The air was thick and overwhelming.
Each step Ichigo took made him feel weaker and weaker. His sword dragged behind him. His clothes were tattered and what was left of it was drenched in blood.
Ichigo looked up to the red sky. His legs gave out one after the other, forcing him to kneel on the cold hard ground. His eyes were transfixed above. Until-
His head snapped to the right where he saw Gokotai’s bloody body lying on his side, eyes lifeless. Ichigo’s gasped and started breathing harshly. He swore nobody was there.
Ichigo felt a cold shiver run down his spine. He turned to his left and saw Yagen, Midare, Honebami and Hirano. They were bleeding and their bloodshot eyes met Ichigo’s frightened ones.
Ichigo looked all around him. His brothers were lying around him, dead, lifeless. But all of them were staring at him.
He felt a weight on his lap. Ichigo’s body shook violently but he slowly looked down. When he saw Tsurumaru’s dead eyes and red-stained hair, Ichigo finally screamed.
With a jolt, Ichigo opened his eyes. He had broken into a cold sweat from the intensity of the nightmare. He was breathing too hard through his nose and his knuckles were white from gripping the sheets too tightly.
He sat up steadily and removed his blanket. He was sweating really badly but he needed assurance first before changing his clothes. All his brothers slept around him in the room, similar in his nightmare with all of them dead.
Ichigo calmed down and quietly crawled to each futon, checking up on each of them. He tucked them gently and placed a chaste kiss on their heads. He had never been so thankful to hear them snore and kick each other in their sleep.
Satisfied, Ichigo stood up and left the room. It was late but he wanted- needed to check on Tsurumaru. He was afraid.
Just outside Tsurumaru’s room, Ichigo froze. It was inappropriate and foolish. He could accidentally wake him up and that’d be selfish of Ichigo.
Ichigo gulped and told himself that Tsurumaru was fine. Finally, Ichigo turned around. All of a sudden, Tsurumaru’s door slid open.
He turned around to see Tsurumaru peeking out of his room.
“Ah-! Tsurumaru-dono. I’m sorry for waking you up.”
“No it’s fine. I wasn’t asleep yet. You needed something?”
Ichigo stared at Tsurumaru’s face, alive and well. His whole body was intact and there was no blood. Ichigo must’ve stared a bit too long without response because Tsurumaru was already walking towards him.
Tsurumaru’s worried face brought Ichigo back.
Ichigo took a step backwards, “Nothing..! It’s nothing, I just needed some fresh air. Please, return to your sleep.”
If there was one thing Tsurumaru was good yet, it was the ability to tell when one was lying. You can’t trick the trickster.
Tsurumaru lifted his hand and pressed it against Ichigo’s forehead, “Don’t lie to me, Ichigo.”
Ichigo leaned into the touch, “I… They were all..dead..” He could feel hot tears threatening to fall.
Tsurumaru’s eyes widened. He had never seen Ichigo so stricken with fear.
“You..were dead- Everyone was- I just needed to make sure…!”
“Shh, c’mere…” Tsurumaru immediately embraced Ichigo in a tight hug. He absorbed Ichigo’s quivers and rubbed soothing circles on his back, “It was just a nightmare. We’re all here.”
Ichigo cried silently until he fell asleep, exhausted. Tsurumaru waited until Ichigo was fully asleep before he carried him back to his own room. Tsurumaru helped to change Ichigo’s sweat-soaked yukata before tucking him in the futon. Tsurumaru stayed awake until morning, making sure Ichigo didn’t wake from another nightmare alone.