Remember, Man, as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you shall be
Prepare for Death and follow me

- Tombstone inscription

I wrote this fic in a flash of inspiration. There simply aren't enough Bleach fics out there with Sajin Komamura (you know, the anthropomorphic fox guy) and his lieutenant, even though there is incredible potential to develop their characters further. I'm fond of writing obscure stuff and so this piqued my interest, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. This fic explores Komamura's personality and outlook from Tetsuzaemon Iba's POV and is rather introspective. I've tried to keep it fun or at least digestible though.

Warnings: No sex or violence, but rated K+ due to deep philosophical content that younger children may find harder to understand.

Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo.

The lone figure sits perched on a rocky outcrop. He says nothing; so the only sound I can hear is the endless wind as it whispers by the ancient boulders and stirs the dust at our feet. My captain has never been talkative, and today is no exception. After a few more minutes of meditation, Sajin Komamura removes his helmet and turns in my direction.

"Iba, will you follow me?"

I nod wordlessly from where I sit at the base of the rock, and get up to accompany my captain. It took me several days to get used to even maintaining eye contact with him, back when I first became his lieutenant. Apart from his bipedal stance, not much of Komamura appears human; and it took me a long time to learn to look past the piercing golden stare and gleaming fangs to speak to the person within. Perhaps that was the reason he spent more time confiding with his old friend Tousen and had little to say to me. Looking back, I could hardly blame him for being distant towards a lieutenant who had trouble accepting him for who he was. After Tousen's betrayal, he often visited the grave of blind captain's unnamed friend and talked to Hisagi Shuuhei when he was also there; and the halls of our division grew more silent than ever.

But at some point, the silence must have become too much for even him to bear; and Komamura finally began to confide in me. First we talked about simple things, like what we liked to eat or do in our spare time. Then we shared our thoughts and personal experiences; and again, I needed time to understand how growing up as an outcast shaped Komamura into the man he is now. But this time, he was more forgiving and tolerant. Finally we shared our philosophies, and he opened my mind to the world as it was seen through the eyes of a beast.

No matter how much he disguises himself amongst humans and shinigami, my captain is a beast. Not a beast as in a slavering, savage monster; but a beast among men, observing and partaking of their interactions and daily lives with a mind that was alien but understanding; and inscrutable yet compassionate. It shocked me to learn that in a rather perverse way, Komamura actually liked being an outcast despite being resentful of being treated as one. Having always taken my species (and that of my companions) for granted, it seemed very illogical; until he began to teach me otherwise.

He would summon me to meet him among the boulders that sat atop the hill in the centre of our division; huge monoliths that had been carved and eroded into strange, eldritch shapes by ancient winds. Often I would find him crouching on one of them, his clawed hands planted firmly in contact with the rock surface, and his eyes shut in meditation. Eventually I asked him why he always sat like that, and he said that it was how he used to practice magic when he was alive in the human world – by talking to the stones. I found his explanation confusing since kidou does not work that way, but he only shrugged and said something along the lines of 'old habits die hard'. We left it at that.

Finally, he would check that I had brought my zanpakutou with me and we would depart for the human world; just the two of us, to perform soul burials. I used to wonder why he never travelled with any of our squads on these trips and I soon learnt the reason. The places we would go were far removed from the usual shinigami haunts; where few humans lived and fewer still died. Sajin Komamura walked a path that few could hope to follow, and I was honoured to be considered worthy of the task.

Today we shall visit the human world again, and I wonder where he will take me this time. But first we must retrieve Komamura's motorcycle.

Yes, you heard me right... Komamura has a motorcycle. By his own frank admission, he is the bulkiest and slowest captain in the Gotei 13, having never flash-stepped in his life. The vehicle compensates for this to a large extent; and the seat is large enough for me to ride pillion. We go to the large shed on the other side of the hill and open the door, revealing the amazing contraption within.

Sunlight gleams off the chromed, backswept handlebars and sleek, bronze-and-azure casing of an honest-to-goodness, custom-built Roadog XII. The vehicle is five metres long, with a front suspension fork taking up nearly two metres of the length. The rear suspension is equally robust. The titanium-alloy frame is largely encased, and a full fairing protects its gargantuan rider from the effects of wind and rain. Despite its enormous bulk, the Roadog is a mere sixteen hundred pounds in weight and surprisingly agile. It has no engine or fuel tank. Fuelled by Komamura's own enormous reiatsu, the sturdy bike was made to be ridden by a beast, like a beast.

Saddlebags large enough to contain a grown man hang from either side of the rear wheel. My captain opens one of them and places his usual ceramic helmet inside, and instead pulls out a safety helmet; again custom-built to fit over his huge snout. He hands me my own helmet – an ordinary one by human standards. He takes off his captain's cloak and folds it, placing it in the other saddlebag to keep it clean. Reaching into the bag, he takes out a close-fitting white leather vest emblazoned with the number '7' on its back and dons it over his kimono instead. We clamber on and the Roadog erupts from its shelter at a hundred kilometres per hour; in almost total silence.

I cling to and press myself tightly against my captain's waist, trusting his control over the Roadog completely. Any shame I would otherwise feel about doing so is overshadowed by the knowledge that I am the only shinigami apart from Komamura himself who has ever ridden the giant machine as it tore down alleyways and jumped over prettily-manicured Zen gardens; to the surprise and envy of my friends. The first time we passed him, I even risked releasing one arm to wave at Ikkaku Madarame and had the pleasure of watching his stupefied expression as the Roadog sailed through the air about fifteen feet above him.

Now my captain lets out a howl of exhilaration as we accelerate up a ramp and become airborne. At the peak of our trajectory, we enter the portal and the human world that lies ahead.

Invisible to the human eye, we can gleefully flout most traffic laws; leaping across the roofs of buildings and darting between human vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. Despite the speed at which we travel, our destination is often remote and the trip can take hours. I will therefore use the time to tell you about trips we have made in the past; when Sajin Komamura took my hand and led me to walk with him; down the path of the Beast.

A/N: The Roadog is a real vehicle…you can look it up on Wikipedia; and the only thing that I can imagine will comfortably take Komamura's bulk. The Roadog in the story is a clearly a fictional and highly improved version though; since the last real Roadog prototype (the Roadog II) hasn't seen action since the 1970s.;) I don't have much familiarity with motorcycles and any technical details in the story are the product of impromptu online research, so please forgive any really awful errors…or contact me with suggestions on how to make it better. :)