Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or its characters. They are the sole property of Takahashi Rumiko.

Title: Dreaming
Author: EtherealCrescent
Characters: Kouga/Kagome
Summary: The only thing worse that mistaking dreams for reality is mistaking reality for dreams.

He hoped he was merely dreaming. He didn't want to have to increase the dosage on his medication for the fifth time, it already made him nauseous. No matter what remedies he'd tried over the centuries; medicine men, leaches, chanting, or whatever else the humans had come up with, the hallucinations always came back. Apparently these pills would be no different, he sighed. He might have something to talk to his psychiatrist about after all. He walked up to her like he always did. It didn't matter if it was a hallucination or a dream, he was still unable to resist taking pleasure in the falseness of it all.

"How are you?" Kouga asked expecting the vision to fade into nothing and for the bystanders to stare at him with confusion. Eventually they'd realize that yes he actually was crazy and give him pitiful stares. He'd simply walk away until he blended into the background like everything else. It was a script that he had gotten use to after some time.

To his surprise she turned around shocked. It was then that he noticed some differences. She was older, maybe in her late twenties in human years, and she wore different clothes. Her girlish figure was much more womanly and her bright innocent eyes seemed dimmer than he remembered and he remembered her perfectly, she was haunting him after all. For a moment he was slightly relieved. He wasn't hallucinating. In his hallucinations she was always perfect, it was only in his dreams where she'd sometimes change.

"Kouga-kun!" She screamed reaching to surround his torso in a hug.

She almost sounded elated. 'What trick is my mind playing on me now?' he thought while giving the dream girl a half-decent hug. He'd only really hug the real Kagome. But she was long gone.

She began asking questions and smiling at him with that imitation smile. He half-heartedly answered them and wondered when he must have fallen asleep. Did the pills have drowsy side-effects? He couldn't remember. He had changed prescriptions so many times that he couldn't even tell one pill from another, much less what side-effects belonged to what.

She asked what he had been up to since the last time she saw him, and if there were any others left. He decided that he might as well indulge in the dream while it was still good. He knew that it would eventually turn into a nightmare. Somehow she'd disappear, leaving him alone and it'd be painful for him all over again. It would be like she was leaving him for the first time even though she left him every night. The sun would come up and he'd awaken to soggy pillows. He'd cry and mourn her loss everyday for the rest of his life. She'd be taken away from him in his dreams the same way she was taken away from him in real life.

He explained to dream-Kagome about how he'd asked Inuyasha about her after Naraku had been defeated but that all Inuyasha would ever say was that she was gone. Kouga explained how at first he thought she'd merely left Inuyasha and realized that they were meant to be together. He'd waited for some time but she never came. Then he'd searched night and day for many years, knowing that she'd just gotten lost. At first his pack followed him but then it was only Ginta and Hakkaku. It wasn't until Ginta had finally convinced him that no human could have lived as long as he'd been searching that he'd started looking for her grave. After many years of that even Ginta and Hakku had disappeared, and then he was alone.

He explained to her how when he never found her body, he'd convinced himself that she was still alive for a century. It was then he'd begun seeing her in the corners of his vision or smelling her scent lingering in rooms that he knew hadn't even existed at the time he knew her. He told her about when he finally came to terms with her death and his never-ending search for a cure for his… "condition". And finally he told her that he honestly didn't think there were any others left but that he hadn't really paid that much attention to it over the years. The only thing he didn't tell her about was the nightmares he'd had every night since she'd went missing. He didn't know how kindly dream-Kagome would take to finding out she didn't exist and he didn't want her to disappear just yet.

Kouga listened as his dream girl cried and apologized for leaving. He listened as she explained about a well that went back in time and how it had stopped working after she'd wished away the Shikon jewel. He listened and wondered how many more excuses and apologies his mind could come up with for dream-Kagome to share with him in his nightmares. It was true that this one was a new excuse but she always won him over and she always went away again.

