The Royal Palace Brides

BY : c0p13r
Category: Bleach > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 4594
Disclaimer: I don't own 'Bleach' and make no money from this story.

Separation

ccc

ccc Day of the Proposal ccc

            Two other girls stepped up first; the obnoxiously beautiful Hollow girl – Arrancar, if she understood or cared about the difference – and then the obnoxiously busty and airheaded Inoue Orihime.  The Arrancar leapt up at the opportunity, fawning so brazenly over the idea set forth by Hyosube Ichibe.  “Peace among all worlds” was his theme, and – in an abstract way – that included love.  Love meant hearts, and hearts were cute.  Riruka pouted near the back of the crowd, her only company her annoying fellow Fullbringer Yukio, whose interest was saving a virtual kingdom instead of piecing together reality.  “That’s all Ichigo’s problem now,” he had said to dismiss himself from the event entirely.  Riruka might’ve tried to play it cool, but if she really had no part in this decision, Urahara had said a while back that they were free to return to the Living World.

            She was glad to have stayed, though the hairs on the back of her neck bristled and a jealous heat ran down her spine as both Nelliel and Orihime cast themselves forward as Ichigo’s declared wives.  Her hands shivered in unsightly fists beneath her heavy sleeves.  If Ichigo were awake, he wouldn’t accept their proposals!  They were hardly cute enough to be a part of royalty, though Riruka practically primped herself for the regal lifestyle.  Princess was a cute word, and she loved it.

            “Wait!” she shouted indignantly, and the gathering split for her as all heads turned.  Normally yearning to be the center of attention, Riruka puffed out her cheeks, her lips almost puckering like the end of a balloon trapping air.  She sweated under the pressure, flushed and angry.  Her eyes turned to Orihime selectively; a look of betrayal.  Finally, the balloon popped, and her voice exploded so that Yukio had to shove a finger in his ear.  “Why do they get to be the ones?!  One is stupid, and the other is a Hollow!”

            Nelliel, taking offense to the tone of voice and to the disapproval to be Ichigo’s wife, made a move forward while grabbing at the pommel of her Gamuza.  What stopped her from unsheathing and threatening the lowly human was Orihime’s arm stretched out in front of her.  Orihime looked worried that trouble was indeed brewing, but she insisted that no fighting occur.

            Ichibe fondled his beard, humming thoughtfully as he considered Riruka’s words.  “Well, we certainly need all races to agree and cooperate with these terms.  However, hmm, I don’t believe that there is any rule against multiple wives beyond what is necessary.”

            Tenjiro, who stood at the side of the larger man, grumbled that this was less a ceremony of peace.  “More like we’re organizing a harem to keep the kid happy.”

            “Oh yeah!  Nothing would make him happier!” Oh-Etsu said, incorrectly reminiscing how excited Ichigo had been to go inside the fake Phoenix Palace.

            It was a chance that Riruka saw, and she immediately went for it.  She stepped forward, acting as casual and aloof as ever as the small collection of Shinigami, humans, Arrancar, and Quincy watched her.  “Then I’ll take it upon myself!  I’ll be one of his… women… wives…”  Her tongue fumbled, unsure how to address herself as part of a collective.  Sharing was not her strong suit.  It was probably her weakest!  Now at the front, she whipped around and faced everyone else – her soon-to-be subjects.  “I’ll take that ugly idiot as my husband!”  She very pointedly made that possessive remark, glancing at Orihime and the agitated Nel at her side.

            Urahara fanned himself with that big, taunting smile of his.  “My, Kurosaki-san certainly has become popular with women!”  His comment earned a sarcastic remark from the sharp-grinning dark woman next to him.

            Riruka ignored them both and turned her chin up as Ichibe made the formal proclamation.

            Dokugamine Riruka would be Ichigo’s third wife.

ccc Now ccc

            Riruka sneered down at Ichigo as Nel fondled him, cuddling up to him like he was a smooth teddy bear.  It made her skin crawl.  That was her husband the Hollow was touching.  By odd circumstance, they may be fellow wives, but for her, whenever she was in the room, he was hers!

            “Hmph!  You can let go of him now,” she jawed at the Arrancar.  “You’re acting so disgraceful.  It’s embarrassing to watch!”

            Nel tucked her face into Ichigo’s neck – he quaked from the tickle of her breath on his collarbone – and glared at the pompous girl.  “I have given myself to Ichigo, and by rite, he is mine just as much as yours.”

            “Eh~?!”  Riruka drew out the sound in obnoxious fashion, putting a hand up to her ear.  “You can’t claim him.  He fights your kind, and your kind eats humans, don’t they?”

            It was enough for Nel to drop Ichigo then and there.  She might not have had her sword – no need in a palace and her new home – but it wouldn’t take more than a single punch to redirect Riruka’s tone.  A yapping poodle wasn’t much of a beast, though.  She’d have to settle for a halfhearted backhand to the face.

