Ichigo awoke very slowly from his drug-induced slumber. He lay lethargic and just barely aware of his surroundings for what seemed like half an hour, feeling as though he had slept for days. Pulling himself out of his drowsy state, Ichigo made an attempt to get out of bed, immediately regretting it as his heavy left leg screamed out in objection. All exhaustion was washed away in favor of newly registered stiffness in his joints and soreness in all muscles excluding the absolutely excruciating leg. Ichigo did a once over of his surroundings and quickly concluded he was in a hospital room. After a moment to roll through his memories, the scene was easily brought to mind; a car and horn coming his way, then pain. It was honestly a relief for him to have gotten out with just a broken leg and a few cuts. Now aware of his situation, Ichigo settled back into the hospital bed in defeat, he had never been fond of lying still for long, so he knew his recovery would be an endless period of boredom and fidgeting.
Drumming his fingers on his thigh, Ichigo could already feel restless. There was a television in the right corner of the room that no one thought to turn on for when Ichigo would awaken. He scanned the room for a remote, even checked the drawer in his side table, but found nothing. A short debate went through his head of whether he should call a nurse to turn the tv on, but he soon decided against it, knowing they had better things to do and more serious calls to attend to. Being raised in a clinic himself Ichigo knew how demanding patients could be in recovery, he didn't want to be one of those patients. Ichigo fixed his gaze on the slim rectangular window of his closed door, watching the people hustling to and fro in the hall.
Everyone who passed his door seemed to be in a hurry, as if someone had pressed fast forward and the frame had them all stuck in an awkward speed walk. Sometimes someone would walk past slowly, and it was painful to watch. All the slow walkers had a look of dread and fear etched across their features, a look Ichigo recognized even through the glass barrier on the other side of his room. He'd seen that look from clinic visitors, he'd seen it on his friends, he'd even worn it himself, and it was just as soul crushing to see after all of these years.
The clock above the door told Ichigo he had been watching the window for approximately five minutes, and now he began to wonder where his caretaker was. Not a single nurse or doctor had come to check on him since he had woken up almost half an hour ago, not even looked through the door. What was boredom due to being left alone in a quiet room at midday was soon transcending to annoyance. Just as Ichigo made a move to press the call button, a bright blue patch went by the window, bringing his attention right back to the door. He believed it to be someone's glove waving at him through the window, but was visibly shocked when a man with sky blue hair looked through as if taking a double take. He smiled and opened the door.
"Hey there, how are you feeling Bud?"
Ichigo gave the man a glance from head to toe, he looked almost normal excluding his hair, but then again Ichigo was in no place to make that call, having been "blessed" with such bright orange locks. However it was hard to not notice how his scrubs were nearly identical in color to his flashy hair.
"Alright then," the nurse said, and Ichigo realized he hadn't said anything. Slightly put off and still annoyed at the inattentive actions of his caretaker, Ichigo just decided to remain silent.
"Are you still tired? The anesthesia is a kicker huh?"
The nurse continued his attempts at conversation as Ichigo attempted to read the black tag pinned on his -rather toned- chest. The small white letters were pressed so close together it was nearly impossible to read from the distance at which he was standing and checking Ichigo's charts. The ID pinned to his hip was no better, because whatever his last name was seemed even longer and everything just blurred together.
"Hit by a car, man you're a trooper. You know we get people who buckle under the wind, but you are in pretty good shape for getting hit by a CAR."
Ichigo just wanted him to stop talking. His voice wasn't unpleasant, in fact it was rather nice and had a sort of cheer to it as if this guy was a friend come to visit, but it still felt forced. Looking at the guy's face was the same, he smiled and made eye contact every now and then as he took note of this that and the other, but it looked fake and Ichigo couldn't discern why. As the nurse turned to leave he looked back once more, "I'll come by again soon, okay? Maybe then you'll be a little more talkative huh?"
Annoyed by his remarks and the sarcasm this guy thought he could slip in, Ichigo made a curt request in an attempt to add to the nurse's to do's but not let on how annoyed he was.
"Pillows, I need pillows."
The nurse nodded, the fake smile stretching a bit and an eyebrow quirking up and checking back into place as he maintained his false charisma. He left with no reply or confirmation of the request.
