Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: On their way to a long weekend with Midori's family, Yuriko and Midori have stopped over at a small inn. They are presumed to be a newlywed couple, which amuses them greatly.


Volume 2, Issue 3

"Six Impossible Things"

"Kishi here." The agent's voice sounded unusually pleased. Yuriko chalked it up to payback on the call she and Midori had made weeks  ago.

"Good evening, Kishi-san," Yuriko said agreeably. "Why no, you haven't called at a bad time."

"I'm glad to hear it," Kishi paused to blow smoke and continued in her usual blunt fashion. "You've got a job up there – a television appearance."

"What?" Yuriko protested. "I'm on vacation!"

"From the tour – not from your career." The older woman was heartless.

"I received a phone call from Yukano-san's agent, she's got a television interview in two days. She called and asked if we wanted to make a surprise appearance."

Yuriko nodded. "So we said yes, did we?"

There was an agreeable grunt from the other end of the phone. "It's a market that you haven't penetrated deeply. You could always use a little extra PR in the North."

"It's kind of interesting that Midori has the interview, not me." Yuriko mused.

"She's a local personality. Her agent will call with the details."

"Yes, she's on the phone now." Yuriko let herself sound a tad put out, but Kishi ignored her.

"Good. I'll trust her to get you there on time."

Yuriko smiled nastily at the phone. Kishi was always her most sarcastic when she wasn't being sarcastic at all.

"We'll be fine, thank you."

"Call if you have any schedule conflicts."

"No, I think we'll be okay." Yuriko had lost and they both knew it.

"Thanks for calling," she conceded graciously and got off the phone.

When she had replaced the phone, Yuriko sat back with a heavy sigh. A hand ran through her hair in a conciliatory manner.

"Is Kishi-san being hard on you again?" Midori asked, placating the idol with a few strokes across her scalp.

"Like a paddle repeatedly administered to my head," Yuriko purred agreeably. "If she weren't a goddess, I'd be really annoyed right now.

She leaned back, as Midori's caresses reached around her neck and down below the edge of her yukata. "I assume she called about the TV appearance," Midori whispered the words quietly into Yuriko's ear. "I promise to act suitably surprised when they bring you on." Her hand slipped a little lower.

"Are you getting into acting now, too?" Yuriko smiled at the dark-haired woman. "Is there nothing you can't do?"

"I have to keep up with you," Midori murmured into Yuriko's neck. She bit lightly, while running her hand across the skin beneath her lover's breasts.

Yuriko tried to think of an answer, but for some reason, words just weren't coming to mind. She decided on closing her eyes and laying back on the tatami instead.


"Now, you remember what I told you about Aoi?" They were once again in the car, and were not far from their destination. Yuriko watched out the window, as lush green mountains filled the background. She was so enrapt she hadn't heard the writer speak.

"Yuri?" Midori prodded.

The blonde dragged her attention from the window and turned with a smile. "I was just thinking how unlike my hometown this is."

Midori nodded. "I'm spoiled and I know it. I grew up in a close family, in a place of great beauty, with unbelievable privilege. Don't think I don't know that." She didn't sound at all perturbed. "In fact,that's kind of why I want you to meet the rest of my family."

Yuriko nodded. "I didn't mean that – I just meant that it's so green."

She smiled and laid a hand on Midori's arm. "Where I grew up was colorless – literally. From being so close to the sea, everything was gray and worn-out looking. There was some industry up that way sometime in the past, but the plants shut down, probably a hundred years ago or more and the people never really figured out how to fill the gap."

"I've seen a lot of places like that – all over the world. Like the people just give up."

"Mmm," Yuriko agreed. "In my case, my father had so much pride he wouldn't even accept the fact that the place was dead. He worked so hard at pretending it had a future, I think it sucked the hope right out of him." She fell silent for a moment, reflecting on her memories of her father – few of which were pleasant. She shook her head a little, as if to rid her mind of those images. "I'm really looking forward to meeting your family. I liked Gin when I met him." Yuriko referred to Midori's oldest brother, whom she had met several months ago in Tokyo. "You know," she said with a laugh, "Gin, Aoi, Midori – does everyone in your family have a color for a name?"

Midori smiled. "When I was a kid, I wrote a story about the Iroiro family." She turned her dark eyes on the blonde. "I wanted desperately to have a dog named Shiro, but Hayao was allergic." They both laughed at the image of the "color" family with the white dog.

"So, you were saying?" Yuriko prompted.

"I was going to tell you that everything I've ever told you about Aoi won't really prepare you for the reality," the writer grinned without any real humor. "I'm not always sure there *is* a reality. Aoi is...well, Aoi. She's unique in ways I can't describe."

