No Beta

The building shook, bits of plaster and dust drifting down onto Kagome's hair. Something was happening on the roof, demonic energy swishing and biting like a live thing. It took everything in her to stay still in her seat; the teacher continuing his lesson without pause, though his voice wavered at an especially loud crack. Kagome kept her breaths deep and long, fingers a white knuckled grip on her desk. If someone were to brush the bangs from her downturned face, they would find her wide-eyed; pupils dilated as she stared, unseeing.

She could feel it.

Every push and pull, every stab or punch. The mad rush of power slammed against her senses, like adrenaline through her blood, electric impulses firing in her brain. This time period wasn't like the Feudal Era, where encounters like this were the norm. Kagome had not experienced this in a long while. It was euphoric, like drowning yourself in a cool spring after days in a hot, waterless desert.

She wanted so badly to go up there and join the fray, just for the chance to kick ass like she used to. And it would be so easy.

That thought alone stopped her.

She wasn't to interfere. No matter how glorious it would be to stretch her metaphorical muscles, Kagome could not afford to get into trouble. The semester was barely half way through- her scores were the best they'd ever been- if she gave in now… the consequences

Kagome shuddered.

Slowly, she forced herself to release the desk, straitening her back and folding her hands into the dip of her lap. Around her, her normally lackluster classmates shifted restlessly, some grinning, some staring at the ceiling with looks of concentration rarely seen. In the far back corner, a betting pool had started.

"Fifty on Oga."

"What?! Why'd you bet against Aoi? That's crazy, man!"

"Yeah! You wanna die?!"

"What? They can't hear us. Besides, didn't he already take out Himekawa and Kanzaki?"

"Show some respect, dumb ass! They can still skin you alive any day!"

"Suck up."


"Shut up! I can't hear!"

Kagome watched the clock tick, its steady drone like one of Kikyo's many soul collectors. Ten minutes until class got out.

From the corner of her eye she saw some punks leaving, blatantly walking from the room. The teacher didn't turn at the sound of the screen sliding back, ignoring everything save his uninspired monologue about some ancient land war back in the fourteenth century. She tried not to begrudge him his silence, since it was, after all, a good survival strategy all things considered. "Turn a blind eye at Ishiyama High", or so the infamous saying went. Still, she knew if she got up like the others she'd be seen and penalized. Oh the joys of being a good student at a school for delinquents. Double the expectations, double the consequences.

Blue eyes blinked. Five minutes till school's out.

The spike of purity was so unexpected, the former miko jerked, pencil flying out of her hand like it had a mind of its own. She hadn't realized it was laced with her own power until it hit the back of a bulky goon across the room, the nasty shock of it startling an undignified yelp from her unfortunate victim. She ignored the way he howled, black uniform steaming, and clamped down hard on her fluctuating spiritual energy. The school girl glanced up in annoyance when the building shook again, sour faced as she brushed back some more dust.

She knew that reiryoku, extended exposure to it had made sure of that. Aoi was pissed. No. She was livid. Whatever had happened, it was bad.

Two energy signatures coiled, one darkly gleeful, the other filled with the vengeance of a woman wronged. They rose like twining snakes, higher and higher, the pressure building-

Sweat broke out on the back of girls' neck, the moisture dampening her dark hair. She glared, feeling an unanticipated urge to slap something-

The closing bell rang, high and shrill-

-then it stopped.

Everything went still and Kagome choked on the air in her throat.

Then with two lightly-layered flashes of demonic energy, (barely enough to harm anything), two figures rushed passed the classroom window. Kagome relaxed, gathering her things quietly in the mad dash that followed, her heathen classmates screaming in despair.

The former Guardian of the Shikon no Tama simply strolled across the room and bent to retrieve her writing utensil, unconcerned that two people had just been tossed from the roof of her five-story school building.

"There's a baby on your back."

That was the first thing from her lips when she reached their designated bench, incredulous stare fixed on an all too familiar green head.

The boy-man- had the gall to shrug. "Yeah."

Kagome frowned, lips pursing. She really didn't think he understood the gravity of the situation. Thin hands fell instinctively to well-rounded hips, the cocking motion strangely practiced. Had Tōjō bothered to look up from the admirable view of her legs, the smooth skin peeking out from beneath her swirling blue summer dress, he might have had the decency to wince.


