"Do you think she's going to do it?"
Kazuma, who had been struggling to tie his bowtie, turned away from the mirror to face the boy who he had grown to love as his own son. Kyo had long given up on knotting his own tie, tossing it on the floor and undoing the top two buttons on his dress shirt for good measure.
He smiled. Some things would never change.
"Do what, Kyo?" Kazuma asked his best man.
"Wear a black wedding dress."
"Kyo-kun, it's her wedding day," Kazuma's long-time assistant Kunimitsu pointed out. Upon seeing the trouble Kazuma was having with the tie, he walked over to help. "Of course she's going to wear white. Isn't that the whole reason why she wanted a Western-style wedding in the first place? So that she could wear a beautiful white wedding gown?"
"Knowing Hanajima, I wouldn't bet on it," Kyo muttered, turning his attention to Kazuma's soon-to-be brother-in-law. "Hey, you. You're her brother. You must have seen her dress, right? What color is it?"
Megumi shrugged. "I am just as much in the dark as the rest of you. Why don't you ask Tohru-san? I believe she and Arisa-san were present when she bought it."
"I already did. Tohru won't tell me." Kyo frowned, obviously not liking the fact that his girlfriend was keeping something from him. "She says she was sworn to secrecy, like it's some kind of freakin' state secret or something." He again looked over at Megumi. "Hey, use some of those psychic powers of yours to find out what color her dress is."
Megumi gave him a blank stare. "I cannot read people's minds."
"You can't? Damn."
"Kyo, why are you so interested in what color Saki is going to wear anyway?" Kazuma asked, raising an eyebrow. It wasn't like Kyo to be so concerned about fashion. "Is it really that important in the grand scheme of things?"
"Just curious, that's all."
"That, and he bet Yuki-san that Saki would wear a black wedding gown," Megumi said, causing Kyo to glare at him. "If he wins, Yuki-san has to wear a dress to the reception. If he loses, Kyo will have to eat a carton of leeks from Yuki-san's garden, raw."
"I thought you said you weren't psychic."
"I do have ears, however. I overheard you two making the bet outside the room when you went to see if the girls had arrived at the hotel yet."
"Anyone ever tell you it's rude to eavesdrop on people's private conversations?" Kyo jumped up from his spot on the bed and began pacing around the room. "Damn it, I don't want to eat a carton of leeks! That damn rat probably had secret intel. I wouldn't be surprised if he weaseled the info out of Tohru, then told her not to tell me just so he could win the bet."
"No, Saki's been really secretive about her dress," Megumi said. "I'm quite certain she's the one who told Tohru-san to keep it a secret."
"Well, I still don't like it."
"Then why did you take up the bet?" Kazuma asked, amused. Even though Kyo and Yuki no longer considered each other mortal enemies, it seemed their competitive spirit continued on.
He shrugged. "It seemed like a sure thing at the time, and I wanted to beat him at somethi-"
A knock on the door interrupted Kyo before he could finish his sentence. Since he was the one currently closest to the door, he answered it. "Yeah?" he grumbled. "Oh, Tohru, it's you."
"Um, is this a bad time?" Tohru asked, as polite as ever.
"No, Kyo has just gotten himself worked up over something silly again," Kazuma said, ignoring the look his adopted son gave him as he came over to greet Tohru. "My, don't you look lovely, Honda-san! Doesn't she, Kyo?"
Kyo grunted in agreement, and Tohru's cheeks flushed a deep red that almost matched the burgundy color of her bridesmaid dress, waving her hands in front of her chest. Her hair, which somebody had curled into ringlets - Kazuma suspected Saki, who loved playing with her friends' hair - bounced as she shook her head. "Oh, not at all! Hana-chan is far more beautiful than I am."
"Is she wearing a black dress?" Kyo asked, apparently deciding to try one more time to get Tohru to spill the beans.
"Kyo-kun, I told you, Hana-chan asked me to keep it a secret. I cannot betray her trust," she said. "Besides, you can see for yourself in a few minutes. She sent me to tell you that she's ready whenever Kazuma-dono is. Megumi-san, Kunimitsu-san, the girls are waiting for you outside the chapel." The two groomsmen were to escort bridesmaids Arisa and Akito down the aisle.
"Thanks, Honda-san," Kunimitsu said, slipping on his jacket. "Come, Hanajima-kun, we shouldn't keep the girls waiting."
Megumi nodded, following Kunimitsu out the door. "Indeed. I bet Arisa-san looks quite fetching in her gown."
Once they were gone, Tohru excused herself as well. "Well, I should be getting back to Hana-chan. I'll see you two at the altar."
