***Well, I've been getting way into Grimm/Ichi these days, so it must be my turn to write one. And because I haven't really read/watched enough Bleach to keep up with canon, I figured why not AU? (Easy way out, I know, I know…)
Anyway, I'm sure there'll be sex, language and violence. All my usual stuff- anyone who's read my fics before should know what to expect. And, on another note, the fic title and all the chapter titles are connected to each other, and then rather tenuously to Bleach itself. If you can figure out the link without Googling that shit, you'll win my undying respect.***
Chapter One: I'm Broken
The small bar was noisy and crowded, even on a Thursday night. Grimmjow could barely hear Nnoitra's irritating chatter- which, upon reflection, was probably a good thing. There was only so much Grimmjow could take, and his temper was wearing down.
Draining the last of his beer, the blunette shifted slightly where he stood, trying to angle himself away from Nnoitra's grating voice. He turned to put his bottle down on a nearby table, only to stumble forward when a body suddenly smacked into him from behind. Lips curled into a snarl, he spun to curse out the other person.
Before he could, though, a slurring voice reached his ears. "Wha' da fuck are you doin', ya blue-haired cunt? Y'made me spill m'drink!"
Grimmjow couldn't help it- he laughed. This was what he needed to blow off some of the tension he was feeling. "You hit me, asshole. But fuck, if you wanna go, bring it on!"
The blunette grabbed the hem of his tight T-shirt, pulling it off and throwing it back to his friends, most of whom were starting to egg him on. Only Starrk didn't look interested in the looming fight- but then again, when did that man ever look interested in anything?
The bar's other patrons, hearing the shouts and catcalls coming from Grimmjow's friends, realised what was about to happen and began to take sides as the drunk stranger shook back his long, red hair and rushed towards the blunette.
Ducking a clumsily-swung fist and letting the other man stumble past him, Grimmjow thrust an elbow back into the redhead's spine. An angry shout sounded from the drunk, who promptly turned and lunged again. This time, a tribal tattoo-covered forearm managed to clip Grimmjow's cheek, sending a slight ache up his face.
The blunette had drunk enough alcohol to slightly dull the pain, but it wasn't gone completely; unlike the redhead, who seemed so drunk that he probably wouldn't notice if he lost a leg. That suspicion was only strengthened when a vicious right uppercut from Grimmjow barely made the other man pause. The redhead spat out a mouthful of blood and laughed, catching the blue-haired man off guard with a swift kick to the stomach.
Doubling over with a winded cough, the blunette barely dodged another fist that swung for his face, the drunken crowd screaming for blood. Grimmjow grit his teeth and pushed through the haze of alcohol and pain, moving forward to slam his shoulder into the stranger's stomach. Following it up with a fist into the redhead's nose, Grimmjow panted as he watched the tattooed man fall to the floor.
A round of cheers erupted from the rowdy audience, Grimmjow looking over and winking arrogantly to his friends. He hadn't lost a bar fight in his life, and he wasn't about to start. But the last thing he expected was for the redhead to still be a contender: a large hand suddenly grabbed Grimmjow's ankle, a sharp pull making him slip on the booze-slicked floor and land heavily on his back.
The blunette, momentarily stunned, didn't see the bottle held upside-down in the stranger's hand- but he definitely felt it when the glass shattered against his chest, the jagged edges tearing right down his bare torso.
Pulling himself up with a growl of rage, only pure adrenaline keeping him moving at this point, Grimmjow managed to land one more punch in the middle of the redhead's face, warm blood covering his fingers and a manic grin on his lips as he passed out from his gushing wound.
Ichigo Kurosaki groaned tiredly as he stepped out of his car, running a hand through his messy orange hair. He loved studying medicine, and he loved most aspects of being on placement in a proper hospital- but trying to constantly be nice to the patients, their visitors and everyone working in the place had been wearing on him.
