No Beta.


The boy at the bus stop was not so much a boy as he was a man, with strong, broad shoulders and thick, coiled muscles. He sat, hunched over a textbook, mechanical pencil dwarfed in his hand, his normally harsh features creased in concentration.

Some days, he wore the dark uniform of a high school student; most days, he wore a white wife-beater stained with sweat, long slacks replaced with faded jeans. Always, he had the book out, carefully tacking down answers on the same bench, at the same bus stop, everyday, without fail.

Minutes pass slowly as he waits, the blistering sun hot against the black uniform, even with the jacket open and the collar unbuttoned. He bites his lip, an odd thing; though the tip of his writing utensil shows equal amounts of abuse, light with crescent lines. Spiked red hair falls over black eyes as he leans closer, a frustrated growl leaving his throat.

He blinks when the bus arrives with its usual hiss and rattle, straightening his spine with an audible crack. A sigh leaves him as his book snaps shut, one large hand reaching to grab the duffle at his feet before he stands. He is tall, and would tower over most men, but his expression is mild for one so fierce-looking, despite the scar that runs past the edge of his right eyebrow and ends somewhere near his ear.

The bus door opens and he is greeted with an air of familiarity, the old driver smiling at the hardworking young man. He nods, swiping his pass, and steps onto the first stair.

"WAIT! Hold the bus!"

He looks up at the feminine gasp, leaning out of the vehicle with furrowed brows. A girl is running down the sidewalk, knee-length skirt flush against her thighs as she moves, blue backpack bouncing painfully against her back. Her blouse and matching cardigan are disheveled from her run, the barest hint of cleavage peaking out, in spite of the modest attire.

The boy puts one foot back on the sidewalk, expression clearing to its usual blank scowl.

The girl skids to a halt, panting, and pushes down the fly-a-ways that have come loose from her simple braid, black hair refusing to settle, even as she swings her bag around and fumbles within for her bus pass.

When she looks up, she graces the boy with a blinding smile, undeterred by his appearance or his frown.

"Thanks!" She chirps, happy and breathless. He nods, forcing back a swallow and steps completely into the bus, making his way to the back where he can finish his homework in peace.

He is startled when the girl flops into the seat right in front of him, twisting on her knees to face him. He looks up from the paper when she doesn't turn away, eyebrow raised.

There is a hand in his face, a petite thing with strange calluses stark against soft skin.

"Higurashi Kagome." She states with a smile, small in comparison to the other he was given.

The offer of her hand it slightly jarring, as a simple bow would do, but something about her firm grip sends his blood pumping, tapping that part of him that always chomps at the bit, lusting for a fight. His grip firms in response.

"Hidetora Tōjō."

Surprise flashes momentarily across her features, smile dropping into a small frown. Then she's smiling again, and he nearly sighs in relief, but stops himself at the strange reaction.

"Nice to meet you."

The large boy hums in agreement, turning back to his work even as his frown deepens. There's something odd about her, something he can't quite place. It's nothing bad, but it bothers him enough that he can't concentrate with her looking, head resting on her arms over the top of the seat. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her bite her lip till it's pink and swollen, conflicted over something he can't name. He rolls his eyes. Women.

"You go to Ishiyama, right?"

He glances up, annoyed, but nods anyway.

"Me too."

His dark eyes flit over her. Huh. He recognizes the uniform, but he doesn't know her. Transfer maybe? Was she strong? She sighs bitterly, and he shrugs as they fall into silence.

He's growing more and more frustrated with the problem he is currently working on, so much so that when she speaks again, he starts. He'd forgotten she was there, watching. Shouldn't he be bothered by her behavior? The bus swishes and creaks, bumping down the road. It's oddly peaceful, sitting over a frustrating set of mathematic equations, a strange girl staring at him with sad eyes. He… he did not just think that.

"What?" He says, completely missing her question.

She blushes, and isn't that weird directed at him. He feels heat rise unwilling to his cheeks.

"I said that I've seen you a bunch of times at the bus stop, working on that." She nods towards his textbook, head still placed lazily on her arms. But she bites her lip again. He sighs, straightening as he waits. Where did all this patience come from?

"Do you want help?" She blurts, then stops, taking a deep breath to start again. "I mean- do you want to study together? I can't really study at school anymore because...something happened, and I figure if we're both gonna be there anyway then we might as well suffer…together?" She ends on a sheepishly high note, scratching the back of her neck and looking anywhere but at him.

The boys' head tilts thoughtfully and, stunned, he says the first thing that comes to mind.

"I work."

"Oh." The girl deflates.

Damn. When did he become such a pussy? He is not this awkward. She's just a pretty girl. He clears his throat, coughing.

"But…yeah. I'd like that."

She immediately grins, white teeth flashing. "Ok! Great…um."

The girl, Kagome, pauses, reaching down out of his sight to pick something up as the bus begins to slow. Her words come fast now, hurried.

"I've got, like, two hours after school until I need to be at cram class, so we can work for about an hour, hour and a half tops, before I have to go." She scribbles something on a piece of paper, before handing it over. "Here's my number if you gotta work. That way I won't be waiting forever for you." She gestures, pulling on the backpack he hadn't even notice her take off. "Um, this is my stop."

She pauses again, hopeful blue eyes staring at him like they have for the entirety of this little trip.

"See you tomorrow? At the bench?"

Tōjō is a little overwhelmed.

"Yeah." He answers, blinking dimly at the paper in his hands.

Then she's gone. The interior of the bus does not seem to darken. And he is not looking forward to tomorrow. He is a man. He does not get fluttery feelings in his stomach.

But damn.

In his mind's eye, she glows.