Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has had a week full of change. New manager, new assistant, new housemate; it's obvious that a whole new chapter of her life is beginning. She feels pleased that she hasn't cracked under the pressure...yet.

 

Volume 4, Issue 11

"Once Again From the Top"

 

Yuriko's steps lengthened as she walked down the hall. She could hear the other woman panting slightly behind her, but did not slow down. It was petty, she was well aware of that, completely childish. But, she thought as she picked up the paced slightly, everyone deserved a moment of infantile revenge.

And this was hers.

"Excuse me, huh, huh, uh, Yu-....huh, riko-san, could you, huh, please slow down?" The woman's breath was coming in audible gasps now.

Yuriko glanced over her shoulder, slowing down only marginally. "Am I going too fast?" she asked, sweetness and light infusing her voice. "I'm sorry." When she saw that the other woman's face was red and overheated, she slowed down for real.

While the other woman leaned on her thighs catching her breath, Yuriko took a moment to really look at her for a moment. Nishioka Nami was young, no more than twenty-one, short hair hennaed to a pleasant red-brown and an annoyingly fresh look. As Nishioka coughed and clutched her chest, Yuriko felt a little bad about abusing her new assistant, but hadn't she brought it upon herself?

From the moment they had left Kishi-san's office, this new assistant had begun reviewing Yuriko's upcoming schedule. At first it was fine, but after fifteen minutes it had become slightly irritating. An hour later, Yuriko was praying for the sky to fall to shut the woman up. It hadn't been a conscious decision, but walking quickly had, after all, quieted Nishioka.

"I'm sorry..." the assistant wheezed. "I'm a little asthmatic." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a plastic contraption, put it to her lips and breathed in heavily, as she pushed down on a canister.

Immediately, Yuriko felt chastened. "No, I'm sorry. I didn't realize." Now she felt stupid. Nice revenge, dummy, she thought to herself. Yuri had an image of herself explaining to a fuming Kishi that she hadn't *meant* to kill her new assistant....

"Are you all right?" Yuriko asked, as the woman cleared her throat.

Nishioka coughed once more, then smiled apologetically. "I'm fine."

Yuriko turned to continue down the hall, gesturing for the young woman to accompany her. Strolling slowly, Yuriko looked down at her assistant, at a loss for words. Now that she had someone to run all her errands, she couldn't think of a single thing to ask her to do. She wasn't even sure how to address her.

"Nishioka-san," she began.

"Please call me Nami," the girl said softly. "Everyone calls you 'Yuriko'" so its only fair."

"Nami-san," Yuriko continued. "Will you please excuse me for a moment. I need to call a restaurant about Saturday...."

"I'll be glad to do that!' Nami practically leapt forward at the idea. "What restaurant, when do you need a reservation, and for how many?"

Startled, Yuriko gave her the information. "I, um, still need to call my friends and tell them that we've changed the time."

"I can do that too!"

"All right," Yuri nodded. "I also have to call..."

"Please, let me make your call for you!" Nami's voice was full of an obvious desire to be useful, tinged with a little fear that she might not be doing enough.

Yuriko stopped walking. "Nami-san," she said, a smile creeping onto her face. She laid a placating hand gently on the younger woman's arm. "While I have no doubt that you are competent enough to tell her that we've changed the time of the reservation, I think I'd be more comfortable telling my girlfriend that I love her myself."

There was a moment of silence as Nishioka Nami processed the words, then blushed furiously. "I'm sorry."

Yuriko let go of the girl's arm with a sympathetic smile. "Don't apologize for trying to do your job. I think we're both going to need a little time to get used to this." She took a deep breath and smiled. "Why don't you make the other phone calls and I'll make mine, okay?"

Nami nodded, her face quite red.

"I think we'll get along just fine," Yuriko patted her gently on the shoulder and continued down the hall, slowly.

***

The door to the costuming department was open. Yuriko knocked briefly on the door and entered, Nami on her heels. Calling out a greeting, Yuri was met by Chieko's face bobbing up from her workbench.

"Come on in!" the costumer's assistant gestured. "You're just in time. Final fitting for," she consulted a piece of paper tacked to a corkboard, "act three, final and act two, first and second change."

"Yes, please." Yuriko agreed meekly. She looked around. "Where's Amba-san?" Her face clouded. "Did someone say anything offensive or..."

Chieko waved away the thought. "No, she's probably out sick or something. If last weekend was a real bender it might take her a day or so. Or she could have a cold, or..." the woman shrugged. "Sometimes she just doesn't come in. I'll go over to her place tonight and see how she is. If she's sick, she doesn't eat right." Her words slowed and petered out. Yuriko could see that she was more worried than her comments gave away.

"You're a good friend, Chieko-san."

"She's been a good mentor. It's the least I can do." And with that, Chieko left the conversation behind, turning to the business of fitting the star properly.

***

Yuriko was staring straight ahead - at Nami, as it happened, who was on the phone, trying to answer all of Mariko's many questions. By her answers alone, the singer could tell that Mari had long moved off the topic of dinner and was now fixating on Nami's personal details. Yuri tried to not laugh as she heard her assistant say, "....no, single..." Yuriko put a hand to her mouth to cover her smile.

"Don't move," Chieko commanded, then after a tug or two, stood up. "What do you think?"

Yuriko turned to look at herself objectively in the mirror. She pursed her lips at the figure she saw - long legs visible through a high slit, nice hips, bust "assisted" by good tailoring. And the color managed to make her look less pale than usual.

"Not bad. She's kinda sexy." Yuriko gestured at her reflection, but pulled back quickly as a pin scratched her shoulder.

Nodding, Chieko, stood back and gave her a hard look. "You've filled out in your shoulders a little since we took the original measurements. It looks good on you. Maybe we'll cut back the sleeves slightly to show off more of your arm..." She was clearly lost in thought for a moment, then a bright smile appeared on her usually cheerful face. "Now - just be careful to not gain any weight in the next few weeks, or Amba'll have your hide for making her do needless work." She laughed at her own joke.

Glancing over her shoulder, Yuri gave Nami a wry smile. "Maybe we should cancel that reservation after all." She paused for a moment, "Why don't you call Mariko again..." at the look of fear that passed over her assistant's face, she laughed.

It felt very good.

 

Continued

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