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The Beating of Our Hearts (Is the Only Sound)

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Yumichika brushed his hair very gently these days. He was certain it was going to start falling out, any day now, from the stress of planning a wedding.

Technically speaking, gay marriage still wasn't legal in Japan. And it was infuriating that, in 2015, he still wasn't able to hold all the same rights as his friends, on account of who they loved. Moving to Tokyo had helped some - there were anti-discrimination laws there, in employment and in general, so people had less excuses to be assholes. But the lack of any official government recognizing his rights still stung.

In any case, the government had recently decided that queer couples could now get a proof of partnership paper in certain prefectures - including his own - which meant that, while the couple wouldn't technically be married, they would be able to do things like rent apartments together and visit each other in the hospital, where normally only family had been allowed. This last point was particularly relevant to Yumichika, as there had been several occasions where Ikkaku had been in the hospital for one injury or another, and he'd been locked outside, driving himself crazy with worry.

So, in short, even though the proof of partnership wasn't, technically, marriage, Rangiku had said that they should hold a wedding anyway one night over drinks, and Yumichika had wholeheartedly agreed.

He currently had a massive binder taking up almost all the space on his bedside table, full of fabric swatches, aesthetic images, clipped-out pictures from magazines of flowers and fairy lights, and menus from various restaurants. Ikkaku had helped some, but since it was the off-season, Yumichika's schedule wasn't as busy as it would have been if he had been doing competitions, and so Yumichika had done most of the work.

He didn't mind. He loved planning, and he wanted everything to be perfect - he was, admittedly, something of a perfectionist and a control freak. But he was starting to seriously consider calling Rangiku and asking her for help.

Today, he was out selecting the final fabrics that would become their wedding suits. Ikkaku was going to join later today, but he had said Yumichika and himself should have them done seperately, "to keep up the tradition."

"Ikkaku," Yumichika had said, glancing up at him from where he was lounging on their bed, scrolling through Pinterest. "That's only for brides. Neither of us is a bride."

"I know," Ikkaku responded, "but it makes it feel more real, you know?"

Yumichika did know. So he agreed that they would go separately. Anything to legitimize what was essentially a very expensive party.

He tried not to think about it too much.

Ichigo, their downstairs neighbor, had volunteered his friend Uryuu Ishida to help with the process of creating the suits, since he was a fashion design student at the local university. Yumichika thought it was a little strange how he had offered up his friend like a commodity to be traded, but Yumichika himself only had the base knowledge of how fashion actually worked during the creation process, and so was grateful for the help.

He met the student downstairs, waiting outside his door. He glanced over, looking more than a little uncomfortable, and fiddled nervously with the buttons on his jacket. "Ayasegawa-san?" he asked. "I'm Ishida."

"Pleasure to meet you," Yumichika said, holding out his hand. Ishida's hand was soft and gentle, except for the fingertips, which were hardened with callouses. "Shall we go?"

"I'm not sure how much help I'll be," Ishida admitted as they started walking towards the stairwell. "I'm a design student, not tailoring. But I'll help in any way I can. Kurosaki told me that if I did this, I would get to go, and . . ." he paused to laugh dryly. "He said that I certainly needed the practice socializing. Which I suppose is true."

"In any case, I'm glad you were able to help," Yumichika said. "I'm afraid I don't know anything about what makes clothes high quality or not, I just know about what looks good."

"Well, I know a little about that area," Ishida said with a small smile. "Where were you thinking of going?"

They walked together to a small tailor's nearby that Kenpachi had recommended. Despite neither himself nor Ikkaku ever seeing Kenpachi wear a suit, for any reason, Yumichika had been assured by the other man that this store was one of the best.

"They get you in an' out as fast as they can," he'd said, when Yumichika had asked for a more detailed review. "Trust me, you don't want to mess around with anyone else."

