Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Tite Kubo et al.
The Kurosaki Affair
All's Right with the World
The Special Attack Team did not breach the reception hall as they'd thought. Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force did. The first team had apparently been on another call, and given the large explosions, the police surrounding the hotel had thought it best to bring in the experts. When the military team got into the hall, they found everyone either dazed, exhausted or both, and all the culprits lying unconscious on the floor tied up. The commander in charge took one look at Rukia and nodded in understanding.
No one messed with a bride on her wedding day.
"Let's go men," he ordered, giving the room one last perusal. Satisfied that all was well, he and his team left the clean-up to the locals and left the wedding party and guests to the tender care of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
Statements were taken, additional medical treatment was offered, and they were all released by the time the sun was fully down. Ichigo and Rukia bade goodbye to their human guests a little guiltily, hoping that there weren't any negative after-effects from the whole operation. When all that was left were the Kuchiki elders, the wedding party, and the two Arrancar, they all collapsed into chairs wherever they could find them.
"I'm glad this whole thing is over, but I feel like we're missing something," Ichigo sighed, running his hands through his hair tiredly.
"I highly doubt that, Kurosaki-kun," Nanao replied, looking at a list she had in front of her. "All of the guests have been accounted for…" she trailed off and everyone looked at her. "Where are Lady Rurichiyō Kasumiōji and Lord Shū Kannogi?"
"Come to think of it," Tatsuki said, "Where are Asano and Kojima?"
"Here comes Keigo," the daiko sighed and braced himself. Keigo came sprinting into the room, not stopping until he had embraced his friend tightly. Mizuiro entered at a more sedate pace, the two missing nobles following behind. The Shinigami sighed in relief, glad that they wouldn't have to explain to the Soutaicho how they'd let two high ranking nobles get hurt during the operation or that they'd misplaced them. "I'm glad you're all right, Keigo. Where were you four?"
"We were locked out of the hall," Rurichiyō explained. "Your human friends were kind enough to show us to the restroom, and by the time both Shū and I were ready to return, the doors had been locked. The hotel employees urged us away from the hall and the police took us outside until just now."
"Ah, man, Rurichiyō. I'm sorry you had to go through that," Ichigo said, pushing Keigo away gently.
"It was interesting," the young noble returned. "However, it has been a long day, and I think it would be best if we returned to the Soul Society."
"Of course, thank you for coming," Rukia interjected, knowing Ichigo felt bad about basically forgetting that they'd been there.
"Lady Kasumiōji, Lord Kannogi if you wish, you may return with my elders. I will escort you myself," Byakuya offered, his face for once not set in stone.
"Nii-sama?" Rukia questioned.
"It is time that they went home. I am sure they've had enough of the Living World for the moment." Several elders were already making noise about just that and Rukia thought it best to go with her brother's decision.
"Of course. Thank you for attending what little reception there was," she said, bowing to her relatives. Some of them looked like they wanted to say something but Ichigo's presence forestalled any unwanted comments. They trooped out after their Clan Head, not waiting to be dismissed by the bride and groom.
"Grimmjow, perhaps we should also depart," Neliel commented, putting her wine glass down. "Prince, Princess, it was a pleasure. I hope we can continue to work together in the future. May your marriage be long and fruitful." Grimmjow looked like he wanted to protest, but Neliel had a death grip on his arm and he obviously didn't have a choice in the matter.
"We hope so too," Ichigo replied. "And you don't have to be formal, Neliel-san," he continued.
"Good, wasn't going to anyway," Grimmjow shot back before finally going out the door willingly.
The rest of the assembled company sat in silence, weary from the day. After nearly a half hour, Isshin rose to his feet and held out his hand to his wife and daughters. "We'll go on ahead, Ichigo," his father stated, a gusty sigh following the statement.
"I'll talk to you later. Don't go back to school until I see you, Mom."
"I have one more day of leave, dear. You shall see me tomorrow," Masaki assured him. Giving both her son and new daughter a kiss on the top of their heads, she left with the rest of her family.
"I guess all that's left to do with gather our things and get out of here," Orihime mused. She knew she had to get up and move but didn't really want to leave her spot. The day was catching up and she just wanted to sleep. Glancing around, she noticed that the Urahara Shoten crew had snuck out at some point, likely to avoid interaction with the police.
