Chapter One - Loading the Gun With Real Bullets
The shimmering Moscato D'asti tickled their lips as they enjoyed a night at Marlo's Fine Cuisine— A bustling well-known restaurant down the street from their apartment.
Rukia merely giggled before she sat down her glass to go back to her ravishing dinner. Then she dabbed her face with a napkin, staring at the orange haired stud before her. "Thank you very much Ichigo. This was a nice place." she cleared her throat, reassuring him, "You really didn't have to do this." She giggled again out of disbelief.
"See— I kept my word, didn't I?" he sensibly questioned, carefully biting a piece of his tender steamed broccoli off the stem. "Working hard does pay off." The man had been working double hours to take his girl friend on a splendid date. They hadn't be on one in while. Well, ever since they first met. Ichigo was the one who felt obligated to pay for her and her rich brother Byakuya. He was the man Ichigo really wanted to impress since Rukia mentioned how rich he was. Now that they had reached their five year anniversary, this couldn't have been a better time to celebrate with a fine expensive meal at a five star restaurant. Ichigo knew their bill would be at least hundred, yet, he kept his cool. This experience wouldn't be for nothing.
"But you didn't have to do… all this." Rukia sighed, "And… Byakuya isn't here…" Even if he was, Rukia wouldn't allow her boyfriend to pay again. No matter how much he insisted.
"So?" Ichigo smiled, "This night is special."
And she agreed on that one for sure. Yet, she just shook her head slowly, "It's just our five year anniversary."
"So?" he protested again. "Just shuddup and eat. You complain too much."
Any other time, Rukia would have reacted to his bleak attitude but tonight, she just frowned and drank the rest of the wine. She needed it to calm her nerves. Quickly, their conversation was interrupted by the waitress as she brought out a piece of red velvet cake and placed it in front of Rukia.
"Uhh what's this?" The midget raised a brow at the sweet delight. " It's our anniversary… not my birthday…"
"I know." Ichigo nodded. "Just try it—"
"It's very good ma'am." The waitress bowed, "And don't forget …to… chew…" the woman winked at her then at Ichigo. However, the look she gave Ichigo administered the impression that she was flirting with her man. Rukia careful eyed the woman with a stern violet glare and very swiftly the woman backed down, bowing again. "Enjoy your red velvet, I will be back with the …bill… later." she uncomfortably smiled at Rukia.
"Thanks?" Rukia grabbed the fork, feeling the need to shank the lady in the eye but she held her breath impatiently as she watched the young lady saunter off.
"Do you have to be like that?" the orange haired man rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Stop scaring people with your glares. It makes them uncomfortable."
Well she could say the same about him when other men casted their eyes on her. Ichigo's face would turn a ruby red. Especially when males would hold a conversation with her. "Um excuse me." Rukia made an incision in the cake, "She was looking at you all weird. Doesn't she see you're with your girlfriend…"
"So what? She wasn't flirting. She was just reminding you… to… chew it… carefully." he expanded those last words, inducing Rukia to raise another curious brow.
"Whatever but she winked at you…" Rukia quietly chomped on the soft cake. "And… I'm not a baby, Ichigo… I know how to—" Suddenly the woman began to choke on her words as something stuck in the back of her throat. "…W-what… the…."
"Oh shit…" Ichigo stood up instantly, watching Rukia turn from ivory to red, "HOLY SHIT!" He leaps over the table, knocking their whole meal down. Rukia is choking profusely, constantly grabbing at her neck, wondering what the hell she swallowed. Unfortunately, whatever it was, it was lodged in the middle of her throat.
"Ichi… go…" The more she sucked in, the more she coughed. This was a stubborn piece of cake that seized to go satisfied until she was dead! She squeezed her throat as other people surrounded her. Ichigo threw his hands around her upper abdomen and pressed against the tense muscles until she lurched forward. So many stray eyes wondering to this intense event. Ichigo quickly pushed again on her tummy as she lurched forward once more.
"Come on Rukia!" Ichigo pushed into her stomach again until the woman coughed up the object lodged in her throat. "Spit it out!"
The object dropped into someone's glass.
Rukia stood there trembling as the whole restaurant began to applaud. Here she was trying to compose her current posture into something fairly held together. When her eyes came into focus, she shot daggers at her boyfriend, remembering his last words— don't forget to chew… "WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO DO? KILL ME?" the midget screamed on the top of her lungs.
"What? No! Of course not!" Ichigo protested.
"YES YOU WERE!"
"THE HELL I WASN'T! I TOLD YOU TO CHEW!"
