Wherever the contests are, there I am.
Title: Nightingale Syndrome
Rating: T for some mature subject matter, violence, etc
Summary: Doctors aren't supposed to fall in love with their patients, especially when they're responsible for the patient being sent to the hospital, in the first place.
Genre: A violent romantic comedy
Note: In honour of Kenpachi and Unohana recently being certified as canon, I present a humble tribute.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Bleach.
Considering how incompatible the two were, it should have come as no surprise that their inevitable falling out was to be of spectacular proportions. And yet, nonetheless, it did come as a surprise to the two major parties involved in the affair.
“I cannot believe how deep your bloodlust runs!” the normally reserved Unohana shrieked, swinging her sword violently at every conceivable vital spot on her ex-lover’s body. “Furthermore,” she shook her head, dodging a slash aimed at her neck in the process, “I cannot believe I was foolish enough to believe that I could change you.”
Kenpachi, the bloodthirsty barbarian in question, frowned as he laughed maniacally, the bells in his hair jingling. “Change me, woman?” he baulked, parrying every one of Unohana’s strikes and still managing to send blows of his own. “How dare you interrupt my fight with that vice-captain?!”
Sparks flew, but only a few came from the clashing blades.
“She would have died, had I not!”
Blood erupted from Kenpachi’s face after a narrow miss, but he drew even when his blade bit into Unohana’s arm.
“Then you should have let her die!”
Unohana’s eyes flashed dangerously and Kenpachi realized his mistake too late. “Don’t you realize that such needless killing is reprehensible?” His former partner surged with newfound strength and abruptly overwhelmed him. In an instant, his sword was knocked out of his hands and dug into the earth a fair distance away. Then, before he could recover himself, Unohana rammed her sword through his chest.
He coughed and blood flowed out of his mouth. “Your swordsmanship…” he grinned, examining her form and the steel embedded in his chest, “is as beautiful as always…”
Then Kenpachi bellowed a great laugh before keeling backwards with a heavy thud.
“This relationship,” Unohana sighed in sad relief, “is no longer.”
A pair of dark eyes he was intimately familiar with accosted him as soon as Kenpachi next awoke. Immediately impelled by instincts ingrained into him by a life in the worst of slums, he reached around for a sword to arm himself; his hand never found one, as a sharp pain in his chest stopped him as soon as he tried to move. He roared in agony and rage, mightily displeased by the new cage created by his wounded body.
Warm fingers gently eased him back and applied a shockingly cold ointment over his injury. The dark eyes took hold of him once more.
“This pain is no less than you deserve,” her words were colder than the ointment, but her voice was warmer than her fingers, “but my mercy knows not discrimination.”
Kenpachi struggled to pry open his jaws and reply testily, but only guttural groans and growls escaped. A finger softly pressed against his lips, silencing him.
“Patience,” she whispered. “You will return to your former, beast-like self sooner than should be possible, in all likelihood—but, as you are, the weakest in my division could overpower you. So rest and recover,” she commanded firmly.
Perhaps surprisingly, he listened. He listened, and bided his time until he would be strong once more.
The most logical connection kick-started Unohana and Kenpachi’s relationship: he enjoyed fighting people and she lived to save those on the verge of death. Consequently, their opposing natures brought the two together in the hospital. Whether his own injuries, rare though they were, or a subordinate’s wounds bade him to visit the ward where she worked, he ultimately ended up spending a fair amount of time in the same vicinity as her.
Of course, romance should not have blossomed. To Kenpachi, Unohana’s pacifism was anathema and repellent. Likewise, Kenpachi’s brutal desires could not have made him more abhorrent to Unohana. And yet the two connected, regardless of common sense.
As it turned out, each possessed something that attracted them to one another. In spite of her placidity, Unohana possessed enough power to overwhelm most everyone else in Soul Society, and so Kenpachi admired her against his will—although he never understood why she couldn’t see the glory in a good bloodbath. His admiration grew as time passed and transformed into unadulterated, unstoppable lust, the kind he usually left reserved for battle. After their relationship became intimate, he would tell anyone, to Unohana’s embarrassment, that he’d been mistaken about the lust part and that he truly loved her. Then he would quickly add that he still wanted to get freaky with her, lest somebody mistake him for some puppy-eyed pussy.
Now, it was plausible that an unchained and ill-mannered brute like Kenpachi might attach himself to Unohana, but the rest of Soul Society, for the life of them, could never fathom what she saw in return. Even at the height of the doomed relationship, she regularly berated him for his bad behaviour and constantly reined him in whenever he itched for a fight. Honestly, she didn’t even look like she enjoyed being with him, much as she denied this to the contrary. Truth was, Unohana felt drawn to him because of his disreputable character; to the famous medic, Kenpachi presented the greatest challenge in her career. Her line of thought was that if she could “fix” the most violent man in Soul Society, she could cure anything. Not knowing this detail, however, the general populace simply assumed that the sex had to be good in order to explain the perplexing union, but they were wrong—the sex was great.
