I don't own these characters.

Between Sleep and Awake

1: Dreaming

Soi Fon awoke with a start, panting and sweating, as she shot up from her small, drenched pillow. Her wild hair was stuck to her forehead and the back of her neck thanks to all of the sweating that she had been doing while sleeping. Chest heaving, she panted, as if trying to suck all of the air out of the room.

Silver eyes scanned the area, taking in her surroundings and attempting to figure out what was going on. Darkness blanketed what she was certain was her room. Being on high alert, she made sure that she was the only person in the room. Everything seemed to be in order, which did not explain why she felt like she had just swam a marathon while being submerged in bliss.

Wiping her damp ebony bangs from her forehead, she tried to calm her breathing. She was having trouble getting her lungs to obey any orders from her brain. She was panting so badly that she felt like clawing at her yukata to get it off, as if that would ease the pressure in her chest. She needed air, in more ways than one.

"I need to get out of here…" she muttered to herself, shaking her head and stretching her limbs. Everything felt so tight and somewhat disgusting, even though deep down, there was something more that she refused to acknowledge.

Her pale skin was sticky, but felt like it was on fire and she needed to cool off. The captain ripped herself from her futon to go step outside for a moment. She was hoping that there would be a cold breeze to put out the inferno raging inside of her. An inferno brought on by a dream.

"What a dream…" she breathed out the comment, sounding almost impressed by the vision.

Soi would rather not think of the dream, but the image was currently tattooed to her frontal lobes. Her brain would be stuck on it for a while to come; she knew that for a fact. It was not the first time that she had had such a dream, but she thought that she was over them.

"I should be over them. I'm not some hormonal kid anymore…" she growled, a hard frown settling on her face. "It's been so long since I've had these nonsense mental slips. I have grown up and out of this nonsense. I have gotten over all of that. I have," she tried to assure herself.

Of course, it was hard to believe that she had gotten over anything if she was having such dreams and then having to try to talk herself into believing that she was over anything. Shaking her head, she tried to come up with a reasonable explanation for what she had concocted in her sleep. She was over things, so there had to be some other reason for her to have such a ridiculous dream.

"Maybe I ate something bad…" Soi considered as she rubbed her stomach and marching toward the door to step outside. The hardwood floor barely made a noise under her feet as she walked across the room.

Mentally, she went through the things that she had eaten that day. She had not had much dinner, as she never did. What she did have seemed fine to her. Nothing tasted differently than it usually did. The same could be said of her breakfast and she had not had lunch, so she did not understand why she had had such a dream. Well, the reason for the dream couldn't be blamed on food if everything was normal in that area.

Relief washed over Soi like a cool spring as she stepped outside onto the veranda. A soft sigh escaped her lips as the crisp air hit her inflamed flesh, passing through her light sleepwear of a plain white yukata. Her body was able to relax slightly thanks to the breeze. Taking an breath, the humble scent of the night helped put her at ease just a little more.

Yes, this definitely seems much better, she commented to herself. Wiggling her toes, she found that even the cold wood beneath her felt soothing. It was like she was being caressed by the night air, calming her down quite a bit and taking the edge off of her soul. I might even be able to go back to sleep at this rate. Taking another deep breath, she ran her hand through her drenched hair, noticing how much she had sweat.

"I might have to take a cold shower too," Soi mumbled to the dark, wiping sweat and hair from her pale brow. But, for now the nighttime wind was going to hold her while she tried to figure out why her mind kept bringing up such images. "What if I'm under some sort of magic spell Yes, maybe someone that is proficient in the arts used some spell and was making me see such haunting things?" She frowned at the thought that someone might have actually used magic on her without her noticing. "What kind of captain does that make me?" she growled. "What kind of warrior does that make me?"

Thinking on it for a moment longer, she was able to shake those thoughts away because it brought on too many strange questions. What type of spell would make her see such things? Why would a spell be making her see those dreams? Who would know to make her see such things? How would someone be able to bewitch her and she not notice? Maybe it was just an accident of a spell. There were too many possibilities there and it was not a simple solution.

Maybe it was her body acting up from something else, she considered. What if she had been poisoned? Her frown deepened at the thought.

"Damn it, what if that sick bastard Mayuri was experimenting on me? I'll kick his ass all around the Soul Society until he gives me an antidote and then I'll keep kicking his ass when I'm sure cured and I'm sure he's sorry and won't do anything so stupid again," she proclaimed, making a tight fist and staring at her balled up hand. She needed an antidote if that was the case because thanks to those dreams, she had not had a full night's sleep in a long time.

