Dinner Party, continued
Ishida’s hand was over Orihime’s mouth, but it was no use. The woman was a four-octave soprano when she was making love. Ishida wasn’t even trying hard, but when Orihime came, she screamed like she was being killed.
He gave her a puzzled look as he continued to thrust at a moderate tempo.
“I love being pregnant,” she said.
Oh! He’d forgotten how pregnancy hormones made her extra-exuberant about sex.
“And the nausea is gone too,” she said. She patted Ishida’s head while he strained himself. “See. I told you so.”
She then started humming, and Ishida wondered if the dinner guests could hear that too.
Despite the fact that he never wanted to come out of the bathroom, he hurried finishing and then slumped against his happy wife. It was going to be dreadful to go outside, but it was something that had to be done. He would hold his head up high. He would act like he and his beautiful wife had sex in the bathroom all the time. Maybe he’d even get a few nods of kudos from the guys.
When husband and wife entered the room, the diners was chattering and passing dishes of vegetables and looking like they hadn’t heard a thing. Only Kurosaki seemed not to be busy socializing, but then he always looked a little put out.
“I’m sorry if you had to listen to all my noises,” Orihime said. Then, to Ishida’s horror, she adjusted her tight silk dress around her thighs. “I make lots of weird noises.”
“As long as you feel better, honey,” Isshin said. “It’s perfectly normal to make weird noises when you’re vomiting your guts out.” He winked at Ishida. “Maybe you got sick from all the excitement.”
“Can we not talk about vomiting at the dinner table?” asked Karin.
“Oh I wasn’t vomiting,” Orihime said. “Uryuu and I were having sex.”
The pretense around the table disintegrated. “Oh don’t worry, we couldn’t hear much.” “That’s okay, we know you’re still a young couple.” “What a perfectly good way to inaugurate a new home. Is it a Quincy custom?”
The couple sat down, and amazingly, the party continued. The food was more than pleasing, and the plum wine was starting to take effect. Ishida started to breathe easy. He could even taste his food. He had a second helping of something exotic and glazed with mint. Keigo and Mizuiro were recounting old times, and Tatsuki mentioned that she’d heard Ms. Ochi was a grandmother twice over. “She’s not old, she has this promiscuous young daughter.”
And then, amidst the reminiscing, Orihime started to get emotional. Ishida had forgotten that this too was part of pregnancy.
“I’m so happy everyone’s here,” she said and dabbed her eye with a napkin. “I hope everyone’s got room for dessert because I made the prettiest Christmas cake.”
“Wow, Orihime,” said Keigo, looking a little teary-eyed himself, “You’ve gotten to be, like, this domestic goddess.”
Orihime looked around the room, wrinkled her nose like she was about to sneeze but burst into loud crying instead. It couldn’t have been over the domestic goddess remark, but Keigo apologized profusely, and everyone said, “there, there, tell us what’s the matter.” The sight of an unhappy Orihime was disturbing to all.
“Preg-nant,” Karin silently mouthed at Ichigo.
Orihime blew her nose and spoke in a voice thick with tears. “I don’t know. Sometimes I’m so proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished--like with the cooking and Tsuyu and the mechanical engineering degree that I’ll make use of one day.” She looked at Uryuu, and he nodded supportively. “But the years will go by and maybe I'll never build that robot, and then it’s only a matter of time….” She swallowed a sob. “It’s only a matter of time before we’re all old and then we die and go to Soul Society--”
“What’s Soul Society?” Mizuiro’s date whispered.
Mizuiro held up his hand. “Sshhh.”
“And maybe we’ll never find one another again,” Orihime continued. “And look at me. I’m the oldest--”
“I’m the oldest,” interrupted Isshin.
Orihime didn’t let him finish. “I’m already acting like a granny. I make pies everyday, and will you look at me? I’m fat.”
Ichigo, apparently still twitching over his I miss the old Inoue remark, spoke before he thought--as usual. “Stop that, Inoue. You look nice. And that dress Ishida made looks very sexy on you.”
Orihime smiled. “Really?”
“You said sexy,” gasped Karin. “Ichigo, what’s the matter with you?”
