The only reason why the Shiba heir had come in the first place was because his cousin, Takuma, coaxed him into it. Like him, Takuma held his hair color without a care in the world because it was a natural green color. Also unlike the Shiba family, he wore glasses or else he wouldn't have been able to see.
When Ichigo had met him, it was after he came back from a ten year mission in the world of the living. Never in his entire life did he think that Kukaku would have had a child. Much less one that didn't go out on full rage all the time. In fact, Takuma is the calmest person in the Shiba family and he holds his grace just like a Kuchiki. If it weren't for his looks, then many would have mistaken him as the son or brother of Byakuya.
All of his friends were here too, along with the important members of the other four clans. His friends are here because he invited them for comfort. If it were for any other reason, the Council would have immediately kicked them out and they wouldn't have been able to see Ichigo's fate. Now, they all sit behind the orange haired male and could feel the nervousness radiating in his reitsu. They were nervous as well, not knowing what kind of decisions the Council will make for their friend.
It was now time for the Council meeting to begin. The head of the council silenced everyone there and rested his eyes upon Ichigo. He cleared his throat in an exaggerated way before finally speaking. His gruff voice entered the young Shiba's ears and Ichigo couldn't help but stiffen at how authoritive the man sounded.
"Ichigo Shiba, I would first like to welcome you here today and thank you for accepting our offer to stand before us." Ichigo nodded gravely and swallowed hard, unable to trust in his own voice. "We know of how you save saved the Soul Society many times ever since the day you first entered the Seireitei as a lowly ryouka. We also know if the times that you've disobeyed the Soul Society and done your own bidding even after the order was given to not do such things. Such as the time you decided to save the girl, Orihime Inoue, from Las Noches in Hueco Mundo. As the Council weighed over everything good and bad that you have done, we decided that even though you were hidden away and unknown as a Shiba to the Soul Society, that we would give the Shiba clan a second chance to become one of the Five Great Clans once more. Also as we had discussed, Isshin Shiba will be retired as the former head of the clan and you will take his place since you've proven yourself of the title. All that we require now is whether or not you accept our proposal and restore your clans name." The man in front of him spoke as if no matter what, Ichigo had to choose yes as his answer.
Ichigo shifted uncomfortably under the gazes. He was about to decline the offer, not wanting to take on the responsibility of a whole clan, when he saw his father giving him that look of expectation. He sighed and groaned at the same time, knowing that no matter what, he would have to accept the offer. Byakuya, who heard the groan, glared at the young Shiba.
"Ichigo Shiba, this decision is up to you, but I wouldn't take the offer too lightly. Just as easily as they offered the restoration to your clan, they can put you into Mukken for all of the times you disobeyed the Soul Society. I know you do not like the rules of the Soul Society very much, but they are there for a reason. Why not weigh on your choices now that you have been given a little more insight towards the situation."
Ichigo stared at Byakuya and sighed in acceptance. He's already got his father and the old man up at the head of the council nearly forcing him to choose to restore the clan name. Now, he can't help but wonder if Byakuya was silently telling him to restore his clan or just go rot in one of the deepest cells in Mukken. He hoped that it was the former and not the latter. The Noble Council meeting was just a pain in the ass for him. Today wasn't going to reach his list of top ten days to look forward to, but it surely won't be in his top ten least favorite days.
After he found out that he was a Shiba, the immediate response of Central 46 was to send him in front if the Council and let them determine what to do with the boy. It was a reasonable thing to do, but it made Ichigo scared stiff when he had to meet some of Byakuya's most powerful 'bosses' that were chosen by the other Four Great Clans.
"Alright." Ichigo finally said in acceptance, unwillingly allowing himself to become the head of the Shiba clan. He scratched the back of his head in annoyance when he saw the approving nods he received from the council.
"Now, Ichigo Shiba, it is now time for you to be courted." The head of the council stated and stood up.
Everyone else in the room stood as well, murmurs echoing throughout the quarters. Ichigo stared wide eyed at the council, his mouth hanging open slightly with small almost inaudible sounds escaping him. He watched in complete shock as six people entered the room carrying an item between them. They made their way to the front of the room and set it down, revealing it to be a pedistool with six large clear glass bowls on top of it. A faint light blue glowing mist was inside of one bowl, pink in another, gray in the next, orange in one, green in the fifth, and red in the final one, giving it an almost mystifying look to each bowl.
