Ukitake Jyuushirou was nearly a thousand years old. He had been captain of the thirteenth division for almost as long and his name was both recognized and occasionally feared by those who had enough sense to recognize his power. His reaitsu could swamp an entire area, bringing those of a weaker constitution to their knees. His wisdom stretched far and wide. He feared nothing.
And yet, here he sat, knees folded beneath him and hands carefully placed on his thighs, trying not to tremble. Here he sat, before his kouhai no less, hoping that he didn’t look as anxious as he felt.
The tea that sat between was going largely untouched as Jyuushirou’s request hung in the air between them. Byakuya stared at him, without so much as blinking, and Jyuushirou tentatively believed that perhaps Byakuya had not understood his question.
Jyuushirou took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “With your permission, Kuchiki-san,” he began, as perfectly formal as he could manage, “I would like to ask Rukia to marry me.”
Silence swept through the sitting room.
Byakuya stirred, but it was only to reach forward and pour his tea. He didn’t look at Jyuushirou as he readied his cup, and brought the slightly steaming liquid to his lips. He seemed to consider the aroma and the color, faintly frowning, before deeming both acceptable.
“No,” he said, and took a delicate sip.
Jyuushirou blinked. “No?”
His kouhai appeared to savor the flavor of his tea, and then lowered the cup, giving Jyuushirou a firm, unyielding look. “No.”
Jyuushirou’s palms scrubbed down the flat of his thighs, wiping away the sweat that dampened them. “I can provide for her,” he said, hoping that perhaps Byakuya just needed to be convinced.
Most fathers preferred that, didn’t they? Though in this case, Byakuya wasn’t so much as a father as he was an overprotective older brother.
“Though considering her recent promotion, the issue of providing isn’t really necessary,” Jyuushirou added thoughtfully. “She’s really quite talented, you know. No one deserved this promotion more than she did.”
“Rukia is a Kuchiki, after all,” Byakuya agreed, though there was no inflection in his voice. He blinked slowly. “The answer is still no.”
Jyuushirou worked his jaw. It couldn’t be that Byakuya thought him not good enough. Who in Seireitei would be more worthy? Who else in Seireitei could boast being a senior captain with decades of experience and a reputation for being a kind, honorable man?
Jyuushirou contemplated a cup of tea, and decided it would only be a distraction. Meanwhile, Byakuya continued to sip his as though he were completely at peace and he hadn’t just shot his senpai through the heart.
“I would treat her well, Byakuya. You know that,” Jyuushirou said, recognizing that he almost sounded pleading and that was something that would not do. “I would never hurt her and I would give her anything she asked of me.”
Byakuya tilted his head in a noncommittal manner, a very noble-like gesture. “Perhaps,” he said. “But that is not the issue here.”
For all his patience, Jyuushirou was growing frustrated. “Then what is?” Jyuushirou asked, trying not to sound demanding but his voice carrying his annoyance anyway.
“She’s my sister,” Byakuya replied, as though that should be all the answer Jyuushirou needed and he should just bow gracefully and abandon his hopeless quest.
Jyuushirou’s brow crinkled. “Yes, I understand that. Which is why I came to ask for your permission, as any proper suitor would.”
Byakuya leaned forward, tea cup replaced on the tray with the faintest of noises. “She’s my sister,” he said again, with greater emphasis this time.
The elder captain was coming to a slow realization. Oh, dear. Was this another one of Byakuya-kun’s possessive bits coming into play? The same he’d shown when he reluctantly released Renji as his vice-captain, only after Yamamoto-sensei informed him that it wasn’t his decision to make? That he couldn’t deny Renji’s ascension to captain because Byakuya didn’t want to select another vice-captain.
Which, by the way, he still had yet to do.
Jyuushirou’s kouhai was nothing if not stubborn. And quite the possessive one as well. Jyuushirou supposed it had something to do with being an only child and heir to a noble house. Byakuya-kun was used to everything falling under his ownership. The Kuchiki holdings were his. The sixth division was his – even if technically it wasn’t since it had been granted to him, but try explaining that to Byakuya and see if he understood it. Jyuushirou had made one attempt, but after getting that cold grey Kuchiki stare he had wisely backed away.
Byakuya had also considered Renji his – not in a romantic sense since poor Kurosaki-kun had claims in that regard. But Renji was his vice-captain and had been his second for quite some time and Byakuya was loathe to surrender his connection to Renji when he already considered Renji as belonging to him. After all, the sixth division did so didn’t anyone within it fall under his domain by proxy?