“What?” Ichigo looked miffed. “Why does everyone have to pick on me when it comes to sex stuff?” He stuck his tongue out at his sister. “I said Inoue looks sexy. Sexy, sexy, sexy.”
Ishida assumed his Pride of the Quincy stance. “That’s it, Kurosaki. You and me. Outside. Now.”
“Huh?” Ichigo looked dumbfounded.
Everyone, even Isshin, looked scared. “Now Uryuu,” said Isshin. “There’s no really no need--”
Ichigo seemed to have recovered his senses. “Stay out of this, Dad. Ishida and I have had this one coming for a long time.”
The room watched as the two men left--each looking mysteriously solemn. The duel had an air of High Noon. Ichigo and Ishida hadn’t always been the best of friends, but no one believed that their disagreements had ever been that serious. Ichigo admired Ishida; Ishida respected Ichigo. That was a fact.
And although Ishida had threatened other men who were a little too forward with Orihime, he’d never once called Ichigo on it.
It was at the porch door that Ishida told Ichigo, “I’m not mad. I just had to get out of there. I figured you wanted to get out of there too.”
Ichigo shot Ishida a lopsided smile. “Great thinking.”
Ishida took off his jacket and pulled out his tie. “We’re out here, so we may as well fight.”
“We can do that?’
“I infinitely prefer fighting to conversation,” Ishida said. “And it’s been a long time, hasn’t it, Kurosaki? Allow me to show you my training ground.” He gestured towards the uncleared woodland behind the house. “About five thousand meters up, you’ll see the reiatsu platform I built.” As he lifted his arm, he allowed his Quincy pentagon to fall from his sleeve cuff.
Zangetsu materialized in the black night, and Ichigo rested the giant sword on his shoulder. “Let’s roll,” he said.
Rukia grabbed the gigai she always used for Living World excursions, but she didn’t bother changing into a pretty kimono. She was going to be terribly late and by the time she got to the Ishida house, everyone was going to be less formal than when first arriving. Ties would be off, jackets would be draped on the backs of chairs, and maybe even Mizuiro’s current girlfriend will have donned a shawl because she couldn’t bear the cold any longer.
It was always a sweet occasion when she visited Orihime and Ishida. They were her best human friends, and the rightness of the two of them being together never failed to impress her. Rukia was a little envious that Ishida had proposed marriage as soon as he and Orihime recognized their love for one another. Lace, flowers, white cake, and then a honeymoon in local hotel. So romantic.
Still, Rukia and Ichigo worked, fought, and breathed together, and that sort of rightness didn’t really need to be commemorated with lacy things.
As soon as Rukia stepped out of the dangai, she felt it. Ichigo was blowing stuff up in Karakura Town.
Glowering, she leapt into an extra-speedy shunpou towards the reiatsu bravado. Ishida was up there too. What’s this? The two of them were fighting? What dumb thing had Ichigo done to get Ishida to challenge him to a duel?
She landed right before the address she’d been given and didn’t bother to knock. She punched the door open with her foot.
“What the hell,” she exclaimed, “are they doing up there?”
Keigo was sitting on an over-sized couch with a girl in spaghetti strap dress who was obviously Mizuiro’s latest. The girl stared at Rukia, and Rukia remembered that she was wearing her black clothes and still carrying her zanpakutou.
“She’s always dressed like that,” Keigo explained to the girl. “It’s a religious thing.”
“What did Ichigo do this time?” Rukia asked. She took a deep breath and tried not to get any madder.
“Um….” Keigo gestured with his head to the spaghetti strap girl. “Sure is thundering really bad out there. The storm started right when Ichigo and Ishida went out to discuss something.”
Isshin appeared next to Rukia and offered her a tea mug. “You missed the vermouth,” he said. “It was the strangest thing but Orihime burst into tears and Ichigo said she was sexy and then Uryuu asked Ichigo to step outside.”
Rukia blinked and shook her head. “What?”
“It’s nothing really,” Keigo said. “Orihime’s pregnant, and Ishida… well, Ishida’s always been uptight.”
Rukia sat down on the floor with her mug of tea. “Orihime’s pregnant again? Well that explains everything. Human pregnancies can cause a lot of drama.”
