Last chapter. Sigh.
Seventeen Years Later
"I'm not nervous!"
"Yes you are."
"How do you know?"
"Your kimono's on backwards." Hitsugaya looked down at himself and realized that, indeed, he had somehow forgotten how to put on his clothing.
"Shut up," he grumbled, slipping off his inside-out kimono as Karin laughed her head off.
"Calm down," she said, coming over to him and smoothing out the wrinkles on his collar. "Honestly, I've never seen someone who gets so worked up about weddings."
"Well, they haven't exactly been calm affairs now have they?" he noted. That was true enough. An earthquake had ripped right through the center of Yuri's wedding, Yumi's fiancé had been convinced that the wedding was really the next day and had forgotten to show up, and Yuki had actually taken after her mother and punched her new husband in the face for messing up his vows.
Karin kissed him playfully.
"Yeah, but our wedding was the best, wasn't it?" she teased.
"You're only proving my point," he said with a smirk and Karin chuckled.
There was a knock on the door.
"Hitsugaya-sama, Karin," came Matsumoto's voice. "The girls are here."
"Let's go," Karin said. She took her husband's hand and together they followed Matsumoto to the entrance hall to greet their daughters and their husbands.
"Touchan!" Yumi squealed when he entered, diving into his arms. Of all his children, Yumi was the biggest daddy's girl. Always had been.
"I can't believe this is finally happening," Yuri said excitedly. "After all these years! I seriously thought this wedding was going to take place a year ago at least."
"They're only sixteen," Yuki pointed out. Yuri shrugged.
"So? They've been completely smitten with each other since they were three."
"Speaking of which," Yumi began, disentangling herself from her father's arms, "where is our chibi little brother?"
"Who are you calling chibi?" drawled a voice, and a Hitsugaya clone stepped into the room.
"Touji!" Yuri said happily. "Look at you, dressed like man!"
"I am a man!" he snarled.
"Just because you're getting married doesn't make you a man," Yuki chided. "You still make me light the forge for you everyday, remember?" Touji scoffed.
"Girls, be nice," Karin reprimanded without conviction. "It is his wedding day."
"That never stopped you!" Yuki said and everyone laughed. The story of Hitsugaya and Karin's wedding day was a family favorite.
"They're here!" Yumi exclaimed, peering out the window at the carriage that was pulling up to the entrance. All the blood seemed to drain out of Touji's face at that announcement. Karin noticed the change that came over her son and smirked knowingly.
"Go talk to Touji," she whispered to Hitsugaya. "He could use some fatherly words of wisdom. Besides, he shouldn't see Mariko-chan before the wedding." Hitsugaya nodded.
"Come on," he said, indicating to Touji to follow him. "We need to talk." While the girls were distracted with greeting the visitors, Hitsugaya surreptitiously slipped Touji out of the room.
"It's natural to be nervous," Hitsugaya told his son. "This is a life changing day for you."
"I'm not nervous!" Touji insisted. Hitsugaya smiled slightly. His son was so similar to him in a lot of ways. But he was still remarkably insecure about many things, something he attempted to cover for with a rough and often bratty attitude. That, Hitsugaya assumed, was mainly due to the fact that he had three confident, and rather outspoken, older sisters, who teased him mercilessly.
"Part of being a man is knowing when to admit to a weakness," Hitsugaya advised. "But being nervous on your wedding day is not a weakness."
"You don't have any weaknesses," Touji grumbled. Hitsugaya smirked.
"Yeah I do." Touji looked up at his father expectantly.
"Your mother. That woman can turn my knees to jelly in a second flat. And that's what I love about her." Touji gaped at his father. He had never heard his parents talk about each other like that before.
"Look Touji," Hitsugaya continued. "Being married isn't easy. You're going to have to work at it all the time. But I've never seen you be as happy as you are when Mariko is around. She's very good for you. And you're luckier than some. You chose your wife rather than having her chosen for you. You're going to have a wonderful life together."
"How can you all think that far ahead?" Touji asked desperately, his anxiety finally showing through. "I'm just trying to survive today, but Mariko's been going on and on about a house and children and growing old together." Hitsugaya smirked.
"Yeah, that sounds like Mariko," he said amused. Mariko had certainly inherited her mother's spunk, spirit, and zest for life, but she had also acquired her father's practicality and foresight. Those traits, combined with her mother's beauty, which had also been passed on to her, made Mariko quite the sought after little bachelorette. She had had more than one marriage proposal in the past year. But she had waited patiently for Touji, who had finally, after much encouragement from his mother and not-so-subtle prodding from his sisters and Matsumoto, built up the courage to ask her.
"But Touji," Hitsugaya added, placing a reassuring hand on his son's shoulder, "there's nothing wrong with taking life one day at a time. You made the decision to get married. That's big enough in itself. I'm very proud of you."
"Really?" Touji asked hopefully.
"Really," Hitsugaya replied sincerely. Touji allowed himself a rare smile.
"Now cover your face and let's head back," Hitsugaya said. "The wedding's about to start."
They went back to the entrance hall where Mariko was waiting with her parents.
"Hitsugaya-san!" chimed Mariko's mother, waving energetically.
"Hi Ishida-san," Hitsugaya greeted her. The former Inoue Orihime beamed at him.
"Would you have ever believed all those years ago that our children would actually be getting married?" she sang. Hitsugaya shook his head.
"I still don't believe it," he replied. Just then, Momo poked her head around the corner.
"What are you all doing?" she asked impatiently. "We're ready to start!" With a final encouraging look at his son, Hitsugaya helped usher everyone out of the entrance hall and towards the garden.
"So what did you tell him?" Karin asked curiously as she fell into step beside Hitsugaya.
"I told him you were my weakness." Karin couldn't decide whether to laugh or not.
"And I told him there was nothing wrong with that." This time, Karin did laugh.
"Well if I'm your weakness, then what's your strength?" Hitsugaya reached out and squeezed her hand.
"You are," he replied with a small smile.
"Well that's very poetic of you," Karin mocked, but she grinned at him anyway.
"So what are we going to do now?" Hitsugaya asked, gazing out at his family who all seemed to be attempting to make Touji and Mariko feel as uncomfortable as possible. "All our children are married off."
"Let's have another one!" Karin proclaimed.
"I was thinking more of going on a trip for a few weeks, but…"
"Well, maybe it's not your choice." Hitsugaya stopped dead.
"Karin, are you…?" He floundered for words as Karin's face broke into a maniacal grin.
"Oi, tousan, kaasan!" Touji called back to his frozen parents. "We're going to start without you!"
"We'll tell them tomorrow," Karin decided, kissing him lightly to bring him back to reality. "Let Touji have his day."
"We really can't have a calm wedding day in this family, can we?" he muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. Karin beamed at him.
"Nope!" she said happily. "And I wouldn't have it any other way!"
And they all lived happily ever after :P
I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope you all had just as much fun reading it. I really want to thank you all for your support. I never in a million years expected this story to get as many reviews as it did. Over 300! That's crazy!
Anywho, as has become semi-customary with me, I'll be starting another story fairly soon (I can't stay away from writing for too long. I get bored.) Not entirely sure what it's going to be called yet, but it's another HitsuKarin (obviously :P). I still need to work out a few details in my mind before I'm confident enough to post it, but it should be up in a few days (or maybe as soon as tomorrow, you never know with me), so keep an eye out. Again, thank you all for your love and support and humorous words. Without you, writing wouldn't be nearly as interesting :)