This dream was lasting so very long, Kouga thought to himself. They were dating, he and his dream. Everything was so perfect. They had been to movies and restaurants and she'd even held his hands and kissed his lips. She claimed she never would have imagined she could love someone more than Inuyasha but that somehow it had happened. He smirked to himself. She was saying everything he'd always wanted to hear. His dream was setting him up for the worst let down in the morning. If he didn't already know that he was dreaming it would have seemed like two years went by before she asked him to get married. He'd allowed it mostly because they'd been married so many times before anyway. All the things he'd wished for centuries ago and all the things he always dreamed about, he was dreaming of again.

He was sleeping with his dream. As he gazed down into slightly dimmed eyes and a slightly older face, he moved inside of her like he always did. He tried hard not to fall into her too deeply, he knew if he did he'd never come out of this dream unscathed. She moaned out his name the way he always wanted but he refused to call her who she was only pretending to be. He gave her as much as she wanted but never as much as he'd wanted to give the real Kagome. When he finally finished spilling into her, it ended the way it always ended. These were always the least favorite parts of his dreams. It wasn't fair that she had never wanted him this way, and he'd remember that whenever he woke up. 'I'll be so hurt when I wake up' he thought in his head as she cuddled up next to him.

She was having his child, his dream was. He now prayed that the nightmare part wouldn't come yet. He'd only gotten to see their child one other time in a previous dream and he longed to be as falsely happy as he'd been the last time. But when she brought his son into the world he didn't cry and he tried hard not to get attached. 'He'll leave me when she leaves me…' he explained to himself, ' they'll both be gone when the sun comes up.' So when their dream son died at 3 years old he didn't mind it too much. He also didn't mind that dream- Kagome didn't want to have any more children because of it. 'Me and the real Kagome never got to have children' he remembered.

"You're dead!" he screamed at her one day. She had given him an 8th anniversary present and proclaimed that they'd be together always. He couldn't take the torture anymore. He didn't know when the nightmare part was going to come and he didn't know how much longer he could take not getting attached to her, this fake Kagome. "Do you think I'm a fool?" Kouga asked her. "Me and the real Kagome never got to be together!" He tried hard to get her to understand that it was all fake and that he needed this dream to be over. He had to leave before everything was taken away from him again. She was too perfect, too close to real.

She tried to insist that she existed and remind him of the years they'd spent together. She cried, begging him not to leave her, claiming that she'd be a better wife. Kouga laughed. "You're the one who leaves me everytime!" he yelled. " We live together, love each other but it's never real, you're never real." His voice cracked and his resolve faded away. He cried hard. 'She isn't real. Don't let her make you believe she's real. It'll hurt more in the end' he begged himself.

Nothing was the same after that. She'd ask him frequently if he was alright, if he remembered her. And he'd always say yes , that he was fine and that she was his wife. But he never brought up her nonexistence ever again. Time went by and he gave her everything she wanted except for what belonged to the real Kagome, his love.

And then the nightmare part came. Dream-Kagome became ill and it kept getting worse. It wasn't long before they found out she had cancer. She joked that it must have been all that jumping through time that gave it to her. 'Kagome never jumped through time' was all that Kouga could bring himself to think.

She lay on her death bed speaking to him about how happy she had been in their life together. She said that she regretted her choice about not trying to have another child because she wished that he didn't have to be alone after she died. Kouga smiled reassuringly at her and declared that she had nothing to regret. Everything would be okay. 'You always leave me alone at the end.'

Kouga was there when she took her last breath. He whispered to her before all consciousness faded away for good. "You were my favorite dream" he tried to tell her before he was sure the sun would come up. There was a lingering look of protest in her eyes before the machine that announced the state of her life, flat lined.

'I never really loved her' he reminded himself before he allowed any real tears to fall for someone who wasn't.

And then he waited for the sun to come up so he could awaken and not cry mourning her death for once. So he could feel like he wasn't a fool for falling in love with a dream.

But the sun never came.

And Kouga cried himself to sleep every night hoping that it would.

Author's Notes: