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 5

"Inaccurate Predictions"


If there was a single rule by which famous pop idol and singer Yuriko conducted herself, it was that whatever one does the night before, one completely deserves the way one feels the morning after. She had, in her years as a public figure, steadfastly refused to curb any irrepressible smiles after a wonderful night with a lover. Today she expected to enjoy every second of the spear that was lodged in her right eye; as well as the unique sense that everything was moving that kept her from eating anything more substantial than watery rice porridge.

She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror, appreciating both the dark circles that accented her eyes as the houris of old, and the chartreuse accents in her skin tone.

Midori, who had decided that she did not have enough empathy to play nursemaid, had wisely chosen to return to her own apartment. So Yuriko decided to share her distress with anyone she might encounter by choosing an outfit that highlighted her unhealthy pallor. She smiled grimly at the results, and tugged her hair in front of her eye, paused, pushed it behind her ear, paused again, then pulled it back into place. She looked around for another way to make herself look horrible, then gave it up with a shrug. The truth would be obvious enough to all. With a final glance into the mirror, she waved at her bleary-eyed reflection and headed off to an exhausting day with a trite, "Another day, another million yen" and a self-deprecating sneer.



Yuriko was first into the dance room, which suited her well enough. She took her time with her warm-up stretches, breathing deeply, focusing primarily on not rattling her head or stomach. She ran through a few calisthenics, regretted it immediately, then started on one of the exercises that Madame Sophia had taught her. At some point, she realized that she was still alone in the room, despite it being nearly twenty minutes late. Yuri was just about to head out to find someone who might know something, when the door opened and Mayumi walked in.

"I'm late," Mayumi began, but stopped when she realized that the room's only occupant was Yuriko.

"So is Madame Sophia. You know," Yuri commented petulantly, "most people apologize for keeping other people waiting." She turned her bloodshot eyes on her costar and waited for the other woman to quail at the sight.

Mayumi ignored her, moving to the opposite corner to start her own warm-up. Yuriko began a walk-through of her first solo dance routine; just to prove to herself that she didn't care that Mayumi didn't care.

She was on the third dance in her set when Mayumi huffed in annoyance. "Where is that woman?" she demanded of no one in particular. "Doesn't she know that we have things to do?"

Yuriko was feeling grumpy, so she answered despite her better judgment. "Maybe no one ever told her that being late is rude, either." Mayumi shot her an annoyed look, but didn't answer.

A tense ten minutes passed, as each woman worked in solitary; stretching, dancing, counting softly to themselves. Mayumi had just begun her third solo number when she stopped, her hands on her hips.

"This is ridiculous. I'm not waiting any longer. I have an interview, I can't spend all morning for the staff to show."

Yuriko opened her mouth to retort, but what came out was, "Look, we know the dances and we have so little time before the concert. Why don't we just work together? We need the practice." As soon as the final words were spoken, Yuriko regretted them. The last thing she needed was Mayumi flying off the handle about the implied slight.

"Well, you do, anyway." The diminutive singer's lips were pursed, as in thought, and the comment was almost off-hand. There was a long pause, until Mayumi shrugged. "Fine."

Surprised, Yuriko moved into the middle of the room, and waited. Mayumi tossed her chestnut hair behind her, and moved into position. Yuriko counted the beat and they began to dance.

It was fluid. It was smooth. It was wholly unreal.

Mayumi's body was always surprisingly light and agile. She moved easily under Yuriko's lead. Despite herself, Yuriko found it a pleasure to dance with the other woman. When they danced apart, they moved as if they shared a mind; when they danced together, they looked as practiced and natural as Astaire and Rogers. After they completed a particularly complex pattern of footwork, Yuriko found herself smiling at her partner, just from the sheer delight of the thing.

She was about to attempt a compliment, when a voice spoke. The count in her head broke off and Yuriko stopped after a step or two. Mayumi, whose move had carried her across the floor, simply spun to a halt and turned calmly towards the speaker.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," the assistant looked not only sorry, but actively fearful, shooting frightened rodent looks at both the singers as she spoke. "Um, I'm sorry to interrupt, but Terada-san is waiting for Nakayama-san in her dressing room."

"Thank you," Yuriko smiled reassuringly at the woman. "We're done here anyway." She turned to address Mayumi, who had already gathered her things to leave. Yuriko bowed deeply, letting the smile on her lips linger. Whatever she might feel personally towards Mayumi, surely the other woman had enjoyed their practice as much as she had. "Thank you for today's lesson. It was a genuine pleasure."

Mayumi looked up, catching Yuriko's eyes with her own. "Of course," she acknowledged, then followed the assistant out of the room.

Yuriko, once again alone in the practice room, walked calmly over to her small pile of possessions. Picking up her water bottle, she held it for a moment reflectively, then took a long drink. She stared at it once again, then flung the bottle across the room. It smashed into one of the mirrors, bounced and hit the floor, water exploding outwards, splattering everything within six feet. Yuriko stalked out of the room without a backward glance.


Many hours later, after singing practice and a short pre-recorded radio spot, Yuriko found herself, for the second time, staring at an unmarked frosted glass door. She ran her hand through her hair and pushed the door open, entering quietly and trying not to be seen.

A tall, muscular brunette greeted her with a smile. "Welcome back," she said pleasantly. "I wasn't sure you'd come."

Yuriko return the smile, embarrassed. "I want to apologize for yesterday," she said quickly. "I don't usually have such appalling manners. And I don't make it a habit of throwing up on beautiful women."

The trainer laughed. "Thank you, I think." She turned away from the singer, gesturing for her to follow. "We'd better start from the beginning, since I doubt you remember much from yesterday."

Yuriko grinned at the woman's back. "Not true. I remember that your name is Ruby and that you'll be my personal trainer. Well, assuming that I didn't drive you away."

Ruby turned around with a bright smile, and a shake of her head, this time gesturing to a chair. "You'd be surprised what we experience here."

"Ah," Yuriko said sagely, as she seated herself. "Being a personal trainer to the stars isn't all it's cracked up to be?"

Ruby opened a cabinet and removed a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. "Sometimes. And sometimes..." she let the sentence hang as she put the stethoscope earpieces into her ears. After noting Yuriko's blood pressure on a chart, Ruby smiled once again. "I think we'll get along fine, Yuriko-san. Just don't come here drunk again, or I'll break every bone in your body. Agreed?"

Yuriko, who had been watching Ruby's developed biceps flex as she rolled up the stethoscope and cuff, sat up straight in her seat and nodded energetically. "Promise," she said, and she meant it.



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