Come Hell or High Water
Disclaimer: Don't own Bleach. This is based on the Iowa flood of '08, so while some information is accurate, some is also made up for story purposes.
Warnings: If you don't like boy/boy pairings or a little OOC-ness, then don't read. That's all there is to it.
Author's Note: This is GrimmIchi. I wanted to write this as I am personally experiencing the tragedy that is the Iowa flood 2008. No one can really understand the circumstances and the feelings of the people here unless you're here going through it with us. All the farmers whose livelihood has been destroyed, the businesses that are ruined, the houses that are waterlogged. This is about all I can do for them; I've already gone to sandbag, but since everything is flooded I can't go and help where they need it most. So this is my answer :)
I hope everyone will be kind in their reviews because of the fact that it's based on a REAL and terrible situation.
Come Hell or High Water
Grimmjow had entered the National Guard in the first place because he had been a loner. He'd had no parents; they had thrown him out on his ass in New York City when he was only fourteen. He'd had no friends; he'd been forced to fight for food and his life, and had only made enemies in the process. He'd had no future. He had lived on the streets for four years of his life, and then, finally, someone had accepted him.
He would never admit it, but these men were as close as he'd ever gotten to having friends. He still counted his parents as a lost cause, but even so, there was still a hole inside him that needed to be filled. By what, he didn't know. He had never been one to believe in romance or love, but perhaps, he thought with mild amusement, the hole could still be filled somehow.
"We're here," Johnson announced from the passenger seat of the humvee, startling Grimmjow out of his thoughts. He and the other men glanced at their surroundings; they had been traveling for the vast part of two days and were eager to feel their feet on land again. However, what they saw wasn't exactly what they'd been expecting.
The humvee had pulled up to what he guessed to be a relief station –it was actually a high school, and it was near the riverbank. There were already dozens of people there and they were all wearing neon yellow jackets and tall rubber boots. Grimmjow almost laughed at the absurdity of it all but instead managed to reign in that particular urge as he and his fellow officers emptied out of the vehicle.
What he saw would have shocked him if he hadn't already been hardened to the ways of the world; instead, he only frowned deeper and pushed along to the volunteer check-in area. Other people, civilians, were milling around outside in waterlogged and soiled clothing, doing all they could to help the neon jacketed folks with the sandbagging. He signed his name with a flourish on the clipboard the United Way provided (to organize the volunteers, of course) and looked around, wondering where to begin.
He surveyed the civilians with interested and detachment. Many of them were gathered around a heap of sand; some were shoveling and others were holding heavy, white sandbags open to catch the sand. Still others were lined up, the same bags clutched in their hands as their arms strained against the weight of the slightly damp sand falling into the bags from sand trucks. And a few others were operating bulldozers to refill the sand trucks every few minutes. Grimmjow's military eye told him that these civilians were weak and deficient; yet they still trudged on. He wondered what the point was. The river hadn't even risen all that high yet.
He slowly lumbered off, annoyed for no apparent reason at the townspeople working so hard to protect their families, and started to help them heave the sandbags into a pile next to the riverbank. He sneered inwardly at all these helpless idiots. Because of his skill learned on the streets and the hardship he's faced in his life, he often looked upon others with disdain. He felt their eyes on him, judging him, and he hated them for it.
None of the civilians caught his eye, so he shrugged and turn toward the flatbed truck unloading already packed sandbags. As he turned around, he collided with a warm body and they both fell to the ground with twin grunts. Grimmjow sat up and was about to tear into whomever bumped into him when he caught sight of the man. The kid was looking up at him in mild annoyance. Grimmjow's eye swept over him, assessing him; the kid had to be his age or maybe a year younger and his body was much slimmer than his own military-hardened body, but he could still see some lean muscle through the thin t-shirt. He was fairly attractive, with his unruly orange hair, deep scowl, and searing brown eyes.
"Watch where you're going," the teen muttered under his breath as he struggled back up to his feet. Grimmjow snarled under his breath and just barely managed not to punch the retard.
"Just stay the fuck outta my way, kid," Grimmjow replied.
To his annoyance, the teen just snorted at him and tossed his head to the side to indicate all the people milling around. "Kinda hard when there are so many people. Just deal with it…?"
