A/N: I wrote the poem first and then the story that frames it. Thank $deity Rick is such a bloody awful poet!


He stood in the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. He knew what he had to do, but he couldn't.

The door thundered. "Are you finished yet?" yelled Rick.

He jerked the door open. "NO!" he bellowed, and slammed it shut before Rick could force his way in.

"You've been in there forty-eight minutes!" Rick shouted.

"Go in the garden, then!" Vyvyan told him.

"I pay rent here! I have the right to use the bathroom, same as you!"

"There's four of us, there's 24 hours in a day, so I get 5 hours and 12 minutes more!"

"Vyvyan –"

"If you make me open this door, Rick, you won't live to tell about it," Vyvyan growled. Rick said nothing more, and Vyvyan turned back to the mirror.

Rick did have a point - he'd been in there an awful long time, and for no good reason. This should have taken no more than ten minutes.

Vyvyan was going to be sent out to see practice. But one of the conditions of going out to see practice was that he be "well groomed." In his case, it meant not just wearing a clean shirt, a tie and trousers every day, he also had to appear with a normal hairstyle, take out the nose ring and get rid of the stars on his forehead.

The ring and stars were easy. The trihawk had been easily turned into something normal, simply by failing to put it up - but a few months ago at a party, he'd passed out and woke up with his hair shaved and dyed like a Union Jack. It was a brilliant joke and looked great on him, but now the only way to get his hair back to normal was to shave his entire head.

He picked up the hair clippers, then put them back down again. Maybe he should have one of the lads do it, or go to a barbershop. But he didn't trust any of them with sharp instruments around his scalp, and he really didn't have enough cash to finance a professional clip – not unless he went without smokes or beer for a month. It was clippers or lose the summer practice and probably his whole career.

He lifted the clippers again - and Rick's peculiar knock came again.

"WHAT!"

"I'm just, I just wrote something, er, for you," Rick said hesitantly. A piece of paper slid under the door. "Thought it might help."

"Rick, we've got plenty of bog paper in here! I don't think I'd -"

"Just read it!" Rick snarled with unusual venom. Last time he'd been that angry, he'd driven a biro into Vyvyan's head. It wasn't worth the effort and pain to refuse, and it might be good for a laugh.

Vyvyan unfolded the paper. Oh God, a bloody poem!

VYVYAN

You knew this day would come
When you chose this toughest path
When all the fools could only laugh

A kid from the slum, no dad, no mum

They could only jeer and mock yer
What! You, become a doctor?

Just watch me, you said,
I'll either make it or I'll be dead

Oh, but you'll have to learn
To speak as if you went to Eton
To act like you went up to Oxford
To wear your hair right and give up the fight

You must begin to conform!

It's only the societal norm!
Nobody will ever trust a

Doctor they know came from the gutt-a

Yet you proved that you belong
You can duel Death with a scalpel
Set broken bones and sew up wounds

Comfort the bereaved in the chapel
You kept most of the bargain

Now comes the next part
Oh, the sacrifices made for our art!

It's organic, it will grow back
But for you, there's no turning back
The days of weirdly shaped and coloured hair

Are about to vanish into thin air

They do this first to privates and sailors
For punk doctors, it starts later
And is less severe, but it comes
When you start your practicum
If I know you, you won't flinch

You will shave your head down to an inch
Of bristly ginger hair

And act like you don't care

But you do

--RP

"Bloody awful piece of shit –" V's throat swelled, and he choked on the rest. He snatched the clippers, flicked them on and attacked his hair, stopping only to blink the excess moisture out of his eyes.