-Chapter I: Unknown Bride?-
Special Note: This fan fiction is under extensive revision. I'll add more fluffs, descriptions and scenes. Thank you for all the reviews. I'm moved. I know it is kind of selfish for deleting the other chapters but I fear that the story might be slightly different from the original. I'll do the same thing with my other fics. Please don't sue me. I just want this to make a better read. Comments and suggestion are welcomed. I'll do my best to become a mature writer. That includes lesser whining. XD
Summary: AU. It's modern time. There's no question about that. But for a traditional family like Kuchiki, arranged marriages is never archaic. Thus, the story.
Disclaimer: Who the hell started this 'disclaimer' thingy! It stinks! Couldn't we at least dream that we own bleach? Would it hurt a lot of souls if we do? We all know that Kubo owns bleach! So why should one do this disclaimer thingy? It's like telling us that: You can never claim bleach as yours! (evil laughter at the background)
"Dedicated to the ones who keep reviewing and supporting this fic and my awesome beta-reader who wants to work in the shadows. (winks) I hope this is worth dedicating."
The father and son where sitting at the opposite sides of the table.
The father said something serious to his son.
The son in reply, half-opened his mouth... absorbing what his father had just said.
What the hell did he say...? Something about what...? The son looked up to his father's eyes as if he could find the answer there but all he saw were the eyes of a practical joker. He furrowed his brows, question left unanswered.
Okay. So he dragged me into this, claiming that it's an important one... He said it would put Karin and Yuzu in grave danger... if I won't... if I won't...
"What?!?" he sputtered after long silence, banging the table with his fist. A sign that he has finally succeeded absorbing, "What did you say!?"
His father straightened up, quite fascinated for it took his son 'that long' to react. The father was acting unusually... normal and serious as he cleared his throat and said, "Ichigo, I think you're old enough to marry so what are you—"
"You're obligating me to marry a someone I don't even know!" he retorted derisively, bashing again the table in nuisance.
"You know her already, I told you, her name is—"
"I don't mean that way!" he barked exhaustedly, "I can't believe you sold me!"
The father flinched at the son's accusation. "I did not sell you!" was the father's defensive comeback. The father got up from the chair to purposely add effects and to say that there were no further discussions. "You can choose. If you want Yuzu and Karin's life to be in danger then don't marry her."
Ichigo froze then sighted.
Isshin blissfully saw this and grinned maniacally, "They'll be here at lunch."
In order to pay a debt, Kurosaki Isshin made a deal with Kuchiki Byakuya. Though Isshin seemed not to look like one, his name was famous in the field of medicine. For that reason, Kuchiki Byakuya, who's planning to conquer medicinal commerce, became interested in him and asked to become business partners. In return of agreeing, the dept would be obliterate to zilch.
However, according to the tradition of the Kuchiki family, merging of businesses means merging of families. Of course, as a hopelessly romantic type Isshin is, the deal made his ears clap. At last! He was going to have his son married!
Ichigo never had a girlfriend before or even shown interest on any girl, knowing these, he doubted if he would have some grandchildren from his son. Of course, he also wanted some grandchildren from Yuzu and Karin but Ichigo's the one who would carry out his name and it was natural for a father. So, without having second thoughts, he accepted.
The debt was borrowed long ago in Kuchiki Bank Corp. in order to give birth to Kurosaki's clinic. The clinic became successful but Isshin has no plan of raising the it further. While at it, he began to explore himself with potential medicinal sources and forgot about paying the debt. In addition to that, as what almost all of us know, the money borrowed would increase each month because of the interest.
In reality, the debt itself was really nothing. With Isshin's reputation, he could pay it back in almost no time.
But how the heck can he refuse an awfully awesome arranged marriage?! It's so freakishy shojou manga-ish it sounded so magical.
Well... another problem was that Ichigo would refuse definitely. So he made a little lie that if he wouldn't agree, it would jeopardize the lives of Karin and Yuzu.
And Ichigo, being a 'loving and concerned brother', believed his father's lie.
"I can't believe that old man sold me." Ichigo muttered darkly as he threw his back on the chair, waiting for Yuzu to deliver the dishes for lunch.
Yuzu and Karin threw their eyes to him, having different outer reactions.
