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Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko's pleasant morning has come to a screeching
halt in the face of a confrontational co-star.
Volume 4, Issue 1
"Are you making fun of me?!" Mayumi's voice was getting shriller with
each repetition of the question. The singer's chestnut-colored hair
flared out with every exaggerated motion she made, as she demanded an
answer yet again. "Well?"
"I..." Yuriko was completely taken aback at her co-star's reaction
to...what? To something, obviously, but Yuriko had no idea what
Mayumi was talking about. Desperately, Yuri thought back to her
morning interview, trying to recall if she had said something that
could have potentially insulted the other woman. "I...." Yuriko
pulled herself together, stood to her full height and looked down at
Mayumi with a mien that was composed, if not enlightened. "What on
earth are you talking about, Mayumi-san?" She hoped she sounded
calmer than she felt, but was pretty sure that her confusion and
anger would show plainly on her face and in her stance.
As if she had been struck physically, Mayumi recoiled at this. A
moment later, she stepped forward belligerently, her finger pointing
up at Yuriko. "That song my song. You were dancing to *my* song!"
she hissed angrily, her eyes red with fury. "I know what you are...I
know you want me off this tour...don't think I don't." Mayumi's teeth
were showing now, but there was no smile on her face. Yuriko expected
the shorter woman to leap up and grab her throat in her teeth any
"Mayumi-san," Yuriko's tone was vicious, using the other woman's name
just to goad her. "I have no idea how me humming a catchy tune could
in any way be construed as an insult. I know you..."
"You don't know anything," Mayumi shot back at the blonde. "You don't
know anything about me, or my work, or anything."
"What is happening here?" The voice was clipped and precise, and
heavily accented. Yuriko found herself breathing hard, her chest
heaving and her hands clenched, as an enraged Mayumi whirled on the
"WHAT is happening here?" Madame Sophia's voice was unrelenting, her
eyes hard and black in her wrinkled face.
"Little girl, is there some problem?"
There was a long moment, as Mayumi seethed. Her mouth moved, but she
said nothing. Madame Sophia turned her eyes to Yuriko, giving the
blonde a glance no less intimidating. "And you? Do you have something
Yuriko forced herself to take a deep breath and shake her head in the
"Good." Madame Sophia punctuated the word by slamming her stick into
the ground with a sharp crack. "Then," her eyes glittered
ferociously, challenging either of them to defy her. "We will begin."
With this uncompromising pronouncement, something seemed to turn off
in Mayumi. Instantly, she had returned to the usual detached manner
to which Yuriko had become accustomed. The shorter woman's hands
unclenched and her face went completely blank. Her eyes, which had
been glaring with unveiled hatred, became cold and distant. The
transformation was instantaneous so much so, that Yuriko began to
doubt the vision of her co-star she had seen a few seconds earlier.
"Forget it," Mayumi said shortly, then proceeded past Yuriko without
a second glance. Yuriko watched the other woman remove herself to a
corner of the room, then turned back to the doorway, trying to
recover her own composure.
"I'm sorry," Yuriko said after she had joined Mayumi in the middle of
the practice room, uncharacteristically trying to provoke a response.
"I didn't mean any offense I wasn't making fun of you."
"No," Mayumi said without looking up. A barely-perceptible sneer
crossed her wide mouth, "Of course not. You wouldn't ever do
something like that." There was the slightest stress on the word
"you," but when Yuriko looked closer, Mayumi was absorbed in her own
warm-ups. There was no sign of any emotion on her sculpted featured;
no sneer, no anger...no emotion of any kind at all. As if Mayumi
Yuriko shivered with something close to fear. There was something
here she didn't understand. No, that wasn't correct - she understood
it well enough, she just could not understand why it should be at
all. This wasn't a woman who disliked her - this woman *hated* her.
Perhaps, if she could understand why.... But then Madam Sophia called
them both to attention and she had to put aside whatever it was that
she felt and become the consummate professional she was. Nonetheless,
despite her will to put her personal feelings aside, Yuriko couldn't
help but feeling like a small mammal forced to practice dancing with
a very vicious, very poisonous snake.
"Nine....ten....eleven...twelve. Good. Okay, you can rest." Rubi took
the barbell from Yuriko and set it in the rest, while the blonde
groaned piteously and flailed for towel and water.
"Are you always this much of a whiner?" the trainer chirped
"Always," Yuriko admitted. "I made a vow when I was a child to never
publicly enjoy physical exercise." She took a long drink of water and
wiped her neck. Smiling up at the woman who stood over her, muscular
arms crossed across a generous chest, she finished, "At this point,
it's a matter of pride."
Rubi shook her head in disagreement. "I don't understand that at all
I really enjoy what all my hard work has accomplished." As if to
prove her point, the trainer lifted an arm and flexed a daunting
"Me too!" Yuriko grinned, ogling the flexed arm.
"Seriously, though," Rubi continued. "Don't you care about your
Yuriko stood and stretched slightly, then moved to the next machine.
She watched the young woman set the weight, grimaced when she noticed
that it was set heavier than the last time, and thought hard about
"It's not that I don't care about my health it's just that I'm
unbelievably lazy. When I was in high school," she laughed, "the
second time around, I joined the basketball team. It's probably the
best shape I've ever been in in my life. But no, I didn't really
enjoy the workouts." Yuriko sat down on the apparatus and slid her
arms into position. "And the coach was cute and everything."
Shaking her head, Rubi smiled at the singer. "You're worse than some
of the guys, you know?"
Yuriko took a deep breath and flexed, bringing both hands towards
each other. "I know," she grunted. "They pay me to be. And I work
hard at *that.*"
To Be Continued
Saiyuu no Ryouko, copyright E. Friedman. All Rights Reserved.