Summary: Side story of "Alive', but set further in near-future than the main story. In which Karin sputters, the others are amused, and Hitsugaya is (not quite) annoyed. Hitsugaya x Karin and slight Ichigo x Rukia, with Uriya (Ulquiorra), Renji, Ikkaku, and Yumichika as side characters.

Disclaimer: I don't own BLEACH and will never. Tite Kubo does; and I praise him for that *sigh*

It's just my random thought. I want to make some romance, so I decide to make this one. Well, it's not likely a romance though, more like ordeal for both Karin and Hitsugaya. And Uriya of all people who does the torturing, mwahahaha... Maybe you will find this one a bit meaningless... forgive me, I'm half dead by now and in desperate need to sleep!

Anyway, I want to make it multi chaptered; but after I finish 'Alive' first. Give me your opinion! Please R&R! I know, I have tendency to make the canon characters OOC, but *sigh* it can't be helped…

Anyhow, I spoil my own secret of the story within this fic… I do intend to make both Ichigo and Uriya as 5th division taichou and fukutaichou, respectively. And so on and on… I have to stop before I spoil everything *sigh*


REVELATION

Full blown, oppressing reiatsu blared all around the vast area of Urahara's training ground. Screeching sound of metal clashing against metal could be heard over and over. Dust and dirt scattered around, forming layers that cover the center of the battle field. Everyone couldn't make two figures out from behind the dust, except for their glaringly obvious reiatsu.

Kurosaki Karin panted heavily while maintaining her stance with utmost difficulty. She fixed her dark brown eyes towards the person standing right in front of her. Her zanpakuto, a kodachi named Hiei, was tightly gripped within her small hands. She was shivering, not because of cold or something weather-thingy, but mostly because of the pressure of the other's reiatsu.

She grimaced. Uriya-niisan surely didn't take her halfheartedly. He didn't back away from her; instead giving her his one hell, full-blown-reiatsu-assault of a training. And she was grateful for that.

If it was Ichi-nii or Toushiro, she wasn't sure they would do the same thing. They were afraid to injure her or simply scratch her skin. Hell, she wasn't a porcelain doll, for god' sake!

She blinked when the pale figure of her temporary trainer shifted slightly from behind the thin layer of dust. However, when she blinked for second time, he was already gone. She gasped and tried vainly to locate his reiatsu; only to find a blade under her chin, threatening to cut her delicate throat.

She gulped and craned her neck to meet the pale, impassive face of Shizu Uriya. His brilliant green eyes rooted on her face, indifferent and betraying nothing as usual.

"You're lost, Karin," he stated matter-of-factly. Karin smirked weakly.

"Yeah, I guess so, Shizu-sensei."

"It's Uriya-san …or niisan, if you want. Don't call me with such embarrassing formality like that." He deadpanned, lowering Tsukuyomi from her neck. "I'm not even your long-term tutor. It's Urahara-san."

"Well, I don't care who my tutor is. As long as there is good fight, I'm on. At least, you're better than Ichi-nii or, god forbid, Toushiro." She exclaimed cheekily. She sheathed Hiei back to its scabbard.

Uriya raised his brows inquiringly. "Why? Ichigo, I could understand. But Hitsugaya-taichou… he seems like determined man to me. He is undoubtedly man of action. He can be a good sparring partner, right?"

Karin pouted and shook her head no. "Nuh uh. He is the worst. He's full of hesitancy and worry when it comes to my training. Fighting him is kinda fighting low-graded Hollow. So easy and no challenge."

Uriya scoffed softly. "Somehow I doubt that, Karin."

"Believe me, Uriya-niisan, he is the worst. He's afraid to hit me, or even spar seriously with me. That is no fun at all!"

"…I see." Uriya cleared his throat, trying desperately to hide his smile caused by his sudden comprehension of the situation. "…Maybe, that's because he likes you."

Karin spun around to stare wide-eye at him. Her jaw practically dropped and, to Uriya's amusement, she was blushing in several degrees of red shades.

"Wh—wha—what??!" she sputtered embarrassedly.

Uriya couldn't stand it anymore. He chuckled lightly, amused by the emotion playing on the younger girl's face. She was similar like Orihime in one and many ways, he mused affectionately.

"What? So you aren't even aware of that?" he teased.

Karin was speechless. She gaped like a dead goldfish; and it took all of Uriya's will power not to burst out laughing like a madman.

"B—b—bu—but, it's im—impossible!!" she screeched incredulously.

"Why not?"

"I—I mean, we're not even close each other!! We barely meet and talk!"

