Contrary to popular belief, Hojo was not, in fact, under the impression that he and one Kagome Higurashi had any sort of romantic connection.
Oh, he'd like one, very much so. Like so many young men before him, he longs to be the one to make the girl of his dreams happy. He's a nice teenage boy who just wants to be a good man, marry a nice girl, and come out on top in the end.
And he tries, oh how he tries. He gives her gifts, lovely little trinkets that help with pain instead of flowers and chocolate. He gives her his support, his smiles.
He would give her the world.
But, like so many young men before him, he finds that's just not enough for her.
Her friends come before him often, when she's away.
Always, they say the same things.
"Keep going for it, Hojo. One of these days, Kagome'll come through and make it through one of your dates."
If she's not busy.
If she's not sick.
One of these days, she promises as she smiles a smile not meant for him.
It's a cruel hope for him to believe her.
Hojo, however, in common with popular thought, is stupidly hopeful.
He sees her once, on a day she's 'sick'. He tries to run toward her, but he's far from Moses and the crowds in front of him don't part, and in the honking of the cars and shrieking of tires on pavement, she's gone again.
A week passes by.
Then at last, Higurashi resurfaces like flowers after the frost. He smiles and tries to catch her eye… but fails, as usual.
He tries again, placing himself in her path as she walks to class.
She smiles, but not at him. She sees, but she doesn't see him.
Hojo wants to cry.
Instead, he gives her some ointment for her back, and steps aside.
He follows her- but he is not stalking her, he insists to the persistent perverts in his mind. He's merely concerned.
He watches, because that's what he does. That's all he can do.
Her friends, chatty, noisy bunch that they are, surround her with questions, trying their best to support and care for someone who has long since become a stranger.
He sees her looking away- far away, to a place none of them, that he can't go.
The day is over, and it's time to go home.
As she walks away from the school, he catches a flash of crimson red and silver that blurs on by, toward her.
She sees it too, and smiles as it passes, even as she hides it away from the world.
And Hojo understands that he has lost again.
Hojo's at the store again- it's an old remedies store, because his mother thinks that pharmacies and medicine made with machines and metal and without soul cannot possibly heal someone.
Hojo's of the same opinion about people today.
Hojo knows he's different, that he's simpler than other people.
He thinks he was born in the wrong era.
So when he steps up to the aisle, wondering what Higurashi might need next, his hand stays itself and bends to reason, just this once.
And the shopkeeper is bewildered as the nice young man who always bought his merchandise leaves without a word and without a purchase.
The next day, Hojo comes back and buys a surplus of remedies to make up for it.
Higurashi comes back after another month. She looks tired. She doesn't pay attention to her friends or the teacher.
Hojo thinks maybe he shouldn't give her the remedies he has, that maybe, just maybe they're not working at all.
"Hey Higurashi. I've got another remedy you might want to try." He says, and wishes he hadn't when she represses a look that's as clear as the painfully bright day outside.
You can't help me.
And Hojo knows that she's probably, definitely right.
But it's the thought that counts.
Hojo's a bit of a hopeless, lovelorn idiot who tries too hard.
But that's alright.
He's still a damn sight nicer than the rest of the world.