Woo, I have no idea how to explain this fic without sounding absolutely crazy. It's my first AU fic and it's been itching my brain since last night so I had to write it. I thought it would be awesome to have a fic where all the Bleach characters worked in a hospital. Why? Well, that's the part I can't explain very well. :P I'm not even going to try.
Anyways, these are just four of the characters I'm going to use for this fic. Believe me, if anyone thinks it's good, then there'll be a lot more! That, and a crapload of pairings. :3 Gah, I have so many plans. So pleasepleaseplease read and review. This stinkin' fic is going to make my brain explode. XD
And Gin is NOT a creeper in this. I thought he would just make an adorable pediatrician for some reason. That, and I think he'd look smexy in a lab coat. XD I think this is the first fic on FF where Gin is a good guy and not a sadistic bag o' douche. Well hurhur, I love him.
Just as well, for anyone curious, the title means 'God in the Caduceus' as a play-on of 'Deus ex Machina' or 'God in the Machine'. The caduceus is the international symbol of medicine and you might recognize it as the two snakes curling around a staff with little wings on the side. :3 I thought it was appropriate.
Oh, and a final note, the hospital in this is modeled after the University of Michigan hospital where my mom and two aunts work. I know that hospital pretty darn well and have spent many a 'Take Your Kid to Work' days in that place. Therefore, it inspired the construction for it. And thanks to my mom for giving me medical terms and all! Hwaha!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Bleach or a hospital, or anything like that. I'm not even a nurse. DX
Deus ex Caduceus
01 - Night Shift
Home for Shuuhei Hisagi was not some place with four walls and a roof, nor with a kitchen or a bedroom or anything such as that. No, home for Shuuhei Hisagi was an x-ray lab, with leaden aprons and machines that hummed and clicked in a rhythm he came to call 'soothing'. Home was the University of Seireitei Hospital, with a cafeteria instead of a kitchen and Formica-topped counters for beds. He didn't have a real 'home' as far as he was concerned. Twelve-hour shifts in the middle of the night had seen to that. It wasn't as if he didn't like it though. Actually, he found it all perfectly suited to him and decided he wouldn't have it any other way.
Shuuhei had graduated from the university purely on grants and scholarships, itching to be a radiographer as far back as he could remember. He had been a rebel in high school (proving it through getting some questionable tattoos on his face), concealing a certain genius that only made itself present once within the institution of college. It was this genius that sent his Rukongai-born self to some place as ridiculously prestigious as the University of Seireitei. Before long, he was managing MRIs and x-rays with finesse and skill, wowing his teachers and pinning a job at the hospital two years before he graduated.
That job had led him to his current position, which at the moment was getting out of his car at eight o'clock at night, stretching out and yawning while re-arranging his dark blue scrubs that had been his uniform for almost three years. He grabbed his backpack and locked the car up, starting towards the enormous hospital.
The radiology lab was only two floors above the lobby in the main building, adjacent to the children's hospital mostly for convenience. Shuuhei trekked his normal route, going up in the commercial-sized elevator meant for transporting patients in stretchers. He yawned again and scratched the back of his head, watching the numbers on the steel panel light up before hearing the tiny female electronic voice somewhere above his head announce, "Second floor, radiology."
"Good morning sunshine!" a cheery voice called as he stepped out into the hallway. Shuuhei turned to see his best friend, Renji Abarai, standing there in scrubs identical to his own. The redhead grinned while holding a large goldenrod folder meant for transporting x-rays.
"Hey Renji," Shuuhei said, offering a tired smile back. "What brings you here from your den in the ER?"
Renji shifted himself so that the folder was resting a little on his hip. "We got a twelve-year-old with a pretty nasty bone fracture down there so I came by to pick up the x-rays. So what's up with you? You're not exactly looking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed."
"Didn't get much sleep today," Shuuhei offered, switching his backpack from one shoulder to another.
"Well, you better wake up because you've got one coming up in about fifteen minutes."
"Oh?" The grin Renji gave Shuuhei was one the brunet associated with 'certain doom' and he cringed at the sight. "That bad huh?"
"Does a ten-car pileup on a highway bring any images to mind?"
"Jeez. How bad is it?"
"Pretty bad. I haven't been down there the entire time but I can tell you from what I've seen, you're going to have your hands full."
Shuuhei cursed under his breath and shrugged. "And here I thought I'd actually get a nap in."
