Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: The days can't be long enough, with the tour breathing down their necks. After many and varied delays to the crucial weeks of rehearsal, Yuriko is ready to get serious.
Volume 4, Issue 22
"Your hair is getting long," Midori whispered, curling a strand around her finger.
They were laying in bed, curled up around one another.
"For the tour," Yuriko said simply. "They want me to grow it longer so it looks slightly more feminine. Make the whole gender thing sexier, they say. I think they just want me to look like I'm in a boy band."
Midori laughed at the image. "I like it short, but this looks pretty good too,"
Yuriko shrugged slightly. "I'm a company girl. Whatever they tell me..."
"Even if it means that they want you to change your image?" The writer sat up slightly to look at her lover. "What if you went in tomorrow and you were told that you couldn't be openly gay?"
"They'd have to rewrite the whole tour, wouldn’t they?" Yuriko laughed at her lover's whimsy. "It's not likely."
"I said 'what if'." Midori prodded. "What if you come back and the tour was a complete flop; protests broke out everywhere because of you. And the studio comes back with a demand for a complete image change." Something her voice worried Yuriko, who rolled over to look at her lover seriously.
"Then I'd stop," she said. "Stop singing, dancing, acting, whatever. Stop until I could find a company that would let me be me, or stop and create my own company, or just stop and grow old and fat and forgotten."
Midori rolled onto her back and sighed. "It's all too easy, isn't it?"
"You. Me. Us." The writer waved her hands to include them both. "We meet, fall in love and live happily ever after. It's too easy."
Yuri laughed. "You might want to wait until we've managed a year together before you start applying 'happily ever after' to us." She laid her head on the other woman's stomach, stroking the skin beneath her. "Do you really think that, though?"
"What? That it's been too easy?" Midori's voice was tense, as if she were fighting off tears. "Yes." She paused. "Isn't that awful?"
Yuriko didn't answer that.
"How many women have you said 'I Love You' to?" Midori threaded her fingers through Yuriko's hair.
The blonde made a noise. "There is no way I can answer that without causing a fight." She could feel Midori smile at that.
"Until you, I never said it. Not once."
There was a long pause, then Yuriko murmured, "I never took anyone to bed that I didn't have at least *some* feeling for."
"I did.... I guess Ritsuko was right about me. I'm heartless," Midori laughed humorlessly.
"I don't think so. In fact, if anything," Yuriko sat up to stroke her lover's face gently, "I think you're over-sensitive."
Midori smiled up at the singer. "And you're a psychologist now?"
"Yes. Wait, does that mean I can't sleep with you? Then, no." Yuriko grinned and stretched her arms above her head. A moment later, she was serious again. "Do you really think that we'll be happily ever after?"
"I hope so," Midori whispered. "With my whole being, I hope so."
"What, no guarantees of eternal devotion and promises of soulmatehood?" Yuriko laughed, leaning down for a quick kiss. "You are heartless after all."
But Midori didn't smile in response. Yuriko took the writer's hand, asking quietly, "What?"
"What what?" The black-haired woman looked up at the blonde, as if just noticing that she was there.
"You have something on your mind. Something you want to get off your chest. Something," Yuriko smiled tightly, "that will make you seem selfish and horrible. Go ahead and tell me so it doesn't eat at you and I can love you anyway and we can move on."
At this, Midori laughed. "Ouch. You're definitely getting too good at psychoanalysis for my taste." She sat up, her fingers reaching out to become entwined with Yuri's. "I'll tell you what. I do want to tell you something and it does make me seem horrible and selfish, but I'll leave out the self-loathing."
Yuriko considered. "It's sort of like verbal cutting. I'm not sure I want to encourage this behavior."
"Bear with me." Midori asked. She took a deep breath. "My last lover was a girl named Kimiko. I met her...somewhere. I honestly can't remember where. An event of some kind. She was younger than me - out of school, but just. It was a case of being star-struck on her side, and tipsy and horny on mine. I took her home, etcetera, etcetera."
"And...? If you're going to be horrible and selfish, you'll have to do better than that. If I was being tedious, I could account for a large percentage of my own trysts that way."
"We were together about two months," Midori continued. "And after the first week, she told me that she loved me."
