Pairing: SessKag if you squint. (VERY OOC and very AU)
Genre: AU, Adventure, Fluff, Slice of Life.
Disclaimer: Inuyasha and its characters do not belong to me (sadly). They are the property of one Rumiko Takahashi.
Author Notes: These little drabbles used to belong to the "Teacher with Benefits" collection fic I have on my page. What had started as a simple drabble quickly grew into a full fic in my head and I realized it deserved to shine by its own.
Anyways, hope you enjoy.
Sesshoumaru Taisho, walking definition of arrogance and indifference to the world, didn't realize he had a favorite student in his classroom until she didn't show up to his Psychology 101 class. Twice in a row.
Reports had been handed, grades had been assigned and class had been dismissed. As the white-haired professor finished putting away the rest of what would surely be riveting late-night reading in the form of his student's latest project (if those half-assed writings could even be defined as such), Sesshoumaru looked up to scan the faces of his students with piercing yellow eyes. The last student filed out, not hiding how desperate he was to leave the intimidating professor's classroom, and with a pang Sesshoumaru realized she wasn't there.
Sesshoumaru was a stickler to the rules. He was very dutiful with instilling knowledge into his young pupils' impressionable minds, but he was always careful to keep the line between professor and student very distinct. Relationships between students and teachers, even at the college level that he taught at, were strongly frowned upon. Not that Sesshoumaru had any qualms about following this protocol. In his last three years as a professor at the University of Tokyo, he had felt no particular attraction or even the vaguest of inclinations toward any of his female students. In his mind they were all still children and the thought of dating any of them made him supremely uncomfortable.
But that student…Sesshoumaru pulled out his roll-call, scanned the list until his amber eyes found the name that had been at the back of his mind during the entire class.
Pretty (in an average sort of way) with a bright disposition to participate in class and always eager to learn made her stand out to him. Higurashi could've been considered a bookworm, maybe even a teacher's pet, but she lacked the pathetic, introverted qualities of both. She was effervescent, genuine and always happy to help her peers. Her projects were continually the first on his desk, and if Sesshoumaru was honest with himself, the most interesting to read. She had very naïve notions of the world, a quality seldom seen in students taking psychology as their major, where classes were sure to make you jaded and cynical. But such optimistic insights often led to very interesting arguments in her work.
Perhaps, Sesshoumaru mused, it was her quiet earnestness or the way her blue eyes would dance when she understood a new concept that had made her earn a spot in his good graces, even though she had been his student for merely half a semester. He could relate to that attitude – the hunger for knowledge and the joy of acquiring it.
So when she had missed two of his classes, Sesshoumaru definitely noticed. He closed the clasp of his expensive, leather messenger bag and tried to – fruitlessly – squash the niggling uneasiness in his chest as he made his way out of the classroom. He would give Higurashi a what-for when she showed up next time, he thought, attempting to sound stern in his mind. He ignored the secret hope that he would see those dancing blue eyes again.
The following week though, the Higurashi that showed up to his class was so changed, it took all of Sesshoumaru's willpower not to interrupt his own lecture and go talk to her.
Her mood was so altered she might as well have been another person. Her hair was messy and her eyes unfocused, barely registering anything in class. And when she was not occupied with chewing straight through her lower lip, she took notes with a hand that shook perpetually. Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at the sudden change in behavior, inadvertently giving the student answering his last question heart palpitations as she thought she had given a wrong answer.
When class was dismissed and Higurashi, who usually hung back to ask questions or talk to her peers, ran out of the room, Sesshoumaru worried. Truthfully, he worried more than a professor probably should of a student he had no relationship with, no matter how much Sesshoumaru tried to rationalize his feelings.
The next class Kagome showed up with eyes red from crying and her mouth set in a quivering grimace, and Sesshoumaru could no longer sit idly by and do nothing.
For perhaps the first time in his life, Sesshoumaru chose not to be indifferent.
