1900


Yashiro was, and with all his humble opinions, would say that he was quite good at reading people's minds. Of course not exactly in the order of how people think, but rather how their expressions meant something. Then again, maybe normal everyday people can easily distinguish such things from others, but it was a whole different feeling when one knows the individual at a personal level.

Though he wouldn't say Ren was touchy-feely about his past and his personal life, but he can speculate enough from small gestures he'd picked up from the young man after working with him for nearly three years. From the blonde's standpoint though, he had discovered a milestone of secrets from Ren's very minute movements and expressions, to little quirks (such as how he prefers three sugars in his coffee, no cream) and the very rare glimpse of a troubled man hiding behind a facade.

But this new event threw him way over the loop and out of the ballpark.

Tsuruga Ren, renowned businessman, worshipped by women (and men), drop-dead-gorgeous, voted top sexiest and richest man of Tokyo 100, and genius bachelor was getting hitched.

Married.

As in a marital status, ring-on-finger-Beyonce referenced- thing.

Like white lace and tuxedos atop creamy white cakes.

It struck him like a cannon ball over an unprepared ship.

Of course he knew his friend/boss was going to someday find a girl, settle down and live the glamorous Japanese life, but this was too soon.

Now everyone may think Yashiro was being extremely surprised about the whole thing that it may even be annoyingly insulting, but in all honesty all of Japan's single (and married) citizens are in complete cultural shock and agony over such a sudden event.

An engagement could at least ease the transition of this...this matrimony.

But noooo...

It took a treadmill to his face and a rude "Ren! I don't wanna hear about your jokes! You lunatic! I nearly died—" complaint he had to his boss' father...who was none too amused with his informality, and caused the poor blond a premature heart attack at embarrassing himself further.

Yashiro was always aware of his schedules, memorized all his business partners names, sons, great nieces and even the family pet! But never had he been more attuned to every female that graced his boss' arm for every charity event or party. And so it comes to reason that there was one woman out there, whom he had never met, let alone have a name for to suddenly appear and marry the most elusive bachelor the world has ever seen.

Though granted Yashiro was more or less being overdramatic about the sudden marriage, he wasn't about to question any further until he could figure out what's truly going on. The blond knew that this wasn't some type of wedding fairytale that all seemed to be too superficially perfect. And the fact that his father, the great Kuu Hizuri, even managed to be somehow involved in. It was too difficult to pass up as just coincidence.

To say Tsuruga Ren and Kuu Hizuri was always at odds with each other was a terrible understatement.

Although only a select few have known the two tycoons to be even remotely related to the other, they couldn't be more opposite in spite of their obvious similarities.

And for the elder Hizuri to actually plan (or not planned) all this sudden marriage could only create a greater riff between father and son. Although outwardly Ren seemed completely calm about the whole matter, there was a guarded look in his eyes that was unlike any groom-to-be.

Though Yashiro could guess an insanely expensive, over-the-top, shotgun like wedding in front of the bourgeois crème de la crème of high society was more than any normal man could handle. When president Lory Takarada was known for his eccentric and extremely ostentatious tastes, Julie Hizuri surely was giving him a run for his money. Although the preparations were not as bizarre as the president, it was surprisingly muted to an elegant, classic and picturesque wedding, and it was anything but ridiculously expensive. Julie Hizuri was always notorious for lavish parties, and certainly no amount of money was spared for her beloved son's wedding nuptials.

Yashiro cast a surreptitious eye to Ren, noting his rigid stance as he scanned the crowds of guests from their hidden vantage point. He didn't seem outwardly nervous, but at least the atmosphere more than made up for the feeling of apprehension.

The whole ceremony was held outside in the Hizuri mansion's upscale garden. The backdrop of the ceremony was held in front of a beautiful Venetian fountain that ran smoothly decorated with red and white roses carpeting the area. The seats for guests were embellished oak housing two hundred seats filled from distant relatives, to the Prince of some distant country, and several high-end socialites. The atmosphere was warm and balmy as the Hizuri mansion was situated overlooking the gorgeous sunset of the Pacific ocean as it drew gold, pink, purple, and blue hues across a perfectly peaceful night sky. The scent of the ocean along with the sweet enticing smell of roses created a very intimate aura across the lawn.