So perhaps what this whole matter boiled down to was that Byakuya considered Rukia his sister, and therefore was unwilling to surrender her to anyone for any reason. Even someone like Jyuushirou whom Byakuya respected – at least Jyuushirou assumed he did.
Jyuushirou inhaled slowly. “I know that I am a little old for her,” he began, wondering if perhaps Byakuya wanted him to admit his faults as well. “There is also the fact that I am not of the best of health and I am at times distracted by the rigors of running a division.”
“Do you honestly believe those are the reasons?” Byakuya asked, a touch of hurt in his tone, one that must have echoed his own.
“I’m merely stating what I know to be facts,” Jyuushirou replied, hoping that he hadn’t offended his kouhai. “Any father would see those as a reason I would not make a good match.”
Byakuya fingered his tea cup, looking contemplative. “I never said you weren’t a good match.”
Jyuushirou’s heart skipped an excited beat.
“But the answer is still no,” Byakuya added a moment later, crushing Jyuushirou’s hopes as though they were dried rose petals, scattered all over the ground.
His shoulders sagged, his reaitsu settling around his body like a dull blanket. Jyuushirou honestly couldn’t believe this, that Byakuya would be so unreasonable.
Jyuushirou started to wonder if there was anything he could say to convince Byakuya otherwise. His shoulders sagged, his fingers again rubbing anxiously over the top of his thighs. He felt quite stumped.
He’d covered all his bases, hadn’t he? What else could Byakuya expect from him? What else could Jyuushirou provide?
At a loss for words, Jyuushirou’s mouth opened and closed several times. He didn’t want to concede defeat, and certainly Byakuya’s permission wasn’t absolutely necessary, but Jyuushirou would feel better about the whole matter if Byakuya didn’t prove to be a deterrent. Rukia would probably dismiss her brother’s disapproval and suggest they flit off and elope, but Jyuushirou was – at heart – a traditional man.
Suddenly, the feel of familiar reiatsu swarmed through Byakuya’s manor, preceding Kurosaki-kun’s arrival as he threw open the door to the sitting room and invited himself inside. His expression was a mixture of amusement and annoyance as he stormed across the floor, and fixed a rather impressive glare on his lover.
“Stop fucking with him, Byakuya,” he says, tilting his head to indicate Jyuushirou. “We all know you’re going to say yes.”
The smallest of smiles curved the corner of his kouhai’s lips. “Perhaps I only wanted him to work for it first.”
Kurosaki-kun rolled his eyes and dropped down next to Byakuya, sniffing cautiously at the tea cup. “That’s just cruel.”
“Wait,” Jyuushirou said, holding up a hand. “I am not sure I understand what is going on here.”
“Easy,” Kurosaki-kun said, reaching for one of the untouched sweets on the platter and munching on it. “Byakuya was showing off his rare sense of humor.”
Jyuushirou glanced at his kouhai to confirm. “Is this true?”
Byakuya didn’t even have the good grace to look abashed. “I would be honored, senpai, if you were to join my family.”
Jyuushirou had kind of thought about marrying Rukia into the Ukitakes but if Byakuya preferred it the other way around, well, Jyuushirou supposed he would take what he could get. It didn’t really matter to Jyuushirou in the end.
Fingers unfurling from their near death-grip on his hakama, Jyuushirou managed a thin smile, still unsure if he liked this humorous side of his kouhai. “Thank you for your permission,” he said, voice a little weak, and reached for a cookie, stomach finally settling enough that they looked appetizing. “And thank you, Kurosaki-kun, for preventing me from further apprehension.”
The substitute Shinigami – who truthfully spent more time in Seireitei nowadays than he did in the Living World – inclined his head, shooting his lover a warning look. “You’re welcome,” he replied. “So… how are you planning to propose?”
It was a question that considered much more delicate thought than asking Byakuya for permission. While Jyuushirou was certain that Rukia would say yes and that their feelings were mutual, he also couldn’t fathom a proposal that was anything less than perfect.
Rukia deserved the best after all.
Jyuushirou had it all prepared, every trapping of the perfect proposal, from the candlelit dinner to the bouquet of roses and the sweet serenade of a privately hired trio of violinists. The night was clear, the stars bright and shining like perfect jewels in the sky. It was warm, the perfect temperature, and Jyuushirou’s lungs were feeling healthy and free, certainly not likely to interrupt him with a fit.
His romantic senses were tingling. Tonight was going to be perfect.