            “Nel, Riruka, that’s enough.”  Ichigo did not sound angry.  Grunting, he struggled to get to his feet, only managing to kneel before Orihime swooped in to offer him balance.  The look he gave her renewed Riruka’s frustration.  It wasn’t very much different than the glance he had given her before heading off like an idiot to fight some other idiot.  That glance, that smile; Riruka felt like putty at that moment.

            Standing with the support of Orihime underneath his arm, he smiled at both arguing women.  To Nel, Riruka might as well have evaporated to nothingness, for she wheeled to him and smiled giddily.  “Ichigo!”  She leaned toward him, so very close that he nervously drew back and averted his eyes.

            That kiss was obviously on his mind still.

            “Do you think you can go for a walk around this palace?”  She giggled and touched his chest and side as if to accept him from Orihime; Orihime held firmly, ready to discuss why she should be the one to handle him.  “It’s so big, and so many rooms!”

            Ichigo laughed weakly at her enthusiasm.  At the moment, though, his legs felt little more than twigs.  The hibernation had worn him out, and with the fabric of reality literally resting on his shoulders…!

            “Now, now!  We can’t tire the King out so readily after just waking up!”  Kirio clapped her pudgy hands, making way for her and the royal seamstress who drifted like a puppet on invisible strings.  “I’m very sure that you’re all excitable now, but that excitement won’t do well on empty stomachs!  I’ve already started a meal fit for a Soul King and his wives, so please come with me!”

ccc Soul Palace dining area ccc

            “Chomp!  Mm!  Ah!  Chompchompchomp!

            Ichigo hadn’t even given a chance to ceremony.  Instinctively, walking into the dining area and presented with Kirio’s unconventional plates, he smiled brightly and answered the echoing call of his stomach.  He hadn’t realized how famished he was until he saw the food.  Memories of the best food he’d ever tasted threw him down to the table to start grabbing everything in reach, consuming it quickly while his three wives – having never seen such a presentation – gave pause.

            Orihime, very quickly, clapped her hands in front of her and awed at the meal.  Even the insect-looking trays had her eyes shimmering!  “Wow!  Amazing, Hikifune-san!  It all looks so good!”  A glutton by nature, Orihime had no problem joining Ichigo, though when it came to sitting next to him, she was bashful.  Resolved by the idea of being his wife, she slid just a bit closer, though he gave no mind.

            Nel was a bit more conservative.  Eating a lot was not abnormal for her, as it was needed to keep up her strength, but she was used to a bit more grandeur to her food.  Halibel and especially Aizen fed the Arrancar and Espada with dishes that looked as good as they tasted; Aizen had even raised some of his Hollow brood for the specific art of gourmet eating.  But leaving Ichigo alone, she would not do.  The spot on his left was vacant, and she sat down and brazenly pressed against him.  “You’re eating a lot, Ichigo,” she sang, and then giggled when he took pause and realized his manner.

            Embarrassed for his impulsive behavior, he quickly swallowed – more than a mouthful – and wiped the crumbs from around his mouth.  “Sorry,” he said while running the back of his forearm underneath his bottom lip.

            On his other side, Orihime looked up from the meaty rib she had just taken a bite out of and watched with filled cheeks as Nelliel shamelessly flirted with their husband.

            Nelliel snickered some more, and then drew a grain of rice from Ichigo’s cheek with her fingertip and softly inserted it into her own mouth.  Ichigo, with the cords of his neck straining, gulped.  He’d never been strong with flamboyant women, much less ones who deliberately flirted with him; Orihime, sadly, did not have Nel’s skill and came off more awkward than flirty.

            “A good appetite means you’re healthy.”  Nel ducked her head between her shoulders, smiling cutely.  “And that makes me happy.”

            Orihime sulked.  She almost shouted out “Me too!” in hopes of not being forgotten, but little she could get out with a mouth full of meat.  The advantage went to the disciplined Nel-san.

            “Ha!”  Riruka called attention to herself, turned with her arms folded and her head tilted back slightly.  “How healthy can someone be if they can eat something like looks like it crawled out from the trash?”

            There was a chair against the wall, and knowing the three she was sharing company with were watching her – particularly the un-amused glance of the Arrancar – she sauntered over and thudded into the seat.  Her leg flourished – was it deliberate to show off how high her skirt rode? – to cross it over the other as her arms folded tightly.  She appeared like a monarch; rightly so, given her recent status, but she acted like she was born to it.  “I will take nothing but glazed donuts from the Usagi Crème shop, with some milk tea from the pink café in Naruki City, and…”  Her eyes peered open just slightly, ghosting over Ichigo, knowingly making eye contact with him.  With her same, snobbish attitude, she named her choice of dessert: “Strawberries with cream.”

            Nel had her method.  Riruka had her own.

            Ichigo tightened his mouth, and then faced forward.  A hot chill enveloped him.  He wasn’t sure what to do in these situations.  If everyone had a sword and was coming at him, he’d have a simple solution.  Riruka’s demeanor – which he couldn’t get a good bead on – threw him off course.  Just when he thought he could handle the boisterous Nel, she swept in like a hawk to veer his focus.

