Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko is still getting the hang of having a personal assistant, after her first brief but memorably bad experience. She's getting used to the idea. There's a lot to be done, and time is running short. The pressure is building as the tour deadline looms.

 

Volume 4, Issue 12

"Once Again From the Top"

 

"So, yes on the fundraiser for disabled children, but no on the one for veterans, right?"

"Right. And yes on the art thing if we can fit it in."

Nami nodded, chewing lightly on the pen tip as she thought. "But doesn't that mean you'll have to cancel the magazine interview?"

Yuriko made a disgusted noise. "I forgot about that. What magazine is it for?" She turned away from the window of her car and looked over to the daybook the young woman held open on her lap.

"Mystique."

"That's the women's magazine? I really think I should do that...I don't get interviewed by them often." In fact, Yuriko was almost always frozen out of mainstream women's media coverage. While she was wildly popular with young people's magazines, those with music, actor or idol interests, gay and lesbian publications and men's media, the assumption was that married women were not her target audience. As Yuriko well knew from looking out at her audience and based on her fan letters, that was a wildly inaccurate assumption...but getting the publishing companies to understand had always been difficult.

Nami chewed on the pen thoughtfully, some more. "How about we arrange the interview at the opening? Or wait...before it, we can give them time on the way there."

Yuriko nodded. "That's a good idea - it'll give them an opening about how busy I am, and maybe they'll mention the artist whose show it is." The artist was Midori's sister Ritsuko, of course, whose work was being shown at a second gallery in town. Yuriko smiled. It wasn't a coincidence...she was fairly close with the gallery owner and it hadn't been hard to get her to agree to a show of such a popular young artist. "Nami-san, do you like ceramics?"

Her assistant's attention was far away, and with some difficulty she pulled herself back to the present and managed to focus on the question.

"Actually, um, no, not really," Nami looked embarrassed. "It all looks like pots and cups and things to me."

Yuriko chuckled at that. "What kind of hobbies do you have?"

"When I was in school I played guitar." The young woman answered. "But since then I've let it go. Now when I have any free time, I go to the park, or I read."

"One day, I'd like to hear you play," Yuriko said kindly.

Nami just blushed hotly at the idea of performing for such a famous singer.

"Okay, that's tomorrow. What's next?"

"Wednesday you have rehearsal in the morning - the new singing coach is coming in." When Yuriko nodded in acknowledgement, she continued, "And in the afternoon there's final fittings, and then....dress rehearsals begin on Thursday."

Panic washed over Yuriko in a way that she had never felt before. Dress rehearsal. The first of several, she knew, and there were still a few weeks to go before the first show at the Dome, but still.... *Dress Rehersal.*

"Are you all right?" Nami's voice held concern, but she was obviously unsure what would be an appropriate action.

Yuriko forced herself to smile reassuringly, "I'm fine."

"You went really pale. I was a little worried there for a second."

Yuriko turned to really look at her new assistant for a moment. The sun was lowering in the west and when it passed through buildings, it brought out the red highlights in the young woman's short hair. She realized with a start that Nami was only a year or two younger than she was. For a moment, Yuriko envied the other woman, then felt foolish for doing so.

Yuriko replied as honestly as she could manage. "I'm just a little terrified, that's all. The idea that we're already up to dress rehearsal...I know we'll have a few of the rehearsal shows before the actual tour, but still...the idea that I'm about to head out on a six-month tour around the world...it's overwhelming."

"I don't know how you do it." Nami let out a low breath. "If I were in your shoes, I'd be a nervous wreck."

"I am," Yuriko confided. "But I'm an actress, as well as a singer." She smiled bitterly. "Sometimes the "go"ing part of "the show must go on" takes a lot more acting than you'd expect." She thought back to a particular day not even a year ago, when her world exploded at the news of her parent's deaths. The show had gone on then and now too, no matter how she felt, it would go on.

"You know," Nami's voice was quiet, "when I heard that I was being asked to be the assistant for you, I was a little worried. You hear rumors, you know..."

Yuriko laughed despite herself, "No, tell me - what kind of rumors?" She held up a hand, ticking off a few of the most common. "Well, of course I'd hit on you immediately, and I'd probably be a class-A self-absorbed freak." Rocking her head back and forth sideways, Yuriko stared at her second finger. "Well, okay - I didn't hit on you, anyway." Yuriko squelched the memory of the debacle with her first assistant. There was no way this serious young woman would turn out to be anything like that. No way. None.

