Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Days are getting longer, the work is getting more strenuous, her life is more complicated than ever. So why does Yuriko feel so good? There's no time for mistakes as the tour date looms.

 

Volume 4, Issue 14

"Trip and Fall"

 

Haru threw the door to the dressing aside with effort, stepping into the room hurriedly. "Yuriko-san?" she asked, concern written plainly on her face. "Are you all right? Does your stomach hurt?" The woman leaned down over a groaning and red-faced Yuriko, who lay curled up in the middle of the floor.

Yuriko moaned at great length, her body rigid, hands clasped across her stomach.

"Yuriko-san!" Haru said hysterically, leaning over the supine form.

With a final prolonged whine, Yuriko took in a great shuddering breath, and looked up with some surprise at the dresser.

"Good morning, Haru-san," she said brightly, stretching her arms up above her head and exhaling loudly. "You're early."

The dresser pressed a fist against her chest and stumbled back, as Yuriko got to her feet. "Y...you...you're..." She took a deep breath a burst into tears.

Immediately Yuriko stepped forward, clutching the woman's shoulders. "Haru-san?" She stiffened in surprise as Haru clenched her fists and beat a little on her sternum.

The dresser bawled, tugging on Yuriko's shirt. "You scared me, all curled up like that! What are doing, making me worried like that?" she snuffled into the singer's chest.

Yuriko found herself holding the older woman awkwardly. "I'm sorry, really. I was just doing some exercises...really, Haru-san, I'm fine. I'm sorry for scaring you." She let go of the woman, trying to put some distance between them.

Haru sniffed, and nodded, backing away from Yuriko and staring at her balefully from red eyes. "You actors..." she remonstrated. "Always doing crazy things."

Yuriko rubbed the back of her head ruefully. "I guess so." She looked around trying to find a way to change the subject. “I’m really sorry. We have a new singing coach and he asked us to practice…. I’m sorry.” She ended lamely.

The other woman seemed to have gotten herself under control – if anything, Yuriko thought she looked slightly amused at the absurdity of the situation. Pulling herself together, the middle-aged woman pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve, and dabbed at her eyes. "I'll go wash up and bring in tea," Haru harrumphed, turning on her heel. "When I get back, I don't want to come in on you doing anything strange, now." Her tone was scolding, but Yuriko had seen the tiny quirk at the corner of the woman's lips.

"Yes ma'am," the idol acknowledged. "I'll be a good girl. Promise."

Haru harrumphed again and slid the door open. Surprised, she took a step back into the room, then another. Looking back over her shoulder, and wiping her eyes quickly of any remaining tears, she announced unnecessarily, "You have a visitor."

Yuriko didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to her dresser, though, as her eyes were completely focused on the woman who now entered her dressing room. Long, thick black hair, pulled back into a ponytail which was gathered at the lower end; the woman moved into the room with silken grace.

"Good morning darling," Midori said, stepping smoothly into Yuriko's arms.

"Good morning," Yuriko leaned down for a kiss, then stopped. Looking up, she caught Haru with her glance and said, "If you don't mind giving us a moment?"

The older woman, her face quite red, made her excuses and left the room, closing the door behind her.

What brings you here so early?" Yuriko slid her hand along Midori's hair, down past her shoulders, ending in an embrace across her back.

"You came home after I went to sleep, and were gone when I woke up," the writer answered with a “lonely little girl” tone and a pout. "I wanted a good morning kiss." She lifted her face and was met by Yuriko for what was indeed a very nice good morning kiss.

Some time later they parted and Yuriko kissed Midori lightly on the forehead. "What are you doing today? You have that deadline, don’t you?"

Midori slipped her arms around the blonde's waist, shaking her head. "I sent the manuscript out yesterday, and I told my agent I was taking off for a while."

"Can you do that?" Yuriko laughed. "If I take time off, they put a boy band in my place and I'm finished."

"If I take time off," the brunette boasted, "when I come back to work, I'm more desirable and get paid more."

Yuriko grimaced. "Jealous!" She sighed and squeezed the writer tightly. "Teach me to write so I have something to fall back on."

"Never. I don’t want the competition." Midori smiled. She pulled out of the embrace and looking around at their surroundings. "So this is the famous pop idol Yuriko's dressing room...very posh."