            Strawberries with cream.  He’d seen her eat them before as she lazily watched him train.  Now that she was a wife, he contemplated a very suspicious look she’d once given him.  It had lingered, and it took his focus off of Ginjo, which led Xcution’s leader to pummel his stomach with a kick and a jibe.

            “Only a fool would not eat when hungry.  A warrior maintains strength in peace to keep the peace maintained.”  Nelliel’s stoic lecture swapped with her giddy side when she turned back to Ichigo and offered him a tasty clump of fried rice.  “Right, Ichigo~?!”  The chopsticks shoved into his mouth before he could answer.

            Riruka huffed, bristling all over again as Nel fawned over Ichigo, pressing against him with that fat chest of hers.  And Ichigo – despite his obvious discomfort – probably liked it.  Riruka hated that thought most of all.  If he had even half a brain, he’d leave those two buxom bimbos on the floor and start pawing like a puppy at her heels.  She turned crimson at the thought, but made sure not to let it slip what she was fantasizing.

            She noticed Orihime looking back at her with that halfway vacant expression; workings going on behind those big gray eyes, and Riruka had no way of knowing what.  “What are you looking at?” she snapped sharply.

            Orihime paused, and then gave a smile to the pig-tailed girl.  “I’m glad you’re here too, Riruka-chan!”

            This made Riruka seethe.  “I-Idiot!”

            “Nelliel-chan is right!”  The merry voice came from the back just before the woman did.  With another stack of entrées and holding her enormous spoon like a victorious blade, the diminished and curvaceous Hikifune Kirio made her appearance, much to the shock or elation of the wives.

            Orihime’s face lit up.  “Kirio-san!  That food looks delicious!”

            Riruka slouched, looking warily to the airhead.  “That’s what she notices?”  She turned back to face the Grain King, and all at once… she hated her.  Her bottom lip tucked up and her eyebrows furrowed, her gaze zeroing in immediately on the last bit of fat on Kirio’s body: her bust.  Like Orihime and Nel, she had breasts of glorious size, shape and weight, dwarfing Riruka’s, further excluding her from the circle of big-breasted women Ichigo seemed to surround himself with.  She held herself tight, grinding her teeth softly, frustration welling up in her eyes as her face smoldered.  She looked dead-on at Ichigo, heedlessly smiling and thanking Kirio for the extra food.

            “Stupid…!”

            “When a warrior is hungry, the only solution is to eat!  He cannot simply will his body to give him strength.  Ichigo-chan and Renji-chan both agreed on this fact before the final fight with the Quincies.”  Kirio eased the plates of bizarre-looking foods in front of Ichigo.  “And  of course, more than anyone, a King must maintain his strength; not merely for fighting, but for ruling.”

            “I don’t think I’ll be ruling,” Ichigo said doubtfully, his teeth already sunken into a slab of meat.

            “Oh, Ichigo-chan!”  Kirio doubled over to pat his head affectionately, her loosely-handled bosoms dangling dangerously towards his face.  “Ruling is more than giving laws.  It is about knowing peace, seeking it out, and finding happiness and protection for all he cares about.  Surely you know this much.”

            “Of course,” Nel answered in his place, grabbing him and nuzzling cheek to cheek.  “Ichigo cares about so many people, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect them!  And I will protect him!”  She laughed excitedly, like the trade-off was in her favor.  Considering how she felt for Ichigo, of course it made sense that she’d do anything to be by his side.

            “That means you mustn’t remain famished either, Nelliel-chan.”  Kirio set a stack of food in front of Nel.  “You should eat and get your strength up as well.  I assure you, this food does an Arrancar as well as any Shinigami.”

            Nelliel accepted the advice and began to eat – with more dignity and poise than the others.

            That left only one stomach clenching in the room, but Riruka refused to put anything that looked like a deep-fried centipede anywhere near her mouth.  Donuts, cakes, chocolates and fruit; all sweets and cute foods were acceptable.  This was not.  “How can you call this a Royal Palace if you eat like you foraged for all this food under a rock?”

            “The greatest cooks know that preparing good food is all about foraging.”  Kirio’s voice was kinder than Nel’s when imparting wisdom.  “We cannot simply grab an ingredient by the handful and expect it all to taste the same.  It is a meticulous method.”

            Riruka’s eyebrow twitched, and she glowered with annoyance.  She remembered Giriko saying something along those lines to pat himself on the back for his culinary prowess.

            “You should really try some, Riruka,” Ichigo mumbled around a muffling mouthful of pork fried rice.  He held out his bowl in offering to her.  “I know it looks strange, but it’s really good!”

            Orihime eagerly concurred, sucking up one of those centipedes that made Riruka gag.