"Why is there a baby on your back?" Kagome's tone was just a shade shy of sharp. She didn't question how it was holding on; demon children were weird like that.

Tōjō sat nonchalantly on the bench, long limbs stretched. He pulled the infant from his shoulder and placed him gently in his lap. There was that at least. "Found him."

A strangled pause.

"Wait- isn't that Oga's kid?" She stuttered. Her head shook like a wet dog, casual attire swaying with the movement. Tōjō slowed thoughtfully, watching the way the heat shimmered, mirage-like, from the asphalt. He swallowed the leftovers he'd shoved between his teeth before coming to this impromptu study session, nodding vaguely in answer. Who schedules a test for a Monday morning anyway? He was lucky Friday was his half day for work this week; otherwise this wouldn't have panned out. He had tomorrow off too, but Kagome had mentioned that she lived pretty far away, so unless he went over to her place, which he couldn't see happening (her parents probably wouldn't let him through door), he probably would have failed the damn test anyway.

He hn'ed in response to her muttering, tugging his duffle closer, then squinted up at the sky. It was getting dark. Maybe they should go to the library? He glanced down at the child in his lap. A bit of drool fell as it gnawed on a pudgy fist. Nah.

"Where are his clothes?" Kagome did not shriek. She would be composed. After all, she should be used to seeing that naked butt by now. Except, you know, for the fact that she actively avoided the diaper-less child with the fervor of Miroku declaring his eternal love for everything with breasts.

Her companion shrugged. Again. Egh. Men.

She huffed, removing her backpack and dropping it with a loud thud onto the poor, unassuming bench, which groaned accordingly. Warm, untrained energy brushed against her, but something felt…wrong. Resigned, her arms lifted, though her voice was firm. "Let me see him."

Tōjō started, head whipping up from where he'd been ruffling in his duffle. "Can't." He began, "He only goes to-"

But Kagome had already swooped in, the babe listlessly reaching for her.

"-strong people." Tōjōs' throat closed, narrow eyes widening at the telling lack of an electric shock, his voice trailing off. For her part, Kagome cradled the baby with the ease of long practice and, suddenly, something in Tōjōs' head clicked into place.

Kagome paid him no mind, oblivious to the textbook sipping slightly in his grasp, their purpose for being here, forgotten. The rugged teen watched keenly as his study partner cooed soft words, tracing the back of her fingers over the green-haired toddler's forehead, and peering carefully into his dull eyes. Unease and, dare he think it, doubt, flooded him when her frown deepened, the appearing worry lines unsuited to her youthful face.

She bit her lip and this time, Tōjō really did wince. "He's got a fever." Her customary braid slipped from a sleeveless shoulder, interwoven bangs bobbing as she balanced the child more carefully against her. Her nose wrinkled, voice tight as she traced the dark smudges beneath the child's eyes. "When was the last time he slept?"

Tōjō swallowed, fighting the urge to look away. His trademark scowl deepened in response. "A little last night."

It felt strangely like an interrogation, this little questionnaire. Off put by his recent suspicions, Tōjō found that he didn't like it.

Not. One. Bit.

The school girl rocked on the balls of her sandaled feet, painted toes shifting with the redistribution of weight. She tisked, tongue clicking impatiently. "Did you give him anything? Medicine? Milk?"

Thick hands fisted, curling with tension spawned by her accusing stare. As if this was his fault. A dash of dark, foreign anger sparked through his sore form; work, coupled with the sleepless night before causing frustration to seep into his normally relaxed posture. Contempt spat from his mouth like he were spitting blood from his teeth and the low growl left him before he could stop it. "Where the hell would I get milk?"

Kagome stiffened, eyes flashing to meet his as she snarled. Something crackled in the air. "The store."

A faint whine broke from between them and they both looked down at the small, naked child wedged in the space separating their bodies, each shocked to realize that he had risen from the bench to go toe to toe with her, their heated faces centimeters apart.

He stepped back, mildly confused. The concession didn't register as such, though his blood still fixed for a fight. Instead, he watched with hooded eyes as she hushed the whimpering baby he'd picked off the street like a sickly, helpless stray.

Silence reigned as the odd tension died down. Tōjō stuffed his hands into the pockets of his torn work jeans, ignoring the way his rolled pants rubbed against his thighs. Goose bumps traveled up his exposed arms, the cool onset of evening making his sandaled attire seem ridiculous. The tattoo on his right arm burned, as it sometimes did, and he rotated his shoulder to ease the ache. Stretched skin and a bad tat job; still acting up after so many years.

