JC: Heads up, people, coz this story is inspired by various fairy tales. But don't expect any kiddy Disney stuff here, okay? This will contain dark, mature themes along the way. This is my second multi-chaptered UlquiHime fic, which will include other pairings as well. You have no idea how many times I rewrote this. I'm just glad I got everything straight because I was really itching to put this story up on the net. After drawing an art for my previous UlquiHime fanfic, Love in the Mask, I've decided to make occasional promotional arts for this story. Of course, I'll inform you guys whenever I posted a new art. Besides, the arts will help you visualize the story a lot clearer, especially when it comes to their outfits.

Additional Note: The promotional artwork for this story is up on DA. The link's in my profile.

Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to the amazing Tite Kubo. Some scenes here are inspired by various fairy tales, especially Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.


Chapter 01: Rabbit in a Waistcoat? NOT!

Orihime Inoue was the most popular girl in school, far from average when it comes to looks and physique. She was fair-skinned, had always been slender, yet her seemingly delicate features was a direct contrast to her athletic prowess. She was a real head-turner, especially around boys. With a pretty face like hers and long, orange hair, she would stand out anywhere. She wasn't just beauty. Academically she ranked 3rd in the whole freshman year, though she may appear as an airhead at times. In addition to that, she was kind, friendly, and highly sociable. Her sunny disposition allowed her to make friends with ease.

And because of her smiles, nobody ever suspects the loneliness in her heart.

Everyone knew Sora Inoue had been a good man, a good brother, and a respectable friend until the day he died. He had a tragic childhood. He was raised by an alcoholic father and a prostitute mother. He had moments where he wanted to run away but couldn't. However, when Orihime came to his life, he found his motivation and became more assertive. At the age of 18, he ran away from home, taking Orihime with him. He raised Orihime like any loving parent would. He had taught her to be good, compassionate, and friendly to others. Orihime was always a bundle of joy and no matter how strenuous his job gets, Orihime was there to lift his spirits up. He had lived good 12-years of his life with Orihime. And now, sadly, he was gone.

He had died in a car accident, and Orihime had carried him from the site of the accident to a small clinic in their neighborhood. The clinic lacked the materials needed to conduct surgery on him, and the doctor immediately called an ambulance. Orihime sat next to his bedside, holding his hand, begging him to hold on. But the god of death still came and took him away from her.

Her big brother was such a handsome man. He was one of the most sought after bachelors in their neighborhood. Orihime even took the pleasure of reading his fan letters they get in the mail and the chocolates every Valentine's Day was a box load. He had been a straight-A student at school and worked odd jobs for income. He was always generous, fair, and helpful, and everyone liked him.

Her brother was the only family she had ever known. She was only three years old when they left their parents, so she could hardly remember them. But her brother would never let her live with them. After the harsh experience he had gone through under their roof, he would probably come back from the dead to stop her.

With her brother gone, it was hard to continue her life in middle school. It had been 3 weeks since her brother's death, and she had become withdrawn from society. She was known in school for her sunny smiles, but she had lost the ability to even crack a smile on her face. She felt more awful as the days goes by. The government promised to find her a new home and foster parents. However, she wasn't so keen with the idea of living together with another family.

"I feel sorry for Inoue-san," a classmate whispered, as Orihime walked slowly down the hall.

People have commented from time to time on how friendly and sociable Orihime was. Anyone who had ever gone to school with her knew her. She was an endearing young girl with a great personality. She was always in a sailor-type uniform at school, but during the weekends a lot of people would notice that Asian flower printed skirts and blouses are her preferred choice of clothes.

Orihime went to the rooftop, staring up at the sky. She looked like an empty shell. Her body was there, but her mind and soul was elsewhere. The door made a creaking sound, but she didn't turn around to face whoever it was. She stilled herself in the same spot, keeping watch of the clear blue sky.

The newcomer was a bespectacled boy about the same age. He had short midnight-blue hair with long bangs split in the middle and framing his face. His sharp eyes were dyed in a beautiful shade of blue. He had a slender body hidden under the Gakuran uniform he was wearing. Overall, he was a good-looking boy. His name was Uryuu Ishida.

"Inoue-san…" he called out to her.

She looked at him, lifelessly, her hair dancing gracefully to the sudden wind. "Ishida-kun…"

"My condolence, Inoue-san," he said.

"Thank you, Ishida-kun," she said quietly, lowering her head and clasping her hands together.