The six men who enetered the room bowed in front of the council before exiting in an orderly fashion, seeming to have been used to the tradition. Their retreating figures seemed to make Ichigo snap out of his stuper as he bared his teeth and growled slightly. His hands clenched into fists and he was nearly ready to punch the hell out of someone when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
His head snapped to the side, noticing Takuma was standing there. The green haired soul reaper had a calm look in his eyes as he stared at Ichigo. A small smile appeared on his face to assure Ichigo and he nodded his head towards the direction of the bowl. Ichigo sighed and unclenched his fists, relaxing a bit because of his cousin's actions. The hand slid off his shoulder as he made his way forward, stepping behind the bowls to face the crowd in front of him. He involuntarily flinched, finally noticing just how many people were here. He hadn't expected that many people to come, but things don't always turn out the way you want them to.
"Just reach your hand inside of one of the bowls, you'll know which one it is." The head said and motioned with his hand at the six bowls.
Ichigo looked at each bowl, all of them carrying some sort of mist he didn't know anything about. Of course, he was reluctant to do anything at all. But, there was always that slight chance it wouldn't turn out so bad. Maybe he'll get a happy woman that doesn't go by all of the Soul Society's rules and wouldn't mind spending the rest of her life with him. Then there's always that chance that a girl who hates everybody and everything around her that he will choose; completely making his life a living hell. Lets say, he definately wasn't looking forward to it.
Ichigo went over to the red bowl and began to examine it. Not that there was much he could examine, but the bowl smelt kind of like blood, and it made him recoil away from it. 'Definately not that one.' He thought and went over to the green one. This one smelt sour and kind of burned his nose, almost like someone put Cry Babies up there. He sneezed from the smell and immediately trekked over to the orange one. To his surprise, it didn't smell too bad. It smelt a bit like freshly harvested honey to him, but he didn't feel like it was significant to him in any way. The gray bowl residing next to it caused him to cough and wave a hand in front of his face. The smell smelt like ash from a freshly burnt building, making him scurry over to the fifth bowl.
This one smelt and felt different to him. The pink mist seemed to draw him in, making him feel at home and at scent of fresh Sakura petals reached his nose and he unconsciously reached his hand into the bowl.
As if welcoming him, the pink mist rose from the bowl and began to coat over Ichigo's body. His eyes only widened momentarily before his body was completely obscured from view. Everyone sat in the room silently, awaiting the outcome of his choosing.
"He has chosen the bowl of the Kuchiki Clan, and the mist has accepted him. We must now await his return from the mist before we know which Kuchiki member has been chosen for him." The head stated.
The side of the room specifically reserved for the Kuchiki family was completely silent. Byakuya, Rukia, Genrei, and all of their distant relatives were waiting, not knowing which of them would be chosen. But the ones who were more worried were the women. They knew that there was a higher possibility of them being chosen than the men, so they were fidgeting in their seats. The men, though, were only worried about whether or not their sister or cousin was going to be chosen. No male has ever liked it when their family is forced into a marriage they don't want to be apart of.
Inside the mist, Ichigo's body was unmoving but his mind was in a different location entirely. He was walking down a dark corridor, unsure of what was happening. A scowl still pressnt on his face, he kept on walking. He had no idea where he was being led to, but he wanted to get out of here and get this done and over with. Soon enough, the dark corridor went away and Ichigo dound himself inside of a manor of sorts.
This place looks familiar. Ichigo thought and continued walking, trying to remember the place he was in. He let his own feet guide him to wherever they were taking him, not even bothering to completely control them. The made it to a door and opened it, revealing a large and beautiful garden. Sakura trees littered here and there, giving the garden a nice glow to it. It had a large Koi pond in the center with a small island conected to the garden by a bridge and some resting chairs on top of it. A round table was in between the chairs and he saw some sort of object residing on top of it. Somehow needing to know what it is, he began to walk through the gardens pathways and across the bridge. Now that I think about it, this looks exactlt like the Kuchiki Manor. But what am I doing here?
Upon reaching the table, Ichigo was surprised to see what lay on top of it. He could of sworn no matter where the noble was, he wouldn't leave behind his Kenseiken (his head piece) or his Ginpaku Kazahana no Uzuginu (his scarf). Or was it just a scarf made of Ginpaku Kazahana no Uzuginu? He couldn't remember, but he did pick up the items. His intentions were to return the items to their owner when suddenly his body became cold. A familiar pink mist once again surrounded him and his items. His mind returned to him and the mist from his body slowly faded away, revealing himself back inside of the court room.
As he looked back in front of him, blinking in confusion, he felt a weight upon his shoulders. Not only that, the white belt of his shihakusho felt a slight bit heavier on both of his sides. He could also tell that his posture has become unbelievably straighter.
'What the hell happened to me?' He thought.