After a moment, he broke the silence. "You're pretty good at that." He said, nodding towards the baby. But something in his tone was off, leading, almost. His attention was fixed on her face, looking for…something. She didn't notice.

Kagome snorted, harsh expression melting into something tender, her smile: beautiful. Tōjōs' breath hitched, and it wasn't just from what she let slip next.

"I should be." She commented absently, face once again downturned and rocking the settled tot with a hum. "Had one just like hi-"

The girl froze.

She didn't look at him. Actually, it didn't seem like she could. Her face paled, her lips thinned and her deep blue eyes stared into nothing.

There was a flash of some horrible kind of sorrow-

Tōjō, for all his stone-faced prowess, had never seen an expression close so fast. Next thing he knew, the infant was being shoved at him, arms automatically grappling for a hold. She'd grabbed her bag before he could properly react, ready to take off into the evening, never mind the growing darkness.

"I should go." Flat, just like her features.

Oh, but he couldn't have that. A hand struck out with the speed of one of his best punches, large palm catching on her upper arm as she turned to leave. He ignored the resulting flinch, the taunt ripple of muscle beneath his fingertips as he adjusted his hold to compensate for the child's sudden squirming. Jaw clenched, he let the blunt words fall without mercy, the inkling that had lingered in his mind long before this cool Friday night.

"Is that why you go to Ishiyama? Because of your baby?"

She swallowed, leaning away, impassive gaze fixed on some point down the street. But she didn't deny it.

Tōjōs' thumb rubbed the soft skin above her elbow as his grip loosened. He didn't think she would notice. His voice lowed to a husky murmur, face relaxing. "What happened?"

The choked, smothered sound that emerged from the girls' small form couldn't be words. He understood anyway. "Gone. He's gone."

He released her, but she didn't cry. Her eyes shimmered as she blinked rapidly, the violent shiver that traveled the length of her body a good enough excuse for her to hug herself tightly.

Tōjō didn't say anything. What more was there to say?

Kagome dashed at her eyes with the back of her right hand, frustrated. Her torso expanded as she took great, sharp breaths, the strap from her bag digging into her flesh without mercy. Her left-hand fingers clutched at the material of her dress. She was biting her lip again, hard enough to peel skin and draw blood.

Tōjō watched, distinctly uncomfortable. He ran a hand through his red hair and down his face, suddenly tired. There would be no studying today. The baby fidgeted, tiny fingers fisting in his white wife beater.

A sigh left him before he nodded to himself. He would make sure she got home safe. It was the least he could do, since he'd… yeah. Fucking asshole.

Something fell to the ground with a loud thump and when the third-year looked up again, Kagome was riffling through her backpack with her usual air of determination. She spoke firmly, the resolution marred only by a faint quiver in her voice.

"Come on." She pulled a scarf from the depths of her massive bag like magic, tugging it loose with a grunt. Why she had something like that stashed away, when the summer heat blistered to new, soaring heights during peak hours, was entirely beyond him. In fact, much of what Kagome did was beyond him.

She huffed. The baby let out a hiccupping gurgle. Then she looked up and fixed Tōjō with a no-nonsense stare, never mind that her eyes still looked red and puffy. "Let's get him something to eat. Then we'll go to your place."

He frowned, head tilting. She was doing something with the scarf, though it was more of a sash than a scarf, the shimmering fabric white and silk-like. Her hands moved quickly and soon it was wrapped around her like it was meant to be there, as if some missing piece had been replaced. The ends tied in a knot between her shoulder blades, three small, red pentagons inlayed with flowers edging the loose, trailing fabric.

Before he could blink, the baby was once again plucked from his hands. He watched, mouth dry, as she tucked the toddler against her breasts, secure and safe within the sling.

Strangely, Tōjō felt something in his navel tug. He swallowed.

And then he realized what she'd said.


AN: So…question for ya'lls. How am I doing on Tōjōs character? I don't know if I'm getting it quite right and I fear I may be making him too… mushy (at least within the safety of his own mind). Other than that, what did you think of this one? Ta!


P.S.- Just FYI: I've made some adjustments to the first three chapters so that the timeline is more accurate. Some of the settings have changed as well. Not a lot, but enough that there may be some confusion if you read chapter four alone. Reread if you like.