"Your brother was a great person," Ishida told her, and now thinking of Sora Inoue, he approached Orihime until they were just inches apart. She was such a beautiful and kind girl, and he knew she deserved to be happy. "I'm really sorry that such a tragedy had to happen to him."

She looked up at the sky and then back at the person in front of her. "I wonder how it's going to be now without my brother…I don't know if I can…" She wasn't sure how to live her life without a family to turn to. Her brother had been her everything. Sure, she was going to get a new family, but it would still be different.

"You've got a friend here, Inoue-san," Ishida said with a warm smile. "You know you can always count on me."

Uryuu Ishida was known as an introverted, cold, and taciturn guy. He was the typical lone wolf of the school. Despite this, Ishida has a compassionate and gentlemanly side to him. Orihime first met Ishida during their 1st year of middle school in a rather unprecedented situation. After saving her from bullies, Ishida had looked out for Orihime as though he was her big brother at school, although he tends to be overprotective of her. Though withdrawn, Uryuu does not turn away from his responsibilities. Uryuu's sharp sense and intelligence led others to trust and admire him.

She had never said a word to her brother about the bullying at school because she didn't want to worry him. The bullies told her that she was attracting too much attention and they were annoyed by her goody-goody act. Her hair color also contributed to their hatred. It was simple pranks at first, but things got serious as time passed. When the bullies were about to beat her to a pulp, Uryuu intervened and reported them to the teachers. The bullies were then expelled from the school. Ever since that day, Orihime and Uryuu became close friends.

"We cannot change the past. The only thing we can change is the way we feel about the past," Orihime said, thinking back of the rainy day memory of her brother's accident. "I couldn't save my brother. There was nothing I could do. I felt so helpless."

"You can't blame yourself for what happened to him and I'm sure your brother isn't blaming you either."

Tears have begun streaming down her face. "He died before my very eyes. He died while smiling at me. He told me to live on and be happy. But…But I'm not sure if I can do that." She wrapped her arms around herself as she dropped onto her knees, trembling miserably. "I don't like this. I feel so awful. I'm really sorry, Ishida-kun….I'm so sorry…Onii-chan…"

The girl was breaking apart. He hated seeing her like this. He wanted to see her happy again and he was sure that her brother would want the same thing. "Inoue-san, please don't cry anymore. I don't think your brother would like seeing you like this. He wouldn't like seeing you hurting yourself while holding onto the painful memories." He knelt down to her level and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You don't want to worry your brother now, do you?" A handsome smile graced his lips.

She looked up at him and saw the concern in his eyes. It literally struck her heart. "Ishida-kun!" She lunged toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Sudden comfort filled her senses as she nuzzled on his shoulder. For weeks she had endured the pain and suppressed the tears in front of others, even in front of Uryuu, but now she wanted to let it all out. She wanted to cry until she couldn't anymore. "I'm sorry, Ishida-kun," she muttered under her breath.

His face couldn't get any redder, but the blush quickly subsided as he embraced her back. "It's going to be all right, Inoue-san," he whispered, gently stroking her back for comfort. "No matter what happens…I'll always be here for you."

Uryuu was true to his word. To her utter surprise, the foster family that took her in was actually the Ishida family. Although she had no idea what possessed Uryuu's father to adopt her as his own daughter, she had no complaints. In honor of her brother, she decided to keep the Inoue family name, and Uryuu's father respected that. Her dark, sad mood was lifted during the first few days in the Ishida household. Uryuu had been so welcoming, so hospitable and caring. As days turned into months, she and Uryuu took all opportunities to bond.

She can't help but feel lonely about her brother. Last night, she dreamt of him again, so she didn't sleep well, even after she was done crying. But when she came down for breakfast that day, she was all smiles. She ate with Uryuu at the table, talking animatedly about her wild imaginations.

At lunch, she and Uryuu sat at a table along with her best friend, Tatsuki Arisawa, a black-belter in karate and quite the tomboy. She had spiky black hair and a slim body which bellied her great strength. She can be temperamental, but was a good friend to Orihime. Tatsuki had practically become her sister.

Orihime was trying to explain the drawing she made for art class, running her imaginations to the fullest, when her eyes caught sight of green. He was sitting in the corner of the cafeteria. He was alone, quiet, and not eating his meal. She knew that person from class, but he wasn't much of a socialite. In fact, he had never made any friends since he transferred last month in November. An air of indifference always surrounded him, though his cold demeanour was considered to be attractive by some of the girls. He had extraordinary green eyes and unruly black hair with a nice shine to it.

