Countdown: 14

Here we go! The beginning of yet another wonderful adventure! I hope you guys like it, I sort of felt as if it didn't go as well as my other fics. Oh well, I tried. The summary sucks, but I can't help that. I didn't exactly have enough words to explain everything... so much happens T^T If any of you are wondering, this fic is based on the book 'Unicorn Bait'. Very good book, I reccomend reading it if you're into fantasy =)

Shiro: I don' like this fic! I ain't in it much! *pout*

Vae: I'm sorry, Shiro, I really tried T^T

Ichi: Don't make her cry, you asshole! DX

Shiro: I don' know what yer all pissy 'bout, she put ya in a dress. *huffs*

Ichi: I know, but I'm fucking awesome! I don't get to lord over Grimmjow often, let me relish in it! DX

Grimm: 'Lord over Grimmjow'? Fuck that, we both know that's not the case here. *scoffs*

Ichi: Sure, you keep telling yourself that. *smug smirk*

Chapter 1

Ichigo Kurosaki has lost the last thing that matters to him, the archeologist that raised him. Kisuke was a very eccentric man that swore up and down that the myths and legends of the world were real. He and his wife, Yorouchi, strove to prove that very thing. She disappeared a year ago, but Kisuke came up missing just last week… no body, no crime scene. Ichigo didn't have anyone before them, nor does he have anyone after. He sits within a drab room, in the middle of a city he's never felt a part of, searching boxes. This is all that's left of his family.

"This is ridiculous," he mutters. "Nineteen years and I'm now alone with nothing more than a box of memories."

He's a smart boy, majoring in mythology and archeology. His body is built like a swimmer, lithe with tightly packed muscle, and his spiky hair is a perfect shade of orange. His eyes are amber, just a shade away from gold, and he's well versed in many fighting styles. One of Kisuke's favorite pastimes was sparring on digs; Ichigo was one of his favorite partners. As he reaches for another box, a small wooden one is knocked onto the floor. A strange artifact rolls across hard wood to stop by the orange head's feet.

"What's this?" Ichigo questions. "Looks like an ancient relic, but it doesn't have any specific culture tied to it. Almost seems like… a mixture of them all."

He turns it about in his hands, curiosity overriding common sense, and realizes this is the very same artifact Yorouchi was studying when she vanished… the same one Kisuke took to researching when he disappeared. It's a good sized talisman that fits well in his hand, a long chain dangling from it… a key shape of sorts hanging from a large gem's bottom and the chain at its top. He lifts it closer to his face, reading the sand script along the key's handle. Tiny emeralds and rubies are set with diamonds and sapphires throughout the whole thing. The larger gem, of course, seems to pulse with a hibernating power.

"This is amazing," he breathes out. "The translation seems to read something on a world made completely of myth and legend! It would seem this is the key to it, but… how do you use it?"

He stands with the key, boxes forgotten within his living room, and heads to the kitchen. There's a line of tarnish on the handle, blocking the rest of the inscription. He quickly rubs it off, reading the last bit.

"Hold tight?" he questions. "Why would it have… Whoa!"

A blinding light bursts forth from the top gem, Ichigo's grip relaxing on the talisman before he recalls the warning. Without missing a beat, he tightens his grip on the key handle. Though it warms to a serious level, he ignores the pain of burning skin. Whatever this thing is, it's important and he's not about to lose it. He can vaguely make out his apartment melting from the outskirts of the light, a forest replacing it. Amber orbs widen in shock, fear spiking within the young man as the brilliant light recedes… leaving him in a forest he's never seen before.

"Where the fuck am I?" he gapes.

There's a ruckus from within the brush, Ichigo quickly slipping the key's chain around his neck and the ornament beneath his shirt. He's glad he kept his bag on his shoulder, the strap crossing over his chest. It's filled with his favorite books on mythology and he never sets it aside if he can help it. A man and woman step from the trees, curiosity and surprise filling them.

"My lord, what are you doing out here on your own?" a muscular redhead wonders. "We should get you back home."

"Who are you?" Ichigo wonders. "What is this place?"

