To say Yuki's novel was an immediate best seller would be pointless. After all, all of his novels are immediate best sellers. However, Lover, Sanity, Life received his widest audience and sold more copies than any of his previous works.
For the first time in his career, Yuki was actively involved in monitoring the novel's translation into several different languages including English, French and Spanish. Although he did not speak a word of several of the languages, Yuki wanted to make sure that this novel was not distorted through translation. He did not give a flying monkey about the other novels and believed that people should learn to read Japanese if they want the real thing. However, this one was different; this novel was about his life with Shuichi and held a special place for Yuki and no language barrier was going to alter this novel. When the book became a best seller in America, the book was released in other English speaking countries including Great Britain and Australia.
There was a month's calm, which Yuki and Shuichi took most of that time off to spend together in Paris and Bordeaux as well as the French countryside. If Yuki thought it was amusing watching Shuichi try to speak English and while he himself only knew enough French to get by happily enough, it was a comedy spectacle watching Shuichi try out French. Eventually Shuichi got annoyed enough to threaten their sexual relationship and Yuki had to give in and teach him some proper French words and phrases.
While strolling down a sparsely populated Parisian street, the couple walked passed a few bookstores, each one promoting Lover, Sanity, Life with the shelves barely half full. Then the inevitable happened; someone recognised the pink hair, even in Paris and by a group of six young girls. Shuichi happily obliged while Yuki grudgingly obliged in spending the next fifteen minutes standing there signing the girl's copies of the book and chatting with them as best they could.
As they walked away, Shuichi looked back at the group of girls heading in the opposite direction and announced to Yuki, "Wow, French girls are so cute!" he giggled.
Yuki looked down at his lover, a little shocked and somewhat put out that Shuichi was suddenly checking out chicks, "Oi!" He reached down to swipe Shuichi lightly on the backside, "You belong to me, you know!"
Shuichi stumbled a little before hugging into Yuki, giggling again, "I know! I love you, Yuki!"
Yuki shook his head and let a rare, small smile show before placing his arm around Shuichi and they continued down the street.
Upon returning home, Yuki knew they would be in for a mass media onslaught, but Yuki was not quite as prepared for the international frenzy as he thought. They hadn't been back in their apartment for an hour before Seguchi rocked up and showed them just what had happened during their trip away.
Yuki just stared at the international sales figures in front of him. The novel had sold out in Japan, Singapore, Thailand and New York with sellers in California, Australia and Great Britain running low on copies and requesting another shipment. The novel was already scheduled for a re-print.
Then came the bombshell. Tohma presented Yuki and Shuichi with copies of letters from worldwide organisations and gay rights groups praising the novel in the name of gay pride and offering them a place in their gay rights marches and celebrations.
Yuki did not want to consider the media interviews and book signings that he was sure Mizuki had already set up for him. He seriously considered running back to the French countryside and hiding there permanently. That was until a grinning and teary-eyed Shuichi glomped him around his shoulders where they sat thanking Yuki for writing the novel. Yuki's apprehensive fears for the immediate future dissipated as Shuichi thanked him. He took a moment to ignore his brother-in-law as he pulled Shuichi into his lap, hugging the younger man tightly, relishing in the fact that their message had been heard all around the world. To be perfectly honest, Yuki could not have asked for a better outcome.
The following two weeks were spent submerged in the Japanese media frenzy in radio, television and magazine interviews and they were special guests at a new gay rights march with a place reserved at the front for them. With such a large celebrity input to the march including Bad Luck, the former members of Nittle Grasper and Yuki Eiri participating, it became the largest gay rights march in Tokyo's history. After the event they were whisked away to change and attend a function in which they met the young girls who initialised the organisation of it all.
Yuki was not afraid to admit he was apprehensive about meeting these girls. His experience with 'young girls' often meant 'fangirls' to him. Shuichi, who had certainly had his fair share of fangirl experiences told Yuki to suck it up because of what these two had accomplished. Before Yuki could comment, Shuichi had dragged him along behind Tohma to the place of meeting.
Hikaru was on the verge of hyperventilating, even Fuu was struggling to keep calm as the time they would get to meet THE Yuki Eiri and THE Shindou Shuichi drew closer. Fuu handed Hikaru a glass of water in order to help her calm down some. They had agreed to stay away from the offered champagne just in case it clashed with their excitement and they did something embarrassing.
The time to meet their idols came far too quickly and Fuu was starting to get nervous, after all this was going to be the biggest moment of their lives. Hikaru shook her out of a slight reverie with frantic questions, "Fuu! What do I say? How do I act? How do I say things? What if I say something totally embarrassing? What if I say nothing at all? Fuu! They are being led over here right now!"
Fuu took hold of Hikaru's hand and steadied her friend. She too had only just been asking herself the same questions, "Just keep calm, take slow, deep breaths and try to go with the flow, okay?"