She found herself not able to look away.

"Hey, Orihime, why the hell are you staring at that creepy guy?" Tatsuki questioned, taking a bite out of her apple.

She let out a sigh. "He seems lonely..."

Uryuu pushed up his glasses. "Well, he prefers to be alone. Some of our classmates did try to make friends with him, but they all failed. And may I add the fact that he can be brutally blunt with others? His personality makes him disliked by people."

Orihime felt sadder for him. As beautiful and alluring as he can be, he was not accepted in school. Some of the teachers were fond of him though, probably because of his high grades and intelligence. He was currently ranked 4th in the whole year level.

She continued to stare at him until he looked up and met her silver eyes. Gasping, she quickly looked away. He definitely saw me staring at him! She swallowed hard and took a peek. She almost shrieked when she met his gaze once more. He's still looking at me! Hoping to ease the awkwardness, she started a funny conversation with Tatsuki and Uryuu. She talked about what she was going to make for dinner tonight, which didn't leave a nice impression of Uryuu's and Tatsuki's faces. And during her talk, she sneaked a peek at him from the corner of her eye. To her dismay, he was still staring at her.

Did she have something on her face? Was he angry that she was staring at him earlier? Is this his way of revenge? Making her feel so awkward?

Nightfall waned and feathers of snow drifted down from the sky. Soon the teeming streets of Karakura Town were buried beneath a fluffy blanket of white.

Orihime wrapped a hand-made pink scarf around her neck and quickened her pace. Though the snow's ephemeral beauty demanded her attention, it didn't stop her body from shivering from the spiteful coldness biting through her thick yellow cardigan. She was very eager to go home, where it was warm and cozy. She sighed quietly as she approached the next corner.

Wind suddenly swooped through her, moaning eerily, sending chills up and down her spine. Swallowing hard, she hurried through the shifting shadows. Something was up, something strange and ominous in the air. She stole a look over her shoulder, already beginning to wish she was already home where it was safe. Her heart pounded in trepidation. She moved on, walking faster than ever. But her quick pace caused her to loose balance, sending her sprawling to her hands and knees.

A shadow then loomed over her. Gasping, she lifted her head and saw a handsome young man looking at her. A wave of relief quickly replaced her anxiety. It was none other than her classmate from school, the one who kept staring at her back at the cafeteria earlier. As he gently cupped her elbow and lifted her to her feet, she found herself gazing up into luscious green eyes that seemed to pierce through her soul.

"The road's straight yet you still fell down," he said. The voice that came out of his lips was as cold as the freezing snow. He had always spoken in such a deadpan manner, as if nothing in the world interested him.

She felt herself blushed. "Um...Yeah...Well, I can be a bit clumsy," she said with a nervous chuckle. "Anyway...Thanks for the help!" A smile had graced her lips. She had never spoken to him before. He would only speak when needed, especially if it's to answer the questions of the teachers.

"I simply find it absurd for a woman such as yourself to walk home without any escort, especially with the danger lurking within the shadows," he said.

"Don't worry! I've taken lessons, so I can take care of myself," she said cheerfully. "Thanks for your concern though." She bowed her head and excused herself before taking two steps past him. But she was pulled to a halt when the man gripped her arm.

"It's not in my nature to rush into things, but I feel that we need to talk, woman," he told her, and she looked up at him in shock. "And you will listen to what I have to say."

Although she tried to resist, his grip was surprisingly strong. "And w-what is it that y-you want to talk about?" she questioned nervously.

"Our world is in dire need of your powers. You will come with me in order to put a stop to the fiasco."

She thought he might confess his love to her, like many boys have done before, or be treated to dinner. But to her utter dismay, her anti-social classmate was telling her that her powers were needed to save their world. What was that about? Confused, she snatched back her hand and backed away from him. "I-I have no idea what you're talking about."

He let out a quiet sigh as he slipped his hands into the pockets of his black coat. "Believe it or not, you are a pure soul blessed with god-like powers. Only you have the ability to defeat the malevolence that has plagued our world."