The tailor's itself seemed reasonable enough - a medium-sized building with a single employee wandering about, straightening pre-made suits on shelves. Yumichika quickly got his attention.
"How can I help you?" the young man asked, smiling in that polite but empty way customer service workers always did. Yumichika didn't hold it against him.

"I'm looking to get something custom-made," he said. "For . . . For my wedding."

It seemed surreal, saying that sentence aloud, even now, weeks after he'd first started working on getting everything organized. The salesman immediately jumped into action.

"Of course. What colours were you thinking? Classic black? Does your bride know her colour scheme?"

Yumichika tried not to let his smile flicker as the salesman talked. He felt Ishida's eyes flicker over to him, but, thankfully, the student didn't say anything.

"Red and blue," he said, "but a . . . Teal, I suppose, more than a blue."

"Okay," the salesman said, only slightly thrown off by the strange colour scheme. Yumichika supposed, if one imagined the right shades, it could be a feminine colour scheme. If the salesman really stretched his imagination.

"What kind of fabric were you thinking?" he asked, hurrying over to a shelf and pulling over a ring-bound book, which he opened to reveal pages and pages of fabric swatches, in different shades of teal.

"Ayasegawa-san, where were you planning on incorporating the teal? And the red, if at all?" Ishida asked, moving to stand a bit closer to the salesman, examining the fabrics.

"I think a waistcoat would be a nice place to put the teal, or a tie," Yumichika responded, trying to pull up the image of the perfect suit in his mind's eye. "A red accent - not enough that you'd see it unless you were looking for it. And a neutral colour as the main suit itself, to tie it all together."

"That seems reasonable," Ishida responded. "May I see this?" he asked, gesturing for the fabric book. The salesman looked a bit flustered but handed it over, seeming unsure of what to do next.

"First of all, what fabric were you thinking, Ayasegawa-san?" Ishida asked him. "Wool is a classic choice, and good for the winter weather."

"Are you having an outdoor wedding?" the salesman asked, clearly feeling like he wasn't doing his job well enough.

"Maybe," Yumichika said, glancing outside the large glass windows at the front of the store. "The snow is so beautiful, isn't it?"

"It is," the salesman agreed, "but it'll make it hard for your bride to find a dress that suits the weather. What's her name, if you don't mind my asking?"

"What are my other options, Ishida-kun?" Yumichika asked, hoping the change in subject wouldn't be too noticeable. It wasn't one of his best attempts to dodge a question in his life, but it would have seemed strange if he only gave his "bride's" last name in an attempt to keep "her" identity secret.

Ishida, thankfully, picked up on the distraction for what it was, and started speaking again. "Cashmere is more expensive, and it's usually something you would wear against your skin, rather than in a suit, but it is an option. Linen is a bit summery for the season, I think . . . Silk is also very expensive, but might look good as a waistcoat. However, I wouldn't recommend it for the body of the suit due to the price and the . . . Shine." Ishida's face wrinkled in disgust at the mere mention of a shiny suit, and Yumichika's smile became a bit less wooden.

"I'll assume you don't want polyester," Ishida said, looking over his glasses at Yumichika, and now it was his turn to put on a disgusted expression.

"I won't let any unnatural fabrics touch my skin," he declared haughtily, putting a hand to his chest. "I think a classic wool would be nice, at least for the jacket and trousers."

"And the waistcoat? If you're still thinking about that, that is."

"Perhaps silk for that," Yumichika mused. "Let me look at those colours . . ."

He sidled up to Ishida, pushing the poor salesman even more out of the way. He started flicking through the book that Ishida was holding, examining the different fabrics and colours.

"I like this colour," he said, pointing at a very dark teal silk.

"The peacock blue? Okay," Ishida said, and the salesman frantically scribbled down a note on a tiny notepad Yumichika hadn't seen before. "Any others? So we can have a bit of wiggle room."

"This one's nice, too," Yumichika said.

"The Prussian blue," Ishida relayed to the salesman. Yumichika tried and failed to find where he was getting these extremely specific colour names from. "What piece is this for?"

