The light hadn't broken completely over the roofs of the surrounding buildings yet, but dawn was starting to shine softly through the windows facing East. Silently, Urahara watched the sunbeams gutter with rustling-leaf patterns on the floor, and he waited. Sitting up in the warm, thin bed, blanket loosely tucked around his waist. Back bare to the warming air in the otherwise empty room. They had to be up before the others. This was the sort of thing he didn't want to have to explain. All that tiresome, tedious justification. Even if Tessai would be the only one asking; he didn't want to hear it. This was a personal thing, and on top of that it was a thing he had to think of some serious justification for, on his own part.

He glanced down. Kurosaki wasn't deep asleep, but rather fluttering in a half-dream state, ready to be roused. The decision to rouse him, though, was one that Urahara decided not to make. Too soon. He'd watch him, for a few minutes at least. It was easy to watch him when he was sleeping, and let himself smile. There was an image he had to maintain when Kurosaki was awake, and no doubt he'd get the cocked eyebrow and the suspicious growl if he smiled so blissfully in sight of the boy's open eyes. What he had now was a different sort of smile than anyone normally saw. The sort of smile that came to him when the combination of sensations hit him – the feeling of warmth from the body beside him, the deep, gentle sounds of sleeping breath, and the hint of a particular aroma still lingering in the air. Sweat and sex and whatnot. His smile turned up into a smirk for a moment, but fell back into a more comfortable curve on further examination of Kurosaki. Orange hair on the small pillow, head tilted back slightly, throat revealing the Adam's apple that bobbed with every low, rhythmic sleeping sigh. His mouth was pulled open a little, and Urahara had to stop himself. I Not going to wake him yet /I , he thought, still smiling, wondering if he really wanted to be as unctuous as to simply kiss him into the morning light. But those lips…so tempting.

He looked the other way to regain his senses. A newborn Shinigami. Was that what had attracted him? The thrill of being his sensei, the flame ignited at having something so accessible, so challenging, andso irresistible within an arm's reach for all of ten days? Of course he'd been planning it since Kurosaki had awakened from the Shattered Shaft and wielded control of that shiny new Soul Slayer; planning as he mended his hat and uncharacteristically dodged the company of the others during the remainder of the boy's training.

Yoruichi would be jealous. She'd call him a fool, and probably a pervert, too.

But she wasn't here, and he wasn't intent on telling her. She'd smell it on him, probably; hit him with the accusation maybe a month or two from now, when he least expected it and would be low on his guard. Then he'd be forced to tell all and take the snide remarks. But until then…

"Kurosaki-san…" he sang in an attempted whisper to himself, still smiling, watching the sunbeams grow brighter against the floor as the sun crept higher. A few more minutes. That was all he could spare. There was an interruption, though, as he reached for the blanket at his waist and shifted. Suddenly, an arm flopped over his thighs, forcing his eyebrows up, making him follow the pale line of skin to the bare chest where it connected. Sighing, he noticed that Kurosaki had snapped into consciousness far too quickly than he would've liked. Those big brown eyes were open, looking up, and his lips were thinned as if he had something to say – something his waking mind was racing to phrase just right. Couldn't the boy be like a normal person, rolling around in a daze for the first few minutes of the day? And why did his eyes have to be that pretty, irresistible light brown, anyway? Urahara took a deep breath and braced himself. He could only imagine what Kurosaki was going to think of this situation, now that he'd slept on it – literally.

He looked ahead, waiting, not wanting to say the first words. Why did he feel awkward? It wasn't like he was in the wrong; it wasn't like Kurosaki hadn't been just as eager after the first round of seduction, practically clawing at him while Urahara struggled to stress the importance of stealth in the confines of the shop. But that was probably it, at the heart of things – it was a seduction.

Always this feeling of guilt. What was Kurosaki going to say now? He could close his eyes and try to remember last night, but it was doing a good job of being as blurry as possible. Stifled moans, teeth, limbs tangling and fingers groping every which way in the darkness. But nothing that would eliminate the guilt, or the tightness.

"I have to leave tonight." He sounded more mature than he did yesterday; and then, he had sounded more mature than the day before. It was a progression that had not gone unnoticed.

"It would seem so."

They were silent for another long while. More thoughts, more doubts. Am I seeming too detached? He wasn't automatically angry, so why be this way? Can't I just look down at him… Following his mind's advice had usually been a good thing, but this time he only buckled completely when he looked down and saw Kurosaki, same slightly accusatory look on his face, just waiting for something to be said. What did he want? Why won't you just tell me what you want to hear? This is hard enough as it is…


"Ichigo. You called me Ichigo last night."

Urahara lost his train of thought momentarily at this, and reached up to finger the hair curling at his shoulder. "I suppose I did."