Poor onii-chan... Yuzu thought inwardly and her eyes softened while Karin might be just thinking dot-dot-dot and gave her brother the usual 'so-what's-the-big-deal' look.
"Instead of whining, you should say thanks to him you'll gonna have yourself a wife with ease." commented the 'caring little sister', Karin.
He snorted, "Yeah right! To someone I don't even know of!" his scowl deepened then hissed, "Goddammit."
Karin ogled at her brother, feeling a tad of sympathy. She was guilty. She should not have agreed with her father to go with his stupid lie.
"Oww... c'mon Karin, Yuzu, why won't you agree with me? It's for your dear loveless brother! Don't you want to see him waiting at the altar for his bride-to-be?"
Karin shook her head, trying hard not to snort. Even Yuzu who was most of the time, very compliant didn't agree with her father.
"What!? So you don't want your brother to get married?!"
The idea made Karin flinch and wore one of the grumpiest pout she had ever shown.
The truth why Karin was reluctant was that she wasn't ready to see her 'Ichi-nii' getting married. Of course being a denial and stoic type that she was, she was finding it hard to admit it. The idea jolted her even more when they were going to force him marry a girl that Ichigo hasn't got a chance to meet before.
"Why?" he added when there came no response from his daughters. "I mean you can't expect him to be with us forever! Even both of you will get married."
This time Karin couldn't hold back her snort, she was after all the girl version of Ichigo.
"Wouldn't it be quite selfish if you were both enjoying yourselves with your own families while Ichigo was there... lonely without someone whom he could cling to?" their father said as he timely checked his daughters' expression. At last, he got what he had wanted to get: Their almost-convinced expression.
Just a little more drama here and there and they'll crack.
"B-But onii-chan should marry the girl he loves!" Yuzu protested in a low voice. Having it the first time to seriously go against her father, she fiddled with her fingers.
Isshin played a part of a father who was about to scold his daughter for dating at the age of 5, "Yuzu. You know your brother well. Do you think he's the type who follows a girl, drops into his knees and asks Will you marry me?"
Yuzu blinked as she tried to imagine the scene, having a troubled expression. A few second later, a glint in her eyes came as if realizing that her father was right.
Isshin grinned, pleased at Yuzu's reaction. "So to lessen his sufferings in swallowing his pride, I've already set up a marriage for him! Maybe he'll not like this girl at first but... after hmm... couple of days spending times together he might... he might... at least like her!"
Karin eyed at him with disgust, feeling the statement so familiar. "Old man, you should be reading shounen mangas not shojous."
Isshin squinted in embarrassment. Since when did Karin learn to read someone's mind?
"Oh how horrible daughters! Okaa-san! They can't understand us! You want Ichigo to get married to, right?!"
Karin rolled her eyes. She hated it when her father would relate himself with their mom. He almost always won. "Urgh. Fine. Fine. We will not talk about this lie to Ichi-nii. But that doesn't mean that we like this idea. If Ichi-nii finds out, we'll be pointing all our fingers to you."
Isshin gulped first before his eyes glittered at began dancing all around. If Karin agreed, Yuzu would definitely follow as well. "Great! I'll discuss this with your brother."
End of flashback.
Silence began to envelope them.
Staring at nowhere and got sick of the silence, Karin blurted out, "It doesn't mean that you'll have to love her."
Maybe that would cheer her brother up. Maybe.
His face slightly brightened as he knocked his fist on his palm, "You're right! We'll be married by name only."
"But onii-chan... that seems to be cruel." Yuzu commented meekly. She couldn't help herself for as usual, Yuzu was thinking circumstances more mature than her brother. If she did exchange places with the girl, it would definitely hurt her.
Talk... talk... say something... defend yourself... you can't let your sister think that you're a 'bad brother' he pried himself.
He forced a shrug, pretending to be nonchalant about it. "I can't force myself to love her. Besides it has been done several times."
Yuzu grimaced, obviously unsatisfied at what his brother said, "Whatever you say..."
The damn topic was making things awkward.
"Have you seen your soon-to-be-bride?" Karin inquired to ease the tension. Obviously the question was the 'wrong one' because it was still the damn topic about the marriage.
He gazed at Karin in puzzlement, "I thought you had. Isn't that Kuchiki's one of the famous clan in Japan?"
She shrugged helplessly. "Yeah but unfortunately, it's also one of the most inscrutable clan in Japan."