Hikaru took and deep breath and nodded, "I will be okay."
Fuu smiled, "Good…and I promise to kill you and bury you never to be found again if you do something totally embarrassing so long as you do the same for me."
The girls looked at each other with resolve and Hikaru replied with, "Deal!"
Having met Seguchi Tohma on earlier Nittle Grasper occasions and having met the man for a discussion on the march, on arrival of the march and on arrival at the function, they felt rather comfortable (and somewhat relieved) when he approached them, Yuki and Shuichi in tow. Tohma introduced them all and they exchanged greetings.
Shuichi could not stop grinning as he thanked Fuu and Hikaru, "Wow! What you girls have done is amazing! It really is."
Fuu felt she had recovered enough to speak for them both, "Thank you. When we saw that interview and learned what had happened, we could not just sit there and take it all in. It is unfair that people have to go through what you did, Shindou-sama. I just hope things got through to people."
Hikaru, still silently in awe, nearly outwardly awed when she saw the hand Yuki had on Shuichi's shoulder squeeze a little.
Yuki studied the girl for a moment before answering, "Thank you. This has been really appreciated. You cannot change everyone's minds, but if you change just a few, then the effort was worth it."
Hikaru nodded in agreement and added, "See, even mass fangirls can be good for something!"
Fuu could not help but giggle and continued on, getting a little bolder, "Well I hope those mongrels rot in prison. The laws on assault and hate crimes do not change nor can be justified simply because of someone's sexual preferences."
Shuichi, starting to get emotional, chose that moment to hug them both, whispering his 'thank you'. Yuki took the girl's pause as an opportunity to escort Shuichi away from the pending screams. But there came none. Yuki looked back expecting them to by lying on the floor having fainted, but no, to his surprise they were still standing and merely fanning themselves and gulping down glasses of water. Maybe it was the ball gowns they were wearing that kept them in order.
Yuki led Shuichi out of the hall and onto a quieter balcony away from the crowds, "Are you alright?"
Shuichi nodded and calmed himself down, "It…is just really nice to know people out there really do care about what happens to others."
Yuki continued to watch the emotions going across Shuichi's face.
Shuichi turned to Yuki and looked up with fleeting hope, "Will the world really change?"
Yuki put his arm around his younger lover, "I do not think it will, not entirely. It is slowly changing and we are together in a much more accepting society than fifty years ago."
Shuichi looked up at Yuki, love shinning from his eyes and hugged deep into Yuki's chest. He knew that so long as he was with Yuki, everything would be okay.
Before Yuki knew it, it was time to head off overseas. K and Mizuki, a truly discomforting notion, had paired up and planned for the couple to participate in gay rights marches and parades all around the world leading to a very hectic and busy month of July. Yuki swore he would never forgive her for this and K was banned from his apartment for life…again, or still more rather.
First stop was Sydney, Australia where the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was held earlier than others were around the world being at the end of February instead of midyear. The parade almost took over the streets of the entire city. Well, it felt like that to Yuki being dragged along the parade route by a very enthusiastic Shuichi. The parade route took them to a large park known as The Domain, according to the signs and they were directed to a tent placed on high to watch the after parade concert featuring many Australian performers. Shuichi was quietly bopping along to this new kind of music until towards the end when a small girl walked onto the stage, eliciting an incredible roar from the crowd. Even Yuki was impressed with her glittering, feathered costume and stage props, but Shuichi appeared mesmerised.
"Who is that Yuki?" Shuichi asked looking at what he thought was a teenage girl.
Yuki looked down at Shuichi, "That is Kylie Minogue, one of Australia's most famous performers and a huge gay icon."
Shuichi's expression was priceless as he admitted, "Kylie Minogue? No way! I could have sworn that person up there was a teenager…"
Yuki had to laugh, "She is older than Seguchi, you know."
Shuichi sat up straighter, "You would not know it looking at her! Wow! She is so pretty! Have you met her before?"
Yuki nodded, "Twice now. Seguchi knows her and he dragged me to her Fever concert in London a few years ago. I was not particularly interested but I am glad I went."
Understanding dawned on Shuichi's features, "Oh yeah! You did say you went to one of her concerts."
Yuki was thankful Shuichi could not see his faint blush on his cheeks with the flashing stage lighting as he held up three fingers.
Shuichi blinked, "Three concerts?" Shuichi gave Yuki a knowing look, "Have you become a fan?"
Yuki huffed a little, "Shut up. Her concerts are brilliant…"
Smiling, Shuichi took Yuki's arm and hugged into him, "Will you take me to one next time?"
