"Oh, you look so beautiful, Kuchiki-sama, if you don't mind my saying."
Rukia smiled softly at her gushing servant's reflection in the tall mirror. "Thank you." She sighed quietly as her maidservant flittered about, fixing this and straightening that on her wedding kimono. It was beautiful. She ran her small hands down the delicate, intricate designs sewed into the fine silk. Her brother had spared no expense for this wedding.
Everything was perfect. Elaborate. Traditional.
Her skin was painted in white make-up to symbolize her purity and a white hood covered her elaborately woven black wig to symbolize her intentions to become a gentle and subservient wife.
She snorted at her reflection. Gentle and subservient? Not subservient. Not in a million years. And even though she admired women like Miyako and Orihime for their gentle natures, it just wasn't her. She wasn't a gentle woman no matter how much she tried for her brother's sake.
Purity? She sighed again and felt that all too familiar sting at the back of her eyes. Physically, yes, she was as pure as she didn't want to be. But was she still pure if the one she was marrying wasn't the one she wanted to be with? Was she still pure if another man entered her dreams at night?
Rukia turned to see one of her attendants at the door.
"I beg your pardon, Kuchiki-sama. But we must leave for the ceremony."
Rukia nodded and waited as her attendants helped her with her long kimono so she could walk. As with all of her brother's wishes, she had agreed to this arranged marriage without question or complaint. It would give the Kuchiki family even stronger ties with the royal family and bring their status even higher. She couldn't blame her brother. He couldn't know that she held feelings for another man.
And most likely those feelings would never see the light of day so this was probably for the best.
They came to the large, wooden double doors and Rukia took in a deep breath as the shinigami guards bowed slightly and pushed the doors open to reveal the large and stunningly decorated room. Her heart clenched at the sight of the people gathered at the Shinto shrine. She wanted to fall to her knees right there and bawl her eyes out, but she stuck her chin up proudly and moved forward. The bridegroom stood at the front. He was tall and slender with short black hair, his stature was as stiff as a board but his hands were fidgeting.
His nervousness gave her strength and she pressed forward. She glanced around at the audience, at all the people she knew. All her friends from the Gotei. Ichigo stood there scowling at her, but gave her an encouraging nod. She didn't think he knew any details, but he knew her well enough to know that something was not right, something more than just her marriage being decided for her. She could tell it was tearing him up inside that he couldn't do something to save her, and the thought made her smile a little at him.
Orihime smiled big at her, but her eyes were brimming with sadness. Orihime was the only whom she had told of her feelings. She'd even cried on the busty girl's shoulder of all things. It was really, really nice to have a girlfriend. She'd never had one before and now just when she and Orihime had become so close they were about to be ripped apart again. Her marriage into the royal family meant that she'd never see any of her friends again.
Even Ishida, Chad, and Tatsuki were there.
Everyone except for him.
She willed him from her mind and faced forward, trying to concentrate on her future husband. As she got closer he gave her a strained smile and she returned with an equally strained one. He was good-looking, but so nervous. She wondered if he had another woman. If there was someone he loved. Would he continue the relationship or was there a chance that she might fall for her husband in time?
She reached his side and her attendants let the thick folds of her kimono fall around her feet. The nuptial cups on the table before her began to blur as the Shinto priest spoke the opening words. She blinked back the threatening tears, refusing to let her emotions get the best of her. This was her life now and nothing could change that.
Her heart squeezed painfully as his name pounded against her skull, drowning out the priest's voice. She would get through this. She had to get through this. She'd lived a life without him before, and she could do it again. Easily.
Suddenly two loud bangs reverberated throughout the room and left the room in a stunned silence. Rukia blinked out of her reverie and slowly tried to turn around in her inhibiting gown, but she stopped in mid-turn when her head lifted to see what all the commotion was about. Her eyes snapped up wide, filling her face as her mind rushed to register the wild man charging down the aisle towards her, long red hair whipping about him.
She barely managed to whisper his name, "Renji?"
He came to a stop before her, his hair settling over his bare shoulders and a small smirk tugged at his lips as she gaped at him. Her eyes fell to his naked chest and black hakama tied around his waist. She forced herself to look back at his face, but saw that he was no longer looking at her, but glowering darkly at the man beside her.
Rukia opened her mouth to stop whatever threat was in Renji's eyes, but suddenly he bent down and shoved his shoulder into her middle, wrapped his arm around the back of her thighs, and straightened, causing her to let out a very unladylike screech as she found her self draped over his broad shoulder. Her hands grappled and scratched at his back, trying to stabilize herself or, even better, get the hell off of him. But all she got for her efforts was the feeling of his low growl that made her shudder and a tightening squeeze on her thigh.
He swung around and she caught sight of her groom's shocked face before Renji ambled back down the aisle he came from. Finally she found her voice. "Renji! Put me down you idiot! What do you think you're doing?!"
She glanced around for some help, but Byakuya was just standing with his arms crossed and the slightest of…smiles on his face? Rukia blinked in astonishment. Nii-sama? Her eyes searched the room for her friends, but Ichigo was standing there looking very pleased with his arms crossed over his chest and Orihime had her hands clasped in front of her, her eyes brimming with happiness this time and a genuine smile on her face.
