Disclaimer: Do not own Bleach and will not make a profit out of this fic. All characters © Kubo Tite

ByaRen AU, where the war with Aizen has just finished. How to deal with the rebuilt of Soul Society and life after such a devastating war. (mpreg in the future)

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Finally the Kuchiki Dealings chapter;) This one took a while to get around to, neh? The Elders weren't very forth coming^^'

Also some action from an original character in this chapter, I've mentioned her in the 1st chapter, Chiyo is a character I created and used a few times in my fics ("Os Anos de Renji" and "Threads of Different Yarns"); she is a servant in the Kuchiki family and has served Byakuya since he was a child. She is one of the few people he truly trusts.

In other news, as I had said last chapter, I'll no longer be able to update weekly, the chapters will be posted every two week from now on. Sorry.

And I haven't been answering but I have been reading them so thank you for the reviews: foxyaoi123 | ferler | Hatake Tsughi | silvey115


XI. Kuchiki Dealings

The way to the Kuchiki Manor was swift and uneventful. The streets were nearly deserted this early in the day. Or perhaps they were nearly deserted, not because of the early hour but because the casualties of war had been so high and everyone else was still recovering from close to fatal wounds or trying to pick up the pieces.

Byakuya suspected that, except for Fourth, most Divisions were still half gas, trying to cope with the loss of their Taichou and some even the combined loss of Taichou and Fukutaichou. There was so much to do and rebuild; the replacement of the loss and defeated captains and vice-captains, Aizen and his Arrancar to sort out, Kurosaki Ichigo... There was need for a Captain's meeting, very soon.

And then there was his Division that Byakuya had all but abandoned. Renji would be disappointed in him. Renji who had acted as a true fukutaichou and made him see that bureaucracy and rigorous training was all well and dandy – those had been his actual words – but that Byakuya hadn't paid his men half the attention they deserved and merited. At the time the accusation had sounded unfair but Renji had made him see his error, insisting that he spend more time with the men, organizing training sessions, and later drinking ones. It hadn't made the men any more efficient than before, they had already been at their optimal fighting point, but it had made their response to Byakuya as a commander reach an optimal state as well, ultimately a deciding point in their fighting and winning.

Now, they certainly deserved more attention than Byakuya was bestowing them but until Renji was settled at the house and on his way to a steady recovery, he would spare little effort in any other matters. A wry smile crossed his face as he envisioned what Renji would say of his neglect of their Division. But Byakuya was discovering that once he had let go of the self-imposed restrictions, he wasn't in any hurry to acquire them again. Especially if it meant leaving Renji's side.

***

The house was bustling with activity; gardeners tended to the flower beds and ornamental trees, children fed the nishikigoy[1] on the ponds and women ran around all over the place, getting the house into shape after another night.

Whispers followed Byakuya into the house, self-interested family members and concerned servants stopped to greet him and ask him of his health and well being. Byakuya replied briefly, thanking them for their care and attention but didn't stop on the way to his personal quarters. At their entrance he said, "have Chiyo-san bring me some tea."

Three minutes later, after he had undressed the standard issued Shinigami uniform he had been given at Fourth Division, there was a light rap on the sliding door, quickly followed by said door opening and a kneeled Chiyo-san saying, "your tea, Byakuya-sama."

"Thank you, Chiyo-san. Please come in, I require something from you."

She stepped inside, setting the tea tray in a low table at the back of room, overlooking the gardens, and turned to him, readily, when done.

"First I need you to assemble the Elders to a Council Meeting."

Chiyo-san looked up at Byakuya, curious but trying to mask it with professional nonchalance. Knowing he would surprise her even further, he continued, "I also require you to arrange suitable accommodations for a convalescent person, preferably near my quarters."

Byakuya nearly smiled, this time she didn't tried to mask it, Chiyo-san just looked at him with a questioning looked; too competent and experienced, she didn't ask mindlessly as others would have, but the curiosity was completely readable on her face, still she just asked, professionally, "what type of arrangements need to be made to the room?"