Yuki gave a small nod and finished watching what appeared to be a remix of her Showgirl costumes and rearrangements and yes, he could pick that out. Three songs in and Shuichi was completely hooked and tried to sing along to the chorus of 'Better the Devil You Know'. Yuki decided to bite the bullet and introduced Shuichi to Kylie after her performance. They spent an hour with Kylie out and about the park, during which Shuichi had begged Yuki to buy every DVD and CD of hers that next morning, before Kylie showed Shuichi backstage. An hour and a half later and every stage prop and costume tried out, Yuki carried his exhausted baka out of the park and to a waiting taxi.
Shuichi leaned tiredly against Yuki, "Kylie is so nice! She said we could meet up with her when we are in London."
Yuki looked out the window with a hidden smile on his face, "I know, I was there too baka."
"Yuki!" Shuichi scolded as he yawned, "Will you teach me more English so I can speak to her better next time?
Yuki looked down at Shuichi, not expecting such a question, "If you would like."
They spent two more days in Sydney before returning to Japan to await their next appearance in Bangkok at the end of June.
From Thailand, they travelled direct to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles parade was followed by an invite only street party where Shuichi got to meet up with Sakuma-san again. Yuki definitely needed a beer…or several. Yuki turned away to get one and returned to find Shuichi and Sakuma-san gone. Knowing he was with Sakuma-san made things a little less frightening for Yuki, but not by a lot and he finished his beer before stalking through the crowd looking for Shuichi. Before long, Shuichi drunkenly reappeared by Yuki's side, no Sakuma-san, with what turned out to be a 'third or fourth…ish…maybe five…will you kiss me?' long island tea. Heaven help the one who gave them to him if Yuki found them. Shuichi then loudly announced that he had been invited to the next year's Bad Boys Pool Party. Yuki had heard that name before, but did ot know anything further, just that the title made him very uneasy. Instead of answering either of Shuichi's questions, he dragged his drunk little baka out of the place and back to the hotel room. After a quick Google search, Yuki point blank refused to let his Shuichi anywhere near this 'pool party', ever.
There were several moments when they were among the throes of people celebrating and partying where Yuki had trouble keeping Shuichi attached to his hip. He worried constantly about Shuichi during these times. His extremely sociable and energetic lover was still so trusting around friendly groups of people, even after everything bad that had happened to him. It was almost as if Shuichi believed that other people would not try anything on him because they either know or found out that he is in a committed relationship.
Shuichi still had yet to learn that not everybody cares about other people's relationships if they can try to get something young and cute into their beds and that their 'nice conversations' were simply flirting. The happy young man would get into a conversation with another guy there and suddenly become surrounded by this guy's buddies being drifted off through the crowd. Shuichi's socialising nature never annoyed or upset Yuki; it was these bastards that kept hitting on his lover. After that Los Angeles invitation, Yuki had stomped into a sex shop and bought a wristband and collar that were attached to each other with a chain, after all they would be right at home wearing something like that at these places. He had considered handcuffs, but felt they did not give them adequate freedom of movement. Thankfully, the excessive flirting stopped as soon as the chain coming from Shuichi's collar and running to Yuki's wristband was spotted.
New York followed Montreal and Shuichi then started to notice that whenever Yuki was possessively by his side chain and all, much of the socialising slowed down. He realised that perhaps Yuki was right in that they were only trying to seduce him. On that understanding, Shuichi did not want to stay and they left the New York after-party shortly after arriving. When they got back to the hotel, Yuki had to spend an hour soothing Shuichi out of his mild state of depression after the teary-eyed vocalist asked him why people were like that.
Shuichi's faith in the human race was restored when they reached New Orleans and participated in the massive parade. Shuichi was ecstatic that word had come from Sydney about his costuming fun with Miss Minogue and he was invited on a float with a very sparkly and feathery costume (and in Yuki's opinion, far too revealing…in public anyway). Yuki was begged, pleaded, and puppy-dog-eyed with and finally gave into following the float on a horse with a couple of other riders, but there would be hell to pay if he had to wear a costume or in fact be at all active.
Yuki was glad to see Shuichi's smile renewed when they were both invited to a lounge area with a few other couples in one of the pubs. Shuichi had spoken with them about his Los Angeles, Montreal and New York experiences and received several knowing glances and nods. Shuichi enjoyed being allowed to curl into Yuki's lap when some other people joined the group and Yuki was able to hold a decent conversation about his novel with one of them.
With Europe still left to go, Yuki was itching for some straight contact; so many gay people in such a short time were too much and agreed to take Shuichi with him to a bar where he could still smoke having a scotch. Yuki shortly began to feel a need to put his arm around the bored, yet devoted, Shuichi and realised that he detested not having the freedom to do so. Yuki downed the rest of his third scotch, cut off his mind-numbing conversation with a man about his life, wife and son, took Shuichi by the hand and led him back to the hotel. The man he was conversing with blinked and asked the bartender, "He was like that?"
