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
"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
"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
"Did you know," Yuriko said conversationally, "that
the Moldau is based on the same piece of folk music used in Israel's national
"I had no idea. What a font of wisdom you are," Midori
They passed the computer on the table and Yuriko caught sight of
some text on the screen. "Aha!" she cried dramatically, "You *were*
"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
"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
"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?
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
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
Yuriko stared down at her hand in confusion. Lying on her palm was a
small coil of...telephone wire.