"Sire, I have thought for some time now that your bachelor status aided your military duties, and adds something to the loyalty of your female subjects. They seem to…how should I put this…you've seemed to capture their hearts. Even with this, however, it does put your throne at risk" said Byakuya Kuchiki's number one advisor.
Byakuya continued writing in his journal of the days events in his room. It was just before bedtime and his candle had burned low. A portrait of Hisana, his beloved late wife, sat on a shelf nearby. Byakuya did not answer and thought 'He must have chosen the timing of this discussion carefully. Just before bedtime is when I feel her loss the most.'
"Sire, I have again taken the liberty of collecting portraits of the finest young ladies who have recently come of age. I have researched their lineages, their powers, and also their personal hobbies."
"I have no interest in being a husband again" said Byakuya flatly. He continued to pen his thoughts in his journal.
"This is not about your personal desires, sire. You need an heir. It is as simple as that. If Rukia-sama marries and bares a child…Well sire, she will not be recognized by the royal houses. The House of Kuchiki needs an heir."
Byakuya continued to write. He dipped his pen in a well of ink. "Leave the portraits. I will look at them tomorrow."
"Yes, sire. Thank you sire. Have a good nights rest."
Byakuya lay down on his luxurious futon and thought 'Perfect timing, indeed. The night is the worst time, Hisana. The worst. I lay here with thoughts of you and only memories of your warmth. I long to have you next to me again…'
The next morning Byakuya was dressed and ready to head to the administrative offices of the Sixth Squad of the 13 Gotei. He was walking towards the exit of his large house when he saw the pile of pictures carefully placed next to the door on a small table so he wouldn't forget them. 'My advisor is persistent. I'll take them with me and dispose of them at the office.'
While Byakuya walked he felt the photo's in his sleeve. The smooth glossy paper of one of them was sticking to his arm. It was an unpleasant feeling and he pulled the several portraits out from his sleeve and he thought about tossing them in the garbage receptacle nearby, but then thought 'My advisor will only want feedback on why I didn't like them. I might as well look them over and come up with some reasons.' Byakuya put the pictures away deeper in his sleeve again and arrived at the Sixth Squad Offices.
Byakuya sat at his desk completing some of the paperwork that seemed to be in endless supply among the Shinigami. Vice Captain Abarai, Renji entered, on time for a change, and greeted his captain. "Good morning, Captain. Wonderful day, eh? The weather is great and the blossoms are sweet" he said as he looked out the window.
Byakuya recalled he left the photo's of the ladies of the Court of Pure Souls on his desk. He had meant to take a quick look and discard them, as usual, but he forgot to slide them into his drawer before Abarai showed up. He was going to pick them up and put them away, but the very movement of them would have caught Renji's eyes anyway.
Byakuya only rolled his eyes when he heard Renji say "Woooohoooo. Who is that? Is she you're special lady, sir?" Renji was already eyeballing the photo on top of the pile "She's a real beauty" Renji picked up the pile and looked through each photo. He leaned back on Byakuya's desk, forgetting himself as he looked through the pictures. "Wow. Sir? Who are these women?"
"They are all vying to be my wife" said Byakuya.
Renji shook his head and looked through more of the photo's. "Some guys have all the luck."
Renji heard his Captain's laugh and turned around to face him. "So which one will it be?"
"None of them."
"I can see how the choice would be difficult, they're all so beautiful" he said taking another look.
"And well refined, talented, and powerful" said Byakuya as he signed off on yet another document.
Renji whistled. "So what's wrong with them?"
'None of them are Hisana…' "I'm not interested in finding a wife right now with all the trouble which has been surrounding the Seireitei as of late. It's quite impossible."
"I admit, sir that things have been hopping, but…" Renji sifted through the pictures of the women thinking that they were the most beautiful he had ever seen. "I think even you should make time for these women."
Byakuya said "You think so?" with the tone of his voice saying he himself didn't really think so. "You pick one then." Byakuya put his pen down and looked at Renji with inscrutable eyes.
"What?!" said Renji. "Sir, that's…I couldn't" he said gesturing at the photo's with his free hand.
