4- Reporting In

Okay, chapter four. I have nothing else to say.

. . .

"Kuchiki-fukutaicho?" A member of the Twelfth Division greets me, surprised to see me bleeding. I step into the main square and remove myself from the Gigai.

"The Gigai isn't damaged…it only synched with my wounds." He nods and takes the Gigai to his division. I sigh and try to decide where to go. It's morning…so Byakuya will be in his office already. But I don't think I can make it all the way from the main square to the Sixth Division barracks.

My shoulder wound has closed, but my stomach is bleeding. Would I be able to make it home? Because it's even further to my division than to my brother's. Maybe I should just…not go anywhere. I fall flat on my face and try to stay awake. I hear running and figure that the guy who greeted me notified the Fourth Division that I'm injured.

"Kuchiki-fukutaicho, are you okay?" I groan in response.

"Do I look okay to you?" Immediately, they get me on a stretcher and start for the relief station. Just lovely…I'm sure they say something else to me, but either I'm about to pass out or the loss of blood has gotten to my head. My vision goes black and I decide before I pass out that my inability to hear was because of both options.

. . .

"Onee-sama?" I blink a little against the light of the room and groan quietly. I can't move, so whatever they gave me while treating my wounds is still in effect.

"Hey…I'm home…" I look over at Byakuya and he shakes his head a little.

"What happened?"

"Hollows swarmed on me. By the time Rukia-chan got there to take care of the last one I passed out."

"Amazing. You were actually beaten by a hollow?" I scoff.

"Three of them attacked me at the same time. And I killed them off. It was just the last one that I didn't get. There were…five total. It was only the fourth one that managed to injure me anyways…"

"So you don't know if Rukia is okay?" I pause.

"No…I don't know." I sigh. "I shouldn't have come back…" I clench my fist tightly—apparently the paralytic is wearing off. Even if I were to go back after I recover, I'll have to explain exactly why. I don't know what happened last night, but I get the feeling that Rukia won't be back for a long time. It's a crime to tell a human about Shinigami, so as it is we'd both be imprisoned for that alone.

"Onee-sama?" I shake my head a little.

"It's nothing. Do you know if Ukitake-taicho has been told that I'm back?" He nods once.

"He just left before I arrived."

"That's good."

"Excuse me…" A girl says quietly, standing in the doorway to the room. "Kuchiki-fukutaicho…?"

"What is it?" She pauses and I sigh.

"Um…I need to check your wounds…" I nod a little.

"Nii-chan, don't you have better things to do than take up space in here?" He sighs a little and leaves the room. I laugh, but immediately regret it as pain shoots through my abdomen and shoulder.

"Please, ma'am. Don't strain yourself." I nod.

"Yea…that was a dumb idea…"

. . .

After a few days after I get back to Soul Society, my stomach wound heals enough that I can walk around and I leave the Fourth Division barracks, going straight to my office. It's the middle of the day and I'm sure that there's plenty of paperwork for me to catch up on. I opt to take the back route into my office, trying to avoid a riot of excited division members welcoming me back. I may be recovered enough to walk around, but I am resolutely not in the mood to deal with that. Particularly if any of them manage to embrace me.

I succeed in slipping into my office unnoticed and head down the hall to the captain's office. I open the door and walk in the way I always do when I'm not actually taking care of business—like I own the place.

"I see you're feeling better, Yuki." Ukitake-taicho says lightly and I sit down carefully on the couch.

"Well…at least I'm not bedridden anymore."

"Right…" He sighs. "How did you get those injuries? I've never known you to get any wounds except when you fight against Captain Zaraki." I almost shrug, but decide it best not to bring myself pain.

"Three Hollows came at me at the same time." I sigh tiredly. "It's been a while since I've had to deal with that many Hollows at once."

"I can imagine. Though I'm surprised you came straight here rather than going home."

"If I went home, I'd just be stuck going to my bed and I'm sick and tired of lying down." I groan. "So please tell me I've got papers to do besides my report."

"Your share of the paperwork is on your desk waiting for Kiyone and Sentarou to come in." I sigh and get up.

"I knew it was a bad idea to trust those two drunkards…" I head for the door. "I'll also get my report written."

"Don't strain yourself. You're no good to anyone if you can't get out of bed." He quotes me and I laugh a little.

"Speak for yourself, Captain." He laughs in response and I go to my office down the hall. I sit down behind my desk and smile at the neat pile of papers marked from the Twelfth Division. All I have to do is write down what happened my last day in the human world and make sure to omit Urahara's assistance and Ichigo's involvement. Well, and double check to make sure all of the pages are there.

I flip through the stack and nod when the count comes out right. I grab the last page and quickly write down the last of my report and sign the bottom of the page when I finish thirty minutes after I started. I fish out a red cord and bind the stack with it before placing the report in the 'urgent' container on my desk. That finished, I get to work on the rest of the paperwork—the share of the paperwork that can survive being handles by the vice-captain rather than the captain.

With my captain's health, I've always made sure only the bare minimum reaches his desk—most of the previous vice-captains of this division have done the same for the same reason. I nod to myself and check the time when I get about halfway through the stack. Four in the afternoon and Kiyone and Sentarou still haven't shown up? I'll bet they're passed out drunk somewhere. Oh well, from the look of this piled up work, they haven't been in this office in a few days.

"Why am I not surprised to see you here?" I don't look up from the paper I'm looking over when I hear my brother. I technically sensed his approach but I'm playing catch up so I don't have time to pause to wonder why he's here.

