Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has definitely had better days. Between bad news from Kishi-san, and Mayumi's impenetrable dislike, she expects the storm -or her - to break any second.

Volume 3, Issue 4

"Stress Fractures"


"It's a great pleasure to meet you," Amba said. Or at least Yuriko assumed that was what the costumer had said. Her mouth full of needles, what had come out was more like, "Ibamatebeashadomeeyu."

Mariko smiled brightly at the woman and responded with her usual flair. "Ibamatepehshuh, I'm sure." She grinned at Chieko, who demurely hid her own smile behind a hand.

"These are the women who struggle to make me presentable," Yuriko offered by way of introduction.

Amba had, at last, divested herself of the tools of her trade, and wheeled herself forward. "Not too much of a struggle," she nodded at Chieko for confirmation. "At least you're polite and well-mannered, unlike others we could name." Amba shook her hair, which fell into place, framing her face perfectly. Mariko made a little grimace in Yuriko's direction, but said nothing. "So, you're not scheduled for a fitting, what's the occasion?"

Chieko looked scandalized, stepping forward to redress her superior's bluntness, but Yuriko waved her off. "Actually, I've just come back from a holiday and I brought you both something."

"Ah, presents," Amba said smartly. "That makes all the difference." She lifted a hand to ward off any comments. "Your future image is riding on this, so it had better be good. " Her eyes narrowed into cold slits, "Don't ever piss the costumer off...I can make places itch that you haven't thought of in your worst nightmares."

Mariko laughed happily at this. "Yuri, she's perfect, can I have her?"

"She's extremely high maintenance," Chieko offered, then blushed at her words. "Or so I'm told. By Amba-san, herself, I mean."

Amba wheeled around the fitting stage and held out an imperious hand.

Meekly, Yuriko offered her gift. Amba took a long look at the label, then lifted a smiling face to her assistant. "Chieko-chan, lock the door, will you? I think now's a good time for a party."


Yuri glanced at her watch, then back at the sake bottle. There was time before she had to get to the gym. At least half an hour. She could relax. She leaned forward and snagged the bottle, pouring a generous amount into the paper cup.

"Then," Chieko said to Mari, her face shiny with drink, "our little Princess ripped, I mean literally ripped, the blouse off and tore it in two!"

Mari gaped. "She what?"

"Truth," Amba confirmed. She didn't look or sound at all drunk, but her normally taciturn face had relaxed into a good-natured scowl. "She ripped it off, then in half, threw it down on the ground and stepped on it." The Indian woman drained her cup dramatically and sighed. "She then proceeded to tell me my business in no uncertain terms."

"What did you do?" Yuriko asked around a mouth full of rice crackers.

Amba shrugged non-comittally. "I let her rant. What *could* I do? Then, when she ran out of air, I looked her in the eye and said...'wool.'"

Mariko practically doubled over in laughter, while Yuriko grinned her approval. "And us performing in midsummer, excellent. She didn't get it, I assume?"

"Not in the least." Chieko and Amba shared a pleased expression. "And we'll do it, too."

"I'm glad that I'm on your good side," Yuriko stated. "I have very sensitive skin."

Which sent Mariko into another fit of laughter.

"Hey," Mari asked, when she had recovered her breath. "don't you have something dreadful and star-like you should be doing?" She turned to Yuri, who was fanning herself with her hand, her face red and sweaty from the sake'.

"Yeah, something." Yuriko didn't move.

"It must be so..." Chieko began, but Yuri interrupted.

"Please don't say ‘exciting to be a star', please. I've had a terrible day and I'm not sure I could cope." She kept her words light, but felt her stomach tense with stress.

Chieko shook her head solemnly. "I was going to say that it seemed like a lot of pressure being a big name. So much work."

"Mmm," Yuriko agreed, but then immediately contradicted herself. "I mean, not really - how hard is it, really? I sing a little, I dance, I smile, I get paid whopping loads of money for looking good in a suit...which isn't really anything to do with me - that's because you two work so hard."

"Don't be silly," Mariko reproached her friend. "You don't catch us practicing dancing and singing for hours every day - and we're not under hot lights. Being stared at by thousands of hungry eyes. Well, you know what I mean."

Yuriko waved her hand in dismissal. "No, really, I mean think about it. Someone else writes the music, and words, other people make the sets, produce the albums, choreograph the dances, make the clothes, the set, etc, etc.... I'm just a mannequin."