"The waistcoat, I think," Yumichika said. "If you think that's reasonable."

"It's your wedding, Ayasegawa-san," Ishida said mildly. "You're in charge."

"Yes, but you're studying this, so be honest with me," Yumichika responded.

"Doubting your own abilities to pick out complementary colours?" Ishida said. "I think this will be fine, as long as you use a neutral colour for the suiting."

"I was thinking a classic black for that," Yumichika responded. "Since the rest of my colour palette is so dark, a white would clash, don't you think?"

"Absolutely," Ishida said, flipping through the book rapidly. "And what shade of black?"

"I like this," Yumichika said, gesturing at one of the swatches of wool that seemed to absorb all light around it.

"The raven black."

"And this is nice, too."

"The ebony. Anything else catch your eye?"

"Hm . . . No, I don't believe so. What's next?"

"Ties, I suppose. The tie is usually silk, too, unless you'd like something else."

"Silk is good," Yumichika said, "but perhaps a lighter colour than the waistcoat."

"Of course."

Yumichika selected a cobalt blue fabric and an azure blue, and then it was time for fitting. He was grateful he'd worn fitted clothes today as the salesman darted around him manically, taking measurements of every body part Yumichika could think of and more.

"There's still a while left to go, Ayasegawa-san," Ishida said, checking his watch. "Shall we get some coffee after this? Do you have anything else planned for today?"

"I wouldn't mind getting to the florist's," Yumichika said, lifting his arm as the salesman instructed. "And I need to stop by the jeweller's, quickly, just to let them know my measurement. But you don't have to join me for that - you've done enough already."

"When did you propose?" the salesman asked suddenly. Yumichika must have given him a cutting look, because he quickly started stammering and trying to cover his tracks. "I-I mean, shouldn't the jeweller's already know your measurement . . .?"

"It was . . . A mutual decision," Yumichika said finally, after thinking for a moment or two how best to word it. When he and Ikkaku had first moved in together, when they'd first, nonverbally, agreed to be life partners, there hadn't really been a "proposal" of any kind because, at that point, there was no guarantee they would ever really be recognized as life partners. Even after it had become something of a possibility, it really had been a mutual decision - Yumichika had brought it up over dinner one night, and Ikkaku had agreed on the spot, but there was no engagement ring, no showy proposal in the restaurant where they had their first date. Like all their other firsts, it had been private, away from prying eyes.

"Very modern of you," the salesman smiled. "Your fiancee must be very mature. My girlfriend is expecting the whole nine yards . . ." he laughed, a little uncomfortably, but Yumichika couldn't find it within himself to laugh as well.

"A-anyway," the salesman coughed uncomfortably at Yumichika's silence. "I think I've got everything I need. Why don't you two go and look at the notions while I start on your pattern? Just ask the cashier for me when you're done and I'll hold on to your choices. The mock-up should be ready tomorrow for you to try on, so we can make any alterations in size or cut. Oh, and what cut were you thinking?"

This was something Yumichika didn't have to think about. He'd been staring at pictures of wedding suits for so long, analyzing the different styles of collars and cuffs and hems, he had the answer at the forefront of his mind.

"A peak lapel, with a double vent, the jacket should be single breasted but the waistcoat will be double. Jetted pockets, kissing buttons on the sleeves, with half-break trousers."

The salesman looked even more flustered, now, but Ishida looked almost impressed. "You've done your homework, Ayasegawa-san," he said.

"This isn't the first suit I will have worn in my life, Ishida-kun," Yumichika said with a small smile, "I know a little bit about what I'm doing."

"Of course," Ishida said, the mirth in his eyes sharpening into something more sarcastic. "I suppose I was expecting you to be more familiar with spandex and Lycra."

"Don't underestimate spandex," Yumichika said as the salesman finished taking his frantic notes. "It seems ugly, but it can create some truly beautiful costumes."

"Sir? The mock-up should be finished sometime tomorrow - what number should we call you at to let you know it's ready?"

