-Chapter III: Rules of Engagement-
Disclaimer: I do not own bleach. I'm just one of the big bullies who loves to make fun out of Ichigo and Rukia—and a bigger bully to the others who try to pull them apart. ;)
This has got to be the dumbest day of his life. Well, next to his upcoming wedding, but it wouldn't be happening any sooner so, for now, this would be.
Ichigo irritably squirmed on his seat and made sure that any part of his anatomy wouldn't make contact with the smiling girl who was seated too closely beside him.
Rukia too was irritably squirming on her seat. But unlike Ichigo, she was trying to stick with him like a leach, as it should be the one they should be doing.
"Stop being a total dork," Rukia hissed darkly when Ichigo yet again inched farther away from her.
"I will, if you stop being a total bitch," he hissed equally darkly.
Rukia's eyes narrowed dangerously. She was internally struggling to keep her cool while they were under the scrutiny of the people around them but he was being impossible to manipulate. "Explain, 'total bitch'," she challenged, giving him a warning through her eyes and smiling her sham sweet smile.
"I believe it's synonymous to Rukia," he retorted cheekily with a mock expression of a teacher.
Rukia's smile wavered a bit yet she managed not to drop it. "I knew it, you're a dork..."
He smirked patronizingly at her. "Nah. It's pure talent."
She snorted despite of herself and her gaze fell to the half-eaten engagement cake. Suddenly, an idea came up. "Honey bunch sweetie pie," she started slowly and she used her high-pitched tone, making Ichigo cringe. She was holding up a fork with a deliberately big chunk of cake close to his nose. "Say ahh..."
The crowed cheered in approval and began clicking their glasses. And so, Ichigo was left with no choice but to comply and swallow the cake. But not before giving Rukia a you-will-pay-for-this look.
Rukia smiled sinisterly and retorted by giving him an I'd-like-to-see-you-try look. She gave him one pitiful look then rushed the fork into his mouth and made sure it would smear his face and hurt him.
"Ow!" Ichigo instinctively jerked Rukia's hand away and began to cosset his mouth.
Rukia was fast to act like the actress that she was and bent over to peer at her agonizing fiancée. "Are you okay honey?" she exaggeratedly pouted her voice, caressing his cheek like it was the one that was hurting.
He glared at her. Thank shining elephants, the glare was out of the crowd's sight. "You can't get your hands off me, can you?"
She smiled sweetly at him. "Only because I know it'll produce my desired effect."
Not having a comeback for that, he merely continued to glare spitefully. "I hate you..." he muttered.
"Aww... and I love you too...!" she swooned loudly, winking at the crowd.
Ichigo looked like he was about to retch and when he had bent back to his former position, he was cooking the same idea Rukia did. Time for her to get a taste of her own medicine... He grabbed the fork, that was all the while left untouched, sliced off a big chunk of cake, flooded it with icing and leered at her. "It's now my turn, sweetheart."
Rukia stared at the cake like it was her bitter, secret enemy. She pushed his hands away, trying to keep a smile plastered on her face. "No honey, I'm on a diet now."
Ichigo's hand didn't halt and brought it back near her nose yet again. "You're going to refuse your Honey bunch sweetie pie in front of them?" he deliberately set his voice louder, gesturing at the mob, "You want me to do this, right?"
There was something ominous about his voice yet the mob merely thought they were imagining this and cheered and whistled in reply anyway.
Having seen how eager they were to see the scene, Rukia tentatively opened her mouth, shutting her eyes close and waited for the evil cake to catapult inside her mouth.
Unfortunately, she wasn't prepared when Ichigo 'accidentally' slipped the cake onto her face...
Isshin impatiently drummed his fingers against the round-shaped table. So far, all but he saw were lame, stupid, unstimulating scenes... He wanted some mush. He wanted to see the other side of Ichigo and he wanted it now!
"Will you stop that old man," Karin chided her father, a scowl on her face. Obviously, she wasn't a happy camper today and anything irritated her.
Isshin didn't seem to hear her as he was cooking something mushy inside his mind. He happily picked up his fork and chimed his wineglass. "Kiss!"
The mob was silent. As if thinking over about what Isshin had said. After few seconds of tranquility, the mob finally decided that it was a good one. And so, they began to shout 'kiss' as well.
Rukia chuckled nervously, mentally distressing of how to get out herself out of the terribly awkward situation. She felt veins popping out her skin as she elbowed Ichigo. "Do something!"