"Higurashi." Sesshoumaru's baritone voice rang out as students filed out of his classroom. Kagome, who had been halfway down the stairs and already making a run for the door, froze, those blue eyes wide and frightened. Sesshoumaru frowned further. "I require your presence at this moment. I have some things I wish to discuss with you."
Kagome winced as if he had physically rebuked her, and very slowly walked towards the stoic man. Her shoulders were hunched, looking frail and small under her cotton jacket. She had lost weight, he noted.
Sesshoumaru waited for the rest of the students to leave, some sending Kagome sympathetic waves and secret thumbs up to give her moral support. Sesshoumaru's reputation as the strictest professor in the university was not for naught, and they probably thought the worst was to come. By the looks of his favorite pupil, she shared their thoughts.
The door closed at last and Kagome let out a shaky breath as she braced herself. She spoke first. "Forgive me, Taisho-sensei. I'm aware I missed two of your classes, and I did not hand in the last project in time." She hugged her binder closer to her chest, attempting to shrink into herself. Irrationally, Sesshoumaru's fingers twitched with the urge to comfort her.
"I swear it won't happen again. You know, I…" her voice trembled, eyes downcast as a faint blush powdered her cheeks. "I really enjoy Taisho-sensei's classes. I look forward to them each week. I promise not to slack off."
Sesshoumaru's hand fisted, not at all reassured by her answer. "While I must admit I am pleased to hear you say so, that is not what I called you here for."
And for the first time, something other than worry flitted across those blue eyes of hers. She seemed confused, her face an open book as she wondered what on Earth her solemn teacher could want from her. Those baby blues changed from confusion to downright surprise at his next sentence.
"Tell me what is troubling you, Higurashi."
"E-excuse me?" she stammered.
"You seem preoccupied in class, distracted. You are the most brilliant and applied student I have had in the past three years." At this confession, Kagome blushed prettily, obviously not expecting any sort of compliment from the usually harsh man. Sesshoumaru continued before the rational part of his mind took over and made him stop such an embarrassing speech.
"I do not say this often to my students but if…" and this is where Sesshoumaru took a hesitant step forward, feeling somehow awkward. He wasn't used to this; worrying about others. Feeling concerned. Caring. But he remembered that lost, sad look in her face, and he took the plunge.
"If I can somehow be of support to you, even as a friendly ear, I would be happy to comply."
Sesshoumaru didn't need to be a mind-reader to know that Kagome was wondering how he knew. He could not answer her, only because there were no words to describe it. As the son to a single mother going through an ugly divorce and facing her demons in full view of her young child, he recognized the look of loneliness, of drowning in anxiety. Back then he had not thought his mother's insecurities so serious. He knew better now.
Kagome sighed, running a trembling hand across her unruly black hair. The action caused her top to lift, and Sesshoumaru noticed the alarming edge of a bandage above her hip.
"You wouldn't believe me." She whispered, and her voice was so far away Sesshoumaru could feel himself falling down the chasm of despair with her.
Against his logical mind, Sesshoumaru placed a large hand on delicate shoulders and caught her blue eyes with his own amber ones, attempting to drag her out of the darkness.
"Try me." He replied softly.
Kagome let out a shaky laugh, looking away from his own searching gaze, the entire experience surreal. "It's a long story." She tried to explain. "I'm sure you have other important things to attend to, Taisho-sensei. I don't want to take your time. I don't…"
For her, Sesshoumaru had all the time in the world, and then some.
"Let's go talk somewhere private."
Kagome and Sesshoumaru made their way to his office in tense silence. When they got there, he offered her a seat on the plush couch, and perched himself at the edge of his desk, as far away as physically possible in the small room. He laced his fingers together, resting them atop of one bent knee, and looked at the small woman-child before him expectantly.
Kagome, though still quivering slightly, sat straighter and looked at Sesshoumaru dead in the eye. Her eyes were resolute.
"I'm being haunted."
