DISCLAIMER: I do not own Bleach
What did she want to do?
She had no fucking clue.
"Momo... I'm a complete bitch aren't I?"
That's what Rukia whimpered uncharacteristically to her best friend. Today was the first day she had seen Momo since the honeymoon. She was overjoyed of course until she started bawling to Momo. Being Rukia's personal therapist was in the job description. Regardless, Momo was missed and Rukia had never felt so thankful to have her best friend back in her life. She couldn't imagine living in a world without a Momo Hitsugaya née Hinamori in it.
Momo smiled warmly as her chocolate brown eyes twinkled with that newlywed sparkle. "Honey, turn around first before we start this episode of Dr. Phil."
Rukia nodded limply as she slowly turned around to face the mirror. She was ready to make a snarky remark about the way she looked before she actually saw herself in the mirror. The quip she had readied fell back down her throat and she couldn't find the words she wanted to say. It was a known fact to Rukia Kuchiki that she was beautiful, she exploited her beauty for business sometimes but still... This was something else.
The person staring back at Rukia was familiar yet foreign to her. Her ebony tresses had been done up in a spectacular fashion, it drew attention to her unique amethyst eyes. Hisana's white dress looked even better on her. The style was a little dated but it was completely classic. It was a perfect fit on her, the dress clung to her bodice nicely and the fabric was perfect. All she needed was a little bit of makeup and she was ready to walk down the aisle.
"You're beautiful Rukia... We can do Dr. Phil later. Wedding first."
Rukia felt like she was swallowing a rock. "Oh god... My wedding." She managed before turning around dramatic and making a beeline for Momo. "I'm not ready for my own goddamn wedding. I thought it wouldn't matter so much because it's a marriage of convenience but still—"
Momo laughed. "Calm down... Nobody says marriage of convenience in this day and age. Stop reading your period romance."
Rukia looked at Momo sternly. "Momo."
Momo shrugged as she approached the couch and sat down. The peach fabric of her gown swayed with Momo's every movement she made. When her BFF was nice and comfy, she patted on the empty space beside her. "Okay, come to mama. What ails my little sweetie?"
Rukia slowly made her way to the couch, it took a while because her dress got in the way. Albeit wedding dresses were beautiful, they were all pains in the ass. She finally sat down and faced Momo. "I'm getting married to the wrong man for starters... Upon self reflection, I've been a total bitch all my life."
"You just figured that out now? Wow, the concept of marriage does do wonders."
Rukia swallowed thickly. "Well... I'm not the easiest person to be with. Nor am I the best person to be friends with... No wonder why dating is so hard... And Ichigo. Oh god, Ichigo."
"What about him?"
"I've been a bitch to him too... I don't know how he puts up with me. I have hellish mood swings and he doesn't get mad... Men aren't that... that... Sensitive." Rukia stated exasperatedly.
Momo wanted to laugh but she stopped herself. Nobody wanted to incite the wrath of the demon. "Men do everything for the women they love." She replied before glancing at the clock. "Sixty minutes on the clock... Wanna be a runaway bride?" She grinned.
Rukia sighed. "I'm too much of a coward to run."
"Most would assume that running away is cowardly. Not the other way around."
"No... I'm not going to run. I've had enough of running..."
Momo sighed. "You have a mulish disposition so I'm not likely to argue with you. However, I think it's time you stopped listening to your head. Listen to your heart, it never steers you in the wrong direction."
Rukia raised an eyebrow. "That's what Toshiro said the other day."
Momo looked a little surprised before laughing. "Shiro? Hmm... Marriage does change a man. He'd rather be caught dead then preach about sentimental bullshit." She replied in amusement. "Now, please stop skirting around the issue."
Rukia breathed in deeply. "Do we need to have a heart to heart now? Why can't we do this talk later? I mean, do we even have time for this?"
Momo looked at her sternly. "You'd be married later... We both know that's not what you want."