The platform leading to the raised dais was a straight red carpet that covered and lined the whole entryway with more red roses and over the hill of a bridge that surrounded ceremony. The bridge where his impromptu bride would have the opportunity to break it or make it.

Ren's brow twitched unconsciously at the thought.

As the last guest were ushered in, Ren could feel the weight of dread dropped down all the way to his feet. The feeling of immense anxiety coupled with a terrifying panic of this event finally dawned on him.

He was getting married.

To a complete and total stranger that initially rejected him.

Then accepted his proposal because she was just as desperate as he.

Was it still too late to drive himself to the nearest asylum or step off a bridge?

Maybe.

But he knew the blow to his ego and reputation was more unbearable if this girl decided to re-enact the runaway bride in hopes of getting a thirty-second fame for ditching the top ten voted, rich and handsome man in the world.

He hoped all his fortunes that she wouldn't.

Then again he could always make a run for it now to save face, right?

But eyes the color of molten gold seared into his memory, eyes full of genuine concern and sorrow. It reared him back to present. This was a business transaction, both of their lives were on the line of public scrutiny and his parents' approval (though less could be said about his father, Ren was truly concerned for his mother).

There was a gut feeling in Ren that tells him that the girl would not run. From the moment those eyes held his in the elevator, there was just something about her that the raven-haired businessman couldn't fathom, but just knew with a niggling instinct, she was far different from any girl.

Of course, let's forget the fact that she could manage multiple personalities at a bat of an eyelash and oddly play homicidal and charmingly innocent from one moment to another that Ren couldn't figure out if he was actually slamming a nail on his coffin. But either way, there was just something about Mogami Kyouko, that separates her from the other girls that Ren used to deal with.

Something that makes him feel both excited and anxious, that left the groom scrambling for a reason.

Unfortunately he didn't have the luxury of time to himself and as the crowd hushed, the ceremony began, and his worries with a reality that might become worse. And as expected an orchestra flanked both sides of the lawn started with a trio of soft violin tunes. Time seemed to slowly pass as men and women that Julie had undoubtedly assigned as part of the wedding, emerged and gained praises from the various nods and smiles of the elite society.

Lory Takarada basked in his walk of complete flamboyancy, opting out the traditional black tuxedo in favor of a fiery red, tailed evening suit complete with a top hat as he was followed with an array of colorful escorts (including a chimpanzee, throwing rose petals around) that Ren was sure his mother did not approve of.

Shaking his head as it was Yashiro's turn (fumbling with his own escort), Ren turned to his parents, more specifically his mother, while refusing to even acknowledge the elder Hizuri. His mother, ever elegant with her shimmering golden gown and a twinkle of delight in her eyes as she leant next to his father and whispered something that put a miniscule smile to his usually stoic father's face.

In all honesty if it weren't for his mother's happiness to see him married, Ren would've bolted out of the mansion the moment the elder Hizuri told him of his impending death, sudden marriage and lost of his company. Hell he'd rather flown off to some remote island and endured menial labor.

Or something like that...

But seeing Julie in the state of happiness, fully unaware of her husband's death, and his son's contract to a fake marriage with a total stranger was enough to at least lighten the incredibly burdensome twenty four hours of his life.

But despite what may happen tonight, the blame will be solely his (but mostly his father). Julie's efforts to create such a gorgeous wedding night for him was much appreciated...no matter how much guilt and self-loathing he had felt in the last hours of this evening. His mother was deeply entrenched in the belief that every marriage could have the chance to be just as happy and full of life as her marriage with Kuu, and hoped such fate for her son as well. Though for her to find out this was nothing but a farce will surely break her.

But Ren will do anything in his power that such information would never past his dear mother's ears.

"Thank you for all this," he tried to express his full appreciation as he pressed a kiss to his mother's cheek, as she passed by him one last time before striding forwards to their seats.