Alas, the pairing was not meant to last and only Unohana and Kenpachi didn’t know it. Taming the beast known as Kenpachi was an impossible task, and Unohana grew more frustrated as she failed to housetrain the Captain of the Eleventh. At the same time, Kenpachi wondered if loving Unohana was as much fun as lusting after her, as he noticed he spent a lot of time at the opera and arranging flowers—things he’d never done before Unohana entered his life.
Hence, the clash which occurred between the two and the impressively gruesome break up. Yet the couple had already demonstrated that logic need not be applied to their interactions, and the pair was not as separated as they first appeared. In addition to being one of the only souls capable of subduing Kenpachi in combat, Unohana was the lone Shinigami in Rukongai who could heal the very wounds she had inflicted upon him.
Thus, the two were to spend many hours with one another and were given ample time to mend their differences. God help us all.
“Woman, when can I get out of here? I haven’t had a proper fight in weeks,” Kenpachi grumbled for the umpteenth time.
“My name is Retsu, Kenpachi, not ‘woman,’” Unohana chided him in the middle of replacing his bandages. Anyone else in the division would have winced at the many scars decorating Kenpachi’s chest.
“Well then, Retsu, hurry up!” he barked, unable to bite.
“You know, Kenpachi,” Unohana remarked, wrapping his new bandages around his midriff tighter than necessary, “this attitude is what brought you to this room in the first place.”
“Give yourself more credit, woman—Retsu—it was your sword that did that,” he sneered.
She shook her head. “If only more Shinigami were stronger or if you weren’t so strong, perhaps you would have learned a lesson you should have long ago.”
He chuckled. “If I’d been a pathetic weakling, I’d be much too long dead to do any learnin'.” She froze and stopped binding his injury. “You done turning me into a mummy then?” he nodded at the bandages.
Unohana glanced at her motionless hands in surprise. “No, I’m not.” She began dressing up his wounds once more. The great buffoon suffered the indignity in silence for a change. “Kenpachi,” she said.
“Hmm?” he grunted.
“I apologize for my actions. Whatever harm you caused, I should never have used the same brutality on you.”
Kenpachi cocked his head. “What’s this?” he said before laughing uproariously in her face. Either the loud clearing of her throat or the powerful glare she gave him ended his laughter prematurely. “Still,” he added, “why should ya be sorry? The way you fought sent tingles of excitement down my spine; who knows when I’ll have that much fun again?”
Unohana crossed her arms in disapproval, although her lip twitched at the rare compliment.
But Kenpachi’s grin could not be fazed. “If anything, I should be sorry for pissing ya off so much. I mean, now I’m stuck in here and can’t fight. Then again…”—a lust Unohana easily recognized filled his eyes—“…since I’m here with you, maybe I’m not so sorry about what happened…”
It was truly amazing how being bedridden could transform a vicious thug like Kenpachi into an adorable and very forgivable little kitten.
What happened next in the hospital wing is a subject of mystery in Soul Society. One day, it was a confirmed fact, if you asked any decent gossiper, that Unohana and Kenpachi were thankfully through. Then, after many a noisy night, everyone was whispering about how the two exchanged knowing glances and made physical contact a little more than necessary. Sightings of a giant manta ray in the twilight hours became commonplace. Word of mouth said the breakup was only temporary.
When asked for her opinion on the matter, Unohana’s vice-captain ran away in fright, screaming about “living nightmares.”
“Ken-chan’s going to be a daddy!” Kenpachi’s vice-captain declared and said nothing more after spreading wild pregnancy rumours which have yet to be either confirmed or denied.
Two lesser subordinates in the eleventh division, who wished not to be named because of the high possibility their captain would hunt them down for saying so, simply called the man-and-woman relationship “Disgusting.”
“Um, well, I…uh, am terrified of Kenpachi and my own captain, to be kinda honest, and don’t even want to know what happened,” one Hanatarou Yamada said in a statement.
“Utterly deplorable!” the Captain-Commander growled, although he may have been talking about anything.
At least one Shinigami cheered on the event. “You go, girl, woohoo!” Vice-Captain Matsumoto hollered. “Bad choice of men, if you ask me, but she wanted it and she went for it!” When asked for details about the event, the vice-captain could make no further comments on account of being highly intoxicated.
“Why’re you even asking me?” Ichigo Kurosaki replied rudely. “I don’t even live in Soul Society!”
And so, whatever transpired that night will remain unknown, but it can be surmised that it was most inappropriate.
To everyone’s dismay, Kenpachi walked out of the hospital with Unohana by his side. The two were holding hands. It was official: they were no longer on the rocks.
“You have learned your lesson, right, Kenpachi?” Unohana asked him most seriously.