"Nonsense. That's irrelevant. Maybe I'm not the brilliant expert in emotion department, moreover, love," he emphasized the syllables, "But I'm quite sure about this one. Hitsugaya-taichou is easy to read. So are you."

Karin stared at her tutor in disbelief. She had lost her awful blush, but she surely as hell didn't lose her rapid heartbeats.

"…Ah." Uriya suddenly tutted, making Karin jump on her spot. "They have come back from scouting."

"Th—they?" She dumbly repeated.

"Hitsugaya-taichou's group," the older man smiled faintly.

Karin felt like she wanted to faint.

###

Hitsugaya Toushiro huffed tiredly and plopped himself on the tatami inside Urahara's living room. He had come back from daily scouting and as per usual, there was nothing bizarre happened. Not that he hoped for the opposites, though.

His fukutaichou, Matsumoto Rangiku, had long gone for a shopping spree with Orihime and Tatsuki. Initially, she had had an intention to drag Karin along, but the younger girl refused, saying something about training. Hitsugaya knew that Urahara was unavailable to train her, so he was kinda wondering: whom Karin was training with?

His question was answered when the door connecting the living room and the inner room was opened softly. He saw the 5th division fukutaichou, formerly Cuarta Espada, Ulquiorra Schiffer a.k.a. Shizu Uriya, entered the living room silently, followed by exhausted-looking Karin. The older man took a seat on the corner of the room; after nodding affirmatively at him and the others, i.e. Abarai Renji, Madarame Ikkaku, and Ayasegawa Yumichika. The girl was sitting next to him.

Karin, however, did the same, but averting her gaze when she regarded him lastly. Hitsugaya frowned. That was weird.

"Yo, Uriya." Renji drawled. "Training with Kurosaki missy, eh?"

Karin scowled at him for being called 'missy'. Renji ignored her.

Uriya nodded slowly. "…Yes. Just for short time, though. I don't want to engage Ichigo in fierce battle regarding his sister's suddenly injured form."

"You hurt her for real?!" It was Hitsugaya asking. Though his face betrayed nothing, but Uriya could hear his voice slightly strained. He hid his smile.

"…No." The green eyed man retorted monotonously. "Unfortunately not."

Karin chuckled. Uriya-niisan always had some kind of bitter humor.

Hitsugaya refrained himself from scowling at the older male. He didn't particularly like him; for being formerly Arrancar and so on; but at least he was tolerable. Even more than one Kurosaki Ichigo. The carrot-head still insisted calling him by his first name despite his dislike. And he was loud-mouthed idiot.

"Ichigo?" Uriya inquired at no one in particular.

"Still scouting with Rukia." Renji answered. "But I think they just want to be alone for some time."

Uriya snorted. "Most likely. Sometimes I wonder, whether I or Rukia-san is his true fukutaichou."

Ikkaku cackled. "She is for most time his lover."

"That is glaringly obvious, Ikkaku. They are such a beautiful couple. In Kuchiki's part, mostly." Yumichika piped in while observing his reflection in the mirror.

Karin was silent while listening to their idle chatting. She looked at every spot but him. No, she didn't want to look at him. She couldn't stand to be rooted on spot with heavy blush …just by locking eyes with him. It was utterly embarrassing. Who knew that the icy taichou liked her in such way?

Hitsugaya was also silent; but sometimes his eyes shifted towards Karin's direction here and there. She still avoided looking at him. Hitsugaya' permanent scowl deepened. He was quite vexed by now.

"Ne, Karin-chan."

Yumichika's gaily voice almost made her jump out of her skin. Karin looked at the effeminate man and grinned sheepishly.

"What, Yumichika-san?"

"Is there something amiss?"

"Huh?" Karin was mortified.

"Well, you seem a bit …off today? Did Shizu-fukutaichou hit your head hard or something?"

"Umm, no, no, I'm fine really." Karin glanced at Uriya. The older man only raised his brows ever-so-slightly. "I—I'm fine."

Yumichika observed her intently for a while before he clasped his hands loudly.

"Ahha!! You're in pinky mode!! I knew it!"

If he was drinking tea, Hitsugaya surely had choked himself by now. Karin was no better.

"WHA—WHAT??!!" she cried out loud in un-lady like manner.

Yumichika laughed heartily watching her instant reaction. She was blushing like mad. It was priceless.

"I knew it! You're finally falling for someone!"

Karin blushed more. "I—I'm not!!"

"Don't be shy, Karin-chan. It's good news, you know?"

