Chapter 12

Sakura was sitting up in a bed in the fourth squad infirmary being treated by Isane Kotetsu, the Vice Captain of the fourth squad while Byakuya was ignoring the spectacular white landscape visible through the window he stood next to.

As Isane finished Sakura's stitches she thanked the Vice Captain. "Thank you Vice Captain. Please bring us our son, I would very much like to hold him."

Isane sat back and said "Captain Unohana is still working with him. We will…" Isane stopped speaking realizing that Sakura was not as well informed as the others. She found the Captain Kuchiki stepping forward and Isane stood off the bed and stepped back.

"Byakuya-sama" said Sakura, her voice shaking and her hands extending frantically to her husband.

He gently took her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. "Sakura, he was poisoned."

"Oooh!" she shrieked fearing the worst.

"Captain Unohana is working with him, personally. There is no better healer in all of Soul Society." Isane was impressed with how well Kuchiki was keeping it together. She wondered why Sakura was so chipper and she now felt foolish to let something like that slip.

She bowed deeply and apologized. Kuchiki barely looked at he and said "Do not apologize. I should have mentioned it earlier."

Sakura was finding it hard to keep things together. She had been through so much and now to find out that her child may not live was pushing her to the edge of what she thought she could handle. "I had carried him through the darkness on my hands and knees, how could I be so weak as to let something like that happen to my baby?" she said to herself outloud.

"You did all you could, as did I, and now it is simply our job to wait" he responded slipping behind his unreadable mask again. "I have requested quarterly updates on his progress."

Sakura could not stop her hands from shaking. "Oh sire!" she balled. He drew her close and Isane stepped out into the hall to give them some privacy.

"I know" he whispered into her ear. "With all my power, I could not do something for our own son. I know. I know" he said gripping her tighter not just to comfort her, but also for his own need of support.

Her crying subsided and she stayed in his arms feeling light headed but comforted by his closeness. She felt ill and pushed back. He gasped and saw a large blood stain on his Captain's cloak. "Oh dear…" she said before her eyes rolled up into her head. Her wound had opened up again.

"ISANE!" he called out loudly and she was at their side in a flash with two other helpers.

"She just broke a stitch. Don't worry Captain she will be fine. I also have an update. Your son has reached a stable point now. We hope he continues on this trend."

Captain Kuchiki knew she couldn't say for sure his son would be alright and if the poison would have lasting effects. He simply had to wait. He had to wait for Sakura to wake up again and wait for news about his only child.

He wanted to be at his wife's side, but had gained some information from Renji which troubled him. Furukawa, his top aide was in league with the woman whom Lady Taki defeated. Furukawa was his closest and most trusted advisor. The thought that this man, who was so dangerous was so close to him and his family was a truly frightening thing. Byakuya had denied the need to kill Sakura, but Furukawa repeatedly suggested it.

Furukawa had been Byakuya's advisor, and for a time his father's advisor. He knew how to get things done and Byakuya had felt the old man had much wisdom and knowledge of military, political, and social systems. Until now he was an invaluable resource, but now he was a liability.

Kuchiki now understood why he was pushing to kill Sakura all the time. He must have found out about Sakura's true lineage through Kurohana and wanted to cut off any social liabilities should it be discovered by outside parties. Byakuya left the hospital and returned to his home. He called Furukawa and Mitsumata to meet with him, urgently.

Byakuya had kept the resolution to all of this secret. He wanted to do so in order to reveal who he could trust and who held what information from the start. He reported the events only up through the battle with the Taki guards. He did not mention his conflict with the Lady Taki nor that with Kurohana. Sakura and her son were admitted to the hospital secretly for their protection.

As Byakuya waited for the two men to arrive he thought 'What else do I not know? What other information is he hiding? For what purpose is he not sharing this information with me? Why did he decide to make these decisions without me?'

Kuchiki sat at the head of the table instead of the side as he usually had done during these more intimate meetings. The two advisors entered and Kuchiki welcomed them civilly. Furukawa began "Sire, I understand your want of a meeting with us. This past week has been a tremendous strain on us all, and especially you."