"I still need to speak with the physician and Unohana-taichou will send further specifications, for now an airy room with a bed should suffice, the physician will tell you what else might be needed."

"Very well, Byakuya-sama." Just before sliding the door close, she said, "it is good to have you back, Byakuya-sama. You were missed." She gave the tiniest of smiles, bowed and closed the door.

A few minutes later the physician arrived. Byakuya explained the situation and got assurance that he would be up to the task and would deal with the situation accordingly.

***

Byakuya was arranging the Kenseikan[2] when Chiyo-san came back to tell him the Elders were assembling, noticing what he was doing, she batted his hands away, pulled a small wooden bench she used to stand on when minding his hair or clothes – for she was as small as Rukia, if not smaller – and started composing his hair, chiding him in a familiar tone that made Byakuya feel at home instead of admonished.

"You should have called someone to help you fix the Kenseikan, Byakuya-sama. I swear you'll be an old man with great-great grandchildren and still need someone to arrange your hair for you."

Byakuya's lips turned up in a slight smile; she was correct, he had no talent whatsoever to fix his hair. Not that he needed the skill with the amount of servants in the Kuchiki household, but Chiyo-san would always call attention to his under achievements, not to berate or accuse him of failure, but to point out his more than ample capacity of attaining those skills if he so wished. According to her, his under achievements were only due to his disinterest on the task and not lack of talent. Byakuya rather liked her point of view.

While she brushed and braided his hair and set the Kenseikan, Byakuya mused that if anyone had a right to know what was going on was Chiyo-san, she was the closest thing to a confident he had, she had only known him all his life, after all.

"Abarai Renji, my Fukutaichou, is in a comatose state due to injuries but no longer in need of constant attention by Unohana-taichou. And Fourth Division is in dire need of space to tend to other, more complicated patients. Hence, I'm bringing him here."

"We will accommodate him adequately, Byakuya-sama."

"I know you will. Thank you, Chiyo-san. Am I ready now? The elders are most likely waiting by now."

With one last tug on his hair and the Kenseikan she concluded. "You're ready, now!"

Byakuya rose and made his way to the door.

"Byakuya-sama," Chiyo-san called.

He turned to look at her.

"The Kuchiki Elders have to wait for the Head of the House. Never the other way around."

Byakuya let the smile that had graced his lips since she had accused him of not having any hairstyling skills, spread into a grin. "Thank you, Chiyo-san."

***

The elders had in fact been waiting for him and none were too happy about it. Byakuya stepped into the large Council Hall and nodded slightly in way of greeting.

The seven members of the Council – all plump from lavish repasts and well attired with silks and velvets, if a considerably wrinkled from old age – all looked his way, bowing to him from their high places and in various states of wakefulness. Obviously it was too early for most of them to be out and about. This could work to Byakuya's advantage, catching them off guard, still half asleep; or it could just go completely wrong if they were more inclined to morning crankiness than beatific mellowness. From what Byakuya knew of the Elders, the later was considerably improbable.

"Byakuya-sama, why this abrupt summons?"

"What could be so important this time of the day?"

"Hope he hasn't decided to marry another one of those lowlifes from Rukongai."

Crankiness it was.

That last comment was made barely above a whisper, but in precise loudness for Byakuya to hear it. He let it pass, there were other, more important business to address today. But it would not be forgotten and if everything worked the way he was planning they might have an answer they were not expecting, soon enough.

The Elders lack of sympathy only served to strengthen Byakuya's resolve of not asking permission to bring Renji to the House but simply inform them of the fact. So he told them, "I am bringing my Fukutaichou to the Kuchiki Manor."

The silence was telling of the Elders shock, mouths opening and closing like stranded fish; they were rarely rendered speechless much less driven to utter muteness.

"He will be staying in the House until his full recovery under the care of the Kuchiki physician."

