Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has learned a surprising lesson about the students she spends her day with, and as a result has determined to reapply herself to her studies. Mariko has conspired to set her up with Midori for dinner - which suits Yuriko just fine.


Volume 4, Issue 9

"Spiritus Mundi"



"What's with the secret conspiracy anyway?" Yuriko reached out an arm and dragged Mariko along with her as the four of them left the apartment building. "Why didn't you just tell me you were inviting her?" she whispered to Mariko.

Mariko's grin was twisted and a little annoyed. "Because, my dear Yuri, you were playing dumb." Her head snapped back as a thought occurred to her. "You're not trying to play hard to get, are you?"

"What?" the blonde barked. "No!"

Mariko laughed at her. "Honestly, you are so predictable. On any given day you're as flirtatious as a bar hostess, but when faced with someone with whom you might actually develop a real relationship, you're as skittish and sullen as a teenager."

"I am not sullen," Yuriko grumped. "And I was doing just fine on my own."

Mariko put her hand over Yuriko's and squeezed. "Of course you were." She smiled winningly at her fiancée and Midori as they caught up with them at the taxi stand.

***

Dinner was in a restaurant on the bay. The lights of Tokyo were multiplied by reflections in the water, until it seemed as if they were adrift in a sea of stars. Yuriko found herself relaxing into the atmosphere, wishing that this moment might last an eternity. She sighed happily.

"What was that for?" Hachi asked, smiling brightly at his friend.

"I'm just thinking that this is what life is all about, really. Good food, good friends, good conversation..." Yuriko gestured generally around the table.

Hachi lifted his glass in agreement, then turned to Midori. "Yukano-san," he began.

"It's Yumi, really, but please, call me Midori. I only use Yukano for my writing."

"Midori-san," Hachi continued with an inclination of his head, "how do you like working in the glamorous television profession?"

Midori sighed. "It's exhausting!" she said candidly. Mariko and Yuri laughed.

"I doubt anyone would believe you. I can't tell you the number of times people have asked me incredulously how difficult going to all those parties could possibly be," Yuriko added sagely.

"Really, and when you tell them you work with someone famous, they either want to know personal dirt, or assume it's all glamour and glitz," Mariko added.

Midori laughed. "Do you know what I spent most of today doing? Onda-san wanted gyoza for lunch, Takahashi-san wanted soba, Nagai-san and I spent all afternoon taking orders and delivering food."

They all laughed at the reality of working in entertainment.

"Ah, the life of the rich and famous." Yuriko grinned. "Yeah, from my perspective, all you peons do a reasonable job of making my life a little less uncomfortable."

Mariko stuck her tongue out at the blonde. "But you're not too bad, actually, except for the occasional whining," she chuckled. "A few weeks ago we had a special episode of "Party Line" where all the guests were older actors - you know, everyone knows them, but they haven't had a role in years? Well," she said with emphasis, "you'd have thought they were divas of international opera the way they were
going on..."

The conversation turned towards prima donnas of all types. Yuriko found herself listening raptly as Midori spoke of her experiences in publishing - a whole world she knew nothing about. It was all too easy, she thought, to assume that what was important to you was important to other people, as well.

***

The evening drew to a close quietly. Mariko and Hachi grabbed up a cab for themselves saying that they were going to try and catch a late movie. Yuriko declined their invitation to join them.

"If you're not in a rush," she said to the writer, "I thought we might go somewhere for a drink."

"I'd like that. Do you have somewhere you particularly like?"

Yuriko thought about it. "It depends - do you feel like mingling, or is privacy more important?"

"I don't mind - either way is fine with me." Midori laughed. "You're the recognizable one."

Yuriko shot her a look. "Don't remind me...hey, wait! If you *don't* mind being seen with me, that'd be great!"

Midori stared at the idol, confused. "It would?"

Yuriko shook her head. "Long story - I'll tell you on the way."

***

The club was trendy. Very trendy. The kind of trendy that makes it impossible to enjoy one's self, as one is always being "seen." Yuriko rarely visited such places, but tonight she had a need to be seen - and this was the place, if any existed in this fashion-conscious town.

As with all Ginza clubs, the line to get in was long - and full of fashion victims. Yuriko grinned at the bouncer as she escorted Midori past the grumbling people on the queue.

Midori looked around at her surroundings, fascinated by the phenomenon. She raised her voice to be heard over the music pouring out of the club. "What a fantastic setting for a novel! Everything's so unreal!"

Yuriko nodded as the glowering bouncer turned his frown towards them.

"No one's being let in...." he began, but when he saw that it was Yuriko his face cleared. "Yuriko-sama! Welcome, come right in!" He bowed them into the club. "And please, let me know if you need anything."

Yuriko thanked the bouncer and led Midori up stairs lit only by blue neon stripes along the walls. The music gained resonance, becoming a palpable pressure in Midori's ear.

"Are you sure this is alright with you?" Yuriko asked.

Midori smiled and nodded. "I only wish I'd brought my notebook! It's like a foreign world to me - I feel like I need a tour guide."

Yuriko laughed. "Let me introduce myself - Yuriko, renowned tour guide to the haunts of the rich and pathetic, at your service." She bowed perfunctorily. "Don't worry - there's a back room where it's quieter."

They stepped over the threshold into a writhing, seething multi-celled, polychromatic organism of dancing bodies.

"My gods." Midori said, in awe.

"Cool, huh?" Yuriko shouted in her ear.

Continued