            But it was Ichigo’s concern alone that had her tucking her arms together and curling up tighter than before.  Stubbornly, focusing on the doorway Kirio had once again left through, she said to him, “No thanks!”

ccc Soul King bedchamber ccc

            “What is royalty without a glorious bedroom?”

            Senjumaru’s skeletal limbs stretched out in that eerie way to turn the latch and open the door to a room that stretched out magnificently, seemingly to fit the round bed; the only piece of furniture in the room.  Light manifested in ephemeral spheres, chasing the dark to a comfortable, almost-sensual shadow.  Ichigo and Orihime, as mere humans who had settled for a more humble lifestyle, had never conceived the idea of such a monumental room.  All of Ichigo’s belongings could fit in one corner of the room; Orihime could move her entire apartment in here and still have room left over!  Nelliel once had her own tower as an Espada, and Riruka had… unusual options.

            Senjumaru drifted ahead, toes hovering above the floor.  Her hands were frisky spiders, touching posts or hidden buttons that revealed closets and the like, all on her beeline to the archway across from the balcony that had a terrific view of Squad Zero’s independent barracks.  Arms rotating like a Ferris wheel, she presented: “The bathroom.”

            Curiosity got the better of the humans.  They followed close to the black-haired seamstress and were once again caught off guard by the grandeur they were expected to live in.  The bathroom was more of a bathhouse!  A washing area – big enough for more than five people! – a shower stall, and an actual in-ground tub.  Ichigo assumed right away that it was spring water given from Tenjiro’s White Bone Hell.

            “Wow,” Orihime drew out, looking at the supreme state of it all.  “It looks amazing.”

            “It does,” Senjumaru agreed flatly, already drifting towards the exit.  “You may stay here if you wish, Ichigo.  The dining area and the bedroom are the only places of importance for you right now, though you are invited to get lost in the palace.”

            Ichigo gulped.

            “So this one room is supposed to fit us all?” Riruka complained, though she herself had been gawking at the size of the bathroom along with the others.  She frowned after the seamstress, pumping a hand onto her waist and leaning with a scolding finger.  “I have a lot of stuff I need to bring in!  How is a wife of the Soul King supposed to live without her own luxuries?”

            While Ichigo flushed – still unaccustomed to thinking of her (and the others) as his wife – Orihime hoped to hush her.

            Senjumaru, ignoring the tone spoken so rudely at her, turned to the girl and met hot contempt with cold contempt.  “Of course we don’t expect you to live without your necessary wants,” she answered, and then turned away.  “The room’s size is only to accommodate the orgies you will have in here.”

            She might as well been the center point of an explosion from the way Riruka, Orihime and Ichigo looked blown away.  “O-orgies?!” Ichigo cried out, not expecting the topic of sex to be anywhere on this tour.  Red ran him over from head to toe.  Compulsively, his contracted pupils darted to Orihime… particularly the fleshiness of her outfit.  And in his mind as he stared – gaped – at those generously exposed milk melons, he heard Yoruichi scolding him, that no matter how modest or embarrassed he was about her clothes, he should tell Orihime how sexy she looked, how her appeal made her irresistible for his loins.

            Orihime, also sporting an expression of boundless shock and insecurity, noticed his open-mouthed observing of her, and at once, she bent in half, trying to hide as much skin as possible again, though that was tricky.  They could pop out if she wasn’t careful.  Oh no! she thought woefully.  He’ll think I planned this!

            Of course, he didn’t.  It was just the subject that made him all sorts of uncomfortable.  When he finally pried away from Orihime, he looked ahead, which made the furiously-blushing Riruka whip around as if she hadn’t been ogling him as he had Orihime.

            Last on his analyzing pivot of wives was Nelliel, and she was not like Orihime or Riruka.  Being older and more mature – in whatever Arrancar years she existed – she seemed prepared for this prospect.  In fact, when he looked at her and she looked back, her eyes – normally so cheery and fun – seemed predatory.  Her hands were up to her nose, only touching her fingertips together, shielding a wry grin that gave Ichigo warning chills that only intensified when her tongue ran across the side of her mouth.

            “You entered this arrangement without thinking sex would be involved?” Senjumaru asked, reclaiming the attention of the Soul King.  Her head tilted slightly, the long tress of her hair hanging.  She smirked with her crimson lips at him.  “How naïve the children are in the Living World.”

            Ichigo started off with a stutter, lifting his arms and waving them.  “Well, it’s not like I expected this!  What did you even mean when you said ‘orgies’?!  You can’t expect me to… to…!”  He couldn’t bring himself to finish.  Just thinking about any of these three naked was enough to have him retreat to a corner in a fetal position and scold the impurity from his mind.  All three at once?  He risked visualizing them, fully clothed, but waiting expectantly on the bed for him.  Even with all manner of modesty and resistance, a squirt of blood erupted from his nose, which he immediately hid underneath his hand.

            “Merely a suggestion,” Senjumaru clarified with an absent wave of a hand.  “I just expect that there are enough days in the week for you to bed one wife per night.”