"Mm" said Byakuya. "I fear the worst has become of my family…" Byakuya paused realizing it may or may not be true for his son. 'Spirit King, please help my boy…' "I was able to track them to the Taki castle, however I did not find them. I also believe that it was the Lady Taki's doing and I require your advice on how best to deal with this."

"Normally I would sentence her myself, however, as the situation is more complicated than that I require more information, and guidance." Byakuya looked at Mitsumata and said "What do you think, Mitsumata?"

"I think until it is crystal clear that the Lady Taki is involved we should not make a move against her. If you eliminated so hastily you risk not only alienating your wife, but her family , and the rest of your people. It would be awful for your reputation and mar your rule."

"Interesting" said Byakuya, "Furukawa?"

"It would be safe, sire, to simply eliminate the Lady Taki—"

"Furukawa!" said Mistumata shocked at the rash decision.

Furukawa put up his hand to silence Mitsumata and continued "however if you are worried about Mitsumata's point about your reputation and the effects. We could easily frame someone else. We do want to continue relations with the Taki's and their sekki stone mines, after all."

"How do we avoid this hurdle?" asked Byakuya, sitting back in his large high back chair.

Furukawa explained "Framing someone else would be easy. Her servants, perhaps? You traced them to her safe house. The long time servants, those who served the lord would know about those things, surely. It all lines up. Guilty as charged. But honestly, sire" continued Furukawa "there should be no feelings of guilt on your part. You had even given her a place in your home. You will come out as the good hearted lord. Even compassionate until this snake of a woman deceived you."

Mitsumata's face showed he was in disagreement, but was not going to speak out of turn. Byakuya sighed and said "I have made my decision. Furkawa, you are dismissed. Mitsumata, please stay here a moment." This was suprising to Furukawa as it was normally the opposite. Furukawa showed surprise, but did not argue. He stood up and walked to the door. When the servants slid the door open Renji was standing in the door frame.

"Excuse me, Vice Captain" said Furukawa, and tried to step around the Vice Captain. When Abarai stood in his way he said "Vice Captain! Out of my way. Now!"

Renji looked at his Captain who merely gestured towards Furukawa. Abarai took hold of Furukawa's arms and tied them behind his back with spirit rope and kidou. "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!" yelled Furukawa.

Abarai stayed silent and Byakuya said "I know about Kurohana, and her connection with the Lady Taki and their connection with you."

The color drained from his face and he did not deny it. "Sire…all I did was to ensure your reign."

"And to pursue power yourself. You did not tell me this information and made executive decisions without my consent. This is treason and is the highest offense. You have both offended the title of your office and me, personally. Renji, ensure he is taken to the Tower of Penitence."

"Yes sir!" Renji took the old man out of Byakuya's sight.

"How did you know, sire?" asked Mitsumata.

"The safehouse confirmed it. I mentioned the castle, but never did I mention the safehouse. That is where they were kept according to my wife's account. I did not share these details with the two of you today."


"Mitsumata, you are now my top aide. Congratulations."

Captain Unohana stood at the foot of Sakura's bed and welcomed her back to consciousness with a warm smile. She immediately said "Your baby is fine."

Sakura sighed with relief .

Unohana said "Under all the circumstances I am surprised he lived at all."

"What saved him?" asked Sakura. Unohana shrugged and said "Kurosaki came here rather quickly, but still it was not quick enough. Any other child I know would have succumb. I think it was simply luck."

Byakuya thought of his prayer and his vow to the Spirit King and Sakura immediately thought of the charm Renji had given them. Sakura had tied it to the baby's foot. She felt tired, but relieved, and asked to hold her son. When Unohana left to retrieve the baby Sakura asked her husband about her mother.

"She is fine. She will join us again at the house with some other relatives of yours. Your family is rather large" he said with mixed feelings.

Sakura chuckled and nodded. Unohana returned with the baby and handed him over to Sakura. Byakuya looked at them together, safe again in his care. At that moment she was the most beautiful woman in the world to him and the baby the bravest and strongest of children. Even if luck had something to do with it, he knew the child would someday be a great leader.