She vigorously shook her head. "I don't understand what you're saying at all!" she exclaimed, wheeling around to run. Before she could take two steps, her classmate had seized her in a firm grip. She struggled, but her strength was no match for his. "Let me—"

"Silence," he ordered, forcing her back against his chest and clamping her mouth with one hand. His skin was icy cold against her face. "Cease this struggling. It's quite pointless really and my patience has its limits."

True, even with the lessons she took in self-defence, her strength wasn't enough to overpower him. His grip was firm and secured. If she would make one wrong move then her arm would break. But what did she ever do to be treated this way? And why was he telling her stuff as if the whole world depended on her? This was just plain crazy.

"Woman," he whispered into her ear, which gave her a strange sensation. "Come with me. I have grown tired of waiting for you." He moved his hand from her lips, smoothing it down her neck as he removed the scarf. He nestled his chin against the crook of her neck and inhaled her sweet scent. His steamy breath and his tempting lips against her neck were enough to make her feel hot. This was so strange. She felt like she was being drugged. How could a man she barely knew could have this effect?

"What are you trying to do?" she said almost in a whisper. The fear she felt before had been replaced by longing. Nostalgia filled her senses as her heart raced. "Just what are you—"

Not another word, he turned her around and kissed her hard on the lips. At first she was too shocked to respond, but after sensing the urgency of his kiss and the deep, compelling feeling in her heart, she responded, her hands clasping the back of his neck. She wasn't supposed to do this. He was a classmate, not even a friend. Yet, as he lifted her against his body, grabbing the back of her knees and wrapping her legs around his, and pressing her against the pole, her body seemed to crave more and more for his touches and kisses. It was as if her body and soul was familiar with him.

Her mind contradicted the passion in her heart, but the kisses were driving her crazy that she couldn't find it in herself to tell him to stop. He began rubbing his body against her, nuzzling her neck once more, making her moan in pleasure. She lifted his face from her neck and stared deeply into his eyes. With a shaky voice, she said his name, "Ulquiorra..."

"I'll say it once more..." he whispered, crushing his lips against hers, desperate for her taste. "Come with me, woman..." And after that, everything went black in her world.

I lust everything about you...

In the middle of a dark chamber he laid the sleeping beauty on an ivory altar stone. Her silky orange hair lay long and straight over the deep red velvet. He touched her cheek and brushed a finger against her lips. Leaning down, he kissed her softly on the lips. His desire had been painful to him. She was so beautiful, so enticing, but his finely honed instincts kept him in control.

This woman was the key to everything. She was the only one capable of defeating the enemy. She was their world's hope, and he had been assigned to protect her. He must put his yearning aside, no matter how difficult it may be. His orders were clear. He cannot be distracted with his own personal interests.

"Your journey will begin as soon as you will open your eyes," he said, keeping a cold demeanour, despite the reluctant feeling to part with her. He had just gotten her back and now things were about to get serious from this point on. "Claim what you have lost and stay strong, woman. Failure is not an option for any one of us."

"The rebellion is starting!" came a voice from the shadows. A blue green-haired girl dressed in a uniform similar to Orihime's, which consisted of a yellow cardigan over a white oxford shirt with a red ribbon and a grey pleated mini-skirt, showed herself to him. "If only we had more time... Our heroine still needs to stay here for the stabilization process or else she would die if she were to step into our world."

"Our orders are to protect her," he said, pulling out a small green candy no bigger than a marble. "We have no choice but to fight until she's ready."

A sigh escaped from the woman's lips. "I, myself, see no point in fighting a losing battle, but as long as there's hope..." She gazed upon Orihime and smiled. "...there's still a way." She pulled out a similar looking candy from the pocket of her skirt.

Simultaneously, they plopped the candy into their mouth and then their souls emerged from their body, clad in a white uniform with swords at their side. Their bodies turned to ashes as a portal of black torrential energy opened up before them. Without a moment to loose they jumped in, disappearing into the darkness.

Orihime woke up, grasping for air instantly, and then sat up only to find herself in a circular white hall with closed doors all around her. "Where am I?" Good question and she wished someone would give her an answer. "And where did he go?"

She stood up and reached for one of the doors, but it was locked. She tried all the doors one by one and much to her utter dismay, all of them were locked. She looked up the ceiling and looked down on the floor. There were no hidden doors or any way out. Was she trapped? She wondered what her classmate wanted with her. Surely he was joking about saving the world he spoke off. Maybe it was to scare her senselessly? Hopefully not or else she would die of heart attack. To possess her body and ruin her life? She shivered. It was a possibility because he had kissed her senselessly, she thought blushing at the memory.

