Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko is facing her second day enrolled as a senior at
Mitsukawa High for a new "reality" TV program. On her first day, she
confronted school bullies, made some new friends and was mercilessly teased by her best
friend in the whole world. The second day now draws to an end...
Volume 1, Issue 6
"Love and Hate on the Court"
One of the nice things about school, Yuriko thought, as she walked towards the
lockers, was the end of the day. It was like you've actually accomplished something,
having made it through one more day filled with random commands and strange requests
(if you looked at them from a bigger perspective)
. She stopped in her tracks.
Approaching her locker slowly, she could make out what appeared to be an envelope
sticking out from one of the ventilation slits. How odd.
She pulled at the envelope and was not terribly surprised to find that it was a love
letter. She wondered why the sender hadn't shoved it all the way through the slot,
and smiled when she guessed it was due to extreme nervousness. That was
understandable, after all. She lifted the note to her nose and gently sniffed. There
was no scent. Probably a boy's then. Smiling, she tucked it under her arm and lifted
the locker door.
Her smile faded as tens, no, dozens of little envelopes in every size, shape and
color, cascaded out of her shoe locker, past her flailing hands and landed in
scattered piles on the floor around her feet. She stared down in disbelief at the
paper that now littered the floor, while a few stragglers slithered their way out of
the locker to join their brethren. Looking up, Yuriko heard a noise to her left and
she turned to see today's cameraman moving in for a close-up. She gave a wan
smile and waved, then let the locker door drop, and softly banged her forehead
When Yuriko at last entered the gym, she found it already crowded with girls in uniform.
Squeaking from sneakers on waxed floors, shouts and the coach calling out commands
filled the air. Girls' voices cheered, cajoled and shrieked at each turn of the game in
progress. Yuriko was content to stand in the back and watch the action.
It was almost immediately apparent that the powerhouse of the team was a long-limbed
girl, whose long black hair was pulled into a tight ponytail. Her presence on the
court was electrifying. She moved with a grace that was unusual for a
and her commands to her team radiated assurance. Yuriko nodded approvingly.
This would be the team Captain.
Matsumori-sensei blew her whistle and called a short break. Both sides turned
towards the benches, grabbing for waterbottles and towels. The coach waved the dark-haired
girl over and started towards Yuriko.
The girl's ponytail bounced behind her as she jogged over. "Yes, Coach?" Her
voice was clipped, precise.
Matsumori-sensei gestured towards the blonde and made introductions. Yuriko offered her
hand and bowed, stated her name and class and watched for the reaction. The girl's
nostrils flared slightly at her name, but no other change came over her face.
"I'm Kaori. Yamamoto Kaori. Nice to meet you." The clipped voice was ambiguous -
Yuriko couldn't be sure whether the girl was pleased or not.
The coach was already speaking. "She's here for a while and I thought, with her
height, she'd be a good addition to the team. I'd like you to watch her play, and we can
talk about where she might be useful."
"Uh," Yuriko interrupted, "I can't play in games, you know that, right? I'm
not technically eligible." She shrugged. "But I'll be glad to help out in
practice." She could see Kaori watching her closely and felt oddly
uncomfortable under the girl's stare.
"Let's take it one step at a time, shall we?" Matsumori-sensei asked. "You
feel up to a little one on one?" she handed a ball to Yuriko, who nodded, a little
unsure of herself.
Smiling at Kaori, she said, "I'm not all that good..."
Kaori turned away as she spoke, "I'll be the judge of that."
Yuriko's eyebrows lifted, then lowered. Niiiiiccce.... She headed onto the floor,
bouncing the ball lightly, getting a feel for it.
Kaori stood, her body ready, uncommitted. Yuriko passed the ball to her, and Kaori
shot it back, hard. Yuriko received the ball and broke around to the right; Kaori was
there in an instant, covering her, blocking her way to the basket. Yuriko tried to
fake a shot, but Kaori read her intentions and almost took the ball away. Yuriko
broke again and after a few steps, crashed shoulder to chest with Kaori. The girl
didn't flinch, but proceeded to get right in Yuriko's face. The blonde set her jaw
and decided to let the slight height difference work. She leapt and shot, her hands just
above the limit of Kaori's reach...but the ball rebounded from the hoop, and Kaori
was there to take it.