            “Stop it!” he commanded as if on the verge of tears.  “Just how many wives am I expected to have?!”

            She turned her back to him, though her grin still showed over her shoulder.  “A subject for another day.  Now if the wives will follow me, I will lead you to your own bedrooms where you can place your meaningless things.”

            Riruka, with a haughty harrumph at the Squad Zero’s audacity, was the first to follow, though not without a parting glance back at Ichigo.  He caught her eye at the last instant, and she turned away with a quiet “Idiot.”  Nel followed, though she held both of Ichigo’s hands in advance while saying that she would be back as quick as she could.

            Orihime lingered, and Ichigo gestated.  What could either of them say to each other?  She tucked her hands together at her waist, staring at the floor and trying to configure some sentence that would put both of them at ease.  But it was him who spoke first.  “Don’t look so worried.”  She saw his hand reach out and grab hers, and her downcast eyes shot up to his.  He was smiling at her; that rare, comforting smile.  Her heart raced and stopped and jumped and danced.  “I know this is… weird.”  He cleared his throat, his confidence shaky.  “What Senjumaru-san was talking about; we don’t have to…  I won’t…”  Fumbling for a well-worded promise, he wound up just saying, “Don’t worry, Inoue.”

            Orihime’s big, gray eyes wavered on him.

            So sweet…

            She smiled at him.  “Okay… Kurosaki-kun.”

            In that moment, she wished she was as brave as Nel-san or Tatsuki-chan.  She would have had the courage to kiss him if she was…

            It didn’t hit them until just that moment that they had been holding hands.  Ichigo reacted first, pivoting in a trice and holding his hand at the wrist, looking at like it had committed a foul deed independently.  He gave an apology, the color returned to his cheeks.  And while Orihime felt flustered by the contact as well, his reaction was so cute.  She giggled and, as his wife, said that it was not a problem.

            “You’re not following,” Senjumaru said from the doorway, breaking up an otherwise tender moment between young newlyweds.  “That’s fine.  But people have died from starvation, wandering this palace.”

            Ichigo faltered a little.  Was that a lie or not?

            “Ah!  Sorry!”  Like a scolded schoolgirl, she rushed to the door, and while the scrutinizing stare of Senjumaru was upon her, Orihime didn’t worry.

            Kurosaki-kun didn’t promise her anything.  And by so doing, he promised everything.

ccc Two hours later ccc

            Thump!! went Riruka’s dollhouse as she placed it on the small table in the chamber shared with Orihime.  Sharing was unnecessary, as the hallway was lined with splendid rooms fit for any Soul King’s queen.  It was Orihime who made the suggestion, and it was Riruka who allowed it… after a solid minute of awkward, gestating refusal under Orihime’s ever-growing eyes wispy with tears.  Riruka couldn’t say if Orihime was cute or not – not honestly – but the airhead did have a certain sway over her that no one else could ever imagine.

            The dollhouse had been inside the castle the whole time; carried around like luggage even during the Vanderreich invasion, even in Yukio’s world-crossing box.  And having it, Riruka felt swelled with spiteful pride.  “Ha!  That old lady with the stick arms thought that she was so smart, that I needed extra room!  I have everything I own right here!  I can live in that dummy’s room with him, but why shouldn’t I get my own room too?  She’s so stupid!  So stupid, it hurts!” she bragged outright to Orihime, who just nodded with a polite smile and said that her Fullbring was very useful.

            Starting to count on her fingers, Orihime realized that she needed to make adjustments too.  “I’ll have to go back home too,” she murmured more to herself.  “I have all my clothes over there.  And Enraku and Uomaro.  And I haven’t even taken out the trash since leaving.”  She quaked as if in fear.

            “Tch!  Why are you wasting your time?  You’re royalty now!  You can get all new stuff!”

            Orihime made a pouty face.  “But that’s not fair that you get to keep all of your things, Riruka-chan.”

            “What are you talking about?  I told you already that I want to be buried underneath everything I find cute,” Riruka said, all but forgetting Orihime was not present when she formerly made that declaration to Ichigo.  She lifted a hand casually and closed her eyes.  “Cute things are irreplaceable.  Just get the stick-arm lady to weave you some new clothes since she’s so eager to be our servantyeow!!”  She jumped back up right after sitting down on the bed, clutching her butt with a pained tear in her eye.  Sniffling and biting back a full-out bawling, she turned back to the point of offense and just barely caught the wicked gleam of a needle pointing up from the silk sheets.

            “Forgive my impudence,” said the woman at the opened doorway, who had been there for how long?!  Riruka stiffened, wondering if the whole of her conversation with Orihime had been heard.  The stoic look of sadistic humor on Senjumaru’s face hinted that she had been present longer than Riruka would want.

            A hand slithered through the air and delicately plucked the needle free and returned it to the weaver’s possession.  “It’s a habit I can’t seem to break even now.”

            Riruka glared, still teary-eyed and rubbing her rump.

