Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko's still trying to figure out her co-star, while learning new dance steps. It's like rubbing her belly and patting her head at the same time. With all the work she's got ahead of her, she's decided to take the afternoon off.

Volume 1, Issue 14

"Summer Breeze"

Mariko lifted her hand in an airy wave, as Yuriko walked briskly down the hall. The blonde removed one hand from the teddy bear she held to return the wave.

"You look lovely today," Mariko called out, "and don't think I don't resent it. It's completely unfair that she has such nice legs," she said this last towards a woman who stood against the wall, fanning herself lightly. The other woman grimaced slightly, looking down at her own, somewhat stubby legs, and nodded forcefully.

Yuriko swept up, the light summer dress she wore moving loosely against her, still clasping the rather large teddy bear against her chest. Mariko took in the wide-brim straw hat and the sunglasses and smirked.

"Are you trying out a new disguise?" she asked brightly, gesturing at her friend. "It won't work, you know, you're too tall to hide."

Yuriko smiled and pulled off the sunglasses. "Not at all – although, come on, Mari, the hat *does* hide my hair. Here," she handed the bear to Mariko's companion with a smile, "hold that a second, will you?" With her hands free, the blonde removed the straw hat then, as she spun, set hat and glasses back in place. "Voila!" she announced triumphantly. "No one would ever know it was me!"

Mariko laughed, "Except I recognized you right off – even with the bear as protective coloration. I assume it's a gift from an adoring fan?"

"Guilty as charged." Yuriko turned to the third woman and bowed slightly to change the subject.

"This is Hitomi, Kaneda Hitomi," Mariko supplied, "she's Aki-san's assistant. He and I are working together on this show. Hitomi-san has shown some serious initiative and drive, so I figured I'd hitch myself to her star before she leaves me in the dust." Mari smiled pleasantly at the other woman.

Hitomi blushed slightly. "Oh, not really – Morinaga-san and Hayashi-san have been very kind to me." She said this last to Yuriko, her voice admiring and thankful, but not at all groveling.

"This is one of our top names, omnipresent idol Yuriko," Mariko gesticulated at the singer, "although despite her incredible skills at disguise you probably recognized her." She laughed at the look the blonde shot her. "I assume that you've been freed for the afternoon since you're here?"

Yuriko nodded. "We have the shoot this evening, so I've been given leave for a few hours of rest. I wanted to stop by and say hi before I toddle off and annoy Midori for the rest of the day. How's the show going?"

Mariko nodded sagely. "It won't be remembered in twenty years or anything, but I think Aki-san has a good seller here. It should be fun." Yuriko nodded. Morinaga Aki had a reputation as an excellent producer with an ability to create popular, if not world-shaking, game shows.

Hitomi agreed quickly. "Morinaga-san really understands what makes a good show – from strong visual images to good dialogue set-ups. I'm learning quite a bit from him – he's very generous with his knowledge."

Yuriko nodded again. "Aki-san is brilliant in his own way. Keep your eyes open and you'll go far with him."

Hitomi smiled happily. "I intend to...go far, I mean."

Yuriko gestured approvingly. "That's the spirit!"

At that moment, the door to the studio opened and a PA - Type 1, Yuriko noted to herself - interrupted them nervously. "Excuse me, Hayashi-san, erm, Kaneda-san, we're almost ready to start..." the woman's eyes moved wildly back and forth between the three women, as if in fear that she might be angering one of them.

Mariko pushed herself off the wall with a groan. "That's fine, thank you Rei-san. We'll be there in a second. Sorry, Yuri – duty calls," she said mournfully.

"Understood," the idol commented. "Well, I'm off to annoy my girlfriend while she tries to get some work done," she smiled happily. "I'll see you later, Mari. And it was a pleasure meeting you, Hitomi-san," Yuriko smiled down at the producer's assistant. "Any friend of Mariko's..."

Hitomi looked up and met the idol's blue eyes with a smile. "The pleasure is mine, Yuriko-san." Yuriko noted the other woman's confidence and upped her opinion another notch. Mari had found a winner in this girl.

Yuriko turned away to leave, but Hitomi's voice cried out suddenly and she spun back to face the woman.

"Your bear!" Hitomi said with a smile, holding the object out. Yuriko looked down at the creature and shook her head.

With a little wave, she said, "Keep it. I get them all the time."

"Are you sure?" Hitomi looked at the stuffed animal questioningly.

"She's sure," Mariko said with a laugh. "Her hordes of admiring fans never tire of sending them."

Yuriko grinned and waved. "See you later!" With a few strides of her long legs, she was down the hall and around the corner before Hitomi could argue – not that she was going to argue. She hugged the stuffed bear to her chest and moved to reenter the studio. With a small hesitation, she turned to Mariko and said, "Yuriko-san's very nice, isn't she?"

Mariko caught the girl's eye and said dryly, "Yes, very." They both laughed.


"Yuriko-san, five minutes to make-up!"

"Okay," she waved at the assistant. Turning back to the mirror, she checked herself once more. "I look like that J-rock guy, whatshisname…."

Amba grinned. "Exactly. Trust me – your fans will love it."

Yuriko looked at herself dubiously. The lovely mauve silk felt smooth against her skin and the color was magnificent…but the outfit itself…it was awful! The jacket was cut close and long and was trimmed with fur the same color as the silk at cuff and collar. She felt claustrophic in her clothes.

"Hmm, you're right though," Amba said. "There's something missing, wait, here…" she handed Yuriko the sunglasses she had worn in. "Try that."

Yuriko put the glasses on and turned to face the costumer.

"No, still something missing. Chi? Any thoughts?"

The assistant pursed her lips. "I don't know – she's got that Visual look but…"

At the same time the two women said, "Sneer."

"What?" Yuriko asked, puzzled.

"You have to sneer." Chiyako said. "Or the whole look is ruined."

"Come on – you're an actress, aren't you? Pretend to be any current male singer."

Yuriko nodded doubtfully, then rearranged her features into a casual and insulting sneer.

"That's it!" Chiyako cried as Amba clapped. "It's perfect. If you can saunter – or better still, swagger out, the girls will go ballistic!"

Yuriko's face fell into her normal expression as she chuckled. "Okay, I'll take your word for it, but it still seems silly to me."

"Trust us, trust us," Amba soothed, as the call for Yuriko to go to makeup came. The two women hustled the blonde out the door making encouraging noises until Yuriko was out of earshot. Chiyako closed the door, turned to meet Amba's eyes and they waited. A beat or two passed as they counted steps away from the trailer, across the lot and out into the open area before the makeup trailer. The shrill screams of hundreds of girls filled the air – even through the trailer walls.

"Damn we're good," Chiyako said, pleased.

Amba said nothing, but the smile on her face lingered as she began to place a final hem on a dress for the next setup.