Summary: The story of Kurama's life, from just before his rebirth as Shuuichi Minamino to his encounter with Yuusuke.
Warnings: Knowledge of Yu Yu Hakusho preferable. Rated for language and some adult content.
Author's Notes: The word "yuugou" refers to the blending of two separate entities. Kurama himself used the word to refer to his situation (comic #10, page 10). "Hakusho" literally means "blank pages," and is used to refer to a journal or diary. Japanese vocabulary can be found at the end of the fic.
Yuugou Hakusho Part I
First, there was an absence of everything. He floated in that nothingness for an incalculable amount of time. Eventually, there was warmth and a deep, rhythmic echo, more a feeling than a sound. The warmth and the echo surrounded him as he floated, and he knew that he had succeeded. It had been a gamble, discarding his body and fleeing to the human realm.
He waited with infinite patience, as cells divided, specialized, and coalesced into the form that would become his new self. Occasionally, he slept, but often, he listened to the cadence that was first just one echoing tone, then eventually became two separate tones. He heard other sounds, too, but he couldn't identify them. They seemed to flow together smoothly and repeat a pattern, surrounding him with vibrations. These sounds didn't occur constantly, but at intervals. Oddly, he found them soothing.
And as he waited, he absorbed the human soul, a blank slate waiting for a life story. He felt the humanity seep into his being, spreading into corners tentatively, subtly altering textures...
Then, much later, he experimented with movement, becoming accustomed to his new vessel. He checked for irregularities, problems, but satisfied himself that the form was hale. He had no concept of time, but he knew that the moment was coming soon.
And abruptly, he was shoved out of the dark warmth and pulled out into the blinding loudness.
He was dismayed to discover that human infants were weak and incapable. He couldn't get his vision to clear, and he felt terribly uncoordinated. He flailed about weakly as a large figure held him up. A hand smacked his naked body.
"Doctor, is there something wrong?" he heard a tired voice whisper. It sounded concerned.
There was no response. The smack was repeated, and this time, he tried to protest. What came out of his mouth was an undignified scream.
"Everything is fine, Mrs. Minamino," the large figure said with a hint of relief, "You have a fine, healthy son."
He was cleaned and bundled up by a different figure. He was somewhat shocked at the production; there seemed to be so many humans involved in just one birth. In his realm, an infant would have been fortunate to not be birthed and left on the side of the road. In his realm, however, an infant would have been more capable of fending for itself.
He was eventually placed on a warm chest, and he tried to focus on the faces looking down at him. With a frustrating effort, he was finally able to see the male standing above him and the female holding him. They seemed to almost glow as they smiled at him.
Greetings, Mother, Father. I am the demon spirit who has consumed your son's soul.
There were moments when he wished that he had not survived. Then, he would stare at the backs of his eyelids in frustration, seething at the unresponsiveness of his body to do his bidding and at the inability of his mouth to form his thoughts. I should have learned more about humans before. I should have chosen an animal form instead. I should have never gotten careless enough to get killed... I have never been more frustrated, annoyed, humiliated... The great youko Kurama, forced to soil himself and feed on breast milk... If he still had his tail, he would have been twitching it in agitation.
The mother peered down at him with a smile. "Good morning, Shuuichi," she said cheerfully.
She picked him up and held him close. He tried to calm his breathing and compose himself. It was bad enough having to be changed and nursed; fuming the whole time would not help him deal with the situation. Ten years. If he could hang on for ten years, he would regain enough strength and be able to leave this charade.
The mother finally put him back in the crib but kept one hand on his chest. She patted him slowly as she sang a lullaby.
"Bouya, yoikoda, nen-ne shina..."
By now, he had figured out that this was the identity of the rhythmic patterns that he had heard in the womb. He had also figured out that she would not leave until he slept. So he let his eyelids drip closed, slowed his breathing, and listened to her leave the room quietly. He considered actually sleeping, since the lullaby had calmed him down some more, and really, he had nothing better to do, but then he heard the father returning. He spread out his focus to hear their conversation.
"Okaerinasai, Anata," the mother said.
"Tadaima. How was Shuuichi today?"
There was a pause. "I just put him to sleep. He is perfect, as always."
He thought he heard hesitation and uncertainty in the voice.
Again, a pause. "No, not once."
"This is starting to seriously worry me, Shiori. He hasn't cried once since the day he was born. One week old infants do not sleep quietly all night and wait silently to be fed or changed!"
"I know that, but..."
"Maybe we should have the doctor look at him. Maybe my mother is right."
"That there is something wrong with his head? How can you agree with her?" the mother sounded furious.
"I didn't mean..."
"He's just a quiet boy. But he's intelligent. I know he is! I can tell by looking in his eyes!"
"Don't raise your voice. You'll wake the boy."
"I... I'm sorry, let's go into the kitchen."
The mother and father walked down the hallway. He heard a door close. He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, contemplating their words. So I'm not a normal infant, huh? Well, I can't just start screaming now, since that would probably seem strange to them as well...If I'm lucky, they'll decide I'm mute. But, no, I'd already screamed at my birth... What to do...?
This was going to be a long ten years, he thought wearily. But he would have to make the best of it, in the meantime learning how other young humans acted. It was his own carelessness, from over-confidence developed over centuries of successful robberies and recklessness from recent upsetting events he'd prefer to forget, that had gotten him into this situation. He would suffer the consequences.