            The pig-tailed queen was disregarded after that, and Senjumaru addressed the polite, mousey one.  “Inoue Orihime, preparations are being made on your behalf.  You and Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck will both be given accommodations for the following week.  It would be difficult to go longer than that.”

            Orihime, perking up from where she sat on the floor, gave an affirmative nod and smile.  “Thank you, Senjurmaru-san.”  It was the moment afterward, the moment the wraith of a woman had already departed, that a thought occurred.  She turned to Riruka still lamenting her poked butt.

            “Where’s Nel-san?”

ccc The Soul King’s Bath ccc

            “A wife for each race, huh?”

            Ichigo contemplated the idea while neck-deep in warm water.  It had been on Kirio’s suggestion, popping in while the queens saw their own rooms, that he bathe to relax after a hearty meal.  It was good advice, and he was glad he took it.  As he suspected, the water had healing properties, but it must’ve been a diluted edition to Tenjiro’s pond because he needn’t wear a head towel, yet it still felt more potent than Urahara-san’s copy.

            Now relaxing, he put his mind to the matter he was now in.  The wives; Orihime, Nel, and Riruka.  All three were stunning; he ventured that far into analyzing them.  And apart from Riruka’s boisterous arrogance and often antagonisms, they did not have terrible character flaws.  But they were three.

            Ichigo’s hand emerged for visual aide as he listed off the races: human, Arrancar and Shinigami.  The two former were handled, he thought, though with a sense of courtesy and respect to the three now living with him.  Orihime, the emissary of the living world, and Riruka was – for lack of a more respectful term – an extra.  That left Nel as Hueco Mundo’s representative.  And while he was fine with that, he would have guessed earlier that the one to unite the Soul Society with the world of Hollows would be the one who ruled the Hollows.

            He’d seen her once, after Aizen’s war, but he was hardly conscious at that time, suffering the effects of Mugetsu and the transition to normal human status.  But she had appeared briefly, dark-skinned with yellow hair, sharp eyes…  He was surprised he remembered her face so well, being that facial recognition had been a failing of his for as long as he could remember.  Her name was…

            Tier Halibel.

            It took longer to pull that name up, but as soon as he did, he remembered her face again.  But it was not that vague recollection teetering between dreams and reality.  He was fully aware in this memory, though it felt shrouded, like when he tried to recall the events Ichibe had spoken of before he became Soul King.  This memory of Halibel; it came with chains, chains that Tensa Zangetsu bit through with two angry swipes.  And he knelt to catch the weary, beaten Queen of Hueco Mundo…

            “Ichigo!!”  SPLASH!!

            Ichigo was shoved underwater, bombarded from behind with a hug.  The target and assailant toppled frontward, detangling in the chaos so that Ichigo could throw his head up and inhale the lost air.  In front of him, lifting from the water more slowly, he didn’t need to see turquoise to identify the girl.  No one dive-bombed a hug like Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck.

            Nel pushed back the drenched, wavy hair that blocked her face.  Her smile was uncovered, and her eyes dazzled on Ichigo.  She giggled at his stupefied expressions.  He always made the silliest faces!

            Ichigo noticed two things about her, and they both bobbed buoyantly on the water’s surface, just barely wading deep enough to conceal the most intimate parts of her breasts.  Entranced and unable to break it, Ichigo’s eyes followed the sway of her floating bosoms, her speech coming in muffled and garbled through his ears.  All sense was trained to sight until, like a lit fuse, his brain caught up and exploded with warnings!  The first move was to slap a hand across his intrigued eyes; the other was to stretch out to bar Nel’s advance.  “N-Nel!  Whatareyoudoing?!!  You can’t be in here like… like that!”

            “I missed you,” whined Nel.  Her hands touched the bathtub floor between her knees, which pressed her assets together.  Though visually impaired, Ichigo could feel the sight like it clocked him with an intangible fist!  Naïve to how much her nudity affected him – or maybe not – she explained that she found her room too boring.  “It’s okay if I just stay with you in this room!  Then we won’t have to waste time walking back and forth!”

            Feeling her approach, and not wanting to blindly ‘grab’ her, Ichigo scooted back, though refused to take from the water; it was his only means of cover.  Steeling himself against the gorgeousness of his voluptuous wife, he forced himself just to look her in the eyes.  The tension of his body, however, was not unlike that of a man slowly submerging into ice water.  “What do you mean, back and forth?!  What are we going to be doing that for?!”  His own naïveté was too much sometimes, and Nel found it positively adorable.

            “We’re husband and wife,” Nel pointed out, and Ichigo howled when he felt a set of fingertips intrude on his upper thigh.  Nel was direct, that was for sure, and though it taxed him mentally and emotionally, Ichigo regretted that he had not trained his body well enough against feminine wilds.  Already, something had risen beneath the waters, and if he moved to a shallower part, Nel would find out just what that something was.