Luckily it was Friday, his last day of his placement before he went back to university. If he had to be civil for much longer, Ichigo wasn't quite sure what would happen; he just knew that it most likely wouldn't be good for his future medical career.
It wasn't that the redhead couldn't be nice…he was just a little out of practice. Between dealing with an insane father, friends who tended to grate on his nerves, and the groups of idiots who constantly wanted to fight him over the most stupid things, Ichigo didn't have a lot to smile about. His perpetual scowl, though, wasn't the greatest bedside manner a doctor-in-training could have.
Of course, he'd been told that by an unhappy-looking Ryuuken Ishida, and he'd made hospital director- so a day of not being perfectly polite and kind probably wouldn't kill Ichigo's job prospects completely. It had better not: the redhead hadn't worked through almost seven years of university to stuff up now. He was damn close to becoming an intern, and all he had to do was successfully finish out the school year.
Realising that he was almost late, Ichigo hurried through the parking lot and past the main doors of the hospital. It didn't take him long to locate Doctor Unohana, the woman he had been shadowing for most of his placement. Now there was a perfect example of impeccable bedside manner: the woman's small smile and polite demeanour rarely faltered, yet she somehow managed to speak with enough force to bend even the most stubborn patient to her will.
How Doctor Unohana could be so kind and so freaking scary, Ichigo would never know. Greeting the woman, he walked with her through the busy halls of Karakura Hospital as she filled him in on their first couple of patients.
"Because this is your last day, you can have a little more reign to check the patients over. Is that okay with you?" Doctor Unohana asked quietly, her hands clasped in front of her.
"Yeah, that's cool," Ichigo replied, making sure that he didn't sound too tired. Doctor Unohana didn't seem to notice anything, smiling and nodding as she showed him to his first patient for the day.
The first few hours in the general wards passed fairly quickly, Ichigo giving a number of patients their check-ups as Doctor Unohana occasionally commented on things he should or shouldn't be doing. The student was glad that the day seemed to be passing without a hitch; everyone he'd met so far had been relatively placid, unlike some of the demanding bastards he'd dealt with earlier in his placement.
Saying goodbye to a middle-aged woman who was on the tail end of her recovery from an appendectomy, Ichigo followed Doctor Unohana back into the corridor and to the next door.
"You've been doing well so far, Mister Kurosaki," Doctor Unohana mentioned offhandedly as she stopped in front of the closed room. "You seem well prepared for your internship next year. I'll be sure to inform Doctor Ishida of that."
The redhead blinked, a little embarrassed by the praise and the fact that she would recommend him for an internship at the hospital. "Th-thank you, Doctor Unohana. You've been really helpful."
The small woman reached up and patted him on the shoulder, a pleased smile playing on her lips. "It's no problem at all. Now, here we have a twenty-six-year-old male, who was brought in last night with a glass wound down his torso. We're keeping him for a day or two to be certain that the blood loss hasn't affected him, and to make sure that he doesn't aggravate the wound."
"A street fight?" Ichigo wondered aloud, knowing first-hand how nasty those could get when people were willing to play dirty. He'd been caught down the bicep with a switchblade earlier in the year, and he didn't think the scar would ever properly fade. It'd been a cheap, lucky shot.
"We're not entirely sure- his friends wouldn't tell us anything other than the fact that the cut was inflicted with a broken bottle, and the patient himself seemed more concerned about whether the other participant in the fight had come out better or worse than himself. Maybe he'll tell us something more today."
Knocking lightly on the wood, Doctor Unohana paused before opening the door, Ichigo following close behind. In the darkened room, it was a little hard for the redhead to make out the figure sitting up in the bed, face turned away from the door. Doctor Unohana promptly moved to the room's window, opening the curtains and letting light flood in.
Ichigo felt his eyes widen as he took in the man before him, lounging shirtless with his lower half under the bedcovers. Although a pristine white bandage was wound right across the patient's torso, Ichigo could tell from the broad shoulders and sculpted arms that the man was probably well-muscled under the material.
