Named heir to the Shiba clan's leadership after the quincy war, Ichigo is forced by the elders of the noble's council to be educated for his future role by none other than the Seireitei's greatest and most anal noble lord, Kuchiki Byakuya. But what will happen when Byakuya begins to look at Ichigo through different eyes? Will the hotheaded and somewhat oblivious Shiba heir even notice? Ichigo/Byakuya, Kurushimi/Tetsuya, Renji/Rukia, Aderia/Ogano…yaoi, mpreg...Thanks to Shima-taicho31 for the use of her OCs Kurushimi and Aderia Shima, as well as Sasune Kuchiki and Hideaki. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Young Royalty
Ichigo stood naked in front of the full length mirror in his bedroom at the Shiba estate, frowning unhappily as his patient attendant smiled and worked quickly at setting his formal kimono in place and doing his best to try to tame the wild spikes of his discontented charge's ginger hair. Ichigo glanced at his father's reflection in the mirror as Isshin entered the room and looked at his son appraisingly.
"You look great," he complimented Ichigo, earning an instant, petulant scowl, "although you probably feel like you're being slowly strangled, right?"
"How'd you guess?" Ichigo mused, shaking his head, "Dad, I get that it's expected I'll be heir now because of my powers, but I've gotta tell you, I really don't want to do this!"
"Do you see me jumping up and offering to be leader?" Isshin asked pointedly, "I understand. But unlike me, you showed off your abilities, so now you're just going to have to play the role you fit into here."
"I wasn't showing off!" Ichigo objected angrily, "I was just trying to save Soul Society. Why the hell don't you get that?"
"Oh, I do," Isshin assured him, watching while Ichigo fidgeted under his smiling attendant's calm hands, "But whatever the reason, everyone saw your power and now, you're in line for leadership. You're just going to have to suck it up and play the part."
"Oh my god, do you even know how much of a hypocrite you are? You'd be leader right now if you…"
"I'm not going to be leader," Isshin said firmly, "I have done my part for Soul Society. I'm done. Besides, I married a quincy while they were still enemies."
"Hey, I was a quincy while we were still enemies!" Ichigo shouted, "Why doesn't that disqualify me?"
"It doesn't disqualify you because you killed the enemy quincy."
"Hey," Ichigo objected, "I also killed the soul king! Does anyone fucking remember that?"
"Shh," Isshin hushed him, "that's not common knowledge, you know. Central 46 is aware, and they overlooked it because you were being controlled when you did it, plus, you broke the control and killed Ywach, so we could seat a new king. Now, come on. We have to get to the meeting."
"I don't wanna go to the meeting," Ichigo complained as he scowled more deeply and flash stepped after his father, "I would like it if they would just pretend I didn't exist."
"Not gonna happen," Isshin said shortly.
"But I don't know the first thing about being a noble!" Ichigo objected.
"It's fine. It's fine. I've taken care of that."
"You have? How?" Ichigo asked.
Isshin started to answer, but stopped as a tall, caramel-skinned man appeared on the trail ahead of them. He recognized the two and grinned widely.
"Ah, Issha, Ichibun, I was hoping I would see you," he greeted them, pulling Isshin into a warm embrace, then treating a more resistant Ichigo to the same, "How are my favorite cousins?"
"I'm good," Isshin answered, "but hey, I've gotta run on ahead and make sure that something's ready for the meeting."
"What do you want to be ready for the meeting?" Ichigo asked, frowning.
"Eh, nothing important. Just…gotta go. See you there, Ichigo!"
"Dad!" Ichigo objected, shaking his head and sighing in frustration as his father disappeared down the trail ahead of them, "Damn it!"
"Take it easy," Kuri soothed him, tilting his head and admiring his newfound cousin, "It's not going to be so bad. You've met me a few times now. I'm a leader and you don't see me wearing a pole up my ass like our other cousin, Byakurai does."
"I forget," Ichigo said, frowning more deeply, "How are you and me and Byakuya related?"
"Oh, cousins of cousins who got married," Kuri said off-handedly, "What does it matter? We're all family. And since you're my family, I will give you all you need to know to be an heir without going batshit crazy. How's that?"
Ichigo looked at him for a moment, then let out a helpless laugh.
"You're going to tell me how to be a noble lord? Is this my dad's big plan? Are you guys both insane?"
"What?" Kuri objected playfully, "You don't want to be like that very lovely but completely stiff-backed cousin of ours, do you?"
"Y-you mean, like Byakuya? No! No, not really. I just…well, Byakuya is…"
"Good morning, Shiba Ichigo," Byakuya's voice said suddenly from behind him.