Jyuushirou surveyed his work, and felt a small treble of satisfaction travel through him. He double and triple checked, making certain that everything was prepared. Now all he had left to do was wait on the woman of the hour. Once she arrived, he could then uncover the dishes and serve their romantic dinner.
A ring was tucked discreetly into his pocket, carefully chosen with the greatest core. It was a simple thing, not grand and expensive, but something that would suit Rukia’s taste. It reminded Jyuushirou of her zanpakutou, the small diamonds like twinkling snowflakes.
He couldn’t wait to see her reaction.
Humming a soft tune under his breath – one that the violinists would be playing later – Jyuushirou lit the candles and watched their flames flicker in the light evening bruise. Rukia should arrive soon. She had stayed late to finish up some paperwork, giving Jyuushirou ample time to prepare.
It was then that the jigokuchou floated across Jyuushirou’s line of sight, prompting him to lift a hand and accept the butterfly’s landing. Almost immediately the message came pouring through, news of a Hollow attack on one of Seireitei’s far borders. An attack that required the presence of a captain. An attack that Jyuushirou was needed to repel.
Of all the…
Gritting his teeth, Jyuushirou quickly pulled off his well-crafted kimono and shrugged into his shihakushou, determined that this should only take a moment. The Hollow – or multiple Hollow it seemed, including a possible Vasto Lorde – would come to regret the day it had interrupted Jyuushirou’s romancing.
It turned out that not only had a possible Vasto Lorde attacked, but a whole horde of them decided to try and make a run at Seiretei. Why? Jyuushirou had no clue. But it had taken the combined might of four divisions to cleanse the area, a feat that lasted well into the night and on into early morning. In fact, the sun was just peeking over the horizon as Jyuushirou swung his zanpakutou and destroyed the last of the smaller Hollow that were more or less a nuisance and distraction from the three – yes, three – Menos Grande that accompanied the Vasto Lorde.
If Jyuushirou didn’t know any better, he’d think Aizen had something to do with it. Only Aizen was dead, had been for years. So perhaps there was something else going on. Perhaps not. Frankly, at the moment, Jyuushirou didn’t care. He ached, he was tired, he was covered in blood and ash and a lucky Hollow had ripped his captain’s haori. He had a half-dozen others, yes, but this one was his favorite. Also, his dreams of a romantic proposal had floated right down the drain.
Jyuushirou was not happy.
In fact, his only saving grace was that Yamamoto-sensei had declared the four participating divisions to take the rest of the day off, leaving protection and surveillance to the remaining eight. Jyuushirou, aching, dirty, and hungry, didn’t protest. With a weary shunpo, he trudged on home, Rukia right beside him as her division had also been called.
She looked just as tired and worn as he did, her shoulders stooped and circles lining her eyes. She offered him a small smile, taking his hand, squeezing his fingers. Jyuushirou squeezed her hand back.
“Well, that was fun,” Rukia joked as they arrived back at Jyuushirou’s manor, setting their zanpakutou in the special stands Jyuushirou had commissioned someone to craft for them.
He liked the way they resonated when they were positioned together, a pleasing hum that brought a smile to Jyuushirou’s lips. “We should do this again sometime,” Jyuushirou replied, a small curve to his lips.
“Just not anytime soon,” Rukia said, pulling a face as she rubbed at her shoulder.
Jyuushirou remembered seeing her take a backhand from one of the Menos Grande. But he trusted in Rukia, trusted in her abilities, so he didn’t immediately rush to her side. He had been intensely relieved when she’d gotten back to her feet and exacted her vengeance in a rush of blizzard-cold air that froze the Menos in its tracks.
Jyushirou nodded. “Bath?”
“By the gods, yes,” Rukia said with a brighter smile. “Even better. Join me?”
Despite his fatigue, Jyuushirou’s belly did a little flop of pleasure. “Of course. Give me a moment?”
She squeezed his hand and smiled, wandering off toward the private path in Jyuushirou’s home, giving him time to head back toward the engawa overlooking his back garden. The table was still set up for a romantic evening, though the candles were half-melted and had blown out during the course of the battle. The roses were starting to wilt. And Jyuushirou was sure the food was sitting cold in his kitchen, the rice hard and inedible.
He sighed. It seemed his romantic endeavors would have to wait.
Jyuushirou salvaged what he could of the meal, and dumped the inedible portions into the garbage. He put away the half-melted candles and the fancy dishware and stripped the table of the fancy cloth. The engawa was restored to its former furniture-less glory. Clean up complete, Jyuushirou hurried toward the baths, already peeling off his spattered and torn clothing.
