Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko's pleasant morning has come to a screeching halt in the face of a confrontational co-star.

 

Volume 4, Issue 1

"Winter Chill"

 

"Are you making fun of me?!" Mayumi's voice was getting shriller with each repetition of the question. The singer's chestnut-colored hair flared out with every exaggerated motion she made, as she demanded an answer yet again. "Well?"

"I..." Yuriko was completely taken aback at her co-star's reaction to...what? To something, obviously, but Yuriko had no idea what Mayumi was talking about. Desperately, Yuri thought back to her morning interview, trying to recall if she had said something that could have potentially insulted the other woman. "I...." Yuriko pulled herself together, stood to her full height and looked down at Mayumi with a mien that was composed, if not enlightened. "What on earth are you talking about, Mayumi-san?" She hoped she sounded calmer than she felt, but was pretty sure that her confusion and anger would show plainly on her face and in her stance.

As if she had been struck physically, Mayumi recoiled at this. A moment later, she stepped forward belligerently, her finger pointing up at Yuriko. "That song - my song. You were dancing to *my* song!" she hissed angrily, her eyes red with fury. "I know what you are...I know you want me off this tour...don't think I don't." Mayumi's teeth were showing now, but there was no smile on her face. Yuriko expected the shorter woman to leap up and grab her throat in her teeth any second.

"Mayumi-san," Yuriko's tone was vicious, using the other woman's name just to goad her. "I have no idea how me humming a catchy tune could in any way be construed as an insult. I know you..."

"You don't know anything," Mayumi shot back at the blonde. "You don't know anything about me, or my work, or anything."

"What is happening here?" The voice was clipped and precise, and heavily accented. Yuriko found herself breathing hard, her chest heaving and her hands clenched, as an enraged Mayumi whirled on the intruder.

"WHAT is happening here?" Madame Sophia's voice was unrelenting, her eyes hard and black in her wrinkled face.

"Little girl, is there some problem?"

There was a long moment, as Mayumi seethed. Her mouth moved, but she said nothing. Madame Sophia turned her eyes to Yuriko, giving the blonde a glance no less intimidating. "And you? Do you have something to say?"

Yuriko forced herself to take a deep breath and shake her head in the negative.

"Good." Madame Sophia punctuated the word by slamming her stick into the ground with a sharp crack. "Then," her eyes glittered ferociously, challenging either of them to defy her. "We will begin."

With this uncompromising pronouncement, something seemed to turn off in Mayumi. Instantly, she had returned to the usual detached manner to which Yuriko had become accustomed. The shorter woman's hands unclenched and her face went completely blank. Her eyes, which had been glaring with unveiled hatred, became cold and distant. The transformation was instantaneous - so much so, that Yuriko began to doubt the vision of her co-star she had seen a few seconds earlier.

"Forget it," Mayumi said shortly, then proceeded past Yuriko without a second glance. Yuriko watched the other woman remove herself to a corner of the room, then turned back to the doorway, trying to recover her own composure.

"I'm sorry," Yuriko said after she had joined Mayumi in the middle of the practice room, uncharacteristically trying to provoke a response. "I didn't mean any offense - I wasn't making fun of you."

"No," Mayumi said without looking up. A barely-perceptible sneer crossed her wide mouth, "Of course not. You wouldn't ever do something like that." There was the slightest stress on the word "you," but when Yuriko looked closer, Mayumi was absorbed in her own warm-ups. There was no sign of any emotion on her sculpted featured; no sneer, no anger...no emotion of any kind at all. As if Mayumi wasn't human.

Yuriko shivered with something close to fear. There was something here she didn’t understand. No, that wasn't correct - she understood it well enough, she just could not understand why it should be at all. This wasn't a woman who disliked her - this woman *hated* her. Perhaps, if she could understand why.... But then Madam Sophia called them both to attention and she had to put aside whatever it was that she felt and become the consummate professional she was. Nonetheless, despite her will to put her personal feelings aside, Yuriko couldn't help but feeling like a small mammal forced to practice dancing with a very vicious, very poisonous snake.

 

***

"Nine....ten....eleven...twelve. Good. Okay, you can rest." Rubi took the barbell from Yuriko and set it in the rest, while the blonde groaned piteously and flailed for towel and water.

"Are you always this much of a whiner?" the trainer chirped cheerfully.

"Always," Yuriko admitted. "I made a vow when I was a child to never publicly enjoy physical exercise." She took a long drink of water and wiped her neck. Smiling up at the woman who stood over her, muscular arms crossed across a generous chest, she finished, "At this point, it's a matter of pride."

Rubi shook her head in disagreement. "I don't understand that at all - I really enjoy what all my hard work has accomplished." As if to prove her point, the trainer lifted an arm and flexed a daunting bicep.

"Me too!" Yuriko grinned, ogling the flexed arm.

"Seriously, though," Rubi continued. "Don't you care about your health?"

Yuriko stood and stretched slightly, then moved to the next machine. She watched the young woman set the weight, grimaced when she noticed that it was set heavier than the last time, and thought hard about the question.

"It's not that I don't care about my health it's just that I'm unbelievably lazy. When I was in high school," she laughed, "the second time around, I joined the basketball team. It's probably the best shape I've ever been in in my life. But no, I didn't really enjoy the workouts." Yuriko sat down on the apparatus and slid her arms into position. "And the coach was cute and everything."

Shaking her head, Rubi smiled at the singer. "You're worse than some of the guys, you know?"

Yuriko took a deep breath and flexed, bringing both hands towards each other. "I know," she grunted. "They pay me to be. And I work hard at *that.*"

 

Continued

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