Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yesterday's trials and tribulations may be in the past, but there's always tomorrow's to look forward to. After their big confrontation, Yuriko still has to dance with Mayumi.
Volume 5, Issue 2
"One, two, three, four," the voice was accompanied by strong claps, which smacked into Yuriko's head like a stick across her temple, drowning out the music. "Again. One, two, three, four. Again."
Yuriko was frustrated at herself in ways she could not begin to have imagined a few months ago. Her motions were smooth, graceful, suave. Not a single pain or twinge plagued her. Her dancing had never been better and her breathing was relaxed as she moved through the footwork.
What she wanted, more than anything, was to feel terrible. She wanted her legs to ache and her head to pound, her eyes to be blurry. What she wanted, she thought sourly, was to give up and be a failure. But instead, here she was, dancing like it might be the one thing that could save humanity. And in her arms was the one woman in the world she disliked the most – the one woman with whom she would never choose to dance - even if it meant humanity would not be saved.
What was worse, she thought, was that they looked absolutely brilliant together. She could tell from the first note of the first song that they were – for the first time since this tour had been conceived – in perfect synch. Their voices, their moves, everything. It was everything they had strived for through months of emotional and physical torture.
It had been a whim, she thought in annoyance. The vaguest, silliest thought. That with one small change, she could possibly alter the horrible working relationship between her and Mayumi was patently ridiculous. But, to her shock – and a slight thrill of horror – it had worked.
Yuriko turned to look at her partner, and finding eyes blazing at her, looked right back into them as if she would eat the other woman alive. The energy between them sizzled almost visibly. Yuriko reached out an arm, meeting Mayumi's hand and drawing her back with an irresistible force. Holding Mayumi in her arms tightly, the two lifted their faces to the sky and sang in perfect harmony.
It annoyed her no end.
If it was this easy, why hadn't she done this sooner?
Instantly, she had to admit that it wouldn't have been possible to even attempt this sooner. No, this was a freak accident borne of circumstance and timing.
Yuriko moved away from Mayumi, their eyes trailing one another. Their voices were poignantly raised as they parted and walked off. The words faded away, the last notes of the music receding, as they each went their separate way off the stage.
The applause from those watching was instant. Yuriko stopped where she stood, spun in place and walked back onto the stage, still followed by the spotlight. Likewise Mayumi moved towards her, until they stood, Mayumi in front of Yuriko, Yuri's arms embracing her from behind.
This was the number. This was *the* dance.
This was the final test.
Yuriko took a deep breath as the music began.
Nami looked up from where she sat and repeated, "I've booked time at the recording studio for you tomorrow."
"What? Why? Tomorrow's Sunday!" Yuriko blurted.
"That was how I was able to get it so quickly." Nami nodded. "It's only for an hour or two. I had to call in a lot of favors on this, so you should be thanking me."
"I think I missed the first part of the conversation, somehow." Yuriko backtracked. "I must have not heard it when you told me the beginning bits about why I am giving up my precious free time to go to a recording studio."
"Have you forgotten?" Nami shot a pained look at the idol. "And after all I've gone through, too."
Yuriko narrowed her eyes. "You are not allowed to hang out with Mariko again. Ever." She pushed her glasses back up her nose and took a deep breath. "Let's assume I have forgotten. Why am I going to the recording studio tomorrow?"
In answer, Nami handed her a folder. Yuri opened it, stared down at the page inside, looked up, then down again.
"What on earth…?" She held up a hand. "And don't tell me it's a piece of sheet music. I can tell that it's a piece of sheet music. It looks kind of familiar, but I'm certain I never saw it before." She hummed the first few bars quietly, trying to place it. "Then light breaks open…." She sang. "Light breaks open?" She looked up. "Why does that sound familiar?"
"Because you wrote it. Midori-san picked it from out of one of your notebooks and edited it. I have a friend who is a composer who adapted it and wrote the music. He lined up some musicians for me and I've called in some favors to get us the studio time and a producer." Nami ticked of each point on a finger.
Yuriko shook her head, still confused. "No, I'm still missing something."
"You asked me to get a present for Midori-san's niece, remember? Midori-san told me that Yuuka-san plans on naming the baby Hikari, so we decided that this would be a good song."
"Oh." Yuriko thought about it. "That's a really good idea." Then she looked back down at the paper, and found herself blushing. "But…one of my poems…?" There was no way she could sing this in public. There was no way anyone should have ever seen it, much less heard it. She hummed a few more lines, and had to admit that the tune was catchy. Maybe if she improvved a bit, no one would ever notice that the words were idiotic.
"Midori-san said that this one was pretty good." Nami's tone was wry. "I think it's nice, and it fits. You have to admit," the young woman's voice was picking up speed, the words beginning to tumble out one after the other, "it's a really cool idea and something both the parents and the baby can enjoy over and over again and," she took a quick breath, "I was thinking, what if people really like it and you record it for real and it becomes a hit and…."