"Grimmjow Jeagerjacques," the private muttered gruffly. "Sorry."
"Kurosaki Ichigo." The orange haired kid grinned at him and offered him a hand, the grin only growing as Grimmjow scoffed and turned around to haul a sandbag, pretending like the whole incident hadn't happened.
The Kurosaki kid was beginning to get on his nerves. He kept sending a shit-eating grin his way and it infuriated him to no end. On the other hand, he'd never met anyone so interesting before. Half the time he wanted to kill Kurosaki, and the other half even he didn't know what he wanted. Since they worked together for such long hours, they had talked a bit, and Grimmjow was surprised at what the younger kid had told him.
"So how old are you, anyway?" Grimmjow grunted as he hefted a bag over his shoulder.
"Sixteen," Ichigo replied. "And yourself?"
"Eighteen," he'd grunted back. There was some silence and then, when he felt like the question was going to burst out of him, he asked, "Why the hell are you here, anyway?"
Kurosaki gave him a funny look. "I'm trying to save my home."
"If you're here, then where's your daddy?" Grimmjow sneered, trying to get a rise out of him.
"Dad took my sisters and left. He wanted me to go with him, but I wanted to stay here and help."
"Oh? Where's mommy?" Grimmjow asked mockingly. He watched as the line of Ichigo's shoulders tensed and figured he must've hit a nerve.
That conversation had been the day before and, at first, neither of them had gone out of their way to strike up another conversation. But the tension had melted away in the face of the coming flood and they managed to work in comfortable silence again.
"So, Kurosaki," Grimmjow began, "what does your dad do?"
Ichigo grunted as he patted another sandbag into place and replied, "He's a doctor at a clinic he owns."
Grimmjow snorted and raised an eyebrow when Kurosaki sent him a scathing glance. "What, I still don't understand why you stay here. It's pointless! No matter what we do, the river is going to rise above the levees and eventually…well… You know. So why are you still here?"
The kid frowned and stopped shoveling to stand at his full height. "I'm here because the clinic is my dad's life. I don't expect you to understand, Grimmjow, but this is where my sisters and I grew up. We have memories of our mother in the house. I can't just leave it, even if it is a lost cause."
"So… Your mom… Did she…?"
"Yes, she died when I was five. I don't like to talk about it," Kurosaki mumbled, picking his shovel back up and filling Grimmjow's bag. Grimmjow nodded; there wasn't much he bothered to respect, but he could respect the kid's silence. Just this once. A smirk formed on his face as he realized he was getting soft. Well, he'd have to rectify that some way or another.
Grimmjow wasn't worried. Seriously. This is what he told himself as he watched the river rising higher and higher. He didn't know when he started caring, but he was still trying to convince himself that the orange-haired teen he'd met two days ago didn't have anything to do with it.
It was late. He should go back into the high school and find a place to sleep. Even as he turned around, the river roared in his ears.
Time went by all too fast, and soon another day was upon them. Ichigo groaned; he'd stayed at the high school/relief station the night before because of the voluntary evacuation in effect in his neighborhood, which was only a block away. He wondered what woke him when he noticed a low roar that seemed to be getting louder. Ichigo jumped up and ran through the halls to fling the doors open. The first thing he noticed was that it was still dark outside. The second thing he saw…
His hoarse shout of surprise and panic must've woken up some of the others who'd stayed there, because soon more of his neighbors were at his side. The levees had burst and the river was now rushing past the sandbags and toward the houses they'd been trying to protect. The water level was already up to his knees and he could see bits of debris being swept away in the fast current. In the distance he could see parts of a child's swing set floating in the water.
"No!" Ichigo yelled, preparing himself to vault over the sandbags that were supposed to protect the doors of the high school. He felt an arm wrap around his chest and pull him away and he yelled in frustration. "No! Don't do this, Grimmjow!"
He fell back into a solid, warm chest, panting. "Ichigo," Grimmjow muttered. Ichigo shivered; the older man hadn't used his first name before. "It's okay."
"No, it's not okay," Ichigo shouted, trying to get out of Grimmjow's hold. "Everything's gone!"
Grimmjow sighed and turned the orange-haired teen around in his arms so that they were standing chest to chest. Ichigo looked up at him with wide, panic-filled eyes. Grimmjow did the only thing he could to help calm the kid down; he leaned down and kissed him soundly, lingeringly on the lips.
