Title: Dreaming

Author: MsJadey

E-mail: slashingmsjadey@hotmail.com

Description: Sano is plagued by dreams, and his life begins to fall apart. He knows he could fix everything by fulfilling the desire the dreams represent, but what can he do if he is unable to remember what they're about? Minor humour, angst, loads of sap, and shounen ai.

Archive: Promised to the SaiSa archive. For all others: you want it, you ask, and you got it.

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: strong language; sexuality; violence; character death

Disclaimer: The titles of the second and fourth parts are taken from songs, which belong, respectively, to Cat Stevens and Michael Card. The end of chapter two was inspired in part by Monty Python. The characters, setting, and canon background belong to Watsuki-sensei; I hope he never finds out what I've done to his boys.

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Author's Note (not essential and sometimes weepy):

This note is mostly about the changes to the format for those who've already read this fic, as well as a brief apology and explanation from the one major flaw I've been unable to really correct for all the make-overs. For the format, I originally wanted three parts and seven chapters, with three chapters in each of the first two parts and two in the last one. However, as things went along and story evolved (more on that later), that format no longer properly suited the story. Instead, what was once part one: chapter one has become part one: prologue, and all of the been bumped back one (was two is now one, was three is now two, etc.). The parts make a heck of a lot more sense (part one is the introduction to the situation, part two is how Sano deals with the first problem, part three is how he deals with the second problem, and part four will be the conclusion) and will stay this way.

Now, some people have already noticed this, and anyone who starts reading this fic right now will as well. The continuity and flow between chapters is horrendous. Most of my re-editing was directed at easing this problem as much as possible (and it was another reason for the part rearrangements), but I'm still not totally satisfied. The problem has arisen for one hard-to-reconcile reason: there are massive gaps between chapters because there were massive gaps between when I wrote the chapters.

Now, sometimes the gap was intentional (like between part two and part three) for stylistic reasons, but otherwise, in the months between when each chapter was written, I went through major progressions in my understand of the characters, writing abilities, and desires for this fic. It shows. Hopefully, my plan to avoid this ever happening with future fics will succeed.

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Part One: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Prologue

March 1879 - 11th year of the Meiji Era

Sanosuke awoke and found himself sweaty, shaking, and sticky. "Fuck!"

Despite how angry he was, Sano kept his voice low enough to avoid disturbing the neighbourhood. An irate mob bursting into his shack would only make the situation more embarrassing.

He peeled the thin blanket off his legs, and fumbled around in the dark for his pants and jacket. After the first night he'd woken like this, months ago, Sano had learned to sleep naked--it was cleaner in the long run.

After hurriedly dressing, he wrapped up the blanket, slipped out the door, and jogged barefoot down the empty street. He cursed to himself under his breath, but still maintained the silence of the sleeping city; even the rowdiest drunken gamblers passed out by five in the morning.

When Sano reached a secluded part of the riverbank, he dumped the blanket, and then his clothing, into the water. Joining them, his mind raced with thoughts and emotions. The dreams had been happening for almost a whole year. At first, it had only been once a week, but now, almost every night his rest was disturbed by embarrassing, passionate dreams his memory couldn't recall once he woke up.

It was not as though erotic dreams were new to him--he was a proud, red- blooded male after all--but they had never been so persistent or mysterious. Occasional fantasies at age fourteen about pretty and naked girls were one thing, but night after night of burning and intense dreams barely remembered upon waking, that could be about his grizzled old hag of a landlady for all he knew, was another.

Sanosuke cleaned the semen off of his legs and groin first, before taking the blanket and rubbing it as clean as possible, then doing the same for his clothes, ridding everything of all traces of sweat and seed. After finishing the chore, he tossed everything onto a flat rock to dry when the sun rose. Then he dove back under the water for a swim, to pass the time until he could return home.

The dreams were having a terrible effect on his life. His constantly interrupted sleep forced Sanosuke to go to bed earlier, forsaking drinking and dice. He'd also begun napping in earnest, not just when there was work waiting at the dojo. Actually, after he'd started spending most of his visits to the small school dozing in the sun, the worry of his friends over his apparent narcolepsy had gotten so irritating he rarely went over to call on jou-chan, Yahiko, and Kenshin anymore.

He missed them greatly and hadn't given up their company altogether, but he made sure his visits were all in the late afternoon, before his new, self- imposed curfew kicked in, but after he'd gotten through one or two naps.

Despite the amount of sleep he regained by his efforts, it was all poor quality, blinks in which time passed, and he was almost more tired when he awoke.

Now Sano spent most of his waking time brooding, or with Katsu. His friend knew something was bothering Sanosuke, but was sympathetic enough not to pry. Katsu spent enough of his own time brooding that he must have assumed they both had the same reasons for a dark attitude.

But Sanosuke knew it wasn't the state of the government or even his constant fatigue that depressed him; it was the continuous feeling of something missing from his life.

At first, he'd assumed it was the loss of adventure, of fighting, that had left a hole. But he'd realized boredom was only part of the problem. He decided the key to understanding his problems was in his dreams, which must be trying to show him what he missed in life. Unfortunately, he didn't understand their message, or the form in which they chose to deliver it.

It wasn't the sex he missed, he was certain. That had never been a focal point in his life, and nothing kept him from it now but the dreams themselves, as they sapped his enthusiasm for the act. He couldn't imagine a person who would inspire such fantasies and longing either; almost everyone he cared for was still with him, and those that weren't, he wasn't sexually interested in anyway. Sanosuke could understand dreams being an insight into the mind, but he was confused about why his were this particular kind of dream.

Sano did know the dreams were about a person, the same person as well, a mysterious stranger. He also remembered there was something odd and important about the person, but he could never recall what it was. He worried it was something so terrible that he was suppressing his memories on purpose. He would be horrified to learn he was dreaming about jou-chan, who was like his sister. Or Yahiko, a small child and a boy.

Of course, if he was as far gone as to be dreaming about a male--an intriguing possibility he both was and wasn't altogether comfortable with-- he could just as well be harbouring any kind of bizarre lust. Sano considered his infatuation might centre on Chou, the aggravating broom head from Shishio's forces. Or his estranged father, or Kenshin, or even the glorious emperor of Japan himself. Perhaps he was even narcissistically fixated on himself, endlessly fantasizing lewd and erotic variations on masturbation.

He realized the possibilities were too diverse and disturbing to be true. Something else was causing his forgetfulness. He wondered if he was afraid, or just horny.

Sanosuke dragged himself out of the river, exhausted and aggravated by his circular and unproductive thoughts. He put on his dried clothes quickly, and tried to convince himself the problem would go away if he exercised at little more willpower over his subconscious. He would go insane if he had to keep doing this every night and morning, but the dreams weren't showing any sign of going away on their own. They were pleasant, at least. He smiled; indeed the dreams were very pleasant. If only he could remember more than just general leftover emotions instead of specific acts, the whole thing would be much less frustrating and almost enjoyable. Providing the dreams weren't actually about Chou.

Sano ran a hand through his wet hair and grimaced as he realized he'd forgotten to take off his bandana and now it was soaked. He was tiring of spending his day damp; mildew was becoming a concern.

Folding the blanket and tucking it under his arm, Sano headed back to town to spend another day with Katsu. He promised himself that tonight he would sleep all the way through, no dreams at all. It should be easy, because he was tired enough for it. All he needed was stronger resolve, and a little bit of luck.

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