The Fox

Izuru dragged his feet across the wooden floor boards leading up to the 3rd Division headquarters. His sandals made flat shuffling noises in the silence at the late hour of his return. The stationed guards saluted the 3rd Division lieutenant as he opened the door and walked towards the dayroom of the headquarters. He was exhausted, and the latest vision hadn’t helped at all.

You’re looking in the wrong place…

The words still rang clear in his head as he opened the door with a bit more force than needed, his frustration unwillingly leaking out. He was expecting an empty room to clear his mind with a good book, but instead he found himself facing a startled Rangiku almost falling off the couch in surprise.

‘R-Rangiku-san?’ Izuru questioned with wide eyes.

‘Oh hiiii’ she answered, ending her sentence with a yawn and a wide stretch.

‘What are you… doing here? It’s late. Very late.’

‘Oh, I just…’ She yawned again. ‘Needed a drinking partner. And you were out, so I made myself comfortable and had a drink on my own.’

The bottles scattered all around sure told that story... It was a good way to escape Captain Hitsugaya’s reprimands. She yawned and stretched like a sleepy kitten, having the content face of one. How the hangovers always eluded her was an eternal mystery to Izuru. He sighed and plopped on the couch next to her, resting his elbows on his knees. His whole figure just sunk, his eyes down into the ground.

‘What’s up with you?’ Rangiku asked, her tone more mature and less playfully sleepy.

‘You’ve been gone for a few days, at least that’s what one of these pups told me when I asked.'

‘Yeah, I needed some time off to clear my mind.’ He didn't want to open the subject of his dreams with her.

There was a short moment of silence in which Rangiku looked him over, one of the rare moments she allowed herself to be completely serious.

‘Well… It doesn't look like it helped much.’

‘No, it didn't help at all. On the contrary, it got worse.’

He sensed the frustration and torment surfacing again so he tried to bite them back.

‘Nothing that a little bit of alcohol can’t help’ she chimed, suddenly lifting a sake bottle from the foot of the couch. ‘I got plenty to split!’

Izuru laughed. ‘What about you? What’s got you drinking tonight?’

Rangiku’s face suddenly became serious as she lowered the bottle. She had the guilty face of someone not having expected to be caught.
Izuru had just tossed that in, however her reaction spoke more than he had expected to hear.

‘You first.’


She folded her arms and upturned her nose. Izuru sighed.

‘Fine… I’ve been having… Nightmares lately. You know that.’

Rangiku made a discontent face as she leaned closer to Izuru.

‘That’s it? I was expecting something interesting. A lot of us have been having nightmares, but I guess that comes with age and the things we’ve seen. Psh…’

She took a swig of sake from the bottle as if to temper her annoyance, but to Izuru it seemed more like she was trying to drown out something.

‘One of them was different.’

The bottle paused on her lips for a bit as the ash-grey eyes turned towards Izuru, bearing a light frown.
Taking a trembled breath to calm himself before all else, the blonde spoke again.

‘Gin was in it.’

The bottle fell from Rangiku’s hand as the grip on the neck loosened. It caught in her hakama then rolled onto the ground, making the loudest noise in the room in that one moment. Looking at her expression, Izuru felt like he should have jumped off a cliff instead. Her eyes were wide and petrified, and her breath seemed like it had froze in her lungs.

‘I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Forget it. Forget I ever said anything.’

The sudden grip on his collar surprised him, the force and determination behind the now fierce steel gaze surprised him even more.

‘Tell me.’ A tone of desperation, clinging to something intangible. But in that moment of closeness, that desperation that he could see in her – and that he himself felt inside – suddenly made the intangible become solid as stone.
He wrenched her clawed hand from the front of his shirt calmly – as calm as one could be while forcing a cat to withdraw her claws from her prey – and looked at her while he spoke.

‘He came to me in a dream. He said he didn’t know how he appeared there but he did. In the dream we were in a green orchard somewhere, so I…’

He paused. It was hard to admit, mostly to himself, then out loud that he had been silly enough to chase a dream such as that. And yet Rangiku was drinking his words with such diligent attention that it urged him to continue.

‘I went to look for it. And I searched everywhere I could think of but I could not find it. I was close to giving up and closed my eyes. I must have fallen asleep because I saw him again, and he said I was looking in the wrong place.’

‘It can’t be…’

She looked away, a scowl nesting itself on her pretty features.

‘And it probably isn’t. It’s just a dream. A stupid dream and I’m stupid enough to go chasing after it’ Izuru sighed painfully, his hands sliding over his face.


His hands were yanked away from his face and this time Rangiku latched onto the front of his shirt with increased strength and determination, her face so close to his he could feel her breath.

‘It has been haunting me for months, Izuru! Months! I can’t remember the last night I slept peacefully without it tormenting me, teasing me, always keeping just out of reach, just at the tips of my fingers! It comes closer and closer and closer each time and then runs away just before I touch it. It’s playing with me, I know it!’ Rangiku cried, her voice a mix of choked down crying and angry gasps.

‘What?! What has?’ Izuru asked angrily.

He couldn’t say what was making him angry, whether it was her not denying his visions but enforcing them with more hope, or his own helplessness. Maybe it was both…

‘The fox!’

‘What?’ Izuru questioned, making a confused face upon the incomplete answer.

‘The fox…’

Rangiku’s voice died out into a whisper then silence. Her eyes were staring fixed over Izuru’s shoulder. He slowly turned his head and his eyes widened as much as hers. The door was open. And in the doorway stood a silver-furred fox, its three tails swishing slowly as it tilted its head at the two soul reapers looking dumbstruck at it. It had the most mischievous expression, one that painfully reminded the both of them of a familiar face.

Where were the guards? Why was none of them reacting to the creature standing right at the entrance of the dayroom, bearing an eerie glow? And then he noticed it. Behind the fox, in the moonlight, shone not the yard of the third division, but a thick collection of trees and tall grass. An orchard.

Rangiku leaped after it, but the fox seemed merely amused as it swished around and disappeared in a whirl of smoke, taking the orchard with it. Rangiku’s outstretched hand met only thin vapors as she crashed onto the wooden floor, crying overtaking her as she sobbed into her sleeves. A young boy peered curiously through the door, wondering what the racket was all about. An older division member joined in, alerted by the noise.

For a few seconds, the boundary between dream and reality was the most difficult thing to set for Izuru, but it quickly fell into place like pieces in a puzzle at the hands of a sharp mind. And he wouldn’t brag about it but he had one. He stood from the couch and passed Rangiku, standing in the doorway between her and the curious soul reapers.

‘She just had a bit too much to drink. Resume patrolling’ Izuru ordered, taking his Lieutenant role.

‘Yes, sir!’ the two young men saluted and went about their way.

Izuru closed the doors and turned back to Rangiku, who was sitting on the floor looking at him shamefully.

‘I’m sorry… I must’ve had too much to drink after all, I’m starting to see things!’ she laughed it off awkwardly, running her hand through her now messy hair.

‘Rangiku… I saw it too.’

Her eyes widened once more as it became clear that it had not been just a hallucination, or just a nightmare. They had both seen it.

‘What do we do?’

‘We wait. It will come again.’

Sooner than you think…

The whisper was like a cold finger dragged over the back of his neck, more like a feeling than actual words. He rubbed the back of his neck to get rid of the chills.
Rangiku nodded slowly, wiping her tear-stained face with a dry patch of her sleeve.
The fox would come again.

As in all her dreams, it would always come back.