"Hah!" Renji snorted. "In your dreams Shuu. Anywho, I'd better get down there before Ikkaku starts ranting at me again." He pressed the button that led down to the lobby and turned to grin at his friend. "Have fun!"
"Oh, loads," Shuuhei responded, waving once before turning around and walking down to the lab. Once inside, he set his backpack down on one of the counters and shrugged off his jacket.
"Ah, Hisagi-san, you're in," a low voice said from behind him. Shuuhei turned to see a tall pale man in a labcoat standing by one of the desks. White hair had been pulled into a ponytail and kind brown eyes regarded the younger male pleasantly. "I'm sure Abarai-san regaled your to-do list?"
"Very clearly Dr. Ukitake," Shuuhei affirmed, fighting back another yawn.
"Didn't get much sleep?"
"Not as much as I wanted."
"Sorry for that Hisagi. I'm sure this isn't what you wanted to hear just coming into work."
"Eh, it's what I live for," the tattooed man excused
The doctor smiled and nodded, straightening out one sleeve of his coat. "That's a good attitude to have. Now the patients came in about an hour ago. There's four of them, two of which you will be x-raying."
"What about the other two?"
Ukitake looked perturbed and shook his head. "Critical condition at the moment."
Shuuhei internally winced and felt a pang of sympathy for Renji who really despised when people were under critical condition. The redhead had always worked in the ER but only because he had the energy for it. There was nothing he liked about working with those who were fighting for their lives. Shuuhei made an attempt to clear his head of that and looked back at the doctor. "So what am I looking at?"
"On one, you'll be doing a full chest scan and legs while the other requires a right arm scan."
"Side or frontal impact?"
"Frontal on the first, side on the second."
"Ouch," Shuuhei hissed. The very idea of a frontal impact in a car made his chest ache. "Alright, I'll be right on it."
"Very good Hisagi," Ukitake chirruped, patting the dark-eyed male on the head before leaving the lab. Another curse escaped Shuuhei's lips as he took his backpack and coat to the break room. With a trained series of wrist flicks, he got his locker open and shoved the contents inside, closing the metal door and resting his head against it.
"This is going to be one hell of a night."
"Oi! Ikkaku! I got the scans back!" Renji shouted as he dashed into the break room of the ER. A bald man sat in one of the navy-colored plastic chairs, scribbling something on a clipboard. His eyes flew up to Renji and without warning, grabbed the folder from his hands. Renji stepped backwards in surprise. "Okay, okay! You don't have to be like a cobra! I would've given 'em to ya nicely."
"Yeah, whatever," Ikkaku murmured, opening the folder and taking out the black sheets inside. He held one up under the fluorescent lighting above and sighed. "Kami, that is one nasty break."
"You're telling me. I'm surprised that kid ain't asking for a mercy kill."
"Oh, Yumi hooked him up on an IV an hour ago. He won't be asking for much for awhile," the bald man said, looking at another x-ray. "Ya think he got any marrow loosened in there?"
Renji shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. "I'unno. That's not my job to look."
Ikkaku stood up and put the x-rays back in the folder, tying it back up and holding it under one arm. He cast one tattooed glance at Renji. "I'm gonna give these to the nurses up on A1 so they can take a look. You got the pileup patients tonight."
"Shit, are ya kiddin' me?" Renji growled. "Is it just me?"
"For an hour at least."
"Shit," the redhead repeated. "What's Yumi doin'?"
Ikkaku rolled his eyes in annoyance. "He got the bone fracture kid! Don't you pay attention?"
Renji crossed his arms in front of him and sneered. "Oh yes Ikkaku, I can catch everything when this entire floor is formidable maelstrom of pain."
"Then why the hell do ya work here?"
"I'm an adrenaline junkie," Renji excused.
"Well, get on it Abarai. Those patients ain't gonna take care of themselves."
"Yeah, yeah. Get movin' baldy."
Before Ikkaku could throw an insult at Renji, the maroon-eyed man was already back out the door, flying with ER nurse speed to the room where his patients awaited. The entire floor smelled like a strange mix of sterility and blood. Renji hated that smell with a passion. Then again, he hated where he worked. Every day was a battle between life and death. He had lost patients before and each was another tick on an already guilty conscience. How unfortunate it was that he would be one of the quickest to respond to bad situations. He had been praised for that! What praise was there in trying to help people in their frail shells that they had damaged? Over and over again, he would ask himself the same question Ikkaku had asked him: 'Why do I work here?' He could never get a straight answer, even from himself.
