Saiyuu no Ryokou: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has met some interesting characters in her first day of preparation for the tour. She's looking forward to a quiet evening at home with Midori.


Volume 1, Issue 9

"Lighting a Single Candle"


Yuriko and Kishi walked out of the building together, Kishi lighting a cigarette as she exited. The blonde fanned herself uselessly; heat waves rose visibly from the pavement as the sun set between buildings. Yuriko shaded her eyes and looked around herself, as if trying to get a fix on her location.

"Kishi-san," she inquired mildly, "how do you feel about this tour?"

The manager looked up at her with narrowed eyes. "Feel about it? It's a good business decision - now's a great time to spread your music. Japanese pop culture is very popular now in America and Europe."

Yuriko smiled patiently. "That's not what I mean and you know it. I mean, are you excited about traveling? Have you ever been to Athens before, or Moscow or Hawaii?"

Kishi considered the question as she smoked. "I've traveled out of the country, but not recently." She paused while she exhaled. "You can say I feel a cautious optimism about the whole thing."

The blonde laughed heartily at this answer. Bowing slightly in her manager's direction, she said, "I say that about you all the time anyway."

Kishi gave her a nod. "Good, then it won't mean a radical change for you - or me." She stubbed out her cigarette against the wall and tossed the butt into a garbage can. "I won't be here tomorrow, do you think you can handle it yourself?"

"Sure," Yuriko confirmed. "Same as today? Dance, then fitting, then meeting - this time with," she held a hand up to halt Kishi's comment, "the PR people about the shoot on Wednesday, right?"

The older woman nodded. "Call me if you need me."

"I promise," Yuriko said, as Kishi took her leave. But she stared after her manager with a worried expression for a long while before she turned towards her own home.

To amuse herself on the cab ride to Midori's, and to distract herself from her concerns, Yuri fantasized about what kind of reception she would receive at her lover's apartment. What kind of "gift" did Midori have in mind? Yuriko imagined the writer greeting her at the door in a luxurious fur coat, high heels and nothing else. She smiled at the image - an intriguing thought, but not at all Midori's style. Yuriko tried again, this time seeing Midori in her mind's eye dressed in simple dress and pearls, an apron tied around her slim waist. Yuriko was met at the door and drawn into an apartment full of dinner smells. Her shoes were replaced with slippers and she was led to a comfortable chair, while Midori served her an aperitif.

Yuriko was grinning happily as the "housewife" image faded. That was most definitely *not* Midori. The grin slipped into a crooked smile, as a new vision was born. Yuriko stepped into a smoke-filled room, too hot and close for anyone to live, while a nearly oblivious and potentially belligerent Midori hunched over her computer, forging her unhappiness into brilliant contemporary literature. The image was so perfect that Yuriko laughed out loud, startling her cab driver.

In fact, the door to the apartment was open, so Yuriko let herself in, calling out a greeting. Somewhat melancholic music greeted her, with sad, yet hopeful strains. Yuriko shed her shoes and walked towards the stereo to turn down the volume slightly. She called out once again and was rewarded with an acknowledgement from the kitchen.

"I'm in here, darling. I'm almost finished - be right out." The writer was as good as her word, joining Yuriko in the living area a second later, a towel in her hands.

The blonde stood, a smile wreathing her face, as the other woman approached. Midori smiled at the look on Yuri's face. "What?" she asked.

"You said it again," Yuriko answered with pleasure.

"What?" Midori asked, puzzled, then smiled brightly and stood on her tiptoes to kiss Yuriko. "Welcome home, darling."

"That's the word," Yuriko said happily. "It still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when you say it." She embraced Midori, towel and all. Nuzzling her lips into Midori's head, she asked, "Smetana's Moldau? Trying to get a head start on some writing?"

Midori laughed. "You left it here a while ago - I thought I should give it a listen. I think I like it, but I'm not sure." She broke away from the blonde and headed back towards the kitchen. "Come with me - dinner's almost ready."

"Did you know," Yuriko said conversationally, "that the Moldau is based on the same piece of folk music used in Israel's national anthem?"

"I had no idea. What a font of wisdom you are," Midori said.

They passed the computer on the table and Yuriko caught sight of some text on the screen. "Aha!" she cried dramatically, "You *were* writing!"

"Caught red-handed," Midori admitted. "I'm doing a short piece for Mayuko-san - you know, that new lesbian magazine she's trying to get off the ground."

"Lesbian Dating Tips," Yuriko read aloud. "One, on the first date watch your date like a hunting animal looking at prey - remember, this could be the woman you spend the rest of your life with. Two, if the first date goes well, bring up moving in together. Remember, this could be the woman you spend the rest of your life with. Three, during an intimate and romantic moment, ask your potential life-partner what she would change about you." Yuriko turned to the writer with a cat yowl and a swipe of her hand, "A little bitter?"

"Not at all!" Midori said pleasantly. "Call it empirical anthropological evidence. Come on, you can help me set the table."

The next few moments were spent in relaxing domestic necessities, clearing room on the paper-strewn table, and filling the space up with food, plates and utensils.

"I hope pasta's alright with you, I didn't have energy to make anything more complicated." Midori set a bowl of penne in a light sauce in front of Yuriko, whose stomach growled audibly.

"It's perfect," she said with complete sincerity.

Dinner was simple, but satisfying. Yuriko regaled Midori with her experiences of the day as they ate.

"The dance teacher sounds like she's going to be a trip," Midori said, "but what do you make of the costumer? What was her name? Amba-san?"

Yuriko nodded. "I think," she said slowly and carefully, "I'd like to get to know her better. There's something dark in her nature, but she seems smart and a little acerbic - qualities I appear to like in a woman." The blonde laughed at the look Midori shot her.

"I think you should, then." Midori picked up her plate and turned away from the table. "This will be a long tour, Yuri - I think you're going to need some friends to be there for you." She turned back, a sad smile on her face. "I can't protect you forever."

Yuriko laughed and threw her napkin at the other woman who also laughed and disappeared into the kitchen.

They cleared the table and seated themselves comfortably on the sofa with coffee. Yuriko sipped contemplatively. "I have to say," she said after a few moments of silence, "that your coffee is almost, but not quite, as bad as mine."

Midori protested. "It's nowhere near as bad as yours, you creep! Just for that, I'm not going to give you your present."

Yuriko wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. "Oh?"

Midori slapped the blonde's leg slightly and stood. She rummaged in her laptop's case for a moment, then looked back over her shoulder at her lover, who was watching in fascination. "Well, maybe if you ask me nicely..." she said.

"Pretty please?" Yuriko stood and walked towards her. "I love presents."

"Hold out your hand and close your eyes."

Yuriko obliged. She could feel something plastic and reasonably light in her hand, but could tell very little from feel.

"Go ahead, open your eyes," Midori said, sounding pleased with herself.

Yuriko stared down at her hand in confusion. Lying on her palm was a small coil of...telephone wire.