"Don't start making excuses Rukia. I want your honest opinion, not your superficial reasoning. I know you Rukia, you always use your head to string up rational reasons for irrational things. You can't do that... It's not possible to justify feelings."
Rukia felt her temper rise up but she kept it down. As must as she hated being interrupted, she knew deep down that Momo was right. She was always making excuses. She made excuses all her life. It was her best talent. Maybe she could have been actress. Then dating another actor would be far more reasonable.
"Fine, what do you want me to say?"
"Can you really stand being married to someone else?"
Rukia looked away. "Of course not. I can tolerate it but it doesn't mean I have to like it."
Momo sighed. "Bullshit."
Rukia rolled her eyes before clearing her throat. "Momo..."
"Don't lie to me..." She said in a tone that resembled a mother.
Rukia sighed once more. "You want me to be absolutely honest..."
Momo nodded eagerly before crossing her legs and leaning back on the couch. "Honey, I'm a trained psychologist. Don't test my mad skills. Let's just put it this way, tell me the first thing that pops in your head. Blurt the answer out."
Rukia nodded wondered what this drill was for. "Of course I can't stand it. I don't want to be chained down. Much less by my family."
"There we go." Momo grinned. "Next question then. If Ichigo offered to marry you again, would you accept?"
Rukia cocked her head to the side. She then closed her eyes and pondered over it for a while before making an answer. "I don't know..."
"You don't know?" Momo asked with a curious tone.
Rukia crossed her legs under her dress. She propped up her elbow on her lap and rested her head on her palm. She was looking in another direction but she was being truthful. "I don't know how I feel about my relationship with him to be honest... But I know one thing is for certain."
Momo was curious. "What is?"
Rukia smiled and Momo noticed the clarity in her eyes. She closed her eyes momentarily and drew out a quiet sigh before talking. "Whenever I close my eyes and I think of him... I think of home. If I take away everything else, all that's left is this simple truth. I love him and I'm bitch to not let him know. The entire time I was with him, I never said it enough and he never pushed me. He always told me he loved me but I rarely answered... Sometimes my feelings would be so strong that I would tell him I love him but... Maybe I was scared. Maybe if I said those magic words over and over again, they would lose the magic." She stated before standing up from the couch and looking out the window pane.
"I know you're here for me but I was afraid I would be alone. I fancied myself in love with Kaien before. Sure I was hurt when we broke it off but I could move on, traumatic event aside. My thing with Grimmjow was my first taste of romance but I could also move on. This time... I'm not so sure I can. I'm always scared of the fact that maybe he's the one for me but I'm not the one for him... I just..." She trailed off in the end but Momo understood for the first part.
Momo smiled anyway, that entire speech was such a Rukia thing to say. True, it was difficult for Rukia to love but when she did, she loved fiercely. It may not show on her face but it was in her voice and her words. "I know I told you stuff about Shiro but I never gave you the miserable part of the story."
"What miserable part?" Rukia asked as she turned around and leaned against the window.
"Well... I went through shit for Toshiro too. You were there when I cried over him for weeks. In fact, you were the one who told me to get my shit together. You and Toshiro are pretty similar, your emotions don't show at all. The only evident thing on your faces is either a poker face or a scowl. At one point, I thought Toshiro didn't love me at all. I mean, a man could be an excellent lover but that didn't mean he was emotionally invested. I was scared of letting him know I love him, because maybe he didn't feel the same."
"I didn't know."
Momo shrugged. "You were pretty traumatized by Kaien's little incident. I didn't want to trouble you with stories of my romantic escapades."
"I'm sorry... I'm not very good at this best friend thing." Rukia apologized sincerely.
"It's okay. You're my best friend because of who you are. You love me and you want what's best for me. No one else can do that for me. Sure there's Shiro but he's a man and he's my husband. Even if he leaves me, which I doubt will ever happen, I still have you."
Momo's words made Rukia smile.
"Well, our stories are a little different. You had the courage to tell Ichigo at one point. I didn't... Shiro said it first and I realized that I was an idiot. Keeping my feelings to myself just made me feel shitty."