Ichigo irritably scratched the back of his head. "Like what?!"
"I-I don't know!" Rukia said dumbly. "You're the dork so you think of something!"
Ichigo clenched his fist but then decided to drop the topic. The distracting growing chant of the crowd was breaking his train of thoughts.
Think... think... think...!
"It seems that my sister and her fiancée can't bring themselves to show that private affection." All eyes were suddenly fixed at the cold but cool voice who was speaking composedly—it was none other than Rukia's brother, Kuchiki Byakuya. "I suggest we should give them time to use themselves. But while waiting for that time to come, may I suggest," he raised up his wine glass, "A toast for them."
The crowd expressed disappointment. There was no other way but to rise up their wine glass and give Ichigo and Rukia a toast. It would have been a big headline tomorrow but this Kuchiki Byakuya 'spoiled' everything.
Kuchiki Byakuya's intention wasn't bad. Though he looks cold and unaffectionate, he was such an overprotective brother. He knew that Rukia and Ichigo just met. So there was no way he would let that Kurosaki Ichigo 'score' on his sister that soon. He already had Rukia suffer by forcing her to marry because of their clan's tradition; he wouldn't let her suffer more than that.
He stared at Ichigo and Ichigo stared back. On that point of time, Ichigo didn't feel great about this Byakuya—not that he sensed that he was a bad guy or something but his stare was so cold as if he would kill him if ever he did something to his sister. Like he would do something to her, right? Well at least not now... and it was not in a romantic form.
The 'sweet' couple was there at the both ends of the car, staring idly at the windowpane. The placid waving movement of the car was both making them heavy-eyed—but none of them dared to close one's eyes since they just couldn't trust each other and there seem to be a contest that the one who kept his/her eyes open would be declared the winner.
Because Rukia's bored but couldn't afford to lose at their unproclaimed battle, she stroke up a conversation. "You owe nii-sama a thank you," she said as gruffly as she can, trying to unmask the drowsiness she was feeling.
"Gimme a break. He did that to save your own ass," He scowled as soon as he remembered the cold glare that Kuchiki Byakuya gave to him. He was about to ask something about her brother but he thought that he should do some timing and mood-setting. He lifted his head to think of some topic that would eventually lead to Byakuya. "So that's how you act in front of media personalities," he stated, not looking at her. "You should do that, you know. Without your acting, your family's image would be ruined."
She turned her head as she hit him on his gut.
Damn. Her blows were so damn strong despite the fact that she was sleepy. He still couldn't believe that such a 'little girl' made their house looked like it was stricken by a hurricane. "Are you sure you're Rukia?"
"Why?" she looked at him mischievously. "You didn't expect me to look this young and pretty, did you?" she used her feigned sweet voice.
He cringed at the sound of her voice. "Cut that disgusting way of talking!" he said out of annoyance. Then he turned and decided to add, "Young and pretty my ass!" he pretended that he didn't agree. "It's just that your brother is tall and you're such a shorty." he saw Rukia flinched at the corner of his eye, sensing that Rukia's greatly affected by the insult. So her height was her tender spot... Better rub it in then. "What age did you stop growing anyway? Ten?"
A vein popped out. She aimed for his face but this time he blocked it. He wouldn't her to hit him again. Rukia smirked.
Ichigo's face turned baffled, utterly unaware of a kick flying getting him.
Shit. Her kick was stronger than her punches. His head was now on the floor, in level with his legs. "Bitch!" he growled.
"Bastard." she retorted evenly, her gaze was back on the windowpane.
Ichigo dusted his clothes and grumpily went back to his previous position. "Why am I here anyway? I'm going home."
"I was ordered by nii-sama to show you the house where we'll going to stay after marriage."
"Tch... I'm so tired to look around and it's already dark."
"I'm just following our tradition."
"What a stupid tradition." Ichigo muttered.
"I know that!" she then shouted then froze when she realized what she said. "U-umm..." she gulped the lump on her throat, "Don't tell nii-sama though..."
Her sudden changed of behavior stunned—rather amazed him.
"Whatever." He yawned as he stretched his arms that 'accidentally' hit her.
She slapped back his hand, "Hey! Watch what you're doing, you moron!"
"Shut the hell up! If you didn't drag me here then I should have been sleeping now!"