Mizuiro’s girlfriend, thought Rukia, must be really dense. Dating a dumb girl was one way of assuring that she would never find out about your super powers. Maybe Mizuiro did that on purpose? On second glance at the girl’s cleavage, though, Rukia decided that Mizuiro prioritized other criteria when choosing a girlfriend.
“Where’s Orihime?” Rukia asked. “If she’s upset, maybe I should talk to her.”
“Oh she’s right as rain now,” Keigo said. “Pregnancy must do way crazy things to a girl. She cheered up in a flash and went to get dessert. Mizuiro went to help her. We’re just sitting around waiting for the cake.” Keigo looked sleepy. “It’s supposed to be an awesome cake.”
“Outside looking at … um, the sky.”
“Weren’t Chad and Karin supposed to be here?” Rukia looked around the room and felt disappointed that the festivities were already dwindling down. “Where are Chad and Karin?”
“I think they’re making out in the bathroom,” Keigo said.
“Really?” Isshin set down his tea. “Let’s go listen!” And he was skipping down the hallway before anyone could say anything.
“Isn’t Karin his daughter?” Mizuiro’s girlfriend asked.
“They’re not a very exciting couple,” Keigo observed. He was licking the last traces of gooey glaze off his empty plate. “I tried listening at the door for a little while, but you know Chad. He’s pretty quiet. You’d think Karin would be loud, but she’s not.”
The room shook as if hit by an earthquake.
“That can’t be an earthquake,” said Mizuiro’s date. “That’s the fourth one.”
“They’re way too close,” Keigo shouted to the kitchen. “They’re going to destroy the suburbs.”
“The thunderstorms,” Keigo explained. He gave Rukia a pleading look. “Maybe you should talk to Orihime after all. Maybe she can stop it.”
“Orihime can stop a thunderstorm?”
If for no other reason than she couldn’t bear being around Mizuiro’s girlfriend for another second, Rukia headed for the kitchen. Maybe Orihime could tell the story in a rational manner….
Rukia paused at the threshold. Orihime? Rational? The crazy dinner party and pregnancy vibrations in the house were already effecting Rukia’s thinking.
“Kuchiki-san!” Orihime sped to Rukia and threw her arms around her. “Kuchiki-san!”
All these years and Orihime still addressed Rukia by her surname. She admired her. She looked up to her. Rukia would always be her idol.
“I was going to drag along Renji,” Rukia said, “but he fell asleep at the meeting, and I didn’t want to wake him up.”
Orihime smiled. “Big strong men are so adorable when they’re sleeping, aren’t they? Would you like some tea? I’m brewing some more. And Mizuiro just finished slicing the cake for me. Have some cake?”
Rukia pointed a finger skywards. “That doesn’t bother you?”
“They’re just letting out some steam,” Orihime said. “You know those two. They wouldn’t hurt themselves or anybody else. It’s been too peaceful too long, and I think they need to fight every now and then.”
“I know.” Rukia put her elbows on the counter. “I wanted to see Ichigo in a suit, that’s all. When he gets back, it’s going to be all ripped up.”
“He looked very handsome.”
“Hmmmm.” Rukia raised an eyebrow. “Isshin said that Ichigo said something about you looking sexy? That doesn’t sound like him. Is he drunk?”
“I don’t think so. He was just trying to be nice.”
Mizuiro noticed that he was standing in the way of a tete a tete. He picked up the tray of cream-covered dessert. “I’m bringing the cake out, okay?”
Orihime thanked Mizuiro, and the two women stood in the kitchen looking at one another with fond, smiling faces. Orihime was thinking that Rukia led such a glamorous life and that her windswept hair and Shinigami uniform were gorgeous. Rukia was thinking that Orihime led such a serene life and that she looked pretty as ever but somehow more dignified with her new short hair.
Outside the window, the skies flashed with the tremendous force of Quincy battling Shinigami.
“Congratulations on your pregnancy.”
“I think everyone knows.”
“Really? I guess my getting nauseated at the table tipped everybody off.” Orihime put her hands on her hips. “That and my having sex with Uryuu in the bathroom.”
Rukia didn’t ask.