Rukia began to pace around the room. "Well... The first time I told him, I just blurted it out really. I was just so happy... And somehow I just knew he felt the same. I was right and he didn't run like a stereotypical man." She said warmly before he face turned to a sour not. "But I wasn't able to tell him as often as I liked... Somehow, I got scared along the way and lost all of my courage." Rukia said grimly.
Momo stood up with a groan and walked over to Rukia. "Well honey, if there was a guidebook for love, everyone would find their soulmate without a fuss. It's been years since mankind became mankind and we still suffer through the same emotional BS."
"You're the one who took psychology in college. Don't ask me." Rukia retorted back with a teasing smile.
Momo laughed and pointed to the chair in front of the dresser. "Come and sit... We really should put the makeup on. I know you're flawless, damn the god who made you that way, but you still need it."
Rukia made her way to the chair and sat down. Normally she's do her own makeup but this time, Momo wanted to the honor. It wasn't even a question, of course Momo would do it. No one else would do. "All right then Hinamori, make me pretty."
"That's Hitsugaya to you."
"Shut up, you'll always be Hinamori to me."
Momo grinned. "I am aren't I? I'm a Hinamori to the core, my parents would love to rub that in my face."
"I've met your mother a couple of times. Deny all you want, but you are a carbon copy of her."
Momo frowned as she began to make swift work of Rukia's face. "Am not... We're nothing alike. I don't nag."
Rukia looked back at Momo and raised an eyebrow. "Really now?"
Momo rolled her eyes. "Maybe a bit. Look, don't tell my mother I said that. She'd be teasing me about it until the day she bites the dust. You know, she'd probably insist on keeping her cremated remains in an urn in my living room."
"Like you wouldn't?"
"When I have kids someday, that might sound like a fun prank. One that'll really get under their skins until they have kids of their own." Momo joked.
Rukia looked in the mirror as Rukia worked her magic. "I wonder if I'll have kids someday..."
"With the stupid family parameters, you're going to have to have them someday." Momo pointed out matter-of-factly.
"No... Not that. I mean seriously... I'm not sure if I'll be a good mother. I'm not very good at affection... Flirting yes but affection... I'm not very good at showing affection."
Momo smiled a Mona Lisa smile. "Even the great Genghis Khan would be brought to his knees by his own children. Even the toughest of people are reduced to children when face with their kids."
"I don't think so."
"Ever watch Bones on TV?"
Rukia cocked her head to the side. "Bones? That show with that forensic anthropologist and the FBI agent?"
"Yeah, well that anthropologist uses hyper rationality and she's ten times worse than you. When she got a kid, her maternal instincts kicked in and she was like every other doting mother." Momo pointed out.
"Fiction." Rukia pointed out.
Momo frowned. "Don't lawyer me Kuchiki." She sneered.
"Damn, and I was going to read you the damn constitution too."
They both laughed out loud.
Rukia sighed and continued to stay still for Momo's sake. "We used have so much fun together... Now I'm so busy, we rarely hang out anymore."
"When you're married, we should totally amend that." Momo said with a wink.
Momo grinned. "You never know, your own wedding might surprise you." She pointed out with a knowing smile.
How? Was what Rukia wanted to say. She kept quiet instead. Sometimes Momo would overwhelm her with such strength and optimism, it made Rukia envious. People always thought that she was the strong tough one but in reality, that person was Momo.
"I hope so... God knows how bland my marriage to him will be." Rukia groaned.
"Let's hope for the best. It can't be all that bad." Momo replied.
Rukia groaned. "Not to bring up the past and all that but have you tried living with Kaien? I was so madly in love with him then that I could pardon his bad habits but now? They're just irritating. The constant supply of ginger ale is maddening."
"Ooh, Ginger Ale. How scary." Momo teased.
"You're just about done Rukia." Momo stated as she put the brush behind her and stood back.
Momo looked at Rukia with a weird face before she smiled to herself in satisfaction. She stepped aside and urged Rukia to stand up. She led Rukia towards the big mirror. "And now you're ready to walk down that aisle." Momo added.