In truth, Soi did not sleep much, but the sleep that she did get, she honestly needed. She had not had her usual four hours since… that fight. She did not want to acknowledge that that had something to do with her current sleepless nights. Nope, she was over that, so the fight certainly was not the reason, she silently assured herself.

The silver-eyed captain turned her eyes to the moon, shining bright in the midnight sky and she almost had a mental slip. She almost thought of her. She nearly wondered if she was under that same moon, which might have actually brought the captain some comfort if she allowed the thoughts to sneak into her mind. But then again, the thought of her being under the same moon might have so frustrated her somewhat, just like the dreams. After all, she was examining every nutty notion that came to mind except for the obvious one, which involved her. And she was going to keeping trying to avoid that elephant in the living room if it was possible because she wanted to believe that she was over that.

But, in reality, underneath it all, and in a dark place at the back of her mind that she pretended did not exist, Soi knew that she could not be totally over it. After all, she had collapsed in tears after losing the battle, so it was hard to believe that she was over it, no matter how many times that she told herself otherwise. She just wanted so badly to be over it because she was aware that if she was not, there was only more agony and heartache waiting for her. Like most people, the Second division Captain liked to avoid pain and suffering if she could.

Soi wanted to believe that she had learned her lesson from the first time. After all, she had pledged that woman her life, heart, and soul. She had asked for nothing in return really, except to be near her. Such a little thing in exchange for everything that made up who she was and what had she got in return for all of her loyalty and everything else? She was abandoned like a forgotten book or a useless trinket or a shoe that was outgrown. Her jaw tensed as she thought about it.

She would rather not go through that again, but it seemed that her mind and body had not learned its lesson yet. Her heart was back up from the knockout, looking to go another round, but she was not going to acknowledge that. She was throwing in the towel for her heart before it got killed in the ring. Her heart was not accepting that, though.

"Yoruichi-sama…" Soi whispered to the wind and then she covered her mouth with her hand as if she had just said the worst thing in the world. "Damn it," she muttered and then decided to just ignore that she had even said anything. No, that name had not just escaped her lips, she promised herself.

Casting her cool metallic eyes away from the moon, she found blame in it for making her do such foolish things. The glowing disc hung silently in the air, not accepting or denying fault, merely mocking the slender woman with its presence and the possibility that it was bearing witness to the one she longed for. Dull clouds passed by overhead, hiding her from the moon's gaze and she decided to take her leave while the bothersome heavenly body was no longer gawking at her with its disrespectful stare.

Soi's shoulders, usually tight and square, were currently slouched ever-so slightly as she started back toward her room. She was not sure what she would do once she was back there, so she turned around before she even got to the door and decided to go for a walk. She was ready to do anything that would keep her awake a little while longer, not wanting to admit to herself that she actually liked her dreams and would not mind going back to sleep if it meant more of the same. A subconscious part of her mind accepted and welcomed those delightful haunting specters that visited her almost every night now.

"I need to occupy my mind before I dare go back to that room," she stated.

On her walk, she did not take in anything around her really. She knew the place well enough to know what she was passing as she stepped off of the veranda, without anything on her feet. She started down a stone path, which went through a lush garden that she never took in during the day and was not going to bother with trying to appreciate at night. The clouds in the sky parted, bringing back the irksome moon, which she ignored. Insects and rodents were out, scampering about the place, but she blocked out any noise coming from them. She was just trying to concentrate on getting her mind together. She was failing.

Wandering never helped matters. While walking around in the dark, Soi's mind typically traveled further than her feet could ever imagine going because her mind usually went right where she did not want it to go. Yoruichi

"Damn it," Soi muttered again as she realized that she had thought of her again. "Get out of my head," she demanded of her former master, even though she knew that was not going to work. "And get out of my heart…" she whispered in despair, her eyes feeling suspiciously wet. Roughly, she rubbed her eyes with her palms, hoping to dispel all emotions from them as well as her body altogether.

Unfortunately for her, Yoruichi was in Soi Fon's head and underneath her skin. It was like Yoruichi was a part of her, infused with ever nerve in her body. Whenever her mind wandered, she thought of the older woman. Some memory always came back to her if any of her senses were triggered. Yoruichi haunted her, crawling through her soul like some spectral tape worm.

She itched for that woman and dreamed of her at night, refusing to admit that only left her hungering for more. She had sworn that she was over it, but after fighting with Yoruichi and seeing the cocoa-skinned woman again, she had learned otherwise. She wanted so badly to be over it, to stop feeling the way that she did since she knew that the intense emotions were not returned.

