Alright; this is the sequel to Sick Days- if you haven't read Sick Days, you are going to be absolutely positively lost. No way around it. For those of you who are continuation readers ::cheers and bows:: thank you very much for joining my in the rest of the story. This part is laying foundation so bear with me- I'm in new territory and praying I don't sink. This time Sesshomaru plays more of a role and for all intents and purposes, let's pretend that Sesshomaru looks like his anime counterpart- not the manga. I'm trying to keep his personality…::sighs:: Anyway! Hang on tight, this is gonna move fast! Enjoy everyone!           

                Divided We Fall Part 2: War on the Horizon

                        War on the Horizon

Inu Yasha led the party through the unfamiliar terrain. Behind him, Miroku, Sango, Shippo and Kagome picked their way through the path the hanyou made, dodging low branches and walking carefully over tree roots. The little band had been trooping around the country side for the past three days, all in search of Shikon shards. So far, their hunt had been fruitless. No rumors of shards, no stories of rampaging youkai had reached them, nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. The only thing they had to show for their efforts was sore feet. Moral was extremely low.

    "Inu Yasha, can't we stop?" Kagome called. She had been holding her own the entire trip, lugging the huge ruckasack she packed all her gear in everywhere without complaint. She and Inu Yasha had barely spoken together, each 'conversation' ending on a sour note with matching tempers. The dark haired girl was surprised at this; considering how odd the days prior to the trip had been- and since Kagome had had nothing but oddness in her life for the past year or so, said days had to be in the deep end of 'odd'- Kagome had thought that Inu Yasha would have been talking to her more. Preoccupied with that unhappy thought, she missed the root in front of her and tripped, landing painfully on her face and knees.

    The hanyou heard Kagome fall and it took more self control than was pretty not to run to her side and help her. Inu Yasha didn't trust himself around the girl lately- every time he touched her- was near her- he wanted to hug her, to kiss her,  to touch her in very not okay ways; all the while knowing she'd let him without understanding why. When he wanted to sleep was the worst; with Kagome below or near by, he wanted to curl up with her under her sleeping bag, or possibly sneak off to the hot springs together… He felt his lips twitch as they tried to form that damn goofy grin he'd been catching himself doing every time he entertained his fantasies. When Inu Yasha did sleep, it was awful. Memories- if that was the correct word- flooded his dreams, memories of her body, of her scent. The feel of her skin against his, her body moving in time to his thrusts-God anymore of it and the hanyou felt as if he would explode! In defense, his anger had appeared and he had become a very grouchy hanyou, snapping at people and repressing any affection for Kagome.

    Kagome reappeared, standing painfully with a hand from Sango. Shippo hopped onto her shoulder, said something that made Kagome laugh and step over the offending root. Inu Yasha stood still as stone, frowning as he watched the kitsune and girl. He caught the scent of blood and looked Kagome over critically- she had a shallow scrape on her chin and cuts on her knees. She winced slightly when she walked but didn't complain.

    "We'll stop here for a few minutes to rest," Inu Yasha snarled. "We'll never make it anywhere with Kagome limping around." The last had a bite to it that made Kagome frown angrily.

    "Well thank you, your highness." She snapped at him. "I'm so thankful you granted us permission!"

    "Feh!" Inu Yasha jumped into a tree and soon disappeared from view amongst the leafy canopy. The others watched him go and found an area to rest in while Kagome cleaned her wounds. Miroku bandaged her knees with gauze from her med kit and put a Band Aid on her chin. Shippo kissed the bandage lightly and then sat on the floor blushing. The humans stared at him a second and then Kagome laughed.

    "A kiss to ease the pain, huh?" Kagome picked the boy up, ruffling his hair and running her hand through the soft fur of his tail.

                "Something my mom used to do." Shippo muttered, embarrassed but enjoying the petting.

    "My dad use to do it too when I was little." Kagome said, trying to explain it so Sango and Miroku would understand. "Whenever I came home from school or playing with a scrape, my father would put a Band-Aid on it and kiss it to make me feel better. 'A kiss to take the pain away.'" The priest and demon exterminator nodded, now understanding the concept.

They smiled and in the peaceful moment that followed, Inu Yasha decided to come back to ruin it. "Come on- there's a village up ahead and we can ask the locals if anything strange is about." He took off at a faster pace. With a groan everyone got up and hurried after his retreating form.