Tatsuki walked through the back door. She was punching her hand with a fist and looking excited. “It’s over,” she said. “Ichigo got serious with the ban kai business and all those seele schneiders went flying. Then Ichigo threw a long mean getsuga tenshou and Ishida fell off the platform. Ichigo fell off too, but Ishida fell off first so that means Ichigo wins!”
“Where are they now?” asked Rukia.
“Ichigo’s on the ground, but I think Ishida’s stuck in a tree somewhere.”
Rukia and Orihime locked eyes for a second and then erupted into laughter. Tatsuki looked confused. “What?”
Orihime put her hand on her tummy as she shook with giggles. “Oh my. I think I know what’s been making me sick. This dress is too tight.”
Losing to Kurosaki was not humiliating. Ishida had known from the start that the Shinigami was the better fighter, even if Ishida’s strength as a tactician had delayed the inevitable for a satisfying time.
He jumped out of the tree and landed next to Kurosaki. His own shirt was merely frayed, but Kurosaki’s had been blown off completely. That made him smile.
“What are you looking so cocky about?” Kurosaki said. “I won.”
“I’d have to say that we both won.” Ishida rubbed his singed palms on his pants. He noticed one thigh was bleeding. One cut was pretty good when dealing with a slash and hack swordsman like Kurosaki. “We both managed to escape the dinner party.”
Shinigami and Quincy sat on the ground. It was too early to return. Women might be upset. Isshin could be trying to start up a game of strip poker. And neither fighter was interested in dessert--the concoction Orihime described had sounded a little scary. Ishida had noticed how much whipped cream she’d purchased for it, and the combination of drunken guests and whipped cream was just asking for trouble.
“I’m sorry about my dad,” Kurosaki said.
“Don’t be. He doesn’t bother me. My own father is less preposterous but more annoying.” Ishida lay back on the wet earth. It’d been so long since he’d had his clothes mussed like this.
“At least your dad had the good sense not to show up.” Kurosaki took Ishida’s cue and lay on the grass, spreading his arms and legs so that his body looked like a pentacle. Ishida took the exhausted formation to mean that Quincy had somehow knocked down Shinigami reiatsu--even if the fight technically belonged to Kurosaki.
“I was fighting in a gigai,” Kurosaki said. “I would’ve beaten you sooner if I’d gotten out of it.”
Sometimes Ishida forgot that Kurosaki was dead. Ishida’s perception of barriers between worlds had faded since marrying Orihime. For Orihime, there had never been barriers. People were all the same; the Living and the Dead were merely souls in different forms, and there were no enemies, none at all, in the universe.
It occurred to Ishida that only Orihime could throw a dinner party with ghosts and humans and even a clueless guest like Mizuiro’s date and expect it to go smoothly.
Kurosaki seemed to want to ask Ishida something.
“What is it?”
“I don’t want to stick my nose in your private life here, so just tell me if this question isn’t right, but….” Kurosaki’s voice sounded nervous. “Do you and Inoue always do things like have sex in the bathroom when there are other people around?”
“Her name’s not Inoue,” Ishida said. “It’s Ishida now.”
There was a long silence while Ishida considered whether or not to answer Kurosaki’s question. He knew that the Shinigami had no prurient interest in Orihime and that Kurosaki wasn’t an indecent person, just someone given to saying inappropriate things. It amazed Ishida that Orihime had ever idealized Kurosaki so much. The Shinigami was strong and heroic, yes, but he was more than a little goofy.
“It was a special circumstance,” Ishida said and left things at that.
A light rain had started to fall. The fighters welcomed it. The fresh water would wash away some of their blood and grime and make them more presentable when they returned to the house.
“By the way,” Kurosaki said. “Congratulations on the new kid.”
Ishida frowned, not because the word was out but because, unbeknownst to his own keen Quincy senses, Kurosaki could have developed notable reiatsu-detecting powers over these years. Ishida himself couldn’t yet sense the new baby’s life force, and it was easy for him to forget on occasion that Orihime was even pregnant.
“I know I asked you this before,” Kurosaki began in an earnest voice.
Ishida closed his eyes and turned his face to the rain. Isshin had been right; his son was having some weird spell of sentimentality.
“The babies you and Inoue--I mean Ishida Orihime--have. Are they going to be Quincy?”