"Let me see," Yuriko mused over what she'd been told. "She's very energetic, paints, likes modern artists like...Kandinsky." She hesitated over the unfamiliar name and waited for Midori to nod. "She looks younger than her age and knows it and treats you more like a sister than a daughter. Is that about right?"

Midori made a sarcastic noise. "It's right, but it isn't everything. If I tried to tell you all of Aoi's quirks, we'd be here for days, so I won't even try. Just remember this – she makes her judgments about people in the first minute or so, so you'll know almost instantly whether she likes you or not."

"So, no pressure at all, is that what you're saying?" Yuriko grinned. "Relax. Either she likes me, or she hates me – I'm used to that. I'll think of her as another talk show host." Despite the lightness of her tone, Yuriko could hear that Midori was getting edgy.

"And use that famous Yuriko charm? Yes, well, I'm glad one of us can be so calm about it."

Midori's face was looking a little pinched, so Yuriko thought it best to change the subject. "Let me see if I have all your siblings straight – it wouldn't do to forget a name. Gin, oldest, wife Mihoshi, one daughter, one son."

Midori, glad for the distraction, nodded. "Next."

Yuriko counted off on her fingers, "Next, Natsumi, married, one daughter, then Hayao, unmarried, Satoshi and Masaki, both married and I cannot for the life of me keep their wives straight..."

"Yuuka is married to Satoshi and Youko is married to Masaki," Midori supplied helpfully.

"It'll be easier when I actually meet them, I hope. Um, let's see where was I? Oh, they have kids, right? Satoshi has a son and a baby on the way, Masaki has...does he have children?"

Midori nodded. "Three – two adopted from his wife's former marriage and they have a daughter."

"Okay, Satoshi, Masaki, oh, that brings us to the amazingly talented and always fascinating author Midori – winner of countless literature prizes and lover of a very infamous pop idol. I'm amazed her family even speaks to her."

"Oh, please!" Midori laughed, "When we were children, Aoi practically pleaded with us to become notorious. It was all she wanted for us."

"You must be the favorite, then."

"Oh, definitely – the rest are a terrible disappointment. Of course, there's always hope that Ritsuko will choose an thoroughly inappropriate lover and cause some sort of horrific scandal."

"We can only hope," Yuriko grinned. She reached out and took the writer's hand off the steering wheel and into her own. "How much longer before we're there?" She curled her long fingers around Midori's hand.

Midori gave Yuri's hand a squeeze. "Just a few minutes, actually – we're almost there." She removed the hand from Yuri's grasp and pointed, "If you look between the trees there, you can see the back of the house. We have to go the long way around, but it's right on the water."

Yuriko stared in open admiration at the gorgeous and spacious structure. A tasteful blend of East and West, the house looked sophisticated, without any garishness.

"Your father designed that?" Yuriko spoke in hushed tones.

"Yes, and the other houses around the lake. Aoi designed the landscaping, so that the entire area has the feel of a traditional garden. Almost as if the houses are just decorating the space, instead of the other way around." There was pride in the writer's voice, and also the shadow of something else.

Yuriko thought, as they drove around the curve of the lake, that Aoi sounded like a fascinating person. But she knew from what she had been told, that Midori's mother's eccentricities made childhood in her home less than idyllic. She wondered if the woman was as difficult as Midori portrayed her, or if it was just the dissatisfaction of adolescence being clung to. She knew she had more than her share of the later, when it came to her own parents. *Then again,* she thought, *I was only a teenager when they threw me out into a cold and rainy night.*

The road curved around the lake and the house fell out of sight. Yuri turned to look at the writer once again – as if she had never really seen her before. "This explains a lot, actually."

Explains what?" Midori shot a sharp glance at the other woman. "It explains why you have such a natural grace and refinement."

"Ah," Midori said, with an understanding huff. "It explains why I'm, a snob."

Wisely, Yuriko did not respond. Once again the house came into view, partially visible past large wrought iron gates. The entrance swung open automatically and Midori drove in without a pause. Yuriko could see three girls talking animatedly in front of the drive. One, slightly shorter than the other two seemed to be the most active.

"Who's that?" she pointed at the three girls.

"Those two are Gin's daughter Misono and Natsumi's daughter Sakura." Midori said, pointing to the taller two. "Sakura and Misono."

"And the other? She's too old to be Masaki's daughter, isn't she?"

When there was no answer, she turned. Midori's face had that pinched look once again, and her lips were tight.

When she spoke, Midori voice was flat, inflectionless. "That's Aoi, she said. "That's my mother."