Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko

 

The Story So Far: While trying to make plans with Midori for the long term, Yuriko is still facing a variety of crises in the short term. Yet another incident notches up the tension for the tour, as some culprit has damaged the sound equipment.

Volume 4, Issue 23

"Sabotage"

 

When Yuriko left her apartment that morning, she had told Midori to not expect to see her that night. Although it was Saturday, they couldn't afford another day's delay. Sound equipment had been rushed to the rehearsal hall, and the practice commenced while cables were re-laid, and sound checks held around them. There simply wasn't time to spare.

Yuriko waited for a cable to be threaded past her feet, then resumed the dance steps she was working on. It was a tricky piece, and one that she really wanted to nail. Mayumi stood a few feet away, working on her own half of the choreography. Madame Sophia watched them both with no more than an occasional word of correction or reinforcement. When they had warmed up, Madame put them through their paces, using a tape recording of the music. It was only this bridge that was really the problem. The rest of the dance felt reasonably natural. Yuriko was aware that there was some reticence in both herself and Mayumi during this part. It seemed no different than the rest of their numbers together, but for some reason, there was...hesitation, maybe, between them. Whatever it was, she was unsatisfied with her own performance.

Madame Sophia seemed to agree. She stopped them almost at once.

"I know," she barked, "we all know, you are not friends." She waved her arms, almost smacking her stick into a sound engineer's head as he hurried by. "But why do you want to tell everyone out there so badly?" She gestured with her cane, pointing to the seats. "Acch." The noise was full of disgust.

And that was the way the day went. The individual pieces all looked and felt fine, but the end product was merely okay. Twice they ran through the show, and twice Yuriko left the stage with the feeling that she could have, should have, done better. A quick look at Mayumi's closed face gave her no solace. Since the change in the billing, her co-star hadn't spoken a word to her. It made the happy smiles and bedroom eyes they shared during their sets that much harder to bear.

Yuriko was in her dressing room, showering, when it just became too much. All of a sudden, she pulled back a fist and pounded, hard, on the wall.

What was it all for? she thought. No one would enjoy this show. No one would ever be convinced that they could stand each other, much less that they were intimate friends. She couldn't do it, no matter how consummate an actress she considered herself. Holding Mayumi in her arms made her want to retch. She turned the hot water up, until it was too hot to bear, trying to scour away the feeling of failure.

***

Sitting on her sofa in her dressing gown, Yuriko had the rare sensation of wishing that she smoked. It would give her something to with her hands and mouth, while she sat here and moped.

And she was moping. No, wait, fuming. She was angry and frustrated and....

Haru came in with tea, took one look at Yuriko's face, deposited the tea on the sideboard and left without a word.

Yuriko stood up, grabbed a cup and held it as if it were a ball. She'd never before thrown a tantrum. Not as an adult, at any rate. How many times had she felt superior to short-tempered co-stars, whose reputations for flying off the handle preceded them?

How would it feel right now to tear this room apart? Would it make her feel better to hear the glass of the mirror smash, and the crash of the ceramic on the floor? She pulled her arm back, ready to destroy anything that was destroyable, anything within reach.

The door to her dressing room opened.

Tsukiyama and Kishi walked in with muttered "Excuse me"s. Kishi took one step into the room, her face clouding over as she took in the situation. Quickly, she closed the distance between them and held out a hand. Sighing with resignation, Yuriko handed over the cup, turned and threw herself down on the sofa once again. It was probably for the best that she had been stopped before she began, but it left just another bitterness in her mouthful of things left unresolved.

"It's going to be a failure," she said.

Kishi returned the cup to the tray, poured tea for the three of them, and carried tray and cups over to where they sat.

"If it looks like it did today, yes." Tsukiyama said coldly. "I haven't been with you very long, but I've been in this business for a while. What on earth was that?"

"That," Yuriko said through gritted teeth, "was what it looks like when two women who loathe one another are forced to work together."