"Anything for my Kuon." She patted his cheek with a beatific smile, and tip-toed to kiss his forehead as she whispered a quick 'I love you' to him, and something he found puzzling.

But before he could question the elder woman, she had already walked out and into the eyes of spectators.

Taking a deep, cleansing breath be began his walk down the aisle matching his stride confidently that belied the inner turmoil he felt roiling in his gut. The feeling only intensified as all the respected ushers have walked down the aisle, and a new song signaled for the bride with a piano solo.

Ren didn't dare moved from his spot, his back rigidly turned away and towards the front, an impossibly odd gesture that Yashiro caught on as the thought of how grooms should act for expecting their bride.

Shouldn't a groom be eager to see his bride and turn his face forward?

A whole intensifying minute had past as the pianist stalled in time and played the first tunes again; and another agonizing ten seconds felt like a thousand years. Ren closed his eyes and clenched his fist.

She wasn't coming.

And oddly, a trickle of pain crept up his chest.

But as he turned to prepare himself with his 'You got Punk'd!' speech, sell out his father's imminent death, the whole fake marriage to a random girl he met at a broken elevator and all the while calculating his savings and market price for his Porshe to fund his eternal hideout scheme on a cave — a vision of an angel stood at the bridge before all the guests.

The backdrop of the setting sun silhouetted her features against the burning dark sky, her startlingly white dress billowed out before her as a gentle breeze picked up her veil to reveal ivory skin, and the intensity of her eyes the color of first embers from a sparking fire. She walked gracefully, without an escort in a slow careful gait as her eyes locked onto him, and the memory of the girl from the elevator that made him sputter ridiculous things looked back at him, like a woman.

And this time, the slowness in time had nothing to do with broken elevators, cut lip or indigestion, but both experience an unexplainable thundering of hearts that were other than anxiety.

Without the guest knowing the full story behind the two individuals getting married today, it was a true union of a man and woman deeply in love. The passion between their muted stares could be felt across the lawn as the connection only bonded the two persons that seemed to picture a perfect couple.

Yashiro could not believe it, and his jaw dropped in agreement.

Like he would miss a beauty like that?

Either Ren was completely chaining this girl to some dungeon or he needed new glasses to distinguish her from the young man's previous flings. But obviously, this woman was far different from any other girls Ren went out with. There was something classically demure about her. The way she walked was a natural, graceful poised that belied her obvious youthful features, and an innocent charm about her. But as Yashiro turned to Ren to see his reaction, the blond found himself even more flabbergasted and close to faint.

In the elevator, she looked at him in terror like a wet, kicked puppy; in anger she looked like a bull ready for a goring; in contemplation she looked human. Yet the woman striding towards him was nothing from the memory in the early hours of their agreement. They say that a woman makes a dress look beautiful. Would that mean the wearer herself would look just as stunning?

Ren felt absolutely lightheaded.

He realized that he had been holding his breath for the past two minutes, and the incredible rate of his heart pumping through him was indescribable, and yet he couldn't tear his eyes away from her. He felt unlike himself, his body moving to its own accord as his hand automatically took in his bride's cold hands that sent an amazing jolt of electricity through his arm that he felt all the way down his spine.

The insane moment where Kyouko's feet did not agree with her brain ruined her completely. Seconds that felt like hours before she trudged up on the bridge alone, there was a few split-second war of logic in Kyouko's head. The buzz of fury, bewilderment, apprehension - battling for dominance over her motor control almost made her legs buckle. But only by some sheer force (the immensely expensive dress she might pay for if ruined) have kept her from putting a leg over the bridge (forget dignity!) and bolting like a frightened animal.

Sadly, just as her demons acquiesced to the rendition of the Runaway Bride (sans horse), and try to ninja her way out of it (as much as being in a heavy wedding dress), she had the unfortunate moment of meeting his eyes.

Those magnetic russet-colored eyes beckoned to her like a beacon of light in an abysmal darkness, as if the thunder and clouds raging in her mind cleared like the morning sun. Kyouko was unaware of her surroundings and felt the only person was him, dressed in an impeccable tuxedo that fit every perfect part of his features. The picture of an incredibly handsome groom, who was looking at her like she was the world.

