Saiyuu no Ryokou: Adventures of Yuriko

Volume 1, Issue 1


"All Aboard the Gravy Train"

Midori's steps down the hallway were muffled by the sounds of people, props, scenery and costumes, all in varying stages of preparation and  transportation. The noise level was high, as usual for the studio, and Midori returned each shouted greeting with one of her own.

It seemed like years since she had worked here during a temporary stint as a production assistant. In reality it had been mere months since she had  "retired" from show business. Her story having been written, she had largely put that part of her life into the past. Except for one small relic from that experience.... Midori grinned at the thought of that relic; heartthrob to millions of adolescent girls and boys, and her lover, pop idol Yuriko.

As she approached the studio, Midori waved happily to the woman who stood outside in the hallway. Concern rapidly replaced cheerfulness, as she took in the other woman's flushed face.

"Hey," Midori said, as she approached, "are you okay?"

Mariko turned large and somewhat glazed eyes on Midori and nodded, distractedly. "Yes...I'm fine." Her voice was vague and Midori put out a hand in case Mariko might simply decide to slide to floor bonelessly.

"You don't sound fine," Midori said, looking from Mariko's face to the studio door. "Is everything going alright?"

Mariko's eyes moved randomly over Midori's face, and a small smile crossed her lips. "Oh, definitely. It's just that...." she paused, "it's rather hard to breathe in there." Her voice trailed off once again.

"But everything's okay? Was there some kind of problem?"

"No," Mariko said. "The air's just…rarified." She leaned back against the wall and fanned herself of a few times for emphasis.

Midori stared at Mari for a moment, then made as if to step past her, but the other woman shifted herself between Midori and the door. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." A hint of mischief now lit up Mariko's eyes and Midori felt determined to get to the bottom of her mysterious behavior.

"I'll take my chances," Midori stated firmly, her mouth set in a tight smile.

"Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you!" Mariko said in a singsong voice, as she stood aside to let Midori enter with a very apparent smirk.

The studio lights were certainly bright, Midori conceded, as she closed the door behind her. As a result the temperature was rather high in the little room. Maybe Mari was just suffering from lack of oxygen. She frowned slightly as she considered the woman's odd words.

Midori turned the corner and entered the studio space proper. She could hear a penetrating voice calling out short commands, and see several people bustling about with various pieces of clothing, backgrounds and other paraphernalia of a shoot.

She made her way past lighting equipment and cameras until she stood on the side of the crowd. At last she was able to see the object of her search. The tall, lean blonde sat casually on a box painted to blend into a background of blue sky and clouds. The photographer's voice rang out once again and with alacrity, Yuriko moved to accommodate his request.

And suddenly Midori saw red. The blood pulsed so hard in her head she was unable to breathe.

She stumbled away from the set, gasping for air until she clawed her way out the door and stood, half collapsed on the hallway wall. Sucking in air in great, heaving breaths, Midori was almost unable to hear the soft, evil chuckles that came from Mariko. Midori spun around and sunk backwards, her head thrown back as she fanned herself off melodramatically.

Closing her eyes, she accused, "Why didn't you *warn* me?"

Mariko's laughter was short, but sympathetic. "I tried!" she protested, "But you wouldn't listen to me."

"Ohmigod," Midori moaned. "I don't think I've ever seen anything that…" she paused, looking for the right word.

"Stimulating?" Mariko supplied with a grin.

Midori opened her eyes and smiled at the other woman. "Mmm. Exactly." She pushed herself upright off the wall and took a deep breath. "Ready to give it another go?"

Mariko laughed out loud. "You go without me – it's not good for my heart."

Midori grinned and nodded. "Okay, but your loss."

"I'll be out here, fantasizing about Hachi," Mariko said with emphasis, "or else." She laughed and held the door open for Midori and gestured her in. "Enjoy!"

Midori moved past the other woman bowing slightly. "Oh, I will, I will."

The door closed behind her. After another fortifying breath, Midori once again made her way through the equipment to her former position. Now forewarned, she was able to get a good look at her lover, whose head was thrown back with an insouciant grin as if...well if she were being honest, as if they had just made love. Her long legs were accented by the tight, black, leather pants she wore and the jacket, which was open, fell away from her torso to reveal the she was not wearing a blouse…or anything else.

Midori reminded herself to breath, as Yuriko shifted position, her hair falling into its accustomed position in front of her right eye as she pouted suggestively into the camera. Midori could feel her heart speed up and she suppressed a moan.

It was going to be a long shoot…and she was prepared to watch every agonizing minute of it.


Smoke curled between Kishi and her reflection in the glass. Framed in the monitor, partially obscured by a large microphone, a tall, lithe figure stood with eyes closed, hands clasped to the headphones over her ears, mouth open. No noise filtered out to the hall where the agent stood smoking and watching her client move to the strains of inaudible music.

Kishi blew out some smoke as Yuriko's eyes opened without focusing. Kishi could hear the song in her head - she'd heard it enough times that day.

In the autumn fields
mingled with the pampas grass
flowers are blooming
should my love too, spring forth
or shall we never meet?

Kishi watched impassively as Yuriko swayed to the background music, her body moving with surprising grace - surprising to the three people left in the country who didn't know how avid a dancer the young woman was. Kishi blew out another lungful of smoke and crushed the cigarette into the ashtray, turned on her heel and entered the recording studio.

Music assaulted her ears. That was the right term, she mused - assaulted. This stuff she promoted was as bad for the brain as sugar was for the teeth. She nodded solemnly at the record's producer and took a seat.

The song ended. The producer, after listening to the track, pronounced it fit to be edited, and told the singer to take a break. Yuriko gazed up into the booth, nodded, and gave the thumbs up sign before stripping the headphones from her ears. She entered the room with a happy smile, spent a few minutes thanking everyone who was working on the album and made her way over to her agent in the back.

Kishi was reminded again of just why this woman was one of the most popular idols in Japan. Talented, charming and extremely open, Yuriko was certainly one of the top names in the country. For which Kishi was grateful - even if she could never quite bring herself to really like the girl.

"Well?" Yuriko asked pleasantly. "What do you think?"

Kishi looked up at the blonde with a dour look. "I think you'll be able to buy Hokkaido when this one comes out."

Yuriko laughed happily at this. "Thankfully, I don't want Hokkaido. How does it sound though?"

Kishi nodded. "It sounds good. What gave you the idea to set classical poetry to pop music anyway? That's not like you. You're the one always itching to sing classical arias."

Yuriko rolled her eyes. "Not arias, I don't do opera. But it wasn't my idea, actually."

"Ah," Kishi said knowingly. "It was that young lady's idea."

Yuriko grinned at Kishi's delicacy. The agent wasn't homophobic – just formal. "No, it wasn't Midori's either," she said. "It was Ren-san's idea."

Kishi nodded again. This album had seen Yuriko team up with Haibara Renzo, the noted composer, designer and artist. It was destined to be a hit. Kishi longed for another cigarette.

"It sounds great," Kishi said unconvincingly.

Yuriko smiled agreeably down at her agent, used to her peevishness from their many years together. "I'm glad you think so - how many copies will you want?"

Kishi stood up with a snort. "Drop by the office when you're done here - we need to talk about the tour."

Yuriko snapped her heels together with a sharp salute in Kishi's direction. "Your wish is my command!" she barked. "But, uh, Kishi-san, I need to be out of there by nine..."

Kishi pulled a cigarette from a pack and stuck it between her lips. "Then show up early," she said. The older woman left the room without a backward glance at Yuriko, whose laughter was audible until the door closed.


Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.