"All that Glitters is not Gold"

by Melissa Lee

14 November 2002

Rated PG for swearing. Anyone who thinks Yuki Eiri doesn't cuss is lying to themselves.

There were thousands of them. Probably hundreds of thousands. There had to be--that kind of constant, fervent force is more than necessary to ensure success. Four hours before, they trickled in as their awestruck tears followed suit. Three hours before, they floated in, their glistening eyes unable to be large enough to encompass the Eden before them. Two hours before, they swarmed in, shrieking in excitement and wringing their hands with anticipation and anxiety. One hour before, there was no hope for seating at the concert in Tokyo as Bad Luck's tour came to an end.
Shindou Shuichi snickered indulgently, allowing himself to ponder as to whether or not the bouncy girls in the front row would storm the stage if he winked at them from his hideout behind a monstrous amplifier. Regardless, Japan's top vocalist found his eyes scouring the crowd for that lethal combination of golden hair and penetrating amber eyes, all to no avail. Shuichi closed his eyes briefly, smiling softly. He and Bad Luck had come a long way, yet he was always reminded of Zepp Tokyo when he performed his almost ritualistic searching of the many audiences he had sung before.
Beginning to feel the stage vibrate with the adrenaline of the fans, Shuichi slinked off stage in search of Hiro. The guitarist was leaning against the door to his dressing room, his instrument already slung over his shoulder as his fingertips floated over the strings in preparation for the concert. Despite the countless hundreds of fans screaming their names outside, Hiro was flawlessly himself this evening. His head was tilted back against the door and his eyes were shut, only the occasional twisting of his lips and light strumming of his guitar as indication that he was alive.
Shuichi quietly walked up to where Hiro stood, imagining what he would look like with drool dribbling out of the corner of his mouth, even though he had seen Hiro like this dozens of times before show time. "Looks like rain," Hiro interrupted his bandmate's comic reverie. He brought his head forward and flicked his cerulean-eyed gaze to the gathering clouds above. "But knowing you," he continued, pushing off the wall, "you probably feel as if a typhoon couldn't stop you from giving those fans the best concert they've ever heard." Hiro smiled. "Isn't that right?"
Barely able to contain his grin, Shuichi held up his fingers in the form of a 'V' just as the lights on stage went out. The ensuing roar was deafening, and Shuichi tugged on the lapels of his bright signature yellow overcoat in an attempt to ease the feeling that he was at the top of the first hill of the world's fastest rollercoaster. He glanced to his bandmates as the emcee counted down to the seconds to their entrance on stage. "Let's show Japan what they get for making Bad Luck the top-selling band in the nation for twenty-five weeks running."

In other parts of Tokyo, there were those who were not thrilled about Bad Luck's big homecoming concert. Quite the contrary, there were those wondering why such a significant portion of the city's population was attending Bad Luck's big homecoming concert. Such a pensive group would be comprised of one: Yuki Eiri. Already frustrated that his favorite Chinese place couldn't help quell his boredom on account of the mysterious disappearance of their teenaged delivery boy, the raindrops speckling Eiri's silk forest green shirt were not helping his disposition. From the balcony of his apartment, he could see his black Mercedes SL-55 in the parking lot, glowing in the moonlight. He mashed his cigarette butt into the ashtray. He had washed the damn car that very morning.
Sighing, Eiri rubbed his eyes irritably, unsure of what he was searching for from the cityscape below, but certain that it was not the outdoor theater where that kid would be performing tonight. Regardless, the rain was becoming so heavy that he couldn't see much of anything, and a glance at his wristwatch informed him that the concert had started half an hour ago. He rubbed his eyes harder.
Picking up his empty beer can, Eiri entered the apartment, relocated the can to a nearby coffee table, and collapsed onto the sofa. His ears were almost ringing with the unusual silence in the apartment. "Something is not missing," he grumbled to himself loudly, furiously thinking, I could always sit quietly by myself. From beside the empty beer can, the television's remote taunted him--the remote knew that Eiri knew what was going to be televised live on four local stations tonight.
Fuck. He needed another cigarette. Remembering that he had left a pack in his coat pocket, Eiri headed for the front door, nearly ripping it out of the closet there. He fished the pack out of his pocket, trying not to notice that a ticket for the concert had been conspicuously placed amongst his cigarettes. He tried to convince himself that he had grabbed the ticket by accident, and, glancing down to read the concert's location as he tossed it on the table, Eiri suddenly wished he hadn't. Stuffing the cigarette between his lips and mumbling obscenities to himself as he fumbled with his lighter, he glared at the concert ticket as if to will it to leave his sight. It remained, and Eiri let the unlit cigarette hang limply from his lips.