Now that he was gone, Ichigo rolled his eyes. He knew this type in high school; attractive boys that assumed they could do as they pleased. More than likely his life had been a cake walk until he entered the real world and found out he had to WORK to succeed. Now he was pissed at the world for not revolving around him because "Oh my God! He's hot!"
There was no debating he was insanely attractive, he had an athletic body and sharp jawline with lightly tanned skin. His features looked partially foreign, the eye shape was more native, but his eyes were a shade of blue that couldn't be achieved by putting a contact over a brown iris. The nurse's nose and cheekbones read as European, but his accent and dialect, though not from this area, were unmistakably Japanese. Pretty boys like him were always a pain to Ichigo as they were the most relentless in their mocking; having had a crush on a few growing up it was always the hardest to deal with as well. Whether it was for the orange hair or his lone wolf nature Ichigo was teased quite a bit, but it made him a strong man by the time he graduated. While that was neither here nor there, this pretty boy was still bothering Ichigo, by not attending to his job.
Ten minutes ticked by, Ichigo watching the clock and window intently, angrily awaiting the annoying shade of blue to sweep by. When it finally did, he had to hold in a sigh, one that would obviously say "You finally showed up."
The nurse opened the door with one arm and used his shoulder to push it open, his other hand busy holding a pile of about four or five pillows. Ichigo picked up on the retaliation of it. If he was going to ask the nurse to do something extra, the nurse would give him EXTRA. The pillows were dropped unceremoniously into Ichigo's waiting arms. Not knowing what to do with the pillows that he didn't even need, he resorted to lying back down and burying himself under them to shield himself from the false friendliness of his caretaker.
"Comfortable?" He called to Ichigo.
No reply. Ichigo was waiting for him to just leave.
"You must be. Though I imagine it must be really hot under there." The nurse continued his ramblings and Ichigo wondered if he genuinely was trying to make conversation or just filling the silence. He was never phased by the silence, furthering Ichigo's suspicion of his false cheerfulness.
"You're a great listener, even better conversationalist." This time the sarcasm was in full affect and no attempt was made to hide it. Ichigo decided to speak up, just to politely ask the nurse to leave so he could rest.
"You know what, fight me pretty boy," however his mouth had made a decision of its own, and the room was silent once again.
Ichigo couldn't see over the pillow between he and the quiet attendant, and he hadn't heard the door so he must still be in the room.
The pillow in front of his face was suddenly removed, revealing the nurse leaning down to make eye contact, his forced smile gone and a cocky grin in its place.
"Maybe later, get well cutie," he said and replaced the pillow before leaving.
Ichigo was both confused and annoyed with his brazen caretaker. He shrugged off the remark as him trying to find a good comeback. "He called me, a grown man 'pretty' so I will call him, an equally grown man 'cute,' perfect" is how he imagined the inner dialogue of his nurse. It was embarrassing, but at least he got to finally read that damn name tag. Grimmjow. Even his name was pretentious.
Ichigo amounted his fixation on how much he couldn't stand the nurse to him trying to fill his boredom. Every time Grimmjow came to check on him Ichigo refused to speak to him, let alone ask him to turn on the tv. Honestly Ighigo was offended that he never thought "Hey, you're here alone a lot, and you're probably bored out of your mind, why not turn this on?"
His father and sisters had come by once since he'd been awake, his friends tagged along in their overly-energetic way to cheer him up. Then it was back to quiet boredom, but not as quiet as he would have liked. Grimmjow seemed to come by much more often, resulting in Ichigo transferring his hatred of Grimmjow's inattentiveness to a dread of his frequent visiting. Each time he rambled on about things he obviously knew Ichigo didn't care about and wouldn't remember in twenty minutes; he'd dropped the usual courtesy of hospital attendants and was now full on complaining and smirking as if the two were friends. Sometimes he heard snippets about how his attendant was tired all the time from his long hours or about how he hated the patients that got too flirty and handsy knowing he couldn't yell or really do anything in retaliation. He understood why that would happen: Grimmjow was beautiful and the patients had the excuse of being on medications, not to mention they wouldn't have to face him again in a few weeks. In that aspect Ichigo almost felt bad for Grimmjow, but he ruined it by coming to annoy Ichigo with his complaints so very often.
After having enough of the nurse continuing to drone on even after Ichigo pulled the pillow over his head to block him out, he snapped at him, again.