Rukia scowled at them. Traitors.
She would just have to save herself then. But before she could carry out her own rescue mission, Renji was shunpoing out the door and over tiled roofs until they finally reached his quarters and he let her slide off his shoulder. She teetered on the floor for a moment until he caught her elbow to help her balance. Rukia scowled at him and wrenched her elbow from his grasp.
"What the hell were you thinking? What is this? Take me back this instangh!" She glared at the big fingers that were firmly against her lips and wrenched from his touch before she could give in to the sudden temptation to slip his finger into her mouth. "Renji! Are you going to say anything or armph!"
This time it was strong lips against hers, and the thought to resist never entered her mind. In fact, nothing really entered her mind except that his firm caress had her melting into a puddle of white silk goo. Too soon, he broke the kiss.
"You gonna be quiet now, princess?"
Rukia scowled and opened her mouth to retort, but she was too distracted by the fascinating movement of his lips.
"That's good. I've got a hell of a hangover and your yelling isn't helping things."
She tore her gaze away from his and blinked at his brown eyes. "Hangover?"
Renji looked away and scratched at the back of his head a little sheepishly. "Yeah…I got pretty hammered last night…"
"Oh." She was already back to observing the different ways his mouth formed whatever words they were producing. They lifted into a smirk and he stepped closer, softly chuckling as his hands went towards her head and she felt him pull back the white hood that had somehow stayed over her head.
"You look ridiculous. What is all this shit they put on you?"
"Hm?" He smelled really good too. And his muscular chest was so close to her as he lifted off the heavy wig. Her tongue wet her lips as she remembered the dreams she'd had of tracing his tattoos with her lips, dipping her tongue into every groove. She vaguely noticed him toss the wig aside with a snort, and took the net off, letting her hair fall free.
Realization jolted through her body and her violet eyes snapped back to his. "Wig! Wedding! Renji!"
Her head started clouding as he ran his fingers through her messy hair, his nails scraping along her scalp, sending chills down her spine. She shook her head and grabbed his big forearms in her hands. "I'm supposed to be getting married right now!"
Renji scowled darkly and grasped her face with his hands, his thumbs softly stroking her cheeks. "But you're not."
"Well, obviously since you barged in there like some kind of caveman! What were you thinking, Renji? Nii-sama is going to kill you! The royal family will want nothing to do with us!"
Renji stared into her eyes for long seconds until she began to shift uncomfortably. With a sigh he dropped his hands and turned away from her to stalk across the room. "But you didn't want to marry that twat, did you?" he asked with his back turned, squeezing water out of a cloth into a white basin.
"He's not a twat! And…I…well, of course I want to get married. It would be greatly beneficial to the Kuchiki family."
"To the Kuchiki family. Right." He slapped the wet cloth in the air and came back to her, grasping her chin in his hand and kneeling before her to drag the cloth down her face, wiping off the white makeup. "I didn't ask about what the Kuchiki family wanted. I asked what you wanted, Rukia."
Rukia scowled angrily at him as he roughly wiped at her face. "Why are we having this conversation now? Huh? What if I do want to marry him?" The cloth stilled on her neck. "What then? Why are you asking me this now?!"
His big chest rose and fell heavily as he continued to remove her make-up. "Because I'm an idiot."
Rukia snorted. "Well, I know that." She glared at his tattooed skin. "And why are you half naked? It's…annoying," she scoffed.
"I…uh, sort of woke up and high tailed it for your…wedding…without taking time to dress much."
Her eyes grew big at the feral growl around the word 'wedding'. Before she could comment, he leaned back and smiled at his handiwork.
"Much better. You look like you and not a fuckin' clown." He stood up to return the cloth.
"Wait a minute! You're not answering any of my questions!" She started to run forward, but forgot how long her dress was and her feet got caught in the thick white folds, sending her careening for the floor.
A couple of crashes and some grunts later, Rukia pushed herself off of something warm and solid.
"You all right, Rukia?" the solid mass asked.
Rukia nodded at the man whose thighs she had fallen in between, his red hair splayed out over the wooden floor. "Are you all right?"
He chuckled and let another grunt. "Don't insult me. Of course I am."
She huffed indignantly and shifted her position, her eyes growing wide when she felt something long and hard against her thigh. Curiously, Rukia shifted again and almost reached down to feel what was between her and Renji when his hands clamped around her waist.
"You've gotta stop moving like that."
Rukia frowned at the sudden huskiness in his voice and stared into his darkened eyes. "What do you mean? Let go – Oh!" Her eyes shifted down to the area at his hips where she was pressed against as understanding hit her. "But I didn't do anything!"
He chuckled humorlessly. "Just arguing with you gets me this way."
Her eyes widened. "Really?"
When he didn't answer, she looked back to his face that was scrunched in concentration. She really should get off of him…but that wouldn't be much fun, would it? Experimentally, Rukia scooted up his chest, feeling it dragging along her inner thigh. Renji groaned loudly and his fingers dug into her waist. She smiled mischievously and moved back down, gasping when the tip hit the apex of her thighs.
