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Help me...

Dream of a woman.

Help me, child of Earth and Fate...

Dream of a woman, with silver-grey hair, garbed in old-fashioned clothes of delicate pink and tea rose, flower petals raining down around her.

He is killing me... You are the only one who can hear my voice and understand...

Dream of a woman, eyes shadowed by curving bangs.

I beg you...

Dream of a woman, pale, delicate fingers twining around my own large hand, pressing it to her chest as her other hand trails perfect nails down my cheek, tracing the line of my jaw, around my neck, back through my hair.

I command you...

Dream of a woman, her lips, as she raises them to meet my own, bright, scarlet red, the color of fresh blood.

Come to me...

Dream.

I'd woken up this morning feeling no more rested than when I'd gone to sleep. Images of the woman amidst the sakura petals had woken me on and off throughout the night. I had no idea why; I hadn't been particularly thinking about sakura trees yesterday, much less women asking for my help. I frowned slightly, and sighed, leaning up against the oak behind me, relaxing against its enduring strength. Little as I want any role in the battle going on around me, it's a part of me that I can't deny, the price of the gift with which I was born--and I suppose that might mean some strange dreams from time to time. But a sakura tree...?

"Kusanagi-san!"

Her voice, bright and cheerful, broke me out of the haze of weariness enveloping me. I looked up to see her dashing up to me, a sunny smile on her face, the young Inuki bouncing after her in midair. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt a smile pulling at my lips in return as she stopped, catching her breath. Straightening after a moment longer, she beamed up at me, then blinked, tilting her head.

"Kusanagi-san, are you okay?"

I smiled at her while inwardly marveling at her perceptiveness. "It's all right, ojou-chan, I just didn't get to sleep until late last night, that's all."

Concern, then hesitation shadowed in her warm brown eyes, always so open to her every emotion. "Are you sure you should be out then? I could let you get some sleep..."

For a moment it was tempting, but I couldn't ignore the disappointment in her eyes. In any case, as the end of the year drew closer, carefree days like this would grow more and more rare--and there was no guarantee that both or even either of us would survive...

Inuki bounced up onto my shoulder, the cold nose in my ear drawing me out of my foreboding thoughts. Pushing them away with my weariness for another, more desperate day, I smiled at her reassuringly, reaching up to scratch the inquisitive inugami between the ears. "Don't worry about it," I said lightly, grinning down at her. "If I went back to the barracks now, they'd probably just put me to work anyway."

She frowned in mock disapproval, but the light was back in her relieved eyes as she faced me, hands on her hips. Who would have thought someone her height could stare anyone down?

"They'd better not work you too hard!" she exclaimed firmly. "Or we'll come to rescue you. Ne, Inuki?" She tossed an impudent wink at her companion, who yapped excitedly.

I laughed, the last vestiges of tiredness gone, and looked down at her. "I'm sure you will."

It came out gentler, softer than I'd intended. I could hear it hanging in the air, see it in the way she stilled, eyes widening, pink spilling across her cheeks. For a moment, we stared at each other, the world flowing around us unnoticed. Her eyes were like velvet, I found myself thinking, so soft and deep. It served to snap me out of it; I smiled, she echoed it, and the moment was past, one more shared memory between us in our eyes as we both laughed.

"I'll warn my commander about it," I told her, chuckling still, and loving the sunshine in her giggling, the determination in her nod.

"Warn him Yuzuriha Nekoi will have a word or two to say to him if he ever works you so hard it keeps you from coming out!"

"Speaking of," I said warmly, nodding at the waiting streets, "shall we? The day doesn't wait for the idle."

She nodded again, enthusiastically, and, pushing away the lingering fragments of the dream, I followed her out of the park.

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More to follow as I slowly work out pacing. The title is a working one; I dislike its plainness, so any suggestions are welcome. (As it is, there's a sarcastic, niggling part of me begging to tile it, "Look! X Het!" *coughs, squishes sarcastic part*) I have several other fic projects I'm working on at the moment--the Angelique one, the Phantasy Star one, and ideas for a Nakago/Hotohori fic that have been plaguing me, as no one seems to be able to nail the pairing in my eyes. Fushigi Yuugi will always be my baby anyway, although I never thought I'd be writng horrifically uncanon yaoi fics for it. -_-

In any case, I'll work on this as time and inspiration allow--it may be slow going until I work out some plot points between here and Kusanagi actually MEETING the Sakura. Speaking of, does it have a name aside from, 'the Sakura Tree'? It's called the Sakura Barrow in some translations, correct? Is there a Japanese term for it? I know I said Subaru would be in this fic eventually, and he probably still will show up at some point, but last night, Fuuma decided to horn in on the role and inform me of how much better he would be for the part. Stupid Not!Kamui.

Er. In any case, feedback is very useful in fueling inspiration.