"Wait just a minute!" a voice called from the door to the hall and they all looked as one to the harried gentleman standing there. "I need to speak to you," he announced. With a dismayed look around the room, the man came forward without any sense of self-preservation.
"And you are…?" Ichigo questioned, confused. The only hotel employee that they'd had any contact with since arriving this morning was Teineina-san.
"I am General Manager Ito. While I am glad to see none of you are hurt, I must demand to know exactly who will be paying for the damages."
Nanao opened her mouth to respond when Rukia stood up and confronted the obnoxious man with all the regal dignity in her. "Excuse me? My wedding reception was destroyed, my friends and family put in danger, some of whom were hurt, and you want us to pay for the damages? We are not the ones who hired people who turned out to be terrorists. The waitstaff was obviously infiltrated by these criminals and that was your responsibility." No one bothered to correct her about any of the damage, knowing an angry Rukia when they saw one. "If I am not mistaken, my brother took care of any remaining expense this morning. We did not even get our full meal, so count yourselves lucky we are not suing you for failure to deliver."
Ito gaped at the small woman in the beautiful white dress and couldn't find words to refute her claims. It was true that they had hired the temporary staff, and that the reception had not gotten to end as it should have. If he recalled, the meal had only been partly over and the wedding cake was still sitting in an antechamber somewhere. "Kurosaki-sama, you are correct…"
"Of course, I am," Rukia said, cutting him off. "My elders were quite shocked at the lack of professionalism that your staff showed. I would not be surprised if word about this incident spreads."
"That will not be necessary, I'm sure there's something…"
"Excuse me," someone said. Teineina-san, looking very disheveled, appeared with a cart in the kitchen doorway. "I know it's not much, but perhaps you would like your cake. Most of your guests are gone, but you can take the rest home. Your wedding party looks like they could do with a pick-me-up."
"My cake?" Rukia questioned, derailed from her lambasting of the general manager.
"Yes. It isn't much, and there's no way that we could fully make up for what has gone on, but your wedding started so wonderfully, it deserves to end on a higher note than this. I'm sure my boss agrees with me that you need not pay a yen more."
Ichigo, having forgotten the cake, perked up at the mention of a treat. The confection looked just like Yuzu had drawn it, the decorations on it a masterpiece of Chappy the Rabbit and Friends. "Heh, forgot about that thing. What do you think, Rukia?"
"You let our cake be Chappy themed?"
"It was Yuzu's idea and I knew you'd like it. Besides, I'd be eating it anyway, not like I had to live with the towering sugar bomb." Ichigo placed his hand on her shoulder, giving it a small squeeze.
"Ichigo," she breathed, and felt tears come to her eyes. Why the water works should start now was a mystery, but she nodded and looked at the wedding planner. "Yes, we would like our cake Teineina-san. I'm glad you're okay."
"As am I. Ise-san warned me that your party would be tough to deal with, but I did not think they'd be heroes as well. Thank you for taking down the bad guys. Without your skills, more people could have been hurt."
"It was no problem," Renji commented, clearing off one of the few tables remaining upright. "The bride and groom don't take kindly to that sort of thing. We just sort of backed them up."
"Yes, I suppose so," Teineina-san said, a small laugh escaping. "One really shouldn't mess with a bride on her wedding day."
"Exactly," Ishida agreed, helping Orihime find a seat. "Or her bridesmaids," he added. He'd seen the damage Yuzu had done to Kano, knowing that it had been worse before Shunō and Ayame had gotten to him. The others laughed to varying degrees, each settling around a table to enjoy one last treat. Quiet conversation passed between them; the wedding planner grateful that the hotel had been forgiven so easily. The general manager had left almost silently, knowing that he'd been in the wrong.
"Say, Ichii," Yachiru began, a frown on her face. "Does this count as the end of the day?"
"Way passed, why squirt?"
"Because I don't think my dress will survive any longer," she responded, pointing to the large dollop of frosting down her front.
"It's okay, Yachiru. You did a good job keeping it clean earlier," he replied, hoping she'd know he was talking about the Hollows he'd sent her after. All of the spiritual fighting had drawn some of the unwanted pests and he'd trusted her to get rid of them. That she hadn't even needed to get out of her gigai probably should have worried him, but he left that for another day.
"You'll tell Kenny?"