"Don't get me wrong—"

"You said that a lot last night," 'Don't get me wrong, I'm not like this…I mean, I like girls…' 'Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't do this if we weren't…well…' and he'd never even finished that sentence to Urahara's liking. Frankly, he still wanted to know what Kurosaki had meant to say after that I 'well…' Stuck together? Master and apprentice? Compatible in the way that only the ilk of cocky sword-wielding smart-mouths could be? "I don't think I'd assume anything about you at this point – only what I know is true. Only what I've seen. Ichigo."

At this, Kurosaki sat up, the blankets rustling, their shoulders rubbing as he obviously endeavored not to purposefully lean into Urahara's body. "You've seen a lot of me."

That was certainly a strange tone of voice. Urahara couldn't resist the compulsion to look over at him, down a little because he was slouching, and search his face for signs of the guilt he heard. Guilt, from him? It was certainly the other way around, usually.

He swallowed hard but maintained his composure, righting his senses before he asked, "You don't regret it, do you?"

"Regret what?" Kurosaki laughed with a brisk sniff, a clench of his shoulders that might have been a shrug, "no use in regret. What happened has happened."

"Come on, now, you're not making me feel especially good about this."

Kurosaki's head turned and those brown eyes locked on him, his brow slanting. He wasn't mad, but he wasn't another thing Urahara could readily identify, either. Usually he liked to head these things off at the pass, if possible. But not with Kurosaki. What had this boy done to him, in such a short period of time? Why the loyalty, why the time, why the energy, and for the love of money why the sex? It hadn't been Kuchiki-dono, much as he owed the girl. It hadn't been the simple challenge of training his talent, either. The thrill of that would have fostered a more professional relationship. Perhaps a bit of mutual admiration. But here was Kurosaki, nipping at his defenses, and Urahara was just letting him speak like an equal. He always had. Maybe that was his failing.

"I'm not proud of it, let's say that. It wasn't exactly like I was in control of what was going on."

"You're not suggesting that I took advantage of you, Kurosaki-san?"

The brown eyes narrowed. He wanted to be called Ichigo so badly, but Urahara wasn't ready to give him the satisfaction. These thinly veiled insults to the execution of their brief tryst were cutting, and more than that he knew they'd stick. More vividly than the blurry memories of one passionate night, they'd linger around and annoy him.

"I'd never have let that happen. But—"

"But what?" Urahara found himself feeling more confrontational than before, and slumped down to Kurosaki's level, "maybe you remember things clearer than I do? What's all this grumbling for, then?"

"I'm sure you don't have a problem remembering the way you treated me."

It was the way he treated everyone kind enough to roll into various states of undress with him. Kurosaki hadn't been different in that respect; he'd received the same treatment. If that was what this was about, then it was almost easy to understand. But it was also amusing, and it made Urahara smile. A leering, sleepy smile.

"Are you going to do this again? Like you threatened to kill me after I helped you awaken your powers, Kurosaki-san? You can't honestly say that you expect to be my equal in bed if you can't be my equal in battle."

"Damn you…" Kurosaki gritted his teeth.

Ah, so that was it. And all this worrying for nothing…

"Don't be so cross! Oh…" Urahara sat up straighter, tossed his hair although it did little to alter the mess of blond, and chuckled, "I know why you're upset now. It's completely clear. And it's actually very flattering, Kurosaki-san."

"Presumptuous much?" Kurosaki crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the opposite wall. Oh, no. Not so fast. Urahara's fingers were automatically on his chin, and he wasn't surprised when Kurosaki didn't make a move to struggle against them. He turned the anger-pinched face back toward him, and grinned.

"You're mad at me because you liked it. You really enjoyed the way I treated you last night," Urahara watched the twitch of Kurosaki's eye before he gave into laughter once again, as the redhead wrenched his chin away, "don't worry about it; you've been well-trained, after all."

"Shut up!" His cheeks were pinking with the rest of his skin, now. No wonder he didn't want to talk about it. Virgins never did. Eager, dutiful, always a pleasure in the heat of the moment, but never very forthcoming about it the morning after. Urahara should have known it would be this way. But the indignation, the blushing, the pouting bottom lip…nothing about Kurosaki's behavior was tempting an apology. Not that any behavior would . After all…

"I warned you. I told you I'm rough, but I told you I wouldn't hurt you. I didn't hurt you, did I, Kurosaki-san? I apologize if I did, but I'm certain I was very careful."

"Well," his voice actually lowered, grumbling as he reached up to touch behind his neck, where Urahara followed his fingers to find a small, easily identifiable red mark, "you could've warned me about the biting at least."

"It was the only way I could make you shut up," his fingers moved in the way of Kurosaki's, brushing them aside to touch the tender spot. The boy flinched, and Urahara smiled to himself, "you were a little rambunctious and I had to take the necessary measures to make sure you didn't arouse suspicion in my shopmates. Funny, though…" He watched Kurosaki carefully as he let his fingers dance down, softly and swiftly just beneath the edge of the blanket to touch the flank of his rump, "I though you'd have more of an objection to this. Sore at all?"