Feeling his eyes travelling down the wrap of bandages, Ichigo forced his gaze up to the man's face before he could look a little further than was considered proper. Although he knew perfectly well that he could be attracted to men, now was not the time for that sort of thing. He had a degree of professionalism to maintain, after all.
The sight of bright blue hair was a bit of a shock to Ichigo, and he wondered just how he'd managed to miss that glaring detail at first. It was a weird colour, but for whatever reason it really seemed to suit the guy. In fact, it almost matched his eyes...
Ichigo felt a jolt as he realised that those blue eyes were staring directly at him, a strangely predatory expression obvious there. He knew that there was something he should have been doing, been saying, but he just couldn't break away from that entrancing blue stare.
"S'up, Retsu? Who's the newbie? Is it bring ya kid to work day or somethin'?" Thin lips curled up in a mocking grin, displaying perfectly white teeth with canines that seemed a tad more pointed than they should have been. Ichigo felt his eyes narrow, but he held his tongue and let Doctor Unohana respond to the blue-haired patient.
"Mister Jaegerjaquez, this is Ichigo Kurosaki. He's a fourth-year med student from Karakura University who is currently here on work placement."
The man's grin widened, his gaze remaining firm on Ichigo as Doctor Unohana spoke. When she finished, the tip of his tongue darted out to lick at his bottom lip, his relaxed voice sounding smooth and charming as he replied.
"Retsu, Retsu, I told ya last night: call me Grimmjow. Same goes for you, Schoolboy."
Ichigo's mouth opened without his permission, the childish nickname instantly pissing him off. "My name is Ichigo. Ichigo Kurosaki. Not Schoolboy, or anything else you might happen to think up."
On the other side of the room, Doctor Unohana made a small sound, but Ichigo found that he couldn't look away from Grimmjow to investigate or apologise for his rude behaviour. The patient's expression had morphed into something more challenging, and Ichigo had never been able to back down from a fight.
"Oooh, I like you, Schoolboy. Can't say I've ever had a doctor talk back t'me like that." The mocking, arrogant grin appeared again, Grimmjow obviously taunting the redhead. His usual scowl now back on his face, Ichigo crossed his arms and glared down at the slightly older man. Before he could retort, though, Doctor Unohana spoke up in an attempt to dissipate the growing conflict.
"Mist…Grimmjow, Mister Kurosaki is going to check over your stitches and your vital signs, to ensure that the blood loss hasn't affected you too badly. Do you have any issues with being treated by a fully-supervised student?"
Ichigo wasn't offended by the doctor's final statement: it was the same thing that every patient was asked, because a few were too paranoid to let an unqualified med student near them. He was actually kind of hoping that the blue-haired asshole would have a problem with it, simply so that he could move away from the arrogant bastard.
"You're askin' if I have a problem with letting that damn fine piece a' meat touch me? Schoolboy, you don't even need permission. Get the fuck over here."
Mouth falling open at Grimmjow's bluntness, Ichigo's temper frayed as his cheeks heated in embarrassment. How the Hell could the man be so blasé about saying something like that? Really, he could have been straight, for all the blue-haired patient knew!
Ichigo didn't realise that he was simply staring, motionless, until Grimmjow started laughing and Doctor Unohana quietly spoke up. "Mister Kurosaki, you may start by taking his temperature, blood pressure and pulse."
Waking up to himself, Ichigo felt his blush increase a little even though the woman's tone wasn't scolding in the least. "O-of course, Doctor Unohana. Sorry."
Focusing solely on what he was supposed to be doing, Ichigo tried to ignore the blunette's intense stare and far too pleased grin. Reminding himself that this was just another patient, no different from the middle-aged woman or anyone else he'd looked at during his placement, he discussed Grimmjow's vitals with Doctor Unohana and tried to stay as calm as possible.
"Grimmjow, everything seems to be alright there. Mr Kurosaki will now look at your stitches, so if you wouldn't mind sitting forward, he can remove the bandage." Doctor Unohana gestured Ichigo forward again, and the redhead felt a lump start to block up his throat.
