"Why did you marry me?"
The question shot out like a dart; but Kuchiki Rukia did not flinch. She did not even raise her eyes from the teenage females magazine she was poring over.
She had asked him practically the same question before. Why on earth would want to live the rest of their life with an obnoxious stubborn jerk with bright orange hair and no status whatsoever in Soul Society except a ryoka with a zanpaku-to as large as himself?
A decidedly tricky question, she admitted to herself.
But they did get married, ten years after they first met, in the presence of fifty-two Soul Reapers and thirteen living humans. It was an absolute disaster, but she wasn't complaining. Everyone had approved of their marriage, including her brother and Renji.
The wind whistled through a gap between the windows, and her dark hair danced before her vision. As she reached up to tuck the loose strand behind her ear, she heard her husband sigh and get up from the bed, obviously giving up on getting an answer from her.
It was their first wedding anniversary. By what Inoue told her, the first anniversary was always very special. On her and Ishida's first anniversary, Ishida had surprised her by decorating the house with lit candles. And after that, Inoue had added with a blush, they had proceeded with the ritual of loveproducing... Or something like that. She still wasn't very sure about the terms of the living world.
But she knew what that meant. He had told her.
And she knew why she had married him. He had told her that, too.
26 February, one year before
"We should get married."
Rukia spat out her chocolate milk in shock. "Wh-What?"
"I said," Ichigo peered into his bowl of ramen, "we should get married."
Rukia couldn't believe her ears. She had known this boy - man - no, male for at least ten years already. But this was the craziest thing he had ever said.
"I mean," Ichigo was very determinedly not looking anywhere near her, "we've been living together for five years. Everyone's getting pretty suspicious." After the whole Aizen-is-taking-over-the-world fiasco, Rukia had been ordered to be the supervisor of Ichigo's town. As a result, she decided it was more convenient for her to live with him as a human.
"So we need to get married?" Rukia said, her eyes gazing piercingly at him. Maybe in the living world, getting married wasn't a very big thing. She wouldn't know.
"No - Never mind."
"No, seriously, is that your reason?"
"I mean, we're kinda already a - you know," Ichigo stirred his ramen restlessly with his chopsticks.
Ichigo mumbled something.
"What? Speak up, I can't hear you."
"A COUPLE!" Ichigo yelled at her from across the table. The other customers in the restaurant turned around to stare at them. Rukia was too busy gaping at Ichigo to notice.
"What! I don't remember-"
"No!" Ichigo whispered furiously under his breath at her. "I mean - well, look at it this way. To your knowledge, what is a couple?"
Rukia immediately reached into her pocket for her pocket dictionary, but Ichigo shook his head.
"To you," he said.
They stared at each other.
"A couple... Is two people who share their lives with each other." Rukia gave Ichigo a look of uncertainty and exasparation. Ichigo didn't reply; he just looked at her.
"They eat together, I suppose. Hold hands, buy things for each other, argue, talk. And believe in the same things." Rukia was getting the hang of this what-does-it-mean-to-you game. But what did it have to do with the two of them getting married?
"And fight together." Ichigo met Rukia's questioning gaze with his unusually soft one. "Isn't that what we do?"
Rukia stared at him. She started to laugh hysterically. The absurdity of the situation was having an effect on her. The other customers turned to stare at the two again.
"Ichigo," she wiped tears of laughter from her eyes, "I'm eons older that you."
Ichigo looked at her, sighed and started eating his ramen.
He started and glanced up at her from his bowl. She stared at him with an expresionless face, not unlike the one she always had when they fought with hollows together.
He thought over her question. He leaned back in his seat and met her steady gaze.
Rukia glared at him. "And I suppose you expect me to fall into your arms right now just because there's no reason for me not to marry you?"
Ichigo ran a hand through his bright orange hair. "Do I really seem that fickle?"
He bent down under the table, apparently looking for something. Rukia frowned.
He reappeared again, and, sighing grudgingly(and to her horror), got down on one knee in front of her.
"Kuchiki Rukia," Ichigo said in that loud, unwilling tone he always used in public, "will you marry me, Kurosaki Ichigo?"
Rukia gaped at him. "Ichigo..."
Rukia jerked up from her seat and somehow hitting her head against her chair, she stared at the shingamis surrounding them.
At least twenty shinigamis filled the restaurant; why didn't she noticed them before? Even Captain Ukitake, Captain Zaraki and - Oh heavens - her brother were there. She could see Inoue, Sado and Ishida in the crowd as well. There was Hinamori standing beside Captain Hitsugaya. And there was Urahara and Yourichi and -
"We've come all this way just to see you say 'yes'," Renji's voice sounded behind her. She started and spun around to stare into Renji's black robes. She looked up and saw him cocking an eyebrow at her.
Renji tilted his head in the direction of Kuchiki Byakuya. Rukia turned to face him, remembering to make her face clear of emotions.
"I have consented to your marraige to Kurosaki Ichigo," Byakuya said flatly. "So have I," Renji drawled, leaning against the nearest support.
"I look forward to welcoming you to our home, my dear daughter-to-be!" Kurosaki Isshin added, jumping up and down from behing the shinigamis in order to make himself heard.
"Oi, Rukia." She looked down at Ichigo, who was still kneeling before her, with a bored look on his face. But she could see the dancing nervousness in his eyes. Like he could fool her, no matter how many masks he put on.
She suddenly noticed what he held in his hands: a bouquet of twelve red roses and a simple diamond-embedded ring.
Renji prodded Ichigo in the back. Ichigo sighed.
"I promise," he recited, obviously after hours of bitter memorising, "to care for you and protect you for as long as I live. I will comfort you, be happy for you and most of all - love you."
Rukia could hear many sighs of pure bliss come from the crowd. She felt a hot blush rise from her neck.
"You idiot," she knelt down on both knees in front of him, "aren't we a couple already?"
Rukia looked up from her teenage females magazine. Ichigo was towelling his hair dry and looking at her with a queer expression.
She broke into a sudden soft smile. "You're still waiting for an answer?"
Ichigo shrugged noncommittally. "I suppose."
"We were already a couple, baka. There was no reason not to." Rukia climbed out of bed and stretched.
"That's not an answer."
Rukia paused in the middle of her stretching. She quirked an eyebrow at her husband.
"Do we really need one?"
- End -
Author's Note: I'm sorry. That was my first attempt at fanfiction. The characters were OCC, the plot was weird and Ichigo sounded strange being called 'husband'. My deepest apologies. I promise to work harder next time.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Dedication: Yvonne, I guess. And LYT. And Jasmine. For reading and being there. Love ya. More horrendous Bleach fanfiction coming up!