The fragrance of soap and steam filled his nose as he pushed open the door. Rukia had started the bath for them. Jyushirou smiled, dropping his dirtied clothing into a pile by the door, next to Rukia’s own smaller pile. He grabbed a tie and pulled his hair up into a messy coil on top of his head. It was too late to wash it and wait for it to dry.
“Took you long enough,” Rukia said, glancing over her shoulder at him from where she was soaping up her arms, long strokes of her hand leaving white suds behind.
Jyuushirou licked his lips, fatigue warring with the arousing sight in front of him. “I had something to take care of,” he explained and pulled up another stool, reaching for water and soap. “Shall I wash your back for you?”
Blue eyes glittered invitingly. “Only if you let me do the same.”
“My dear, that is hardly a request I would deny,” he replied, and despite his fatigue, took Rukia up on her generous offer.
It was nice, Jyuushirou thought, to sit like this and enjoy each other’s company. Even if his romantic plans fell by the wayside, he could always try again. Today wasn’t a complete failure.
His hands roamed over Rukia’s body, stroking down her arms and her sides, tracking sudsy soap all over her pale flesh. His fingers explored a few scars and tickled at her ribs, making her chuckle. Her skin was warm and soft and Jyuushirou leaned forward, sweeping aside her damp hair to press a kiss to the back of her neck. She smelled sweet, like the roses that had been left to wilt.
Jyuushirou pressed closer, one hand roaming over her flat belly, for a moment playing in her belly button, but only briefly as he knew how much it tickled her. His free hand wandered upward, teasing at her breasts, covering them in the white suds of the soap. She sucked in a heavy breath, leaning into his embrace, her head tilted to provide him more room. He cupped her breasts, rolling her nipples in his fingers, breath warm and soft over her ears.
Rukia sighed in pleasure. “Weren’t we tired?” she teased, one hand lifting to cup the back of Jyuushirou’s neck, fingers gently massaging.
Jyuushirou chuckled, nibbling on her ear as his hands continued to roam on the pretense of helping her wash, one dipping to the apex of her thighs teasingly. “I think I may have a little energy left in me.”
“Men,” she replied, and he just knew she was rolling her eyes, her tone filled with humor.
He reached for the water, pouring it over Rukia and rinsing away the worst of the soap. Watching the suds slide down her body made his insides tighten with heat and Jyuushirou couldn’t resist touching, his hands stroking down her sides and lightly gripping her hips.
Jyuushirou pressed against her, his half-hard arousal nudging against the base of her spine. Her skin was slick and soft, a perfect sensation that sent his senses on a slow slide into arousal. Another bucket of water and Rukia was mostly rinsed clean of the soap.
She turned in his arms, a challenging smile curling her lips. “My turn,” she said, and lifted a hand, twirling her finger. “Turn around.” Rukia was already reaching for the soap, a certain gleam in her eyes.
Jyuushirou bit back on a groan and obeyed, immediately feeling her slick body press against his from behind, her nipples against his shoulderblades. A shiver wracked his body as Rukia leaned forward, breathing hotly over his ear. Her arms encircled his body, her soapy fingers pressing against his chest and abdomen.
His fingers clenched over his knees as he fought to whirl back around. He should have known it wasn’t going to be a simple bath.
Delicate hands roamed over his body, one stroking down his arms as the other ventured lower, teasing at his thighs. Jyuushirou sucked in a breath as soapy fingers dipped between his legs, sliding slickly over his growing length and cupping his balls. A moan caught in his throat and Jyuushirou’s eyes slid closed, knowing from Rukia’s dark chuckle that she had to be grinning wickedly behind him.
Each touch was fleeting however, nothing more than a teasing slide of soap-slick flesh. It made Jyuushirou’s blood pump heatedly through his veins and his belly twist with desire.
Rukia chuckled again. “I can’t tell if I’m getting you clean or just making you dirtier,” she teased, her fingers sliding around his shaft and giving him a light stroke that made him throb in her grip.
Jyuushirou opened his mouth, determined to reply with something witty and provocative. Instead, his stomach growled noisily, a sound that echoed in the bathing chamber and alerted both of them to the fact he had missed dinner last night. In fact, both of them hadn’t eaten yet.
“I suppose that shows what my body is voting for,” Jyuushirou said after a moment of humorous silence and a soft sigh.
Rukia outright laughed, her hands moving to settle innocently on his shoulders, fingers massaging his muscles. “A rinse and then dinner?”