Ichigo sucked in a surprised breath and his face turned beet red. Kurushimi cleared his throat and stifled a laugh, smiling and bowing briefly in greeting to give Ichigo time to recover.
He glanced at the solemn looking young man behind Byakuya's right shoulder and felt his throat tighten so he couldn't speak. It was more than clear that by rules of politeness, he should say something, but he couldn't look into the man's sapphire eyes and say anything.
Dios mìo…what a beauty!
The younger man kept his eyes downcast, as though not expecting to be noticed.
"Shima taicho," Byakuya said quietly, "this is my new fukutaicho, as well as my cousin and bodyguard…Tetsuya."
Kurushimi tried to form an answer, then breathed a sigh of relief as Ichigo came to his rescue.
"What happened to Renji?" he asked quickly, "Is he okay?"
"Renji is fine," Byakuya assured them, "I have recommended him for advancement to taicho of the eighth division, and he was accepted."
"Renji? A Taicho?" Ichigo mused, grinning and relaxing somewhat, "Kami, the Seireitei'd better watch out, huh?"
"I would be more concerned with the state of the Noble's General Council, if I were you," Byakuya responded sternly, "I don't think they quite know what to do with you."
"They got used to me," Kuri said off-handedly, "They will get used to Ichibun."
"If he takes such a relaxed attitude as you, he will surely be treated with the same disregard you receive from the council," Byakuya countered.
"I see," Kuri said, an edge of low, burning anger entering his voice, "and you are so much better, kowtowing to their every command?"
"Byakuya-sama does not ever…" the lovely man at Byakuya's shoulder objected hotly.
"Tetsuya," Byakuya said reprovingly, making his cousin stiffen and go quiet again, "I am sure that Shima taicho is well aware that taking a relaxed attitude with the council, while freeing a leader to act more willful, is also a way to lose the elders' respect."
"And do I need to be respected by that group of withered, old men?" Kuri asked, scowling, "I don't know why you think you do."
Byakuya blinked slowly, his dark grey eyes glinting.
"I have people I wish to protect, and because I do, I keep them in mind when I stand before the ones whose decisions impact their lives most greatly."
"Are you talking about their recent attempts to slander and take away rights from the mixed bloods again?" Kuri asked, calming slightly, "I suppose I would have to agree with you on that point. But what mixed bloods are you protecting? Sadly, your wife has passed…"
"I was not referring to Hisana," Byakuya said, his eye touching Tetsuya briefly.
Kuri looked more closely at the stunningly beautiful younger man.
"This…Tetsu-hana, he is a mixed blood? That can't be…" he mused.
"Tetsuya is the son of my father's first cousin, Takao. You may remember him."
"I do," Kuri affirmed, "He was a fine man, a very respectable one."
"Like me, but much earlier, when it was a much more harshly punished crime, he married a commoner, Kiko, of the west fiftieth district. They fled to avoid being punished, but they were captured and imprisoned in the illegal prison, Itamigiri."
Kuri's eyes widened.
"He is the one that you rescued all of those years ago?" Kuri realized, "But where has he been all of this time? Did you have him hidden somewhere?"
Byakuya turned his head and looked more directly at his cousin.
"Tetsuya has always been close to me, only he has only recently begun to allow himself to be seen. This is because, as my new fukutaicho, he will need to earn the respect of the squad. So, it is time for him to be seen more openly. But we must move along. The meeting will start soon."
Kuri moved to Byakuya's left as Ichigo took a place beside Tetsuya.
"You know, I've felt your reiatsu before. I guess you've been with Byakuya sometimes when he was around me."
"I have," Tetsuya said softly, "I am always close to my cousin."
"Your reiatsu feels strong," Ichigo complimented him, "Do you train with Byakuya?"
"Every morning," Tetsuya answered, blushing as he realized Kuri was stealing glances at him, "It is a great honor to be able to test my strength against his."
"Have you ever beaten him in a sparring match?"
"No," he admitted softly, "I have managed to escape his shikai and base form bankai, but he defeats me with his senkei every time."
Ichigo's eyes widened.
"He uses his senkei when he trains you?" he mused, "You must be strong."
"Tetsuya is both strong and intelligent," Byakuya said, meeting Ichigo's eyes and making his heart skip oddly, "He is well aware that it takes more than strength to defeat something like my senkei."
"You've never shown me your senkei," Ichigo said, frowning, "Not since we fought for real…even when you have invited me to spar after the end of the war."
"A senkei is not something to be used lightly or frivolously."
"You think our sparring isn't serious?" Ichigo asked, beginning to feel heat on his face.