He reluctantly reached the room he had been assigned to, peeking in and internally cringing. Four beds had been haphazardly arranged to suit the four near-corpses. Two of them were missing, obviously on their way to radiology. The other two were in the state Renji dreaded. One, a young blue-haired male, lay on his bed with bandages wrapped from just below his nose down to the end of his abdomen. His jaw had been shattered in the accident, and with it shattered any hope of ever being normal again.
"Poor bastard," Renji murmured, examining the male. He eyed the chart beside him. 'Grimmjow huh? A foreigner too. That really sucks.' The chart was like the contract that sealed Grimmjow's fate. Perhaps it was a fate where he would never walk again, or where talking would be impossible. It was a contract with Grimmjow's name printed clearly at the top, and a signature space waiting for the devil himself at the bottom.
Renji had to be that devil.
He looked at the heart monitor, which was chirping like an electronic bird beside the body. Grimmjow's heart appeared to be holding out for the best at the time, beating at a quick but steady pace. His blood pressure was hardly making the same improvements. It faltered and dropped low too frequently. Everything on the machine seemed wrong except for the heartbeat. 'And I bet you'd prefer it if that was gone too, wouldn't you?' Renji silently asked. He had once heard of assisted suicide before and for a while, he thought it was wrong. However, seeing people like Grimmjow wasting away with almost no hope of recovering made the idea seem just fine.
When he was finished looking over Grimmjow's vital signs, he sighed in defeat and quickly scribbled a half-hearted signature at the bottom of the paper, showing he had been there. He gave one last sympathetic look at Grimmjow, from his wild-colored hair to the odd green markings on his eyes that reminded him strongly of Ikkaku's own red ones. "I wonder what you were like," Renji mused aloud before walking over to the next patient.
The second one was about as bad as Grimmjow. He was a young male, obviously just getting out of his teenage years. His hair was fluffy and black, attractive if it wasn't for the blood caked into it from a head injury. His skin was pale to the point of looking gray, signaling that he probably wouldn't last very long. What caught Renji were two long dark markings beneath the boy's eyes, resembling tear tracks.
"It's like you knew," Renji said, looking closer. They were definitely there on purpose, each a deep and unnatural cyan color. Renji was no stranger to the pain associated with tattoos but he couldn't possibly comprehend how much it hurt to get those done. "Probably hurts more now compared to getting those, eh…" He glanced back down at the chart. "Ulquiorra? Funny name."
So here were two unfortunate foreigners who probably never saw it coming. For all Renji knew, they were just on vacation or something of the like. They were probably just trying to enjoy an evening and ended up getting it a car wreck unlike anything their imaginations could conjure. Their vital signs told their internal story well enough. Like everyone else that went through that place, they were fighting for their lives. Unfortunately, their time was almost up. The damage done to Grimmjow's jaw and Ulquiorra's skull had ended whatever attempt at a normal life the two had going for themselves. Renji just hoped they wouldn't have to wake up to realize what had happened.
As Renji signed his name to that damned chart, he sighed aloud. He really hated where he worked. If he could possibly be transferred to anywhere else in the hospital, he would possibly be the happiest man in Japan. For now, he would have to keep playing his part as a devil on adrenaline.
Cafeteria coffee was one of the foulest substances ever produced, Byakuya Kuchiki figured. God forbid it didn't have caffeine in it because then it might have to be considered hazardous material. For Kami's sake, he could taste the grounds in it! With a slight wince and a protest from the back of his tongue, he swallowed another gulp of the liquid and suppressed a shudder. Next time, he would stop on his way to work at some place decent before even considering buying another cup of coffee from the cafeteria.
It had been one of the few times the neurosurgeon had ever been close to late in his life. He had started the afternoon by picking up his sister-in-law from her residency position in the hospital, dropped her back off at their house, drove into town for lunch with another neurosurgeon, drove back home to fit in an hour-long nap, and then finally made his way to work. His poor Aston-Martin couldn't take much more torture.
Of course, the day just had to get worse. A message on his pager informed him that there would be an immediate surgery within an hour and in an attempt to keep himself on his toes, he had to purchase the most disgusting cup of coffee in the world, which he thought should be trademarked. He hoped to any deity that would be kind enough to bless him that day that the surgery would go effortlessly and he would be all set for the night.
