Whirring sirens were drowned by excessively loud pop lyrics blasting into teenage eardrums at dangerously high decibels, but the flash of red light did manage to catch the attention of the student trudging down the sidewalk, hood up and book bag slung over one shoulder. He stopped and pulled out his ear buds when he saw the two cruisers and four police officers, one rolling yellow tape across the mouth of an alley. A crowd had formed, blocking his path and he considered dodging around the police cars pulled up on the curb in order to get by until he caught a few words.

"-pulled a gun in broad daylight."

"I saw it! There were four of them."

"It was the gangs."

"The youngest was shot."

"They'll probably never find the body..."

Gang warfare in Karakura. It wasn't unheard of, but it was rare. Tokyo centre was where you heard of these things happening, not out here in their relatively small city.

"Ichigo."

"Oh, hey Miziuro." He turned to his smaller companion, almost a head shorter, dark hair hung a bit longer than Ichigo's wild orange mess. "What happened?"

"Someone was shot. Sounds like it was gang related."

"That's not good."

"No, it isn't."

Mizuro looked to him. "You worried about your sisters?"
"I can't help it. This is a little too close to home, you know?"

"Yeah, I agree. Come on, I'll walk you home." It was a joke, but neither laughed. They both felt better with company, though Ichigo waved off his friend when he was still several blocks from his house. He wasn't scared, but he wasn't stupid either. He kept his hood down and ears open—four of them, at least one armed and none arrested—that meant they were still out here somewhere.

He arrived home safe, he could see the worry in his father's eyes, the news report about the incident babbled on the television, but Isshin Kurosaki never addressed it, not in front of his twin daughters.

"You're home late, Ichigo, you missed dinner," was all he said.

"Yeah, sorry, I had to work on a project with Chad."

"Well there's leftovers in the fridge. Come on girls, time for bed." Though they were in secondary school, their father often seemed to forget this fact and treated them like they were preschoolers who needed to be told to brush their teeth. But neither Karin nor Yuzu would ever correct his behaviour, their father simply loved them enough for both parents.

Ichigo watched them go up the stairs, his father returned after a bit, while he was washing his dishes.

"That alley was on your route home. Did you see anything?"

"The police were there, a crowd, but that's all."

"I don't want you to wear that thing when you walk anymore." He nodded to Ichigo's ipod on the table.

"Dad, I'm alright."

"Please, Ichigo."

"Fine."

"It's just...you never know."

"What happened to Mom was just an accident, it won't happen to me, or the girls."

"Ichigo." He watched him hard, "just do what I say."

"I will."

"Good. Now you should get to bed too, it's late."

"I still have math homework."

"Alright, well I'll see you in the morning." He stomped heavily upstairs, thoughts on the past, and Ichigo heard the familiar creak in overtaxed floorboards outside his sisters' room. It was several minutes later before he heard his dad head the rest of the way down the hall to his bedroom.

Ichigo glanced to the mural of his mother on the wall. "He's paranoid," he whispered to her with an exasperated sigh, then dug out his school books and got to work.


Brown eyes shot awake when his head slipped from his hand and dropped forward sharply. Ichigo groaned with fatigue and looked up to the clock above the stove. One A.M. He shut his books. So what if he got yelled at by his teacher tomorrow, he needed sleep.

But he'd barely stood before he heard the crack of glass, muted through the wall, but clearly in the building. His father's clinic was attached to their house and now that his attention was caught, he listened closely for further signs.

A thud.

Someone had broken into the clinic.

He looked from the phone to the stairs. He should call the police right now. But a question stayed him: had his father locked the door that joined his house to the clinic? If not, the intruder could come in here next.

He looked to the knife in the drying rack. He would make sure the door was locked before calling the police.

He took up his weapon and moved silently out of the kitchen and down the short steps to the clinic. He immediately cursed his father in his mind, seeing the door not only unlocked but slightly open. It took everything he had to calm his breath and move forward. There was no doubt someone was inside, he heard cupboards banging open and a running tap.

Just shut the door and lock it.

Just shut the door and lock it.

He repeated in his mind, but as he neared it, he caught a glimpse of the figure inside and froze, daring to watch through the narrow crack in the door.

