Author's Note: Just a little idea that popped into my head at some point. We read this poem last year in English and the more I looked at it, the more it seemed to fit the YYH characters. I've been wanting to write something angsty for awhile, so this is the result. There will be a total of four chapters (maybe five if I get inspired to write about Botan).

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho, nor do I own the poem "We Wear the Mask." That was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I'm merely borrowing them both for my own amusement and will put them back when I'm done.


(Demon in Disguise)

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,

I've always lived a life of deceit. From my early childhood on, it was what I learned, to the point where it became second nature without me even realizing it. I always knew of my legend in Demon World. I knew what was said of me and what others thought of me. Perhaps I was arrogant. But I knew. A fox is deceitful.

Back then there were so few who knew the true me. Yomi, Kuronue, and a small handful else ever saw more than the bandit side of me. I played my games, though they may have ruined or even ended lives. I know who I was and I accept that part of me. I never leave anything behind. I never have and I never will.

But now the wheel of deceit spins once more. As much as I have changed since living in Human World, the deceit will never leave. My family sees one side of me. Demons see another, and my friends yet another. Which one am I? Sometimes even I don't know. I hide behind those masks almost as if to excuse my existence. I hide my true self from even me.

This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Perhaps my demon self is more like a human than I had originally thought. I had never seen such rings of deceit besides my own until I joined the Spirit Detective team. Sometimes it wasn't clear whether the humans were the ones that needed to be saved… or even if they were worth saving.

But we did our job anyway. Spirit World commanded and we obeyed. We battled through living nightmares only to be confronted by them in our sleep as well. We fought creatures that even horror films have yet to dream of. We hid our true identities from those we loved and battled on, all in the name of peace. We were saving the world, though sometimes I wonder if Sensui was right in questioning the worth of mankind. Who really needed the saving?

We fought who we were told and risked our lives every time. And in the end, we stood torn and bloodied when the smoke cleared and declared victory. We saved the world again. And yet, we would have to do it again soon.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?

And the whole time we fought, the world never knew it was in danger and needed saving. People didn't need to be burdened with the fact that there are things that go bump in the night and that nightmares can come true. People didn't need to know that it had a team of champions fighting for it. Our families were blissfully unaware of the greater problems.

I hid the wounds and I hid the tears and I tried to hide the dreams. My family didn't need to know of my other life; the one I was more suited for, it so often seemed. No, ignorance is bliss. A few wounds and dreams are nothing compared to the alternative if Sensui had succeeded in opening the tunnel, or if the wrong demon had won the Makai Tournament. No, it's better that they don't know. Again, I hide behind the masks.

Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

Normality is a dream that I only wish could become a reality. No matter how long I live, I shall carry the scars of the past on my heart, and some on my body. But I can hide them. The darker truths are those that don't need to be known. Let the world go on as it would. Let the world live in blissful ignorance. It's better that way.

The world needs champions, but they need to be strong; unyielding; unflawed. The world wants its cartoon superheroes, but it has us instead. But is that really so bad? No, we may not be the strongest, or the most perfect, but we are what we are. We know our strengths and our limits. And we will continue to fight. Not because we have to; not anymore. We fight to protect. We fight because it is the right thing to do.

We may not be the idealistic superheroes that children fantasize about, but we are what we are. We are the champions, whether we like it or not. We don't want to be seen bloodied and broken. We don't want to be seen in a cold sweat after a nightmare. It will happen, but let the world see our masks. Let them see us as they would. We have each other in the darker moments.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.

I am not so arrogant as to lie and say I have not been beaten; that I've never been scared; that I don't dream. I still dream of the crow. I still dream of the math in which I nearly broke. I still wake up in a cold sweat after those violet eyes pierce through my dreaming soul. I still dream of those wounds and the pain.

I can vividly remember much of my time fighting at Yusuke's side. I can vividly remember the foes and the pain. I can remember Yusuke's death like it was yesterday. I can remember the feeling of my heart breaking and a feral hatred taking control and breaking the dam that had held my full demonic power at bay for sixteen years.

I can remember Kuronue's death and I still dream of it. The guilt has never left. I can remember the bastard that posed as him in an attempt to weaken my defenses. I can remember it all.

I still wonder at how Yomi managed to forgive me, or if he ever truly had. I can remember my racing heart when I received his invitation. And when he discovered the truth behind the attempt on his life, I remember.

Though I have many masks to hide behind, there is one person I know who will always know me; will always understand the pain in my soul and the turmoil in my heart. And there are those that will always stand by me. And thus I can remain sane to deal with the pain.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

The road to salvation is a long and arduous one. The road to forgiveness seems longer, while the road to atonement is longer still. My human existence has taught me much. It has changed me, my outlook on life, and my feelings toward the past.

No longer will I be the Youko Kurama of legend. While he is a part of me, he is no longer my entire being. Nor am I also Suuichi Minamino. While he has taught me to love another, he is not my entire being either.

I am Kurama. I walk a lonely road that I hope will lead to atonement or self-redemption. The walk is a long one, and there are those that would hinder my progress. But I shall not waiver. I shall remain true to myself. It was what I realized during my fight with Shigure. I cannot live a lie, for the path is longer still.

I shall take control of my destiny and walk the long road toward self-actualization, and I shall be redeemed.

But let the world think otherwise,
We wear the mask!

But as a champion, the world does not need to know of my internal struggles and strife. I will continue to fight, as I know they will, and I will continue to hide behind the masks I have created. But in the end I shall be free. In the end the world can see my true self.

The true self my friends have brought out in me.

Author's Note: Leave me a review and let me know what you thought!