Her heart oddly skipped in beat.

Kyouko's feet suddenly moved in their own accord. Step-by-step, it was as if he was guiding her with his eyes alone and in those short yet unbelievably intense moments he was within reach. Warm fingers and the firm palm of his hand grasped her gently, but it was as if he had branded her with hot iron while goose bumps traveled over her arm and through her shoulder.

Somewhere in the back of their minds, the whole experience felt surreal.

In fact, the whole occurrence felt too real. Like how a man and woman in love should act during their wedding.

Whatever spell they encountered, however, was broken shortly as the minister, a stout elder man with balding grey hair (who looked more like a Buddhist monk)gathered everyone's attention and Kyouko quickly looked away with an embarrassed blush, as Ren coughed and turned his head a flush of red creeping up his collar.

Yashiro inwardly squealed like a fan girl.

Lory raised an amused brow.

Julie giggled in thought, while Kuu furrowed his brow in perplexity.

Between all the guests, only Kuu and Lory had an immediate thought, besides the fact that everyone believes the two individuals were deeply in love (based on their passionate eye contact).

It was only a mere hours ago that Ren felt like he'd lost and ready to ship himself off to some faraway island and live on a tiki hut.

But here he was, on schedule with a bride in tow that he seemed overly smitten with already.

Or...Lory thought smugly as he deeply scrutinized the couple. There was a palpable attraction between them, but there was also a load of uncertainty. An evil - er, impish grin appeared on the man's face (as a child next to him promptly cried), while rubbing his chin in thought.

'Ah Ren...struck with a love at first sight...' But the thought that made the president of LME cry harder was the fact that the younger man was completely oblivious of it. 'Oh! The blasphemy!'

Julie who was gently and gracefully wiping escaped tears from her eyes as she watch her beloved son's exchange of vows, glared to the row next to her as she found Lory crying like he was losing a child. Not to be outdone, she quickly did loud hiccups and blows from her nose. Meanwhile, Kuu could only lower his head and prayed that his wife and Lory wouldn't make much of a scene. They were in the front after all.

The whole ceremony felt like it went on forever, and during the exchange of vows, Kyouko's voice cracked a few times and felt responsible for making one of the flower girls cry as she came to the words "love" and "care." Those words of affection irritated her quickly, but what's more she couldn't understand how his touch could easily quell her frustration.

Throughout the whole exchange, Kyouko felt that Ren was saying his vows to a completely different person, like he was saying them tenderly to a woman he loves. And strangely enough, as his eyes solely locked onto hers, her body couldn't protest from looking away or remotely feel any disgust towards him. There was something in the way he looked at her and spoke to her that made her shiver and yet be drawn to him.

It was extremely frightening Kyouko.

Her worries quickly resurfaced, her eyes dilated and her heart pumped quickly for a whole different reason.

In all honesty, it still wasn't too late for her to run.

But as soon as that thought processed through her mind, it seemed like the man before her intuitively caught her insane plan and abruptly yet affectionately took her hands in his.

"Do you Kyouko Mogami take Ren Tsuruga to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love and cherish, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, and whatever challenges you may face, for as long as you both shall live?" he minister bellowed the question with monotone ease.

Then his eyes, the color of rust, darkened in concentration and the businessman she met emerged. Reminding her that she agreed to this marriage by contract, that she wouldn't dare refuse and the underlying threat in between. Kyouko squared her jaw as she breathed in deeply.

Immediately she felt challenged, insulted and livid.

The thought that this man would think her cowardly (technically, she did felt like running away - yet it was a tactical retreat, mind you) was like a silent slap, and for the first time during the ceremony their eyes blazed with a whole different meaning. Kyouko felt encouraged, and determined to prove him otherwise. Squeezing back his hand, she held her chin up to meet his eyes fully and glared.

"I do."

Ren quivered in a mixture of excitement and confusion.