"Okay, okay!" Yuriko laughed. "I get it." She waved the folder, slapping it sharply with her other hand. "It's a good thing you only gave me a day to learn it. If I had had a week, I'm sure that there's no way I'd have the guts to sing it in front of anyone." She walked over to where the assistant sat, and patted the young woman gently on the shoulder. "It's a good idea. Thank you."
Nami beamed as she bowed.
"Okay, so now that you've earned your money for the day, I need you to do a few other things for me. I'll make them as uninspiring as possible so you don't get any more bright ideas."
"I've written out all your messages and I answered your email," Nami supplied helpfully as she gathered her things up. "Tsukiyama-san and Kishi-san said that they'd be by Monday morning to go over some business with you. Will you need me then?"
"Probably, but I'm going to pretend to look self-sufficient. I think Tsukiyama-san has cottoned on to the fact that you're taking notes and telling me what she said later."
Nami smiled at the actress. "Yuriko-san, no one who knows you is fooled at all, you know."
Yuriko tugged on the hair in front of her right eye. "Funny, Mari said that same thing to me just the other day. I may have to steal a page from her book and develop a new persona. How would I look as the embodiment of evil?" Yuriko narrowed her eyes, making them go cold and as dead as she could manage. Then she focused on her assistant as if she was lunch and Yuriko was very, very hungry.
Nami opened her mouth, then shut it. A strange tension hung palpably in the air, until Yuriko waved it away with a laugh. "Right, right, that role is already filled."
"N…no." The young woman hesitated. "That wasn't it at all." Blushing, she bowed quickly and walked past the singer towards the door. Turning back to speak over her shoulder, one hand on the door handle, Nami gave a grin, her cheeks still pink. "I think that you'd be very dangerous if you used your powers for evil." The door closed behind her with a smart snap.
Yuriko scratched her jaw contemplatively and headed towards the mirror that hung on the wall. She wanted to see what that expression looked like and try to remember it for the future. You never knew when you might be called upon to play the embodiment of evil.
When Midori arrived, carrying mysteriously large and bulky bags that bore the logo of a well-known interior designer, she found Yuriko staring intensely at herself in the mirror that hung near the door.
"Do I want to know?" she asked brightly. "Or are you imagining that you've come down with some horrible infectious disease?"
Yuriko turned quickly to help her lover with the bags. Glancing quickly into one she discovered that she still had no idea at all what they contained. "Welcome home," she added belatedly, kissing Midori quickly.
"It's curtains for you," the writer supplied helpfully and in a badly executed gangster accent, while she gestured with one hand curled into a gun shape. "Remember? I told you that we needed new curtains. I spoke to Taki and he sent me here with some samples. He was going to have his assistant come in, but I thought it would be more fun if we did it together." She paused for a moment. "And his assistant is so bossy. You know?"
"I do," Yuriko agreed. She'd been bossed around by many a design prima donna during her career. "It's so exhausting."
"So, what were you doing?"
"Hmm? Oh, you mean that?" Yuriko looked abashed. "I was practicing expressions. Wow – that sounded even dumber when I said it out loud than when I thought it in my head."
Midori smiled, shaking her head. "It didn't sound dumb at all. Anything good?"
"Well, yes, as a matter of fact. I discovered that I can make girls blush and stutter in a whole new way, using my new evil persona."
"Oooh, that sounds interesting." The writer moved in for an embrace.
"You never know when it could come in handy. And now that I'm getting older, it might be time for a change anyway." A thoughtful expression crossed her face. "Maybe not for the tour, but…"
"Speaking of which, how did rehearsal go today?"
"Brilliantly. And yes, the plan worked."
"I think I'm glad for you," Midori broke away, looking as if she wasn't sure if she was and headed for the kitchen area. "Coffee?"
"Nami-san made some before. There still ought to be a cup left."
"How much 'before'?"
"An hour?" Yuriko sat down on the sofa, smiling at the face she knew her lover was making at that, even though she couldn’t see her expression from here.
"I'll make a fresh pot," came the expected answer.
Domestic sounds came from the kitchen and Yuriko relaxed while Midori went through the alchemical process that created the smells that presently wafted around the apartment.
"I didn't get anything for dinner." Midori said, as she walked out holding a tray with cups full of brown liquid.
"I had Nami send out for something. It should be in the refrigerator."
Midori sat next to Yuriko, pulling her feet under her comfortably. "Sounds like you're getting the hang of having an assistant." She took a sip of the coffee and sighed. "She's a very nice girl."
"Yes, she is and too smart for her own good." Yuriko gave a lopsided grin. "I'm recording a song I wrote tomorrow, in fact. It's at a totally inconvenient time of day on my only day off, so you will be coming with me as punishment."
Midori seemed unrepentant. "Gladly. I want to hear how it turned out. You know, you ought to consider writing some lyrics. You're not too bad."
Yuri laughed. "Gee, thanks."
"You know what I mean." Midori put the cup down and her hands placidly into her lap. "And now, my darling, I want to hear all about how you seduced Mayumi."
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.