Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: At last, Yuriko may have found a solution for the problem presented by her co-star. But her solution may lead to another set of problems with her lover.
Volume 5, Issue 3
"Light Breaks Through"
"I'd really rather not discuss it." Yuriko tugged on the hair that fell past her right eye, allowing some of the distress she felt into her voice. "I'm not at all proud of myself right now."
Midori's eyes were large and liquid as she gazed seriously at the blonde. "I don't know why you say that. You're known for your seductive charm."
"It's not like that," Yuriko interrupted, standing. "This wasn't the same thing at all. This wasn't making some besotted kid blush, or, or even seriously flirting with a beautiful woman. This was domination and I feel really disgusted with myself for even considering it, much less going through with it."
"Did it work?" Midori inquired quietly.
"Yes, but dammit! That's not the point, it was…" Yuriko's outburst was interrupted by a crackle of sound. Midori reached into her pocket quickly, as her phone exploded into the sound of one of Yuriko's number one hit songs.
"Hello?" the writer asked quickly, surprise written plainly on her face. "Oh, good heavens! I completely forgot. No, no, that should be all right. Can you just…" Midori put her hand over the phone and turned towards the singer. "Yuri, I'm sorry, I completely forgot – Sakura-chan asked if she could come by today and I said yes. I thought she could stay at my place, so if you want me to take her right over there, I will."
"Where is she now?" Yuriko did her best to pull herself together. "No, wait, can she come here? I'd welcome the distraction."
Midori smiled briefly, nodding, then turned back to the phone. "Come on up." She quickly relayed the apartment number, then snapped her phone shut. "She was calling from outside. I'll call the front desk to have them let her in." After that call was completed, Midori stood, taking Yuriko's hands in her own.
"I suppose I out to be horribly jealous right now – or at least resentful. But I'm not. You did what you had to do. I know that, and I'm positive that Mayumi-san knows that too. She's not stupid."
Yuriko nodded thoughtfully. "No, she isn't. But…"
"But, it's not the way you operate. I understand that. You're nice, my love. You're kind, you're nosy and a meddler, because you want other people to be happy." Midori smiled up at Yuri, her arms snaking around the taller woman's waist. "Above all, you're a professional. You kiss whoever you have to kiss, you dance with whoever you have to dance with and if it takes you becoming a complete snake to do it, you do it."
"Mongoose." Yuriko corrected, as Midori reached up for a kiss.
"What?" the writer pulled away, confused.
Yuriko smiled bitterly. "She's the snake. So I had to become a mongoose."
Midori's eyes closed momentarily, as she shook her head resignedly. "All right then, a mongoose." She sighed. " Now shut up and kiss me, before Sakura-chan arrives."
Yuriko dipped her head and did just that.
When Sakura did arrive, the door was opened by Midori, while Yuriko pulled dinner out of the refrigerator and set about warming up what had to be warmed.
"You're just in time. We were about to eat." Midori took her niece's coat and bag. "Are you hungry?"
Sakura looked a little abashed. "Would it be really rude of me to say that I am? I was concentrating so hard on the way here, that I completely forgot to eat anything."
"Concentrating?" Yuriko came out of the kitchen to welcome the girl. "On what?"
"Well…" Sakura blushed. "You see…that was what I wanted to talk to you about." She looked around her quickly, remembering her manners. "I brought you this. It's not much, but…" she held out a bag marked with the logo of a well-known patisserie.
"Wonderful," Yuriko accepted it with thanks and smoothly walked the girl into the apartment and over to a chair at the table.
Sakura allowed herself to be distracted by the usual niceties, how school was going, what her family was up to and the like. She politely inquired after her aunt's work and Yuriko's tour preparation and they politely responded with the usual kind of remarks.
Once the meal had been cleared and they were sitting around comfortably finishing their drinks, Sakura brought the topic back around to her visit.
"I really appreciate you letting me come down," she began. "There was something I wanted to talk about with you." Her eyes were far away, so neither of her listeners knew to whom she addressed the remark. "I didn't even tell Misono-chan, because she'd want to come too." Her gaze wandered aimlessly around the room.
"Does it have something to do with what you were going to tell me when we were about to leave your grandparents house? Yuri prompted gently.
For a moment, the young girl looked puzzled, then her face cleared and she gave a small chuckle. "You remember that? Wow. I didn't think you would." She shook her head self-deprecatingly. "It's nothing really. You probably thought it was something like....like...." she blushed hotly, dropping her gaze until her hands.
"'A confession of love, of hate, a vision of a soul, a door to a secret.'" Midori's voice was soft, the smile implicit in her tone.
