Saiyuu no Ryokou: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Although they have just celebrated an anniversary, Midori and Yuriko face an imminent parting. They're determined to live it up in the time they have together.

Volume 1, Issue 3

"Truth in Advertising"

The weather was hot, but the streets were teeming with people, as Mariko, Midori and Yuriko made their way in and out of shops. Arms filled with bags and boxes of several shapes, the three women decided to recharge themselves at a nearby café.

Just as they reached the storefront, Yuriko's cell phone rang. Transferring her bags to Midori, she reached into her pocket saying, "This is Kishi-san - she's setting up a meeting on the tour specifics. Get us a table and I'll be right in."

Mariko made the OK sign and the two women moved off as Yuriko took the call.

"Hello, Yuriko here." She was greeted by the familiar sound of her agent inhaling a lungful of smoke.

"Kishi." The single word was followed by a prolonged exhale. "We've got a meeting tomorrow at eleven. Mayumi-hime," Kishi's voice was more than a little sarcastic, "will likely be there to throw the first in a series of hysterical tantrums. It's a pain, but you have to be there."

"It's not a problem, "Yuriko reassured her. "I have every intention of being completely accommodating."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Kishi said after another audible inhalation. "Let me do the talking and we may be able to keep you on the top of the bill."

Yuriko smiled. "I trust you implicitly. I'll meet you at your office at ten-thirty. Will that do?"

"See you then." Kishi said in gruff confirmation, and hung up. Yuriko disconnected on her end and shook her head at the antics of her co-star. The tour hadn't yet begun and already everyone was keyed up.

Yuriko entered the café, caught sight of Mariko and lifted a hand. "Yo!" she said, but was cut off, as Mariko waved frantically at her, one finger pressed to her lips in a "quiet" gesture. As she hesitated, Midori turned with an evil grin on her face, and waved her over urgently.

Yuriko crossed the room and joined Midori and Mariko in their booth. Looking from one woman to the other, she started to ask what was up, but both of them shushed her again. Midori mouthed at her, "Listen," and gestured with her head to the booth behind them. Yuriko cocked an ear to hear exactly what the fuss was about.

"Oh, right, like she looks like that in real life or something," a sarcastic voice said. It sounded like a high school student.

"I don't know - I think she's gorgeous," another voice, slightly deeper, answered. There were several versions of laughter at this.

"You would,'re..."

"Don't say it!" the deep voice was put out.

"Well, I still don't believe she looks like that in real life - no one has hair that blonde."

"It's natural, really! I read about her in a magazine article. It was all about why she has blonde hair and blue eyes."

"Whatever. That's just press stuff." A third voice was rather breathy, but obviously tired and jaded at seventeen. "It creeps me out that she looks so much like a guy."

"I think it's kind of cool," the deep voice insisted. "Besides, you're slim,'d look good in boy's clothes. Don't say you wouldn't! I saw you dressed in your brother's baseball uniform that time."

A squeal of laughter, followed by teasing. "That was for a play. But anyway, I wasn't trying to, you know, look like a guy."

"Yeah, but remember," a fourth voice chimed in happily, "those girls who said you looked cool?" The four laughed again at the image of their friend passing for a boy.

"It's the short hair," Meiko admitted ruefully. I want to grow it long, but it never looks right."

"Maybe you should grow it over one eye?" the sarcastic voice said.

"Oh give it up, Rei-chan. You sound like a jealous girlfriend," the breathy voice said. "I don't think Yuriko's all that or anything, but she's a pretty good singer, you have to admit."

Rei hmphed, obviously unwilling to admit anything of the sort.

Yuriko looked at Mariko, her eyebrows raised. Midori was laughing silently into her hand and Mariko simply shrugged and made a face. Yuriko turned her attention back to the conversation behind her.

"Oh, right, like she'd get a boob job just to fit into a suit! You are SO bizarre." Seira, the girl with the deep voice was losing patience with her friends.

"It's okay, Seira-chan. When the new album comes out I'll go to the concert with you. These two can stay home and be jealous."

More laughter. The one called Meiko snorted contemptuously. "Dream on. You can fantasize all you want, but I bet if she was here right now, you wouldn't even recognize her. She probably looks like a total skank when she's not all airbrushed and made up."

Yuriko bit back a retort by covering her mouth with her hand. *Skank?* Nervy kid...

"Yeah, well I bet she looks totally cool," Seira insisted.

The lines were being drawn more tightly. "And I say that even if she was here, she'd never even ask you for the time of day." Rei's voice was becoming nasty.

"Rei-chan, why are you so mean about it? It's not like she is here or anything."

The voices were rising a little in anger, but Rei spoke again quickly. "I'm sorry,'re right. I just think she's boring. It's like, you can't go anywhere without seeing Yuriko this or hearing Yuriko that. I'm just sick of her."

All four agreed that Yuriko was pretty omnipresent and the tension passed. After a lapse of a few minutes while the girls refreshed their drinks, the conversation started once more.

"You have to admit, though," Kyouko said with a little laugh, "it would be amazing to see her live."

They all agreed upon that point. The conversation moved on and the girls were making noises about leaving when Yuriko was galvanized into action. Turning to Midori, she gestured to herself. Mariko reached over the table and brushed the hair that hung in front of Yuri's eye with her fingers, while Midori straightened her collar and jacket shoulders. Giving her lover a minor spit wash with a finger, Midori smiled at her and gave her a little push.

Yuriko looked at Mariko, who faced the girls' booth, and pointed with her finger into the air. Miming, she confirmed the location of each girl, slipped her watch off her wrist, then slid out of the booth.

Turning, she stuck one hand into her pocket insouciantly. "Excuse me," she said lightly to the girl who should be Seira. "Do you know what time it is?"

Seira looked down at her watch, "Yeah, sure it's..." then her mouth opened and she stared up at the tall blonde. "It's..." she tried again.

Kyouko looked around a little wildly, as if for a camera crew, while Meiko whispered, "Are you...are you Yuriko?"

"Yes," Yuriko answered with a smile, "but," she held up a hand, "I'd appreciate it if you kept it quiet, I'm just here with a few friends for a cup of tea."

"A few friends?" Rei's voice cracked with horror as she realized the kinds of things she'd been saying. She looked up as if she expected the friends to be hulking bodyguards.

Midori and Mariko waved brightly, both smiling just slightly too broadly. The girl known as Meiko buried her face in her arms and moaned, "I can't believe embarrassing."

Seira, who had been staring at Yuriko in undisguised wonder, smiled happily. "You *do* look like your pictures!" she crowed.

Yuriko ducked her head slightly in acknowledgement. "Um, yeah, I certainly hope so! So..." she insisted with a smile for Seira, "what time *is* it?"

Seira looked at her watch quickly and reported the time. She turned with triumph on her face towards Rei, "And she's asking me for the time of day!" she laughed, delighted at the turn of events.

Yuriko thanked the girls politely and left them to their mutual shock and joy at finding themselves within hearing range of their topic of conversation. Within minutes the four girls had gotten their things together and were leaving with desperate speed.

As they moved out of earshot, Yuriko could just make out Meiko saying, "She's much better looking in real life, I think." While Kyouko said, "Did you see the woman with the long hair - that's her girlfriend. She's beautiful!"

When the girls had left the café, Yuriko turned back to Midori and Mariko, who were both looking as if they were dying to say something. Yuriko took a long, slow, loud breath.

"Boob job, huh?" Mariko said, and Yuri slumped in mock irritation, as Midori and Mariko snickered themselves silly.