The waitress collecting drinks turned to him, "That cutie pie was Yuki Eiri. He ain't even twenty-five and he's made more cash than your whole family in their lifetimes, Sugar, he can afford to be how he likes."
The man looked like a deer caught in headlights and very confused, "But he was so normal…"
The waitress turned from the counter and stood next to him, "They generally are normal people, Honey, they just have sex differently."
Yuki thought he had seen everything there was to see in the world but he was quite mistaken when he hit Stockholm, followed by Amsterdam. Yuki found that the world truly was a frightening place and refused to let Shuichi out of his sight ever again when he found his lover downing a shot of green liquid. The queer who was caught by the scruff of the neck in Yuki's fist said that it was indeed absinthe and before Yuki could kill the little scumbag, Shuichi was wandering off muttering something about following a green fairy.
Europe had a tendency to have bars for every fetish in the book as well as a few that Yuki had never heard of, nor ever wanted to know about but now did. Shuichi, however, found the whole situation completely hilarious and took every opportunity he could to make his lover blush to all hell. He loved dropping hints against Yuki's sensitive ear about doing naughty things in public. The pink cheeks made the growling of his embarrassed lover just that much more adorable. Some of the teasing suggestions made Yuki wonder if Shuichi had been slipped some questionable brownies.
Both Yuki and Shuichi were too exhausted to attend the after party of the Frankfurt celebrations after coming direct from Copenhagen's daytime rights march that same day. Not that Yuki minded missing the foam party where every time the German word for 'free love' was spoken, they had to swap an item of clothing with another person. Definitely not his kind of party and never Shuichi's kind of party either for as long as Yuki had a say.
Milan and a new suitcase full of new designer clothing later, they were back in Paris. Yuki sighed relieved; they were back in nice, safe Paris. Paris also meant they only had London to go before they could go back home. Yuki also had a few things to discuss with one Claude Winchester. He was utterly convinced that man knew of some of the strange dealings that Yuki and Shuichi would encounter and had conspired with Mizuki accordingly.
Yuki did not understand it himself and narrowed it down to simply because they were in Paris, but there was a growing want to be more affectionate with Shuichi and not just when in the bedroom. He wanted to hold Shuichi to him while they walked down the streets all the time and not just occasionally, like he did when they were in Paris the first time, he wanted to share chaste kisses every time they met up somewhere and he wanted to be more than a lover only behind closed doors.
These feelings began to overwhelm him and frightened him to the point of phoning his Psychiatrist from the hotel room while Shuichi had gone down to a clothing store he had visited when they were in France earlier in the year. Yuki was lying back on the bed, thinking about what the half-asleep woman had droned on about when Shuichi bounced back into the room. Yuki watched Shuichi showcasing his purchases and when his mind had done enough mulling over his Psychiatrist's spot on observations, Yuki got up from the bed and pulled Shuichi into his arms. The new shorts Shuichi had in his hands fell to the floor forgotten about as he hugged Yuki in return and asked him what was wrong.
Yuki pulled back from the hug and looked down at Shuichi intently before softly smiling, "Nothing, absolutely nothing…not any more," before tenderly placing a kiss on Shuichi's lips.
Later that evening, between the glitter and array of flashing colours and dancing people, Shuichi practically glowed under the lights and looked simply stunning to the novelist, who was clearly more relaxed and at ease amongst the mass of people. Yuki had yet to release Shuichi's hand since they had arrived at the blazing after party. Shuichi was not quite sure what had sparked this change in his stoic lover, but he was not about to complain. Yuki stopped walking along the crowded street and tugged Shuichi into a deep kiss. It took Shuichi a moment to respond to the kiss, as he was shocked that Yuki was kissing him in such a teeming place. His amazement did not last long and he melted into passionate kiss as people continued to dance and sing around them.
Yuki returned home with an even deeper appreciation for Shuichi being by his side finding that he no longer wanted to be around people that were not willing to accept his lover as he is. No more pretending not to be a homosexual couple in public, no more standing apart watching firework displays in crowds, no more hiding their love away from the world and no more holding back his affection for his lover; Shuichi deserved better than that and Yuki now wanted to give it to him. He wanted to show Shuichi their world as it should be and the only beating Shuichi would ever receive again was that of the beating of their hearts.
I would like to thank everyone who has read and reviewed this fic. The issue of homosexual tolerance is really important to me. I know many gay people and some of them have been better friends in times of need than those who claim to be my best friends. I feel that it is unfair for them to live in hiding or fear social retribution because they have sex a different way. So they have sex with the same gender. Their sexual orientations do not involve anyone else other than their partner and are therefore nobody else's business.
Unfortunately hate crimes are all too common in society and I hope this fic has brought some realisation of the impact that these crimes can have on people's lives. Openly hating because of differentiation has never laid a path to anything good and as history has shown, has lead to some horrible wars.
Lets aim for a world where we never have to see such horrible times ever again.