            He jabbered out her name again, looking down at the area she touched.  She just smiled slyly at him.  “Senjumaru said it was expected.  Ichigo…”  She breathed heavily, the red streak across her nose highlighted against a pink background.  She was going for another kiss!  Ichigo’s stammered, but felt stuck.  His chest expanded.  Was this…?  Was this it?!  Nel had already sealed his first kiss.  Was she about to take another first?!

            There was a faint crackle, like a small burst of firecrackers.  Green light, and then Riruka, suspended in air from her velocity.  Flushed and slick with sweat – she must’ve been going top speed – she glared at the two tubbers and said, “I made it in time.”  But her focus was unpracticed, and the reishi was dense in the Royal Palace.  Down she went with a splash and a scream.  An emergence less graceful than Nel’s mermaid-like appearance, Riruka sat up fast with coughing, sputtering and snorting.  And also, her dive was at the shallower part where Ichigo currently feared to tread; that meant that her sprawled-open knees invited Ichigo’s and Nel’s shared gaze to hike up to her now-soaked strawberry-printed panties.

            “Riruka-cha~n!”  Orihime panted as she ran into the bathroom next, even more winded than Riruka.  Apparently, she was bested in a race with an advanced Fullbringer.  She doubled over, grabbing her knees and catching her breath.  “Riruka-chan!  Huff-huff!  I can’t use Fullbring like you yet!  You went too…!”  All that ceased when she absorbed the sight ahead of her: Kurosaki-kun naked, Kurosaki-kun trapped between Nel-san’s arms, Kurosaki-kun, naked, Riruka-chan’s panties – which were so cute! – facing Kurosaki-kun, and Kurosaki-kun was naked.  That last part was of paramount importance to the red-faced Orihime.

            The last to arrive, but the first to give Ichigo any modicum of courtesy by hiding her eyes behind her hands, though piqued interest held a very-obvious gap that her very-obviously open eye stared through.  “I’m sorry, Kurosaki-kun!  I was following Riruka-chan, looking for Nel-san, and I didn’t know you’d be…! Ahh~…”  She couldn’t go on, stuck right there, seeing Ichigo’s torso shimmering wetly, his lower half hardly concealed.

            “It seems you got to the orgy sooner than expected.  I applaud your haste, Kurosaki Ichigo.”

            Orihime yelped while leaping out of the way of the master weaver of the Soul Society.  With such heavy shoes, you’d think she’d make a sound in her approach, but such things were trivial when she just about floated wherever whenever.  She showed some bit of humor on her pallid face, even as Ichigo – both hands now shielding his lap underwater – screamed out for some privacy.

            Senjumaru’s business, however, was not with him.  “Inoue Orihime, Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck, your transports are ready.”

            Nel sulked, which caused her bust to press down on Ichigo’s sternum.  Steam erupted in a high-pitched poof above his head from his rising heat as he glanced down to the compressed globes.  “Already?” she whined.

            “We are very efficient here at the Royal Palace.  Come.”  She led the two women out, though it caused another uproar when Nel stood up in front of Ichigo without so much as a hand covering her nakedness.  He was eyelevel with a thick patch of turquoise hair, every detail of her femininity exposed inches from his nose.  Abandoning all conservation of himself, his hands went up to his nose just in time to stop a colossal nosebleed.  The last thing he heard before the stone floor knocked him out was the fit that both Riruka and Orihime threw on Nel’s brazen actions.

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            Kirio and Senjumaru stood on either side of the gateway; very similar to the usual Senkaimon gateway.  Orihime and Nel both stood in front of it while Ichigo backed them, not entirely sure what was happening.  For a Soul King, container of reality itself, he felt stupendously uninformed.  Orihime and Nel had moved so quickly – and Nel’s sorrow was painfully vague – that only now, when Senjumaru explained the conditions, was he brought up to speed.

            While Ichigo had slept during the aftermath of Yhwach, Orihime had stayed diligently in the Royal Palace; down below, things had stirred in the Soul Society because of a vile member of the noble Tsunayashiro clan, and Nel was called to help.  It was such a sudden emergency that Squad Zero had no time to lend a hand.  And that meant the brides had no time to make arrangements of their own.  Orihime, though devoted to Ichigo, did not want to simply vanish from her life in the living world.  She still had her apartment, still had school and work.

            Nelliel had Dondochakka and Pesche and many responsibilities at Hueco Mundo that she could not see to right away.  She’d been granted leave for a while until the Soul King woke.  Ichigo coming to had been a moment of great joy, but it was followed immediately with the sorrow that she had obligation and duty.  Now, both she and Orihime were given leave to their respective worlds to set matters straight.

            Nelliel did not hesitate to pull Ichigo into another deep kiss that had him stiffen like the life had been sucked from him.  She embraced him to her as though Orihime wasn’t there to look away uncomfortably and Riruka wasn’t bristling with hatred and envy; the latter hadn’t seen them kiss yet, and it was just as infuriating as she thought it’d be.  Her bottom lip drew up in a sharp upside-down V.  She looked to Orihime for her own opinion, but the downcast off-set glance to the floor said that Orihime would not speak out to her own dislike of the situation.

