Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Returning from her "vacation" with Midori, Yuriko has returned to a tabloid scandal, a near-sleepless night and an unpleasant breakfast conversation.


Volume 3, Issue 2

"Sick and Tired"


"You're what?" Yuriko could not make the words stick in her brain. Even as Kishi spoke, the meaning seemed to slip away from her, as if her manager was speaking through layers of cloth.

"I'm retiring." Kishi would not meet her client's eyes, but focused instead on her untouched coffee.

The singer kept searching the older woman's face, while a panicky numbness took over her body. She could feel her legs trembling and was irrelevantly glad she wasn't standing.

"No," she protested. "You can't mean that." Yuriko eyes were beginning to burn. She pulled her glasses off and pinched the bridge of her nose brutally until the heat behind her eyes receded.

Kishi stubbed out her cigarette. Yuriko watched the yellowed fingertips crush the butt into the already full ashtray. Something snapped into place in her brain and she pulled herself out of her fog to really *look* at her manager.

"I'm tired," Kishi spoke softly. "I'm getting old, I just don't have what it takes to keep up anymore. I'm..." her fingers twitched a little, as if she meant to take out another cigarette, then thought better of it. "I'm...I'm sick." Kishi's voice was thin and unsure.

Silence fell over them like a suffocating blanket. Yuriko couldn't breathe. She clawed at her collar, trying to get air. For the first time in her experience, Yuriko could see doubt in her manager's eyes and it terrified her. With an effort, she pulled herself together.

"How...what..." Yuriko took a deep breath and gripped her Styrofoam cup for support. She swallowed hard and forced herself to sound normal. "I'm sorry."

Kishi's fingers twitched again. "It's not bad, they think - or they say they think, I can't tell. I can go on the tour with you, but afterwards..."

Yuriko wanted, more than anything else, more than tears even, to hug the older woman, to offer support, but she had no idea where to begin. They had never been close, despite their proximity over the years - and Kishi had always rebuffed any attempt at informality between them.

"I'm so sorry, I wish I could..." Yuriko's voice petered out pathetically. The pressure behind her eyes was excruciating. "I don't know what to say," she said honestly.

Kishi, caught showing a vulnerable side, snapped back to her usual sharp-eyed, sharp-voiced self at that. "You *should* be asking about your schedule," she said, picking up her cup of lukewarm coffee and drinking it to the dregs without blinking.

Yuriko blinked, then grimaced. "Gross." She shuddered. "So, what about my schedule?" She forced herself to stay focused on the present - she'd make time later to think of the inevitable future. It was what Kishi wanted; it was what she needed - for things to be normal.

Kishi did not produce the palm computer, to Yuriko's relief. It was bad enough that her girlfriend was dragging her, kicking and screaming, into the digital age. She didn't need it from her manager, too.

"For the next two weeks, barring shoots, interviews and recording sessions, you've got morning dance practice, afternoons from 2-4 singing and 6-8 with your personal trainer." The older woman shot the information out with a relish that disturbed Yuriko.

"My what?" It wouldn't be so bad, she thought, if she didn't enjoy doing that so obviously.

"Your personal trainer. A tour isn't a cakewalk - you'll need to be in better shape than you are now."

Yuriko thought about that. "Sounds dreadful." She thought another second. "What's a cakewalk?"

Kishi stood. "I have to go - I have an appointment in half an hour." Her eyes flickered. "Call me if you need me."

The older woman pushed her chair back under the table and turned away. Yuriko shifted her chair back and stood.

"Kishi-san," she said quietly. "I need...."

Her manager turned around and shot Yuriko an unidentifiable look. "Call me."

Yuriko watched as Kishi left the coffee shop, then paid the bill and headed back to the studio in a dark and thoughtful mood.


Before dance rehearsal began, Yuriko made the rounds, handing out souvenirs from her weekend away.

Renzo practically squealed with delight as she handed over an artistically labeled bottle of sake.

"Oh my god, how did you know! I love this brand!" He threw an arm around Yuriko and squeezed. "Thank you." He looked at the clock on his desk, then longingly at the bottle, then the clock once again. Shaking his head regretfully, he left the bottle on the corner of his desk. "It's just a tad too early." He shot Yuriko a sheepish look. "I know it's bad for me, but..."

Yuriko gave the clock a long look, then smiled tiredly "I know what you mean. It's been a long day for me already, too. Well," she turned and headed toward the door of Renzo's office. "Let me know when you crack that open and I'll drop by for a chat."

"Thanks, sweetie. Oh," Renzo took a few quick steps to intercept the blonde. With a hand on her elbow, he pulled her back into the office. He leaned close and spoke in a low voice, "You ought to know - after you left on vacation, *she* tried to get you pulled from the bill, again. It got all the way up to Toriyama-san before she backed off."

Yuriko made a face. "And how did the esteemed President of our record label take it?"

"He wasn't too happy. She was on full "prima donna mode" after he reprimanded her, but she's calmed down again. Recharging before the next attack I assume. If I were you, I'd try and avoid her."

"If you were me," Yuriko said pointedly, "you'd be heading over to Madame Sophia's right now to dance with the girl."

"Oh god," Renzo groaned, "How awful for you. Well," he shot a dazzling smile at her, "drop by for lunch. We'll enjoy that lovely gift of yours together."

"Deal," Yuriko waved as she stepped out into the hallway. "Later. And thanks."


Yuriko was first into the dance studio, to her relief. While she waited for her partner and coach to arrive, she began to stretch. Her Achilles tendons were sore and, for a long moment, she couldn't figure out why. Then her jog of the day before came back, followed quickly by the realization that it had only been the day before - it seemed so long ago now.

By the time she had loosened up, Mayumi and Madame Sophia had arrived. The pop singer had not even acknowledged Yuriko's presence, but Yuriko wished her a good morning anyway. Mayumi could be all the bitch she wanted, that kind of thing wasn't Yuriko's style.

Ten minutes later, as they both groaned in agony at a particularly excruciating warm-up, Mayumi glanced at Yuriko. As the cold eyes raked across her face, Yuriko could feel the impersonal malevolence behind that gaze. She wondered at the other woman...and Renzo's warning echoed around her brain.


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