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Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: On their way to a long weekend with Midori's family,
Yuriko and Midori have stopped over at a small inn. They are presumed
to be a newlywed couple, which amuses them greatly.
Vol. 2 Issue 3
"Six Impossible Things"
"Kishi here." The agent's voice sounded unusually pleased. Yuriko
chalked it up to payback on the call she and Midori had made weeks
"Good evening, Kishi-san," Yuriko said agreeably. "Why no, you haven't
called at a bad time."
"I'm glad to hear it," Kishi paused to blow smoke and continued in her
usual blunt fashion. "You've got a job up there a television
"What?" Yuriko protested. "I'm on vacation!"
"From the tour not from your career." The older woman was heartless.
"I received a phone call from Yukano-san's agent, she's got a
television interview in two days. She called and asked if we wanted to
make a surprise appearance."
Yuriko nodded. "So we said yes, did we?"
There was an agreeable grunt from the other end of the phone. "It's a
market that you haven't penetrated deeply. You could always use a
little extra PR in the North."
"It's kind of interesting that Midori has the interview, not me."
"She's a local personality. Her agent will call with the details."
"Yes, she's on the phone now." Yuriko let herself sound a tad put out,
but Kishi ignored her.
"Good. I'll trust her to get you there on time."
Yuriko smiled nastily at the phone. Kishi was always her most
sarcastic when she wasn't being sarcastic at all.
"We'll be fine, thank you."
"Call if you have any schedule conflicts."
"No, I think we'll be okay." Yuriko had lost and they both knew it.
"Thanks for calling," she conceded graciously and got off the phone.
When she had replaced the phone, Yuriko sat back with a heavy sigh. A
hand ran through her hair in a conciliatory manner.
"Is Kishi-san being hard on you again?" Midori asked, placating the
idol with a few strokes across her scalp.
"Like a paddle repeatedly administered to my head," Yuriko purred
agreeably. "If she weren't a goddess, I'd be really annoyed right now.
" She leaned back, as Midori's caresses reached around her neck and
down below the edge of her yukata.
"I assume she called about the TV appearance," Midori whispered the
words quietly into Yuriko's ear. "I promise to act suitably surprised
when they bring you on." Her hand slipped a little lower.
"Are you getting into acting now, too?" Yuriko smiled at the
dark-haired woman. "Is there nothing you can't do?"
"I have to keep up with you," Midori murmured into Yuriko's neck. She
bit lightly, while running her hand across the skin beneath her
Yuriko tried to think of an answer, but for some reason, words just
weren't coming to mind. She decided on closing her eyes and laying
back on the tatami instead.
"Now, you remember what I told you about Aoi?" They were once again
in the car, and were not far from their destination. Yuriko watched
out the window, as lush green mountains filled the background. She was
so enrapt she hadn't heard the writer speak.
"Yuri?" Midori prodded.
The blonde dragged her attention from the window and turned with a
smile. "I was just thinking how unlike my hometown this is."
Midori nodded. "I'm spoiled and I know it. I grew up in a close
family, in a place of great beauty, with unbelievable privilege. Don't
think I don't know that." She didn't sound at all perturbed. "In fact,
that's kind of why I want you to meet the rest of my family."
Yuriko nodded. "I didn't mean that I just meant that it's so green."
She smiled and laid a hand on Midori's arm. "Where I grew up was
colorless literally. From being so close to the sea, everything was
gray and worn-out looking. There was some industry up that way
sometime in the past, but the plants shut down, probably a hundred
years ago or more and the people never really figured out how to fill
"I've seen a lot of places like that all over the world. Like the
people just give up."
"Mmm," Yuriko agreed. "In my case, my father had so much pride he
wouldn't even accept the fact that the place was dead. He worked so
hard at pretending it had a future, I think it sucked the hope right
out of him." She fell silent for a moment, reflecting on her memories
of her father few of which were pleasant. She shook her head a
little, as if to rid her mind of those images.
"I'm really looking forward to meeting your family. I liked Gin when I
met him." Yuriko referred to Midori's oldest brother, whom she had met
several months ago in Tokyo. "You know," she said with a laugh, "Gin,
Aoi, Midori does everyone in your family have a color for a name?"
Midori smiled. "When I was a kid, I wrote a story about the Iroiro
family." She turned her dark eyes on the blonde. "I wanted desperately
to have a dog named Shiro, but Hayao was allergic." They both laughed
at the image of the "color" family with the white dog.
"So, you were saying?" Yuriko prompted.
"I was going to tell you that everything I've ever told you about Aoi
won't really prepare you for the reality," the writer grinned without
any real humor. "I'm not always sure there *is* a reality. Aoi is...
well, Aoi. She's unique in ways I can't describe."