Months went by, and their passage was frustratingly slow even for the patient demon. But there was progress. The parents, especially the father, were still concerned that their son never uttered a cry, but as he seemed to be hitting all other milestones ahead of schedule, they decided to act like it was simply a quirk and to wait it out. In all other respects, their son proved to be, as the mother had insisted from the start, quite intelligent. He was extremely observant and dexterous, exploring everything in his surroundings. When the mother would take him to the park, he would watch everything avidly: the birds, the squirrels, the plants, the other mothers and their young.
But he would not socialize. The mother watched the other infants acknowledge each other and make attempts at socializing, but her son would only sit and observe. Then she would watch him and notice his eyes. They occasionally seemed cold and distant... and ancient... and then the moment would pass and she would tell herself that she was being silly.
Kurama knew that the mother watched him constantly. But there was only so much he was willing to do to act human. He simply could not feign interest in the babbling, slobbering creatures crawling and waddling around the sandbox. The animals, and especially the plants, however, were another story. He could feel life rustling all around him and longed for the day when he would again be able to do more than just sense the plants.
"Minamino-san, your son is so well-behaved!" a woman in a blue dress had approached his mother. He turned his attention to the conversation.
"Thank you. Your daughter is lovely, Yamagishi-san," his mother responded. Kurama snorted internally. That drooling thing?
"Thank you. Mika is ten months now and chattering all the time. Of course, we don't understand her," the woman laughed, "How old is your son?"
"He will be one year old next month." Aah, has it been over a year since my body's death? I wonder if anyone has discovered my caches...
"So he will be walking all around soon," the woman commented.
"Actually, he already is," his mother said, pride apparent in her voice.
He had spent weeks attempting to discipline his young body into walking and had taken his parents by complete surprise when they discovered him taking tentative steps towards the bookshelf in the living room six weeks ago. He had been trying to get a closer look at the books' spines to observe the humans' written language. He was relieved to learn that the writing on the spines was in one of the languages he could read, but they weren't hand-written and looked much more uniform than the fluid characters he was familiar with. Reading the human books would just take some getting used to.
"And he must know quite a few words now?"
"Oh, yes, in fact, I feel like he understands everything we say," his mother said, then blushed, refraining from mentioning that her son still did not vocalize.
Just wait until my abilities catch up with my thoughts, Mother. Then you will hear your son speak.
Once his mother began reading to him out of colorful picture books, Kurama was able to become more familiar with the writing. He discovered that Japanese humans used a third alphabet that he had never seen in the demon realm, a more angular one that was read like hiragana but seemed to be based off of kanji. They also occasionally used a fourth alphabet that looked nothing like the other three. The fourth alphabet ended up being from a foreign country, so he decided there was no hurry in learning to read a language he didn't speak. The demon realm was infinitely large, and in all his years, he had only encountered a handful of demons who spoke English.
That having been decided, he discovered that learning to read the humans' Japanese fluidly required some practice. The written Japanese of the human and demon realms obviously shared a common ancestor, but there were still enough differences to make reading less than easy. And then there were words used by humans that really didn't exist in demons' vocabularies...
He discovered a dictionary on the bookshelf, and with that as his guidebook, he began to fill in the gaps in his knowledge. It took longer than he'd like, since he had to hurriedly pull out the book, skim a section, then put the book back before his mother came back into the room. She never left him alone for long since Shuuichi was a two-year-old child. But slowly over a period of several months, Kurama became comfortable with the printed text used by humans and with the slight variation in words and characters. He was ready to do some research.
His first target was an atlas. He knew of several demons who had been operating in the human realm for centuries, and there were some he would want to avoid once he returned to full power and left the Minaminos. But for one who was not familiar with the layout of the country, an atlas was not designed for a quick skim. Kurama lay on the floor with the atlas open in front of him, finally having determined that the names he heard at train stations were not necessarily the names of the towns or cities. Okay, so they seem to be the names of the stations themselves. So where exactly am I? I'm going to have to get a hold of a piece of mail. But I'm never left alone in the kitchen...
"Shuuichi? What are you doing?" his mother gasped.
"Did you pull out the atlas? Did it fall on you?" she rushed over and knelt beside him, pulling the book out from under him and sliding it back onto the bottom shelf. She noticed the look of annoyance on her son's face. Annoyance? And now that she thought about it, it had almost looked like her two-year-old had been looking for something in the atlas... She immediately dismissed the thought and picked up her son.
"You are a mysterious child, my son. I wonder what you will be when you grow up."
A shape-shifting, plant-controlling fox-demon in a human shell.
She looked at him fondly, but there was a hint of sadness in her eyes. Kurama stared back at her, tilting his head slightly as he pondered the sadness.
"Will you ever speak, my son? Will you ever laugh?"
His parents had eventually spoken with the doctor about his lack of speech. After all this time, his mother had to agree with her husband that their son was unusual. But after a few tests, the doctor had told them that Shuuchi was in perfect physical health and showed no signs of a hindered intelligence. In fact, Shuuichi understood all instructions given to him and showed high visual and spatial intelligence. The doctor told the worried parents that their son simply seemed to be choosing not to speak. But he could not tell them if their son would eventually choose to do so. That had been over a year ago.
Kurama considered his mother's questions, and her sadness, then grinned. "What would you have me say?"
His mother's jaw dropped. She fell backwards in a faint, still holding onto Kurama.
Ow! Damn, I should have thought about that.
And so his self-imposed period of silence came to a crashing halt shortly before Shuuichi's third birthday.
Japanese vocabulary found in Chapter 1:
"Bouya, yoikoda, nen-ne shina" - beginning phrase of a lullaby, literally meaning, "You're a good boy, go to sleep"
Okaerinasai - Welcome back/home
Anata - literally means "you," but is often used by wives to address their husbands instead of names
Tadaima - I'm home