The next few minutes were the toughest workout of Yuriko's life. Kaori had great
intuition, good skill and was, Yuri was annoyed to note, in much better shape than
herself. When the coach at last blew the whistle, Yuriko practically sank into the
floor with relief and exhaustion. Kaori took one more leisurely shot, sank the basket and
turned away without a word. Yuriko accepted a towel gratefully from one girl and a
waterbottle from another, but never took her eyes off the team captain.
The coach was at her elbow, grinning. "Not bad for your first day."
Yuriko returned the grin. "Not good, either. I'm out of shape - the celebrity life
has made me soft." She gestured with her chin towards Kaori, who stood in the
center of a ring of girls, talking with one or two of them. "She doesn't like
Shaking her head, Matsumori-sensei said, "Not much. Thinks you're a distraction. But
I think you've got real potential." She looked over at her star forward.
"She'll come around when she sees that you're sincere."
Yuriko flushed and lowered her voice. "But
she's right. I'm only doing this
because I have to." Seeing the disappointed look on the coach's face, she
backtracked. "I mean, I'll do my best, but I won't be here for long."
Matsumori-sensei looked thoughtful. "I'll talk to Kaori-kun..."
Yuriko interrupted. "No - I'll take care of it myself." She smiled reassuringly.
"I'm good at that kind of thing."
The coach looked at Yuriko with a worried expression, then her face softened.
"Okay, but if you need me to, I will." She turned back to the girls and
separated them into two drill squads.
Yuriko found herself on a squad with ten teammates. She turned her mind to trying to
keep up with the other girls, but had the constant, irritating sensation that she
was being watched. At last she broke from her formation and shot a look towards the other
side of the gym. There stood Kaori, her eyes burning darkly, staring directly at
Yuriko. The team captain caught her eye, then slowly and deliberately, turned away.
Yuriko sighed, but her attention was drawn away again by one of the girls, who was
explaining the next drill.
The afternoon passed slowly.
"Why are you torturing yourself?" Mari's voice was even gigglier over the
phone than usual. Yuriko made a face at the phone tucked between shoulder and cheek.
"You have an agency for that kind of thing."
"Because these kids took time to write me these notes..."
"Love letters." Mari interrupted, smirking audibly.
"Yes, love letters," Yuriko snapped. "And I feel like I should at least
"What are you going to do about them? You can't very well respond to them all.
You don't even know who half these people are."
Yuriko slit another one open and pulled out the neatly folded note. She read out
loud, "'Yuriko-sama, I think you are the most wonderful singer and very
beautiful in the girl's uniform. I love you very much.' No signature."
Mari's laughter was loud and Yuriko took the moment to lay the letter in the
"unsigned" pile. The next one was obviously from a boy. The paper was
dark, but had a small embossed English "R" in one corner. She read again,
"'Yuriko-san, I'm sure you will receive many letters from many students, but I
hope that mine is special. I have never heard you sing, although other students tell
me that you are good. I haven't seen any of your acting, either. I am sorry about
that, because I think you are very good-looking.'" Yuriko ignored the acerbic
comment that came from the phone. "'I wanted to write you and say that I am glad you
have come to our school and I hope that one day we will meet and be friends. Yours,
"Well, that was different at least," Mari said, her voice faint.
"Stop doing that." Yuriko commented.
"What?" Mariko said, her voice clear once again.
"Kissing Hachi when you're on the phone. You can get off any time, you know."
Yuriko opened another letter, scanned it and set it on the "signed with
"Oh, you!" Mariko said accusingly, then laughed. "And so I shall. Will we
see you Saturday night?"
"Eight o'clock at Chuugoku." Yuriko stuck another unsigned note on the
"See you then!" Mariko said and hung up the phone.
"I can't wait." Yuriko spoke to the dead air. "You have no idea." She
took the phone from under her chin and closed it up, then slit open another letter.