To put it simply, Soi Fon was having the worst week of her afterlife.

Missing: One (1) Third Seat / Supervisor of the Maggot's Lair, and one (1) Gotei captain / SMC Supreme Commander / Heiress and Head of the Shihouin Clan.

And it was all Soi Fon's fault.

No matter how many times she went over it in her head, Soi Fon could not make figure out how she'd landed on this crap-heap. First there was the whole debacle with the failed Hollow mission by the 87th battalion, which wasn't even her fault. That clean-up assignment should have been nothing more than an opportunity for Soi Fon to lead her first solo mission against Hollows - and without having achieved shikai yet, at that! It was her moment to shine, to prove to Yoruichi-san that all her personal attention and training had paid off.

That was until that ingrate had showed up. Stupid stupid Urahara, he just had to barge in with his rude manners and inexplicable arrest warrant - and for gods only knew what reason, Yoruichi-san had indulged him in it! Which resulted in Soi Fon having to run a stupid arrest instead of a Hollow hunt, an arrest that had gone rather disastrously to boot. Hell, the ONLY bright spot in recent dark days had been the surprisingly perfect opportunity to offload that sorry excuse for a Third Seat from Second Squad once and for all by sending him out to clean up the Hollow mess on his own.

But therein lay most confusing cut. Instead of being grateful that Soi Fon had freed their squad of its most pathetic and misfit member by sending him on what amounted to a suicide mission, Yoruichi-san had been....UGH. Soi Fon shuddered at what she had been. The memory still rankled and terrified her - she'd never seen Yoruichi-san so angry before. Angry and....disappointed?? Soi Fon shuddered afresh at the horror of those golden eyes, burning the deepest and most confusing sense of shame into her very being...

But that still wasn't the worst. OH no. Yoruichi-san had left without another word, presumably to retrieve her mis-assigned Third Seat.

And no one had been able to locate either of them for a whole week.

All anyone could establish for sure was that of the two missing shinigami, the one person who had seen them last was Soi Fon, who was currently undergoing her umpteenth interrogation in the last 72 hours. Restraining a sigh, a fidget and yet another soul-curdling wave of shame, Soi Fon hung her head while Okamura's latest roar washed over her.

"You cannot seriously expect me to believe that Urahara went alone on a Hollow mission?? On your orders!? You're not even a member of this squad, you're just the captain's favorite pet!! YOU don't give orders to anyone!! Now tell the truth, you little snot-nosed kid - where the fuck are they!?" The enormous Vice-Captain positively vibrated with fury while Soi Fon tried very hard not to cry. Before she could muster up an oft-repeated reply, Okamura's rant picked up again. "And DON'T tell me Shihouin-taicho went after him! Because if that's even slightly true, and they've been gone this long without reporting, then that means they might actually be DEAD. Do you seriously want that on your conscience??"

Soi Fon shrank into her chair and tried to force words past a throat thick with unshed misery. They died, unspoken, amidst a fresh wash of hot tears, but she was saved that very moment by an angel from heaven.

"As if a single pack of Hollows could take me down," a lofty sniff from the doorway froze the inhabitants of the Second Squad administrative office in tableau. Looking as if she'd done little more than awakened from a restful nap, Yoruichi slinked into the room and stifled a yawn. "You have so little faith in me, Okamura."

Soi Fon's heart leapt in her little chest like a bird taking wing - Shihouin-sama alive and well!! Soi Fon very nearly bounded to her feet in joy, but before her elation was firmly established it took a dizzying swoop towards nausea. Half a step behind Yoruichi-sama, matching her stride for stride, followed Urahara Kisuke looking hardly worse for wear. Catching the silver glint in his eye, Soi Fon shuddered as he met her horrified eyes with a steely look of his own...before he shifted into a minuscule grin and winked in the utmost presumption.