"I'll tell Kenpachi," he assured her.
"You were the picture of ladylike behavior today, Yachiru," Yumichika gushed.
"Didn't tell him about the chandelier, did you?" Toushiro muttered to the child next to him.
"Some things he's better off not knowing," she returned, completely serious.
"Probably for the best," Momo said on the other side of her. "He can be a bit much at times," she admitted. He'd subbed a time or two for Yachiru at their Lieutenants' meetings and his world view didn't always jive with theirs.
"Yumi is Yumi," Ikkaku said. The others all nodded in agreement before tucking back into their dessert. They stayed quiet for the rest of their time there, lost in their own thoughts but for the most part, content.
By the time everything was packed, and they were on the road back to Karakura, no one had much energy. The bride and groom had gone ahead, being assured that their party would take care of everything. Ichigo and Rukia dragged their feet inside, the former scooping his new wife into his arms to take her over the threshold. It elicited a laugh as he'd thought it would and he relished the sound of her enjoyment.
Before turning in, they hunted up Kon and Chappy's plush bodies, putting their pills back in and promising them some of the cake that they'd brought home. Kon seemed satisfied with that as he'd managed to scarf some of the main dish while Ichigo was fighting in his Shinigami form but Chappy pouted until she was shown pictures of the cake Yuzu had designed. Seeing the evidence of their wedding, Ichigo had to wonder if there'd been time for any other pictures throughout the day. He'd have to remember to ask Ise-san when he saw her next.
Lying in bed, Ichigo wrapped his arms around Rukia and dropped a kiss on her head. "Pretty pathetic that I don't have the energy for anything else tonight," he grumbled.
"Emotion can take more energy out of a person than physical exertion," his wife explained, giving a sigh of her own. "Today might have not been the picture of perfection, but it as what I needed. Your words today meant everything, Ichigo. Thank you."
"Thank you," he replied, eyes closing in sleep. Rukia smiled, the expression staying on her face even as she joined Ichigo in slumber. For once, all was right with their world. The night surrounded them in peace and there was nothing to disturb the bride and groom on what was left of their wedding day.
That could wait until morning.
"Good…Morning…Ichigo! And Rukia-chan!" Ichigo frowned in his sleep, the voice in his dream sounding suspiciously like his dad. Instinctively he rolled away from the direction the sound had come from, bringing Rukia with him. A loud thud echoed in what he thought was his dream, making the newlywed frown even more fiercely.
"Isshin, dear, that wasn't nice. We just came to get them because it was so late in the day…" His mother's voice trailed off, making Ichigo realize that he wasn't dreaming. Groaning, the young doctor opened his eyes warily, afraid of what he'd find. To his horror, his parents were standing in his bedroom, the rest of his family, and Rukia's, behind them.
"Say it isn't so," he moaned, wanting to drag the covers over his head.
"Ichigo, your family has finally lost the rest of their marbles," Rukia muttered from her position deep under the comforter. She had sensed them the moment Ichigo had pushed her out of the way and had gone deeper under the bedclothes to protect herself further.
"They're your family too," he shot back, glaring at his father as best he could. Isshin simply grinned back. "Which of you lunatics decided waking us up was a good idea?"
"Don't be mad, Onii-chan, it's just that after yesterday, we thought you two still deserved a party and when we talked to Shihoin-san at the Shoten, she agreed and said to bring you when you woke up."
"Gee, another party, just what we always wanted."
"Well, if you don't want all that wedding present money, I'll take it, but your friends might feel different," Karin said casually. The brat would take it too.
"Money?" Rukia perked up, her raven head appearing out of the covers. "I suppose it would be rude to refuse…"
"That still doesn't explain why you're in our bedroom."
"Well, dear, we were waiting downstairs but it got to be ten thirty and when it didn't seem like you were going to rise, I made an off-handed remark to Captain Kuchiki and he suggested that maybe you needed a little help. I'm afraid that's all it took for your father to jump the gun." Masaki looked at her son apologetically.
"Idiot doesn't need a reason. Thanks a lot, Byakuya. And I know you're standing there, so don't pretend you and Renji aren't near the stairwell. Guess we got to get up, midget."
"Guess so…" she sighed regretfully. She been having a lovely dream about Chappy.