Still feeling wronged by his choice in beverages, he walked into his office and begrudgingly put the cup on his desk where it shouldn't belong. He quickly glanced over the numerous Post-It notes left on his desk before digging around in his desk for a spare pair of scrubs seeing as how he didn't have much time to change at home. Closing the blinds overlooking the rest of the hospital, he attempted to quickly change into the outfit.
Suddenly, the door to his office opened with a gusto. "Dr. Kuchiki! They need you in the-… Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!" It was Nanao Ise, one of the neurosurgery department's new residents. She gaped at the sight before her, blushing like a schoolgirl. Byakuya stood in the middle of the room, slumped over and certainly pantsless with only his long dress shirt covering anything.
"Ise! Out, out, OUT!" he hissed, hopping over humorously on one foot to shut the door behind the rapidly apologizing student. This time, he locked the door. With a groan of annoyance and now irritation that his day was going so badly, he pulled his scrub pants up and tied them around his narrow hips. Making sure that no one would interrupt him, he slid his shirt off and replaced it with the dark blue uniform shirt, sliding his labcoat over it.
Unlocking the door, he walked back out into the open, checking his pager once more and verifying that he had enough time to get down to the operating room and still be on time.
He heard some scuffling behind them and turned to see a bowing Nanao behind him, blushing profusely and stammering. "I am so sorry Dr. Kuchiki! I had no idea that you were…dressing. I'm really, honestly sorry!"
"It's fine Ise-san," Byakuya said, waving his hand dismissively. "Is Dr. Kyoraku down in the operating room yet?"
"Yes," she said, standing up to her full height, which was still considerably shorter than himself. "He's there and Dr. Ukitake will be down later to supervise."
"How many nurses are there?"
"Four along with the anesthesiologist."
Byakuya nodded and glanced at his watch. "Very well. Thank you Ise-san."
"I'm still very sorry Dr. Kuchiki. If there is any way I can make it up to you, I'll do it."
"Well… There is one thing you can do."
Nanao perked up and stood at full attention. "What would that be?"
Byakuya couldn't help but smirk. "Get me a decent cup of coffee by the time the surgery is done." With that, he proceeded down the hallway to the operating room where his newest patient awaited. Nanao stood there for a moment, clutching her clipboard to her chest and watching him walk away. Once he was out of sight, she turned towards the cafeteria. She heard they had the best cups of coffee there.
Gin Ichimaru had seen far too much death in his twenty-six years of life. He had started working at the hospital at the tender age of nineteen, having graduated high school just after his sixteenth birthday and getting his bachelor's just shy of his eighteenth. He had been called a genius by many, praised for his enormous talent in medicine. However, with that praise came something far more sinister. People had the unfortunate habit of losing their lives around him. No matter how many attempts he made to save lives, sometimes he felt he fell just short of what he aimed for.
Not many could figure how badly it bothered him, due to the permanent grin on his face. He held it at all times, save for when a new pile of paperwork came at him or when one of his assistants did something ridiculously stupid such as not changing filters in time or leaving a bedpan out for all to smell. Then, he was just plain wrathful.
It was certainly a surprise when Gin had changed his mind part way through his master's degree to go from the guaranteed success of neurosurgery to something as insignificant as pediatrics. However, Gin was no stranger to child sickness and for some reason; he thought death couldn't touch anyone below the age of thirteen. Besides, that grin was popular with the kids and he had earned the affectionate nickname of 'foxface' from many of the permanent ones.
He wasn't bad with kids by any means. In fact, it proved to be a specialty above specialties. He seemed to have a soothing effect on children (though he freaked the daylights out of their parents for reasons he couldn't get) and felt more natural around them. Adults held onto life in vain, wanting to live merely so they could. Children held onto life because they weren't done yet and they had so much more to do. Gin wanted to help them with that goal. Well, that and the wall murals were much nicer to look at than the starch-white walls of all the other floors.
However, death didn't leave him alone there either. Suddenly, he came face-to-face with monsters like childhood leukemia and babies who had awful birth defects that no one should live through. Death chased him like a fox chasing a rabbit, and funny that he was compared to a fox so much when deep down, he felt like the rabbit.