"Shit," the redhead grumbles. "I think he caught amnesia. Come on, Rukia; let's get him back to the palace alchemist. I'm sure he'll be able to figure this out."

A petite raven gently guides Ichigo onto a forest path, the flimsy split rail fence around a large town just coming into view. It's like stepping back in time to a more medieval age. He can see slightly modern things about the simple town, electricity and running water, but that's about it. These people stick with carts and horses and manual labor. There's a temple near the village center, a statue of a Greek god standing tall and imposing.

"Wow," the orange head breathes out. "Dad was right… they are real."

The castle is huge in the background, made of ivory and gold. Large amber pools absorb everything, all the cultures from around the world meeting in this single haven. Unfortunately, some of the animals are roaming wherever. Chickens are roosting on porch railings, eggs are strewn about like Easter, and goats seem to be the preferred lawn mower.

"They definitely need some help in this area," Ichigo mumbles.

"Here we are, my lord," Rukia grins. "Renji and I will stay with you if that's what you prefer."


They step into the large building, Ichigo surprised it's actually quite warm considering it seems to be the beginning of spring. The throne room comes into view, a tall man with a head of shaggy white locks humming to himself as he steps out. Rukia and Renji freeze in shock, looking between Ichigo and the white haired man's back.

"Prince Shiro! I thought… but we… how did you..?"

The man turns and both he and Ichigo gasp in surprise… they look almost completely identical save for coloring. Ichigo is more vibrant than the one before him, Shiro paler and slightly taller. There's a gold circlet around his brow. They step toward each other, circling one another in awe.

"Ichigo?" Shiro questions cautiously.

"… How do you know me? Who are you?" Ichigo frowns. "Why do you look like me?"

"I don' look like ya, ya look like me," Shiro laughs. "I'm older than ya by a couple minutes."

"… I don't… follow. What are you talking about?"

Shiro frowns in disappointment, yet that expression flits by quickly. He goes to embrace the smaller male, which Ichigo quickly backtracks away from. This, too, draws disappointment from the prince. From the throne room, a dark haired man wearing a crown strides.

"Shiro, my son, what's going on?"

"Ichigo… he's…"

"We've talked about this, my son. Ichigo had to go away, he was in danger. Your mother and I placed him in more than capable hands… though they've returned unexpectedly. They assured me there isn't any danger he can't handle on his own…"

"He's right there," Shiro points out.

The king turns quickly, finding Ichigo watching cautiously. There's a heavy silence, Isshin waving Renji and Rukia away with a simple gesture. Once they're gone, he reaches for Ichigo and guides him smoothly into the throne room. Ichigo gazes upon a line of thrones, one for a king, a queen, and two extras.

"You look just like your mother," the king comments quietly. "But… you wouldn't remember her, would you?"

"… I remember my mother and I don't look like her," Ichigo frowns. "She was a great woman, but had a temper. I always liked watching her fight, she…"

"No, Ichigo… your birth mother."

"I was adopted as an infant; I was only a couple months old."

"You were sent away for your own protection. You're the second born within this kingdom… you're the princess."

"… I'll pretend you didn't say that," Ichigo frowns.

Shiro nudges Ichigo to the smaller throne, kneeling on the floor before his twin once the orange head is sitting down. The king does the same, pleading orbs watching his youngest. Ichigo doesn't know what to make of this place, doesn't know what to make of these people that insist he belongs with them.

"Ichigo, your mother couldn't have any more children with me after you two. The birthing process is strange, unable to be explained. It alternates between dominant and submissive. Each kingdom is required to name a prince and a princess, it's a rule. You were a male, but also a submissive. Since you're the only submissive child we had, you were automatically named the princess."

"That bites!" Ichigo snaps. "I refuse to answer to such a demeaning title! I want to go home!"

"Ya are home, Ichi. Wit me, where ya belong," Shiro murmurs. "I'm old 'nough ta protect ya now, ya can stay wit me now."

"Just give us a chance, Ichigo," the king sighs. "You were born here, you belong here. You don't… you don't have to call me 'father', but please… stay with your brother. Your separation hasn't gone as well for him as it has for you."