Five minutes and two cigarettes found a black Mercedes driving at illegal speeds on a wet highway. Eiri avoided turning the radio on, knowing all the stations would be playing those crappy love songs that kid was so damn proud of. Eiri snorted as he maneuvered the car around some old hag going the limit. The girls that fainted at Bad Luck concerts were the same ones that wasted hours for a signature and a smile from Yuki Eiri. They were seduced by any who spoke of soulmates, everlasting love, inner beauty, unshakable fidelity, all that garbage. He smirked, but he couldn't even tell whether it was out of bitterness or amusement. Shuichi wrote about all those things, and believed them! Even more strange, he wrote and believed them of Eiri.
Focusing on the road, Eiri suddenly saw the exit for the theater approaching fast. He swerved across three lanes, smiling grimly at how narrowly he had avoided collision with an eighteen-wheeler. Reasoning that overexposure to those goddamned love songs was rotting his brain, he parked behind the theater, beside a bus with the letters "NG" emblazoned on it in red. From the back of the theater, Eiri could hear the crowd's almost supersonic response to the opening of "Spicy Marmalade," one of Bad Luck's older, more renowned songs. To Eiri, of course, it was just that much more immature and overplayed.
He pushed through a door marked "Crew Only," and waved off a burly bouncer-type. The Bad Luck tour crew knew the novelist was to always be admitted, and they knew the failure to obey the quiet man's wishes would be met by the cheerful wrath of Seguchi Tohma. Still, Eiri insisted on showing them his ticket each time, as if it were still his first time coming through the back stage of a Bad Luck concert.
Eiri came to stand beside Seguchi Tohma, who appeared to be enjoying the concert immensely, though one could never truly tell. The President of Nittle Grasper Records nodded to Eiri in greeting, and he found the lack of surprise in Tohma's teal eyes immensely irritating.
Eiri's attention was distracted from Tohma's bemused countenance by the emergence of a familiar voice, a voice that sounded as it always did, loud and not the least bit eloquent. Postponing his usual disapproving grunt, Eiri found that this time, the music was so much more tolerable than he always had found it. This time, there was something... different in the way Shuichi sang, his intent violet eyes looking into the crowd, his thin, lithe body moving to the music--his music--as if he were the only one hearing it. The gently falling rain wasn't nearly as annoying as Eiri had previously found it. This time, he almost didn't mind the drizzle for allowing the droplets to cling to the boy's pink hair, glistening beneath the bright lights like snow. The rain coated Shuichi's tanned skin, shining from his nose, his cheekbones, his arms, his fingers, his belly, even the tops of his thighs.
Eiri found he was unable to escape the feeling that he was tightening his grip on the tools that he would use to sculpt his tombstone. Golden eyes blinked, but could not be moved from the siren glowing in the rain before him. He felt Shuichi's vibrant energy now as he had so many midnights when he held that radiant body beneath his own, needing to know just how that shine tasted. He swallowed. If only Shuichi could know what it was he was thinking as he sang "Spicy Marmalade" as if no one was watching.
The conclusion of the song saw Shuichi draped over his microphone, his head fallen forward against his chest in a dramatic pose that must have been stolen from that Nittle Grasper guy with progeria. The crowd followed through all the appropriate actions--screaming, crying, fainting, waving every appendage they had. Surprised that he had actually enjoyed the performance, Eiri thought it would be a bit excessive to go as far as to applaud, and settled with directing a slight smile to the violet-eyed teenager on stage, though he remained oblivious to his silent observer. Barely pausing to breathe, Shuichi brought his head up and gripped the microphone as Hiro and Suguru launched into "Blind Game Again," driving the crowd into a frenzy with the heavy electric guitar introduction to Bad Luck's final song of the evening. Shuichi, feeling nothing but the synthesizer pounding in his ears and the vibrations of the guitar along his spine, danced as if there were no other purpose in his life. He stopped only to bring the microphone to his lips and fill the theater with the flawless sounds of his voice. In the pause before the chorus, he tossed his pink hair, pumping his leg in time with the music as rain water flew in all directions. Hiro stalked to the edge of the stage, his guitar held tightly to his hips as he led the song into his solo. To Hiro's side, Shuichi rocked to the music, arching his spine and threatening to fall backwards as the sounds of the guitar climbed higher and higher. Oblivious to the heightened screaming from the crowd, Shuichi's eyelids slipped shut until the guitar drowned away. His body shot upright in a blur of pink and yellow as his voice returned to the theater. Eiri fought to keep his mouth from hanging open as he wondered when Shuichi had learned to do that.
The rest of the song passed quickly as Eiri watched, marveling at how Shuichi managed to work the crowd into a drunken stupor by merely raking a hand through his hair or pumping his leg in synchronization with Fujisaki's synthesized drums. They loved it. The rain. The lights. The music. The energy. Him. The one who shared the very essence of himself with hundreds of thousands of unknown faces and begged the affections of the only one who would attempt to refuse that pair of glistening amethyst eyes.
Suddenly feeling far too exhausted for a man in his twenties, Eiri stared at Shuichi's slender body bathed in the white light of the stage. The wild, pulsing music was gone, yet the boy looked as invigorated as ever. He smiled widely and unabashedly at the audience, as if noticing them for the first time. He really was alone up there, Eiri realized. Dozens of visions of those searching violet eyes flashed through Eiri's mind, and, excluding a few of Bad Luck's initial performances, he couldn't seem to recall an instance when he had allowed those desperate eyes to fall upon his own. He had always left the concert site at the beginning of the final song, as to avoid the traffic, or so he rationalized with himself. Watching the lone figure smile down at his fans, Eiri knew that it would be better if he didn't name the emotion that was keeping him standing there. He knew he would probably never hear the end of it, once Shuichi realized he had been back stage for the majority of the concert. None knew what the boy would be provoked to do, once he learned that Eiri had been attending Bad Luck's concerts. Suddenly too exhausted to fight, Eiri pulled his silver lighter out of his pocket and looked down at it.