Rukia swallowed thickly and felt a tiny chill run down her spine. She knew that the person in the mirror was her. She just couldn't help but feel that she was looking at Hisana. She usually didn't allow herself to miss Hisana but looking at her reflection, she sorely missed her sister. She wanted her sister back. Yes, she loved Momo and would go to hell and back for Momo but still.
She wanted to know what Hisana thought of her.
Would she be proud or would she be disappointed in the kind of person Rukia was.
Rukia sucked in a shaken breath and allowed herself to tremble. That was when Momo stole her attention. "Am I good or am I good?"
Rukia's mouth twitched. "You're the best Momo."
"Suffice to say, I believe you look acceptable Rukia."
The new voice was undoubtedly male and they both knew who that was. Rukia sharply faced the door and was met with the overbearing presence of her older brother. Momo simply grinned in amusement as she leaned by the nearest wall in her lovely peach ensemble. Rukia gave Byakuya Kuchiki a quick look.
He was wearing a three piece suit for once. She hadn't seen him wear such a sharp looking ensemble since Hisana had died. Frankly, she was flattered that he made an effort for her. He may have been an older gentleman but he certainly didn't show it. He was handsome in the suit, even if he wasn't entirely aware of it.
"I take that back... You look just like your sister." He replied.
Rukia raised an eyebrow. "Is that a compliment?"
His mouth twitched into a ghost of a smile. "Perhaps... But you don't require my opinion."
Rukia smiled, this was a brotherly as he could get. "Touché."
"You could do better than that Kuchiki." Momo stated gleefully.
The older Kuchiki looked dismayed and Rukia was amused. An exchange between Momo and Byakuya was rare but it was always an interesting sight. Byakuya looked like he was choosing his words with care. "As a psychiatrist, does that give you the authority to dictate the manner of which I treat my kin?"
"How many times do I have to tell you Kuchikis. I'm a trained psychologist, I know when people are lying. Also, it's my best friend's wedding. The man giving her away could at least exert more effort in giving her a compliment."
Rukia saw that Byakuya wanted to roll his eyes. A rare moment that surprised her but her brother was different lately. Maybe eye rolling wasn't beyond him. Rukia held back a smile when Byakuya looked at her again begrudgingly. "You look fine."
And Rukia knew that that was the best compliment he could give. She could tell that she reminded him of his wife, a better compliment would just bring back old memories. "Thank you brother."
"You call that effort? My husband could do better in his sleep." Momo added exasperatedly.
"Cut him some slack Momo. He's obviously trying." Rukia defended. "Also, Hitsugaya's your husband. Of course he can compliment you in his sleep."
Momo grinned. "Damn right he can."
Byakuya closed his eyes in mild irritation. "Is this the rumored female banter I've heard so much about? I suppose this is my cue to leave."
"I do believe the great Byakuya Kuchiki has made a joke." Momo stated sarcastically.
"And it's much appreciated. You don't have to stay any longer than you have to brother." Rukia said firmly.
"It's alright Rukia. This time, I'd like to have a proper talk with you before I give you away."
Momo smirked. "There we go..."
Both Kuchikis targeted the famed family glare in Momo's direction. Momo's immunity allowed her to deflect the glare with a perky disposition. "I don't want to leave but I will. You both seem much more comfortable without me." Momo said with a smile.
She walked on over to the couch, picked up her purse and subsequently left the room.
"Your choice in friends never fails to intrigue me." Byakuya stated matter-of-factly.
"But my friends stay, that's what matters." She replied.
"Yes, I'm actually quite fond of Ms. Hinamori." Byakuya admitted uncharacteristically.
Rukia's thought raced back to when she drank too much and passed out in the bar. She could still remember their conversation and while Byakuya may have lied about it, she didn't forget it. She still didn't get why he lied. Regardless, they seemed to have found some easy common ground.
"I'm surprised to hear you say that... You always seemed irritated by her."