She approached the altar stone. There was a skeletal white key sitting on top. Had this been here before? Why didn't she notice it at first? She searched the doors once more and noticed that all of them had no keyholes. Where was she supposed to insert the key? This was getting weirder by the minute.

Orihime crossed her arms before her chest to think. "How am I supposed to get out of here? And where is he? He'll probably let me go if I ask real nicely." She lifted her head and stared at one of the doors. "But I don't think he'll be appearing anytime soon."

She held up the key, pretending there was a door in front of her. Using her imagination, she held onto the knob and pushed the key through a make-believe keyhole. As she turned the key, she heard something clicked, as if she had unlocked something. The key glowed white and disappeared into thin air.

"Oh, no, where did it go?" Orihime muttered worriedly.

A portal then opened up in front of her, catching her by surprise.

"So the key was for an invisible door?" A smile graced her lips. "If this is a dream, it sure is entertaining!"

The world beyond the portal was as clear as crystal. She could see a garden filled with different kinds of plants and flowers with brightly colored butterflies flying about. She wanted to get in there to enjoy the breathtaking gift of nature, but the portal rejected her entry. She held her hands against the glass-like barrier and sighed. Maybe she was supposed to stay jailed in that place.

She stepped back and sat on the altar stone. To her surprise, there was a small tube bottle with a cartoonish rabbit head on one end and a fluffy tail on the other. She was completely certain that it wasn't there before. She looked around to see if there was anyone around.

"Not a soul in sight," she muttered under her breath.

There was a label on the container that said: 'Soul Candy'. She had never heard of a Soul Candy before, yet she was curious to try it. She had always been fond of sweets and treats ever since she was little. She examined the bottle carefully, wondering how to open it. When she squeezed the rabbit head, a small green candy plopped out of its mouth and rolled onto the altar. She picked up the candy and sniffed it. It smelled sugary.

"Here goes," she said. She plopped the candy into her mouth, tasted its sweetness, and swallowed. "That was delicious."

She turned back to the portal and suddenly noticed a body lying on the floor. Frantically, she knelt down and tried to hold her, but her hands just went through her. She stared at her own hands in shock. What just happened? Was it part of her imagination again? She looked down on the person again and gasped when she realized it was her.

Okay, she somehow ended in such a surprising and scary situation. "What's going on?" She got back up to her feet, clamping her mouth, as she stared at her body. "Am I dead? Am I just a spirit now?" She shook her head. How did this happen? Then she remembered the Soul Candy and figured that its purpose was to remove souls from living bodies.

She paced restlessly around the room, murmuring to herself about how happy her life had been, how sorry she wasn't able to say goodbye to her loved ones, especially to her father and friends. Then she thought of a crazy idea. "I should try getting back into my body!" she said out loud. She moved toward her body and got on all fours. "Please let this work!" She drove her head into the chest, but her temple ended up hitting the floor. The plan was a failure.

Angry purple eyes growled at her through the crystal ball. "Is she stupid or something?" the owner of the eyes muttered.

There was some fidgeting and shoving in the background. "Maybe she's not the right one," a new voice spoke up.

"Maybe you brought the wrong girl, don'tcha know?" another one said.

A deep, emotionless voice spoke up this time. "She is unmistakably the one."

Orihime was pacing back and forth. Her head was spinning. She did not know what to do anymore. "If I'm just a spirit now…then maybe…" The idea struck her like gold. She looked back at the portal and smiled. "Maybe I can go through it!"

She approached the portal, careful not to step on her own body, and gazed upon the world at the other side once more. She lifted a hand toward the glass-like barrier and to her amazement it went through. She stepped into the portal and onto an extraordinary yet lovely world. The garden was full of flowers and trees along the pathway. The rose bushes were especially attractive, featuring colors of red, yellow, white and surprisingly blue. It was her first time to see real blue roses. And the trees bear fruits which were unknown to her. She would like to try them but figured doing that later because she wasn't hungry at the moment.

Orihime began exploring the garden, feeding her eyes with its magnificence. It was much, much beautiful than the gardens of her own world and it was so huge.

"Is it really her?" a voice said.

