There is a man that stands out by the entrance of the middle school, smokes, and watches the girls in their school uniforms while they leave. It is the general consensus that he's an utter creep, though he never says anything, and the girls give him a wide berth and hurry past.
One day Hojo, being the good citizen that he is, decided someone had to put a stop to this constant harassment of the female student body. He set his mouth in a hard line and walked up to him, intending to tell him to clear off of the school property.
It didn't quite go according to plan.
You there! I'm going to have to ask you to-...Who are you? the smoking man interrupted, cocking an eyebrow.
He frowned. My name is Hojo-Why are you talking to me?
Hojo struggled for a response. Because - you are loitering on school-No one's ever spoken to me before. The man sounded thoughtful, grinding his cigarette out with his heel.
That's because you're-Not real, he finished with a harsh laugh. He took off his sunglasses.
But you can call me Kouga.
Kouga was a little amused on how quickly Hojo seemed to decide he was a good person. He didn't bother to tell him he was neither a person nor good.
Immediately after deciding he was a good person, he decided he must have very good reasons for staring at school girls' green skirts and it was simply a misunderstanding.
Kouga wasn't amused nor surprised when he found out Hojo knew Kagome. All of life's unpredictabilities became extremely predictable when you had lived more than half a millennium.
He was a little disappointed.
Kouga was extremely amused when he heard Hojo was pining after Kagome. He egged him on, suggested gifts, told him they were guaranteed to win her over. And Hojo, the gullible idiot, believed him.
It was funny, in a mean-spirited, self-defeating sort of way.
Kouga has come to realize there are three sorts of old.
The first is when the body gets old and the second is when the mind gets old. The two usually go hand in hand, and when they don't, you can only get frustrated and tired.
The third kind is the worst, though.
It's when you stay young, but the world keeps getting older and older.
And you can only get bored.
When something gets older, its memory deteriorates.
The world forgets about Kouga.
Wherever Kouga goes, he picks up habits.
Most of them are necessary human quirks. Some of them are youkai indulgences, like when he walks three blocks out of his way to go past the butcher's. A few are bad habits, like his smoking. His regenerative powers counteract all of the negative aspects of it, however, save the addiction.
But then, he has always had an addictive personality.
Kouga's latest habit is Hojo.
It's a bit like a breath of fresh air in the industrialized city, being around the teenager.
He comes early to school and leaves late so that he has enough time to chat animatedly, sometimes about things Kouga couldn't care less about.
Most times it is about Kagome, and Kouga wishes he cared less.
Hojo asks him how they know each other, and Kouga tells him they were acquaintances. He thinks it stuffs everything they were to each other into one word quite nicely.
He's a little disappointed he can't tell him they were lovers.
He's extremely relieved he can't tell him they were friends.
One day, Hojo asked him why he stands out and watches the girls leave school.
Kouga inhaled and smirked at him. I'm reminiscing.
Kouga lives, sleeps, and breathes humanity, now that he can't eat it anymore.
He doesn't mind it much. Compared to his pace they live in a mad scramble toward the curb, toward the sudden, abrupt impact with the truck and the dazed stroll to the other side of the street.
Kouga decides he really shouldn't mix metaphors with high-speed collisions.
Kouga decides he really needs another cigarette.
Hojo is the first one to suggest they meet somewhere outside of school. Kouga tells him they'll do it Sunday.
It's late fall and windy, and Hojo exhibits an amazing inability to plan ahead.
So Kouga is bundled up, thick scarf wrapped around his neck, and Hojo is shivering, and they're walking through the park and not really saying anything, because Kouga is used to slouching against a wall and Hojo is used to half-sitting on his bike and, well. It's different.
So Hojo brings up Kagome, because she is familiar.
Nothing I do for her seems to work, Hojo complains, and Kouga doesn't smile because it's not so funny anymore.
I know; I would have given her everything.
Hojo looks at him, surprised. What happened?
It wasn't enough.
Hojo is so trusting Kouga doesn't really know how to act around him. Lying is how he's stayed alive for so long. It's a necessity, like food and water and a roof and heat, and actually, lying is what gets him that stuff. No one's going to let a youkai open a bank account.
But Hojo believes everything he tells him.
So Kouga tells him the truth.
Another Sunday, another walk through the park, and another Kagome-dominated conversation.
"What would you say if I told you Kagome's a miko, and she's trying to be the savior for a world that doesn't really need saving?"
"I'd say there's probably not a cure for that, is there?" he asks in a not-question.
He looks disappointed.
I've decided to give up on Higurashi, Hojo says. He looks a little morose, and considering his generally bright outlook, Kouga supposes that's saying something.
he says, saying something himself.
Hojo gives him a long look. When did you give up?Don't remember, Kouga says, and Hojo shivers.
Why don't you ever put on a scarf?I don't have one.
He snorts and pulls his own off, dropping it in his hands. Here. But don't expect me to do something cheesy like put it on for you.
Kouga used to be the fastest youkai in Japan.
His feet can't carry him out of the park fast enough.
And more Sundays.
You know, Higurashi's stopped getting sick.
Kouga doesn't answer him. Hojo frowns and looks up at the man.
You could go see her.
He could, Kouga realizes. He could go and tell her they mourned her when she disappeared, the hanyou most of all. He could perhaps dispel some of her grief by telling her they had loved her and lived long lives. He could win because she could need him and there couldn't be any rival this time around. He could console her and be her consolation prize.
Aren't you going to see her? He turns up his collar. The sky is a dark gray, and he can tell it's going to snow soon.
Why not?Frankly, I just don't care anymore.
It occurs to Kouga that he's started needing these conversations and walks through the park, and that's a very dangerous place to be, because it's just a hop, skip, and jump away from needing Hojo.
Kouga tried doing everything for a very long time. He's tired of that.
Kouga gives doing nothing a try.
Kouga knows Hojo isn't going to last forever. Everyone is allotted one little slice of forever.
Kagome, by complete unluck of the draw, got two.
He thinks this may be one of those situations were less is more.
He doesn't really mind about things lasting anymore, though.
Kouga hits the pavement.
And hell, maybe he's a bit of a philosopher after all.