"Wait, how is she?" Kazuma couldn't resist asking. Keeping to the Western wedding tradition, he hadn't seen or spoken to his fiancée since the morning before. "She isn't having second thoughts or anything like that, is she?"
Tohru gave him a reassuring smile. "Hana-chan can't wait to become your wife. You have nothing to worry about, Kazuma-dono."
"Good." Kazuma let out the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. "Tell Saki I feel the same."
"I will," she promised before heading back to the bridal suite.
"What about you?" Kyo asked Kazuma once his girlfriend was out of earshot. "There's still time to change your mind about this, you know."
"Kyo, I love Saki."
"Yeah, I know." Kyo leaned up against the back of the door, arms crossed, while Kazuma put on his jacket and made the final adjustments to his bowtie. "Not gonna lie, though, I still think this is weird. Hanajima is my age, and you're…well, not. You're practically robbing the cradle."
"Age is nothing but a number when it comes to love."
"Well, as long as you're happy…" he said. "She just better not insist I call her 'Mother'. There's no chance in Hell I'm ever going to call her that."
Walking over, Kazuma affectionately ruffled Kyo's orange hair and smiled. "I wouldn't have it any other way, my son."
"Speaking of which, you two better not have any kids," Kyo said, the two of them walking together to the hotel chapel where the wedding was to take place.
Kazuma raised an eyebrow. "Fearing competition?"
"No." Kyo glanced away, stuffing his hands in his pockets, and Kazuma chuckled.
"You needn't worry, Kyo," Kazuma said. "Saki…" He let out a sigh, his amusement fading. "Saki doesn't want children," he admitted. "She's afraid that her powers might be passed on to her offspring, and she doesn't want them to go through what she went through."
"Oh." Kyo looked back over at him, hesitating before asking, "Are you… You know, okay with that? Not having kids?"
"Yeah." Kazuma cracked a small half-smile. "Like you pointed out before, I'm certainly no spring chicken. I'm old enough to be somebody's grandfather. In fact, I hope to be one in a couple of years." He gave Kyo a pointed look, causing his adopted son to blush and again look away. "I already have a son," he continued, "and he's just as much mine as a biological child, so, no, I don't need any more children."
By that time, the two of them had reached the side entrance to the hotel chapel where the wedding was taking place. Kyo opened the door, and the two of them took their spots in front of the altar. Beside him, Kazuma could hear Kyo muttering the words, "Please wear black," over and over again like a prayer under his breath as the organist began to play and the double doors at the back of the chapel swung open.
The first to come down the aisle was Hinata, Hiro's younger sister, who was acting as flower girl. The three-year-old looked adorable in her lace-trimmed burgundy dress, and the guests smiled as she made her way down to the front, happily tossing red rose petals in the air.
Next came the bridesmaids, Akito and Arisa, escorted by Kunimitsu and Megumi, respectively. There were some murmurs from the Sohma guests when they saw Akito in her gown. Though she had been living as a woman for the past couple of years, it still took some by surprise to see her looking so feminine, including Kazuma. Even more surprising to him, though, was how close friends Akito and Saki had become, considering Akito had stabbed Arisa's boyfriend (and her former lover) Kureno and had been involved in Tohru's near-fatal fall off the cliff. However, Saki knew better than most how it felt to regret past actions, something they had in common.
Last down the aisle was Saki's maid of honor, Tohru. The instant she stepped through the door, Kyo stopped his muttering, his eyes glued to her every movement. Kazuma couldn't help but to grin at the sight, glad that Kyo had found such a wonderful girl to love. Kyo didn't stop staring at her until Tohru took her place directly across from him and the organist switched to Pachelbel's Canon in D, signifying that the bride was about to make her entrance.
The guests all stood and turned their attention to the doors at the back of the chapel.
Everyone, including Kazuma, gasped as Saki and her father finally appeared at the head of the aisle.
Hanajima Saki had never looked so beautiful.
Dressed in a Victorian-style gown of pale gray silk, she looked just like a porcelain doll. She wore her long, dark hair in loose curls around her shoulders, and a white veil had been attached to the gorgeous silver tiara that adorned the top of her head. Her opera-length gloves, however, were made of the same black lace that trimmed her gown. In her hands, she carried a bouquet of blood red roses, held together with a white ribbon.
"Well, I certainly didn't expect that, but gray still counts as black, right?" Kyo asked Megumi in a low voice as Saki made her way down the aisle, but Kazuma barely heard him, entranced by his bride's unconventional beauty.
He stepped forward and took the hand her father offered him. "You look beautiful, Saki," he whispered in her ear before they turned to face the minister.
"You're not disappointed I'm not wearing white?" she asked.
Kazuma shook his head and grinned.
"No, not at all."