Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Both the tour and Yuriko’s relationship with Midori are on the edge of moving into the next stage. Yuriko has been filled with renewed energy and passion for both.

 

Volume 4, Issue 7

"Party of Four"

 

The day passed quickly. Too quickly. Knowing full well that she should make an effort to get to the gym, Yuri slipped out of the studio at the earliest opportunity and fled.

She *knew* she had made a commitment to her trainer, but tonight she had promised to be there when Midori brought her things over. And, as scared as she was at the thought that the writer was moving in with her for the last few weeks before the tour, there was nowhere else she would rather be tonight, than home.

Yuriko felt pretty pleased with herself, despite her truancy. She had arranged for the apartment to be thoroughly cleaned; she had even taken some time to make space for Midori’s clothes and personal effects. Not that there was much space needed, really. After the last few months of intermittently staying together in one apartment or another, Yuriko had noticed an inordinate amount of Midori’s *things* creeping into her apartment. It still made her smile to think of the first time she opened her bathroom cabinet to find her toothbrush and Midori’s leaning on each other comfortably.

So, when she arrived home, there really wasn’t much to do but make some tea and wait until Midori and Ritsuko arrived for dinner.

She didn't have long to wait. Not a half hour later, her cell rang. Midori's voice was muffled, but chirpy, as she informed the singer that they were coming up. Yuriko closed her phone and sweated a bit, wondering if this was going to be one of those scenes from one of those interminable, unfunny comedies, as Midori dragged in bag after box after bag…but instantly scolded herself for such unkind thoughts.

In fact, Midori came through the door with only an overnight bag in tow, while Ritsuko pulled a single suitcase. Despite herself Yuriko heaved an audible sigh of relief. Midori smiled and said, "The other six bags are being brought up."

The blonde stiffened lightly, then relaxed when she realized she was being teased, then blushed hotly, when she realized she was being obvious.

"I'm sorry," the writer said, as she brushed Yuri's cheek lightly with her lips, "I saw the look on your face and I just had to." She turned to close the door behind her sister. "Besides, I'm actually having all my things brought over by truck."

"Ha ha," Yuriko smiled sourly. She let her eyes wander upwards thoughtfully. "I wonder if they'll take all my things out after they deliver yours. I'm sure I can find another place to live on short notice."

Midori jabbed the blonde in the arm, laughing. Grabbing Ritsuko, she seated herself and her sister on the sofa, while Yuriko went to the kitchen to serve tea and snacks.

"I hope you don't mind waiting, we've got one more person joining us tonight…" Yuriko said, pouring the tea.

"Oh?"

"Mmm. Sayaka-sempai called me yesterday. It seems she has some free time tonight and wanted to stop by."

"Sempai?" Ristuko asked, standing up to take the tea tray from Yuriko's hands. "Please, allow me." She waited until Yuriko seated herself and handed out the cups, then poured for everyone. "From school?"

Smiling slightly, Yuriko had just nodded when the intercom spoke and a guest was announced. Yuriko stood up smoothly and went to the speaker to give her permission, then waited at the door for her guest.

***

"She's your sempai?" Ritsuko asked, confusion written plainly on her face as she took in the features of the newcomer – a girl who was clearly several years younger than herself.

Midori grinned. "You'll have to forgive my younger sister, Sayaka-san. She never watches television."

Sayaka smiled modestly. "I understand. To be honest, I couldn't bear to watch it, myself. Can you imagine how mortifying it would be to watch yourself caught on camera when you were making a funny face? I just couldn't stand the thought."

Yuriko had, at last, finished hanging Sayaka's coat up and turned to introduce her erstwhile "sempai" from the reality television show in which she had been sent back to high school as a senior. As horrendous as much of it had been, Yuriko would forever look back on that job with fondness. It had been there that she had met Midori, who had been masquerading as a Production Assistant for a writing assignment.

"So," Yuriko clapped her hands, with authority. "How about some dinner?"

***

Dinner was an extremely informal affair. Each woman had picked up a boxed meal of her choice and, with some trepidation, handed it to one of the others. There was a moment of hesitation, while Yuriko grinned at everyone, enjoying her "bentou box surprise" game.

"Scary, isn't it? I might have bought something you hate, and for all I know, the food in here makes me ill." She laughed, a crazy little cackle, while the other three women visibly edged away from her.

"Okay, I'm going in," Ritsuko announced, and cracked open the lid to take a look. "Ooh!" she pronounced as she revealed the contents. "Mmm, katsu salad."

"Feels like old times, doesn't it, sempai?" Yuriko smiled at Sayaka, who giggled a little in response. "This was the way it was for me everyday…I never knew what was going to be in the box."

"You know," Sayaka opened her bentou, "I don't think I ever saw you not eat anything."

"Me either, now that you mention it," Midori commented, after a quick scan of her own box.

Yuriko just shrugged. "I like food. And if someone is going to go to the trouble of making lunch for me every day, for no reason at all except that they want to, then I'm going to eat it and enjoy it, even if it's not my favorite food in the world."

Nudging her older sister with her elbow, Ritsuko said, "Hint, hint."

"Are you suggesting that I make you lunch every day?" Midori turned quickly from her sister to Yuriko. She looked amused at the thought.

Yuriko lifted a hand, palm out in a "stop" gesture. "Oh no. I'm not even going to try and answer that. If I say "yes" you'll complain I'm trying to, oh, I don't know, force us into rigid gender roles or something, and if I say "no", you'll complain that I don't like your cooking." She shook her head again and said, quite melodramatically, "I'm not going there."

Sayaka laughed. "Women seem to have a knack for those. You know… the ‘Do these pants make me look fat?' kind of questions."

The four women laughed, and tucked into their various bentou with great, and relieved, appetite.

***

With coffee came the second round of "So, what are you up to?" type questions. Yuriko gave a quick summary of preparations for the tour, while Sayaka gazed at her with large eyes.

"Even as you try and make it seem so everyday-job-like, it still sounds so exciting and glamorous," Sayaka smiled at her "kouhai." "My studies, while interesting to me, aren't nearly as exciting as all that."

"That's fine," Midori said, "Because my last few assignments haven't been all that exciting either." She and Sayaka shared a moment of silent communication.

"But, what do you do, Ritsuko-san?" Sayaka turned and addressed the fourth woman in the room. Ritsuko had spent most of the evening quietly listening as the others had caught up on gossip about people she didn't know. The few times she had spoken, Yuriko had almost been surprised that she was still there.

"Ritsuko works in Kutani-yaki porcelain," Midori answered for her sister, as she frequently did.

"Really?" Sayaka thought about it for a moment, her pointer finger laying lightly upon her lower lip. "Yumi…Yumi…oh, wait! I knew I knew the name!" The young woman turned with excitement to Ritsuko. "I've seen some of your work! Oh! It was fantastic!"

Ritsuko blushed and mumbled her thanks, but Sayaka wasn't listening. Clapping her hands girlishly, she was practically bouncing up and down. "Oh wow! You're famous! I can't believe I've met you! How cool! I'm sitting here with a famous artist!"

At which comment both Yuriko and Midori burst out into peals of hysterical laughter, while Ritsuko blushed furiously.

Sayaka stared at the older women for a solid minute as they practically howled with delight, until her cheeks, too, began to redden. When the color reached her ears, she simply covered her face and whimpered. "That's not what I meant!" could just be heard from within the cocoon of her hands. "You know that's not what I meant!"

 

Continued

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