"If you want Bankai, I ask only this: kill the were-cat."

Urahara cannot pretend to be surprised. He has long known that Benihime hates Yoruichi. It is the hatred of the wildfire in the face of the firebreak: born from impotence, from rage, from want. Benihime hates Yoruichi simply because she is in the way – because she is one of the chains that bind Urahara to sanity.

He also cannot pretend that he is not considering her request. There is a part of him that would do it. He knows - he's looking at her right now. But consideration is not acceptance, and temptation is not desire. Urahara might allow Benihime's words a certain weight, but Yoruichi's life has a weight infinitely greater.

And besides, Benihime is Urahara's version of a moral compass: anything she wants is usually something he shouldn't.

"Come now, Hime-chan, you know I can't do that. Why must you be so stubborn?" he says; his voice is light, lilting, almost patronising, but Benihime probably would not even notice, much less care.

She disappears, and when her arms drape themselves around his shoulders, wrapping around his neck with a grip just shy of strangulation, Urahara carefully does not react. He knows the rules of this game. Benihime will not hurt him. Oh, she will cause him pain—she is so very, very good at causing pain—but she will not hurt him. Not physically, at least.

Her body presses against his back, and were it any other day, Urahara might have marvelled at the contradictions implicit in its softness.

Today, however, he simply speaks.

"Careful, Hime-chan; a little tighter and we might experience reincarnation a little early."

"You are mine," she snarls into his neck, each word punctuated with the scrape of teeth against skin. "If I cannot have you then nobody else will."

"You are a shard of my soul, Benihime. I am already yours."

"Then kill the were-cat." Benihime's voice is like seduction, all bruising kisses and bleeding lips.

"No," he replies with the certainty of genius. "That is not what you want from me – it is a function but it is not the form."

"Oh?" Suddenly, she is before him, eyes downcast and one foot tucked behind the ankle of the other. She would be the very picture of bashfulness were it not for the cut of her kimono and the way her hands were slipping beneath his haori. "Then what is it that I want, dear Kisuke-kun?"

"Me," he says, as her fingers dig into the flesh over his heart, just hard enough to make him bleed. It matches the colour of her nails. "You want me."

The look she gives him is half innocence, half intoxication; she seems as shy as a virgin and yet as alluring as a seductress. It is the sort of look that courtesans spend a decade perfecting, and enough to bring a lesser man to his knees.

Urahara smiles almost lazily in response. It's not quite a smirk of victory—he's nowhere near winning yet—but Benihime only actively tries to seduce him when he comes too close to something she'd rather keep hidden. The rest of the time, she's merely absently tempting – it never reaches her eyes.

"You said it yourself, didn't you? If you cannot have me, nobody can. You seem to resent the place Yoruichi has claimed in my heart; you seem to be jealous of the regard in which I hold her. I am but your humble possession, after all – you must be first and foremost in all things, but most especially in my attention. Anything that challenges your truth must be consigned to ash and nothingness."

He pauses, as if thinking.

"But that doesn't make any sense, Hime-chan. As a being superior to all others, how can anything challenge you? There should not even be a hope for victory – winning implies competition, and surely no mere shinigami can compete with the likes of you."

When she laughs, her head pressed against his neck and the crook of his shoulder, each breathy shudder ripples through his body like the moments before a climax. Urahara would be a liar if he said he wasn't aroused; Benihime could suggest sex—the clothes-ripping, hair-pulling, bite-marking kind—with the arch of an eyebrow, let alone with laughter.

"Oh, Urahara Kisuke-kun… you're going to have to do better than that."

"But I'm still right, aren't I?" he asks, entirely unconcerned. If she'd fallen for that level of blatant manipulation, she wouldn't be his Zanpakutō in the first place. Benihime is the literal manifestation of Urahara's soul, after all, and he is not so easily fooled. "You don't want me to kill Yoruichi because you think she has displaced you in my affections. To you, that's not even possible."

