Yuu-chan is four years old when he realizes he's not normal. Mama drops him off for his first day of pre-school with equal parts tears and laughter. He's wearing his best dress, the blue one with the silver ribbon. Blue is his favorite color.
Mrs. Anderson calls him an adorable sweetheart and ushers him into the classroom. Yuu-chan heads for the trucks, but the boys won't let him play. "No girls allowed," they say.
Yuu-chan, arms crossed, says, "I'm not a girl."
"That's weird," they say, and still won't play with him.
The girls come for him then, and he's invited to a tea party. That's okay too. The girls are his friends until they see him go to the boys' bathroom. Then they're not sure if they're allowed to play with him or not.
Mrs. Anderson starts giving him concerned looks, like she thinks he doesn't know what boys and girls are. Yuu-chan knows he is a boy - he's been saying so since the beginning - but he doesn't have the words to tell her.
That evening he tells Mama instead.
"I don't want to wear dresses anymore."
Yuu-chan is five and still not normal, even though he only wears boys' clothes and only has boys for friends.
Sometimes Katie comes over to pet his head. She says she likes his hair. He's the only kid in class with black hair and eyes. "It's not like other people's hair," she says. "It feels like a horsie's tail."
Something in Yuu-chan squirms at her words. "Thanks," he says to her, because Mama taught him manners, and that's what you say to people who compliment you. He doesn't know why this compliment doesn't make him feel good.
Part of Yuu-chan wants the girls to invite him to another tea party, or to play house or something. But then, he's kind of glad they don't really play with him anymore. Even though the girls are all in agreement that horses are The Best Animal, Yuu-chan doesn't want to be a horse. He wants to be a boy.
Boys are better than girls. They've all forgotten about the time he came to school in a dress, or the times after that when he still had barrettes in his hair. He's officially one of them now. He's normal to them, at least. At recess, they run through the playground together, laughing and laughing…
Yuu-chan is having such a good time that he can't pinpoint when it all goes wrong. After their near-death-high-speed-getaway from being tagged "it", Yuu-chan, breathless, shouts, "Oh man, that was the best! Did you see the look on his face when he missed!"
And Paul, who is supposed to say "Yeah!" instead says "What?" and then "Whoa, Yuuri's talking funny."
All the blood drains from from his face. His fingers turn into icicles as he realizes there's no way he'll ever be able to recover from this mistake.
He got his languages mixed up. Goodbye, normal. He's foreign again.
Yuuri is six and has renewed his hopes of fitting in. Leaving Boston was hard, but Japan is his homeland! Even though he's never actually been to Japan, Japan is where Japanese people belong, isn't it? (Even though he's technically also an American citizen…)
Yuuri thinks he pulls off his self-introduction flawlessly - he'd practiced it at home. Sure, he's a little behind his classmates on some subjects, but he's pretty good with languages - he'll catch up soon. Yuuri is very, very careful not to slip into English, and he succeeds.
Ah, everything is great! He looks just like everyone else and talks just like everyone else. Sometimes the other kids mention pop culture stuff he's never heard of, but Yuuri's gotten smart about pretending to be normal. He stays quiet, pretends to be a bit shy, and then goes home to research so he can talk about it the next day. His act is perfect.
...But somehow, he still stands out. Because it's a small school, word gets out. Kikokushijo, the teachers whisper about him with something like an air of awe. A "returnee" is considered a rare specimen. He'd purposely left that bit out during his self-intro, but they still find out, and now everyone wants to know what America was like, and they ask him to speak English to gawk at his foreignness. The bitter ones snub him as a "shitty elite" even though it's not like he chose to be bilingual. It's not like he chose to be born while his father was posted overseas.
He does choose to stop using English. He lets it deteriorate and doesn't hold on, pretends so hard not to know the language and buries it all so deeply within him that he actually forgets most of it.
It takes years, but finally, Yuuri really does become normal when he enters junior high. Finally.
Yuuri is fourteen and punches his coach For Justice. Well, there goes his normality. Shit.
At least it's the last year of junior high. In high school, no one will know who he is or what sorts of delinquent acts he committed. He'll have to avoid the baseball team because baseball boys gossip more than neighborhood aunties, but that's fine. Honestly, Yuuri's not even good at baseball. Not good enough for him to risk the tattered remnants of his reputation for it, anyway.
High school will be a brand new, fresh, totally normal start.
Yuuri is fifteen and the king of an alternate dimension kingdom. Shit.
Also, he's starting to question his sexuality. Double shit.
Every internal monologue he has begins with "I'm just an average guy" or "I'm a regular Japanese boy" or "I like girls, but…"
Wait, "but"? What is this "but" doing here?
It's not fair. Yuuri wants to conform, but the world just won't let him. He's been sticking out his whole life, taken numerous poundings for it, and still his oddness won't subside.
At least living in Shin Makoku gives him a reason to pretend it's everyone else who's weird, which they definitely are by Earth standards. And then when he's on Earth, he can think of things the other way around. It's still everyone else who's weird, which they definitely are by Shin Makoku standards.
Yuuri is satisfied with these mental gymnastics.
Yuuri is eighteen when all his denials fall apart. He's not "normal", whatever that means. He never has been and never will be, and there's nothing wrong with that.
He looks at his knight and thinks, "I'm in love with a man. I'm going to spend the rest of my life with a man."
There are a million reasons: his smile, his convictions, his shitty jokes… Maybe not his shitty jokes. Above all, it's because they understand each other.
Nearly all the members of Yuuri's inner circle in Shin Makoku come from extremely privileged backgrounds. They've never known what it was like to be discriminated against, or even just to be the odd one out in a group because of the circumstances of their birth. It makes them… peculiar.
Gunter, for example, is racist. Sure, he's had a change of heart, but that was a very recent development in a very long life. He slips up sometimes. Wolfram is classist; he's getting better, but it's an uphill battle to get him to acknowledge simple things that Yuuri takes for granted, like the fact that the peasant classes need access to education if Shin Makoku is ever going to stop being a feudal shithole. Annissina is concerned with science and women's rights and not much else. Everyone without maryoku is worthless to her.
Yuuri could go on and on about the… peculiarities… that abound in his friends' ways of thinking. It's not like he holds it against them. Part of being Maou is shepherding his people in the right direction, so of course he's willing to put time and effort into helping them overcome their prejudices. That's no less than what they've done for him.
Still, Yuuri is glad not to have to deal with such things in his love life. From what he hears, it seems tiring, trying to change someone in order to fit with them romantically. Isn't it better to find someone who already fits?
Conrad has never been normal either, and that's something Yuuri can relate to.
A/N: I never actually *quit* KKM fandom... It was just... a hiatus?
I've been living in Japan for about a month now (following 2 years in China), so of course I was attacked by Yuuri feels, which I have spewed all over here like projectile vomit. It's funny because I've been struggling to get my thoughts out about Yuuri's "normality complex" for, like, YEARS, and now it just seems so obvious. Being immersed in Japanese culture kind of sorted my thoughts out for me? Heheh.