Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has reacquainted herself with her fans on her way to dinner with Mariko. She's still having fun, so it can't be that bad.

Volume 4, Issue 14

"A Wing and a Prayer"

"Yeah, so it took me about 20 minutes to get off the train, and of  course I missed my stop." Yuriko laughed.

Mariko grinned at her friend. "What possessed you?"

Yuriko shrugged. "I just wanted to ride the subway. I don't get to do it much anymore."

"Well, obviously! You'd never make it on time to any of your jobs!" Mariko shook her head reprovingly. "You don't have to do that, you know - you're not one of those "where are they now" types."

"I disagree, but that's not why I did it. I *like* my fans. They're just kids - they don't deserve to be treated like the enemy." Yuriko sucked in a mouthful of noodles and soup. "Anyway," she continued after she swallowed, "every idol is a "where are they now" candidate. My last hit is at 42 right now - that might as well be off the charts.  And this show won't come out until the New Year. As far as the world of fame is concerned, I've disappeared off the face of the earth."

"Ah - that would explain Saturday's club visit." Mariko shot Yuri a sly look. "I was watching "Night Life" and that gossip columnist mentioned seeing you with a new "companion."

"Yes, yes, Midori-san told me." Yuriko applied her energy to eating, avoiding the subject.

"How does she feel about it?"

"She's not sure yet."

Mariko nodded wisely. "It's a completely different life than that of a prize-winning writer. It'll take some getting used to."

Yuriko lifted her tea and held it out in a toast. "Here's to her being around long enough to get used to it," she said fervently.

Mariko lifted her cup and clinked. "Here here."


Yuriko walked along the street happily. Her stomach was full, her future, according to Sayaka and Aya, assured and her homework reasonably light tonight. Life was good.

A car pulled up by the curb and a window rolled down. A young man, rather rough-looking, called out.

"Do you know the way to San Jose'?" he asked in thickly accented English.

Yuriko stared at him, puzzled and slightly annoyed. "What?"

"I was just wondering what a nice girl like you was doing walking on the dark streets alone like this." The tough grinned impudently and flicked a cigarette into the gutter.

"Excuse me," Yuriko said, rather stiffly and began to walk once again. The car followed.

"Hey, why don't you come for a ride with us?" the kid asked crudely. There was laughter from the vehicle, then a voice growled a command. The car stopped.

Yuriko turned and glared at the car and its occupants. "Yeah that sounds great. Why don't I just get in the car with a bunch of drunken losers? Thanks, I'll pass." Her voice was steady, but she could feel her hands shaking, so she shoved them firmly into her coat pockets.

The car doors opened and four figures exited. The kid who addressed her leaned against the car and lit a new cigarette. Another figure walked around the back of the car and hopped up onto the curb. Stepping over to the smoking kid, he slapped him lightly across the face, then shouted for the others to get back in the car, which they did, shouting jeers at him.

The car started up and the kid hung out of the window. "Hey, loverboy, have fun with your girlfriend tonight!" The others laughed and the car pulled away.

Yuriko stared after them in anger and fear. She whirled on the man, ready to take it out on him, but bit it all back when she saw his face.

"Uh, look," he said, "I'm sorry. I had to bum a ride and those jerks were the only ones who had a car."

Yuriko stared in wonder at Uto. He was growing a mustache - something that added years, if not maturity, to his face. He'd cut his hair and a new pair of wire-rim glasses gave him the look of a young businessman. Even the coat he wore was a cut above average. Obviously, the last few weeks had treated him very well indeed.

Yuriko watched Uto carefully. He patted himself down, found a cigarette and lighter and went through the motions of lighting up. After sucking down a deep breath of nicotine he gave Yuriko a hard look.

"We gotta talk."

"So talk," Yuriko shrugged, fighting to keep a smile off her face.

"I have two words for you..." Uto began with a smirk.

Yuriko interrupted, "I can guess one, but the other'd better be 'thank.'" She shot him an impudent grin.

He glared at her for a second, then laughed. "I was thinking 'butt out,' actually. You're one nosy bitch ain'tya?"

"Yep." Yuriko agreed. She checked her watch. "Wanna join me for a drink? We can talk over some sake."

Uto didn't say anything, but fell into step next to the blonde. They walked in silence for a few blocks until they reached a small kiosk. Uto nodded at the proprietor and ordered two sakes. After the usual toast they settled into a routine of pleasant insults.

"So, I hear you have yourself a new girl. Hope she's cuter than you." Uto poured himself more sake.

"Hey - you're the one who said you were my boyfriend...what possessed you, anyway?"

"I like a challenge." Uto sneered. "It shut them up, though."

"I guess so. Well, I hope you're enjoying your drink - that's all the date you'll ever get out of me." Yuriko waved the bartender over and asked for refills for both of them.

"Yeah, you're probably lousy in bed anyway." Uto snapped.

"Better than anyone you'll ever have." Yuriko shot right back.

They smiled at each other and drank more sake. Yuriko let the warmth of the liquor spread through her. She relaxed and enjoyed the cold air against her warm cheeks.

"By the way," Yuriko said after a while. "You're welcome."

"Screw you." Uto said. "What makes you think I took the job?"

Yuriko gave a short laugh. "Because you're not a complete asshole." She stared down at her cup. "Did you take it?"

Uto tossed back his sake and sat back on the stool. "Yeah." He pulled out his wallet and laid a few bills on the kiosk counter. Yuriko pushed the money back at him.

"I told you - this is all the date you'll ever have from me."

Uto made a face, but he took the money back. Yuriko stood, adjusted her coat and faced the young punk. He might play tough, but both of them knew that Yuriko may have well kept him from an early death by getting him that job at the club. Uto shifted position uncomfortably, then bowed.

Yuriko waited until the boy was upright, then gave him a deep, slow bow. When she stood, she looked at him sharply. "Don't screw up."

Uto nodded shortly. " I guess I owe you..."

"Don't ever darken my doorstep again and we're even." Yuriko said with a grin.

"It's a deal." Uto turned away and took a few steps. Stopping, he turned to look at her over his shoulder. "Take care, Yuri-chan...and stay away from my girlfriend."

"I wouldn't have her on a bet." Yuri laughed. "'Night." She waved at Uto's back as he headed out into the night.