"CHEW!?" Rukia paced around with hands on her hips, "This is the last time I'll ever eat that crap! I CAN'T BELIEVE—"
"Er excuse me… sir?" The room was quiet as a small man approached the belligerent couple. "Excuse me… I think this is yours…" he trembled as held up something that made Rukia lose all expression. Ichigo bit his lip. This isn't the way he wanted the night to go. Now Rukia thinks he wants to kill her. He thanked his lucky stars that Byakuya wasn't here to see this.
"Thank you…" Ichigo nodded.
"What the heck is… that…" The little woman blinked as Ichigo ignored her question, and got down on one knee. "Oh my god… what are you doing? Get up Ichigo…" What the hell is he doing! Rukia couldn't stop staring as her boyfriend proceeded to grab her hand and kiss it.
"A choking fest isn't what I had in mind for tonight, and I'm sure you're going to kill me later for what just happened…" EVEN AFTER I TOLD HER TO CHEW! Ichigo cleared his throat.
"Ichigo…" Rukia suddenly became numb. "Ichigo… I—"
"If we can forget about you choking…" the man flushed, shaking his head, "Rukia Kuchiki, will you marry me? You are absolutely the only one for me… I wouldn't want it any other way…" Rukia blinked, her heart was pounding through the palms of her hands.
Everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed, their eyes instantly gluing to the small shuddering woman who couldn't speak no matter how much she tried. "I um…" Rukia glanced at the twenty-four karat gold ring. The same ring that caught her attention in the jewelry store when they were shopping for presents last Christmas. He actually got that ring. Funny that she never told him she wanted it. She wouldn't dare ask him for it. Yet she was sure, Ichigo must have worked triple for that ring and now he presented it in front of her.
How could he waste his money, money that he didn't have. She didn't deserve that. Frozen, Rukia just sighed. She glanced at everyone listening in, anticipating on her answering, hoping that it would be positive. "I can't…" that hurt. "I can't marry you… not right now."
Ichigo frowned, "Of course not now… later." Ichigo tried to joke, "Rukia I just…"
"I can't. I'm sorry…" Quickly she let go of him, grabbing her coat. "Get up Ichigo… I can't do this right now."
"What do you mean you can't?" Just then a part of him died a little as Rukia scurried out of the place. He awkwardly stands up and places money on the table. Suddenly everyone moved back into their conversations, almost forgetting the whole event like it was nothing. "Damn…" how awkward and embarrassing— what had he done wrong?
Rukia waited by the car, heavily shivering until Ichigo came to unlock the door. His face was full of emotion, although he seemed to hold it all back somehow. He started the car silently, deeply thinking. "I… I'm sorry…" the woman shivered again.
"Why?" Ichigo cooed.
"Because… I know I ruined everything." She even ignored his clues before she dug into the cake. Maybe then, she wouldn't have choked on it.
"Perhaps I took things too fast." Ichigo uttered softly. Truth is, he had been planning this from the first year they had been dating. Surely four years later, was more than enough time for her to make up her mind. He thought…
"It's not you… at all." Clearly it was her. "I didn't expect a proposal." She sunk in her seat, "I was really surprised."
"You weren't supposed expect it." her boyfriend sighed, "…That was the point."
"Well take it back." Rukia murmured, turning up the heater.
Ichigo blinked. "Huh?"
"I want you to take back the ring and get your money back." she explained, "We can use that money for something else. It's not going to be of any use if it's on my finger." she spoke bitterly, successfully avoiding to lock eyes with Ichigo until he retaliated.
An eye twitched. "That's why you didn't say yes?" he asked out of disbelief, "You didn't want to marry me because of how much a paid for the ring? Would you have said yes if it was made of foil…?"
"I would accept that more than a twenty-four karat gold ring… Just as long as you don't have to waste your money on me, Ichigo…"
"Really?… How unbelievable." He parked the car, shaking his head then got out to slam the door behind him. Rukia stumbled out of the car, closing it back and running up stairs. On top of this night going extremely bad, she had a horrid migraine and nausea that she had been trying to get rid of since last week. This morning was the worst for feeling sick but she decided to put all that behind her now.
The first thing she tried to do was be a little sentimental once she hurried inside. However Ichigo loosened his tie and kicked off his shoes, oblivious to the small woman who followed after him. "I'm sorry… I really I am." her voice was small and depressing. Ichigo hadn't let go of his distress, but he supposed he could forget it for now. At least they weren't breaking up. "I'm just not ready to get married yet." the couple sat on the couch in the dim light.
Ichigo had already fetched a beer from the fridge before sitting down, "You would have been ready for a foil ring…" he popped the bottle open and took a few gulps.
