Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has now met Midori's entire family. She'slearning to enjoy the chaos, and avoiding thinking about the larger issues. Right now she has to pick a song for karaoke.


Volume 2, Issue 6

"Sing a Song"


"Yuriko-san," Misono held out a book. "You have to go first!"

"And second," Sakura added. "In fact," she gestured to get everyone's attention. "Why don't we just make her do all the singing? After all, we know Oji-chan and Uncle Gin can't sing, and she's better than all of us anyway."

They all laughed – all but Yuriko. She was already coming to believe that with this crowd, anything was possible.

"Now, now, Sakura-chan," Aoi's voice imposed order. "We'll keep it simple – we'll go in age order. If we all do solos we'll get out of here just about dawn, so duets are encouraged." Her cheeks were already pink, Yuriko noted, most likely from alcohol, but her words were steady and her gaze clear.

"I'll pass," Mishima spoke with dignity. "No one needs to..."

"No you don't!" Gin stood up, "If I have to, then you do too."

Everyone agreed that their duet was mercifully short.

Youko skipped ahead in the lineup and sang with Aoi, to great acclaim. Their score was very high and the family applause lasted quite a while. Natsumi hadn't joined them for the festivities, neither had Yuuka or any of the children, but Yuriko watched with interest as Midori's older siblings regaled them with a variety of classic and modern songs. Misaki had a surprisingly nice voice, Yuriko thought, but he seemed a little shy and drank an entire can of beer in a single breath after sitting down.

Sakura clapped delightedly. "It's your turn now Yuriko-san!"

Yuriko grinned hugely. "Oh, no it's not. Midori is," she counted visibly on her fingers, "ten months older than I am." She turned a large and evil smile on her lover who glowered back.

"Thank you *so* much," Midori grated, "for handling that so delicately. I knew I could count on you."

Yuriko held up her hands. "Hey, I'm not trying to steal the top of the bill or anything, but your mother did say..."

Misono dragged Midori from her seat. "Have another drink, Auntie Midori, and come sing." She gave Yuriko a conspirator's wink, which the blonde returned. Yuriko was beginning to like this mischievous girl.

Midori's face was very red as she picked up the microphone and she would not meet Yuriko's eyes. For her part, the blonde sat perched on the edge of the seat, her face locked into a proud and pleased smile. For all her modesty, Midori's voice was quite decent and Yuriko was excited at the thought of hearing it in "public."

Aunt and niece remained huddled for a second as they made their selection. The smile on Yuriko's face slid, then disappeared completely, as the two broke into one of her own recent hits. The smile returned eventually, but this time it was somewhat more ironic - and met by the grin on Midori's face.

The song seemed to go on forever. Yuriko was able to just relax and enjoy the sight of her lover singing, watching the lithe body move in time to the music...yeah, she thought, they'd have to do this again, just the two of them.

At last it was her turn. Yuriko stood and took the microphone easily. She'd been thinking about what to sing – thinking hard. She wasn't going to do one of her own, for a few reasons. Most importantly, she'd be singing them enough on the upcoming tour. And she'd had a better idea.

The music began and Yuriko slid into performance mode. She smiled into her audience's collective eyes and began singing. The look on Midori's face was completely worth the choice. Sure, the song was insipid, sugary and insincere, but it *was* the number one hit this week. And it was also her co-star and unwanted rival, Nakayama Mayumi's current vehicle of love and joy.

The score was high, as expected, although not as high as expected and they all had a good laugh. To end the evening Keisuke, with a blushing Sakura as background, chose a rollicking popular tune – they all joined in the chorus.

It had been fun, Yuriko admitted, but she was very tired and looking forward to going back and getting some rest. It had been a long day and she was ready for some sleep. Yuriko rolled her head on her neck, trying to stretch the stiffness out. She was wondering at her own exhaustion when Midori's hand slid across her neck. She smiled down at the writer. That's right, she thought, long trip followed by meeting the family...that would explain that.

