Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: On the day of their first dress rehearsal, a crisis has
interrupted the schedule. The costumes - and more importantly, the costumer -
are missing. Yuriko finds herself facing an unpleasant police inquiry.
Volume 4, Issue 16
Somewhere in between talking to the investigator herself and listening to an officer questioning Chieko, Yuriko thought to herself that the tabloids were going to have a field day with this.
As she stood in the hall outside her dressing room, sharing a can of tea with Midori, she made up headlines in her head.
"Lesbian idol involved with missing woman!"
"Costumer tragedy - how does Yuriko fit in?"
"Yuriko having affair with missing studio employee? Why does the pop idol care about this woman?"
She shook her head trying to clear away a feeling of melodramatic resignation. In any case, the tabloids were sure to have significantly more lurid headlines than she could imagine.
Kishi approached them, her phone held to her ear. Nodding at both Yuriko and Midori, she leaned up against the wall opposite them, and grunted in agreement into the phone. After a few more grunts, she got off the phone with a promise to call in later. "The office," she said, by way of explanation. "How is she?" Her chin gestured at Yuriko's room, and the young costuming assistant within. The police had been over her statement several times - it was hard to not take offense at their procedure.
"She's getting frustrated, but standing firm," Yuriko answered. "I'm getting frustrated, too. Any word from hospitals or...anything?" She blew out an audible breath, lifting the hair from in front of her eye for a second
"There may be." Kishi said blandly. So blandly, in fact, that it took Yuriko a moment to process the news. As the idol leaned forward to question her, her manager lifted a hand. "Just a lead. There's news of an unidentified non-Japanese at a hospital not too far from the girl's building. Moriyama has someone on it. As soon as we know anything, I'll let you know." As if her words were a signal, Kishi's phone beeped. She slid it open and barked "Yes?" into the mouthpiece.
Yuriko watched intensely as Kishi gave one-word responses to the speaker on the other end. It was maddening. Midori laid a hand lightly on what Yuriko now realized was a clenched fist. She released the fist and took Midori's hand into her own, glad of the writer's company.
Kishi nodded to the phone, thanked the speaker and cut the call. "They've found her."
Yuriko could feel the pent-up tension leave her body in a wave of relief. She felt limp, her brain muddled. "Really?" she confirmed - just in case she had misunderstood her manager's simple words.
"Yes. Young Indian woman, late twenties, purple streaks in her hair, paralyzed from the waist down?" Kishi ran off the description without emotion. "She was brought in by an anonymous person Sunday morning, unconscious, with contusions all over her face and body." The older woman pursed her lips. "She was beaten pretty badly they said. She's still unconscious."
"I'll go tell Chieko-san," Midori's voice sounded far away to Yuriko. The singer nodded and let go of the hand she held. Yuri closed her eyes, listening for the murmured words. Chieko's sobs were loud and relieved. Yuriko wished desperately to be home and in bed. She felt exhausted right down to her bones.
The police detective and his sergeant came out into the hall. Respectfully, he thanked Yuriko and Kishi for their cooperation. They were going to the hospital now, the detective gruffly informed the singer - did Yuriko wish to join them?
She did. Turning to Kishi, and including the police in her comments, Yuriko insisted that she would sign any papers Amba needed, or guarantee anything, provide references, whatever. Kishi assured the idol that the studio was already taking care of everything.
A moment later Chieko, led by Midori, joined them in the hall. The police were not pleased to include the young woman in their party, although how they thought she was involved was never made clear. Yuriko put a hand protectively on the younger woman's shoulder and offered her a ride on the police's behalf. Everyone pretended that they didn't see the look of distaste that crossed the detective's face.
In the end, Yuriko, Kishi, Midori and Chieko were accompanied by Tsukiyama and Nami. With each new addition, the detective looked more annoyed - but if he was unhappy about the situation, he was smart enough to keep it to himself.
Pausing in front of the hospital, Yuriko looked through the large glass doors, trying to force the gorge that was rising to settle back down into her stomach. An unusually healthy woman, she found all places where illness and decay existed to be horrifying. She knew she was oversensitive, really. But as tired as she was, Yuriko simply didn't have the strength to pretend she wasn't grimacing.
"You can do it," Midori's words were unusually gentle, but she took the singer's elbow in her hand and steered her forward firmly.
Yuriko nodded as much to encourage herself as to reassure her lover.
The police preceded them, talking to all the doctors and nurses for some time before they allowed the rest of the party to be addressed. The lead detective, looking as if he had eaten something sour, came back to address the small cluster of women
"The person in question is still unconscious. We'll be going over to her apartment building to see if we can find any witnesses." He clearly did not believe he would. "We would appreciate it if all of you stayed local until we can clear this up."
Yuriko opened her mouth, but Tsukiyama was there first. "Detective," she said pleasantly. "Yuriko-san is embarking on a world tour in a very short time. Nearly everyone here is going to be going with her. We will, of course, offer you a list of our destinations, and contact information. But I'm afraid we won't be local for very long."
"You'll just have to solve the case before we leave, won't you?" Chieko's mutter did not carry as far as the unhappy detective, but Yuriko heard it clearly. She managed, with some effort, to keep the smirk off her face. She too, had no real confidence that this particular case would have been handled at all, much less quickly, if Yuriko hadn't gotten involved.
The police took their leave, and no one seemed particularly disappointed to see them go. Kishi commented acerbically, that she'd leave dealing with the police to the president. Yuriko thought of Moriyama's large frame, cultivated masculine voice and connections to many people high up in the government. Yes, leaving the police to him was the best possible solution for them all.
The doctor who greeted them seemed no less put out than the police. Indigent foreigners did not often get famous idols visiting them, it seemed. He tried to find a way to politely exclude them all from seeing Amba, but Kishi, still smarting from the policeman's condescension, smoothly overrode his objections.
"We understand that she's unconscious, and that we are not family. But we would appreciate it if you let us see her immediately. If that means that I have to adopt her, I will. That would take a lot of time and money and will make you look very petty. Lead us to the girl."
Kishi's remarkable speech seemed to have done the trick. The doctor called for a nurse and at last, they were on their way to the ward.
Yuriko tried to focus on the pale walls, and commonplace items like chairs, bulletin boards and the like, rather than taking in the rooms, the people in those rooms, the sight of IVs or monitors. She kept her eyes directly ahead of her, and pretended not to hear the background noise of a hospital or smell the strong astringent odor of the hall. A warm hand curled around her own, giving hers a reassuring squeeze. She glanced down at Midori, surprised at the writer's apparent interest in their surroundings.
"I've always meant to do a story set in a hospital," Midori commented, looking around happily. "There's just so much potential for drama."
"And melodrama." Yuriko was not a fan of hospital stories - she had acted in more than her share of medical dramas and found them lacking in every way.
Midori laughed at her. "I bet you're one of those people who never go to the dentist, either. How nice for you that you're so sound in body and mind. Remind me to make fun of you the next time you are sick and miserable."
"Yes, dear," Yuriko grumped.
They entered a ward which was nearly silent but for the beeping of machines and the background drone of soft voices. The nurse turned to them and gestured towards a room on the left. "She's here." The young woman gave them her most serious look, one meant to convey grave import. "I'm afraid I'll only be able to allow two of you in at a time."
Kishi turned to address Chieko, who had been keeping slightly behind her and out of sight. Visibly nervous, Chieko's glance immediately sought out Yuriko.
The singer nodded. Holding out a hand, she stepped up to the door. "Ready?"
Chieko nodded, but said nothing. Tears were visible in the corner of her eyes.
"Let's go," Yuriko said.
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.