"Tetsuya has a level of understanding of the value of our interactions that you do not yet have. Perhaps in the future…"
He paused as they came to the marble steps leading up to the hall of the Noble's General Council.
"Good day, Shiba Ichigo," he said, inclining his head politely, "Shima taicho."
"Good day," Tetsuya said, more softly.
Kuri shook his head as he watched the two ascend the steps.
"How's that for you? What an asshole he can be…" he commented dryly.
"Well, Byakuya was raised in a rich, stuffy family. I guess it's only natural he'd think he has to be like them."
"Well, just be glad you have me coaching you how to avoid becoming like that," Kuri said, grinning, "I will show you the right way, all of the secret ways to…"
"Will you just come on?" Ichigo complained, pulling on his sleeve, "We're gonna be late. I'm sure that won't make those old stuffed shirts happy."
"No, it won't," Kuri agreed, "But I say, let them wait for us."
"No, I'm not going to be late to my first meeting, dumbass!"
He tugged on his cousin's arm again and the two flash stepped up the steps and into the entrance. The guards stopped them and observed them for a moment, then waved them on. They entered the grand meeting chamber and Ichigo skidded to a stop, staring at the endless curved rows of seats, placed in groups, all facing a single row of seats where the seven grand councilors sat.
"Oh my god," Ichigo breaethed, closing his eyes for a moment, "I think I'm gonna be sick."
"Come on, you'll be okay," Kuri chuckled, patting his back, "Let's go to our seats. I'm near you and your father. Over there."
Ichigo watched his cousin move to his seat, then he turned and found his place alongside Isshin.
"There you are," his father scolded him, under his breath, "You were almost late! You've gotta be on time, Ichigo. Every time."
"Why the hell do I have to do this again?" Ichigo groaned softly.
"You're the one who killed Ywach!"
"Hey, I had help, and Uryu's not being…"
"Uryu and his dad are in the shadows rebuilding the quincy nation, you fool!" Isshin said hotly, "Uryu's a damned king! He's doing his bit. Now, shut up and do yours!"
"Fine," Ichigo said, rolling his eyes and only half listening as the oldest of the grand councilors stood and addressed the gathered nobles.
"Lords and ladies, family and guests, thank you for joining us here. Our singular focus for today will be to welcome the Shiba clan back to its place among the great noble clans."
The man turned his eyes to look at Ichigo.
"Shiba Ichigo, there is no one in Soul Society who does not know what a huge contribution you have made to the defense and protection of our nation…of our worlds. We show our gratitude to you by allowing your clan to be returned from its banishment and officially naming you heir to the Shiba leadership. We hope that your clan has prepared the means for you to be educated in our ways so that you may fulfill your duties properly…"
"Ahem," Isshin said, standing.
"Dad," Ichigo hissed, "what are you doing?"
"We do have a plan," Isshin announced, "Our leader was not able to come, but I was given leave to speak on her behalf."
The elder gave Isshin a look of disapproval, but nodded in acceptance.
"And what is your plan?" he asked.
"Well, we want to be sure that Ichigo has someone who knows the rules of the council, as well as customs and traditions of the clans. And I assure you that this person is well aware of all of those things, but also possesses good judgment, so he will know what things are most important."
"And this person is in this room?" the elder asked, his frown deepening as his eye came to rest on a widely smiling Kuri.
So, he realized his silliness and chose me after all? Kuri thought, Ah, Issha…
"Yes," Isshin answered, "The person is in the room. The person that we, the Shiba clan have chosen to educate Ichigo is…Kuchiki Byakuya."
Ichigo's eyes rounded and his jaw dropped as sounds of approval echoed around the huge hall. Kuri's face reflected complete surprise and disbelief.
"Dad, you're kidding me, right? Byakuya?"
"They wouldn't have accepted anyone else worth considering!" Isshin whispered back, "Believe me, this is about our only move. Don't worry about it. I'll talk to him about going easy on the boring stuff."
"But…Byakuya, Dad? What the hell were you thinking?"
"The council approves the choice of Kuchiki Byakuya as educator for the new Shiba heir!" the elder announced.
"But, wait a second!" Ichigo objected, "Don't I get a say in this too? I mean, I know Byakuya is smart and knows the rules, but...!"
The head elder glared at Ichigo.
"Shiba Ichigo, you are out of order!"
"Sit down!" his father snapped.
"No! I think Kuri would be fine at teaching me how things work. He's my cousin and we already know each other."
"The word of this council is final!" the elder said scathingly, "You will be educated by Kuchiki Byakuya!"