Yumichika relayed his cell phone number to the harried salesman, and breezed out the door into the crisp winter air with Ishida on his heels. "Shall we pick up a coffee on the way to the florist? As a thank-you for helping me in the tailor's."

They stopped by the nearby Starbucks, where Yumichika got a vanilla latte, and Ishida just got a black coffee, not even adding any cream or sugar.

"I'm surprised someone so young drinks coffee like that," Yumichika commented as they left the store, the hot drinks warming their hands.

"Well, someone in my group of friends has to be the mature one," Ishida said, and Yumichika laughed.

Ishida headed home soon after that, thanking Yumichika for the coffee but saying he had to get back to his own studies. The rest of Yumichika's shopping day went by quickly, getting to the florist, the jeweller's, and even having time to stop by a few bakeries and ask about their cakes. By the time he got back home for dinner, he was exhausted and cold, and wanted nothing more than to take a hot bath and put his feet up.

As soon as he opened the door, he could smell something cooking. That was a surprise, as Ikkaku wasn't a terribly good cook. The savory smell of curry filled his nose as he went further into the apartment, taking off his boots and coat and putting them away.

"Ikkaku? Are you cooking?" he asked, trying to keep the surprise out of his voice.

"Oh, you're home already?" Ikkaku asked, sounding a little panicked. "W-wait, don't come in here."

"What, are you hiding someone?" Yumichika asked, gliding into the kitchen anyway. Ikkaku didn't turn around right away, so Yumichika got to observe him while he thought he was alone, moving constantly to keep the meat and sauce cooking evenly.

"N-no, I just--" Ikkaku turned around, saw Yumichika leaning against the doorframe, and yelped as he jumped about a foot in the air. Yumichika stifled his laugh behind a hand. "It's not ready!"

"It smells good," Yumichika said, walking over to Ikkaku, where he leaned his chin against Ikkaku's shoulder, wrapping his arms around the other man's waist. "What are you making?" he already knew, but he wanted to hear Ikkaku say it.

"Curry," Ikkaku said, "Kenpachi's recipe. He said it was nice an' simple, so I figured even I wouldn't mess it up."

"What's the occasion?" Yumichika leaned a little further over Ikkaku's shoulder, so that he could look into the bubbling pot in front of them. The colour looked right, at least, and it did smell good. But he still had yet to taste it.

"You've just been runnin' around all day, organizin' shit that I can't even begin to figure out. I wanted to try an' do somethin' nice for you, too."

"Mmm, don't worry about it. I'm the one who insisted on having an actual wedding. It's only fair I do the majority of the work. Besides, the season's over, so I have the time."

A timer dinged somewhere, and Ikkaku quickly mixed the meat into the sauce, turning all the units off. "There's rice in the cooker," he said, "so grab a bowl and eat up."

It actually turned out to be a lovely dinner. Yumichika had been keeping his expectations relatively low, just because he know Ikkaku's primary skills weren't in the kitchen, but it was delicious, and he found himself daydreaming about eating the leftovers tomorrow.

"You liked it?" Ikkaku asked, dead serious, his chopsticks halfway to his mouth.

"Mm-hmm," Yumichika hummed, nodding as he chewed.

After dinner was over, they watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress that Yumichika had downloaded earlier, claiming it was for "research." The truth was that reality TV was a terribly kept secret vice of his, and this one could at least be passed off as thinking about the wedding. This was also the reason Ikkaku stuck around for the show - although he spent most of the time messing around on his phone, only glancing up whenever someone got into a particularly nasty fight.

"I think I'm gonna ask Kenpachi to be my best man," Ikkaku said suddenly, halfway through the show. Yumichika reached for the remote, pausing it and glancing up at Ikkaku from where he was lounging on his chest. "Oh? Isn't he your boss, though? Is that weird?"

"I dunno, he doesn't feel like a boss, really," Ikkaku shrugged, as well as he could with Yumichika draped over him. He set his phone down on the coffee table, giving the other man his full attention. "He's probably my best friend. Aside from you. And that's who you're supposed to have as your best man, right?"