"Shut up already! I will fight you, right here!" Ichigo jolted upright in his bed, resulting in pain shooting up his hip from the sudden activity. He winced and curled over to breathe and settle down. Grimmjow was over him in a millisecond trying to make sure he hadn't torn his stitches or moved the re-set bones out of place. He sighed in relief, apparently Ichigo's excruciating pain was a good sign.
"I won't fight you, you'd beat me for sure. I have no doubt," he smiled at the cringing ginger as if he didn't just cause him to flip out in a hospital room, and pat him on the shoulder before leaving. Grimmjow's sarcasm only further wound him up. Ichigo could not wait to leave this damned hospital the next night and be away from Grimmjow, but by his calculations of how often he came to his room, he would see him another two to four times at least before he fell asleep. Great.
Grimmjow's next visit was fifteen minutes later with bandages and a kit to clean the stitched up wound. Ichigo prepared himself for the rapid fire talking and complaining, but it did not come. Grimmjow was quiet as he lifted, and carried on with redressing, the busted leg. It was partially a relief to not be bombarded with his non-stop gabbing, but it was also disturbing for the room to still be so quiet with another body there who could fill the silence.
"Are you alright?" Ichigo asked more curious than concerned. In a way he supposed that he looked forward to Grimmjow's pointless babbling, it was company and it gave him something to do, even if that something was being annoyed with his nurse.
"Yeah, I'm fine, you were just really pissy last time," He said unphased, and Ichigo couldn't help rolling his eyes.
"Jeez, the other patients must LOVE you. So charming, and thoughtful."
Grimmjow let a small laugh fill the room as he clipped the gauze into place.
"Of course they do, I've always been irresistible," he joked and stood back up to replace all the supplies in the kit.
"And modest. You must have been real trouble in school."
Grimmjow tightened his jaw a bit before relaxing again and just nodding.
"Yeah, I was trouble. An asshole really, but... Never mind, you aren't here to listen to me drone on."
Ichigo shook his head, "No, it's fine, I don't have anything else to do, obviously."
He looked pointedly at the tv, but Grimmjow didn't pay it any mind and sat in the chair by the bed to launch into his story.
"I was a rough kid, you know the type. Skip out on class here, get in a fight there... And there... And there," Ichigo laughed a bit then and Grimmjow just smirked.
"You think that's funny? I got in some serious shit back then, I got stabbed once."
Ichigo gave him a wide-eyed look but cocked an eyebrow in disbelief.
"I'm serious, right in my arm, look at this," he rolled up his sleeve, holding it over his shoulder and revealing a bicep that was more toned and built than Ichigo originally thought, and across it was a marbled scar about three inches long that stood out significantly, brown on a pale tan.
"No kidding," Ichigo said dazed. His eyes wandered across the arm, to the shoulder where thick black and turquoise lines were prominently traced on the skin.
"You have tattoos?"
To this Grimmjow just nodded with a bit of a grimace.
"Yeah, a few. The one up here," he rubbed his hand over his shoulder and let his sleeve fall back down over the scar, "I got when I was fifteen because I thought I would look tough. I did a lot of things to look tough when I was a teenager and I regret a lot of my school years honestly."
Ichigo nodded in agreement.
"What are they?"
Grimmjow took a deep breath as if he were about to reveal some big embarrassing secret.
"Well up here is the one I hate the most, it was supposed to be a crown, you know, for a king. Seems simple right? A kings crown, in black, blue, and grey, what's difficult about that right? Well the 'artist' took creative license and gave me the most unmistakable TIARA he could. Needless to say I was pissed, that became another fight entirely, and when I went in to get a cover up at another shop they had to black the whole thing out and just cover it, so now I have a giant paw print on my shoulder and to balance it I have another over on my lower back." He pat his left side.
Ichigo bit his lip for a minute, but was unable to contain the laugh that escaped.
"I'm sorry, but... I'm not, that's funny," he continued to let his laugh fade and made eye contact with his nurse, whom just sat there bearing his crooked smile.
"So you have a bad cover up, alright. Not surprising, you seem like the type who'd have gotten something like that." Grimmjow cocked an eyebrow at this, challenging his patient.
"Do I seem like the type to get a navel piercing?"
