"Fuma Hojo, huh?"

The vice-principal's glasses shined with bright, harsh sunlight. "Principal, I must recommend against allowing the boy to transfer to our school. His records..."

"His records are precisely why he must be transferred here," the principal replied coolly, "His father insisted on it."

"Adopted father." The other man corrected darkly, scowling. "Just because Kamui Hojo has given us a substantial donation does not mean we can overlook this boy's records." He slammed his hand down on the folder. "Three reported incidents of violence and a suspected arson to boot. This boy is a menace!"

"The final decision rests with myself and the board, vice principal Sorata." The principal muttered, mouth set in a firm, hard line. "That is all."

---

"I'm in incredible pain, while lying in a cave... it's very dark, save for a dim candle that's just out of my eyesight."

"How do you know it's a candle, then?"

"... I just know, okay?"

"My apologies. Please continue."

"I'm asking for something. Begging, really. I can't remember what, but after that, hordes of these monsters just come pouring out of the darkness, and then they descend onto me..."

"And?"

"... And that's all."

"Fuma-"

"Hojo. I don't like Fuma."

"Okay, Hojo... listen, these dreams of yours... they're obviously symbolic of some deep trauma. I suspect you may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or perhaps even Paranoid Schizophrenia, which may account for these recurring nightmares, as well as the trouble you've had in your past schools. It has obviously affected your ability to interact with people in the real world, leading to several of these reported incidents."

"But the dreams are so real..."

"They're not." He sighed, rubbing his glasses tiredly against his shirt. "Dreams are just dreams, Hojo. Your father-"

"Adopted father."

"Yes, well, Kamui Hojo has insisted that I get you better as soon as possible. But I can only do that if you help me."

"How can I? I'm the crazy one, right?"

"Did anyone abuse you at your foster homes, or at the orphanage? I promise to keep it in the strictest confidentiality."

"No one. The dreams made people afraid of me. I had them before anything else happened."

"... Are you sure?"

"Yes."

The antique grandfather clock, obviously custom built, boomed once.

"I suppose that's the end of our session for today. You've been making progress, Hojo, but you must accept that these dreams are not real. If these dreams continue and you continue to worsen, I may have to prescribe a drug such as sertraline. If those don't work, perhaps you do have schizophrenia and something such as clozapine would be more effective."

"I understand." Hojo stood, smiling tightly, shaking the psychiatrist's hand as he did. "Thanks, Doctor."

---

You should have slit that bastard's throat.

"Shut up." Hojo mumbled softly, clinging to a deserted area of the train compartment. It wasn't like many people were eager to go to him anyway; his long, unkempt hair gave him a wild appearance, and his eyes sparked and flared with madness.

You've done it before, you know you have. It doesn't matter what that arrogant son of a bitch says, you're still Me. You can't escape what you are.

"I said shut up." Hojo repeated, firmly. But his reflection in the window only smirked in response.

Those drugs won't help. They won't make Me go away.

"QUIET!" Hojo snapped, and smashed his fist into the window, shattering his reflection.

Outside, the wind howled, like a laughing demon.

But even in the shattered glass, it continued to smirk back at him.

---

Punching the glass sounds like something out of the movies, Hojo realized. But something they rarely show are the cuts and the blood loss and the fact that it really fucking hurts afterward.

Which is how the infamous Fuma Hojo, the delinquent/psychotic, found himself staggering down the street, clutching his hand after the conductor tossed him out for "damaging city property".

Another criminal offense. My, my, you really are my reincarnation.

"Go to Hell." Hojo grunted, clutching his hand tighter.

"Are you alright?"

YOU!

Hojo stumbled, blinking rapidly at the sudden violent surge from the Voice. He looked up at who had spoken, and his breath hitched, his heart skipped a beat.

She was pretty. Not in the usual way, but nonetheless, she had a certain quality about her that made her attractive. Her brown eyes were wide and kind, gentle.

"Oh my God! Your hand!" she knelt, frowning at the bloody cuts that decorated his hand. "We need to get that bandaged! What were you thinking, running around with a bleeding hand!"

"Uh..." Hojo remained stunned, whether due to the rage pulsing from the Voice or just the girl's own rather forceful nature, or possibly both, he couldn't tell.

Quickly, the girl put her sleeve in her mouth and tore out a long strip of cloth. Without hesitation, she grabbed his hand, quickly wrapping his hand tightly with the cloth. It darkened into a bloody crimson, but she didn't seem to mind.

"... thank you." Hojo said quietly, still shocked someone would help him so quickly and without hesitation. His eyes glanced down toward her torn sleeve, and a twinge of unfamiliar guilt struck his heart. "I'm sorry about your shirt... I could get pay for it, if you like..." he offered, but she cut him off.

"No... it's alright. I didn't really like this shirt anyway." She smiled brightly, widely. "Well, I've got to go home, so don't hurt yourself again, okay?"

And with that, she was gone, leaving his hand in bandages and his mind in a raging tempest.

---

Who is she? Hojo asked that night, laying in his bed.

Curious? Or perhaps you're so pathetic that you'll cling to any kindness shown to you? The Voice sneered in response.

Tell me. Hojo snarled in response, his eyes narrowing, despite the fact that the war was within his own mind.

How about I show you... the Voice said silkily, and suddenly Hojo was in his dreams again.

---

It had been a week since that day. Within the space of that week, he learned more about that girl, Kagome, about Inuyasha, about Kikyo, and about who he really was than he had since he first started having the dreams.

No. They weren't dreams anymore.

Now they were memories.

And on the seventh day, Hojo came to a decision.