"Let me see," Yuriko mused over what she'd been told. "She's very
energetic, paints, likes modern artists like...Kandinsky." She
hesitated over the unfamiliar name and waited for Midori to nod. "She
looks younger than her age and knows it and treats you more like a
sister than a daughter. Is that about right?"
Midori made a sarcastic noise. "It's right, but it isn't everything.
If I tried to tell you all of Aoi's quirks, we'd be here for days, so
I won't even try. Just remember this she makes her judgments about
people in the first minute or so, so you'll know almost instantly
whether she likes you or not."
"So, no pressure at all, is that what you're saying?" Yuriko grinned.
"Relax. Either she likes me, or she hates me I'm used to that. I'll
think of her as another talk show host." Despite the lightness of her
tone, Yuriko could hear that Midori was getting edgy.
"And use that famous Yuriko charm? Yes, well, I'm glad one of us can
be so calm about it."
Midori's face was looking a little pinched, so Yuriko thought it best
to change the subject. "Let me see if I have all your siblings
straight it wouldn't do to forget a name. Gin, oldest, wife Mihoshi,
one daughter, one son."
Midori, glad for the distraction, nodded. "Next."
Yuriko counted off on her fingers, "Next, Natsumi, married, one
daughter, then Hayao, unmarried, Satoshi and Masaki, both married and
I cannot for the life of me keep their wives straight..."
"Yuuka is married to Satoshi and Youko is married to Masaki," Midori
"It'll be easier when I actually meet them, I hope. Um, let's see
where was I? Oh, they have kids, right? Satoshi has a son and a baby
on the way, Masaki has...does he have children?"
Midori nodded. "Three two adopted from his wife's former marriage
and they have a daughter."
"Okay, Satoshi, Masaki, oh, that brings us to the amazingly talented
and always fascinating author Midori winner of countless literature
prizes and lover of a very infamous pop idol. I'm amazed her family
even speaks to her."
"Oh, please!" Midori laughed, "When we were children, Aoi practically
pleaded with us to become notorious. It was all she wanted for us."
"You must be the favorite, then."
"Oh, definitely the rest are a terrible disappointment. Of course,
there's always hope that Ritsuko will choose an thoroughly
inappropriate lover and cause some sort of horrific scandal."
"We can only hope," Yuriko grinned. She reached out and took the
writer's hand off the steering wheel and into her own. "How much
longer before we're there?" She curled her long fingers around
Midori gave Yuri's hand a squeeze. "Just a few minutes, actually
we're almost there." She removed the hand from Yuri's grasp and
pointed, "If you look between the trees there, you can see the back of
the house. We have to go the long way around, but it's right on the
Yuriko stared in open admiration at the gorgeous and spacious
structure. A tasteful blend of East and West, the house looked
sophisticated, without any garishness.
"Your father designed that?" Yuriko spoke in hushed tones.
"Yes, and the other houses around the lake. Aoi designed the
landscaping, so that the entire area has the feel of a traditional
garden. Almost as if the houses are just decorating the space, instead
of the other way around." There was pride in the writer's voice, and
also the shadow of something else.
Yuriko thought, as they drove around the curve of the lake, that Aoi
sounded like a fascinating person. But she knew from what she had been
told, that Midori's mother's eccentricities made childhood in her home
less than idyllic. She wondered if the woman was as difficult as
Midori portrayed her, or if it was just the dissatisfaction of
adolescence being clung to. She knew she had more than her share of
the later, when it came to her own parents. *Then again,* she thought,
*I was only a teenager when they threw me out into a cold and rainy
The road curved around the lake and the house fell out of sight. Yuri
turned to look at the writer once again as if she had never really
seen her before. "This explains a lot, actually."
Explains what?" Midori shot a sharp glance at the other woman.
"It explains why you have such a natural grace and refinement."
"Ah," Midori said, with an understanding huff. "It explains why I'm, a
Wisely, Yuriko did not respond. Once again the house came into view,
partially visible past large wrought iron gates. The entrance swung
open automatically and Midori drove in without a pause.
Yuriko could see three girls talking animatedly in front of the drive.
One, slightly shorter than the other two seemed to be the most active.
"Who's that?" she pointed at the three girls.
"Those two are Gin's daughter Misono and Natsumi's daughter Sakura."
Midori said, pointing to the taller two. "Sakura and Misono."
"And the other? She's too old to be Masaki's daughter, isn't she?"
When there was no answer, she turned. Midori's face had that pinched
look once again, and her lips were tight.
When she spoke, Midori voice was flat, inflectionless. "That's Aoi,
she said. "That's my mother."
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko, all characters
and situations copyright 2004, E. Friedman. All rights reserved.