Chapter Seventeen: A Troublesome Dream

Well, I haven't updated in a long time… I didn't have any Internet access to speak of this summer, so I'll blame the wait on that. (I always have an excuse, don't I? O.o How dreadful.)

Disclaimer: I don't own Inu-Yasha.

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"Can you walk," Kagome asked gently. "We should probably get out of this swamp if at all possible."

There was a short silence while Sesshomaru considered her proposition. "Very well," he said at last, raising himself up into a sitting position. "I am able to walk. Let us head for the trees at the edge of the swamp. It is not far."

"Okay," Kagome agreed. "Do you need help?"

Sesshomaru looked at her skeptically; one eyebrow raised. A fascinating person Kagome Higurashi might be, but he certainly had not become so weak as to actually accept help from a human.

"I can manage on my own."

"If you're sure…"

"I am."

Sesshomaru got to his feet in one fluid movement, and began walking before Kagome could even blink. She stood up shakily, and followed, staying a few paces behind.

Kagome felt lost looking at the demon that was walking before her. He was quite a puzzle. She had always thought of him as cold, heartless, and distant, but he was proving to be much more than that. In fact, if Kagome was honest with herself, he had proved during the battle to be exactly the opposite. Maybe you just have to get to know him, she thought. I wonder how many people really do know him… probably not many.

Kagome shivered from the cold, and pulled the slightly damp jacket that she was wearing more tightly across her chest. She felt completely wretched. The situation that she found herself in was terrible. Due to a combination of the cold wind, and her damp clothes, Kagome was beginning to feel ill. On top of that, Sesshomaru was still injured, which was perplexing. Kagome suspected that, under normal circumstances, his wounds would have already healed. After all, several hours had passed while she had lain unconscious. She also had a gnawing suspicion that the fact that he wasn't already recovering was her fault.

Being a miko, she decided, is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. When my purifying arrow passed by his body it probably threw all of his demonic attributes out of whack. Kagome clenched her fists involuntarily, and let her head drop down so that she was staring at her feet.

"If you are in pain then we may stop briefly," Sesshomaru stated, looking over his shoulder at her wilting form.

This remark startled Kagome from her thoughts, and she looked up, letting her eyes meet those of her companion. She nodded once, quickly, before returning her gaze to her feet.

Kagome sighed. She should be pleased that her quest had come to an end, but for some reason she could not be entirely happy about it. She missed her friends, and would be glad to see them again, it was true…but every time she looked at Inu-Yasha she felt as though she was betraying him. All she had accomplished by falling in love with him was to make both of their lives more difficult.

Stop it, she told herself sternly. You need to stop worrying about the past and the future, and start worrying about the present. You're going to get sick if you don't do something to prevent it now.

She felt better now that she had another goal, even if it was a minor one. Kagome sped up; reaching the place that Sesshomaru had indicated they could stop at the same time as the demon.

They were nearing the edge of the swamp, and the place that Sesshomaru had picked for them to rest at was surrounded by small trees. In the center of these were several rocks that had apparently been big enough not to sink completely into the muddy ground. Kagome picked one, and sat down upon it gratefully, while Sesshomaru chose to remain standing, but did so on a fairly mud-free patch of grass.

Kagome blew on her hands and rubbed her arms, trying to coax a little heat back into her cold limbs. She was wishing now that she was less clumsy. If she hadn't tripped then she wouldn't be covered in wet mud. Of course, if she hadn't tripped, then she would probably be dead. Kagome supposed that she would be muddy in either case, and so she decided to focus on something else. She should probably eat something, but she wasn't feeling very hungry.

After a few minutes of pondering, Kagome realized that Sesshomaru was looking at her very intently.

"Is something wrong," she asked nervously. Sesshomaru immediately turned his head to look at his surroundings. There was a long pause before he spoke.

"…You said that you were not injured, and yet you do not seem well," he said, raising his eyebrows, and turning the statement into a question.

Kagome was amazed that he had noticed anything, and was immediately annoyed with herself for it. I need to stop thinking of him the way I used to. He picks up on a lot more emotion than Inu-Yasha does. I have to remember that.

"I'm fine," Kagome told him. "It's just that the battle made me think about some stuff. That's all."

"Indeed," Sesshomaru replied, turning his gaze to rest on her once more. Kagome knew that in his own subtle way, her companion was asking for an explanation. She didn't give one.

"You are not 'fine,'" Sesshomaru decided, convinced by Kagome's unspoken refusal to talk that something was definitely amiss. "We shall stay here till morning."

Kagome opened her mouth to tell him that she really was okay, but Sesshomaru was already seated on the rock opposite her, and she shut her mouth. He probably needed rest as much as she wanted it.

Kagome pulled a thin blanket out of her knapsack and spread it out on the rock. What a lovely bed this makes, she thought grimly as she tried, unsuccessfully, to make herself comfortable on the hard stone.

Finally she got into a position that, while not comfortable, was not wholly uncomfortable either. It was probably the best she could hope for. Kagome began to concentrate only on her breathing, and was soon asleep.

……………….