He was leaned on a counter, letting water run over a cloth. When he pulled it out again, he let out a soft groan of pain and tried to stand up. He didn't make it all the way, but was able to lean back against the counter and peel back his coat. A sharp breath escaped him when he saw what lie underneath, but he continued despite the shock and pain and drew up his shirt as well before daubing at the wound.

"Shit." The word escaped him as he cleared blood and found the wound underneath. Ichigo watched him lower his hand to grip the counter again, then he turned and half fell over the sink as he vomited.

Now was the perfect time to shut the door and run to tell his father what was happening, but he was struck by the desperate pain-filled noises escaping the young stranger and found himself unable to move. He watched him retch and gasp in utter agony as pressure was put on the wound in his abdomen, then his grip against the counter top failed him, his knees gave and Ichigo lost sight of him when he fell, now blocked by another table.

Ichigo pushed through the door and into the clinic before he had time to consider his actions. He'd been so caught up in the moment, in the distress of the young man, that he'd forgotten the danger. But it was too late now, he'd made too much noise coming in and he'd been found out.

He still couldn't see the stranger, but he could hear him moving in reaction to his arrival. He shut the door behind him, not wanting to leave it as an invitation, but fairly confident now this man would not be able to get into his house in his state.

Very slowly, he came around the metal table his dad used to arrange all his instruments for a surgery. There was a large dark smear of blood, but the man wasn't there. He stopped, considering what he should do. He still had the knife in hand, and he had come this far, so he moved to the sink and shut the tap off.

At once he heard the strained breaths that had been masked by the running water. Moving just a bit farther he found him. He'd managed to drag himself around to the other end of the table but there he remained, leaned back against it, hands over the wound in his side and chest heaving.

"Shit," was all Ichigo managed to say when he perceived the large stain of blood that coloured his white tshirt and now continued to dampen his hands.

"Stay back," the man warned, though he had no weapon Ichigo could see and didn't even look like he could move again.

"It was you who got shot in the alley a few hours ago."

"I said stay back."

But Ichigo squatted to regard the man at eye level. Only moonlight streamed in the windows to provide them some light, but he could still make out the tint of blue in his hair, a strong jaw line and stunningly blue eyes. He was also taken aback by youthful features. He was older than Ichigo, but by no more than a few years, early twenties at most. He wouldn't make it much longer, however, if he didn't get help.

"Who are you?"

"Get away from me," he tried to sound threatening despite the tremors of pain in his voice, and his eyes fell to the long blade in Ichigo's hands.

"I'm not going to hurt you." He made to put the knife down but then thought better of it and slid it far away from them both across the floor back toward his house so if this man did turn out dangerous it wouldn't be in his reach. "You're going to bleed out."

"Just leave me alone, I'll go as soon as I patch myself up."

"You didn't seem to be doing a very good job of that before." Ichigo reached for his blood covered hands. "Let me see."

"I said screw off." But in his attempt to push Ichigo back he revealed the oozing wound to the teen.

"Oh shit." Ichigo stood. "I'm calling an ambulance." His ankle was caught before he could move.

"No!"
"You're dying!"
"I'll be fine."

"You broke in here."

"I swear I'll leave when I stitch this up."
"There's no way you can. I at least have to get my father, he's a doctor."

"He'll call the police."

"You're a gang member. Of course he will, but at least you'll live."

"No I won't." He swallowed hard, the pain was winning out and his grip on Ichigo slackened. "Because they'll kill me."

"The police?"

"No...the others..." his hand hit the tile, it seemed all he could do to keep his eyes open. Ichigo lowered himself again and stared the man dead on.

"What's you're name?"

Blue eyes narrowed, but blood loss or desperation must have loosened his tongue because he answered.

"Grimmjow. Grimmjow Jaggerjaques."

And he fainted.


Well, I hesitated on this one for a very long time due to very adult material that will occur later on in the story. I am still uncomfortable with sex scenes, but at the same time I keep writing them because my fics are mature and so mature content naturally arises. Anyway, this is an AU, I understand not everyone is interested in that, but I rather like this story so I hope a few of you will stick with it.

Thanks,

Riza.