Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: One last rehearsal - one last dangerous crisis. Yuriko bears the scars of broken glass on her hand, and broken Midori in her heart.
Volume 5, Issue 6
"I’m sorry," Midori repeated for what seemed like the thousandth time. They were in their apartment, trying to relax before they went to bed.
"You have nothing to apologize for." Yuriko looked up from the newspaper she was reading and smiled at the other woman.
"I feel like an idiot."
"So you’re apologizing because you feel like an idiot?" Yuriko laid the folded newspaper on the table and leaned forward, folding her hands together.
Shaking her head, Midori said, "No. I’m apologizing for what I said. I want to say that I didn’t mean it, only…I did. I’m apologizing because I shouldn’t have said it out loud."
"Midori," the blonde stood, walked around the table and took the other woman’s hands in her own. "I don’t want you keeping things bottled up like that." She took a deep breath as she contemplated her next words carefully. "It’s true that now I feel a little extra pressure – but that’s not really your fault. You just said what I was already thinking. Some part of me does not want to go – and not because of the sabotage thing. I want…" she squeezed Midori’s hands tightly. "I want to quit. To just stay home and clean house and make dinner – well not make dinner – but keep house and be your wife. I want you to come home after a long day and I meet you at the door and pull you inside and kiss you passionately and take you to bed and never get up. But, I can’t. And neither can you."
"No." Midori agreed, looking like she was going to cry again. She tried to smile and failed, settling on a lopsided expression. "My wife, huh?"
"Sounds silly when you say it like that." Yuriko grinned. She leaned down close to Midori, giving the other woman a practiced look of desire. "Would you like a bath, or dinner, or…" her voice, which had become huskier with each word, trailed off breathlessly.
Midori didn’t resist when Yuriko kissed her. Nor did she resist when Yuriko lifted her from the chair and led her into the bedroom.
"I thought today was your day off?" the writer rolled over in bed, propping herself up as Yuriko rose. Midori watched in pleasure as the sheets slid off Yuri's naked body.
"It is. I have to report to the studio by ten. I have, let's see," Yuriko looked thoughtful, as she counted off on her fingers, "three radio spots, two television appearances and the press conference."
"Nice. I'm glad that they're letting you relax today." Midori said sourly, as she threw herself back on the bed.
Yuriko laughed and headed off to the bathroom.
When she returned, Midori had fallen asleep again. Yuri dressed quietly. Her lover rolled over with a mumbled "mrgh" as she sat down on the side of the bed. Midori cracked open an eye.
"Cute outfit," she muttered.
"Isn't it?" Yuriko kissed her lightly on the jaw. "The weather has cleared for today and I'm in a good mood." She stood up, brushing her hands down the pink capri pants and glancing at herself in the mirror. Today's outfit was a far cry from the tux she would be wearing in just a few nights. She threw on the white and pink linen shirt that went over the camisole and ran her fingers through the hair that fell over her eye. Then continued running her fingers through the hair that now just about brushed her shoulders. She couldn't remember the last time her hair had been that long. She simpered at herself, making her eyes as wide and innocent as possible.
"What are you doing?" Midori laughed from behind her.
"Practicing." Yuriko shrugged. "The tour PR all has me as otokoyaku. I wanted to be very girly today."
The radio spots were scheduled interviews. She knew the DJs well - no unpleasant surprises, nothing off script. She effused about the tour and, as she had expected, all the DJs commented on her exceptionally feminine appearance.
"I can't help but notice that you're looking very pink today," said the third DJ. She laughed as if it were the first time today that she had heard it.
"Really? I guess I was just in that kind of mood." Yuri's voice was giddy and girlish. She winked across the studio at Yoshi, the DJ and he gave her the okay sign back.
The TV appearances were longer. Both were tapings for late-night shows, one to air tonight, the other tomorrow. She bantered with the hosts, told her pre-packaged anecdotes about funny things happening at rehearsal, and completely avoided any hint of sabotage, tragedy or discord.
It all went smoothly. By evening, she had completed all her obligations but one. When she arrived at the studio for the press conference, Nami sent out for food - Yuriko's first meal of the day since a light breakfast before she had left home.
Tsukiyama and Kishi were waiting for her, along with her PR team. They debriefed her on the questions that she would be asked - what she was to answer, what she was going to deflect, as she ate. By the time she was sitting in makeup, she wouldn't have been able to tell anyone what she had eaten for dinner.