"I think it's traditionally your brother," Yumichika mused. "But it's your side of the wedding party. You can pick who you want. Who do you think will be your groomsmen?"

"Hmm . . . I've only thought about it a little, so don't judge me, here," Ikkaku said, deadly serious. "But I was thinking that Ichigo kid. We've gotten pretty close to him." Yumichika had to agree with this - the two of them had become weirdly good friends with the apartmentful of university students living downstairs, a household that Ichigo Kurosaki headed.

"Renji, as well. But he's a work friend, so . . ." he trailed off, but Yumichika nodded. "Of course."

"Only three people on your side?" Yumichika asked after a few long moments of silence.

"I guess," he said. "I don't really know anyone else. You've got more friends than me."

"We've still got time. We need to get invitations printed, still - that'll be when we have to decide the final number," Yumichika assured.

"What about you?" Ikkaku asked, tucking a lock of shiny black hair behind Yumichika's ear. Yumichika closed his eyes, leaning into the touch. "Rangiku. Hisagi. Kira. I should probably only have three if you're having three."

"What, we have to match?" Ikkaku furrowed his brow.

"Yes, it's the tradition. It's strange, I know. But a smaller wedding would be more romantic, I think."

"I gave the jeweller's my ring size today," Yumichika said. "Only a few more weeks. It feels like a dream."

"I can't wait," Ikkaku wrapped his arms around the other man. "I can't wait to have you as my husband."

Yumichika smiled bitterly. "It's not official."

"It's official enough. It was official enough for Yoruichi."

Yoruichi was a neighbor of theirs, and together with her partner Soi Fon, the only other queer couple that Yumichika knew of in the building. They had become friends slowly, and when Yoruichi and Soi Fon had gotten their proof of partnership paper, they'd had a party to celebrate and exchange rings, and had invited several people from the building, including Yumichika and Ikkaku.

"It's not the same," Yumichika whispered.

They stayed quiet for a long time.

 

--

 

The next several weeks flew by. They finally settled on a date - December 20th - and with a deadline, the preparations and scheduling became that much more stressful. Thankfully, soon after Yumichika appointed Rangiku as his best woman, she stepped up to help, and the two of them found themselves running all over town as the date grew closer and closer.

"You have your suit," Yumichika said to Ikkaku one morning over breakfast, a pen in one hand and a checklist in front of him.
"Yes."

"It's completely finished?"

"Yeah, it's in my closet."

"You've told your side of the wedding party."

"Yep."

"You've handed out your invitations to your friends, and gotten RSVPs from them."

"Check and check."

"We've done the cake tasting . . . We've gotten the flowers . . ." Yumichika worried his lip between his teeth, tapping the index finger of his free hand on their table. "Is there anything I'm forgetting?"

"It's gonna be perfect, honey," Ikkaku said, draping his hand over Yumichika's, stopping his incessant tapping. "You've done everything right, I promise. It's gonna be magical."

"I feel sick," Yumichika set his pen down and ground the heel of his hand into his forehead. "I just--we're going to have one shot at this. There's no rehearsals, no practicing. It has to be perfect the first time."

"Listen, it's only a few days away," Ikkaku said. "I don't have any fights until after the wedding. Just let Matsumoto take care of everything for now. She's your best woman, right? This is her job, babe. Just relax. You still need to get your nails done and pick up your suit, and Matsumoto could even get the suit, if you needed her to. Just take care of yourself. Do one of those fancy face masks you like so much."

Yumichika smiled a little, despite his churning gut. "Perhaps you're right," he said. There were only two days until the wedding, and the stress really wasn't healthy. "Maybe I'll call Rangiku, see if she wants to go out for a coffee or something today."

Just as he picked up his phone, their doorbell rang. He glanced over at Ikkaku, who had a suspiciously large grin on his face.