"Excellent, we'll wait for you downstairs." Masaki drew the others away, giving her husband a not-so-gentle push toward the stairs. He stumbled all the way down, landing with a thud on his bottom.
"Masaki, how you would me!" Crocodile tears swam in his eyes and he looked around for someone to comfort him. No one had any sympathy for him, and he turned back to his wife. "Why are you so cruel?"
"You attacked my precious boy while he was asleep," the family matriarch stated, a raised brow daring him to contradict her. "Both of you could have gotten hurt. Not to mention you could have landed on Rukia-chan. What if you do that one day and land on our grandchild instead?"
Karin opened her mouth to tell her mother that Ichigo would never let that happen but decided to keep silent when her father looked like sense was finally coming back to him after a long absence. Her sister gave a small noise of distress and the two Shinigami in the living room turned glares on the ex-captain. Royal or no, he wouldn't be treated with any mercy if he did something stupid like that.
"You're right, my dear. Foolish of me not to consider that scenario. Now that they are married it's only a matter of time before Rukia carries our grandchild. Or children. With this family, you never know." Isshin straightened his posture and went to place a hand on Masaki's shoulder. "I am so thankful you are with me again. You always did know when to be the voice of reason."
"Someone had to be," Renji muttered and went into the kitchen. All the excitement had made him thirsty.
"Indeed," Byakuya agreed, following his lieutenant. He was glad that Masaki had been found. Permanent resident of the Soul Society or not, at least she could be counted on to rein in any absurdities of her husband.
"Now, now, gentlemen. We're all family here." Masaki smiled and made herself at home in the kitchen, puttering with her son and daughter-in-law's equipment. Frowning when she didn't see a common appliance, she turned to her son's two housemates. "Lieutenant Abarai, have you seen the rice maker?"
"Broke it," the redhead admitted, gesturing to the newly fixed window.
"Really, how? I always found ours to be excessively easy to use," she mused.
"Forensics is still trying to determine that, Kurosaki-san," Byakuya stated, completely serious.
"You took Onii-chan's rice maker to a forensics technician?" Yuzu asked incredulously.
"The Department of Research and Development was interested in studying the cause, as the machines themselves are supposed to be easy to use. How Abarai managed to make it launch itself off the counter and out the window intrigued Kurotsuchi, so he agreed to study the machine for answers."
"Huh," Masaki uttered.
"Maybe it was already boobytrapped," Karin offered.
"Entirely possible, one cannot be too careful," Byakuya informed, thanking Masaki for the tea she'd just made with a nod. "Your brother is the next Soul King, after all. There's no telling what dangers and enemies he'll have to face in the future."
Isshin nodded sagely at Byakuya's words before the older man took a hard look at the captain. The Kuchiki head was avoiding looking directly at his wife, likely knowing Masaki would catch him in any falsehood. "A prank gone wrong wouldn't be out of the ordinary either," the ex-captain suggested. "It can be awfully hard to judge the right amount of propellant if one wishes to send something up in the air. A tiny miscalculation and a spark could become an explosion. Just ask Kukkaku Shiba."
"What's this about Kukkaku?" Ichigo asked, joining his family in the kitchen. Taking one look at the empty counter space, he glared at the two male Shinigami. "Haven't you replaced the rice cooker yet? Rukia's going to notice."
"Notice what?" his wife asked, coming up behind him. Ichigo jumped guiltily, whirling to face her. "Ichigo, isn't there something of mine missing?"
"It broke," he admitted, not wanting to tell her how it had broken or why it had inexplicably launched itself through the window.
"I see, I suppose those things happen. Let us be off to Urahara's. I do not wish to keep the others waiting any longer. We can always buy a new one later. Your mother and sisters are only here for the rest of the day too and I'm sure you want to spend as much time with them as possible." Stealing his tea, she finished it for him, and set it in the sink after rinsing the cup. Her family didn't say anything. They followed her out the door, Ichigo and Renji bringing up the rear.
"She heard everything, didn't she?" Renji muttered.
"Probably," his friend replied and grinned as he looked up to the sky. "Doesn't matter, I guess. We can always get a new one." In the grand scheme of things, a broken rice maker wasn't anything to worry about.