"So, you've done your duty for the evening?" Misono stepped up to the two of them, but blushed when she realized that she had interrupted a private moment.

"Yes, and I'm utterly exhausted," Yuriko tore her eyes away from Midori to acknowledge the young woman. "But you have a lovely voice, Misono-san. It seems to run in the family. I can see that you folks are appallingly multi-talented and I'll be hard pressed to keep up."

Misono was still blushing. "I took lessons for a while, but I don't think I'll ever be professional."

Yuriko moved away from Midori to accompany the girl out of the karaoke box. "You never know," she shook her head. "I didn't expect to be doing this for a living, either."

"No?" Misono stared up at the blonde with big eyes. "What did you want to do?"

Yuriko glanced back at Midori with a grin. "I wanted to be a writer."

Misono covered her mouth with her hands as she laughed. "You should be on one of those karaoke challenge programs on TV," she added, almost as an afterthought.

"No thank you!" Yuriko protested. "I like to think I have some shred of dignity left."

Midori stared at her in mock surprise. "This from the woman who dressed up as a fish and had sponges thrown at her?"

"That was for a fundraiser! For children!" Yuriko threw her hands in the air. "I just knew that one would come back to haunt me..." she muttered at aunt and niece's collective laughter. "No one appreciates the obligations of an idol."


They had regrouped outside the karaoke club and were headed towards the parking lot when a young woman intercepted them. She made straight for Yuriko, ignoring the rest of the gathered crowd.

"Yuriko-san, my name is Sawai Miori, from the local daily. I was wondering if I could get a short interview with you."

Yuriko was startled - she didn't think anyone outside their agents and a few people at a television station knew they were up there. She fumbled for a response. "I'm honored." She looked around, catching Midori's eye and gesturing with her chin for the writer to chaperone her family away. Midori spoke to Gin quickly, but as he herded the family members away, she stepped up to Yuriko's side protectively.

"How did you know I was here?" Yuriko asked, trying to keep any accusation out of her voice. "I thought I was incognito."

The woman smiled a small, satisfied smile and tossed her hair. "I was doing karaoke with some friends and recognized your voice."

Yuriko's eyebrows rose at that. "Oh, well, I guess that would do it." She was relieved that it hadn't been a media breach. She was perfectly willing to share so much with them - her dates around the town, her nights out, her public appearances.... She felt entitled to one or two moments of privacy, however. She gave the woman a long look and smiled slowly. She might be a reporter, but this woman was also a fan, she could see that in clearly in the young woman's expression. Yuriko knew exactly where she stood with her fans.

"Sawai-san," the singer took the woman by the elbow and steered her back towards the karaoke place. "Between you and me, I'm on a kind of vacation right now. A few moments of quiet time before a large and arduous tour." She looked directly into the woman's eyes, practically radiating charm in waves. "I'll be more than glad to give you a private interview - an exclusive, but..."

The reporter looked like a stunned animal caught in the headlights of a car. "I...that is..."

Yuriko pitched her voice a little lower and softer and leaned in closer. "I'll tell you what," she confided, "I'll give you my card, you call my agency and before I leave, we'll have that interview." The last words were spoken with a heavy measure of promise. Even as they left her mouth, Yuriko had to remind herself that she wasn't available anymore, that this was simply a tactic, not an actual seduction.

The reporter was nodding, and Yuriko let go of her arm, then stepped out of her personal space. She fished in her pocket for her wallet and handed over her business card. She took a step away, turned back and said, "Remember, call and make and appointment, and I promise an exclusive."

Sawai Miori nodded over and over, her face distinctly flushed, the hand that held the card inscribing a small wave in the air.

Midori intercepted Yuriko and, in an obvious move of possession and support, threaded her arm through the singer's. Yuriko took a deep breath as they joined Midori's family, who were waiting at the collected cars.

"Who was that woman?" Sakura asked excitedly.

"Just a reporter," Yuriko replied. She met Mishima's eyes and smiled tiredly. "Something about driving a train."


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