Renji growled and lifted her higher up his chest. "Damn it, Rukia. Stop it or I'm gonna rip that damned white dress off of you right here, right now." She stilled above him, and he opened his eyes to look at her, his groin tightened painfully at the lustful look in her eye. "Rukia," he moaned.
"Is this why you don't want me to get married?"
He blinked and stared at her for a moment, but then he dragged his hand up her side and cupped her cheek. "Yes." He sat up, his bent legs surrounding her as she was now knelt in between his thighs. She watched as fear crept into his eyes. "Should I have let you get married?"
Her heart seized for the hundredth time that day as he looked down at her with apprehension. Why was she fighting this again? She grabbed his face and pulled it closer until their lips met again. She felt his big body melt into hers and his arms wrap tightly around her. Her hands moved up to tangle in the endless hair and her whole body shivered when he delved his tongue in between her lips. Instinctively, she met his tongue with hers, aggressively exploring every inch of his mouth.
He pulled her closer and her curious hands explored the muscles she had dreamt about and wondered if he would let her investigate the rippling grooves and planes with more than just her fingers any time soon.
Minutes passed before Renji tore his mouth from hers, panting heavily against her cheek and she wrapped her arms around his neck. Her fingers played with his hair while his hands softly stroke her back. "Renji?"
"Mm?" he murmured against her neck.
"Nii-sama's going to kill you," she stated worriedly. Her eyes grew wide with horror when his body started shaking. She pushed him back to look at his face. He was laughing! "Renji! This is serious! He might really kill you!"
He grinned at her with a slap-happy smile and shrugged. "Can't really bring myself to care at the moment. Besides." He kissed the tip of her nose. "If he does, well, I've fought heaven and earth for you. Coming back from the dead for you oughta be a piece of cake."
Rukia rolled her eyes. "That's so cheesy."
Renji grinned and kissed her lightly. "You make me that way, baby."
She ignored the swell in her chest at the endearment and raised her eyebrow at him. "Gag."
"I got a lot more where that came from."
"Ugh, spare me."
He tugged her close and nipped at her ear lobe. "How about this one? I love you."
Her body stiffened and then immediately her hold on him tightened and she buried her face in his neck. "That one's fine."
Before either could utter another word, the door at Rukia's back slid open with a bang. She twisted around and stared in horror at who stood in the doorway. "Nii-sama!" She whirled all the way around and stretched out her thin arms in front of Renji. "Don't kill him!"
Byakuya raised a perfect eyebrow at her. "Are you giving me orders?"
Her eyes shifted down to the floor, but she kept her arms where they were. "N-No, nii-sama. But please…"
Renji gently grasped her arms and tugged them down, whispering in her ear. "It's okay, Rukia. It's fine."
She twisted her neck to glare at him, but he was staring steadily at Byakuya, challenge and determination burning in his dark brown eyes. Rukia looked back to Byakuya who was coolly studying the man sitting on the floor with Byakuya's sister practically on said man's lap.
"What are your intentions?" Byakuya finally asked.
Rukia looked back and forth between the two men, apprehension growing in her chest. "Nii-"
"I want to marry her."
Rukia nearly whiplashed. "What?!"
Renji glanced at her face, and then back at him. "Eventually. If she'll have me."
Byakuya's eyes narrowed, and then a slapping sound was followed by the captain's eyes bugging out as he bent over.
"Aw, c'mon Byakuya. Take the stick out of your ass and let them be." An orange head poked in the doorway and Ichigo grinned at the two. "You guys don't waste much time do you?"
"Not helping, Ichigo!" Rukia growled.
"Kurosaki," Byakuya said, his voice dangerous with warning.
Unruffled, Ichigo clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's go, Byakuya. I know you've gotta be itching for a fight, and…hm…" Ichigo cocked his head in scowling thought. "You haven't beat me yet, have you?" He grinned widely at the noble's eye twitching and grabbed the door, sliding it shut as he loudly boasted, raising the captain's reiatsu higher and higher.
"Idiot," Rukia muttered. "He's going to get himself killed."
"I think Ichigo can handle himself."
"You!" she suddenly accused, remembering the situation. "What do you mean by…by tossing around marriage proposals willy nilly?"
"I wasn't proposing. I was just telling your brother what my intentions are."
Her shoulders drooped a little, but she steeled herself against the curious sinking feeling of disappointment. "Oh. I see. Well, that's good then."
He tucked up her chin to look at him, holding her eyes with a determined gaze. "When I ask you to marry me, I'll sweep you off your feet."
Rukia wrinkled her nose to cover up the smile that threatened to stretch over her lips. "You're going to get all cheesy on me again?"
He grinned. "Yup."
She rolled her eyes and groaned. "You're such a girl."
Rukia laughed as he scowled and tried to recapture her lips, most likely to prove to her how little he resembled a girl. She hugged him around the neck and let her lips be caught, thinking, as she melted into his warm touch, how it was true, wedding days really could be the best day of a woman's life.