"Who is it?" Yumichika asked as the corners of his own mouth quirked upwards. He had a feeling he already knew.

"It's Matsumoto!" Ikkaku said triumphantly, standing up and hurrying towards the door. "I knew you were freaking out over everything--"

"--I was hardly 'freaking out'--"

"--so I asked her to take you out on the town, so you could relax a little!"

"Ikkaku," Yumichika said, wrapping his arms around the other man. "Thank you so much. You know me so well."

"Anytime, sweetheart," Ikkaku said, his tone uncommonly soft. "Don't keep her waiting."

They unstuck, and Yumichika pulled on his coat and boots, thankful he always got dressed before eating. He opened the door to find Rangiku standing there, similarly bundled up, her finger hovering over the doorbell.

"It's about time, bridezilla!" Rangiku said, wrapping him in a hug. "Come on, Ikkaku tells me you're losing your hair over this. Let's go get a hot drink and you can tell Auntie Rangiku all about it."

She wrapped her arm around his shoulders, leading him to the stairwell, and the familiar weight of her arm on his shoulders was already a soothing balm on his anxieties.

 

--

 

"So, what's bothering you?" she said later, after they'd settled into the coffee shop. Yumichika wrapped his fingers tighter around his steaming mug of tea. He'd ordered it in the hope that it would settle his nerves, but it had yet to kick in.

"A wedding isn't a competition," he said, and Rangiku looked at him quizzically.

"There's no rehearsal, is what I mean," he elaborated. "I can't practice. I have to get it all right, the first time. And it's not all on me - this isn't entirely within my control. Ikkaku is a variable, too, and I trust him with my life, but . . ."

"He's not naturally the planning type," Rangiku finished.

"No, he isn't, is he?" Yumichika smiled a little, staring into his drink.

"Listen," Rangiku said, "he might not be the best at planning, but let me assure you, Ikkaku loves you more than anything on this earth. He is so devoted to you, Yumichika. He will support you no matter what, and even when he can't support you, he'll love you through it. He won't care if you misspeak when saying your vows, or if you trip on your way to him during the ceremony, or if you accidentally choke on some cake. It won't matter to him, because no matter what you do, he is going to love you as long as you live. So, take a breath. Don't be afraid to ask me to do things. And have some trust in people."

Yumichika sighed deeply. "You're right," he said, "and I know you're right, but . . ."

"Anxiety doesn't care," she smiled bitterly. "Toshiro feels the same way. Now, let's finish our drinks and go get our nails done. And just know that I'm officially on-call for anything you might need relating to the wedding."

"Thanks, Rangiku," Yumichika said sincerely, smiling at her. "You're a lifesaver. Really."

"Oh, trust me, you're barely any trouble compared to Toshiro," she said as they stood up, putting their coats back on.

"What's he done now?" Yumichika suppressed a grin. Rangiku's younger brother was precocious for his thirteen years, but he never got into any real trouble - not like Yumichika and Ikkaku had gotten into at that age - and he could tell Rangiku loved him with all her heart. So he listened as she relayed the tale of how he'd given himself a terrible head cold by sitting out in the snow for hours the other day, staring at individual snowflakes under his microscope.

 

--

 

By the time December 20th came, Yumichika was still feeling anxious, but a little bit less so now that the final touches had been placed on everything. They'd gathered their small group of friends in their apartment, and flowers frothed from every surface. Yumichika was hiding out in his bedroom as Rangiku helped him put the finishing touches on his makeup. He could hear the chatter coming from outside the door, and it made his hands sweat.

"Do you want me to do that?" Rangiku asked, after the third time he fumbled a feather.

"Do you mind?" he responded, holding the bright red thing out to her. The feathers were something of an in-joke between Ikkaku and himself - whenever he did a competition, he consistently made sure to stick some feathers on the inner corner of his right eyebrow and the outer corner of his right eye. It was his signature look, so to speak, and he wanted to include it in their wedding.

"It's what I'm here for," she said, applying some spirit gum to his face. "Don't worry. It's all going to go perfectly."