"It makes no difference to me. Pick three and I will meet them. Of those three I will marry one." 'What difference does it make? I won't love any of them…'
"Sir! I can't choose for you! I don't know your preferences, I don't know anything about these kinds of women." He looked at the pictures thinking 'They seem a lot more complicated than the women I knew in Rukkongai.' "Marriage, well, sir, it's a personal choice, not one you should delegate to your subordinates."
Byakuya knew what Renji was saying and knew he was right. He didn't care. His aides had been pushing for an heir for years and he often was given piles of photos to choose from. Every year he knew when to expect his aid to give the same speeches and knew he would receive a pile of photos. The girls were always impressive in unique and delightful ways, but none had the sincere appreciation for life that Hisana did. None had her rustic charm, nor the deep eyes he could lose himself in for hours.
Byakuya would accept the photos and throw them away. It was getting more difficult to avoid his aides and since the event of his serious injury during Rukia's attempted execution the need for an heir became more urgent. Byakuya Kuchiki was close to invincible, but not completely. Someday he would die and he needed to have someone trained and ready to take his place.
The head of the Kuchiki family told Renji "Choose." He looked back at what he was writing and said "It makes no difference to me."
Renji looked at the pile of photo's in his hands and realized he made a mistake even picking them up. He was reluctant to choose, but said "How long do I have?"
'I want to get this over with as soon as possible.' "By the end of today."
Renji took this mission seriously and found several comfortable spots in his Captains office to ponder this question during the day. Hours later Renji looked through the photos and saw the dilemma facing his captain: They were all strikingly beautiful with similar interests and similar backgrounds. Renji ran through the biographies obviously written by someone else for them to highlight their strengths.
He picked a photo at random and read the list of facts on the back. 'Fancy-girl Fancy-name; age- under 18; graduated from hoity-toity school, top of the class, first in special club X, daughter of amazing lineage, with so-and-so impressive ancestors blah blah blah.' "Hmmm…" said Renji.
He decided to take the photos and climbed down from his perch above the window, which incidentally was above Byakuya's head. When Renji jumped down he was too involved in his task to notice the irritation on Byakyuya's face. Renji sat down at a round table in the office. He laid out all the pictures face up and scrutinized each photo.
'Hmmm' Byakuya threw a glance at his subordinate and said "Don't strain yourself."
Renji grimaced and decided on choosing a blonde, a brunette, and a red head. He chose one red head and one blond at random, and chose a brunette whose biography was the only one written in the first person and with a pen, not a mechanical writing machine. He dropped the photo's on Byakuya's desk and said "There's the three most unique girls in the pile."
Renji took a few candies from a bowl on his Captains desk and popped them in his mouth.
Captain Kuchiki took the photos in his hand and said "This looks like a bad joke."
Renji crunched on the candy and said "I like the brunette and her name works."
"Uh huh." Renji crunched on the candy and said "Are you seriously going to marry one of them?"
He stopped chewing and swallowed what was left in his mouth. The picked up Sakura's photo and said "Aren't they young for you?"
Byakuya sifted some papers and matter-of-factly said "As noble women they require a long reproductive life. Marrying young is the custom."
Renji was continually exposed to the noble's different lifestyle and learned what he could. However, now and then he would learn things that didn't sit well with him and he was glad he was not a noble.
This was not one of those times.
'So there's a reason' thought Renji. "Why are the men older?"
"They have established themselves and have stability at court and within their duty. It would be foolish for a girl to marry someone un-established."
"Why don't you take more interest sir?"
"I didn't have time for such trivialities."
"A companion, sir, is not so trivial."
"She will not be a companion. Only a mother to my children."
"My advisors irritate me with this issue repeatedly. They are concerned I will die without an heir."
"Aren't you concerned??"
"Why should I be concerned? I'll be dead." Renji didn't understand Byakuya's reluctance to have a wife or children. "But it is my duty" added the captain. "And I must fulfill it."
Renji eyed his three pictures and mumbled " I wouldn't mind fulfilling any of these obligations. Hehe." Byakuya pretended not to hear the comment. "So when will you meet with 'em?"
"Perhaps this weekend for lunch. You are welcome to attend if it interests you. I can use your perspective."
"Oh, uh…well if you're gonna be on a date, I'll stay outta that."