The feeling was doing nothing for her, but making it impossible to sleep and driving her insane since she now thought that the moon mocked her by existing. She needed to get her head back together and for that to happen, she needed to stop thinking about Yoruichi. Good luck on that, her mind seemed to laugh at her.

"I can get over Yoruichi-sama. I've been without her for a whole century and I've done fine for myself. I hadn't gone crazy and I didn't commit suicide or something else extreme. I've been fine without her and I can go on being fine. No problem… right?" Soi seemed to be asking herself that question, so she decided to answer it. "Of course, I'll be fine. I made it this far without her and I will go ever further without her," she promised herself in a strong tone.

How hard could it be? It was not like she was going to see Yoruichi again anytime soon. That knowledge in and of itself should be enough for her to stop acting like some lovesick kitten, like before. Except, it actually had not been enough before considering the fact that she was right back where she started over a century ago. Damn it, why's this all so complicated? She did not know and it did not help.

The ebony-haired captain sighed and held her face in her hands for a little while. "Just stop thinking about it. This isn't going to help getting over her, after all, so just stop thinking about it," she ordered herself. She repeated those words over and over again in her head, like they were her new mantra in life.

She continued on walking when she was certain that her commands were being obeyed. Once she felt like everything was going to be all right, she returned to her room. She laid back down in her futon, hoping that she could get another couple of hours of resting while her mind was clear.

-8-8-8-8-

Soi Fon woke for a second time as far as she knew. There were a couple of key differences on her second time up, though. She was not covered in sweat now, even though she was underneath a blanket and she knew that the air in her room was usually very still, which made it hot a good deal of the time. She was about to sit up when she noticed the next thing wrong with her, which was that she was nude. Her milky skin was just on display under the thin, black cover over her, causing her to yelp in surprise. The noise caused her to take notice of the final difference between her first time up and now.

"You're awake, huh?" an amused and very familiar voice said, making Soi turn to her right.

"Yoruichi-sama!" Soi Fon practically squeaked when she saw the cocoa-skinned female sitting right next to her. She gulped hard when she saw that her former master was just as naked as she was. If it were possible her silver eyes would have fallen out of her skull and rolled out of the door. A scarlet blush then invaded her whole body, but since she was covered and it was dark, it was hard to see.

"You were expecting someone else?" Yoruichi inquired with a playful grin tugging at her lips. Her golden eyes sparkled with mischief and delight in the shadow-covered room.

Soi opened her mouth to respond, but closed it quickly because she was not sure what to say. She was not expecting anyone, after all. She did not even know what the hell was going on!

"Um…Yoruichi-sama…" Soi trailed off because there were so many questions to ask and she was not sure where to start. It did not help matters that she could not think straight with her former master sitting there naked as the day she was born and acting like it was completely normal.

"Hmm?" Yoruichi hummed the sound as she eyed Soi like a stalking cat, just waiting to pounce on her prey.

The pale captain could not help gulping again because of the purple-haired woman's hungry expression. She figured that she had better pick a question and quick before she found out why she was being looked at as if she was the main course for a late supper. She decided to go with the obvious first.

"Yoruichi-sama, what are you doing here?" Soi inquired in a small, almost timid voice. Her eyes focused on the blanket covering her, mostly to keep her from getting distracted by such tempting cocoa skin.

Yoruichi laughed as if she had been told a great joke. "I'm here to see you, of course," she answered as if it was obvious.

Soi's molten silver eyes went wide with that response and she was certain her heart stopped for some very precious seconds. She was incredulous to what she was hearing. She would sooner believe that the world was flat than her former master had actually come to see her and nothing more. No, no, no, she wanted to know the truth.

"Seriously, what're you doing here?" the captain asked again, now sounding a bit more sure of herself.

"Hmm… I wonder," Yoruichi said, still grinning that crooked smile of hers and she leaned over to Soi, apparently uncaring of their current state of undress.

Soi clutched the blanket to her as if it would act like a shield, not sure why she needed the protecting, but holding it just the same. The cover did not stop Yoruichi's advance and she pulled up to the point where she and Soi were nose to nose with each other. Yoruichi tilted her head slightly to the left and Soi made very sure not to breathe. She was not sure why she was holding her breath, but better safe than sorry, her mind commented.

"What am I doing here?" Yoruichi echoed, purposely pronouncing the words hard, so that her lips almost came into contact with Soi's mouth.