Sesshoumaru's face remained blank, impassive. Out of all the things he had been expecting to hear as a reason for her changed behaviour - domestic abuse, bullying, self-harm, health deterioration - a haunting had certainly not made itself present in his bingo card. Nonetheless, he said nothing, and waited for her to fill in the blanks. The girl took her professor's stillness as a positive sign, and she reached inside her back-pack, looking for something.
Kagome pulled out what looked like a pink marble, completely ordinary and nondescript if not for the fact that it seemed to be emanating a soft glow of its own. Sesshoumaru shuddered, the room suddenly becoming colder, and all his attention focused solely on that innocent little jewel. Except Sesshoumaru knew what it was, and his mouth became dry at the realization. His head clouded with questions, like how someone like Kagome had gotten her hands on it and how quickly he could make it disappear from her life.
Kagome for her part remained oblivious to her teacher's inner turmoil. She took a deep breath, and began to tell Sesshoumaru a story.
About a girl falling into a well and an ancient world long forgotten except in the pages of history books. About a mysterious jewel being ripped from the side of her body – a quaking hand automatically went to the bandages at her side – and about demons. Real demons, monsters of lore, chasing her back down the well and into her world, hunting her and the jewel of myth.
Kagome spoke of a fear so crippling, she had been unable to leave her home, as misfortune followed her everywhere she went. In her eyes, Sesshoumaru saw triple the desperation his own mother felt back when he was younger, and hers had been enough to lead her to drag a knife down her forearms and bleed into the tub. Sesshoumaru had been powerless to help her back then, being a child. But he was a man now, and before him stood someone he could actually help. His second chance.
"You must think I'm insane." Kagome said after finishing her story, her voice raspy with unshed tears. She covered her face, shame and helplessness bowing her shoulders. "I know it sounds crazy; I wouldn't believe myself either if I hadn't been running away from demons for the past two weeks. I didn't know who I could turn to for help and these monsters kept talking about this "power" the jewel has. Shikon this, Shikon that. " She raised her head from her hands, and Sesshoumaru's breath hitched. Tears, hot and thick, were streaming down her porcelain cheeks. She was trying to hold back, sobs catching in her throat.
"I don't care about this stupid marble or its power. I just want…I just want…" her voice trailed off and she buried her face into her hands once more.
'I just want it to be over, Sesshoumaru!' his mother yelled at him, before slamming the bathroom door in his face.
If Sesshoumaru could've laughed, he would have, except the situation wasn't funny at all and instead he wanted to scream. Destiny had a comical way of coming full circle, and now the very jewel that had torn apart his family had somehow come back into his life through this poor girl. If Sesshoumaru was smart, he would run as far away from this as his legs could take him. He knew that if not happy, he would at least lead a very content life not dealing with the misfortune of others. The strong survived, and the weak had to learn to fend for themselves.
Sesshoumaru wanted to believe that, but he saw what happened when you turned an indifferent eye. In his mind, his mother's face - all sharp planes and angles - superimposed over Kagome's delicate, round features.
He would never be indifferent again.
"I will help you destroy the Shikon no Tama." Sesshoumaru spoke suddenly.
Kagome stopped sobbing long enough to look up at Sesshoumaru with questioning eyes. "How do you know what it's called?" she asked quietly. He was both pleased and worried that she did not sound suspicious of him. Too naive, too trusting...
"It has borne many names across time, and held many masters, although none can truly own it. The only way to end your suffering is to destroy it."
A plan began to form so quickly in Sesshoumaru's mind it frightened him. Names of old legends began to flit across his memory, a list of stops they would have to make, and allies that would be willing to assist them. Sesshoumaru wasn't supposed to be so good at remembering these things. He had abandoned that lifestyle centuries ago, opted to merge into human society, learn their ways, how their minds worked and all those mundane things to make him forget his true nature.
Now, being The Demon Lord of the Western Lands was the only thing that could save Kagome Higurashi from an untimely death at the hands of the Shikon no Tama.
"So…you'll help me?" Kagome whispered, and beyond the fog of hopelessness, Sesshoumaru thought he saw a spark of those familiar dancing blue eyes.
Anything for his favorite student.