Orihime whirled around and came face to face with a group of people. Well, two of them looked human, while she can't seem to find the right words to describe the other two. However, among the group was the classmate that was so intimate with her. She could never forget those cold green eyes and that dashing face, and those kisses! She felt her face going red as she recalled their passionate moment under the snow. How could she let herself be touched like that? She felt so embarrassed!

Pushing her crazy thoughts aside, she noticed the difference in her classmate's appearance. The dark unruly mane was still the same. But his skin was so pale and he had teal lines running down from his emerald-green eyes. He was wearing a white-colored, black-outlined white coat with high collar and tailcoats, white hakama pants, and a pair of black-colored, white-outlined boots.

"I'm not convinced," the female standing beside her classmate said, crossing her arms over her chest. "I don't even sense any spiritual power." She was clad in a flowing short skirt with a black sash, a sleeveless top that only covered her neck, her back and a part of her round breasts, a pair of arm warmers and thigh-high boots. The color theme of her outfit was the same as her classmate's. Her silky dark hair was tied up in two pigtails.

She was beautiful in Orihime's eyes.

"Should I remind you that her spiritual powers were sealed until now? I believe this was well-explained back at the castle before we were sent here. If you were the least bit diligent, this minor fact would not have been much of a surprise to you." The pale man explained in a remarkably icy voice, yet Orihime found it to be very appealing somehow.

The female shrugged. "Get off my case."

The pair of odd creatures spoke up.

"Are you really the one?" said the ant-like creature wearing a loin cloth and an eye patch. He had a purple body and blond hair sticking out of his mask.

"But if she's not, then she's not, don'tcha know?" said the large one wearing a tiki mask and yellow polka-dotted attire.

"She's really pretty, don't you agree?" the ant one said with a faint blush. "Way prettier than Loly."

The female called Loly retorted back with an iron fist. "What did you just say?"

"Umm…Excuse me…But what do you mean by 'the one'?" Orihime asked. "And what is this place?"

The ant-like creature took hold of her hand. "This is your home!" he said in a cheerful tone. "Well, technically, you're in the Garden of Blossoms right now, which is a place located within the great Soul Society! If you'd like, I can take you on a grand tour, free of charge since you're so pretty! I'm Pesche, by the way! Pleased to meet your acquaintance."

"And I'm Dondonchakka, Pesche's partner!" The tiki-masked creature seized her other hand. "It's quite an honor to meet you, don'tcha know?"

Loly cleared her throat. "Idiots…"

"I'll escort you, milady," Pesche said.

"That's not fair, don'tcha know? I want to escort the young miss myself," Dondochakka butted in.

And the human tag of war began. Orihime thought she might be ripped apart in two in a minute.

Her classmate expressed a silent sigh. "Enough of this. You two are clearly wasting time here." He extended an arm forward, doing it with natural poise, and pointed a finger at them. Then a surge of green energy gathered at his fingertips. "If you do not wish to be disintegrated, then I suggest you step away from the woman this instant."

Trembling in fear, the two creatures quickly released Orihime and created a considerable amount of distance from her. After that, the green light disappeared. Orihime sighed in relief, but she kind of understood how Pesche and Dondochakka felt. He was quite the serious type and his threat was enough to send shivers down her spine.

As he was about to turn on his heel, Orihime called out to him. "Ichimaru-kun, can you tell me why—" She let out a small shriek as he glared daggers at her.

Loly laughed mockingly. "Ichimaru-kun? Now that's rich! Hey, Mr. dark and gloomy, what possessed you to choose that name as your alias?" She dropped a heavy hand on his stiff shoulder. "You must have a thing for that fox-faced bastard, huh?" She laughed more loudly and more insultingly this time.

"Well, we should call him Ichimaru-san from now on, don'tcha know?" Dondochakka added.

"Yeah, that's right!" Pesche said.

The two of them wanted to laugh out loud, but they held it in because they don't want to taste his wrath.

Orihime realized that she must have insulted him. "I am so sorry!" She bowed her head in apology. "I didn't know it wasn't your real name. But I wanted to ask you something. And I think I have the right to know." She straightened her body and levelled her gaze to his. "Please tell me why you brought me here."

"Leave us."

Her heart skipped a beat.

"No way!" Pesche uttered, stepping in front of the girl, making an X with his arms. "I'm not leaving this beauty alone with you."

Loly gave him a good whack on the head. "Dumbass! You wanna get killed?" She tugged on his loincloth and dragged him away, with Dondochakka following closely.

