A/N: Did I mention something, somewhere, about indulging myself?


She scares the life out of him.

He attributes the anxiety he feels to post-traumatic stress. What else are you supposed to feel after months—years—of emotional chaos and physical disorder? He is a war hero. He is a man of distinction among his vaulted and powerful colleagues. He has pushed himself physically and mentally to the brink of insanity and come away from it, not unscathed, but intact.

But peacetime is an adjustment in itself. As he works diligently in the cavern that used to house Central 46 he sometimes sees the flicker of a black tail from the corner of his eye. Startled, he'll scan the room with bright and almost feverish eyes. Shunsui, who is just sober enough to be semi-alert, will look at him curiously and ask if he needs to see Unohana-taichou.

Juushirou will take a breath, rub his brow tiredly and tell him no.

On the way home the air will be thick with imagined black fur and a hint of breath that smells like fresh milk. Juushirou will walk slowly, bones braced for the inevitable attack. Surely it must be coming.

But it does not, and when he arrives home to giddy, combative subordinates and the silent, secretive second he has chosen, he welcomes the safety of familiarity. Here he is protected, here he is comfortable. His labored breath slows just a bit. He has lasted. One more day.

Or not.

She's waiting for him in his bed, and she is not covered in fur. In fact, she's only wearing her white, feline grin. She pats the blanket beneath her. "Juu-chan, you look exhausted. Come lay down."

When his heart regains its steady rhythm, he has the strength only to close the door and stagger away. He'll find another place to sleep tonight. Otherwise he might not see morning, even if the hours in between are pleasurable enough to make his lifetime.

Besides. She's not desperate enough yet to chase after him.