            Riruka scoffed quietly and turned away from her, folding her arms.  Is she going to look like that when I kiss him?  Riruka pursed her lips at the idea of kissing Ichigo.

            Nel, saying her goodbyes, was the first to move through the unique Senkaimon, vanishing in the wall of white light to the world of Hollows where Halibel ruled.  Senjurmaru shifted the destination with a mere flourish of her hand, and on the other side waited the human world.

            Orihime was a bit more reserved as she faced Ichigo, and his attention to her was genuine.  “I… I’ll try not to take too long,” Orihime promised him.

            “The Soul King’s Senkaimon is not something we can open and reopen at our leisure,” Senjurmaru said from her post.  “When you pass through, when this gateway closes, it cannot be opened for at least a week.”  Ignoring the reaction of shock from Orihime, she continued, “There is a reason we did not use it for the Quincy invasion.”

            A moot point, but Ichigo chose not to make a bigger deal out of it; not when Orihime faced him with such compassion and longing.  It was different with her than Nel.  Nel, he felt her affection, and – setting aside obvious physical attraction to her – he felt strongly for her too; he wasn’t going to be liberal with the word ‘love’.  Orihime made his heart thump, but not with a thrill.  He experienced it in his core, the depths of his being.  She made him sway in a very nice way.  And when she brought out her smile, he could not fail to return the favor.

            He was the one to reach out and touch her hand, taking it very gently in his own.

            She felt her cheeks burn, the gentleness of his softened gaze to heavy for her to bear.  She started on his name, a fitful series of Ks until he said in that soft tone that perhaps only she had ever been privileged to hear, “I’ll see you soon… Orihime.”  This familiarity was new to him too.  But they were married.  Familiarity was expected.

            Orihime might’ve been slapped straight on by some invisible force by the way she gawked dumbfounded afterward.  Thu-thump! Thu-thump!  It drummed in her ears, though the sound of her name in his voice echoed in a spiral.  Could she be bold enough to respond in kind?  “I won’t… take longer than… I need…”  Her hands clasped, her bosoms mashed attractively between her arms.  She sounded like she was under a tickle attack, flustered with the idea of speaking his given name for the first time.  Ichigo…  Ichigo!  She almost clapped her hands on her face and twirled.  Ichigo!  Ichigo!  And all around in her mind, she saw all the faces and the many moods of her Ichigo!  Ichigo!  Ichigo!!

            “Bah!  What’s taking you so long, stupid?!”  Riruka outright shoved Orihime between the shoulders, bulldozing her out of Ichigo’s space to stand mere inches from the Senkaimon.  It must’ve taken some willpower of her not to boot Orihime out entirely, but she mustered that willpower and pivoted, intentionally swatting the baffled girl with her pigtails when she looked at her.  “You didn’t have the foresight to bring all your stuff here already, and you think that boring world is more important!  So get going, and don’t come back until you’re done!”

            Come back soon.  Please…

            That was what Orihime heard in the snob’s tone, and she smiled softly.  “I’ll be back soon, Riruka-chan.”

            “Huh?!  I said don’t…!”  Riruka swung again, but Orihime had already left, and Senjumaru and Kirio released their tension.  Senjumaru still stood poised, though a close inspection of her face would tell how opening such a grand portal took its toll.  If she was not obvious enough, Kirio’s weight had melted away, leaving Riruka to fume over another busty beauty in Ichigo’s life.

            “Hmm!”  The purple-haired Kirio observed her trim – and buxom, Riruka would not forget – figure.  She did not seem put off by this change at all.  “It seems I’ll be setting an extra seat at your table after all, Ichigo-chan!”  She hummed with laughter, hoisting her spoon to her shoulder and heading off to the kitchen.

            Riruka, though Kirio had been nothing but pleasant to her, was glad to see her and her cleavage-bearing garb go.

            The disembodied hands moved about Senjumaru deftly, smoothing out creasing and aligning her cloak and outfit.  If there was a strand of hair that had moved out of place, Ichigo couldn’t tell until her finger moved delicately along her brow, straightening the line of her bangs.  Ominously, she drifted forward, dismissing Riruka’s continued attendance – “Hey!” she barked when Senjumaru carelessly moved by – and addressing the Soul King.  “With such a dry goodbye,” she muttered, staring forward though her voice carried well to Ichigo, “I do not expect a human heir to soon arrive.”

            Ichigo flushed.  He was not good with romance – as Yoruichi had condemned him before – but he thought his goodbye to Orihime was… touching.  He now felt a fool.

            Senjumaru gave him just one, quick sidelong glance; an observation that gave her second thoughts.  She saw Riruka through her peripheral vision, stiff and bristly, disliking Senjumaru being so close to her king.

            Or maybe not, Senjumaru reflected with the merest, wicked smirk.

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