“Of course,” said Ishida. “Being a Quincy has to do with a culture and a code of ethics as much as it has to do with the power to manipulate reiatsu. Tsuyu seems to be spiritually gifted, though. I’ve already started training her.”
Kurosaki was silent, and the rain fell and fell.
Ishida got up on one elbow. He wondered why Kurosaki’s hair had the ability to stay spikey even when drenched. “Kurosaki,” Ishida said sharply.
“When are you and Rukia going to make things official and start your own family?”
The question seemed to hit the Shinigami like three seele schneiders through the heart. He covered his eyes with the heels of his palms. “Oh man, I don’t know. Damn it, Ishida. I just don’t know.”
When Tatsuki convinced everyone that the boys were not dead and probably reminiscing and playing in the mud like twelve-year-olds, the party was allowed to end.
Mizuiro kissed Orihime goodbye on the cheek and thanked her thoroughly for the lovely evening. His date put on her shawl and echoed Mizuiro. As the two left the door, the fashion model was heard to say, “I’ve been to bohemian parties before, but your friends take the cake for strange.”
Keigo waited and waited because he wanted to see Ichigo again before leaving, but then after a second piece of cake and a yawn, he said he had to go home because he had work the next morning.
Isshin fell asleep on the huge couch.
“You’d think,” Karin said, “that someone of his constitution could last a few more hours. But no, Dad burns out quickly.”
“He looks peaceful there,” Chad said.
The two left, and as they did, Orihime noticed that they were holding hands. “Ahh, young love,” she said to Rukia, and Rukia looked a little wistful.
When the men returned, the women had a good laugh over their ragged appearance, Ichigo looked embarrassed, and Ishida--ignoring the teasing--pointed to Orihime’s abdomen.
There was a palm-sized hole in the silk over Orihime’s pregnant tummy. It was in the shape of a triangle and except for looking a little frayed where the scissors had cut, the design looked rather natural.
“The pressure there was making the nausea worse,” Orihime said.
“You could’ve changed into something more comfortable,” Ishida said.
“Don’t you like the triangle? I think it looks great. Maybe I can cut triangles into all the dresses you’ve made for me instead of wearing pregnant clothes.”
Ishida put his hand on his chin. “It would be easy to make that design a five-pointed opening. I can cover it with stretchable fabric so it’s more modest.”
“What a great idea!”
Ishida walked around Orihime and appeared deep in concentration. “The everyday clothes can have simple pentacles, but more formal dresses can take a shimmery fabric. Maybe tulle in a muted color.”
“I have some tulle in my sewing box!” Orihime was elated. “C’mon, Tatsuki, let’s go help Uryuu pick out some Quincy stars for my new pregnant clothes.”
Tatsuki wasn’t as thrilled about the task as the two sewing geniuses, but nonetheless she followed them to the sewing room.
That left two conscious people in the reception room: Ichigo and Rukia.
Rukia was eating the goose that Ichigo had saved for her. “What are you staring at?” she asked him. “I’m better dressed for a dinner party than you are.”
“Can Shinigami make babies?”
Rukia stopped chewing. A piece of meat balanced between her teeth like a cigarette, and she spit the piece to her plate. “Of course they can.”
“I never see in any babies in the Seireitei.”
“You haven’t been paying attention to anything for the last eight years, have you? We live in a military compound. We don’t visit nurseries as a general rule.”
“But you’re saying the babies are there?” Ichigo leaned his back to the wall, put his hands behind his head and looked at the ceiling. “We just don’t see the babies?”
Rukia resumed eating. “I think you’re drunk,” she muttered. “I bet you won’t be able to shunpou a straight line home.”
“I’m not drunk,” Ichigo insisted. His face got serious and his jaw tightened. He looked directly at Rukia. “I’m trying to talk to you about something here.”
Rukia lay her plate down and looked at Ichigo warily.
The two stared at each other. The tension felt like pre-bickering tension, so Ichigo relaxed his shoulders and tried to sound casual. “Babies are great, you know. I’ve always like babies. And little kids are better. No one can be in a bad mood about around little kids.”
“Shows how much you know,” Rukia said. “You’ve never spent much time with the Ishida kid. She’s mean and she throws fruit at people.”
“Ishida calls her spirited,” Ichigo said.