So far he had assigned to the fact that the woman he was marrying had various qualities to her. But this was the first time he'd ever seen her defiant and stubborn facade. And in all honesty he couldn't figure out if he was intrigued that she has such fire to her, or wary that he might push her too much and get a beating for it.

His contemplation was ruined, however, as soon as the minister guided them back to another set questions and the exchanging of rings.

While switching rings, Ren took her hand in quiet fascination. It was dainty, nimble and calloused, nothing like the women he'd held hands before out of courtesy. It was small, yet perfect as he encased her hands in his own; gently caressing a pulse point, he heard Kyouko sucked in a breath. Golden irises and dark russets clashed with opposing forces, and Ren couldn't help but smile at the ideal blush that stole his bride's cheeks.

He slipped the simple platinum band perfectly on top of the seven carat, rose diamond ring and the raven-haired girl felt like she'd been duped.

Royally.

"And now, by the power vested in me by the City of Kyoto," there was a pregnant silence, like the calm before the storm, the pain of labor before the birth of the child. "I now pronounce you husband and wife."

Kyouko minutely panicked. She was actually anticipating when the minister was going to ask if anyone was against the union. Because she seriously had an opposition to this whole thing. Honestly! Where was the opportunity?

"You may kiss your bride."

And in the midst of her inwardly cursing her missed chance of escape, Kyouko felt absolutely unaware when a muscular arm grabbed her waist and an all too achingly familiar face too close for her own.

"Close your eyes." Ren huskily whispered as he soothingly trapped her face with the other hand to angle towards him. The position enabled him to control her body (less she poke his eye) and at the same time make it believably intimate.

"What the hell do—"

And he did.

In all her twenty years of living, Kyouko never thought of other things than Sho and anything else beyond that made him happy. And never in her wildest dreams had she thought of what the few hours that happened to her would ever be real enough, but the firm yet incredibly soft lips that met her own was beyond her worst nightmares.

She could feel the warmth of his arm that tingled in her hip and the heat of his fingers soothing her cheeks like a cooling balm. Even Sho's friendly and arm's length touches had never sent her body in a frenzy. His masculine scent filled her nostrils and the hardness of his chest was a solid strength, well along with the curve of his lips over hers that touched hers in a sweet open kiss. Kyouko's leg muscle weakened as her arms instinctively sought an anchor, twining them around his neck for the overwhelming kiss—

And like a snapped from a camel's back, Kyouko immediately regained her bearing as her eyes widened in horror.

Still in a daze, Ren bemusedly looked down at his flushed bride, a feature he dangerously found endearing.

"I take it you've never kissed anyone before..."

The heat between them was maddening and the soothing circles in her hip was unbearable, and the angelic look he was bestowing her had positively eradicated her demons. Kyouko looked absolutely terrified.

"I..." her hands instantly covered her mouth, and her dread mirrored Ren's panic look, "I think I'm going to be sick..."


1900


I am...blaming Caesar. Cuz he made February shorter a helluva lot more than I anticipated, and just to feed his ego he puts an August in the bloody calendar! ]: Alright, so I have no excuse like: alien abduction or ninja fight or some other horribly contracted disease, but hey! What a chapter right? :D I know I was so happy with this chapter, and you guys deserve the fluff. I mean 11 chapters into it, there has to be some action already, ya know.:] Anyways, this is not the end! I have a lot more plots to cover and Shou/Reino hasn't come in yet. Ohohoho! Although I will not promise any more speedier updates, I am, however, making every chapter to be around 4-6k. This chapter was about 4k.

Moreover, I have forgotten how weddings are done. I mean the last one I went to, I only came for the food (yes, I know you do too, don't judge!), shame on me, right? Well anyways I skipped all the yada,yada, yada - boring parts and straight to the actions, I hoped no one minds, but honestly, it's like coming for the food people! xD Lastly, I know the geography is in Kyoto, but there was an ocean...I used my imagination. Ahem. Feel free to use yours. It just makes the wedding more romantic that way. Sorry, I'm a Bard at heart.;]

...I love, miss and huggles my reviewers! :) Thanks for all your continued support! Your thoughts are much appreciated by this humble one. :3