They arrived at the Shoten almost ten minutes after leaving home. Upon entering, they detected a large number of easily identifiable reiatsus, telling the Kurosakis that Yoruichi had been busy. "Yare, yare, there are the Sleeping Royals," Urahara boomed, as if no one could figure it out themselves. "Come, your friends await." He led them to the underground passage, an irritated Tatsuki and Chad arguing at the top.
"I'm not an invalid. I've climbed down this ladder before."
"Not pregnant," her friend argued back. "I'm just saying let me go first so that I can catch you if anything happens. Look, Ichigo's here so he can steady you from above." Chad frowned at Ichigo over their friend's shoulder, an expression not usually seen on the big man.
Tatsuki would have come back with something but Masaki laid a hand on her arm and shook her head. "Sado-kun's right, my dear. You need some help with balancing that load. A baby can make your balance shift unexpectedly. Allow them this," she said.
"Fine," Tatsuki snapped, her temper out of sorts. Seeing Renji's smile out of the corner of her eye, she snarled at him and threw the nearest object at hand at his head.
"Hey, what'd I do?"
"You're an ass," she told him. "I still haven't forgiven you for your comments the other day." Getting out of Chad's way, she let him go down the hole first, then waited until Ichigo could help her get onto the ladder safely. Rung by rung she went down the ladder slowly, not surprised when she found nearly all of her friends standing around the bottom. Shunō and Ayame flew around her head, their concern touching rather than annoying.
"Gang way, folks, annoyed pregnant lady on the loose," Renji reported when he reached the training ground. For his trouble, Tatsuki kicked him in the knee, making him fall at her feet.
"Remember, pregnant, not weak."
"Renji, just leave her alone. The rest of our female companions will get mad at you soon and you don't want the whole lot of them angry at you. You do have to work with most of them," the daiko reminded his friend."
"Right, shutting up now," the lieutenant of the Sixth agreed. He was already getting glares from several of his co-workers.
The new arrivals looked around the room at the tables set up near the ladder that held food and drink while some games had been set up in another corner. A large sparring area was already being made use of by Ikkaku and Grimmjow, the latter a surprise that wasn't entirely unwelcome.
"You guys…" Ichigo uttered. They had all stayed to give him and Rukia a proper celebration. This one was much more relaxed, and he couldn't express how grateful he was.
"Yo, Kurosaki, I'm not drunk now!" the Arrancar yelled his way, and Ichigo barely had enough time to change into his Shinigami form and stop the cero coming his way.
"You lunatic!" the Soul Prince yelled and waded into the fray without thinking.
"Nice of him to switch out," Kon said, eyeing some of cake he'd been promised. "And Ichigo missed breakfast, so all to the good."
"Kon, dear, do be judicious," Masaki cautioned as the mod soul went to eat cake. He gave her a wave to let her know he'd heard her, but she didn't have any hope that he'd actually listen.
"Do you wish for something to eat or drink?" Rukia asked her mother-in-law.
"Not right now, dear, thank you. Go enjoy yourselves," she said to the remaining young adults. "I see an acquaintance I didn't have time to talk to yesterday."
"Sure," they chorused, and each went off to do something more interesting. Masaki watched them go with a maternal affection that would have embarrassed most of them had they known. She waited until she was sure they were all busy before making her way over to said acquaintance.
"I'm surprised you came," she murmured softly, not wanting any sharp ears to hear.
"Despite being a Shinigami, he is one of my doctors. Yesterday was not a proper celebration. It is only fitting that I come today."
"Ah," she said softly, his tone as stiff as the last time they had really talked. Urahara, Isshin and Yoruichi joined them, each turning so that they could watch the younger generations. "We will have to tell them soon," she said a little louder, regret in her voice.
"It worries me that he has not made a move," Ryuuken offered.
"He is waiting," Yoruichi growled softly. "He needs something that only Ichigo can give him but Ichigo himself doesn't have it yet. When he does…"
"He will come, and blood will rain," Isshin said sadly.
"But not today, friends," Urahara tried to reassure.
"No, not today. Today is for peace. For family, and for friends. Today, all is right with the world." Masaki smiled at her daughters when they glanced her way and she waved when Orihime motioned her over.
"As it should be, my dear, as it should be," Isshin agreed, giving her a squeeze.
Maybe one day soon another war would loom, but for the moment, everything was as it should be—peaceful, happy, and filled with the expectations of a bright future.