He raised his brow, "Why?"
"No one has ever seen a member or they might had but didn't know that they had. Rumors say that the people who had once worked for them, had their memories erased by magic." she shrugged at her own statement. "It sounds silly if you ask me."
"Why would they do that?"
"Probably to protect their riches. I heard from old man that he and that Kuchiki Byakuya-freak communicated only through a black butterfly that has a silly paper on it. A crazy ethnical family if you again ask me. They're very traditional."
"Where did you get those information?"
"Internet. Old man asked me to have some research about that clan."
"They're no pictures on the internet?"
"Nope." Karin then chuckled evilly, "I think their so damned ugly that's why they don't want to show their faces."
Ichigo was horrified. Of course he did care what his soon-to-be-bride would look like!
She didn't have to be the model-type-any girl would do just not the so-damned-ugly one. Imagine. A hag would ruin his reputation he has been taken care of all those years? Who would want to see a 'monster' first day in the morning? Great, after you got a good nice sleep, a nightmare would greet you. Plus the fact that he feels nothing towards the cre—girl. And what would the girls who had asked him out say to him? That he refused them because his type of girl is a weird, old-looking woman? He would be the clutter of insults.
Even Keigo has a decent-looking girlfriend.
Thinking about the possible outcome, Ichigo had his face sandwiched with his arms.
He hated the ones who undergo plastic surgery for he thinks that one should be contented on his or her looks but... this time... he wanted to...
"They're rich. They must have gone through plastic surgery." he said, more like convincing himself.
"Tsk... tsk... tsk... I did tell you that they're very traditional. They hate unnecessary modern technologies."
Ichigo groaned while Karin grinned darkly.
"I even heard that the girl was older than you by five years."
He almost had a heart attack because of the information and perhaps also because of the ability of Karin to look for information. "Wha-What!? Five years?!"
Karin smiled inwardly. Why hadn't she thought of this before? She was enjoying torturing her brother plus she had seen reactions from him she never had before. "Maybe the woman has been very desperate to marry a guy like you."
"Urgh!" he ruffled his hair in irritation, "Just fuckin' great! I'll be married not just to a hag but to an OLD hag!"
"It's okay. Being old means the lesser the time she has to stay on earth. And with that, you'll soon conquer her riches."
"What the hell are you thinking?! All I know is that I don't want to marry an old woman!"
"She's not that old if you ask me. There are a hell a lot of people who's still a single even at the age of forty." She grinned again darkly, "I think she has full of wrinkles because of stress. Rich families like them, have themselves work from day till night."
"But thanks to you, the people of the whole country will soon see their faces. They might even make you a national hero."
Ichigo deadpanned. "You're not funny Karin."
A black shinny limo parked in front of their house.
Dammit! They're here! Ichigo panicked and prepared himself for the biggest shock of his life.
He squinted his eyes as he called forth all saints, religious leaders—whoever could help him improve the situation.
Hey. Almighty one. Whoever you are, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, if you help me out in this situation I promise I'll be worshiping you forever for performing such a great miracle.
The door creaked open and Isshin was in the instant to greet them. All the sounds seemed hell for Ichigo as footsteps were heard echoing and walking to the kitchen.
Ichigo gulped because he realized that the Almighty One might be displeased at his showing of infidelity, because the next thing that they heard was a deafening BOOM, a person crying in pain and the full of bane sentence that screamed:
"LET ME GO YOU DAMN FUCKING BASTARD!"
Wow... three profanities in one short sentence.
In the kitchen, where Ichigo, Karin and Yuzu were located, the information that they were receiving were scanty but they were sure that the source of the scream was different from the one who cried in pain. The voice was husky and angry. Seconds later, the house was like breaking down. It was like there was an earthquake at intensity number ten.
The trio sunk themselves deeper on their respective seats, not bothering to know what was happening.
There's a monster out there... 'dad' can manage...
"Rukia-sama! Please! Your brother will be angry!" a guy called after her, pleading for her to come back. Knowing that their 'miss' didn't bother to listen, he vent his frustration to others, "You useless fools! Go after her! Don't stop until you find her!" the black-suited man faced Isshin apologetically and wiped his forehead sweat.
"Our sincere apologies Kurosaki Isshin-sama, Kuchiki Rukia-sama isn't in a good mood today."