That quickly, all of Soi Fon's shame and embarrassment disappeared in a flash of fury. Before she could do more than flush, Shihouin-taicho took in the scene with a ridiculously benign expression and a raised eyebrow.

"What's going on here? Because it looks like an interrogation. But that can't possibly be, because my vice-captain would never dream of undermining my authority by suspecting my Soi Fon of any ill behavior?" Implicit in the slight question was enough of a threat to change the dynamic in the room faster than a summer storm.

Okamura, with the expression of someone trying to swallow a mango whole, instantly prostrated himself. "Shihouin-taicho! My apologies-, you don't-, we didn't-, I mean-!" Watching him splutter almost made Soi Fon feel better. Almost. Turning purple, Okamura finally bellowed in pure frustration. "Where the hell have you been!?!"

Any other captain would have thoroughly dressed down a subordinate for erupting in such a manner, but Yoruichi only quirked a lip in amusement. "Ooh, you know - out and about." Most likely sensing that it wouldn't be wise to push her frayed vice too much further, she sauntered over to her desk and sat down, stretching like a cat. "Not that I have to explain myself," she murmured, watching pointedly while Okamura's jaw audibly clicked shut. "But as it happens, those Hollows were quite intriguing. Took a while to find them, even with Urahara holding them down," another pointed look, harder, had Soi Fon's jaw clacking shut. Satisfied, Yoruichi suddenly looked bored and yawned again. "And then, they were quite fascinating, I must say. I decided to leave them alive long enough for Urahara to study them over a couple of days. In any case, we tracked them for a while before taking them out. Which took way too long, I might add - you are horribly under-trained, Third Seat. Who the hell handled your kendo education in your last division?" Despite the derision, the sultry tone of Yoruichi's voice was notably less acerbic than Soi Fon had ever heard it before.

Inexplicably, Urahara Kisuke seemed to find this explanation, as well as the criticism, highly amusing. "We, uh...didn't really train much at Twelfth. I spent a lot of time in the labs." A thin lip twitched. As if fighting a smile.

"Inexcusable," Yoruichi growled without any heat whatsoever. "I will not allow one of my top officers to be so behind in the basics." Straightening up, she adopted her no-nonsense tone. "Go pack your things at once, Third Seat. I want you out of the officer's barracks by sundown."

Soi Fon froze. A wave of hope slowly began to rise in her chest.

As if he hadn't just been handed his walking papers, Urahara grinned and bowed in a rather buoyant manner. "As you wish, Taicho." With a bounce in his step, the all but traipsed out of the office.

Leaving a stunned Soi Fon to grapple with her good fortune. Was it possible that Yoruichi-san finally saw reason? Then why had she been so angry...with sudden clarity, understanding washed through Soi Fon. She could barely pay attention as Yoruichi continued to issue orders, to her equally flabbergasted vice-captain. It was all a blur, and before she knew it a rather mollified Okamura was marching out himself on a gaggle of hastily-assigned duties.

"Oiy, Little Bee." Soi Fon snapped out of it to find Yoruichi-san smirking at her affectionately. "You ok? You looked like you were in another dimension for a moment there."

"Oo-oh," Soi Fon fluttered. "I-I'm fine, Yoruichi-sama." She was so deliriously happy, she could hardly form words.

Yoruichi-san's topaz eyes sparkled. "You look a wreck. Did you really miss me that badly?"

There was NO way to answer that question with dignity, so Soi Fon dropped into seiza and did her best to hide her expression. "I just, I didn't know where you were, and you were so....mad...when you left." Determined to set things right, she steeled her resolve and lifted her head, ferocity vibrating her tiny frame. "I am so sorry, Yoruichi-san! It was not my place to usurp your authority like that - it is your right alone to dispose of your subordinates! I should never have acting on my own."

Yoruichi-san's face stilled in a manner that confused Soi Fon. "You think I was mad - NOT because you tried to kill Kisuke - but because you usurped my authority?" She looked confused and a little sad.