"Because this is my office?" I move on to the next paper, putting it in the right bin and working quickly.

"Have you already finished your report…?" I nod a little and point to the only thing in the 'urgent' bin—my report.

"I'm not stupid. Every day I made sure to write down things that I knew would need to be in it. All I had to do today was write down the last day's worth of work. Now I'm just playing catch up."

"You really should be home resting." I actually look up and give Byakuya a look.

"With two drunkard third seats who apparently haven't been in this office in at least three days? None of this would get done if I'd gone home to rest. I'm not leaving this seat until my desk is clear and organized." I reach for the next paper in the stack and pause, looking over. "Okay then…guess I worked faster than I thought…" I straighten up the papers and double check to make sure everything is where it needs to be.

"Will you be okay walking?" I nod and stand up.

"I'm fine, Nii-chan. Don't worry about me."

"Onee-sama…" He sighs and follows me out of the office. "You look troubled."

"I'm worried about Rukia-chan. She could have been injured…"

"She should be returning in a few days, a bit longer if she was injured, I imagine." I frown.

"I see…" Abruptly, I lose my balance and Byakuya barely manages to catch me.

"Are you okay?" I nod a little.

"I'm fine…" We start walking again and I stumble a little.

"Maybe it would be better if I carried you…" I glare at him.

"Fine." He laughs a little and picks me up. We head home and he takes me straight to my room.

. . .

A month already and not even a report has reached my desk from Rukia. And I checked with the Twelfth Division to find out if she'd gotten a Gigai to recover from some sort of injury three days after I was mostly recovered from my wounds.

She didn't send in a request even. I sigh tiredly and watch the door. Even though I'm not expecting anyone to show up with a report from Rukia.

Because I'm not expecting it, when a familiar presence I haven't sensed in a century nears the door, I stand up and automatically go for my sword. The door slides open a little and a black cat enters the room. I frown deeply.

"What are you doing here, Yoruichi? And why are you a cat?" She hops onto my desk and sits down.

"Kisuke asked me to give you a message." If it's from him then…

"Did something happen to Kurosaki-dono or Rukia-chan?"

"Calm down, Yuki." Yoruichi sighs. "We're trying to avoid it getting out. Rukia apparently gave her powers to Ichigo the night you were injured." I sit down heavily.

"That's a capital offence…if it gets to Yama-jii she'll be executed…and so will Ichigo…"

"Exactly."

"But I can't stop them from sending out someone to search for her…and that means I can't stop them from finding out…why tell me?"

"Hell if I know." She jumps off the desk and slips out. I put my head in my hands and try to calm down. This is the worst thing that could happen. I only hope that it takes a long time for them to find out.

. . .

"Kuchiki-fukutaicho, there's an urgent meeting for the captains and Ukitake-taicho is sick…" Kiyone sticks her head in the room and I nod a little.

"Okay. Thank you for letting me know." I stand up and put my crest on my arm before heading out of the room and to the meeting.

"Kuchiki-fukutaicho, what are you doing here?" I sigh and glare at Sasakibe.

"My captain is ill and asked me to go to this meeting in his place." That's always the reason I attend meetings like this. It's a policy that both Byakuya and I have to take care of things for our family members and the higher seated members of our divisions when they can't. I walk past him into the meeting room and stand at the end of the line of captains next to Kenpachi.

"Now that everyone's here…" And of course, Yama-jii acts like I'm already a captain—most of the captains do, actually—completely ignoring the fact that I'm only standing in for my captain. "We just received word that a Menos Grande appeared in the human world." Oh no…Ichigo is the only 'active' Shinigami in the human world right now. "And an unknown Shinigami drove it off." Shit. "Along with what seems to be a Quincy." Even worse. That has to be Ishida from my class at the school.

Yama-jii continues relaying the information and I steadily start to panic. He stops talking and I try to calm myself. I know that no one will notice my panic—except maybe Byakuya, but only because he's my brother—because I've had three hundred years practice at hiding my emotions around other people. "I need to speak with Kuchiki-taicho and Kuchiki-fukutaicho. The rest of you are dismissed." I blink in surprise and watch the others file out of the room.

Hundreds of Hollows…some destroyed by unknown means—probably Urahara and the others that are hiding out in the human world—some by the unidentified Shinigami, and an equal number destroyed by the Quincy. And worst of all, a Gillian that fled due to an abnormally strong amount of spirit energy from the unidentified Shinigami.

"Sir?" Byakuya and I ask as soon as the room is cleared out.

"There was a report that claimed that Kuchiki Rukia was found with a young man claiming to be a Substitute Shinigami." Oh no. This is definitely not good. "And a report from the visual squad showed that she was in an unauthorized Gigai." Urahara's doing no doubt. Otherwise I would have had to sign off on her receiving a Gigai due to injuries.

When neither of us say anything in response, Yama-jii continues. "Which of you will send out someone to investigate this further?" We look at each other.

"Rukia is a member of my division, Sir. I will take care of the investigation myself."

"Good. You're both dismissed then." We nod and leave the room.

"Onee-sama, what are you thinking?" I shake my head a little.

"Just what I said. She's my subordinate. As impossible as you may think it is for me to treat this as only dealing with a subordinate and not a family member, I'll be fine. I'll leave tonight and be back in the morning." With that, I head to the office and relay the information from the meeting to the captain. Needless to say, he agrees with my decision to investigate myself.