Saiyuu no Ryokou: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko's first day of preparation for the tour is turning out to be odder than expected. The staff for the production is impressively international - and quirky.

 

Volume 1, Issue 8

"Fit the First"

 

Yuriko put one hand to her head as she regarded Amba, whose smile twisted slightly as she approached in her wheelchair. It was obvious that she was waiting for Yuriko's next words - and that this was as much a test as Madam Sophia's "you dance now" had been.

Yuri smiled a little unsurely and ventured, "I suppose I'm supposed to either ignore that," she gestured at the wheelchair, "or say something really profound, but frankly, I'm kind of at a loss for words."

Amba's face relaxed slightly, and Yuriko relaxed along with it. "Actually, I was kind of hoping you'd do neither. It gets tired, hearing pearls of wisdom dropped my way about enduring and moving beyond my limitations." She looked down at herself. "I'm just your average cripple," she said.

"Only cuter," Yuriko ventured. Amba looked up sharply, but when she saw that Yuriko was not offering pity or cold comfort, she smiled openly.

"Well, yes, there's that," the Indian woman agreed. She seemed to come to a decision. "Let's get to it, then." Amba propelled herself up the ramp onto the platform, turned the chair around and faced Yuriko. "Strip."

Yuriko shed her jacket with dispatch. "You know," she joked, still a little uncomfortable, "this is easier with music." She looked over her shoulder to gauge Amba's reaction. The costume maker responded with a hearty bump-and-grind riff. Yuriko grinned and turned around, lifting her arms once again. Amba gestured for her to spin around slowly and the blonde obliged.

As she completed her turn, Yuri asked, "How'd you get your hair that color - it's very cool."

Amba took one lock in her hand and gazed at it. "After the accident," she looked down at her legs, "my hair grew in white - but just here. When my parents turned me out, I figured I had nothing to lose and started dyeing it." She shrugged. "It's purple now, but I think I'm getting tired of it."

"Don't change it! It becomes you - gives your eyes violet highlights." Yuriko met those dark eyes as she spoke and she could see a little color darken Amba's cheeks.

"Yes, well," Amba continued quickly, looking at her hair once again, "that's how."

There was a moment of silence. "I was thrown out by my parents too," Yuriko said softly. "They didn't want a dyke for a daughter."

Amba's lips tightened, but she didn't say anything. Yuriko could see that her sharpness was just a way of masking herself, but she seemed a genuine enough person behind that mask.

"Anyway," Yuriko continued in a lighter tone, "it all worked out I guess, because here I am, getting measured for clothes I'd never have had if I was quote-unquote normal." She made the quotes motion with her hands, finishing with a flourish.

"Then let's get down to business." Amba said. "Orders came down that you were to be fitted with a bloke's suit and a lady's dress - that sound right to you?"

"About right."

"Right. What colors are out?"

Yuriko thought carefully, "Orange, definitely no orange anything. I like red, but don't look great in it, unless it's a car, um and I'm not terribly fond of yellow-green."

Amba nodded. "What colors do you usually wear?"

"Fawns and grays, blues."

Another nod. Amba pulled a pad out of a pocket on the side of her chair. "Men's-style shirts?" she inquired.

"Yes, please."

"Buttoned right or left?"

Yuriko smiled. "You have me there - buttoned from the right."

Amba returned the smile. "You know why that is?" When the blonde shook her head she continued, "It comes from European sword fighting. Since you fought with the right hand, you had to be able to unbutton your jacket or shirt with the left."

"I never knew that," Yuri admitted.

"You learn some really strange things here in costuming." Amba turned back to the pad, "Collar?"

"Height - one, no button down, not too tight over the tie."

"Damn, you're easy," Amba laughed. "Cuffs?"

"Let me make this as simple as I can," Yuriko said, sitting on the edge of the platform. "Cuffs - two button, one button on the tab, watch on the left hand. One pocket, left breast, no button. Anything else?"

Amba shook her head. "No - that just about covers it, since you don't "dress." She squinted at Yuriko, "You don't, do you?"

Yuriko shook her head with a laugh. "No, I don't."

Amba nodded. "Then all we have left is the actual measurements."

By the time Chiyako returned to the room weighed down with fast food bags and cans of tea, she found Amba and Yuriko laughing together at some of the singer's peers' more interesting foibles. Chiyako hung back, wondering at the change of attitude from earlier that morning, when Mayumi's presence had left her co-worker in a dark cloud of bitterness. Maybe, she thought, this tour wouldn't be that dreadful after all.

***

The door opened and Renzo entered, his apology already begun. "I don't know when I became so consistently late," he said, "It's just dreadful and I don't what to do about it!" He grinned cheerfully at Yuriko and Kishi as he seated himself.

"That's alright, Ren-san, you're always worth waiting for," Yuriko joked.

"Well, that goes without saying," the director replied with self-deprecating sarcasm. "But since you're being so gracious today, Yuri-san, I won't waste any more time than necessary." Renzo sighed slightly and Yuriko noticed the lines at the corners of his eyes.

Kishi cleared her throat. "What were her demands?" she asked, cutting through Renzo's hesitation.

The director gave the manager a slightly pained look. "The realistic ones? Or all of them?"

Yuriko shook her head in wonder. "What goes on in that girl's mind?"

"Not much, from what I can tell," Renzo sighed again. "She's insisting that you go on first, of course - she persists in thinking of you as her opening act." He shot the blonde a wry look as she laughed. "You may think its funny, but she's serious. Anyway," Renzo ran his hand through his hair as he often did when he was distressed, "let's get on with this. We'll need to design a set for you, and a few songs for the two of you to sing together. If it's alright with you, we're planning on one set from each of you, then a half set to end with you both. So, then, have you thought about what you'd like to sing?"

They ran through Yuriko's music, selecting and discarding songs until they had picked what they thought would be the best possible set for Yuri. The three sat back with a sense of satisfaction when they were finished.

Renzo turned his cynical eyes on Yuriko once more as he said, "I hear you've met our choreographer? what do you think of her?"

Yuriko thought of her bizarre encounters that morning and gave a chuckle. "She's barking mad."

Renzo's face split into a huge grin as he nodded. "Isn't she delightful?"

Continued