There was a small, tentative knock on the door. Midori opened it, apologizing belatedly to Haru, who entered with a tray of tea and biscuits.

"I'm terribly sorry for startling you," she began, but the older woman waved her apology away.

"Please, there's no need to apologize." Haru cast her eye up and down Yuriko critically. "In fact, it might do her some good to have you here. How long are you staying?" She placed the tray on the table.

"All day, if she'll have me." Midori looked over her shoulder at the singer who nodded happily. "All day," she confirmed.

Haru nodded. "Good. It's an important day - first dress rehearsal. She needs support." She made towards the door. "I'll be back in," she checked her watch, "in thirty minutes. Please make yourself at ease until then." Before either woman could say a word, she had gone.

"I thought," Midori commented placidly as she poured tea for them both, "you said that she was a flutterer."

"She was! You saw her the day of the advertisement shoot." Yuriko picked up her cup and sipped, reflecting on her dresser's unusual behavior. "Oh my god - I think I've awakened her maternal instinct." She grinned. "She scolded me just before you arrived."

Midori rocked her head side to side. "Could be worse, I suppose. Which will be easier to live with - a clucking hen or a mother goose?"

Yuriko looked startled at the question. "I guess we'll find out. But I think,” she smiled broadly, “I’d rather just be henpecked by you.”

Midori rolled her eyes at the joke. “What exactly are we waiting for, all sequestered like nuns? Or don’t they let you out until they need you to balance balls on your nose?” Her brows furrowed at her own mixed metaphor. “You know what I mean,” she finished vaguely with a wave of the hand.

Her eyebrows lifting in a “you said it” motion, Yuriko looked at her watch. "Costumes should arrive shortly, after which the fun begins. Haru’s being generous giving us a half hour alone."

"Then" Midori put her tea down, took Yuriko's cup out of her hands and laid it in the saucer on the table. Sliding her arms around the blonde's neck, Midori muttered, "Let's not waste a second, shall we?" and pressed her lips against Yuriko's.

***

An hour later, the costumes had not come.

True to her word, Haru had popped in thirty minutes later to find Yuriko and Midori chatting happily and drinking tea.

"There seems to be a problem with the costumes - you're being asked to stay here while they send someone to look into it." Haru announced. She lowered her voice conspiratorially, “There’s been some complaints coming from the other dressing room...” she gave them both a significant look and they nodded to let her know they understood.

"We'll be right here behaving ourselves," Yuriko promised, trying to maintain a serious, well-behaved face, but the dresser had already closed the door and gone.

"Is this usual?” Midori asked, shifting comfortably on the settee.

“You’re asking *me* what is usual?” Yuriko laughed. “Because I’ve been on so many international tours before.”

The writer made a face.

Yuriko answered quickly before Midori could get annoyed. “I can think of any number of reasons the costumes haven’t made it yet. Traffic's tied up; the costuming department is running behind....” Yuriko’s sentence petered out as a vision rose to her mind of Amba and Chieko playing frantic catch-up with an exhausting demand. “Who knows?” She shrugged and stood. “Maybe I should go ask someone. Now that Haru-san has decided I am someone to protect, who knows what she’s going around asking of whom...”

Just as she reached out for the handle, the door to her dressing room slid open. Simultaneously, there was a loud frantic knocking on the doorpost. Yuriko stared in amazement as Chieko, the chief costumer’s assistant, panted heavily in her doorway, while a desperate Haru tried to pull her back out.

“Don’t barge in like that, she’s busy!” the older woman was saying, while the young seamstress pulled her against her, trying to move towards the blonde.

“Yuriko…san...” Chieko gasped, swallowing her words in her desire to gulp down air. “Help!”

Yuriko looked from one woman to another. Coming to a snap decision, she waved Haru off and held out a hand to steady her unexpected visitor. Midori was on her feet and joined them at the doorway, her arms out as if ready to catch the girl if she fell.

“Yuriko-san!” Chieko reached out to grab the singer’s arms. “You’ve got to help me...she’s...” She gulped another breath and tears welled up in her eyes. “Amba-san...she’s..." Her hands left Yuriko’s arms, rising to her face, where she blubbered for a moment. Pulling herself together for a last effort Chieko managed

“Amba-san’s missing!” And with that, Chieko fell into a heap at Yuriko’s feet.

Continued

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