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The Usual Arrangement

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Legally, Kurosaki Isshin is an entrepreneur, from a family of entrepreneurs. He owns the three largest nightclubs in Karakura and the only sanctioned casino, as well.

 

Legally, is the key word there.

 

The Underworld knows a little better. Kurosaki Isshin runs the Kurosaki family, which has been one of the five Elder Families of the Karakura Underworld for over a century now. They’re respected, in a way that means they don’t necessarily have to be feared, and they hold the highest position in the Underworld by means of a combination of diplomacy, firepower, and sheer bloody-minded insanity.

 

Which is why Ichigo is standing here, intensely uncomfortable, as the Shihouin family attendant presents their latest offering.

 

It’s a person.

 

The blond head is still bowed deferentially, but Ichigo knows from his initial look that the man is barely older than Ichigo-- perhaps twenty six to Ichigo's twenty two. He's wearing a plain, forest green kimono shirt and slightly darker hakama, and no adornments. His fingers have curled lightly into the fabric of his pants.

 

The Shihouin attendant, Sui Feng, is still talking.

 

"... felt that Yoruichi-sama could, perhaps, branch out from her childhood friends and take on another retainer. In such a light, they saw the possible benefit to sending her former attendant to the Shiba family, as a diplomat and gesture of good will."

 

In short, Ichigo translates darkly, there was little the Shihouin Oyabun could do to control her, and after her latest gambling heist at the expense of the Shiba, they thought to punish her by taking away her friend and using him as a hostage to her future good behavior. Next time she steps out of line, he will suffer, as they no doubt intended.

 

They've given him a servant and a whipping boy, and he will have to be Ichigo's, from one clan heir to another.

 

Sometimes Ichigo truly hates all the political dancing around. They're the Underworld; shouldn't they be able to say what they really mean?

 

Over an hour later, the meeting concludes, and it is with some relief that Ichigo steps from the room, leaving the temporary care of his new charge to his own retainers.

 

That evening, when he gets back to his room, the blond is waiting for him, resting neatly on his knees beside the kotatsu. Ichigo stares, and the waiting man folds down into a perfect formal bow.

 

"Good evening, Shiba-sama. How may this one be of service?"

 

Ichigo is uncomfortably reminded of a traditional wedding scene.

 

“I’m fine, thank you. You don’t have to...bow, or whatever.”

 

The man straightens, eyes attentively on Ichigo, and the Shiba heir abruptly realizes he hasn’t even asked after his name.

 

“What do I call you, anyway? I’m Shiba Ichigo.”

 

“This one is called Urahara Kisuke, Shiba-sama.”

 

Ichigo jerks his head in a nod and moves over to the wardrobe, intent on a long bath to wash away the sheer weirdness of today. He only realizes his mistake when the action brings Urahara hurrying over to take the towel and clothes from him. Ichigo wants to tell him it’s not necessary, but he can’t quite bring himself to just send the other away again, either, can’t afford to reject the Shihouin’s “gift” and unwilling to make the other feel unwelcome.

 

Bloody fucking politics.

 

Urahara is utterly attentive throughout the rest of the evening, and when Ichigo finally heads for bed, the man is kneeling at his bedside, head down. His voice, when he speaks, is worryingly flat.

 

“Shiba-sama. How do you want me?”

 

Ichigo considers this for half a second before he grasps the implications, and then grimaces. It wouldn’t be outside his “rights,” but Ichigo has never been able to stomach even the concept of rape, and taking anything from his new attendant would be nothing less.

 

“I’m not going to touch you without your consent. There’s a futon in the closet, if you would like to set it up.”

 

The blond head jerks up for a moment, and grey eyes fixate on Ichigo’s face through the veil of hair.

 

The look on his face cuts Ichigo to the core, and he has to turn his own face away lest he betray himself.

 

“Sir… what about my punishment?”

 

Ichigo blinks in confusion, the non sequitur throwing him off.

 

“What punishment?”

 

He glances back over, but Urahara has ducked his head again.

 

“For Yoruichi-sama’s, ah, indiscretion? If it pleases you, this one would prefer to have it done with now.”