Midori leaned forward, touching Yuriko's lips gently with her own. "I couldn't say it back. I didn't even try." She leaned away, sliding her legs out of the bed. "And when she left me, I didn't even notice for a week. That's the horrible part."
Rising, Midori grabbed her dressing gown from the closet, tied it off and turned back to the bed.
"This is the selfish part. I love you," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "I love you and I don't want you to go on tour, because I'm deathly afraid of losing you. You'll be far away, surrounded by beautiful people and I won't be there. I don't want you to go."
Yuriko rose, taking her lover into her arms in a tight embrace. "I'll write you every day. I'll call. I'll..." she stopped suddenly, as a thought hit her. "It's a little early, but, why don't you join me when we hit Europe. Come to the St. Petersburg show, and stay until Paris."
"Early for what?" Midori murmured into the singer's chest.
"Our anniversary. It won't be Paris in April...but I'm sure Paris in November is just as romantic."
Midori's only response was to thread her arms around Yuriko's waist and squeeze.
When Yuriko arrived at the rehearsal hall the next day, she found the place in complete chaos.
Engineers were running around backstage, screaming into their headsets. Assistants of every kind appeared to be carrying random objects to random destinations, then hurrying back carrying other equally as random objects. As used to backstage pandemonium as she was, Yuriko could sense a subtle tone of extra tension in the hubbub.
Twice Yuri attempted to ask someone what was up and twice, with hurried apology, they ran off before she could get the question out. With a shrug, she headed towards her dressing room.
It was still very early, many hours before the official start of rehearsal. But Yuriko, mindful of the delays that had been plaguing the last few days - and of her role in some of those - wanted to be sure that she was there, and ready to go. Her dressing room was dark when she arrived, which was fine with her.
She sat down on the floor of the semi-dark room, enjoying the cool and the near-quiet. Footsteps could be heard now and again running by the door, but for the moment, no one could possibly need her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, filling her lungs completely, emptying them completely, then settling her breath into her center. Her mind quieted, her body relaxed.
After a few minutes of simply breathing, Yuriko worked her way through a few of the exercises Steve had drilled into them, followed by the stretching that Madame had taught them. When, at last she was ready to face her day, she stood straight up, took one final deep breath and smiled cheerfully at herself,
"It's going to be a great day," she said, and her reflection and she nodded confidently at one another.
At which the door to her dressing room flew open and a red-faced Haru jumped, in, just barely avoiding two young men carrying something large and black between them as they hurried by.
Haru pressed herself against the wall, her hand gripping her sweater, and let out a sigh of relief. Opening her eyes, she jumped at the sight of Yuriko in the middle of the dark dressing room. With a squeak, Haru's second hand rose to join her first at her chest.
"Sorry!" Yuriko leapt forward to turn on the lights. "Haru-san, are you going to be all right?" She reached out to grip the older woman's shoulders, as the dresser seemed likely to collapse from the shock.
"...Fine," Haru gasped, leaning back on the wall. "Just...surprised."
Yuriko stepped back and regarded her dresser carefully. Something was different. She was still frumpily dressed, as always, and her color was terrible, as one would expect after a shock, but there was something...
"Haru-san!" Yuriko smiled, her hands on her hips. "You've colored your hair!"
"The older woman looked up, surprised. Her hand was released from its death grip on her sweater and, rising to her head, patted the coif gently. "I had it highlighted," she said, obviously pleased at the attention. "Do you think it looks all right?"
"I think it looks great," Yuriko assured her. Looking past Haru, Yuriko gestured at another pair that hustled past, carrying mysterious equipment. "Lots of chaos today, huh?"
Haru looked over her shoulder at the hallway, shaking her head sadly. "It's terrible, isn't it?"
Yuriko cocked her head. "What is?"
"What happened to the equipment?' Haru said, a slight question in the tone. When it became apparent that Yuriko had no idea what she was talking about, she explained. "The sound equipment. When the engineers came in this morning, they found the equipment had been hacked to pieces. Everyone's doing their best to get it all replaced for today's rehearsal."
"Hacked to pieces?" Yuriko repeated the words, still confused.
"Yes," Haru nodded. "I heard of the sound engineers said that it looked just like someone had tried to sabotage the rehearsal."
"Sabotage the..." Yuriko murmured.
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.