Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Sometimes it's not the darkest secrets that are the most shocking - Yuriko's just learned that Midori likes professional wrestling and she's appalled.

Volume 3, Issue 12

"Burning at Both Ends"


"Ritsuko!" Midori held her sister's slumped form, but shot a distressed look at the idol, who slipped her shoes off quickly and joined them, her arms held out to steady their unexpected guest.

When Ritsuko spoke, her voice sounded like a child's. "I'm sorry, 'nee-san," she shuddered, "I didn't know where else to go."

"Don't apologize. Just come sit down. Can you make us some tea?" this last was directed at Yuriko, who nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.

Midori led her sister back into the living room and seated her on the sofa, then sat directly next to her, still holding Ritsuko's hands in her own.

"What happened? Are you hurt?" Midori looked her sister over, as much as possible, to see if she was injured.

Ritsuko shook her head, tears, flying from her cheeks as she did. "No, no, I''s not's just..." She took a huge gasping breath and threw herself into Midori's chest, weeping. "He's gone...he..." the words became incoherent after that, so Midori simply held her sister, making comforting noises and awaiting her lover's return with the tea.

It wasn't long before Yuriko joined them. She poured a cup for each of them, seating herself off to the side. Midori forcibly detached her self from her sister's grasp, and firmly placed a cup of hot tea into Ritsuko' hands. The heat seemed to arouse the girl from her funk and she quickly sipped at the drink, then placed the cup on the table, wiping her face roughly with her sleeve.

Yuriko watched the sisters, reflecting on their differences. Midori - always so forthright and opinionated, yet polished; Ritsuko - introverted, quiet and less refined. Each with their distinctive genius, but so different that they almost seemed from different families. They didn't even look the same, Yuriko thought. Where Midori's hair was long and thick and naturally black, Ritsuko wore her hair short, its spikiness accentuating the henna highlights in the brown strands. Even their faces were different. Ritsuko had Aoi's wide mouth and bright eyes, and Midori took more after her father. Yuriko sipped at her tea and kept her thoughts to herself.

Ritsuko pulled herself together roughly, anger replacing despair, even as the two women watched. Embarrassed now, Ritsuko became sullen and her face darkened as she drank.

Eventually she spoke, her voice thick from tears and frustration. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have come here...I was just...I couldn't go back...oh, damn it all." The last words were ground out as new tears began to fall. "I'm sorry...I'll..." she made as if to rise, but Midori put you a restraining hand and dragged her half-standing form back to the sofa.

"No," Midori said. "I don't think so. *You* will stay right there and pull yourself together until you can tell me what happened and then *I* will decide if I'm throwing you out, or we are going to the police or whatever. Now drink."

Despite her obvious misery, Ritsuko smiled. "You sound exactly like Natsumi."

"Do I?" Midori asked coolly. "Then that's one more strike against you, along with the one for calling me ‘nee-san." She waited until Ritsuko looked up at her, then bestowed a patient smile upon the younger woman. "One more strike and I'll throw you out until you stop treating me like I'm the enemy."

Ritsuko gave her sister a watery smile at that. "Sorry," she said, her voice a little stronger now, some of her natural confidence returning. "I'm just upset and not thinking clearly." She took another mouthful of tea and sighed. "Now I don't even want to tell you what happened, because you're a writer and it's all so tawdry and tedious and it's not like I'm the only one to ever," she put her hand over her mouth to stop herself. "And now I sound like Aoi," she said from behind her hand, her eyes looking huge and fragile. "I'll shut up now."

"I won't hold it against you, this time." Midori promised. "I take it that this is the result of a love affair gone tragic?" She shifted slightly to lay her own cup down. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I," Ritsuko shot a quick look in Yuriko's direction, then looked quickly away.

"I can leave if you'd like," Yuriko was pleased that she managed to keep herself from sounding too eager. "If you'd be more comfortable."

Ritsuko shook her head and wiped away new tears. "It's okay, I just feel stupid."

Midori reached out and took Ritsuko's hand into her own. "We understand."

Ritsuko looked quickly back and forth at the two women, clearly summing up what she knew of them and their experiences. Then she flushed. "Oh god," She stared off into space for a moment. "Do you remember that day when we all sat out on the lawn talking about men? Us and Youko and Yuuka?"

After taking a moment to recall that particular day, both women nodded.

Ritsuko continued, "Well, I never said anything, because I didn't want anyone to know, but I've been seeing someone, for about three years."

Midori's brows drew together. "You didn't want anyone to know? But why? How bad could it be? You're not pregnant, are you?"

