Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: The school festival has brought Yuriko several revelations - and some surprising insight into the people around her. She's not sure what it all means yet, but she's willing to wait it out. In the mean time, there's a play to be watched.


Volume 5, Issue 16

"The Final Hurdle"


"Where have you been?" Midori whispered, as Yuriko seated herself. The house lights had already been lowered.

"All over," Yuriko confessed. "I'll tell you later."

Midori made as if to speak once more, but Yuriko put a finger on her lips and shushed her. Midori made a face and they turned towards the stage.

"The Tale of Genji" was a lush production covering several of the more romantic and popular moments from the famous novel by Murasaki Shikibu. Yuriko was impressed with Sato's genteel seductiveness and fresh- faced charm. She made a mental note to ask him if he was interested in acting, then made a second mental note to tease Sayaka about it. As the last act wound down towards an ending rich with unfulfilled longing and pleasant melancholy, Yuriko found herself thinking about the story Sawako- sensei had told her. 'Because I'm an emotionless monster. Just like you.' She nodded to the memory.

Applause brought her out of her reverie and Yuriko joined hers to the rest of the audience's. She looked around as the lights went up, noting Aya and Jun several rows back, and Ruriko-sensei on Mariko's left. As her eyes met Ruriko-sensei's Yuriko gave her a wink. Allies among the faculty, huh…well that little remark made more sense now.

Curtain calls brought the main players back on stage and Yuriko found herself cheering as a happily blushing Sayaka presented flowers to an equally blushing Sato. Was young love really that goopy? Yuriko felt a light pressure on her arm and looked down to see Midori looking up at her with warm eyes. She smiled down at the woman and laughed at herself. The answer, it would appear, she thought to herself as she turned her attention back to the stage, would be a resounding *yes.*

***

Her own mini-concert went well. She began with a medley of popular love songs, announcing that she was dedicating this show to love. The audience appeared to approve because the screams and cheers were extremely loud. Yuriko smiled down flirtatiously at Midori - at which another cheer reverberated through the room.

Yuriko followed this up with the first-ever performance of the opening theme to "The Best Years of Our Lives," along with some of her best-known hits. She finished up with a re-mixed version of an 8th century love poem set to traditional Japanese music. By the time Yuriko sang the chorus the third time, she could see some of her audience singing along. With a flourish she sang the chorus once again, just to hear their voices.


I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
I think of you always
.

Yuriko ended her performance with a kiss blown at the audience and a wave. She stepped down off the stage, took the flowers that were held out to her and laughed at the complete lack of people who wanted autographs. It seemed, Mariko commented later, that there wasn't anyone left in the school that didn't have it already.

***
Back in the gymnasium, the band was raring to go, and refreshments were waiting. Yuriko and Midori, accompanied by nearly the entire basketball team and their dates, entered the room as a victorious general might. While hundreds of eyes watched them, Yuriko turned to Midori, took her in her arms and began to dance.

Midori watched Yuriko through half-lidded eyes. "I'm not sure which is worse - being an object of media attention for your benefit, or having all these children watching us."

Yuriko smiled apologetically. "At least here no one's taking pictures." She spun them around and found herself facing into a camera lens, while the photographer for the school paper shouted, "Cheese!" When her vision cleared, Yuriko found herself the subject of a piercingly sarcastic gaze from Midori.

"Uh-huh." The writer said.

After the first dance was over, Yuriko found her dance card filled by nearly every girl in the school. She watched as Midori accepted an invitation to dance from Ryo, who looked even more beautiful in a tux than he did usually. They made such a magnificent couple, that Yuriko actually found herself suffering pangs of jealousy for a moment. In revenge, she chose to dance with Ruriko-sensei, who was delighted to show off.

"Would you believe," she said to the blonde as they walked onto the dance floor, "that I haven't danced yet since…"

"Well, then," Yuriko said quickly, not wanting to think about that affair and all it had cost the gym teacher, "let's make 'em jealous."

They could see Mariko dancing with one of the boys from the basketball team - and Hachigoro watching darkly from the sidelines until a cute young thing wormed him out onto the dance floor. Yuriko laughed at the look on Mariko's face when she saw them. "There's trouble a-brewin' over thar," she affected a badly done western accent.

Ruriko grinned, "I'm more concerned about over thar," she gestured with her chin where her fiancee' stood glowering at them. Yuriko smiled, then wheeled them over to that side of the floor, until Ruriko's fiancée had no choice but to ask to cut in. Yuriko handed the coach over gracefully, giving her a surreptitious wink when he couldn't see it.

Mariko next, followed by a series of adorably blushing girls, followed by a quick dance with Midori, who was whisked away by another athletic-looking lad. Yuriko was beginning to get a complex. She had hoped to have a dance with Sayaka or Aya, but when she saw them swaying happily in the arms of their respective beaux, she decided that discretion was the better part of butting out.

She turned away to have a drink and found herself facing Sawako- sensei. He bowed formally and before she even had a chance to think about it, found herself halfway onto the floor accompanied by the math teacher. He was a surprisingly good dancer, if a little stiff, and Yuriko found herself in then unusual, but not completely unknown, position of following someone else's lead.

By the time she made her way to the refreshment table, Yuriko was hot and tired, and ready for a break. Midori, Mariko and Hachi met her as she approached and joined her in a drink.

"You're awfully red, Yuri," Mari said mildly. "You wouldn't be, oh, embarrassed, would you?"

"I'm just warm," Yuriko grumped, not meeting anyone's eyes, and ignoring the snorts of laughter that came from her companions.

By the time Yuriko was ready to dance once more, she found herself confronted by a smiling Ryo. "I can't be beat by a stuffy old teacher now, can I?" he asked with a grin.

"Not hardly!" Yuriko said and took his arm. As they danced, she noticed once again that she looked almost directly into his eyes. "You know," she mused, "we must look like a gay couple, don't you?"

Ryo grinned, "Is there something wrong with that?"

Yuriko looked startled. "Uh, no, it's just that most guys don't like to…." Her voice petered out slowly as she watched the boy's expression. "Sheesh," she muttered, "zero for three…" Her face cleared as an idea sprang into her head. "You don't happen to know a freshman named Togai, do you?" Ryo shook his head. "I'll try and introduce you." Yuriko said with a big grin.

The night had worn down, the last dance had ended. Thanks were being made, from the performers to the setup crew, to the general student body. As the Principal made ready to end the night, he asked Yuriko to step up and say a few words.

Yuriko took the mike and looked around the room for a moment, trying to think of what to say. She glanced at Midori, who smiled at her encouragingly.

"I have so many people to thank that we could be here for hours," Yuriko admitted. "I look out over the crowd tonight and instead of seeing fans and admirers, I see nothing but friends. I know I've only been here a few months, but I feel like it's been years." Laughter moved through the room quietly.

"And while I won't be in for class on Monday," Yuriko grinned broadly at her erstwhile math teacher, "so I won't be able to hand in that dreadful assignment you gave us," she turned her eyes back to the crowd at large, "I don't want to think of it as if I've left for good." She took a deep breath and brushed a finger across the corner of her eye. "Some of you might know that I never graduated high school, so if it's alright with all of you," her voice cracked, "I'd really like to think of this school as my alma mater." Yuriko put the mic in the stand and grabbed the handkerchief from her pocket, as the entire crowd went ballistic, shouting and cheering.

As Yuriko stepped away from the microphone, the Principal took it up and waited for the crowd to calm down. Keeping his eyes fixed on the idol he said quietly, "Graduation is on April 4th at 8PM. I'll expect to see you there."

Yuriko smiled through her tears and bowed. "I'll be there."

Epilogue