"Easy for you to say," he said. "You're not the one getting--" the words stuck in his throat.

"Yumichika," Rangiku said as she finished up the feathers, with the patience of a saint, "all you have to do is walk through your living room and say some words. And you have notes - you didn't have to memorize anything. So let me do the worrying, okay? You focus on making this the best damn day of your life."

"Thank you again," he said as she took his hands, helping him stand up. "I really don't know what I would have done without you--"

But just then, the music started, and Rangiku squealed a little, clapping her hands together excitedly.

"There's our cue!" she said, wrapping her hands around Yumichika's arm. "Come on, let's go!"

They left the bedroom, and as she escorted him to the back of their homemade aisle, he got his first glance of Ikkaku in his wedding suit. It was beautiful, a classic charcoal black two-piece suit with a red tie. It was simple, and understated, but so fundamentally Ikkaku that it took Yumichika's breath away. Ikkaku looked like he was feeling much the same way.

Rangiku started to walk him down the aisle, then, and the rest was a blur.

 

--

 

The ceremony went beautifully. Nothing went wrong, and Ikkaku's suggestion to ask Yoruichi to officiate had been a stroke of genius. She was a masterful wordsmith, and by the time rings were being exchanged, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Even the afterparty seemed to be going well, the playlist Yumichika and Ikkaku had worked on playing softly in the background as the guests drank and talked. Yumichika kept glancing down at the ring on his finger, a silver band set with opals that shimmered and shifted colours in the light. He still felt a bit like he was dreaming.

"Yumichika, that was adorable," Rangiku called from somewhere, immediately throwing herself on top of him. He wrestled with her to get her back on her feet. It was clear she'd been taking advantage of the bottles of wine on the table.

"You're the reason this is all happening!" he said, laughing despite himself. Normally he wouldn't be so giddy, at least, not in public, but he was walking on air today.

"I cried so hard during your vows," she slurred, her head drooping a little as Yumichika eased her onto their couch.

"I know," he said solemnly, "we heard you. You almost set Yachiru off."

"Oh, I'm so jealous!" she pinched Yumichika's cheek and wiggled it a little, like a grandmother might do. "I want to be a bride, too . . ."

"I'm not a bride, Rangiku," he pointed out, making sure she wasn't in any danger of falling off the couch before standing up again. "Let me get you some water."

He found Ikkaku in their kitchen as well, rifling through their cutlery drawers.

"What are you looking for?" Yumichika asked as he grabbed a glass from the cupboard and started filling it with water.

"Ah, just one of those kid forks we keep around for Yachiru. I don't want her to pierce her lip accidentally on one of our metal ones."

"She should wait a few years for the facial piercings," Yumichika agreed, drawing a laugh from Ikkaku. He finally emerged with the small plastic fork in hand, a triumphant grin on his face.

"Was it everything you hoped for?" Yumichika asked before Ikkaku could leave the kitchen. His face softened, and he set the fork down on the counter, wrapping his arms around Yumichika, resting his forearms on the other man's shoulders.

"It was perfect, hon," he said. "Was it your dream wedding? The one you've been dreaming of since you were a kid?"

Yumichika snorted. "I pretty much stopped dreaming about a wedding when I realized I was gay," he said dryly. "But, yes. It was everything I could have wanted."

"So, tell me," Ikkaku said, lowering his voice and leaning in, speaking into Yumichika's ear. "Since we're keeping with Western traditions . . . You wearing a garter under there for me?" He slid his hand up the firm muscle of Yumichika's thigh.

"Not exactly," Yumichika whispered back. "But I've got something else for you. You'll have to wait and see, though."

He heard Ikkaku's breath hitch, and he laughed gently. "I should get this to Rangiku," he said, picking the glass of water back up. "But trust me when I say that this has been the best day of my life."

"Mine, too," Ikkaku said, slipping Yumichika one last swift kiss before they were lost to the thrum of the party again.