"Yumichika-san, you—"

Both Ikkaku and Renji joined Yumichika in laughter. Uriya scoffed softly. He glanced at Hitsugaya only to see the young taichou was inwardly dismayed. Outwardly, he was indifferent and calm, but inwardly… well, Uriya knew it was the opposite. Being an introvert himself, Uriya was surely an expert in reading people's inner emotion.

"Ayasegawa-san, don't tease her further. Even if it's kind of true." Uriya interjected calmly. Karin's head snapped towards her tutor very fast Uriya wonder she might catch a whiplash.

"Uriya-niisan!! What the hell?!"

"Hm? I'm only saying the truth."

"The truth my ass! There's no truth here! It's just random guess anyway!" Karin fumed.

Uriya was somehow unfazed. He poured a cup of green tea for himself and sipped the tea calmly. The other three were still laughing though, so Karin quickly spun around and faced them with unmasked anger. Her reiatsu flared higher and higher it made them almost instantly stopped their merry escapade.

"Ne, Karin-chan, it's just a joke, okay? Nothing serious." Yumichika coaxed slowly, anticipating her explosion of fury.

"Yeah, missy, it's just joking. Right, Ikkaku?" Renji turned towards the bald man. Ikkaku nodded curtly.

"So, you guys are just joking. By the way, what do you think, Hitsugaya-taichou?" Uriya asked slowly.

Hitsugaya froze. "Pardon?"

"What do you think about Karin being in pinky mode, Hitsugaya-taichou?" Uriya borrowed Yumichika's flamboyant term. Renji and Ikkaku snickered. Yumichika chuckled lightly. All of them had turned their attention towards one white haired taichou, who seemingly frozen on spot.

"…I don't think my opinion is relevant."

"Do you think so?"

"Uriya-niisan! Honestly!!" Karin yelled at him, blushing furiously. How could he ask Toushiro about this particular matter?! Did he want to embarrass her in front of the others?! She didn't believe that his brother's fukutaichou, the most composed and calmest man in the entire Soul Society (except for Byakuya, of course), could pull a prank on her like this. And he did it with straight, indifferent face all along.

But… wait a minute… why was she getting so riled up for? Why she felt suddenly unwilling to hear his opinion? She didn't even have any feeling for Toushiro, did she? Did she?

"…Well…" Hitsugaya uncharacteristically flustered much to everyone's amazement. Hitsugaya Toushiro didn't fluster before. "I—I think it's good." And he stammered, for god' sake.

"Good?" Uriya pushed.

"Erm, yeah…"

"For who?"

Hitsugaya gulped. "For—for her, of course."

"Really?" the 5th division fukutaichou tipped his chin thoughtfully. "Well… is it good for you?"

Hitsugaya choked his own spit. Karin sputtered. Both of them blushed furiously.

"Wh—what?"

Uriya smiled ever-so-slightly. He raised his head slowly when he felt familiar reiatsu approaching. "…Ichigo's coming."

Bickering could be heard from the front yard. Rukia's voice somehow dominated the dispute, though. Ichigo's voice could be heard interjecting her harsh snaps here and there. But it was no doubt for the listeners about who would win the quarrel.

"Couple's fight." Ikkaku muttered, shaking his head.

"That is so ugly to hear. Yet somehow endearing." Yumichika chuckled.

"Che. They just like to bicker against each other. They enjoy it." Renji snorted. "They do it all the time anyway."

The three of them rose from their spot and walked towards the source of the noises. Soon, their cheering yells joined the commotion.

Relieved that most attentions weren't directed at him or Karin anymore, Hitsugaya rose from his seat to go to the kitchen; only to find a firm hand clasping his right shoulder. He looked up to see Uriya looming over him, his brilliant green eyes glinting with some kind of mischief. He almost scoffed for thinking like that, though. Mischief and Shizu Uriya just didn't match together. But here he was, staring mischievously at him while planting his hand on his shoulder; practically immobilizing him.

"…What?" he asked the older man exasperatedly.

Uriya smirked. "Just for you to know: you have my blessing if you want to approach Karin. Well, not that my opinion is really mattered though."

Hitsugaya stared at him blankly. When his words were registered within his mind, he gawked and sputtered incredulously.

"Haah?!"

Uriya glanced at Karin who watched the whole event. She did indeed hear his words clearly; since her face now sported heavier blush than before. He chuckled lightly. Kurosakis were truly fascinating.

"Well, just prepare yourself for Ichigo from now on."

He let go of Hitsugaya' shoulder and sauntered towards the front yard, leaving the young pair to gape at his back.

###