She finished her thought and looked around to be met with three shaking heads. Mariko looked at the other two with resignation. "Don't even argue. She just doesn't get it."

"No?" Amba's lips quirked. "How funny. The Prince can't see her own charm and the Princess can see nothing else. This is turning into a right fairy tale, innit?" The seamstress might not be showing obvious signs of inebriation, but her accent was becoming more pronounced with each swallow.

"Yuriko-san," Chieko pointed to her watch. "Didn't you have somewhere you have to be about now?"

Yuriko glanced at her watch. Yeah...she had an appointment. She stared at the second hand for a few seconds, noting how the motion was smooth, not all jerky or disruptive. She held the watch up to her ear until she was interrupted by Mari.

"Yuri, darling. You're drunk."

"Yes, I am a little. So what?" Yuriko staggered to her feet, with Chieko's help. "It's not like I have to be anywhere."

"Yes, you do. Didn't you say you had an appointment?""

Yuriko thought about it. "Oh, just the gym. I have to meet with a personal trainer. Apparently Kishi-san thinks I need to be trained." She took a wobbly step. "It's probably no big deal...they'll weigh me, walk me around the machines." She leaned against a wall, her cheek pressed against her hand. "This is stupid anyway, I don't need a trainer," she whined. "I'm in great shape." She pushed herself off the wall, caught her hip on a sewing table and flailed her way to an unsteady standing position.

"See?" she said, as she turned, carefully, towards the door, "I'm as graceful as a something graceful thing."

"And as eloquent as a drunken salaryman." Mari shot at her retreating back. "Have fun at the gym!"

Yuriko waved over her shoulder as she closed the door behind her.


The apartment wasn't dark enough, Yuriko thought, as she blocked the light out with a pillow. When the light didn't go away, Yuriko was forced to admit that the problem was hers. She moaned piteously, knowing full well that there was no one coming to the rescue.

Waves of nausea and dizziness made it impossible her to move, but an unbearable thirst made it imperative to do so. Slowly, with noises of misery and self-pity, Yuri practically crawled towards the refrigerator. Some long minutes later, she sat on the floor, her back pressed to the appliance, water in one hand, the other over her mouth, desperately willing herself to not be ill.

The door was flung open and a loud, "I'm home!" made Yuriko groan in agony.

"Darling, is that you? Where are you?" Midori's voice was properly concerned, Yuriko thought, but still many decibels too loud.

"Ssshhh," Yuri tried to warn, but another wave of nausea made her gag. She breathed deeply and tried to remember how much she had actually drunk. Only a glass or three, or four...maybe five....

Midori was standing in front of her now, her face grave. "Are you sick? What's the matter?" She squatted in front of her lover, laying the back of her hand on Yuriko's cheek and forehead. "You're not feverish, but you're flushed." Then she grimaced.

Standing, she glared down at the famous idol. "You're drunk."

"Please," Yuriko begged. "I have had one of the very worst days of my entire life today. Don't be all disapproving and righteous when what I really need is solicitous and caring."

The writer looked hard at the figure half-sprawled on her kitchen floor. She opened her mouth, then closed it again and crossed her arms.

"Here's the deal," she pronounced. "I've had a bad day myself. If your day can beat mine, you're off the hook. If not..."

Yuriko closed her eyes and leaned her head back on the cabinet. "My dance coach yelled at me in front of Mayumi-san."

"My agent tells me that the publisher is pushing back the release of my next book six months for rewrites."

"I threw up on my personal trainer." Yuriko refused to open her eyes, to see what reaction that got.

"You have a personal trainer?" Midori asked.

Yuriko cracked an eye open, just in time to see the writer wipe the smirk from her face.

"Not anymore. She was very good about it, but I bet I get some ex-military commando as punishment."

Midori's arms uncrossed. "Remember that series I had to hustle to get in under deadline? The one about arts in the schools?"

Yuriko nodded once and laid the bottled water across the back of her neck. The cool plastic soothed her pounding head.

"They're not using it."

"Cretins," the singer muttered sympathetically.

"I guess it's a tie then. Come on, I'll help you to the couch." The writer held out a hand.

Reaching up, Yuriko wrapped her fingers around Midori's hand and used the leverage to stand uneasily. Still holding her lover's hand, Yuriko looked down into her eyes. "No," she said miserably, thinking of her manager. "I win."



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