Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko is becomingly increasingly convinced that the tour has been cursed. Her own personal problems pale in comparison to the idea that a multi-million dollar production might never get off the ground unless the problem is solved.

Volume 3, Issue 9

"Spotlight"

 

"Yes, fine," Yuriko muttered into her cell phone. "I'd love to. You have no idea how much I'd love to." She smiled at nothing, and nodded. "Right. We'll bring dessert. See you at eight." She rang off and folded the phone away in her pocket, turning to her companion. "That was Hachi, Mariko bought him a new pasta maker."

"Mmmm," Midori answered dreamily. "Fresh pasta. I can't think of anything better."

Yuriko smiled at that, pulling the other woman into an embrace. Smiling broadly she leaned down and whispered into the author's ear, "I can."

***

When they were once again dressed, the two women decided to walk to a local bakery for an appropriate dessert. The evening air was sticky, pregnant with moisture, but the streets were packed solid with people heading home from work, or out from their homes.

"So," Yuriko asked, as they stood on line at the bakery. "Please tell me about your day, because I don't want to think about mine."

Midori set a hand on the blonde's arm. "You've been saying that a lot this week. What's going on?"

"No," Yuriko forestalled her with a raised hand. "I'm not even going there. I'll tell you what," she interrupted her lover's protest. "I'll tell you the whole story over dinner. This way we can see if Mari's heard anything and I don't have to slog through it twice."

"That bad?" Midori mused. "Well, then let me tell you about my day of researching students at one of our leading universities." She paused dramatically. "It was boring. Utterly, mind-numbingly dull. Apparently college students at our prestigious school come in two types - those who really wanted to get in and learn, and those who really wanted to get in so they could get out. The first stay forever, the second leave as early as possible. The worst were all the young women who go to college just to meet an eligible young executive wannabee. Absolutely appalling."

"Sounds depressing," Yuriko agreed cheerfully.

They stepped up to the counter and placed their order, after which Midori continued her rant.

"The lowest point was as I interviewed a lovely, bright young woman in the history department. She's studying Kofun art, and was very knowledgeable about Korean influences on ceramics and sculpture. When I asked her what she planned on doing with her degree you know what she said to me? She said that she planned on getting married and having a child and staying home, because it wasn't like there was a job out there for her anyway." Midori's expression was grim. "It just made me so mad to think of all that knowledge going to waste."

Yuriko opened her mouth to answer, when the sound of her name being squealed brought her to a crashing halt.

"Oh my god!" a young girl cut the line and ran up to the two women. "You're Yuriko!"

Yuriko smiled broadly, despite her irritation at the interruption. She glanced out the corner of her eye at Midori, hoping that the writer would take advantage of the moment and escape. But Midori stood firm as the onslaught began.

"Can you sign this, please?" A book was thrust into Yuri's chest.

She took it and searched the faces around her for the owner. "What's your name?" she asked the girl.

"Risa," the voice came back, shrill over the noise of the small crowd that had surrounded the singer. People in line for the bakery began to grumble as the number of people in the shop grew, blocking the entrance.

Yuriko handed the book back and took the next object offered, inscribing that carefully. She glanced at Midori, whose expression was pleasantly bland, then back at the crowd, which now included several young men and more girls.

While Midori finished filling their order, Yuriko smiled and signed and shook hands with her fans. One or two took a surreptitious photograph with a cell phone, but Yuriko didn't begrudge them - after all, this *was* what she did for a living, right? She smiled brighter at a shy girl who hung back, leaning forward to take possession of a hesitantly offered autograph book.

After a quick grab at a few more autoraphable objects, Yuriko sensed that the bakery was getting far too crowded. She excused herself, but the crush of people was too thick to move through. She smiled and nodded her way towards the door, but got no more than a few feet. She gave the employees behind the counter an apologetic look, but they were too busy to notice.

"Alright girls, that's enough," a commanding voice spoke, breaking through the crowd noise and startling Yuriko's fans into momentary silence. "Yuriko's always glad to sign a few autographs, but she has somewhere she has to be right now. Can you make some room for us, please?" This last was spoken sweetly to two large boys who stood by the door. Having been deputized by a ravishing dark-haired beauty, they cleared a path efficiently for the two women.

Midori took Yuriko's arm and led her towards the door. She smiled beatifically at the gathered fans as they passed.

"Who is that?" One girl asked another as they walked by.

"Must be her manager," the other answered.

Yuriko paused in front of them and pinned the two girls with a look. "She's not my manager," she smiled, putting her arm around Midori's slim waist. She leaned in close, but let her voice be heard clearly throughout the small space, "This is Yukano Midori...my girlfriend." And the two women passed out of the bakery into an atmosphere no less humid than the store had been.

Behind her, Yuriko could hear someone say, "Her girlfriend? I thought that whole lesbian thing was hype..."

Yuriko smiled at Midori, who laughed behind her hand, as they walked quickly through the growing crowds.

***

"Your fans never cease to amaze me," Mariko said with her usual clairvoyance, as she opened the door to Hachigoro's house.

"Funny, I was thinking the same thing," Midori quipped, with a squeeze for Yuriko's arm.

"Funny," Yuriko echoed, "I was thinking the same thing about you." She smiled down at her lover.

"That my fans never cease to amaze you?"

"No, that you never cease to amaze me." Yuri turned to include Mariko in the exchange. "Midori is not only an accomplished writer, and a fine public speaker, she's also my personal bodyguard."

"Ah," Mariko said with a nod to the author. "Beating them off again?"

"No!" Yuriko insisted. "She's seducing them away from me, if you can believe it."

Midori just laughed. "We were mobbed at the bakery - I just asked a few of the young men to help clear a path to the door."

Hachi joined them with welcoming smiles for both women. He wore an unfortunate apron decorated with anthropomorphized vegetables. "Well, then, I imagine that they jumped at the chance to ingratiate themselves with you!"

"It wasn't anything!" Midori protested. Turning to Mariko in an effort to turn the attention away from herself, she said, "So, you were saying?"

"Oh," Mariko waved her hand. "I was just listening to a call-in radio show. A top ten kind of thing...there were an inordinate number of dedications of your music, and several declarations of love - to you, mostly. All very stimulating," Mariko lead them into a spacious living area, where she served them drinks, while Hachi retreated into the kitchen to continue with dinner preparations.

"I'm learning how not to be jealous," Midori commented. "It's much more difficult than I imagined. Especially when Yuri is so very...friendly...to her audience." The author shot a sly look towards her lover, but Yuriko seemed miles away and didn't respond.

"Yes, I went through something similar in the early days, Mari grinned, leaning forward confidentially. "Eventually I learned to use my position as her best friend for personal gain, if you know what I mean."

The two women laughed, but grew quiet when they saw that the idol wasn't listening.

"Okay, spill it." Mariko demanded, then smiled up at her fiancée' as he brought in a tray of drinks. "What's eating you, Yuri? You look positively glum."

Yuriko jumped slightly at her name, apologizing hastily. "I'm sorry - it's been a tough week."

"You keep saying that!" Midori announced testily. "Are you going to let us in on it, or have you taken up being a martyr?"

Yuriko shot the author a pained look. "No, I just didn't want to be accused of being a whiner." She took a deep breath and let it out audibly. "Okay, then," she looked each of her companions in the eye in turn, then said, "I have two announcements. One," she gestured towards Midori, "I hereby announce that I concede our contest - you win. And two..." she picked up her glass of wine and took a long drink from it. "Two, she said with another sigh, "this tour...is cursed."

 

Continued

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