A momentary disquiet rattled Soi Fon, before she pulled herself together. "Well, of course. It was abhorrent of me." She brightened. "But all that matters is that he's gone now, and you're back! I did my best to run things while you were gone - before they started interrogating me, of course - but there's a mess with the training schedules and I had NO idea what to do about the grievances from the mess hall..."

"Bah, the division is the last thing I want to discuss right now." An odd expression of expectation hovered around Yoruchi-san's face. "Don't you have more important things to worry about first?" A long, blank look from Soi Fon had Yoruchi continuing in a patiently prodding tone. "Arrangements? For me?"

Soi Fon gulped, with a sharp shake of her head. "What am I thinking - you must be exhausted, Yoruichi-san! Of course squad matters can wait!" Her mind raced, trying to anticipate her Yoruichi-san's every need. "You'll want to bathe and change first off, I can imagine. Your rooms of course are ready and waiting for you, it will only take a moment to draw your baths..."

Yoruichi grinned. "You really weren't listening at all, were you? As I told Okamura, I'm no longer going to be staying in the captain's suite. As of today, I move back to the Manse."

Soi Fon stared for a long moment, struggling with an odd sense of betrayal. "Oh. Uhm...of course. It is Yoruichi-san's prerogative to live wherever she wishes." A sharp buzzing sound echoed in her head as Soi Fon tried desperately to figure out what needed to be done first. "I'll butterfly ahead to the Manse and make sure dinner is started, since you probably haven't had a solid meal in days. Meanwhile, the servants can start freshening up your room for your arrival..."

Yoruichi just chuckled and gracefully got to her feet. "You sure are an efficient little thing, aren't you? Very well - I do need a bath, and I am starving, so arrange away. Just be sure they add an extra place at the table, and that everything is set for the guest suite."

Soi Fon's little eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. "The guest suite?" And an extra place setting at dinner...Soi Fon wracked her brain through Yoruichi's schedule, horrified that she might have missed the arrival of a visiting dignitary. It would certainly explain the sudden move home...

"Of course, silly," Yoruichi ruffled her prodigy's hair affectionately. "Did you miss everything I said? I know I gave him until sundown, but he'll probably move in sooner than that. I daresay he's hungrier than I am!" A loud tummy rumble punctuated that statement, sending Yoruichi-san into a loud guffaw.

Soi Fon had a strange swirling feeling starting up in the pit of her stomach. "I...you....what?"

Brushing by her, Yoruichi tossed the words over her shoulder as full-blown panic settled into her little sycophant. "Kisuke, silly. Moving into the manse. You really weren't listening at all, were you, silly thing!" She shook her merlot hair vigorously. "He's dreadfully under-trained, and I daresay that my personal attention did you a world of good. And I will not have any failures on my record. Nothing for it but to oversee his training myself, wouldn't you agree?"

And with a wink, she was gone, leaving Soi Fon to wonder when exactly it was that God had decided to hate her.


"Well, that was interesting."

Yoruichi glanced at Urahara as she led him out of the dining rooms and down the hall towards the personal suites. "What, was there something wrong with the food?"

"Oh, no! Not at all - Delicious. Best I've ever eaten, really." Kisuke countered, patting his full stomach where it stretched ominously against his obi. "It's just that I've never shared a table with someone so blatantly wishing I would drop dead in my soup."

Yoruichi grimaced, flushing. "Give Soi Fon some time to get used to you. I've fostered her petulant side for quite a while." She shifted into a grin. "At least she didn't try to poison you."

"Oh, she did," replied Kisuke blithely. "Second-course entree. Good thing I smelled the iocaine..."

"I wondered why you passed on the seafood. Urchin is your favorite," Yoruichi looked torn between amusement and shock. "I didn't know she hated you that much, though. It's almost impressive."

"What can I say; I tend to inspire rather passionate responses in people," Urahara murmured with a smirk.