He looked at her weirdly. "You're irritated by her too therefore your argument is invalid."
Rukia smiled wryly. "This is progress. As opposed to talking to me like I'm not actually there." She grounded out.
Byakuya looked genuinely surprised. "Is that how I sound like?"
"Most of the time." She replied blandly.
"Well then I apologize." He replied in the same tone.
She looked at him for a while as she thought over he answer carefully. "Apologize for what? Being cold to me or lying about the one time we actually bonded."
She noticed the change in his expression as he cleared his throat. "Oh. That."
She placed her hands on her hips exasperatedly, her eyebrows furrowed. "Yes, that."
He shifted uncomfortably and he looked like he wanted to loosen his collar. "Straight to the point, just like Hisana."
"I'm not that different from Hisana you know." She pointed out.
He shook his head. "You're both different. You're stronger than she was, you have a lot more courage. You also find it easier to speak your mind and your not afraid of the consequences. Hisana was never good at the things you so easily do. She could never be a lawyer like you, she just wasn't that assertive. Well assertive to me but she was quiet for the most part. She usually just put on a show of strength, for your sake."
Rukia sighed. "She had a bigger heart... She loved you after all. That takes guts, the kind I don't have."
He looked away. "But you're both very stubborn... It's true that she had heart but it takes a very stubborn person to put up with me. Especially when I was a hotheaded kid."
Rukia smiled. "That's Hisana for you..." Then she turned around and crossed her arms. "But I wasn't talking about Hisana. I was wondering why you lied about the resort thing."
He faced her. "The truth?"
He shrugged and looked out the window, avoiding all eye contact. "I panicked."
Rukia scowled heavily. "You panicked?" Disappointment laced her tone.
Byakuya looked at her accusingly. "Did you expect a grand answer that would solve all of your problems?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Honestly? Yeah, maybe a little."
"I'm human too Rukia."
"You've always been perfect." She pointed out.
"If I were perfect, you'd be fond of me. But you're not so that proves that I'm imperfect. Just like any other human being."
Rukia kept her frown before closing her eyes and sighing. She looked away and there was this distant look in her eyes. She appeared to be recalling something. "I am fond of you... When I was younger, you were like a hero to me."
"Well, I'm sorry to have become a disappointment." he replied.
"You only disappoint me because I had false expectations..."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
She shrugged. "Who knows... You were always a hero to me. Childhood flights of fancy tend to build false hope."
Byakuya sighed and it made him sound truly old. Sure, he was youthful and handsome but sometimes his age caught up with him. "Listen... About that night Rukia, there's a good reason why I had to keep it under wraps."
Rukia kept scowling. "Why?"
"I don't know how to say this without sounding like an ass. But I had to keep affection to a minimum." he replied bluntly.
Rukia was surprised that the great Byakuya Kuchiki would swear so freely.
"I don't even remember half the stuff I told you..."
Byakuya smiled lightly. "It's better if you don't... Seriously, there are some things you shouldn't remember."
Rukia narrowed her eyes at her brother. "Like what?"
"Things... Trust me."
Rukia rolled her eyes at him. "Is it incredibly shameful? Like, I would shoot myself if I ever found out?"
"Something like that."
Rukia fumed in her place. "Great... Now I'm curious."
Byakuya allowed small laugh to escape his lips. It was small but she managed to catch it. Rukia wondered why her usually stoic and taciturn brother was pretty happy today. She didn't understand it but he was far more talkative and he looked like he knew something she didn't. Well, he always knew something she didn't but this time was different. He was giving her weird vibes. Creepy vibes perhaps, but vibes nonetheless.
"Hmm... I'll tell you when you're older."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I am old."
"You nowhere near the age I had in mind." He shot her down and dashed her hopes of knowing what he knew.
"I am twenty of eight. Unmarried, relatively successful and single. I think I can handle it."
"The point is moot Rukia. For now, I shall refrain from speaking about the matter." He stated with his hands in his pockets. He then walked towards her in a cool manner.