Rukia's hands were wrapped around his free arm. "I wouldn't have been ready no matter what the ring looked like." Ichigo stayed silent, trying to relax to his girlfriend's voice but his previous thoughts stopped him. "I'm going to go wash up and go to bed." she added, finally getting up. She took off her coat and jewelry and placed everything on the table.
She turned around, shocked at his sudden actions to kiss her. He abruptly pulled her close, passionately locking lips. Perhaps she needed that. It was the best feeling in the world right now. Why, did she say no to him. Did she honestly mean what she said? She broke the kiss glaring at him with worried eyes, searching a sign everything was going to be okay. "Take all the time you want… Rukia." he sighed, "But I'm not taking the damn ring back… so don't ask."
Fair enough. "Fine…" She let out a quick sigh, "You win."
"…Finally." he teased, his eyes moving to his girlfriend's chest. "Is it just me? Or did your chest get bigger?"
"Pretty sure it's just you…" Considering her boobs have ALWAYS been micro. Then suddenly, she felt a really weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. Which made her gasp a little bit.
"…Rukia?" His voice sounded a bit concerned. "What's wrong?"
"No… Nothing." she massaged her temples. "I'm just feeling dizzy." Rukia stumbled to the bathroom to run a bath. Something was wrong and yet, what she was feeling was hard to put in words. She felt different somehow and she couldn't tell if it was in a good way or bad way. The thought almost scared her. She decided it was best to undress and get into the tub before she fainted.
She laid there without moving an inch. Her face was already clammy before it even touched the water. Abruptly sharp pains became her misery at that moment. She wondered what the hell was going on? Maybe she had a fever or something.
"I-Ichigo…" her arms trembled as she pulled herself up. "…Ichigo?" She dreaded getting the thermometer but she brought her screaming muscles upon herself and dragged to the drawer. Her body dripping wet and freezing to her dismay, she swiftly searched with no luck. "Damn it— ICHIGO! WHERE IS THE THERMOMETER?"
"…IN THE CABINET!" her boyfriend's voice rang from the living room.
"Cabinet… cabinet…" Rukia busted open the cabinet above her head and started searching again. "NO! IT'S NOT THERE!" she waited for a response but she got nothing. Then her hand ran over a box, "Found it…" but it was only a pregnancy test. "What good is this gonna do me!" Rukia threw it down angrily.
"THE THERMOMETER IS NOT HERE!"
"…OH." he finally yelled back.
Rukia growled. "For fuck sake." her eyes glanced at the test on the counter top. That would do some good if she wanted to know if she was pregnant. Only, she knew she wasn't pregnant. She and Ichigo hadn't had sex for months now. However it was a possibility… It would answer some questions to how she had been feeling lately and why she missed a few monthlies.
"…Oh what the hell… why not…"
Ichigo sighed, staring at Rukia's engagement ring on the table. The item was indeed pretty, twenty-four karat gold with three small yellow diamonds and sized perfectly to fit her tiny fingers. It still bothered him that Rukia would refuse it. Such a great opportunity but perhaps Rukia saw something that he failed to see. He wanted this. More than she wanted it seemed.
He might have been mad at the situation, wondering why Rukia would never tell him the real reason why she wouldn't want to settle down yet. He didn't believe it was the cost of the ring or because she wasn't ready. Oddly, he decided to accept it now. He truly respected her wishes because he loved her. Still he awaited for day when she said yes.
Enough dwelling. Despite of all that, what concerned his mind now was heating up the apartment before Rukia got out of the bathroom. Ichigo got up to turn the heater on and decided get the fireplace going. The fire was sure to last before they went to sleep, and if they couldn't get warm, then he'd break out the blankets so they could warm each other.
Ichigo was just about to finish his beer but was distracted by the shaken cold woman standing before him in a towel. "Rukia?" in her hand was a stick. She placed it on the table, violet eyes shocked and bemused beyond explanation. "Are you… okay?"
"I… don't know…" Rukia ran a hand through her black hair. "Just look at this, will you…?"
As Ichigo got closer he noticed it was a pregnancy test. "What the hell? Is this some joke?" but his girlfriend just shook her head.
"I wish." Rukia bit her lip. "Please just look at it." her hands covered her face frantically. "Tell me what you see…"
The man grabbed the stick and blinked. "It has… a plus sign…" he frowned, "I don't know this shit means!"
"Um yea…" the midget crossed her arms, walking closer to the confused man, "Ichigo, plus means positive…" she paused, swallowing the lump in her throat, "I'm pregnant Ichigo…"
She tossed the empty box at him. "Read it for yourself. I'm not…"
His face nearly dropped. "And it's mine?"
"You ass! Of course it's yours!" She hissed, "I haven't been with any other man!"
His sigh was a rush of a relief. However, it was short-lived as soon as he realized he was going to be a new… daddy?