Sesshomaru was doing something that he had not planned on doing for at least another week: sleeping. His training master would definitely disapprove. As it was, his training master would never know, and Sesshomaru didn't sleep long enough to feel any guilt about the matter. He was woken by someone saying his name.

"Sesshomaru," Kagome mumbled, pulling on her blanket.

The demon opened his eyes and looked at the girl from the future with the slightly confused air of one who has just woken up, and has a feeling that he should be doing something, but is not really sure what it is. He inhaled slowly; trying to discern what creature was in the area that meant them harm. He sensed nothing, and just as he was about to drift back off to sleep, Kagome said his name again.

"Sesshomaru isn't…such a terrible…person…really…"

Sesshomaru's eyes snapped open, and his eyebrows skyrocketed. He sat up quickly, and looked over at Kagome in disbelief, blinking rapidly, and trying to clear his foggy vision. This had to be a dream.

"Dunno…jus' a feeling…but I think…he's actually…a good person…"

Yes. It was definitely a dream…but whose? Sesshomaru looked over at the girl's still form, and realized that she was the one who was asleep. He shook his head slowly. What Kagome had just said had been the single strangest thing that he had ever heard about himself.

"This is ridiculous," Kagome said forcefully, a frown briefly appearing on her face. Sesshomaru silently agreed.

"You two need to stop…fighting." Kagome trailed off, beginning to slip back into a deep, dreamless sleep, but then—

"INU-YASHA, SIT," the girl screamed, sitting up abruptly, and nearly making Sesshomaru fall off of his rock with her sudden volume.

Kagome blinked, and looked around. Her gaze fell upon a very disgruntled looking demon. Sesshomaru was staring at her with a look of uncharacteristic shock upon his face.

"Um," Kagome began, feeling rather confused herself. "Did I say something?"

Sesshomaru shook his head vehemently. "No," he replied. "Not a word. Who is Inu-Yasha?"

Now it was Kagome's turn to look surprised. Her cheeks began to turn a light shade of pink, and she put one hand on her mouth, swallowing hard as she did so.

"I was talking in my sleep, wasn't I," she asked, her tone one of complete horror. "Oh no. Um. Er. What did I say?"

The demon blinked at her. "'You two should stop fighting.' Also 'Inu-Yasha, sit,'" Sesshomaru told her carefully.

"Anything else," Kagome prompted, her tone worried, and her face full of embarrassment. Not much fazed Sesshomaru, but he was looking slightly flustered.

"No, no," the demon answered quickly. "Nothing else. Who is Inu-Yasha?"

"I don't think that I should tell you," Kagome said, her cheeks burning.

"Why? Who is he?"

Kagome had never heard Sesshomaru ask so many questions at once, and it was making her extremely nervous.

"Just someone I know," she told him. The demon across from Kagome continued to look at her curiously, but he had begun to regain his composure, and was no longer asking questions faster than she could answer them. "Oh dear," Kagome sighed. "He's someone that I normally travel with. A half-demon. He has these prayer beads around his neck, and whenever I tell him to "sit"—because of my miko powers I guess—he has to follow my command. It makes him crash into the ground," she explained, her tone apologetic.

"Is that who you were talking to," Sesshomaru inquired, now in control of himself once more.

Kagome hesitated. "Well, I'm not sure. I don't really remember the dream…but yeah, I'm pretty sure that I was talking to him and to…someone else." Kagome stopped, and broke eye contact. Suddenly she spoke again, more loudly this time. "Always fighting! It used to make sense, but now I don't get it! I don't understand why…the other person…hates Inu-Yasha so much…"

"You do not seem to know much about this 'other person,'" Sesshomaru noted. He didn't know what Kagome was talking about for the most part, but he knew that he had been in her dream. Despite his training, he was curious, and didn't think that it could possibly hurt to ask questions, especially if they were quite obviously not about him. "What is this person like?"

"Um. I, uh. Well. I guess…he's strong," she said at last. "He, um, doesn't talk much— except to throw insults at Inu-Yasha. He's really fast…and…um. I don't know, really. I've always thought that he was heartless, but I'm not really sure about that anymore."

"Mm. Maybe he has a reason for hating this 'Inu-Yasha.' Are you able to think of one?"

"You mean, like, does Inu-Yasha have any annoying personality traits? If that's what you mean, then, boy, does he ever! He's a complete idiot, and he's always getting himself into dangerous situations! He doesn't use his head; he just jumps to conclusions and starts fighting. Plus, he's got this ego problem. You know what I mean," Kagome said, talking quickly, and waving her arms expansively. "He acts like he's so superior sometimes, and it just drives me insane! And another thing! He can't make up his mind about anything! He's a two-timing jerk!"

There was silence for several seconds before Sesshomaru spoke.

"It sounds as though you dislike him far more than his enemy," the demon said, although he was looking at her speculatively.

"Well, no, of course not! I mean, he's got plenty of good traits too…he's a really great person, it's just hard to tell sometimes. You just have to get to know him…"

"Indeed."

Kagome decided that she didn't like the way that Sesshomaru was looking at her. It was as though he had figured something out, and it was probably something that she hadn't wanted him to know.

