No Beta

Tōjō stared uncomprehendingly at the shelf in front of him. He shifted, angling his head and twisting his long torso. It didn't change anything. He crouched. Nothing. What was he looking for again?

A few aisles over, Kagome hummed some kind of tilting nursery rhyme, comfortably flitting through the merchandise of this small corner store. The old lady at the register contented herself with scratching out lottery tickets, sucking loudly on her gums. If he wanted, he could see the entirety of the place; he'd just have to stand, his height towering at least a head over the shelves lining the grubby, ill-lit space of the tiny shop. But Kagome had asked him to find something and, craving a normalcy that was fast abandoning his evening, he jumped to task.

Fucking whipped. He would deny it to his dying day.

But could you blame him? He'd never been so off center.

"Let's get him something to eat. Then we'll go to your place."

"-we'll go to your place."

"-your place."

God. The woman couldn't be that oblivious, just inviting herself over like that. But, knowing Kagome, she probably was. He'd just fucked up, majorly, and she just bounced back like a rubber ball. Then there was the kid though, and his fever. And, if he was being completely honest with himself, Tōjō really didn't know anything about kids, let alone babies. But, if the restlessness of last night was anything to go by, he'd need all the help he could get.

Tōjō forced himself to refocus as he wandered into a new row, eyes catching on the words in front of him.

Silky Smooth Fit, Feel the Difference.


A better look around had heat traveling up his neck towards his ears. He averted his gaze, but the images had been waiting for weakness.

Soft thighs peeking from beneath a windblown skirt.

A bead of sweat slipping slowly down sun-warmed skin, down, down, to an unbuttoned collar.

Teeth tugging at a bottom lip, nibbling like-

Tōjō felt liquid trickle over his mouth and a quick wipe turned his wrist red. Stone faced and unblinking, he reached down to readjust the bags hanging limply in his arms, hauling the blue backpack he'd offered to carry over his shoulder like a sack of cats, ridiculously heavy and equally uncomfortable, before tucking his duffle more securely under an arm and shoving his hand into a pants pocket to keep it from moving.

Then he prowled from the aisle, scowl fixed firmly in place.

He found her looking at a package of diapers, being careful not to jostle the sleeping baby as she compared sizes.

She glanced up at him, shooting him a quick smile. Then the girl frowned, placing one of the packages into the half-filled basket on her hip.

"Couldn't find it?"

Tōjō shook his head, half shrugging. He did not rub his nose in embarrassment. And his ears were not tinged red.

A sigh. "Come on. I thought I saw formula this way."

She was right, of course, and before all of ten minutes had passed the teens found themselves at the checkout, the old woman watching them with an odd twinkle in her eye and a toothless grin, prattling away to Kagome without a care. Kagome handled it with grace, her smile: genuine.

"Such a lovely couple!"

"Oh, we're not-"

"Posh! In my day, people didn't waste any time on ceremony! That came later."

Tōjō wondered what time period she was talking about. Tradition wouldn't have stood for such scandal, and would have only been met with shame and strict disapproval. This woman must have been a rebel. His opinion of the old hag rose a miniscule amount.

"You wanna pay? Or me?" The girl clicked her tongue softly, pulling her backpack from him and beginning to stuff their purchases into it. It bulged, but there was no use buying new shopping bags for this one trip. He unzipped his own duffle and copied her, then fished out his wallet from his jeans.

"I'll do it." He answered with a jutted chin. He'd have to pick up another shift at work though.

"Alright." His study partner huffed, straining to close the blue-black zipper. Tōjō took it silently from her hands and forced it shut, swinging it into place on his back with little effort. Kagome opened her mouth to protest, of course, but a single raised eyebrow and a glance at the child cuddling comfortably to her chest blew the fight out of her argument. Instead, the dark-haired girl pulled out her cell phone, gesturing resignedly towards the door with one slim hand.

"Is it ok if I make a quick call?" Her head tilted, blue eyes questioning as some loose strands of hair fell into her upturned face. "I'll help afterwards."

Tōjō's broad shoulders lifted in a shrug. "Its fine."

Then he watched her leave though the glass door, eyes catching on the fabric swaying over her hips with each step. His scowl softened as he deftly pulled out some bills from the confines of his leather wallet.

When he looked up, the old woman's grin had lengthened to a Cheshire.

"She's a keeper!" The old woman said conspiratorially, winking. Tōjō winced, bowing slightly, because what the hell was he supposed to day to that?

As quickly as he could, he grabbed his change, grabbed his duffle, and made a break for the door, long legs carrying him over the distance with ease.

A little bell jingled as he stepped outside into the cool evening air, breathing in the faint hint of pollution the slight wind had yet to blow away. His head turned to follow Kagome's voice as she spoke, the light of a street lamp highlighting her as she bounced on the balls of her feet, one hand supporting a tiny head, the other pressing a phone to the side of her face.

She was smiling.

"-yes Mama. Just for the night. Yes, I'll call you. 'k, love you. Bye."

The school girl swiped a thumb absently across her phone, then tucked it away, arms coming up to cradle the baby as he let out a languid gurgle.