He turned his head, placing a kiss to the back of her left hand. “Sounds good to me.”
Dinner was hastily gobbled onigiri and glasses of water before they climbed into a futon that seemed to embrace them perfectly. Jyuushirou had thoughts of rolling over, kissing Rukia, and continuing their bathtime teasing. But a yawn cracked his jaw and the fatigue pinching the skin around Rukia’s eyes had them both reconsidering.
He managed a fumbling grope or two, and Rukia peppered a kiss on his jaw, but sleep called too heartily. The only thing that saved him from sheer embarrassment was that Rukia fell asleep first, curled against him, all warm and soft skin that lulled him into falling asleep soon after.
Jyuushirou woke the next morning to pleasant sensations rippling down his spine as the brightness of afternoon gleamed through his window. He peeled open his eyes, biting down on a gasp as Rukia ground down above him, her lips curled with mischievous delight, her palms flattened on his abdomen.
“Good morning,” she said cheerfully, her fingernails lightly scratching at his muscled belly.
Jyuushirou licked his lips, hands moving to settle on Rukia’s hips, thumbs rubbing over her hipbone. “And a good morning to you,” he murmured, another gasp escaping him as she rolled her hips and teased his waking arousal with her damp folds. “I see your energy has recovered.”
A hint of scarlet blossomed in her cheeks. “Don’t remind me,” she said, abashed. “I can’t believe I fell asleep in the middle.”
Jyuushirou chuckled. “Rest assured, I followed not long after so I wasn’t left hanging.”
“Even so,” Rukia said, and leaned forward, her naked breasts bouncing enticingly on her chest. “I thought I should make up for it.”
For his part, Jyuushirou was not going to protest. His hands slid up her sides, tickling over her ribs. He watched as Rukia shivered, blue eyes darkening with arousal. Her tongue slid over her lips, slowly, sensuously. Her pale skin was flushing, her black hair a messy tangle around her head that Jyuushirou found simultaneously adorable and sexy.
“If you insist,” Jyuushirou said, prompting a chuckle on Rukia’s part.
Her hips shifted backward, body poised over Jyuushirou’s rigid length. “I didn’t think you would mind,” she replied and sank down, enveloping Jyuushirou in exquisite wet heat.
He sucked in a sharp breath, biting down on his lower lip as his hips arched toward her, pushing himself deeper. His fingers flexed around her sides, pressing against her skin, and he felt Rukia shiver, watched the delight dance across her features.
Her hands smoothed up his abdomen, tickling over his bared flesh, teasing touches of her fingers and nails. Her thighs clamped his hips as she settled on top of him, her inner walls gripping him.
“I can’t think of a better way to wake up,” Jyuushirou murmured, a gasp slipping from his lips as Rukia moved her hips in a sensuous roll that made heat skitter down Jyuushirou’s spine.
Rukia smiled. “So am I forgiven?” she asked, tilting her head to the side, body rising and falling in a steady rhythm that seemed determined to wrench noises from Jyuushirou’s throat.
Jyuushirou licked his lips, fingers clenching and unclenching in their hold on her hips. “Apology accepted,” he replied, the teasing hint in his voice chased away by a gasp as Rukia slammed down and swiveled her hips.
Conversation stuttered to a halt as desire replaced the need for words, Jyuushirou’s hands performing a groping sweep. He stroked down her sides, teased at her ribs, plucked at her nipples until they were hard, pink nubs. She shivered, eyes slipping closed as she rose and fell over him in perfect rhythm. Her tongue swept over her lips, moistening them, and Jyuushirou wanted to kiss her.
One hand slid lower, teasing at the apex of her thighs, fingers slipping through a dewy wetness. He touched her gently, and was rewarded with a throaty moan and swift intake of breath, her eyes popping open in startled arousal. Jyuushirou grinned wickedly, fingers rubbing circles in just the way he knew she liked, ways that made her breath quicken, her movements quicker and more erratic.
She was beautiful like this, body moving in perfect, sensuous rhythm. Her skin flushed with arousal, eyes bright and hungry. Small moans fell from her lips with every flick of Jyuushirou’s fingers, her hands massaging his abdomen, nails lightly scoring Jyuushirou’s flesh. Muscles tensing and flexing as she moved over him, lips wet with saliva.
Rukia pulsed around him, dragging Jyuushirou closer and closer to ecstasy. But he wanted to see her come first, feel her come undone around him. His fingers rubbed circles over her tiny nub of pleasure, and he watched as she chewed on her bottom lip, breath coming in sharp little pants.