Sakura's head jerked up at that.
Yuriko laughed, supplying, "It's a line from one of your aunt's novels." She leaned close and offered in a stage whisper, "Before you ask and embarrass yourself."
"Thanks, but I knew it." Sakura smiled with slight superiority. "I read it for a school assignment."
"So what's the big secret?" Yuriko prodded. "Or should it wait until we've got something stronger to drink?"
"What's the worst it could be, when you think about it, really.? What's the likelihood of us not having heard anything like it?" Midori laughed. She ticked ideas off on her fingers, "Pregnant, gay, running away..." She shot a sharp look at her niece, "you don't look like it's anything traumatic. Not assault or anything?"
The girl threw her hands out in protest. "No, no, nothing like that!"
"It has already been proven to my satisfaction, that I am not good at guessing games." Yuriko leaned back in her chair. "I refuse to even try this time."
"It's nothing...it's just..." Sakura took a deep breath. "I'm writing a book."
There was a moment of silence as the older women waited for the rest of the confession. When no more was forthcoming, they considered what they had heard.
"I see. That's good, isn't it?" Yuriko was the first to respond.
Sakura nodded then, hesitating, leaned her head back and forth ambiguously. "Yes, but."
"Ah. I see." Yuriko looked up to see her lover nodding with comprehension.
"So, you want to be a writer...are a writer," Midori amended her words quickly, "but you think that no one will take you seriously if they know who you are. Am I close?"
"Well, yes." The girl closed her eyes as she tried to capture the correct words. Yuriko found the motion charming, then remembered that it was something Midori was wont to do and smiled at herself. "The problem is this. One, I want to get some help - not have you read it or anything, because that's asking too much, but if you had some thoughts, you know, and two, I'm kind of in a bind. If I write under my real name, then people might know who I am and assume that I'm riding on Auntie Midori's coattails."
"You could write under an assumed name."
"But," Sakura made a face, "I kind of want to ride on Auntie Midori's coattails." She stood up to the women's laughter at her well enough, with only a blush to give her away.
"Finally. A scion of the Yumi clan not afraid to abuse their reputation for genius." Yuriko muttered, ignoring the black look Midori shot her.
"Am I being unreasonable?" Sakura asked.
"Yes," Midori's tone was firm. "But not inhuman." She took a breath, then her face softened. "I'll tell you what. One chapter. I'll read one chapter and give you seriously critical feedback. And you will listen to it and not cry, because chances are that I'm going to excoriate it." She extended her hand. "I assume you have it with you?"
Jumping from where she sat, Sakura grabbed at her bad and pulled out a sheaf of paper. "I printed the first couple of chapters out. Just in case."
"Of course you did. That was eminently sensible, and you are a sensible young woman." Midori took it. "Sit quietly and let me read."
Sakura sat, hands folded primly in her lap.
Midori stood, found her glasses and a pencil, sat down and began to read. The chapter wasn't long. She made a few notations, which Yuriko craned her head to read, but couldn't. Instead, she spent the time watching Sakura sweat. The girl wasn't fidgeting, but Yuri could see that the area around her eyes were tense.
"Okay." Midori sat back, pulling her glasses off and laying them down next to the sheets of paper. "I've made some notes here, you can read them later. Here's the short version: It's pretty good."
Silence fell for a second time. They waited tensely for the rest.
Midori shifted the papers towards her niece, a small smile just on the corners of her mouth.
"That's it?" Yuriko asked.
"That's it. I told you, it was the short version" The writer gestured at the paper. "Read these at your leisure."
"What?" Midori fixed her gaze on the girl. "Too anticlimactic for you?" When both Sakura and Yuriko nodded, the writer laughed. "You have a good hook, but let the tension drop too soon. Your tenses aren't stable, you have a very decent grasp of tone and with some time and practice you'll improve. "
"You're not just damning me with faint praise?" Sakura probed.
"No, I am not." Midori stood up with an odd expression. "Read the notes, finish the book and bring it back to me. I'll read it over then. In the meantime, come on and we'll get you settled in at my apartment."
Sakura stammered her thanks, as she fumbled with her bag. Midori walked calmly over to where the coats were hung and retrieved hers and Sakura's. Yuri followed her suspiciously.
"That was way too pat," she murmured quietly. "What did you leave out?"
Midori's gaze was innocent. "I don't know what you mean," was all she would say. She leaned up and gave her lover a quick peck on the cheek, smiling.
"Oh no," Yuriko said, as the light dawned upon her. "Another Yumi genius." Then scowled, as Midori, taking Sakura's hand in her own and pulling her from the chair, gave her a slow, satisfied smile.
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.