The look Grimmjow was giving him was positively seductive, the man stretching his long arms out with a deep groan before he sat up straighter. The bedcovers fell lower around the man's waist, but Ichigo forced his gaze to remain on the white bandage- nothing below the waist was his concern right now. Or at all.
Swallowing hard, Ichigo unclipped the end of the bandage, carefully unwinding it around Grimmjow's torso. He felt a twitch in his stomach as a well-muscled chest and abdomen started to come into view, but he forced it down: this was simply a work duty, and the blue-haired man was an annoying, arrogant prick. Even if he was attracted to the patient- which he most certainly wasn't- the man's personality was a complete turn-off.
Ichigo pulled the last of the bandage away, setting it off to the side and leaning in to inspect the stitches. The recently-repaired wound still looked quite bad, the skin around it red and painful-looking. The thing that shook Ichigo the most, though, was the sheer size of the slice: it went almost the entire length of Grimmjow's torso, and must have bled like Hell.
Still, it looked alright for a stitch job that couldn't have been done more than twelve hours before, and neither Ichigo nor Doctor Unohana could see anything that needed fixing. Managing to forget just how perverted the patient seemed to be, Ichigo reached forward without hesitation and lightly prodded the skin of Grimmjow's abdomen, testing the man's reaction and the tautness of the stitches.
A deep, rumbling groan had the student grinding his teeth together as he forced himself to finish the examination, pulling his hand away the moment he was done. Face practically burning up, he refused to meet Grimmjow's eyes; instead, he looked at the vaguely amused Doctor Unohana, gesturing to the new bandage she was holding.
"Can you please put that on for me, doctor…" Ichigo muttered, unwilling to touch the bastard patient again. The woman didn't question the redhead, obviously knowing what was going on; Ichigo could only be glad about that.
"Awww, I thought we were havin' fun, Schoolboy. Don't you love me anymore?" The obvious mockery in Grimmjow's tone made Ichigo see red, and before he knew it, he was storming out of the room and into the hallway. Really, it was that or attack the man: Ichigo was damn relieved that his body had chosen the former.
How could he be expected to work properly under such…circumstances? Fingers pinching the bridge of his nose, the redhead forced himself to calm down. Doctor Unohana had been so pleased with him: had Grimmjow screwed all that up? Letting out a low growl of frustration, Ichigo leant back against the wall by the door.
Faintly, he heard Doctor Unohana tell Grimmjow that she would check up on him later in the afternoon, and soon the door beside him opened.
"I know I screwed up, okay? I shouldn't let patients get to me like that, but…but…he's just so…ugh!" Ichigo ran a hand through his messy hair, tugging on the soft strands. He wasn't sure who he was more pissed at: Grimmjow for pushing him, or himself for responding.
"As I was about to say, Mister Kurosaki," Doctor Unohana said in her bizarrely polite-yet-stern tone, "You handled yourself admirably for someone who is unused to more…eccentric patients. You will need to work on maintaining your temper, though. I'll be going back to check on Mister Jaegerjaquez in several hours, but you may remain away from him if you wish."
The offer was tempting, but Ichigo shook his head with determination. "I'll do the check-up. Like you said, I need practice with restraining myself- I'm not gonna let that bas-…man get the better of me. It'll be fine."
Doctor Unohana looked a little dubious, but Ichigo gave it no mind.
When he next went into that room, he was going to show Grimmjow that the man's teasing wasn't effective in the least. He wasn't going to let some blue-haired idiot screw this placement up for him.
***For the structure of Ichigo's university study, I mangled the basics of the MD course at an Australian university, so it might not match up with the way the course works in other countries. Also, I'm an arts student, not a med student, so I don't really know how it all works. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it…Oh, and Ichigo is 25. He did a three-year bachelor degree, and then went into a four-year Doctor of Medicine.***