"I think…I'm going to go back to sleep," she told him. "So…um…goodnight."

Sesshomaru did not reply, and Kagome slipped quietly back into her dreams, leaving her demon companion alone with his thoughts.

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Thank you to everyone for not killing me when I didn't update! You guys are really patient…thank you, thank you:) I hope that this chapter was good enough to post…I felt like Sesshomaru was going way out of character, but I suppose that he wasn't any more OOC than in the last chapter. Gah, it's hard to write about him! Erm…so…what do you guys think? Is he totally OOC? I need major help on his character…(I think?) Anyway, constructive criticism is great, as are random comments. Thanks again for being awesome and actually continuing to read this!

Maybe when I'm done with this fic I should re-write it and make everyone more in character…but to do that I need to determine which parts the characters act most OOC in. I've been writing about them so much, and rereading what I've written so often, that I can't tell any more. I know I already said this, but it's been really bothering me! O.o

forthright- Thank you! So glad that you're enjoying those moments…they're the ones I've been worrying about, so I'm happy to know that they aren't completely dreadful.

acrazychild4life- I'm glad that you thought it was worth the wait! I'm so sorry that this one was such a long time in coming…

som spazed out puerto rican- Lol, thanks! Does she trip in a lot of fics? I guess it sort of fits her. xD

NekoYasha101- Gah, I didn't update quickly. Sorry, sorry! Anyway, as always, I was glad to hear from you. I know, poor Sesshomaru must have been so confused when she met him for "the first time" in the feudal era that she knows and didn't recognize him.

Golden-Eyed-Girl- Heh, heh. I'm sure that I have no idea what you're talking about. Ahem. Thank you, and I'm glad that you liked the last chappie!

mangadreams- O.o Wow. I wish that I could have updated more quickly, if only for you. You rock! THANK YOU so much!

Angel Inu- Well, this is a SessKag pairing… :) Glad you liked it!

codename ayame- Heh, thanks lots! The dark lords have restored my internet connection, and now it is only a matter of time until the next chapter comes out. Mwa ha ha! xD

Esk42- Yay, I'm glad that you liked the Inu-Taisho and Izayoi part! Gah, I know…OOC Sessh. I'm worried too. You know, next time I really need to write the whole story, and then post it. I think that would help a lot. As for this story…yeah, we're blaming any OOCness on his being a child. (Thank you for telling me that you thought he was getting OOC… I write so much—my own stories, not just this one—that sometimes it gets hard for me to tell, you know?)

golden-kitsunebi- I am so happy that you think the relationship is going well! Thanks lots!

EverD- Sorry I was slow! Thank you!

Shadow of Darkness 22- Wow, thank you so much!

zookie78- Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long…

SnowAngelYuki- Not a problem. (Good to have you back—I hate computer problems…) By the way, thank you for checking out my poems! (Next part added later) Whoa, I had two reviews from you that I hadn't replied to! O.o Cool. Thank you for the poem compliment—I'm really new to the whole thing, so I really appreciate it! The next poem that I write will definitely rhyme, just for you. :D Thanks so much!

shadow miko- Forgive me! I just got your email and everything since I couldn't use the net…argh, sorry that I couldn't post!

aninaig- Sorry for the wait! I know you hate it… Thank for the suggestion—I'll try to add more detail if I write another fight scene.

Silverstar871- Were you really? O.o Thank you so much!

drow goddess- Thank you! Hope that it continues to live up to expectations…

Sesshoumaru Crazy- Thank you so much! I'm sorry for the long wait!

sesshyfanchick- I'm so sorry for the wait! I am still planning on finishing this story in case you were doubtful, but I had no internet connection for what seemed like forever…so now I finally get to update! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

demonlover- Heh, somebody isn't especially fond of Inu. xD Thank you so much!

himiko-chan- Thanks! Sorry for the delay…

bluerosepunk- xD I'm an evil fruit cake? Sweet! Literally! (Har, har — I am the master of stupid jokes.)

TaiyoukaiNichne- Thanks so much! I've been trying hard to keep the characters in character, so that means a lot.

littlekittykat- xD

ancient-relic- Thank you! Sorry for the long wait!

hentai18ancilla- I'm glad that you like it:)

Fluffy'sMate17- Thank you! There weren't many descriptions in this chapter, and I hope that didn't bother you… Sorry for the wait!

Midnight Faerie- xD Sorry for the wait!

BlueMoonedTigriss- Heh, your wish is my command. Poof! Another update! ;)

Many thanks alsoto tearsofthefallen, HeroInTheShadows, Daisukesvixen, SoulessxWarrior, Megumi-san, abc, Jessica Broward, If I say I love you, Cloud Inu, ClearBrooke, SaBrIeL of the MoOn, Shadow Eclipse, Kaismyprincecharming, noali, L.m KiTsUnE, ra, Sapphire Midnight. BluesDaughter, Kawaii Craziness, bmk, and anonyms! I'm sorry for not replying to you individually, but what I really wanted to tell you all was "THANK YOU!"