Rukia clenched her fists, "And what about me, you selfish brat! What do you think? That I want to tour you around the house? You're not the only one who's tired! I want to sleep too, you know!" she flared. Ichigo silenced. He can't think of any comeback of her attack. She panted, inhaling some air. She was still unfinished, she wanted to say more, "I don't want to marry a bastard like you!"
This time, Ichigo had something to throw to her, "I don't want to marry you either!"
"Well that's good! At least we've established that we hate each other! We'll be married by name only!"
"Great! I was thinking about that for days!"
She nodded in understanding, still in rage. "Well then," she started to lift herself in a decent fashion. "Let's make rules then to protect me from you."
"Like I'll took interests—"
She jabbed his chin to shut him up as she brought out a paper and a pen and began listing the rules that came into her mind whilst Ichigo crept closer:
Number One: No butting ones private life.
Number Two: No physical (intimate)—
Ichigo's snorted interrupted her writing. Rukia gave him a warning stare.
Number Three: No physical damages—she erased it—Ichigo grunted.
She grinned darkly. It was easy to win against this guy. She replaced it with: Act sweet whenever there's someone around.
"How come you're the only one who decides what will be the rules?" Ichigo finally voiced out his complain.
"Why? Can you think of any?"
"Let's see..." he folded his arms, "umm..."
Rukia rolled her eyes, a sign that she got impatient of waiting so she proceeded on writing.
Number Four: No reminding of age gap.
Ichigo raised a brow as soon as he read number four.
Bitch... she's writing rules that are beneficial to her!
It was a huge traditional Japanese mansion. Ichigo couldn't tell more than that. The light was dim to examine the whole area and he was too sleepy to take note of his surroundings. But he heard something sounding like running water? Perhaps?
"Nice house," he decided to say. After all, he was going to live in this palace. "But very traditional." he added.
"This is what nii-sama wants..."
"Why do you call your brother, nii-sama? Formalities even towards skin?" he saw Rukia blanched at the corner of his eye. There's something going on here...
"You don't have the right to know," she said evasively.
"Whatever." He yawned for the nth time now like what she said didn't really matter. "I wonder what would happen to the one who'll break the rules." he pretended to ask himself.
"That... I don't know..." Rukia finally said. They were now walking upstairs.
"What! You made rules then you don't know what's the punishment!"
Rukia whipped her head back at him, looking offended. "Hey! I'm thinking about it!"
"Hmp." He placed his arms at the back of his head, "How about the wedding would be off?"
She eyed him with antipathy. "What kind of an idiotic dork are you?"
"Wha-What did you say! What's wrong with my comment? If I know—"
She scoffed. "See, that's why you're an idiot. Let me jog your memory that we were forced to marry. If I'll accept your suggestion then we'll be breaking rules."
Ichigo now began to understand. Feeling totally embarrassed, he avoided her eyes.
"Okay. How about he would accept whatever punishment given to him?"
"Fair deal," he agreed blandly, rubbing his tired eyes.
"I can't tour you around the house. Tomorrow maybe. You can make a choice. Either you go back to your house or stay here at night."
"S-Stay here? No way there's—"
"You can sleep on the guest's bedroom." She watched his face turn at ease. "You don't expect that we'll be sharing one bed, do you?"
He almost flushed at her 'accusation.'
"H-Hell no. But it's unfair! Add these to the rules. Rule number five: Shall show fairness to both parties."
"I am showing fairness," Rukia gripped evenly. "You're free to use the master's bedroom but at night, we'll sleep on separate rooms. Besides we're not yet married so you're not gonna stay here every night," She stopped at the door of 'her' room and then held the knob, "Your room is good. There's nothing to whine about," She turned it then walked inside and Ichigo heard a satisfying click.
"I'm not whining!" he barked at the door.
"Then you'll sleep there!" she rejoined. "It's just on the adjacent room."
Being tired, he finally surrendered. Why was he arguing anyway?
Bitch... he thought as he walked to his room. Then just to show his spite, he kicked the door of her room.
He was rewarded a slipper hitting squarely his face.
And that was how their engagement night dumbly ended...
End Notes: End Notes: I know, I know! Can't really say this one's worth the wait... so sorry! There's no school-cliché excuse... I just got lazy. Thank you for all of your responses via pm or review. I read and appreciate them all. By the way, for those who are wondering why I've got over 300 reviews in two chapters, it's because I've deleted all of the 16 chapters (chapter 17 is only a whinny note). Not because I'm uber good! For further explanation, please do read the previous author's note. Thank you very much. :)