Urahara takes a step back; Benihime does not move as he draws her hands from within his haori, clasping them with his own. Their fingers intertwine—Urahara's are so much larger than her own—but it is not particularly romantic – Benihime's nails draw scars across his skin, and her own grip takes his bones to just shy of breaking.

"Oh?" Her head tilts to one side, and her hair shifts with it, falling like liquid obsidian and exposing the flawless expanse of her neck.

"You hate her because there are things I will not do—things you want me to do—because of what she would think of them if she knew. You hate her because she is the anchor that restrains the impulses, the insanity, of my heart, even when you would do anything to let them out."

Urahara hears one of the bones in his hand crack.

"In short… you hate her because you're jealous. Not of how I care for her, nor because of how much of my attention she commands, but because she does not let you control me."

There is something dangerous in the way Benihime smiles, but Urahara does not care. She is not the only one with claws.

"I know you, Benihime." Urahara's voice is like frozen steel. "You are not one for constraints, not one to be caged. You refuse to be bound by laws or limits. You are blood and beauty, roses and thorns, chaos and calculation."

There is a pause, like the gap between the receding sea and the tsunami's strike.

"You are oblivion," he declares, "and I know you to the very depths of my soul."

Her grip shatters the rest of his fingers, and there is a fury on her face that Urahara has never seen—somehow, it makes her look all the more stunning—but he does not care. His body will heal, but this moment will live forever.

"You would seek to control me, Benihime? I, to whom you owe your very existence? I, without whom you would be nothing?"

Urahara's reiatsu flares as Benihime snarls, low and furious like a lioness.

"Know. Your. PLACE!"

Silence falls.

Seconds pass, but, eventually, her hands slip from the broken remnants of his own, and she begins to applaud.

"My, my, Kisuke-kun, I didn't know you had it in you."

Benihime steps closer, and the tone of her voice is a caress to match the way she runs her fingers along his arms.

"So bold, so virulent… how can I resist?"

She presses a kiss against his lips, soft and fleeting and everything she is not, and vanishes.

In her place stands the Tenshintai, as two words echo inside his mind.

The name of his Bankai.

Jisankyomu Benihime.

Oblivion-Bringing Crimson Princess.

Three days later, Urahara and Yoruichi finally find the time for their first spar since they both achieved Bankai. It's a fight they've both been anticipating for a long time; it will be a true test of their might not as shinigami, but as captains.

Of course, there's more to it than that Benihime has not been tempered in battle yet, and what better place to experiment with her capabilities than in something like this? Yoruichi will not kill Urahara if he makes a fatal mistake, or uses a power he cannot control, and his best friend is easily strong enough to survive anything he might throw at her in the process. She was a captain well before he even decided to try and earn his Bankai, after all.

It's as safe a scenario as Urahara can imagine.

And so, the moment Yoruichi releases her Bankai, Urahara does the same.

It is then his best friend starts to scream.

In his mind, Benihime is exultant; her blade shivers in his hand, and the smile that spreads across her face is as satisfied as it is sadistic. This is her revenge, her vengeance, and she will not be denied. He thought to control her? To tame her? Oh, he has impressed her with his strength, his wrath, his might, and she has willing granted him her final release, but it was time he understands her price.

Fire roars through Urahara's body, and his blood pulses like lava underneath his skin; his reiatsu bursts from his body like the coronal ejections of a star. It is all he can do to think.

But one thought is all he needs.

Yoruichi is in pain, and Benihime is the cause.

With a scream more animal than man, he hurls his will again and again at his sword until finally, finally, she seals herself, forced into submission by a mind that had spent centuries restraining its baser nature.

When he looks up, Yoruichi is slumped on her knees, eyes wide as the glittering shards of her broken Bankai fall around her like rain.

So. This is the first piece of fanfiction I've managed to finish in about two or three months.

It's also the first thing I've written in that time that didn't suck.

Tell me what you think, eh?

P.S for those of you who haven't read Avarice or Oblivion, Urahara's Bankai, when released, consumes the Reiryoku of any being—spiritual entity or ordinary human—within a certain radius, and then uses it to amplify his Shikai abilities. The closer you are to Benihime's blade, the faster the drain.