Ichigo stopped, "You pierced your belly button?!" He said louder than he intended, trying not to start laughing again.
"Sure did," his caretaker replied unabashedly. And Ichigo couldn't help looking him over as if he would see the piercing under his loose scrubs.
"Yeah, look," Ichigo almost flinched at how easily Grimmjow pulled up the hem of his uniform and undershirt, revealing perfectly chiseled abs and a prominent ornament on his navel. Sure enough it was pierced and proudly decorated, a black paw hanging from the diamond on the lower end of the curved barbell. Then it was gone again as Grimmjow dropped his shirt.
"It's about time I get back to the nurse's station, but I'll be back in a while. God forbid you get bored," he jabbed Ichigo in his ribs and left the room. Ichigo thought for a minute he had winked through the window, but concluded it was the light shifting as he closed the door.
Sleep overcame Ichigo before he could face another encounter with his nurse. By the time he woke up the doctor was in his room checking the usual, seeming rather pleased with what she was seeing.
"I'm sure you're excited to be going home today?" She asked in her soft voice, it was almost odd to hear the gentleness of it after two and a half days of almost nothing but Grimmjow's loud, cocky, and persistent one. Still it held comfort and was welcomed.
"Definitely, I'm sure my father has been driving my sisters up the wall," he joked, receiving a small smile. It was fake, one used to humor patients for their comfort, and Ichigo was again agitated by the false atmosphere hospitals carried and couldn't wait to leave. When the doctor left Ichigo sighed in relief and fell back against the bed.
"Are you that happy to get rid of us?" The sarcastic voice floated into the room, the smirk almost audible.
"Ecstatic. I absolutely can't wait," a chuckle followed as Grimmjow leaned through the doorway but did not enter.
"I've got quite a few people on my roster today, so I'll have my hands full, but is there anything you need?" He asked.
Ichigo thought for a few seconds, "Coffee. No rush, I know you're busy, but I'd appreciate it at some point. If you can get me a coffee that would be great, thanks." He turned to face the doorway, his attendant nodded once and smiled, not his usual cocky grin, but a sweet one much unlike his forged hospital worker courtesy.
"Alright, will do cutie," he remarked.
Ichigo scoffed, "Fight me, pretty boy."
As the day dragged Ichigo realized that Grimmjow was serious about having a busy day; his visits weren't nearly as often or long and consisted mostly of him grumbling about how "This is bullshit" and "I'm damn tired." Followed by tossing a pillow or random snack at Ichigo before leaving again. Boredom ensued and led Ichigo to find even the smallest tasks to occupy his time. At the moment he was tapping out the rhythm to a song he'd heard on the radio a while back on his cast, careful to avoid the stitches that emerged from above the cotton and plaster.
The cast was a teal color that Ichigo wouldn't have wanted if given the choice. He would have preferred a red or black, but as he found out it was his oh-so-thoughtful nurse that chose the bright blue, and was first to sign it as well. In a silver sharpie, his angled signature spanned the entire side of his calf; of course he wanted the largest signature on the damn thing.
After hours of Grimmjow's sporadic check ups and watching the clock tick away, Ichigo made the effort to get up, spotting a pair of crutches propped on a hook by his side table. The soreness of his leg was still there, but he felt far less pain and needed to move, the stiffness was killing him. He walked around for about twenty minutes to get the blood flowing and relieve the ache of his muscles before grabbing the clothes his father had brought him the day before to get dressed to leave.
The shirt was easy enough to slip into, but working on the shorts with a cast that felt like a hundred pounds was a very time-consuming task. By the time he was done there was knocking on his bathroom door and the goading of his soon-to-be-relieved nurse.
"You can't die the day you check out, it would ruin my clean record," he called from behind the door, eliciting a laugh from Ichigo.
As much as he didn't want to say it, he would miss Grimmjow a bit, he was a pretty nice guy. Sure he was annoying, but half of his friends were too, some even more so.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" He called as he hobbled across the small bathroom. Grimmjow chuckled to himself and Ichigo rolled his eyes, trying to open the door and balance over his crutch all at once. Grimmjow only laughed more as the knob would turn halfway and snap back to its original position again and again.
"Oh come on, it only takes one hand," he taunted.
Ichigo clenched his jaw, annoyed that the door could easily be opened from the other side, but SOMEONE refused to help him.