Even so, he went to work every single day with his grin on his face and the air of someone who enjoyed working. He did love his job and he certainly wouldn't trade it for one in neurosurgery or in any of the cardiac units. His talents didn't rest with the brain or the heart. He just wanted those kids to get better and get a new chance at life. He wanted them to see every day as a new start and see every good thing as a surprise. Whenever he got a kid smiling, it just gave him more of a reason to smile.
Yet no one in that hospital made him smile more than one of the newer patients that had arrived only days before this one. The child was one by the name of Yachiru Kusajishi, who had started life with a colic and was now living her third year of life with everything ranging from asthma to diabetes, keeping her weak and unable to function correctly. She was positively adorable though, with fluffy pink hair (Gin didn't even want to guess where that came from) and eyes so big and adorable that Gin resisted snuggling her every time he saw her.
He had taken a liking to her over the past few days and she had done the same to him, calling him 'foxy-chan' and giggling happily whenever she saw him. She would swipe playfully at his stethoscope and would hop around her bed as soon as a tongue depressor made itself present, affectionately calling it the 'icky-choky thing' and making numerous attempts to swipe it out of his hand and add it to her growing collection she kept under her pillow.
So what a surprise it had been when he found out that her father was none other than ER director Kenpachi Zaraki. Nowhere in his mind could Gin make the connection with the giggling ball of cuteness and the tough take-no-crap director. Her mother was long gone; dying shortly after birth and only some old lady would come in and watch her. Gin guessed it was the nanny or something. The only reason he found out was when he had come into work late one day to see Zaraki leaning over the sleeping girl, watching her sadly. He had looked at Gin with such a haunted expression that Gin had to make sure he wasn't still at home asleep.
"Cute, ain't she?" the director had asked.
"Yeah," Gin said, still stunned at the sight.
Zaraki had turned back to look at her and sighed. "This wasn't supposed to happen, y'know. She was always a good baby and healthy as a horse, just like her dad. I don't know what happened."
"She's yours?" Gin asked in disbelief.
"Yup, mine through and through."
"W-well then," the pediatrician said quietly, unsure of what to make of the situation. He couldn't rightfully decide if a joke would lighten the mood or just make the touchy-looking doctor want to strangle him. He decided not to risk it and kept his mouth shut.
"She talks about you Ichimaru," Zaraki said after a moment of silence. "I didn't know who she was talking about 'til she said something about her 'foxy-chan'. I guessed that was you."
"Yeah, that's me."
A strange smirk crossed the taller man's face and he nodded. "I didn't take you for someone who would like to take care of kids so much, but I guess you're not so bad after all. She really likes you."
Gin chose to be silent again, his squinted gaze drifting from the impossibly tall doctor to the sleeping girl on the bed. Well, every rock has a fault line, he figured. Yachiru must have been Zaraki's fault line. He could see how that could work, despite the extremely strange lineage issues.
"Well, I gotta get back to the ER," the giant said after another pause. "I'm gonna have a busy night. Take care of her."
"Of course," Gin responded in his quietest voice, holding his position until Zaraki was completely out of the room. Once he was gone, the silver-haired man walked over to the bed and looked down at his tiny patient. Her face was scrunched in sleep, eyes flickering quickly under her eyelids, deep in her dreamland. Suddenly, a sharp cough rasped out of her lungs that it made him jump a little. She coughed a few more times, wincing at the pain in her lungs. After the fit finished, she went back into a peaceful sleep.
It was things like that which bothered Gin the most. Kids weren't supposed to do that. The only time it was okay for a child to cough in such a way was if they took a day of school because they had a little cold or maybe bronchitis if it had to be serious, to which it could be helped by a cup of chicken noodle soup and cartoons. But no three-year-old should ever be in the hospital, suffering from some terminal illness that would never leave her in peace.
That day, after he made his rounds and checked all of the other kids, he went back to Yachiru's room and eased himself into the rocking chair beside her bed. The hospital overlooked nothing when it came to what was in the rooms. He smiled sadly remembering all the times he had seen mothers with sick children sitting in one of these chairs, rocking their child and fighting back tears. There had been too many instances of that. There was too much sadness in the rooms. He could feel it just sitting there. Slowly, he closed his eyes completely, waiting for his assistant to come in and wake him up, or at least Yachiru to. He wouldn't mind being woken up by a flying tongue depressor to the head. At least it was a living child who was throwing it.