    My feet were so sore I was ready to drop by the time we settled down for the night. We were in the house of a very grateful lord- Miroku had worked his magic and 'banished' a dark cloud hanging over the mansion. I laid out my sleeping bag, Sango doing the same with a barrowed futon, and changed into my pajamas. The boys were in another room waiting for the all clear sign from us girls. While traveling, we always slept within easy reach of each other- too many enemies in the Warring States period could sneak up on you otherwise. It was an annoyance but also had a comforting effect to it- on one hand, there was no privacy, on the other however, there was always someone to watch your back and keep you safe. It was a trade off like everything else.

    Sango and I called the boys in when we were ready, settling down under the covers for the night. Shippo crawled in after me and I hugged him loosely against my chest, listening as Miroku and Inu Yasha settled down. I curled up and one hand left Shippo to massage my feet under my covers; lying down had eased the pain but now they were aching and I didn't know which was worse. I lay awake in the darkness, night sounds all around me and couldn't sleep. The most irritating thing was that I couldn't wait to go to sleep; I had to check in with a friend and I could only talk to him in a dream.

        Shippo fell asleep and rolled over, moving away from me and resettling by my head. With him gone, I moved onto my back, sighing as I stared at the ceiling. I began counting the tiles, figuring that I'd bore myself to sleep if all else failed. For the past two or three nights, I hadn't seen Taomaru in my dreams but that didn't mean he wasn't around. Even though he hadn't appeared, I knew he was living up to his word and patrolling my dreams for any signs of the dream youkai that we had fought while I had been sick.

To make a long, mostly unrememberable, story short, about a week ago I got sick and then Inu Yasha had gotten sick when he had become human. A dream eating youkai had found its way into my dreams, causing horrible nightmares that scared me silly. The dream youkai had then gotten into Inu Yasha's dreams and attacked him while I met Taomaru- a wolf dog youkai I had inadvertently dragged into the fight- and figured out what was going on. Along the way we ran into Sesshomaru, of all people, and then I had had to deal with a lust driven Inu Yasha in reality- Confused? Yah, same here. In the end, we had won though, and life had returned to normal- or as normal as it ever got. Because we didn't know if the youkai was alive or dead, Taomaru had volunteered to keep an eye out for her in my dreams and warm me if the bitch was in the area.

    I felt my eyelids drift shut and my mind become foggy as it drifted off to sleep. I needed to talk to Taomaru and I could only think of one way to guarantee an encounter. Dreams were fickle things- there were so many theories surrounding them that no one knew what caused their subject matter. The common assumption was that the last thing you saw or thought would dictate the contents of your dreams.  "Taomaru." I whispered, just a breath above silence as I fell asleep.

    I opened my eyes and was in a balcony overlooking a forest landscape. I smiled, breathing in the fresh air as I leaned against the railing, enjoying the sights and sounds below. I heard someone settle beside me, their arm brushing mine as they too looked at the view.

    "Hi Taomaru!" I said, turning to look at him and smile. "Nice to see you again." The youkai smiled down at me, his bronze eyes lavender tinted. He was human- or as human as any youkai could get- except for his ears which were wolf-like and sat near the top of his head. His slender tail snaked around and curled around my waist; his version of a friendly hug. The first time I had met him he'd been in a form between human and wolf, walking around in a pair of baggy boxers. Today he wore a rather casual kimono, forest green with a pale bronze belt and decorations. The design on his sleeve was like the one Sesshomaru had on his sleeves and reminded me of the similarity between the two.

    "Hello Kagome," he said. "How are you tonight?" His voice had an edge to it, not sadness or loneliness but somewhere in between.  As I looked on, the lavender tint in his eyes was replaced by gray.  He blinked and looked out at the landscape again.

    I blinked. "I came to say hello." I paused and took his arm, squeezing it briefly before loosening my hold. "What's wrong? Why so depressed?"

    He started and when he looked at me his eyes had highlights of orange. He opened his mouth, closed it, and blinked. "Depressed? How?" He pulled away from me, looking unsure. "I am not depressed." He said flatly.