"So," she announced softly, flicking some hair out of her eyes again and gesturing with her head as Tōjō approached, "lead the way."

He swallowed.

Kagome rocked the baby against her, rubbing his back and leaning her face against his head. His green hair pricked at her cheeks, the once perky strands damp with sweat. She hummed, imbuing just the tiniest bit of reiryoku into her every action. She hoped it comforted him and lowered his fever, but she wasn't taking chances. If it got any higher, she was going to the hospital, demon or no.

The sound of a door opening echoed across the small length of the apartment, a wave of steam puffing in a nebulous cloud as Tōjō exited from his recent shower, struggling to pull a black wife beater over his wet skin.

Nice abs. She mused absently, shushing the baby when he let out a pitiful whine. But she was used to beauty, unnatural or otherwise, and so wasn't particularly fazed.

Her friend shifted awkwardly as he hung up the white towel he'd been using to pat water from his hair and Kagome stifled a wince, because, now that she was really thinking about it, this whole situation was a bit awkward.

He was her study partner, yes, but what were a few weeks of knowing one another? In fact…

Kagome swallowed.

…he was the top dog in a school catering directly to delinquents. Somehow, Kagome had forgotten this. She wasn't intimidated by it, her experiences made that a bit difficult to do, but it seems she was still in the habit of inviting danger into her parlor. Or, in this case, inviting herself in.

Kagome wanted to face-palm.

Then she looked down at the sickly pup clinging to her and promptly shrugged her worries away. Inuyasha called her stupid. Sesshomaru called her naive. Miroku and Sango simply shook their heads in exasperation.

Kaede often called her kind.

Whatever it was, Kagome couldn't turn away. Not when the little face nuzzling so close to her own reminded her of a bright-eyed fox kit separated from her by something as mundane and disparaging as a broken well and five hundred years of history.

She glanced up at the redhead across from her, observing him from beneath her lashes.

No. Awkwardness, she could handle.

She'd insisted on the shower, of course, because the man had had a long day at work before their failed study session, and she'd be damned if he was made uncomfortable in his own home. Their "sleep over" probably wasn't going to involve much sleep anyway.

Not with the little tike as he was.

Though…boy'd been a bit longer than she thought he would be, but if Tōjō had to take some extra time to keep up his bad-boy image, who was she to judge? A giggle escaped her despite herself, the idea of the hardcore punk primping in front of the mirror more than a little absurd.

"What?" Tōjō asked, scowling as he ran a hand though his wet hair. The red strands were still dripping, enough so that they didn't spike back up, but if Kagome was being honest, the slicked back look didn't fit. He was glancing around, shifting uneasily in his long, grey pajama pants, no doubt self-conscious about the state of his apartment. Kagome couldn't care less about the place though. It was messy, yes, and cluttered, but nowhere near dirty.

The miko sighed, mouth quirked. "Nothing."

Kagome shifted the baby's weight as she stood from the old, beaten (if ridiculously comfortable) couch she'd been sitting on, the piece of furniture one of few within the single-room apartment. With the couch, a small kitchen table surrounded by three chairs and a kitchenette to one side, the place was a typical cheap living space, perfect for one. It had a closet in the far corner and a small attached bathroom. All in all, it wasn't too bad. Not a hut with dirt floors, anyway.

"Wanna trade?" She asked nervously, gesturing to the restroom with tilt of her chin.

Tōjō nodded, and with a gentleness that still surprised her, took the baby from her arms and sat back on the couch. Stretching brought out an audible pop and a sigh, and soon Kagome had moved to the entryway to remove her sandals, something she hadn't had a chance to do when she'd first arrived. Then, barefoot, she trod over to her bag.

"Let's give him some Tylenol before I go in. I'll make a bottle too. He's probably hungry."

Tōjō hummed and leaned further into the beige cushions, large hands cupping the baby tentatively. Going to the sink and running it on hot until the water warmed to an acceptable temperature, Kagome started prepping a new bottle and the medicine she'd pulled from her bag.

"Support his head and upper body. It looks like he can hold it by himself already, but he is tired, and it will make him feel more secure." She instructed, struggling to fill the strange silence that had come over them.

Tōjō hummed again, and when Kagome turned around, his half lidded eyes peered drowsily over the top of a green haired head, the small form of his charge lifting in time with each breath.

Something in her jolted at the sight, freezing her in place for a moment, until she could compose herself. Swallowing back a strangled coo, Kagome stepped forward, angling the child's head to accept the medicine. He took it without complaint and the miko made a satisfied sound as she handed the bottle over.

Her brows furrowed, and predicatively, she began biting her bottom lip. "Try to get him to eat. It's not normal for a baby his age to be so quiet, but he is sick, so that would explain it." Her hands wrung in worry, nose scrunching. "Do you have any rags we could use as cold compresses?"

"Bathroom." The boy rumbled, coaxing the bottle into the baby's mouth.

She nodded and hurried to fish them out, bumping her head under the sink in her sometimes typical, clumsy manner. Ha, she exclaimed softly when she found them, moving the faded white face cloths under the bathroom tap before swiftly making her way to the slumped figures on the couch.