Gasps were heard throughout the room and whispering soon followed. Confused, Ichigo looked around the room. His family and human friends were staring wide eyed and mouths agape. Even his calm and collected cousin Takuma seemed surprised about something, which was different even for him.
But, as he noticed, there was one side of the room that was particularly quiet. Not that he didn't appreciate it, but Ichigo just thought it strange. His eyes slid over to the side where he saw the Kuchiki Clan sitting. They all seemed the most shocked, but he noticed Byakuya was shocked more than anyone. His eyes had widened considerably and a slight amount of fear and something else was sitting in them. Ichigo was surprised, really. He had never seen Byakuya wear his emotions on his sleves before, so this is completely new to him and everyone else. Just what was going on here?
He scratched the back of his head, not understanding anything about the situation. Everyone was just staring and whispering, not even communicating with him directly. His scowl deepened and he crossed his arms. Finally, recognition graced his eyes as something soft caressed his fingertips. With widened eyes, he looks down and notices the Kuchiki scarf draped over his shoulders. His shock grew when he saw his waistline. On the belt of his shihakusho, he saw four Kenseiken there. Two right above each of his legs. He didn't understand. Not a single thing. Why the hell was he wearing the Kuchiki head's items?
"Ichigo Shiba, we would like to thank you for your cooperation." He turned around, looking up at the head of the Council. The smile on the man's face didn't seem to fit. Ichigo's palms were sweating and he had the urge to wipe them on his shihakusho. The quizzical look that appeared on his face reached the older man. A chuckle escaped the head councelor's lips before the older man stood up and regarded the people in front of them.
"I would also like to thank the rest of you for joining us today. Your presence was very much appreciated. I would like it if everyone were to all leave, and just allow the Shiba and Kuchiki heads to stay for a discussion. You are all dismissed." Everyone, not wanting to disobey orders from the council, left the room swiftly. Ichigo's family and friends, as well as Byakuya's sister, were a little more reluctant. Their hesitation lasted for a few seconds after everyone had left, but they followed the rest of the Nobles. The creak of a door was heard, followed by it closing.
The room was quite, the three left in the room not saying anything. Byakuya still sat in his seat, in the same position as when Ichigo reemerged from the mist. Just this time, his stoic expression was once again plastered on his face and hiding his emotions. He stood only when the Head motioned him forward, walking to stand right beside Ichigo. The head disappeared from his seat and reappeared standing in front of the two nobles.
Ichigo, still confused as ever, was scratching the back of his head. Everyone left but Byakuya and the man in feont of the two of them. Then there's the fact that he's wearing the Kuchiki heirlooms as part of his uniform. Just what had that mist done to him?
"Byakuya Kuchiki, I know that you have already known what this means, but for Ichigo Shiba's sake, it will be a refresher for your memory." Byakuya nodded gravely, his eyes casting downwards a slight bit before returning them to a perfect level. Ichigo dropped his hand to his sides and looked expectantly at the Head of the council.
"Ichigo Shiba, the mist you had chosen was the mist of the Noble house, the Kuchiki's. The only way to chose a mist is if you were drawn to it and it accepted you. I don't have any implication as to what you went through inside of the mist, but you did grab the necessary items needed for your return." The Head explained it in a way that was dumbing it down, not wanting to use any large words that would confuse the new noble.
"So," Ichigo started slowly, grasping a bit of the concept, "the Kenseiken and the Kuchiki scarf were the items that I needed?" He pointed to his belt where the Kenseiken resided, and then to the scarf wrapped around his neck. The Head nodded and Ichigo chose to continue. "What did I need them for?"
"It's simple really. The items inside of the mist vary depending on who was chosen for you. It's normally a personal item of said person, but rarely anyone comes out wearing an article of clothing replicated for them personally. Those are normally the ones who are chosen to marry the head of a noble clan." It was silent for a few seconds, the council member letting the newly applied information to sink into the thick skull of the Shiba Head. Byakuya closed his eyes, suppressing an undignified sigh and squeezed his hands tighter in front of him.
Realization flashed through Ichigo's mind and he visibly tensed up. His muscles were taut and his mind whirled. His newly improved posture fluctuated and he took a small step back to balance himself. His hands twitched at his sides as he stared somewhat fearfully into the elders eyes. His mouth opened and closed, not knowing what to say. His mind knew what was happening, but he himself didn't want to believe it.
Time seemed to stop right there. Ichigo's hand seemed to take an eternity to cover his mouth. The movements were so slow, yet Ichigo felt nauseated and thought he was moving too fast. His posture once again fluctuated and he began to fall. His vision tunneled around the edges until he could see the end of it no more.