Isshin forced out a smile. He tried to focus his eyes on the man but he couldn't help not to remorse the damage done in his house. "I-It's okay..."
He remained bowing, "I again will say sorry. I hope you won't tell Kuchiki Byakuya-sama about this. It'll put Kuchiki Rukia-sama in danger."
It seemed like the man was waiting for Isshin to suspend his action because when Isshin waved a hand of dismissal, the man straightened up and handed him an envelope of money. "We were expecting this to happen because Kuchiki Byakuya-sama isn't with us. We apologize for the damages."
"Uh. Thank you!" his face began to cheer up as soon as his palms got contact with the thick volume of cash. "Won't you eat with us?"
The man didn't even nod. "I'm afraid we have to reject you sire, we still need to get Kuchiki Rukia-sama."
"Oh. I see, see you then next time. We'll make this house made of steel so that the next time she'll go here, she won't be destroying much of our property." he joked and although he knew what he said wasn't funny, he forced out his laughter.
"She'll be at the engagement party for sure because Kuchiki Byakuya-sama would be there."
Isshin furrowed his brows together, "Engagement party?"
"It looks like she doesn't want to marry you too, Ichi-nii." Karin smirked.
Hua-hua-hua. The marriage is in jeopardy... you'll be a bachelor for life.
Ichigo folded his arms. The running away of his future bride made him feel small. Never in his life had he encountered a girl that would run away from him.
It had hurt his pride.
"Like she thinks I want to marry her!" he managed to say and cupped his chin, sulking.
"What's with that face? Frustrated?" Karin teased.
"What?! Of course not! My point is: who does she think she is for running exaggeratedly? What does she thinks? That I desire to marry her and I'm the bad guy?"
Yuzu hit Ichigo's head lightly with the wooden spatula she was holding.
"You know onii-san, you were thinking the same thing!" she scolded like a mother.
"Yeah. Stop thinking like you're the only one who's forced here." added Karin.
"Okay! Okay! Jeez. Little sisters..." he muttered, accepting defeat.
Just then, their father had entered the kitchen and greeted them with a smile.
"Ahoy my ass." was the son's respectful greeting.
Yuzu offered a chair. "You see her, otou-san?"
Isshin scratched the back of his head. "No. Her hair was blocking her face and I was focusing more on the damages she was doing."
So she'll remain unknown until I see her... hunh? Damn her! I wish she would elope with someone within her age and stop showing herself for life!
He has already imagined what would be his soon-to-be-bride like: Old looking (wrinkles and everything), big and muscular (judging from the damage she has done to their house), an expert profanity-user, and what else? Superbly ugly (as what had Karin claimed).
Karin's got a point after all. Why don't they just show their faces? With the image he had formed in his mind, he started to shudder in disgust and anger.
"What a useless old man." Ichigo grimaced.
Isshin banged the table, pretending to be heated. "What did you say?! Is that how to thank your father who had found you a bride?"
"And what should I do? Jump in elation?! I never remember myself asking you for a bride! I don't even want girls! They'll just extra in everything negative!"
Isshin ignored his son's retort, "Prepare for the engagement party. Have your best yukata."
Best yukata my ass! I only have one!
"I won't go!" Ichigo declared. Defiance was all he needed to feel good.
"You can't! It'll be aired on national television!"
"Wha?! Na-National...? Hell, thank you old man for sharing that wonderful information, since it strengthen my desire not to go!"
"Let's see," Karin pulled out a small paper in her pocket. Her father discreetly gave it while Ichigo was busy feeling sorry for himself. "Kurosaki Ichigo, disgraced the whole Kurosaki and Kuchiki family by not attending his own engagement party." she read the paper. "How does that headline sounds?"
He rolled his eyes, surrendering. "Great..."
End Notes: Okay. The first chapter, finished editing. This can be edited further so don't worry. Beta-sama and I will add descriptions here and there. We're not a perfect people who can find faults without help so if you find anything weird, OOCs, wrong grammars, wrong spellings, wrong pronunciation (private joke) tell us and we'll be happy to change it. Oh, if you would please do so, please point out the things that you want to be changed. Kindly site them. I think it won't help if you would just vaguely say: There are a lot of grammatical errors.
Thank you for reading! You can send emails if you want. I am not hostile. Check-ie my profile.