"What are you doing?" Ichigo whispered, confused as the older man broke away.
"Calming you down, idiot. You can't get anything done when you're panicking like that," Grimmjow replied just as softly. One of Ichigo's hands fisted in Grimmjow's shirt unconsciously.
"Thanks," the younger teen mumbled, blinking as if he just realized how close he was to the other. He let go and stepped back, running a hand absently through his hair. "Sorry."
"No need to apologize," Grimmjow waved off. "Besides, I thoroughly enjoyed it."
Ichigo flushed and was about to reply when a shout brought him back to the present. With a glance back at Grimmjow saying 'we'll-talk-about-this-later,' Ichigo pushed past him and ran out the door. His momentum was for naught, though, as the force of the water nearly knocked him down. He yelped, but managed to stay on his feet, face turning tomato red in embarrassment. He could hear Grimmjow laughing at him from the door.
As he began to wade through the dirty, disease-ridden floodwater, he remembered that the sun wasn't even up…
'This is going to be a long fucking day,' he thought, forcing the kiss from his mind as he rushed to save as much of his home as he could.
Fourteen hours later Grimmjow trudged up to the door of the clinic and pushed it open. He had wanted to run after Ichigo to make sure he hadn't hurt himself –
Since when did he become 'Ichigo' rather than 'Kurosaki?'
-but the Guard had jobs for him that he had to complete first before he could see how the orange-haired teen was doing. He stepped inside and looked around; the floor was covered by nearly a foot of water already. Grimmjow turned a corner and found himself in the kitchen where Ichigo was sitting at the table.
"I tried to keep the water out, but it didn't work," the teen muttered quietly, looking up at Grimmjow. The blueberry's breath nearly caught; Ichigo's intense brown eyes were so sad and desperate. Grimmjow felt sucked in; he couldn't help it when his feet carried him over to where the younger teen was sitting anymore than he could help the urge to hold Ichigo. He hesitated, but decided 'to hell with it' and wrapped his arms around the teen's shaking shoulders and allowed Ichigo to rest his head on Grimmjow's chest and clutch at his shirt. It was all he could give.
He didn't know how long he stood there as Ichigo held onto him, but eventually the teen loosened his hold and mumbled an apology into Grimmjow's chest. Grimmjow just chuckled but didn't let him go. Instead, he cupped Ichigo's face and brushed his knuckles across a prominent cheekbone. Ichigo flushed but didn't pull back as Grimmjow leaned down and warmed the younger teen's lips with his own.
"We need to go, Ichigo. You're soaking wet," Grimmjow mumbled as he pulled away. Ichigo bit his lip and for a moment Grimmjow thought he'd refuse to leave his home, but a few seconds later he nodded. "You should take a warm shower when we get back to the high school."
Everything was quiet for a while as they walked the block back to the high school until Grimmjow interrupted the silence with, "Maybe we can take a shower together, eh Strawberry?"
Ichigo flushed and punched him.
Things were slowing down now; the river had crested the day before at ten feet above flood level. Even with that good news, things weren't looking good for many of the homes around the river. Some houses will have to be torn down and some families will have months of cleaning ahead of them, the Kurosaki family included.
Isshin and the girls had returned the day before and now they were helping Ichigo pump water out of the first floor and basement. Grimmjow was helping them out. Most of the Guard in town had already taken off, but he and his humvee were staying for the next couple of weeks to help homeless families get back on their feet.
'It's probably because he wants to get into my pants," Ichigo thought with a smirk as he eyed the blue-haired teen. Over the week following the initial flooding of his house, they had become closer, a sort of unspoken agreement between them signaling the start of a strange relationship.
The object of Ichigo's musings smirked and yanked him around the corner to ravish him, no doubt.
'I'm just glad Grimm's not leavin' right away.' There was a hell of a lot of work to do and it would be nice to have some help.
Author's Note: Well, the news is saying that it will take ten years for we Iowans to clean up the aftermath. Even so, most Iowans still feel that they are lucky. If you're curious, check out the Newsweek article that's linked in my profile.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It was hard for me to write (it took several days), so I hope you enjoyed, even if there wasn't a lot of GrimmIchi interaction.
TG © June 2008