from the team squeezed past them to get into the locker room.

"Have you forgotten already? You have a charity dinner tomorrow night. You're doing a mini-concert."

Yuriko growled. "I completely forgot that. Bleah." Although if Midori was coming... "Will you be there for the concert?"

"I wasn't planning on attending..."

Yuriko smiled softly. "I wish you would come."

Midori answered her smile. "Then I'll be there." She lifted a hand to wave lightly, then bowed. "I have to be going now, but I'll see you tomorrow...Yuriko-san." The PA's voice softened on Yuriko's name and small thrill ran up her spine.

"See you tomorrow," Yuriko said. She watched as the PA left the gym in the direction of the school's main entrance. When she turned back, she found herself face to face with a grinning Namba.

"What?" she snapped. "You've been giving me that leer all day. What's the big joke?"

Namba shrugged. "Nothing, nothing. I'm just taking notes on some smooth technique." He slapped the lens on the camera and swung it off his shoulder. "Just watchin' the master at work."

Yuriko glared at him for a moment, then stuck her tongue out. Pretending an annoyance she didn't feel, she pushed her way into the locker room while behind her Namba's laughter echoed across the gym.