    "And I'm the queen of Sheba." I took his arm, pulling him back inside the castle and into the room the balcony was attached to. "Come on, big guy, you can tell me." I hadn't planned on having to stroke his ego but I owed him one so a little ego stroking would be forgiven.  After all, I wanted him to smile, not be sad.

    He sighed, a long breath of air he must have been holding. "How is it that you can read me so well after knowing me for so short an amount of time?"

    I shrugged. "Talent. Now tell me what's wrong." I gave him a quick hug and sat down on a pile of cushions that stood nearby. Taomaru joined me, sinking into a soft downy pillow. His shoulders slumped and he looked as if someone had stepped on his puppy; an interesting metaphor considering who I was talking to.

    "I am wondering if I'll ever wake up." He said after a minute of silence. The youkai promptly keeled to one side and fell onto more pillows. His face was turned toward me as the rest of him laid fell backward to lie on his back.

    "Wake up? What do you mean wake up?" I asked, confused. Wondering if he'll ever wake up? But, everyone woke up from a dream eventually, didn't they? You couldn't not wake up unless you went to sleep and died. I felt my eyes widen at the thought. "You aren't dead are you?" I asked, shocked.

    "What? No! I'm not dead." He snorted and looked at the ceiling. "I am very much alive, sort of- just not awake."

    "You're alive but sleeping?" I frowned. "Why are you sleeping so long?"

    Taomaru smiled but he didn't seem happy. "A story for another time perhaps. Tell me, Kagome, how did Inu Yasha react when you returned to his time?"

    My brain stalled at the sudden switch of subjects but I finally answered. "He and I haven't had a decent conversation the entire trip. Before you ask, we haven't talked about the dream mesh or dream eater youkai. When I returned I found out that everyone had paid a visit while I was sick and found Inu Yasha and I sleeping together." I blushed a bit and sighed heavily.

    "Uh oh; what happened afterward?"

    "I came back to find a very angry hanyou, who wouldn't come near me, trying to kill Shippo. The latter had been teasing and yelling at Inu Yasha all morning and night apparently. Combine that with light teasing from Sango, Miroku, and Myoga and you get a homicidal hanyou." I sighed again. "I had to talk to them all while Inu Yasha went to cool off and ask them not to tease him anymore. Thankfully, they all agreed and haven't said anything since." Secretly I was waiting for one of them to get angry and bring it up to set Inu Yasha off. So far, only he and I seemed unable to get along though I have no idea why. I had to admit, even if it was just to myself, that it hurt that he wouldn't touch me or talk civilly with me. "You would think that after everything that happened, he would have been more kind."

    Taomaru tapped my nose and brought me back to the dream. "Ouch." He said, smiling. "Rough time for you huh?"

"No kidding. He doesn't remember and I guess it's good I don't remember when awake either- otherwise I'd probably kill him." I sighed. "That reminds me; you said to end the dream mesh we all had to be back in our personal dreams. How did you find Sesshomaru's when you've never met him?"

    "He led me. We actually went back to the castle the youkai and I fought in and went out to the backyard. There was a huge garden there and he simply wandered out into it. A little girl popped out of no where and latched onto him. I was forgotten and they went off to play hide and seek, I think."

    "The little girl was Rin, I bet. Did she have dark hair, about five or six years old?" Taomaru nodded.

    I grinned. "Yah, that's Rin. So Sesshomaru went back to his dream, you found yours and Inu and I were in ours… But what I can't figure out is why Sesshomaru was there at all. I mean, he and I have a bad relationship- mainly because he tries to kill his half brother whenever they meet. Why would he be there and helping us?"

    "Been on your mind a while, has it?" Taomaru sat up, moving slowly as if it hurt. "Well, I hold no sure answers- just possibilities. It is possible that it was just a fluke, a one time thing that you'll never see again. It is possible that some part of Sesshomaru's personality is linked to you through Inu Yasha and can sense when you're in danger. The last could make him more emotional and prone to giving into those feelings." Taomaru shrugged. "I have no idea."

    I felt myself begin to wake up and the dream wavered. "Got to go. I expect a story tomorrow and an explanation." I looked at him steadily, meeting his bronze eyes with no problem. He blinked and nodded, showing me he understood. I leaned forward and kissed his forehead lightly as I woke up. I expected to open my eyes and see the room I fell asleep in, the others spread out on the floor. What I got was my candle lit bedroom.