Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Ruriko is engaged and Yuriko is still confused about the enigma that is Yamamoto Kaori. She has little time to think of such matters however...

Volume 4, Issue 5
"Aurora Borealis"

The car pulled up to the curb and the door was opened by an attendant. Camera flashes popped and flickered. Yuriko gave them her most charming smile and waved to the various media. She waited a moment as her companion got out of the car. Arm in arm they walked up the carpeted path into the palatial hotel.

Once inside, they were met by fawning members of press, public and the esteemed organization on whose behalf they were gathered there. Yuriko helped herself to a drink. Smiling at her date for the evening, she gestured them both towards the main reception area. They had a few minutes before she'd have to go backstage.

She worked the room, greeting old "friends," industry contacts and other personalities. After a half hour of this activity, she turned to her date.

"So? What do you think so far?"

"I think this is exhausting. How do you keep all the names and faces straight?"

"I don't. I have an agent who tells me who will be here - and who to schmooze. She's probably waiting for me in the green room, as a matter of fact. Shall we?" Yuriko held her arm out with a grin.

The "green room" for the evening was a small room adjacent to the main ballroom, where the event was being held. Partitioned into separate areas by screens, the room was chaotic. Yuriko steered her way through the pandemonium. She could see Kishi-san deep in conversation with the event coordinator for tonight. Kishi kept glancing at her watch, then at the door with obvious annoyance. When she caught sight of Yuriko, she glowered and waved.

"Where have you been?" Yuriko had learned early on that this was Kishi's way of saying "hello."

"Good evening, Kishi-san, Tarim-san." The young Egyptian smiled at her with relief and excused himself - at least she was one act that would go on as planned.

"Who is this?" Kishi demanded.

"I'm her beard," Ryo laughed, after he had been introduced. The young man was simply stunning in a tuxedo and had been subject of envious looks from a fair percentage of the gathered women.

"Nice to meet you. Now," Kishi launched into an overview of the night's proceedings. Yuriko smiled and nodded until Kishi had run out of steam and then, just to bother her manager, she repeated all the information accurately. Kishi scowled and informed the idol that she was going out for a smoke.

Yuriko grinned at Ryo as she was escorted to the make-up area. She carefully arranged her skirts as she seated herself. Ryo watched with great interest as the make-up artists plied their art. Yuriko looked rather odd close up, but under the lights, he knew, she'd look radiant. Both he and the blonde looked up at the sound of footsteps approaching them across the tiled floor.

Midori stood there, clad in a luxurious evening gown, her hair glistening darkly in the lighting. Yuriko smiled broadly at her, which gained her a rebuke from the woman who was trying to apply blush to her cheek.

"You came! Did they give you any problem at the door?" Yuriko asked solicitously.

"Not at all." Midori turned to Ryo. "And who is this? Your date for the evening?" Her laugh was light.

"This is Ryo Ishida," Yuriko introduced him Western-style, as he had done when they first met, "and no - he's *your* date for the evening."

The two introduced themselves. Midori beamed. "Lucky me - I'll be the envy of all the other women. How did I get so fortunate?"

Yuriko gestured generally, "I'll be otherwise occupied for most of the evening - I didn't think it was fair to keep you waiting alone."

"I'm very interested in working in fundraising," Ryo commented pleasantly, "Yuriko-san was gracious enough to invite me tonight so I could see the end result."

"Ryo-kun is an artist - he's looking to get into design," Yuriko added. "He also cleans my house, answers some of my fan mail and otherwise makes himself irreplaceable. I thought this might be a nice way to thank him for his help." The man who was now combing and spraying her hair yelled at her to look straight ahead. Yuriko turned back to the mirror obediently.

When Yuriko's preparations were completed, she excused herself. "I need to take a few minutes and get ready - you know, warm up my voice, that kind of thing... Ryo-kun, if you'd be so kind, would you escort Midori-san to our table?"

Ryo bowed with a flourish, "It would be my great pleasure." Holding out his arm, he smiled down at the production assistant. "Shall we?"

Midori slipped her hand around his arm and turned back to Yuriko. "I'm looking forward to the performance - I've never seen you live."

Yuriko smoothed her dress as she stood. "I hope I'm not a terrible disappointment."

"I expect you'll be wonderful." And she and Ryo took their leave.

Yuriko found herself a semi-private corner, poured herself a glass of warm water and lemon, and commenced with a few voice exercises.


Yuriko felt the usual pre-performance jitters hit her. Of all types of activity, singing live had to be the most nerve-wracking. She ran her fingers through her hair, undoing some of the hairdresser's work and shook herself. She could hear the music end, faint applause from beyond the wall.

She thanked the technician who fitted her with a wireless mike. To take her mind off her nerves, Yuriko thought of the artificiality of such events. Although the news would show her, and many other stars like her, arriving just as the event opened, she'd actually been here for hours - conducting sound checks, working with the lighting and sound engineers. And now, the audience outside would see her perform in what appeared to be a spontaneous set of songs. Spontaneity that had taken hours of practice - and only if one didn't include studio time and dance practice. She laughed at the sheer absurdity of it.

"Five minutes, Yuriko-san." the young man in charge of such things said, then ran off to warn his next victim. She left the green room, to stand in the wings.

She could just make out Ryo's tall form from the side of the stage. There were several other people at the table - Midori was by Ryo's side, assumably, and that little figure on the other side was probably Kishi. She wondered who else was seated at the table. And if there'd be any food left by the time she was finished. With that thought, the final words of her intro were spoken and all thoughts except one ceased.

"Here I go," she spoke the formula out loud as she always did, and stepped out onto the stage to a round of enthusiastic applause.

Smiling broadly, Yuriko thanked the sponsors of the event and the gathered contributors. The strains of a well-known tune began to play softly. When the audience finally identified the music, there was a little laughter. At last her cue came, the spotlight shifted and Yuriko began to sing.

And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain.
My friends, I'll say it clear;
I'll state my case of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full -
I've traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.