"I'll say." Rounding a corner, Yoruichi took advantage of the chance to swing Kisuke up against a wall and kiss him thoroughly.

He spluttered, half-heartedly trying to wriggle free. "Yorui- stop! What if your mother-"

"Mother is quite effectively confined to her wing," Yoruichi snorted, drawing back a bit. "And the servants couldn't care less. Now shut up, I'm far from finished with you..."

The next few moments escalated quickly, and before long Urahara had Yoruichi fully in his arms as he blindly tried to find a place where they could proceed in private. Much muttering and cursing - and a few stubbed toes - later, he finally managed to get a door to slide open and they practically fell into a darkened room. Together, they tumbled into a messy heap on the floor, Kisuke rolling hard up against a sofa while Yoruichi deftly avoided crashing into a side table.

"I have to say, this is the best tour I've ever gotten," Kisuke commented gustily, tugging at his kimono.

Yoruichi was already stripped bare and grinning like a linx. "Oh yeah - the 'tour'. I almost forgot about that. Well, this is the East wing library-"

The rest vanished as Kisuke engulfed her mouth with his. Preoccupied with Yoruichi's enthusiastic response - she was purring in his ear! - Kisuke barely noticed the dry bark of a throat being cleared.

A throat that was definitely NOT Yoruichi's, seeing as his tongue was currently half-way down it. Instantly off-guard, Kisuke felt his breath freeze and his whole body harden in shock as a deep voice filled the darkened room.

"Showing your friend the house, are we, Princess?"

Yoruichi, not the slightest put out by the fact that she was nakedly wrapped around an equally-nude Kisuke, didn't miss a beat. "Something like that," she purred, nonplussed. "Sorry if we were disturbing you - you simply MUST stop falling asleep in the middle of your studies like this. You have your own room for a reason."

"As do you, I would venture to point out," replied the baritone drolly. Quiet rustlings indicated that whomever had been awoken from his studious nap on the couch was making his way to the door. Light from the hallway glinted across the flat panes of a small pair of eyeglasses. "But seeing as the library is more yours than mine, I shall withdraw to less...eventful surroundings. Good evening, Princess." For a moment, enormously broad shoulders and a large frame filled out the doorway, and then the man was gone, closing the door judiciously behind him.

It took about a year for Kisuke to find his voice. "Uhm....who was that?"

Yoruichi was already laving at his left ear, an action that drove Kisuke absolutely wild. "Oh, that's just our latest kidou intern. We've got some of the rarest books on demon-magic in all the clans, so members of the kidou corps routinely petition for the right to study here..." Noticing Kisuke was having a rather hard time breathing, her eyebrows twitched together in mild concern. "Are you alright?"

"Uhm, YEAH. Fine. I just got caught butt-ass nekkid, snoggering the Shihouin heir - who happens to also be my superior officer. That's all." This stretched the bounds of even Kisuke's care-free experience; he felt rather ill. "I wonder how long it will take for the court-martial, or if they'll just hang me without a trial...."

With a throaty chuckle, Yoruichi wrapped herself around her slender lover. "Don't be silly - I told you, no one cares. Tessai least of all - the only thing he cares about is kidou and napping. He probably won't even remember this tomorrow, and if he does, it shouldn't be hard to convince him it was all a dream. Trust me, he won't tell a soul."

Her ministrations on his ear finally starting to work, Kisuke felt himself melting into a boneless heap. "Well...if you're sure..." Reluctance was vanishing by the heartbeat.

"Not only am I sure, I order you to get over it," Yoruichi purred, her wandering hands doing disastrous things to Kisuke's self control. "And if you even dream of arguing with a direct order, I'll have you up for a real court-martial."

Kisuke's grin broke free, and with a growl he flipped Yoruichi over and neatly pinned her to the ground. His lips could not find her navel fast enough as he breathed across her fiery skin.

"Hai, Taicho."