"Keep going on like this and you'll only HAVE one," Ichigo called out.
Grimmjow opened the door, still chuckling as he let the ginger past him.
"Coffee?" The nurse asked, holding a cup out to Ichigo that he hadn't noticed earlier. It wasn't a generic cup that hospitals stocked for coffee in the cafeteria, it was branded with the logo for a shop down the road, a place Ichigo had passed many times before, but never gone into.
"Thanks," he said, a bit dazed. He had forgotten his earlier request, and with Grimmjow having been so busy it appeared for a while that he had too. Instead he had made the commute to pick it up at a cafe instead of grabbing the cheap stuff from downstairs.
"Well it was my break anyway, thought I might as well get it while I was out," he stretched his scarred arm across his chest, an audible crack sounding.
"Really, thank you, that was very kind," the ginger replied, looking up at the blue-haired man and noticing just how tall he was. He was perfect, wasn't he?
Soon enough the Kurosaki family had come to claim their son, Ichigo's father excitedly supporting him in his "Crusade against the mental construct of pain" as if his son were a war hero or superhuman for breaking his leg. His sisters, being night and day, greeted him very differently. Yuzu nearly cried saying how terrified she was, almost repeating what she had said to him the day before, while Karin just jabbed him in the side and said he'd be fine. Grimmjow smiled a bit at the interactions of the family as they signed Ichigo out of the hospital's care.
"Hey, Ichigo, don't come back anytime soon alright?" He smirked at the shorter man.
"Don't tempt me," he retorted.
"Nice meeting you Grimmjow, thanks for keeping me company," this earned a full grin from the nurse.
"No problem, you're a great listener," he jokingly knocked Ichigo's jaw.
A question suddenly sprung to Ichigo's mind, one he had nearly forgotten about.
"Why didn't you turn on the tv? Seriously, it was really quiet and I was really bored," and Grimmjow laughed, almost doubling over at how hard he was trying to hold it in. When he finally straightened back up Ichigo was befuddled by the reaction.
"Sorry, but... I didn't want to. If I would have turned it on would you have listened to me?"
Ichigo thought it over, and honestly he wouldn't have.
"Whatever, it doesn't matter now. Go on home, I'm sure you'd like to be back in your own bed by now," Grimmjow walked him out to where his father and sisters were waiting and made a motion as if to hug him before shortly pausing, dropping one arm and giving an awkward sort of side-hug. Ichigo assumed it was either out of professionalism or to avoid the still half-full coffee in his hand.
The ride home was full of his family telling him how many people came by to wish him well, how quiet it was with him gone, how crazy dad was driving them, etc. He sort of missed this senseless droning, but during his hospital stay he hadn't really noticed it was gone the way he did in his apartment. Living on his own made him dread going home every night to a lonely, quiet room. He silently thanked Grimmjow again, realizing just why he had annoyed him, he reminded him of home. He had that loud, open personality that he had always lived with, and it made his stay so much more comfortable. It was the times he was alone in the silence that he was uncomfortable, he was so used to "annoyances" in the background, from his father, to his cousins, friends, and classmates he always had that ongoing jabbering in his head. So in a way, he needed the pestering of his nurse, and was thankful for it. If he had been stuck with someone as quiet and professional as his doctor the whole time he surely would have been bored to death.
Once home, Ichigo was quick to set about climbing the steps to his room and lay in his old bed, the now empty cup on his desk. He took a moment to close his eyes and breathe, it was the smell of home, not rubbing alcohol or crisp hospital sheets. He had missed this after he moved out; being handicapped gave his family an excuse to drag him back, and he welcomed it. After a minute he opened his eyes again, the cup on his desk the first thing that caught his attention. Half of the logo was displayed, as well as some scrawling in a silver sharpie on the other side of the brown cuff. He wondered how he hadn't seen the bright glittering earlier, then recalled the logo was facing him when Grimmjow handed him the cup, his hand would have covered the silver writing. Ichigo pulled himself onto his elbows and glanced at his bright cast, the large silver signature standing out. He grabbed the cup quickly and read the cuff, a small smile working onto his face.
"Fight me cutie?" followed by a cell phone number.
Ichigo wouldn't mind calling Grimmjow his nurse for a little longer.