Byakuya waited their reaction; bewilderment and confusion, anger and outrage but mostly that askew self-righteousness that they all possessed. Still, as salmon on their way upstream, they kept struggling, several versions of the same excuses provided:

"Byakuya-sama, certainly he will be better in the care of Fourth Division."

"Our physician has certainly enough on his hands as it is, Byakuya-sama."

"Your Fukutaichou, Byakuya-sama, certainly has family that would be more than happy to tend to him."

And, like the bear on the shallow waters, Byakuya just had to wait for them to jump to his claws. With a hint of boredom, he answered, "Fourth Division is more than happy to have Abarai stay here, as he is not in any danger and the extra space will be more than welcome to Unohana-taichou. As for our physician, the sensei is bored out of his mind with cases of measles and hypochondriac old men, Abarai will certainly be a new challenge for him. And as for Abarai himself, he has no family to speak of to look after him. I am certain you can see that, as his Taichou, I am responsible for his welfare."

Caught between the teeth of the bear they struggled. "We will not allow it!" one said and all the others agreed vehemently. If only it would be this easy with the matters of the estate.

"This is not a request," Byakuya said with the same vehemence the Elders had used in their protest. "I am merely being courteous and respectful of your positions as Kuchiki Elders by informing you before the arrival of Abarai Renji. I am not asking permission to do so."

The Elders were nearly stunned to silence, once again, even so, one managed to find his voice and yet another attempt at turning the situation their way. Struggling salmon would struggle.

"Certainly this being a matter of captaincy overzealousness that the headquarters of your Division are much more appropriate."

He could have a point there but Byakuya didn't knew the state of his men yet, nor did he want to lose the advantage he had on the Elders; it wasn't often he had the upper hand with them. That and he did not want Renji away from him.

"I still need to assess the state of my Division and according to Unohana-taichou, the installations might be needed to house some more convalescing Shinigami. Certainly you understand the need to have my Fukutaichou on a different location from all the other, more common troops," Byakuya told them, appealing to their elitist nature.

"Certain..." the Elder caught himself briefly, before continuing, "for sure the injured aren't that many, there should be enough space for the adequate separation between officers and mere unseated members."

It was made clear to Byakuya that these overprotected Elders of the Kuchiki House had no inkling of what had been happening right under their upturned and disdainful noses. The war that had been mongered at their door and that had shaken the core of Soul Society meant little to nothing for these men. It also crossed his mind that had Aizen won, as long as their status quo had been maintained, they wouldn't have cared less who held the power, provided they kept their misguided sense of security and nobility.

Tired of a pointless discussion, Byakuya terminated the audience. "I will be arriving with Abarai-fukutaichou later in the day. All arrangements are taken care of, nothing further will be required of you. Have a good day." Byakuya inclined his head just barely and made his way out of the Council Hall.

Chiyo-san was by the Hall entrance when he exited; he acknowledged her with a nod and made his way to his quarters. She followed in his steps.

"It went rather well, Byakuya-sama," she said.

"Hmm, it could have been worse," he agreed. "I will leave now, I need to go by my Division before bringing Renji ho... here."

"Certainly, Byakuya-sama," she replied in a tone that left no doubts she had been listening the audience with the Elders.

Byakuya couldn't help but smile.

"If I may be so bold as to ask, Byakuya-sama, what of Rukia-sama?"

"She went to the Human World with Kurosaki Ichigo." It had been remiss of him not to have informed her of Rukia's whereabouts and general condition. Chiyo-san had always been quite fond of Rukia. "She hadn't sustained any injuries."

Chiyo-san gave a small sigh, most likely of relieve and then said, "All will be ready for Abarai-sama upon your return, Byakuya-sama."

Byakuya stepped out of the house thinking Renji would be thrilled to be called Abarai-sama.

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September2009©MarinLiliz


[1] Nishikigoi (or simply Koi) are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp that are commonly kept for decorative purposes in outdoor ponds and water gardens. They are sometimes also called Japanese carp. - from Wikipedia

[2] The white headpiece Byakuya wears; it symbolizes his noble rank as the head of the Kuchiki family.