---

Oh crap oh crap oh crap, my first day of middle school and I'm going to be late!

Her legs were pumping as hard as they could, her blood running fast and furious. Sweat ran down her face, and she blazed past the school gates, her eyes intent on the doors-

I'm gonna make it! I'm gonna-

WHAM

"Ouch..."

"Oh no! I'm so sorry miss!" a brown haired boy, handsome in a disarming sort of way, knelt in front of her, smiling widely. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah... just great." Kagome said flatly, rubbing her head furiously. She looked up at him, feeling that she knew him from somewhere. For a moment, her eyes locked with his.

A cold chill ran down her spine.

But then it was broken, as the boy held out his hand. "Here," he said gently, and that cold chill felt as if it were years away.

Kagome smiled, grabbing the hand tightly and letting him pull her back to her feet. "Thanks..."

"Hojo. My real name's Fuma Hojo, but I don't like Fuma very much." He said, smiling.

"Well I'm Kagome Higurashi..." Kagome glanced at her watch, and swallowed, hard. "And I'm late, so I guess I'll see you around Hojo!"

---

It looks she doesn't recognize you, boy. Who knew a haircut could change a person's appearance so much... the Voice whispered softly. Or perhaps you're just not worth remembering.

Hojo nodded absently, but there was a darkness behind his continued smile. I'm not going to let you hurt her, Naraku.

---

It had been three days.

"Calm down... it's only been three days." Hojo mumbled softly, but his fist tightened nonetheless.

Or perhaps it has begun, boy. Naraku's taunt was silken smooth but as deadly as a garroting wire. You cannot stop what has already happened.

Including your death? Hojo shot back.

Naraku snarled and roared, but could do nothing else.

You're nothing but a voice in my head. And it's my body, my life. You're nothing but a ghost.

Hojo could feel Naraku's slimy smile in the back of his psyche.

Not to Kagome, not yet.

---

When she returned to school at last, he couldn't help himself.

He asked her out as soon as he could. Part of the reason was to keep her here a little while longer, perhaps interfere with Naraku a little bit more.

But even more than your pathetic attempts at altruism, you want her. Naraku laughed, high and keening as the northern wind. You cannot deny what you truly desire.

But she blew him off that day.

For Inuyasha.

For the past, where Naraku could still hurt her.

And just for a moment, Hojo nearly allowed Naraku to take control again.

But now, where he had only seen fires and blood, now he saw a face.

Kagome's face.

His resolved tightened.

He sought out a particular store the next day.

---

Mrs. Higurashi smiled as she worked in the kitchen, washing the dishes after another family dinner.

Sans Kagome. But somehow, she understood that what her daughter was doing would help someone, maybe many people.

Distracted, her eyes fell upon a trinket that she had been given this afternoon.

"Hmm... oh, this is that remedy for the malaria that boy dropped off." She smiled knowingly, seeing that boy's crush on the girl quite clearly. "What a nice boy."

If she had looked a little harder, she would have noticed it wasn't any type of medicine for malaria.

It was just an herb... one that, to a trained eye, would have glowed with protective energy that many a monk and priestess would have been interested to posses.

---

When she came to school a few days after she began going to the past, Hojo felt the taint of demon on her.

How, he wasn't certain.

But it was there. What's more, she looked exhausted, as if she had gone the whole night without sleep.

And his ears barely caught her words as she passed him in the hallway.

"Stupid Noh Mask..."

Ah... a Noh Mask youkai. Naraku chuckled. Interesting... her Shikon shards must have brought it to life. Soon, more youkai will come for her.

His blood ran cold, his heart skipped a beat.

There's no stopping this now, boy. Naraku whispered, his pleasure oozing out from every syllable.

His fists clenched, his jaw tightened, and nearby students wondered what could have upset Hojo, resident nice guy and one of the sweetest boys around.

The youkai will undoubtedly end her life before I even need to. Your remedies won't be enough, boy.

"Then I have no choice" Hojo murmured. "I'll kill every youkai before they can even touch her. I won't make a mistake like this again."

---

"The Shikon no Tama..." it hissed softly, nodding to its brethren. Its body slithered through the air, its fangs glistened, undulled even after so many feasts upon living and dead alike.

"We must have it." Another intoned, its voice quiet and deep. It was larger, and resembled a bat, save for it was larger and had eyes that could see even in the blackest night.

Eyes, hundreds of teeming eyes filled with pure desire glistened in the night sky like unholy stars. They descended like a dark rain toward the shrine.

And then, as one, they felt it.

A soul darker than they, darker than the deepest trench of the ocean and the farthest abyss of outer space. It stood in front of them, smiling with a tiger's grin beneath the brown bangs.

"You will not go any farther tonight. Or any night." The creature said, for it could be called nothing else.

But the siren song of the Shikon stirred the blood of these youkai who had gone so long living only in shadow, and they roared, screaming their way toward the creature.

The smile of the tiger became the smile of the Devil himself.

---

You are a truly interesting individual, boy. Naraku murmured, only the barest hint of his grin from the display audible in his voice. You would damn yourself for this girl? Walk the darkest path for her sake?

"Didn't you?" Hojo offered, walking into the moonless night. A nearby dog, once asleep, began to bark and howl as though terrified of some unholy creature. Birds, sleeping in their nests, scattered from an unseen horror.

She will never love you. Naraku chuckled, unruffled. You cannot go down the well to kill me directly.

Hojo said nothing.

And in the end, will your efforts truly mean anything?

Hojo smiled Death's own grin.

"We'll see, won't we?"