Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko's early morning interview leads into a full day of activities. The tour is drawing nearer, but only time will tell if they are ready for it.

 

Volume 3, Issue 16

"Faux Pas"

 

Lips pursed, whistling soundlessly, Yuriko nodded to the Security Guard at the Gate, who waved her car in with a bow.

The interview had gone well. Despite her resentment at being awake so early, she knew both the host and his female co-host well enough from previous appearances and various events. She smiled crookedly at the memory of the audience's shocked laughter, as the three of them bantered just this side of scandalously.

They had played along well with her game of sexual teasing and jealousy – Mika, the co-host with a very recognizable laugh, had been spectacular, playing off of Yuriko's flirtation with her male co-host, Yuuichiro. He was certainly handsome enough, if you liked the type, she thought, but Mika had a great spark that might have intrigued her - had she not been very taken and Mika very straight, married and with two children.

Mika had played slighted lover, to the audience's delight and possible confusion, as Yuriko had openly flirted with Yuuichiro. No doubt there would be conjectures of a love triangle in tomorrow's tabloids. But it had all been in fun, and as of right now, Yuriko was in a good mood.

In fact, she thought, as she tapped her driver on the shoulder, as she was in such a good mood, and she had a little time to kill before she needed to get ready for rehearsal, she'd make some time for the fans.

The car turned past one of the lots and headed towards the back entrance of the studio. This was a frequent rallying place for bus tours, fan clubs and autograph seekers. While it was true that fans would be more likely to see delivery trucks than famous people at that entrance, there was always the odd occasion when someone truly famous would use that entrance – or even make a special trip to say hello.

Yuriko checked her watch and calculated how much time she had - at least half an hour, she figured. Plenty of time for a few autographs.

The car pulled up at the inner gate and she got out. The guard looked up from his monitor and smiled perfunctorily. She waited for him to accompany her to the outer gate, and they walked slowly, letting the waiting people spread the news that a genuine celebrity was coming.

By the time Yuriko had reached the outer gate, the crowd was several dozen strong. A very few were young, and these die-hard fans screeched with enthusiasm as they pressed forward. A fewer older autograph seekers held out their books with less energy, but Yuriko didn't care. Nor did she care if these autographs would be immediately hawked on online auctions. No, today she was in a good mood, and nothing was going to shake that.

She smiled cheerfully and greeted the waiting fans with a wave. "A little hot today, huh?" she called out, and was greeted with a laugh.

"I have to ask this, because I really want to know," she said, as she took a book and pen in hand and began signing, "what on earth are you people doing here so early?"

One older gentleman, assumably retired, shot back, "Waiting for the likes of you to come out and earn your money for a change."

Yuriko laughed happily at this and took his book. "Good one. But the truth is, I really don't earn my keep – here or anywhere else."

"I'm a member of your fan club!" The voice was girlish, but the face spoke of a few years out of school, at least.

"Well, then," Yuriko smiled into star-filled eyes, "thank you for your support!" She asked the young woman's name and, as she signed the book, said, "I'm sure if our positions were reversed, I'd be in your fan club."

After autographing a few more items, Yuriko bent down to face a young boy who stood off to the side, looking dejected. "Hi there. You look kind of down. Can I help?"

The boy looked her over with a shrug. "I guess. I came here to get an autograph, but I haven't seen anyone good."

Laughing out loud at that, Yuriko nodded. "Who do you consider good?"

"Someone like Nobuno Hiroda," the boy said, naming a currently popular action film actor.

"I'll tell you what," Yuriko said, "if you give me your autograph book, I'll get it to him and mail it back to you."

The boy looked skeptical. "How do I know I can trust you?"

"Well," Yuriko considered the question for a moment. "I don't really need to steal your book, do I, because I'm on this side of the gate and I can get his autograph any time I want. And you look like you're pretty determined, so I guess I want to help someone who is so determined to get what they want."

Now it was the boy's turn to consider. "I guess I can trust you. Here." He handed over the book.

"Is your name and address in it?"

The boy nodded solemnly.

"Okay then." Yuriko held a hand out to seal the deal. "My name is Yuriko." She pulled out a pen and signed a blank page, then ripped it out and handed it to the boy. "Here's my promise that I'll make sure your book gets back to you, okay?"

The boy stared down at the paper seriously. "You're a singer, right?"

"Right."

"My older sister has your album - she plays it over and over." The boy made a face. His expression cleared after a second, as he cocked his head at the blonde. "Can you write a note to her asking her to turn it down so I don't get sick of it?"

Yuriko grinned and took the paper back and asked the sister's name. "Dear Noriko," she spoke as she wrote. "Thank you for being my fan – I'm very glad that you like my album so much. But remember, it's important to be considerate of other people, so please don't play my album too loud! I want people to like me, and not think of me as an annoyance. Sincerely, Yuriko." She handed the paper back to the boy, "How's that?"

The boy smiled at her and nodded happily. "Thank you!"

"My pleasure."

Checking her watch, Yuriko spent the remaining moments signing a few more autographs and chatting with the growing crowd. She thanked everyone for being so enthusiastic and waved cheerfully as she turned away, nodding to the boy in the front before she got back into the car.

Pleased with herself and her position in the world, Yuriko settled back into the seat as the car drove her around to her building. Opening the window, she waved one last time to the crowd and then they were out of sight.

***

She was the first to enter the dance room. Glancing at the clock, Yuriko gave herself thirty minutes before Mayumi or Madame Sophia would arrive. She planned on making extremely good use of those precious minutes.

Yuriko unceremoniously dumped her belongings in a corner of the room and launched into a stretching routine that had by now become automatic. She breathed deeply and enjoyed the feeling of her body's automatic response to the routine, as muscles warmed up and joints loosened. As she pressed forward into her leg, she marveled at the newly carved musculature of her thigh and calf. Despite her reluctance to all the additional training, Yuriko couldn't argue that it wasn't working. She wasn't different from anyone else, she thought - she hated the work, but liked the results.

In fact, despite the difficult week and the lack of sleep, Yuriko felt exceptionally good today. Whether it was something chemical triggered by the exercise, or hormonal, or just plain luck, she was feeling ready to face anything.

A few more exercises and Yuriko began to walk through her first dance pattern, executing each move slowly, working on footwork and precision. The song in her head should have been the one she would be singing, but the song from earlier came back to her - it fit just as well, she thought. She began humming it, varying her steps slightly to fit the altered meter. During the musical bridge, Yuriko played a little with the routine, adding slightly more complex moves in to fill the space. She glanced at herself in the mirror and smiled, enjoying herself immensely. For the final pass, she hummed a little louder, adding in musical flourishes that highlighted the steps of her dance, leading towards what would be a climactic flourish.

She leapt a little, letting the buoyancy of her move lift her from the floor as the music in her head rose. Halfway through a turn that would lead into the final move, Yuriko's arm rose dramatically.

"Are you making fun of me?"

Yuriko whirled, taking the spin all the way around to face the door, where an enraged and shaking Nakayama Mayumi stood, face pale and fists and jaw tightly clenched.

"Are you making fun of me?!?" Mayumi shouted as Yuriko stared, open-mouthed.

 

Continued

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