"No," Kishi said suddenly. "I've seen that before - more times than I can tell you. That's not what that was."

"Then what is it, O wise one?" Yuriko mocked, immediately regretting it, but not able to stop her temper from rising.

"That was what it looks like when two women who loathe themselves are forced to work together." Kishi stood and gathered her purse. "I don't ever expect to see it again. Pull yourself together and do your damn job." Gesturing, she caught Tsukiyama's eye and the two women left. What business has brought them there in the first place went unmentioned.

Frowning, Yuriko followed the women out with her gaze. She'd never seen her manager that angry, and the thought chilled her to the bone.

***

Yuriko opened her eyes. It was dark, and for a moment, she was unsure of where she was. Then she remembered that she had asked to be left alone for forty-five minutes in her dressing room.

She sat up, feeling more clear-headed than she had been all day. A glance at the clock told her that the dinner break was almost over and that she would soon be back out on that stage for the final practice of the day.

Sliding the door open, she was greeted instantly by Haru, who bore food and drink. As the older woman cleared space on the table, Yuriko wondered how long she had been there waiting.

"Haru-san?" the singer asked, when the other woman started in on brushing her tuxedo jacket.

"Yes?" the dresser never looked up from her work.

"Did you watch either of the earlier rehearsals?"

"Yes." There was a catch in Haru's voice.

"What?" Yuriko looked up from her dinner. "Tell me. I mean, I really want...need to know."

The dresser's hands stopped. When she answered, her voice was very soft. "I started to watch, but it was too painful, so I came back here."

"Thank you," Yuriko said, sincerely. She finished her meal, drank her tea, and walked over to the dresser. Reaching out for her first costume, she said, "I hope you'll come to this next rehearsal and watch all the way through."

Haru looked up quickly, then gave a little bow of acquiescence. "I'll watch," she said.

***

The next day was Sunday. Never before had Yuriko so badly wanted to stay in bed all day. But she had had Nami call the hospital and arrange for her to see Amba. So, despite the heavy feeling in her head and limbs, Yuriko forced herself out of bed, and into clothes.

She slumped into the kitchen, made herself some tea and sat at the small table, her eyes closed. She finished her tea, made herself a second cup and sat once again. She lifted her eyes from the cup of tea and jumped, crying out "Wah!".

Across the table sat Midori, who watched her with big eyes.

"When did you get here?" Yuriko snapped.

"I was here when you came in," Midori replied mildly, smiling. "I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to notice me."

"Don't sneak around like that!" the blonde stood up, brushing drops of tea from her lap.

Midori made a face. "I wasn't sneaking - I was here first."

Yuri hmphed. "Prove it."

"My phone records will show that I made a call to Aoi half an hour ago."

"Show off." Yuriko ignored Midori's laughter as she poured out her cup, got herself a new cup and poured herself a cup of the coffee that sat there, quite visibly, in the coffee machine on the counter.

"Are you going to the hospital today?"

"Mm. I think I should, and somehow I want to."

"Do you want me to come with you?"

Yuriko thought about it for a while before she answered. "Will it offend you if I say no?"

"Not at all."

"Then no, thank you for the offer."

"Give Chieko-san my regards."

"Will do." Yuriko rose and stretched. "What are your plans for today?"

Midori sighed and looked at her watch. "I am meeting Aoi and Natsumi for lunch."

"Oh," Yuriko hesitated. "How...nice?"

Midori looked up at her darkly. "Funny. It should be all right, it's only for an hour or two." She let her eyes wander off to the middle distance. "Or three."

"Well, have fun." Yuriko leaned down for a kiss. "I'll call you when I'm on the way home, with an urgent thing we absolutely must do, somewhere far away, which will give you the out you'll so desperately desire by then."

Midori smiled up at her lover. "You love me, I can tell."

"I absolutely do. Call me if you need."

To Be Continued

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