His lips curled in a disinterested grimace. “Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, “I won’t pick on any more frickin’ weaklings, unless they look at me funny first.”
“I beg your pardon?” Unohana said sharply.
He coughed and correced himself, “I mean, I won’t at all.”
“Good,” she beamed radiantly. “Your language could use some attention, too, but I think you’ve really come around.”
“Sure, whatever.” If she hadn’t threatened to withhold sex, he’d never have agreed to anything. Kenpachi looked around glumly, ignoring terrified Shinigami. “Where’s my goddamn sword?”
Someone in the crowd squeaked in fright and Unohana sighed. “Here.” She produced a worn-out blade with her free hand. Kenpachi immediately grabbed for it, but Unohana pulled it out of his reach. “First, promise me again you will never, ever, attack those powerless to resist you again. I mean it, Kenpachi; I cannot always keep an eye on you.”
He snatched his weapon away from her; it felt good to be armed again—now he was truly healed. “I told ya, I got it. I’m not fighting weaklings again, like you want.”
“All right, then,” she replied, suspicious of his motives. Unohana gazed into his eyes and when he didn’t flinch, she was convinced he would hold to his word. “In that case, simply remember to visit my office later for a…check-up.”
He grinned, while those eavesdropping in the crowd proceeded to sick up.
One unforgettable night and one day later, Soul Society was aflame and rapidly burning to the ground. The city of Rukongai was in chaos, as nobody thought to put “Battle an inferno” in their day planners. Thus, the majority of the souls ran about aimlessly like headless chickens while the captains attempted to restore order.
Unohana, who’d left the city briefly to look for medicinal herbs, only arrived after half of the city had turned to smoke and ash; she still glowed from the previous night, but don’t tell her that. Immediately, she began issuing orders and taking what control she could.
“You, from the fifth division, find someone with a water-related Zanpakutou—oh, you have one? Then do what you can to put out this fire!” she commanded. “Young woman over there, make contact with the other captains, please, so we can organize our efforts. And somebody, please, direct the Pluses away to a safe location.” That should cover the necessities. Unohana breathed in and out, calming herself. “Isane-san,” she turned to her own vice-captain, “can you please explain what has happened?”
Isane shrank away. “I-I’m not sure, exactly…but Vice-Captain Abarai mentioned that Captain Zaraki got involved in a fight with the Captain-Commander and things spiralled out of control…”
Unohana’s blazing eyes made the fire around her look like a popsicle in comparison. “He did what?!” Then: “Where is he?!”
Isane pointed meekly. If only the nightmares hadn’t consumed her waking life, too.
Kenpachi observed the fruits of his labour from Sokyoku Hill. Like he suspected, the old man put up a pretty good fight. Below him, a building collapsed with a heavy crash, sending embers and smoke everywhere. Then Kenpachi glanced at the many new cuts and scrapes he’d obtained, and noted his clothes were shredded. The old man really fought well and lived up to this title, but Kenpachi figured he’d challenge a different captain next time.
“Kenpachi! Where are you?!”
Ah, his lady love had come to find him. He wasn’t surprised. He’d expected her sooner, to be honest. “Up here, woman!” he bellowed over the roar of the flames.
A moment later, Unohana landed on the edge of cliff and stared him down. She drew her sword and pointed it at him. Just when he thought he’d pushed her fury to its limits, he discovered how much angrier she could get; it was a fun game.
“You…what have you done?” Her blade shook with her anger. “Do I need to babysit you every second? What happened to the promise you made me not to fight?!”
This was all very amusing to the Captain of the Eleventh. “Promise?” he laughed in her face. “I promised not to fight losers, and I did exactly that. However,” he chuckled darkly, “you said nothing about going after strong fighters.”
Unohana snarled and took a step towards Kenpachi before she regained control. She put down her Zanpakutou. “Where is the Captain-Commander?” she frowned.
“He left,” Kenpachi answered. “He tired of our fight once he realized we were destroying Soul Society, and decided he should salvage what he could.” The berserker bared his teeth mirthfully. “Don’t let him make you think otherwise, but I’d have won for sure if we’d settled things properly.”
“You…take pride in all this?” She gestured at the fire surrounding them. “How long will continue to dash my hopes, Kenpachi? Will you stop at nothing short of the very end of the world itself?” Amidst the thunderous din, screams were most audible.
“The apocalypse, eh?” A wide grin split his face. “Sounds like a lotta fun to me.”
“So be it then,” she declared and put up her weapon again. Her killing intent stimulated Kenpachi into a frenzy. “Brace yourself—I shall bring the apocalypse to you.”
His smile grew wider and he raised his battered sword. “I love ya, too.”
She scowled and they charged each other, and the sound of clashing steel drowned out the noise of the inferno. The previous night, the couple had engaged in a much different sort of action, but this day promised to be just as memorable, assuming they lived to tell the tale.
Making up was nice and all, but this pair much preferred to break up.