His free hand slid up, ghosting over her abdomen, tickling at her ribs, before taking one breast in hand. His thumb and forefinger rolled over her nipple, and she clenched around him in response, motions more erratic. Jyuushirou’s hips arched, pushing deeper into her, and his fingers circled and pressed, firm touches that demanded pleasure.
Rukia moaned, head falling forward as she rocked her hips, motions frantic and hungry. Her inner walls clamped around him rhythmically.
Jyuushirou licked his lips, knowing she was close. “Come for me,” he murmured, keeping his voice soft and husky. “Rukia.”
As if the sound of her own name on his lips were a commandment, a whine of desire echoed in her throat. She arched, body trembling, and he felt her shudder around him, her orgasm causing a ripple of movement that made Jyuushirou’s own desire shoot toward the sky. He grasped her hips, rocking up into her, each sharp thrust making her gasp. She gripped his arms to steady herself, and ground down against him, bottom lip clutched between her teeth.
Sweat painted a line across Jyuushirou’s brow as he abandoned all attempts to hold back, giving himself over to the pleasure. Rukia’s hips danced over his, clenching slick and hot around him, and Jyuushirou stopped fighting it, surrendering to the inevitable outcome. He bit out a gasp and thrust upward, body shaking with his release. His fingers held her hips in a grip probably hard enough to leave behind bruises, she was so delicate, but Rukia didn’t mind, a small moan passing her lips.
Her palms slid from his arms back to his abdomen, sliding up his front as she lowered herself forward. Their bodies slid together, damp with sweat, and Jyuushirou slid out of her as she crawled up his body, latching their lips together in a fierce kiss. Her tongue plunged into his mouth and he wrapped his arms around her. They shared several quick breaths, the kisses darting and brief.
Rukia’s tongue lapped at his lower lip. “Mmm,” she murmured, wriggling atop him and sliding her fingers into his hair. “I can’t think of a better way to start a day off.”
“I don’t now. Breakfast is always nice,” Jyuushirou teased, hand sliding down her back, fingers pressing against her spine. She arched toward his touch much like a cat.
Rukia leaned back, dotting a kiss over her collarbone. “You and your stomach,” she retorted with a chuckle and sat up, straddling waist. Judging by her wandering fingers, Jyuushirou knew she wasn’t adverse to a second round.
“Or maybe I’m hungry for something of a different sort,” Jyuushirou said with a pointed look at Rukia, his eyes roaming over her nude body, painted with sweat and flushed from her earlier orgasm.
Her lips pulled into a mischievous grin, fingers interlocking with his. “I think if your subordinates heard you talking like that, they’d be scandalized.”
“It’s hardly the epitome of dirty talk,” Jyuushirou retorted dryly. “That is more Shunsui’s department than mine.”
Rukia looked down at him, her blue eyes bright with humor and something else, something that seemed to make the atmosphere shift just a tad. And not in a bad way, but rather something that made Jyuushirou’s insides warm. He loved how comfortable they were with each other like this, he loved how well they fit together.
“Jyuushirou,” she said softly, bringing his knuckles to her lips and kissing them, completely attaining his attention. “Will you marry me?”
For a moment, Jyuushirou’s world seemed to pause. He blinked at the question that had come from seemingly nowhere.
She chuckled, humor peeking through the gleam in her eyes. “It’s an easy question. Yes or no will suffice.” Her lips pressed to his knuckles again. “Will you marry me?”
“I thought I was supposed to ask you.”
Rukia arched a brow. “Does it really matter?”
“Well… no.” And Byakuya had made some mention of Jyuushirou becoming a Kuchiki rather than Rukia becoming a Ukitake.
“Then what’s your answer?” she asked, performing a sensuous roll of her hips that threatened to reawaken Jyuushirou’s vigor.
He felt his cheeks burn, expectations turned completely upside down. “Well, of course it is a yes,” he said, reaching up and cupping her cheek, pulling her face closer to his. “I would be a fool to say otherwise,” he murmured, and drew her down for a kiss.
Their lips touched, tongue tangling. Her palms were flat and warm on his chest, fingers lightly scraping and making him shiver. His thumb rubbed across her cheek, stroking soft skin, and he swore that a purr vibrated in her throat.
By the gods, he loved her. And he was going to be marrying her.
It might not have happened in the deep and romantic manner Jyuushirou had been envisioning, but he could live with that. This alternative was much, much better.