"Th-tha-that's wha-what I ask…" Soi stammered in a mumble, peering down at Yoruichi with some fear in her eyes.

"I told you the answer. I'm here to see you," Yoruichi answered smoothly.

"Really?" the Chinese woman inquired in disbelief. Her voice sounded much like the squeak of a mouse because she could feel the heat coming from her former master, not to mention she could feel Yoruichi's breath right on her face. It would have been absolutely sweet and pleasing to her senses if only she was not feeling so anxious.

"Really."

"Why?" Soi asked, her voice still tiny and her eyes remained locked on the mouth near hers. For some reason, she did not trust that mouth to remain on its best behavior. Of course, she did not trust her own mouth much either.

"You're gonna make me think you don't want me here if you keep this up. You don't want me here, little bee?" Yoruichi countered, leaning in just a little bit more as if she was going to touch her mouth to her ex-bodyguard. She then pouted as if she was genuinely hurt.

Soi could not even figure out what she wanted to say. A lone bead of sweat ran down her pale cheek. She gulped for what felt like the umpteenth time because of the space between her and Yoruichi, or the lack there of anyway. Her throat had gone dry, so she did need the gulp that she took. She began trembling uncontrollably because of her nervousness with the whole situation.

Yoruichi noticed the shivering and decided to comment on it. "You're shaking. You must be cold. I'll warm you up," she volunteered in a low, sultry tone. Her expression was utterly devilish as she made that offer.

Soi was about to object, but she was not fast enough; that was the story of her life when it came to Yoruichi it seemed. She was practically tackled by the chocolate-skinned female. She yelped something that sounded like her former master's name as she fell back, but Yoruichi did not respond to her verbally. The playful female did answer in a surprising way, kissing Soi gently, but deeply. Soi was shocked into stillness for a moment. What the hell is going on! Soi screamed in her head.

Once Soi's brain rebooted, she returned the sweet embrace. Damn the answers, her mind said. She needed to just enjoy the delightful experience that was going on. She closed her silver eyes as a slow, heavenly feeling crept through her system starting at her lips and working its way down her body. It all felt so wonderful.

"Yoruichi-sama…" Soi whispered cutely as the older woman pulled away. Her eyes remained closed, sealed thanks to the passion in that kiss.

"Believe me now, my little Soi?" Yoruichi asked and her voice alone to Soi Fon that the violet-haired warrior was smiling.

Soi Fon could only nod; her brain did not know any relevant words to answer the question at the moment. Yoruichi chuckled, thinking that the fair-skinned woman was just too adorable. The sweet sound caused silver eyes to drift open and Soi was surprised by what was staring back at her. Soi could practically see her former master's thoughts on her from the sparkle in Yoruichi's golden eyes.

The violet-haired female leaned in for another fiery kiss and Soi pretty much surrendered to her right then and there. Dark arms wrapped around Soi's petite form, pulling her closer to the place that she desired to be most, held by Yoruichi. The blanket dropped between them, forgotten for the night.

-8-8-8-8-

Soi Fon shot up from her futon again, panting heavily, her chest rising and falling as if there was a pump being pressed behind her ribs. Her breath was coming out as if she had run a marathon without taking time to catch her breath. Once again, she was sweating, her hair and pajamas now sticking to her as if they were her own skin. There was something more than that she had discovered once she shifted her thighs uncomfortably.

"Oh, come on, from a dream?" Soi groaned in disbelief when she realized that she was covered in more than just sweat. She felt like a horny teenager thanks to that.

Soi flung her covers from her body as if they had insulted her and then got up to go take a cold shower; it was a necessity now. Frowning, she glared down at her traitorous body for so freely and willing giving into delusions of her rotting mind. Things were now at a completely embarrassing level.

"This isn't even hormones. This is insanity. I've lost my damn mind, all to her," Soi snarled. "Why the hell is this happening? How the hell can I stop it before it gets any worse? What if it does get worse? I can't take this anymore."

She could not believe what she was going through and she was honestly glad that no one knew. Talking to someone about it was out of the question too. The last thing she needed was for it to get out that she was like a perverted schoolboy. Even her fellow captains would tease her about it and no underling would ever respect her again.

"I have to deal with this myself."

She had to stop having those dreams soon, she ordered herself. It was just embarrassing and they were not doing her any good. She was going to overcome those dreams, she silently vowed. She was going to get over Yoruichi if it was the last thing that she would ever do.

-8-8-8-8-

Next time: Yoruichi is in Soi's room. Is it a dream or is it reality?