Kurosaki didn't object to the touch, and Urahara was relieved. He smiled gently as Kurosaki held his head up to respond. "Well that's part of it, right? I'd just be an idiot if I thought it wasn't going to hurt at all. But you really didn't have to bite me." Urahara was waiting for him when their eyes met again, and he lifted a finger to Kurosaki's lips.

" I You /I didn't really have to make a theater production out of things, either. This is a small house."

The hand was swatted away, and Kurosaki tried to stay aloof. But his resolve was fading; Urahara could tell. "Couldn't we have gone to the training area or something? Someplace no one would hear us?"

"I'm sorry, I believe I heard you say something to the effect of 'can't I make the rules'? I'm sorry, no. It's just like battle – you have to adapt, you have to improvise. You have to shut your mouth at the appropriate times."

Kurosaki launched up to thrust his nose at Urahara's, growling right in his face. "You were smacking me around like it didn't matter, and I'm sure I that /I wasn't exactly inconspicuous!"

Things were starting to gel more in his mind, and it was making his smile wider. Smacking him around like it didn't matter, yes, there had been plenty of that. But the fact had already been established – he'd liked it. Urahara's heart almost jumped. Why weren't there more hours in the night?

"It's easy to come up with a quick excuse for noises. Not so easy for voices."

"Nice story. Now why don't you tell me the truth – you just wanted to have complete control of me, is that it? To humiliate me and all that? Eh?"

"Ichigo," at this, Urahara lowered his voice, and took advantage of Kurosaki's moment of shock to take his face in his palms, holding their mouths close as he nearly whispered, "you don't have to be humiliated if no one else knows. I won't lord it over you. I won't tease you about it. Just admit the simple truth – admit that you liked it. Someone else took charge for once; I took your body to places it's probably never felt, am I right?"

Kurosaki nodded shakily, his resolve almost completely gone. Urahara tilted his head and smiled, and leaned forward just close enough that Kurosaki shut his eyes and pursed up for a kiss. But Urahara pulled back, just far enough to tickle the puckered lips with his breath. "Then why won't you thank me?"

"Thank you!" Kurosaki nearly shouted, pulling himself out of the intimate grasp, "why would I thank you for that!"

Urahara reached up and rapped his fist against the orange hair, the scalp beneath. "Thick head you have there, isn't it? Kurosaki-san, you just nodded when I asked if I led you to new places, new feelings, and then you almost kissed me – you're expecting me to believe that your body wasn't satisfied last night? Tell me what I have to do, and I'll do it again. I won't let you come this time until you thank me."

Kurosaki twisted his lips, and a moment passed when Urahara noticed a glint – maybe it was a glint that no one else could see but seasoned sexual practitioners, or maybe it was on a light frequency that only Shinigami could register. But that glint was in Kurosaki's eyes, and it made Urahara's jaw drop.

"You're greedy!"


"You want me to do it again! You're just being difficult so I'll give you the same treatment, only more of it! I don't believe this!" This time, Urahara crossed his arms, and turned his gaze to the wall.

"You don'tknow that – I never said that!"

"Then thank me!"


Silence. One second. Two seconds. …ten.

"But, I mean…" Kurosaki's voice was low, guttural, almost but not quite ashamed. "…how much time would we have, if…if we did do it again?"

As soon as he asked it, Urahara was already making some standard calculations in his head. Jinta was usually first out of bed, and that was around seven…Ururu always woke up after that and came running to seek refuge from whatever reckless behavior was being wrought by the little brat…it gave them approximately an hour, maybe a little less…

"I'm warning you," his fingers clenched tightly around Kurosaki's wrists, and the blanket fluttered from the swiftness as he moved on top of the smaller body and pinned both hands on the floor, above the pillow and the crop of orange hair, above the wide, slightly frightened, and obviously excited light brown eyes. Never could resist those eyes, "I have to be back in my bed shortly, but I am not leaving this room until you thank me." This time, his eyes were glinting, "I'll resort to whatever measures I must. Don't make me push you too far too soon. Not in this capacity, at least."

"And if I don't thank you this time?" Kurosaki grunted and pitched his breath as Urahara pushed one of his legs up.

"Oh," his eyebrows flinched at the insolent remark. He leaned down, and caught Kurosaki's breath for him, trapping it with a kiss, taking a moment to suck on that pouty, plump bottom lip, then biting it gently for good measure, "I expect then I'll be waiting for it when you get back from Soul Society."

Kurosaki was gasping now, heart beating fast, blood rushing to his groin. "When I get back?"

"Why yes…" Urahara tilted his head above Kurosaki's, and teased him with not-quite kisses. The prelude would have to end. No time for playing, this round. Pity. "You have your reason to I go /I , and now you have a reason to come back."

"Why would I come back for that?" The insolence continued. Urahara slid their bodies together roughly to silence Kurosaki with desire for a moment, and then chuntered in his ear.

"Because if you don't, you'll never get this again." Maybe he'd let Kurosaki scream this time. Just once or twice. He'd find a way to explain it. Either way, Yoruichi was going to be livid.