"Here." She said gently, placing the now damp towels on the child's hot skin, "We'll change them as they warm."

For a moment, she stood over them, contemplating, biting her lip and being all together too distracting for a certain Tohoshinki's liking.

"What?" He croaked dryly, tisking when the baby wiggled away from the prodding bottle.

The girl blinked.

Then a flush spread without her control.

Kagome quite suddenly found herself ducking for her backpack and near sprinted to the bathroom, her wrinkled sky-colored summer dress fluttering the whole way.

"I'll be out soon." She squeaked, ratted braid slipping quickly though the small opening behind her as the door clicked closed.

There was no answer, but she hadn't expected it. Tōjō really wasn't one to talk much.

The night progressed as much as he'd expected, with awkwardness on his part and obliviousness on Kagome's. He wanted her. He could admit that freely to himself now, if only because of the pressing personal issue he'd had to deal with as soon as he closed the bathroom door. It made him feel slightly dirty and a hell of a lot confused. He was not a prude. And he was pretty sure Kagome wasn't one either, though what gave him that idea, he hadn't a clue.

Sure, he liked sex. It felt good and way better than his hand. But something about the thought of sex and Kagome had this…finality that he couldn't quite name. It wouldn't be casual.

She was too good for that.

He just didn't know why. It just was. Blood was red. He liked fighting. Kagome was different.


Damn. Now his head hurt. And the little space heater on his chest was starting to burn him up.

Her bag was stuffed with all sorts of useful (and not so useful) things, a habit she picked up from two years of endless hiking. Usually, it was annoying to have to sort through everything to get what she wanted. Now though? She was just grateful she'd packed a clean pair of gym shorts and a baggy t-shirt. Can you imagine if she'd had to ask Tōjō for something to wear?

"Hey out there! I made a split second decision to crash at your place to take care of the sick demon puppy you've randomly picked off the street. Oh, and I'm naked. You think you could help me out?"

Pifft. No.

A rising spike of energy startled both of them, though only one of them knew what it was. Flying out of the bathroom with only the t-shirt over her panties, dark wet hair trailing her in an arch, Kagome scooped the child out of a startled Tōjō's arms, cooing and whispering and rocking, even as her spiritual energy worked to diffuse what would have likely resulted in an explosion.

"Did you try to feed him?" She whispered urgently as the child cried out, fat tears welling from dull eyes.

The rumpled looking teen nodded, mumbling as he slowly sat up and shook the startlement from his features. "He wouldn't take it."

Looking for a distraction (because there was no way she was showing the human her powers) Kagome's frantic eyes settled on one of the wet towels hanging on the arm of the couch.

Casually, she reached for the discarded bottle off to other the side and put it to the baby's lips.

"He's burning up." She said, looking down, then back up to make eye contact. "Can you re-wet that? I'll try to feed him."

Then, the second Tōjō's back was turned, the bottle in her hands glowed and the baby, even in his delusional state, knew power and latched on.

Tōjō felt the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stand on end, but when he whirled around, ready for a fight, nothing was there.

Just a troubled Kagome and a smug looking brat sucking on a plastic nipple like his life depended on it. The kid was still naked, still pressed up against a well proportioned chest and, for just an instant, seemed to come out of his muzzy haze just enough to peg him with the sort of gloating self-satisfied stare that only someone extremely pleased with himself could portray.

It was gone the next second, but damn, that couldn't be anything less than a taunt.

Tōjō's eyes narrowed as he turned away.

He would never admit to being jealous of a brat.

The next few hours were difficult for both of them, but the rest of the night passed relatively quietly after the baby's fever broke. The green-haired munchkin wasn't out of the woods yet, but with the help of modern medicine and a dash of the Shikon no Tama miko's purifying healing energy, the child was well on his way to recovery.

It is with these recollections that a tired Kagome trudged slowly up the stairs to her family shrine, contemplating the list she'd left for Tōjō to follow until she could see the two again sometime during the next week. She told him to call with any updates and not to hesitate if he needed help. The groggy, mussed state he'd been in as he walked her to the door had been adorable, the sullen slouch after sleeping all night on the couch coupled with his ridiculous bed-head, enough to send her into a fit of giggles. She'd resisted, barely, and after one last check on the baby curled up in a nest of blankets on the futon in the corner, Kagome stumbled down the stairs and to the nearest metro station. One train and two short bus stops later see the tired student cresting the hill to her house, griping the strap of her backpack like a lifeline and fighting the dark strands that had come loose from her hasty braid and insisted on annoying her by falling into her eyes.

She opened the front door with a grumble, tugging off her sandals without care as she slouched in the direction of the heavenly scent of jasmine tea.

"Mama! I'm home!" The miko calls out, a half yawn escaping as she turns the corner leading to the kitchen.

Only to stop dead in the door way, unconsciously gripping its edge for support as her legs nearly buckle. Her blue eyes widen, her mouth parts, and the very air stills.

She can't breathe.

There, sitting calmly over a steaming morning cup of tea, directly across the table from her mother, is the silver haired head of a man with golden eyes.

Its Sesshomaru.

In a business suit.