"There's no way they aren't going to ask about the accident yesterday," Nami muttered, as the remainder of Yuri's retinue moved off to prep the press.
"And there's no way I'm going to respond," the idol replied with more confidence than she felt.
A knock on the door signaled that it was time. Yuriko stood and stretched. "Feeding the fish, take three hundred and eleven." She and Nami followed the production assistant down the hall, met up with her managers and headed out to the area where a table had been set up, with a backdrop of the tour logo. The "Wildflowers Tour" logo consisted of a brick wall, with the words spraypainted across it. Yuriko had been assured that the Wildflowers "tag" would be popular. And she had been further assured that tour goods were selling well. She remained unconvinced. Briefly, she wondered what Mayumi thought of the idea. She couldn't recall, even though they had both been there at the time.
The room was full by the time Yuriko had arrived. She was led ceremoniously to her seat at the table. Mayumi arrived a few moments later. Yuriko watched the other woman approach with a school expression of pleased anticipation. In reality, she was boggling. Mayumi had chosen to wear a russet-colored suede jacket, hip-hugging jeans and engineer's boots. While her figure could never hope to pass as a man's, with her hair pulled back and up under the baseball cap she wore, there was a decidedly butchy quality to the attitude she wore. Mayumi gave Yuriko a small nod as she approached, then paused. The corner of Yuriko's mouth lifted as Mayumi gave her the once over, taking in the lace camisole and flower print shirt.
"Good day," Yuriko spoke in her best schoolgirl voice. Mayumi's expression of street hip didn't alter, but there was a barely perceptible softening in her tight pout, as she bowed a little more deeply than usually.
At last everyone was settled and the sponsor's representative introduced everyone. Statements were read, thanks were made, and at last, as the tension in the room rose, the floor was opened up to questions.
The furor was immediate. Voices called out, punctuated by the flash and pop of cameras.
"What can you tell us about the accident yesterday? Was anyone hurt?"
"Is it true that the tour has been sabotaged from the beginning?"
"Is this related to the incidents a few months ago?"
"Are either of you injured?"
The last question seemed to be the definitive one. The room settled down with an air of expectation, as both Yuriko and Mayumi opened their mouths. They looked at one another, giggling visibly.
"No, neither of us are hurt. One of the dancers sustained a minor sprain when she tripped over a fallen cable, but everyone is fine, thank you for asking," Mayumi answered, as if the question had been asked with genuine concern.
"I have a cut on my hand," Yuriko added, lifted the appendage in question, which was visibly covered in a popular brand mascot bandage. Despite themselves, a few members of the audience laughed.
The next question were variations on a theme, which both singers parried with a mixture of competent calm and deft humor. But they tired quickly of the repetition.
The remainder of the questions and answers were filled with unsubstantiated rumor, about the two of them, about them and other people they'd been seen with, and other completely irrelevant details of their public life. They smiled and shook their heads were they had to, and nodded where they must, pouncing on the few tour-related questions that were asked.
"Where are you looking forward to going the most?" One young journalist from a teen idol magazine asked.
"Paris," Mayumi answered, batting her eyes coquettishly.
"Home," Yuriko said, grinning.
Which launched another round of questions about her personal life. What did Midori think of her going out on the road for so long; did she have a woman in every port, etc, etc.
And so it went for a grueling half hour. Then they stood up and stepped over to a small stage where they each performed a song, then did a short medley of their final set.
Then photos with a variety of VIPs, the sponsors, and finally each other, in any number of poses in front of they tour logo.
When they thanked the press for the last time and we released at last, Yuriko had to consciously hold herself back from heaving an audible sigh of relief. They shook hands and bowed and were walked out of the room together.
Yuriko snuck a quick look at her watch. She had to meet with her people after this, and assuming that wouldn't be shorter than an hour, she wouldn't be getting home before eleven o'clock. So much for her day off.
Just before they headed off on their separate ways, Yuriko turned to thank Mayumi for her hard work. They parted company, Mayumi turning back up the hallway. As she passed a copy of the tour poster, Mayumi stopped. And sighed.
Her voice carried clearly in the hallway as she said, "I really hate that logo."
There you go, Yuriko thought, as she headed back to her dressing room.
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.