Step by step, he moved toward her with cold eyes glued to hers. Every nerve in her body was struck with a wave of anomalous intensity. His mere presence, the unassailable air of superiority he possessed, was enough to make her feel suffocated. But she cannot deny how beautiful he was despite the mask of indifference.

He stopped just a foot apart from her. "Do not be alarmed," he said. "I felt it was necessary to send them away in order to explain things clearly without any interference.

"Umm…So…Why did you bring me here?" She suddenly felt a little shy.

"Convincing you to come with me in such a way was ill-mannered of me."

Orihime could not tell if he was trying to apologize for his actions or not. However, she would like to point out that she was literally forced to come. "Why...?" She swallowed hard. "Why did you kiss me?" She curled her fingers into her palms, suddenly feeling nervous. And why did I seem to like his kisses so much?

"This world is in chaos, and it has decided to seek your aid. To be more specific, your powers are needed."

"Wha—What?" Orihime exclaimed in surprise. "Powers? I don't have the slightest idea of what you're talking about. I am a normal human being. I have no powers."

"You possess powers that you are not even aware of, woman. You are free to think otherwise, but you cannot deny the destiny that's written in the palm of your hands. You will fight against the Hollow King and lead this world to accord once more."

Orihime backed away from him, shaking her head. "I am the one who's supposed to save this world?" And how will she supposed to fight? She had never even lifted a sword in her life and her self-defence lessons would not be enough.

Green eyes narrowed dangerously. "You are in no position to decline. This is not a negotiation. It is an order. Deny all you want, plead if you must, but you can never change your fate. The wheels have started to turn the moment you set foot into this world."

She found herself speechless as if his words had stabbed her in the heart. What was she supposed to do? She had no means of going back into the world she came from. And she figured that running away from him would be a fruitless effort. Can she really save this world? But she was a stranger to this land, so why seek her help? She was just a normal high school girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut, a teacher, a baker and many more in the future. She was no savior. She was not the one. She wished that everything was just a horrible dream!

As if things couldn't get any worse, a loud roar echoed through the garden, shaking the ground beneath their feet. Orihime screamed as something smashed through the wall nearby. She then saw a vicious-looking animal. It bears a striking resemblance to a panther, only bigger, and it was covered in white armor. Its nose, ears, and paws were black in color and its eyes were surprisingly blue like the sky. Its teeth were frighteningly sharp and stained with blood.

"What kind of animal is that?" she said in a shaky voice.

Her companion stepped up in front and unsheathed his sword.


His face remained unchanged when he glanced at her, but Orihime could somehow sense that he was fairly annoyed with the name.

"I am the 4th Knight of the Royal Guards, serving under her majesty, The Divine Queen, and my name is Ulquiorra Cifer," he said, as the panther creature growled ferociously. There was bloodlust in its blue eyes. "Under her majesty's orders, I am assigned to protect this woman at all cost. You are deemed as a threat to her life, therefore, I must eliminate you."

Orihime blinked in surprise. So, his name was Ulquiorra Cifer and he was working under the Divine Queen. But his name was familiar. She recalled saying his name before she blacked out. How she knew his name was a mystery and he was getting interesting by the minute. The loud roar of the panther brought her back to the situation at hand and made her knees tremble. She certainly did not want to be eaten or killed by it.

"Woman, I suggest you run," Ulquiorra demanded.

Her mind told her to run, but her heart wanted her to stay by Ulquiorra's side because she felt safer with him. Nevertheless, the mind won over and Orihime ran back toward the path. She then stopped and peered over her shoulder to look at Ulquiorra. Shutting her eyes firmly, she yelled, "Please be careful, Ulquiorra-san!" and then she ran off.

To be continued…

JC: I try not to make it too similar to the Alice in Wonderland you all know. Yeah, I gave the rabbit role to Ulquiorra. Be thankful he's not going around yelling 'I'm late! I'm late.' We've got a totally different version of the rabbit character. Pesche and Dondochakka are the Tweedle twins here but they're not related, okay? The Dormouse character is Loly because I felt like it. I bet you guys can guess who the panther is. Don't worry, he won't stay panther for long. Remember, this story is inspired by various fairy tales, mainly Alice in Wonderland, but I've added my own twists. Please tell me what you think. I need feedbacks. No flaming please. If you wanna check the promotional art for this story, just visit my profile page and click on the link.