"No!" Ritsuko jumped. "No! It's not that. And it wasn't like I meant to keep it a big secret from everyone, I just didn't want to get into it and," she hunched into herself and looked at her hand in her lap. "He's married and I just didn't want to have to lie or explain or,anything."

Yuriko could see something flitting across Midori's face, but could not for the life of her interpret what it was.

"Married? I see. That would have been awkward." Midori sat in thought for a second, then her face cleared. "I hate playing twenty questions, Ri, and I prefer stories that have a beginning a middle and an end. I've already seen the end of this story - flashback to the beginning and middle and then we can all go to bed and sleep on it."

Ritsuko looked at her older sister in surprise, then despite herself, laughed harshly. "Is there anyone in our family more heartless than you, Midori? I'm sitting here with a broken heart and you make it sound like some kind of television drama script." She wiped her eyes again. "I realize that you're all worldly and everything, Miss Big-time writer and you've probably heard it all before, but this is *my* life we're talking about here!"

Midori stood, "Fine. Don't talk, then. It's late and we're tired. Next time you want tea and sympathy, go to Natsumi - she likes to mommy you." The author turned away and walked towards her bedroom briskly. "When you feel like growing up and not taking it out on me, I'll be willing to listen. In the meantime, I'm going to bed. Yuri?"

Yuriko shot out of her seat, her gaze traveling back and forth between the two women. "I, uh, why don't, um, I get Ritsuko-san a blanket and um," she sidled over towards the bathroom, and practically threw herself into the linen closet, while the tension between sisters grew.

"But I didn't go to Natsumi!" Ritsuko was saying. "I came to *you* because I had a misguided belief that you would understand what I was going through. For some reason, I thought," Ritsuko swallowed the sob audibly, "I thought that, after all you've gone through - you, of all people, wouldn't judge me."

"Judge you?" Midori practically shouted back at her sister. "I'm not judging you! I'm the one telling you that I'm willing to listen, if you want to talk. If all you want is a shoulder to cry on, fine, but don't look to me for that. Where were you when my life was falling apart?"

"I was at school - where were *you*? You were hiding in Russia! You could have called me at least. You never even let us know where you were!"

Yuriko shut the door to the bathroom behind her, pulled the lid down on the toilet and sat. She was trapped here; indeed, she was resigned to spending the entire night here, if need be. There was no way on earth she was going to get caught in the middle of this fight. If pressed, she'd take Midori's side, but, "Please gods,please don't let me be pressed," she muttered.

The shouting had risen, then fallen. Yuriko could hear the conversation in snatches as the sisters moved around the room.

"You weren't exactly falling over yourself to let me into your life, either," Midori was saying. "Three years? And you're coming to me now, after it's over, to what - use me as some kind of therapy?"

"This is exactly why I never came to you in the first place!" Ritsuko responded. "Because you're always such a snob! I knew you'd be down on me for falling in love with a married man."

"I don't give a damn if you fell in love with an elephant, " Midori's voice was ice cold. "I resent you showing up and wanting tender loving care on demand."

"I got that," Ritsuko commented sourly. "I don't have anywhere to go tonight. I can't go back to our,the apartment. If you let me stay tonight I'll leave early tomorrow and I won't darken your doorstep again."

Yuriko could hear Midori take several heavy steps. "Ri, I...I'm not saying you have to leave." She sighed heavily. "All I'm saying is,"her voice sounded terribly tired all of a sudden, "it would have been nice to hear some of the good things about him, too."

Yuriko could hear Midori's voice crack, but she forced herself to stay where she was, listening as Ritsuko met Midori in the middle of the room, and as the sisters embraced and cried together for a while. Chewing on a fingernail, Yuriko waited for the emotional outburst to blow over, completely at a loss as to what she should do. There was murmuring coming from the living room, as the sisters reconciled, but Yuriko refused to move from her refuge.

Eventually there was a pause, and Midori's voice came through the door, still tired, but vaguely amused. "Yuriko, you can come out now."

Yuriko slid the door open a crack and stuck her head out. "Um, I was,"

"I know," Midori smiled thankfully at her. "Did you find a blanket?"

"Yes and an extra pillow case," Yuriko pulled the objects out of the closet and entered the main room, ready to bolt at the next sign of conflict.

Bowing apologetically, Ritsuko thanked her. "I'm sorry for intruding on your evening." The girl's face was tear-stained and puffy, but Yuriko could not help notice how attractive she was, even in that state. Somewhere in her, a kernel of maternal instinct kicked in and she had the unfamiliar desire to tuck Ritsuko into bed, bring her tea, stroke her hair and kick the daylights out of the guy who had hurt her. She decided to focus on the former actions and leave the latter to Midori.



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