Rukia groaned in irritation as she sad down on the couch. She couldn't imagine wearing the dress for the next couple of hours. She managed to cross her legs as she leaned back and relaxed. Byakuya took a seat on the opposite end of the couch and assumed a similar position. "There is a reason for everything Rukia, trust in destiny. It carries you to unexpected places."
"Is that what led you to Hisana?"
"That and a lot of luck." He replied.
She allowed a small snicker. "Yeah, no kidding..."
"I may not be the best brother but... I did promise Hisana that I'd make you happy. Maybe I've been less than ideal but whatever happens from this point forward, know that I had your best interests in mind."
Rukia raised an eyebrow but Byakuya refused to elaborate. Okay, fine. She knew for certain that he was hiding something. His manner implied that he was hiding something big, something that had to do with her.
Nevertheless, she could actually hear his sincerity. That alone was quite a feat so for once, she was going to have to trust him. She knew it in her heart that Byakuya would never betray Hisana and if Hisana wished Rukia to be happy, no doubt Byakuya would go through great lengths to accomplish that. She knew that he was an honorable man, no matter how indifferent or taciturn he could be.
Rukia then dared to do something highly uncharacteristic of her. She hesitantly wrapped her arms around his waist because that was what she could reach. She settled her head against his firm chest and she felt warm, even someone like him was a person after all. "Don't worry... I wouldn't have you any other way. I may be all you have left of Hisana but the same goes for me. You're the only thing I have left of her... So we have to stick together."
Byakuya was obviously taken aback by the managed a smile before returning her hug. He stroked her hair awkwardly but it felt more natural after a while. It reminded her of the first time she met Byakuya. She was such a brazen kid, all poor Byakuya could do was pat her head awkwardly. Similar to what he was doing now.
She wanted to laugh at the uncanniness of it all.
"Sometimes I feel like your father."
She grinned. "And sometimes you're just that scary older brother every conservative little Madame has."
"That too." He replied in jest.
Byakuya stood up first and he offered his hand to her. Rukia smiled, took his hand, and was pulled up to her feet. He looked at the wall clock before glancing at his own watch. "Time moves too fast." He commented to himself.
"Come now Rukia. I'd rather you not be late for your own wedding." He declared.
"Is it too late to make like a movie and run?" She asked him.
He shook his heads "You could do that, but if you've learned anything from me, I know you wouldn't. True Kuchikis don't run."
"Well yes but I'm not a Kuchiki."
Byakuya smiled at her and gave her a forward nudge to the door. Rukia followed his cue and walked on over to the door. She placed her hand on the brass door knob and tried to settle her nerves. She felt her brother follow closely behind her.
"Don't worry, you've always been a Kuchiki to me."
She looked over her shoulder and gave him a weird look. "You're really nice. Something's wrong... Are you not feeling well brother?"
He shrugged, uncharacteristically. "I'm fine... Maybe I just feel brotherly."
She accepted it anyway and have him one last grin. She twisted the door knob and opened the door. "Well, I guess I'm off then."
"Remember Rukia. Chin up, back straight and keep your head up. Well, that's what Hisana used to say."
Rukia nodded. "I know."
When Rukia left the the room, Byakua took out his cellphone and dialed a familiar number. Her put the phone against his ear and waited before the line connected.
"Commence the coup."
"And get Rukia hitched with a bang?"
Byakuya smiled. "Something like that."
"Isn't that a little pushy?"
"You said it would work."
"I didn't say anything, you just made your own assumptions. I'm just doing this to prove you wrong."
He shrugged. "It doesn't matter. Get my results, I don't want to embarrass myself."
Then Byakuya pocketed his phone and opened the door to follow Rukia.
"Let the games begin."
AN: So yeah. That's all I can say for now. I've matured just a little since I started this thing and looking back now... What was I thinking? Oh well, I gotta finish it. No matter how cheesy or disappointing it gets. I hope it works in the next chapter.
AkaBaka-chan signing off~