Hand over her mouth girlishly, Nami laughed at the idol. "I wasn't really worried about that. The last person I assisted never even learned my name. She kept calling me 'Nishizawa.' She used to call me at 3AM, or on my days off, to make me do chores that could have waited until the next day - or forever, really." Nami turned towards Yuriko, her face serious. "I don't want you to think that I'm lazy," she said quickly. "I'm a good worker and a hard worker and I'll do anything you need."

"Within reason?" Yuriko asked.

"Even not within reason, but..." Nami took a deep breath.

Yuriko interrupted smoothly, "I'll never forget that you're a human, if you never forget that I am, either. So if I'm unreasonable or childish, or peevish, its only because I'm having a day. If I have too many days like that in a row, feel free to leave." Yuriko patted the assistant's arm gently.

"I don't think I'll have to do that." Nami shook her head. "You're the most..." she paused, shook her head again. Bowing where she sat, she said, "I look forward to working with you. Please take care of me."

Yuriko, quite seriously, bowed in return. "Me too."

***

Midori entered the apartment with her arms full of bags. She placed them in the foyer, removed her shoes, took two of the bags and looked up as a loud noise broke through the silence.

"Ow! Dammit." Yuriko's voice was immediately chastened. "Sorry."

There was a giggle, then a soft, "Let me do it." Midori watched as a young woman with hennaed hair stood up from the living room sofa and walked over to Yuriko in the kitchen.

"I'm home," Midori called out pointedly.

Yuriko looked up quickly and smiled at the writer happily. "Welcome home!" She came out from the kitchen area, carrying a bag of ground coffee. Kissing Midori lightly on the cheek, she set the coffee down, took the bags from the writer, glanced in them as much as she could without opening one and asked, "New dress?"

"Yes." Midori shot her a questioning look, which the blonde completely failed to pick up on.

"Yuriko-san," the redhead called from the kitchen. "How many cups?"

"Would you like some coffee? Mariko has deigned to give me her recipe and I am attempting to make a cup that does not taste like swill." Yuriko asked her lover.

"Love one, thanks." Midori tried again to signal an interest in the third occupant of the apartment, but Yuriko had already left the room to drop the bags in their bedroom.

Coming out, she said, "I expect a fashion show later." Then she returned to the kitchen and Midori could hear the sound of cups and saucers being plinked around.

Midori shrugged and took the other bags into the bedroom. "I also bought myself some new shoes and a bag to match the dress."

"How nice," Yuriko said, walking over to the table with a plate full of sweets.

"And I found something for you, as well. Adele had this magnificent dress in ivory - I think it would look amazing on you. It was completely Victorian. You'd look like a statue in it." She came out of the bedroom and seated herself on the sofa. "I told her that you'd come in to see it tomorrow. Can you make it?"

"Let me check." Yuriko turned her head towards the kitchen. "Can I make it tomorrow?"

There was the sound of pages flipping and a soft, "mmmm." "Only if you get in first thing in the morning."

Yuriko turned back to Midori with a nod. "I'll let her know that I'll be in in the morning." Midori once again looked pointedly at her lover, then at the kitchen, but for a third time received no response. She sat back on the sofa, waiting for the joke to play itself out.

"Let me get the coffee. Sit there and relax." Yuriko was in the kitchen for a few moments, Midori could hear the sound of liquid being poured, and the clink of utensils.

When she returned, the singer was accompanied by the redhead, who took her place on the sofa, while Yuriko sat in the big chair across the table.

"So, how was your day?" Yuri asked, after pouring coffee for the three of them.

"Yuri!" Midori said, then added, "Okay, you win - who is she?"

"How long was it?" the singer turned to the redhead who checked her watch.

"Ten minutes, thirteen seconds."

Yuriko snapped her fingers. "You win. I didn't think you'd make ten minutes." The first half was spoken to the young woman, the second to Midori, who was torn between indignance and amusement at being the subject of a bet.

"And what did whom win?" Midori asked pointedly.

Yuriko stood and walked around the table, The redhead also stood, which prompted the writer to stand, as well.

"This is my new personal assistant, Nishioka Nami."

Midori's well-shaped eyebrows lifted. "Personal assistant?"

She waited until the introductions and greetings were completed, after which she addressed Nami. "And the first task she assigned you was to time me?"

"Not the first," Yuriko replied haughtily. "She's already made phone calls, organized my schedule and..."

"And made coffee," Nami supplied helpfully.

"And made me coffee." Yuriko agreed with satisfaction. "All in all, a good beginning, I think."

 

To Be Continued

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