That night, Shuichi lay tucked against Eiri's side on the sofa as the television droned on, advertising a hand-held, battery-operated sewing machine convenient for those whose rears were too large for their trousers. Snorting quietly to himself as a secretary hemmed a skirt that had snagged on the corner of a cubicle, Eiri turned his eyes down to Shuichi. He sighed; once again, the boy was pretending to be asleep, knowing that if Eiri thought he was asleep, he could lay his head against Eiri's shoulder and keep his arms wrapped around his waist until the novelist decided infomercials bored him. It was a game Shuichi played, coincidentally, on days in which he had concerts, which were the days in which, coincidentally, Eiri seemed to be in the worst of moods. Now, Eiri almost wished Shuichi would sit up and yammer like a monkey about how spectacular his concert had been, how wonderful Bad Luck is, and what fantastic bandmates he has. The temptation of simply resting his cheek against Shuichi's head and allowing his eyelids to slip shut was overwhelming. His arm had already tightened around the boy's shoulders, and he was reminded of how nice it was to sit quietly with someone--with Shuichi--and feel the warmth of his body against Eiri's own. Glancing to his coffee mug on the table, Eiri knew he wouldn't move for fearing of waking Shuichi, if he had actually stopped pretending by now.
He brought his hand up to Shuichi's face, his fingertips gliding across his cheekbone and down his delicate jawline. He moved the locks of pink hair from the boy's closed eyes, and kept his palm against Shuichi's face longer than he would have if he had been certain the boy was, indeed, awake. "Shuichi..." he sighed. "Why won't you tell me what your concert was like?"
Seeing Shuichi's smooth brow furrow and his eyelashes flutter put Eiri into a panic, and he suddenly felt like a coward for having lied in the face of all Shuichi's honesty. Blinking knowingly up at him, Shuichi's lips quirked into a smile. "Why should I tell you what you already know?"