Time stilled into what could only be called a pregnant pause.
“So what do you say, Rukia--do you want to have some kids?”
Rukia’s eyes grew even larger than they usually were. The black dots in the center of her blue pupils expanded. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not.” Ichigo’s face softened now that the hard part had been spoken. “I’ve been thinking--”
“Be serious. Sometimes I can get thoughtful, and tonight I was thinking that Ishida and Inoue are growing up and doing different things. We fight and train and all that every day, and it’s great but….”
Rukia stared. She hadn’t blinked in such a long time that her eyes were getting dry.
“We’ve done that old stuff for a long time,” Ichigo went on. “Don’t you think it’s time we tried to do new stuff … like starting a family?”
“I don’t know, Ichigo,” began Rukia in a hesitant voice. “This is a big decision. It’s a lifestyle change. My brother’s going to want a wedding--”
Isshin sat up straight, hugging a couch pillow. “Do you hear that, Masaki? We’re going to be grandparents! They’re finally doing it. Our boy is going to marry Rukia-chan!”
“Wait,” said Rukia and she held up her hands. Before she could continue, though, Isshin was hugging her. Then he was hugging Ichigo. Then he was hugging them both together, smooshing their bodies against one another until Ichigo said “ow.”
“This is the happiest day of my life,” Isshin said.
In the sewing room, Tatsuki stood frozen to the spot. Her mouth hung open.
Ishida and Orihime were calmly examining swatches of fabric and exchanging the lovey dovey looks that made Tatsuki feel like she belonged on another planet.
“Did you hear that?” Tatsuki finally said. “I think Ichigo’s lost his mind. I never thought I’d see the day when he finally grew up and accepted that he and Rukia were meant to--” Tatsuki was sputtering her words. “I mean, he’s actually going to do grown-up stuff. Like--like--being a father.”
“Ichigo’s not grown up,” said Orihime.
“Well, I know that,” Tatsuki said. “But he’s decided to get married. That’s the weirdest thing that’s happened at this party, and lots of weird things happened at this party.”
While Orihime was fingering a piece of light blue lace, Ishida put his hand on top of hers and looked into her eyes.
“Orihime,” he said in a velvety, amorous voice. “Was this evening everything you’d hoped it would be?”
“It was more,” Orihime said in a whisper. “It was perfect. It felt full of love.”
When Orihime and Ishida leaned towards one another and exchanged a delicate kiss, Tatsuki figured that she needed to leave the room.
“Sex maniacs,” she grumbled, and she walked to the front room where Isshin stood holding a glass of something brownish.
There was still liquor in the house?
Ichigo and Rukia sat side by side, both smiling weakly and holding up their glasses.
“You’re just in time,” Isshin said. “I’m about to toast the new couple. To toast the wonders of Life! And the wonders of Death, of course. Here, have a glass.”
The stuff smelled strong. Tatsuki pulled up a pillow, sat down, and steeled herself for what would be an effusive teary-eyed celebratory toast by Isshin Kurosaki.
He always made toasts like that. But maybe…. Tatsuki sipped her glass as Isshin’s voice went on and on.
The rain pattered peacefully on the roof of the new house.
Rukia and Ichigo exchanged fond looks even as they sat, slumped with embarrassment.
Orihime’s humming could be heard from the sewing room.
Tatsuki took another sip. Horrible stuff but….
Maybe the evening called for an Isshin toast, after all.
As always, typos and feedback welcome!
I should be further along, given my attack of hypergraphia this week, but I keep getting sidetracked off my list.
1. bleach flashfic
2. Urahara/Unohana for Cal
3. Gin/Ulquiorra the mice will play when the cat's away fic/drabble/gratuitous sex scene
4. Vizored Legacy sort of thing
5. Ryuuken wife story
6. A/U IchiIshi
7. IshiHime based on Orin pic
8. Camera kink IchiIshi for bordge
9. RenIshi that is nothing but pure sex word for word
10. I want to write a fic that gets Ishida out of dire straights in "First Steps" because I hate leaving characters like that. Call me superstitious. I don't know how the hell I can make a getaway work, though.
11. Rewrite some of "Diaspora" that's a big chunk of incomprehensible