Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: A week that began in ignominy seems likely to end in happiness. Yuriko finds herself increasingly distracted by the new Production Assistant for her show.

Volume 4, Issue 3

"Rites of Passage"

Yuriko grabbed up the phone in one hand, while flipping the omelet with the other. Neither task went as she planned and the omelet hung half out of the pan, while the phone slipped to the counter, then the floor. She cursed, then again, as she banged her head against the counter as she scooped up the phone. The omelet lay limply from the pan and she stuck the phone under her chin, trying to shake the darn thing back into place.

"Trying to cook, I see." Mariko's voice was quite amused.

Yuriko made a face. "Yes, if you must know. I'm ...gasp...hungry. I'm sure you've heard of the condition?"

"Don't eat too much - this weekend Hachi and I are taking you to that new Indian place."

Yuriko laughed. "I think I can guarantee I'll be hungry again before Saturday." She bit back another interjection as she burned a finger on the pan.

"Poor Yuriko. You really need a wife, don't you?" Mari plowed on without a pause. "Hey, speaking of assistants - I hear you've got a new PA again! How do you like her?"

"She's fine, why?"

"Fine?" Mariko was incredulous. "That's it? Fine?"

Yuriko slid the mostly saved omelet onto a plate and carried it over to the table. She slid a forkful of egg into her mouth before answering. "Yes, she's fine. Nice-looking - is that what you want to hear? I really can't say I know much else about her."

Mariko laughed longer than Yuriko thought the situation warranted. When she spoke again, there was a definite grin in her voice. "Well, let me know how she works out."

Yuriko swallowed, took a sip of tea. "Wait a there something I'm missing? Namba-san was doing that to me all day today. I feel like Midori-san is the punch line to a joke and I'm the only one who hasn't heard it yet."

"Nonono," Mariko soothed unconvincingly. "There's no joke. 'Midori-san', eh?"

Yuriko raspberried into the phone. "She's a friendly person."

"I'm glad to hear it."

Yuriko decided to change the subject and told Mari about her conversation with Sayaka - and Ruriko-sensei.

"Ooooh, if I were Ruriko-sensei's boyfriend, I'd run." Mariko said.

"If I were, I'd at least nail boards over the windows. Ruriko- sensei doesn't strike me as a pushover."

"Nor me." Mariko yawned. "It's been a long day - long week. I'm going to bed. We'll see you at eight on Saturday, okay? My place."

"I'll be there," Yuriko said, reaching to disconnect the phone.

"Oh - and Yuri...feel free to bring a date." Mariko laughed, then hung up. Yuriko shook her head at her friend as she put the phone on the table, then picked up her fork and tucked into her omelet.

She had just finished up her math homework when there was a call on the intercom. That was unusual. Hardly anyone she knew ever used the darn thing. Yuriko glanced at the clock, noted that it was rather late to be visiting and walked over to the intercom. She pushed the response button and asked, "Yes?"

The night doorman had a gravelly voice that disappeared into static, but she caught the word "Matsumori" and "visitor" amidst the interference. With a look of surprise and concern, she told the watchman to send Ruriko-sensei up.

When the coach knocked on the door, Yuriko was waiting to let her in. She looked hard at Ruriko-sensei, worried that something awful might have happened, but a quick glance at the woman's face dispelled all her fears. The teacher practically glowed with joy.

"Come in!" Yuriko gestured for Ruriko to take off her coat. "I'm sorry - the place is a mess..."

Ruriko-sensei didn't even bother to respond. She handed over her coat, with a huge smile on her face. Yuriko met the coach's gaze somewhat bemusedly, but then noticed the hand that held the coat. On the third finger sat a ring. A ring with a beautiful, clear stone.

Yuriko smiled broadly. "Congratulations!"

Ruriko did a pirouette out of sheer happiness. "I'm sorry to burst in on you like this, so late...but I couldn't hold it in!"

Yuriko took her hand and looked down at the ring appreciatively. "Niiiicccce." She gazed into the teacher's eyes. "He's got good

Ruriko brushed prettily. Yuriko let go of her hand and gestured her to the couch. "Let me get some champagne to celebrate." As she routed in the wine rack, she spoke without looking up. "Would you mind terribly if I called Mariko and invited her over? She was worried for you."

"Was she?" Ruriko-sensei sounded as if there had never been any reason to worry. "That's sweet. Please do - the more the merrier."

Yuriko picked up the phone and made the call. Mariko answered sleepily, but when she heard the news, promised to be over shortly.

Yuriko poured two glasses of champagne and handed one over. "Now tell me all about it," she commanded.

Ruriko-sensei lifted the glass in salute, and took a sip. Her eyebrows rose appreciatively. "Very nice. There's not much to say. I went over to his, Hiroji's, house tonight, ready to demand an apology for his behavior to me the other day."

"So, what happened?" Yuriko asked.

Ruriko shrugged happily. "He apologized." She sipped the champagne with a grin. "I waltzed into his house, explained the situation to his mother - who was absolutely appalled by my behavior, by the way - and insisted that even if we never saw each other again, he had no right to break up with me in such a way. Hirojii turned an interesting shade of red, but never said a word. When I was done...he apologized. He said that he'd been thinking about it, and that he had reacted like a complete jerk and that as soon as he had said he thought we shouldn't see each other any more, he felt terrible - and lonely. And that today he hadn't gone to work he felt so bad...and that he was planning on trying to call me and see if I would see him...and he held out a box." The words came in a cheerful rush.

Yuriko grinned at her friend. "I'm so happy for you."

Ruriko-sensei bounced a little in place. "Me too. I didn't want to have to drag him off by the hair - it would have been unseemly."

They both laughed at the image.

After they had drunk their champagne, Ruriko stood. "Would it," she inquired a little coyly, "be alright to dance one last time? I realize it's a bit tacky to ask - but somehow it seems appropriate."

Yuriko stood and bowed. "It would be my great pleasure!"

She turned on the CD player, loaded some music and took Ruriko- sensei into her arms. The two women were happily spinning around the floor, bumping into furniture when there was a knock on the door.

Yuriko raised her voice over the music. "Come in!" she called, and then to the teacher, "Let's show Mariko just how good we are." Yuriko spun them into an elaborate twirl, ending up with a flourish and a deep dip as the door opened. Yuriko lifted Ruriko-sensei up lightly with a laugh and turned to greet her friend.

The look on the face of Ruriko-sensei and Yuriko was mirrored by Yamamoto Kaori, captain of the girls' basketball team, as she watched them from the door.