"Just until I figure out how to get home," Ichigo glowers.

Shiro gives a cheer, wrapping his arms around his younger twin's waist tightly. The king, however, stands and pats the other's head. Ichigo is pulled out of the throne room by Shiro, the paler male dragging him upstairs to the bedrooms.

"My room is right there," he states. "Yer's is next ta mine. The staff's been keepin' it clean and fixed up accordin' ta how old ya should be if ya were here. Everythin' is ready fer ya!"

He throws the heavy wooden doors open, entering the room without hesitation. Ichigo isn't as certain, his steps small and slow. The room seems basic enough; a large canopy bed with a bedside table, thick curtains over the window, a throw rug, a wardrobe, and a walk in closet. Unfortunately, the coloring is green and yellow… mid colors that could go toward either gender. The clothes are for females. Dresses, feminine slacks, frilly blouses… Ichigo's nightmare.

"I am not wearing that shit," he utters vehemently.

"Well… I s'pose ya can borrow some a mine," Shiro remarks as he scratches his head thoughtfully. "But ya have ta wear it durin' meetin's and stuff. It's a rule. Royals gotta act the way they're 'xpected ta."

"I'm not a royal," Ichigo presses blandly.

"But ya are. Can' help that, it's the status ya were born inta. Don' worry, we don' have meetin's a lot. We'll have a banquet tanight, though, ta tell the village yer back! Ya'll have ta wear a pretty gown fer that."

"… I feel a cold coming on," Ichigo mutters as his twin leaves.

He's ignored, the snowy haired man shutting the door behind him. Thankfully, there's no telltale click of a lock. Ichigo sits on the bed, staring murderously at the silken gowns and frilly blouses. The pants aren't that bad, yet there's no way in hell he's going to wear the rest of this stuff. A loud booming sound shakes him, the orange headed male rushing to his window and flinging the drapes open. Outside the glassed in portal, he can make out a storm in the distance, a single figure flitting about the sky throwing lightning bolts.

"Oh my god! It's Zeus!" Ichigo gasps. "That's amazing!"

Closer to his present location, a roar rattles the window. A dragon soars over the town, completely disinterested in those below it. In its claws, however, a couple sheep bleat in panic. Thousands of questions and hopes soar within the mythology major, all the stories told to him by his parents surfacing rapidly.

"All those stories… about that place the myths retire to… it was about this place," he realizes. "Mom and dad were telling me stories from here! This must be where they were sent when they were studying this little trinket!"

Excitement floods him, the youth bursting through his doors and rushing out to find Shiro or the king. Servants gawk in awe at the orange headed teen, word of his return not yet circulating throughout the castle. He finds the king in the throne room.

"King… uh… I don't know your name," Ichigo rambles.

"Isshin. Just call me Isshin, my youngest child!" the man grins widely. "What can I do for you?"

"I think my parents may have returned before me…"

"Yes, they did… but they're not your parents…"

Ichigo ignores the comment, sitting on the steps that lead to the thrones. Isshin is visibly hurt by his refusal to sit upon the throne that's awaited him; however the youth isn't ready for all that. This is just too much to throw on him at once.

"I want to see them," he requests. "Please. Where are they?"

"Yorouchi is on a mission at the moment, but I think Kisuke is locked up in his tower working on some contraption or another," Isshin sighs. "I've known that man all our lives, but I'll never understand him."

"Where's his tower?"

Isshin snaps his fingers and a feminine man steps in, feathers near one eye and raven locks trimmed perfectly near his shoulders. If he lived in Ichigo's other home, he'd be the perfect model… vanity and all.

"Yumichika, please take my… Ichigo… to the alchemist's tower."

With a short nod, the raven holds out a hand to beckon Ichigo. The walk is long, but not quiet. Yumichika is a very chatty person and leaves no room for rebuttal, so Ichigo spends the walk listening. Good thing his mother was the same. When they get to the tower, Ichigo goes up alone. The room at the top is large and cluttered much like Kisuke's workspace at home. Ichigo doesn't bother knocking. Kisuke is leaning over a powder mixture mumbling to himself; a familiar sight Ichigo missed terribly the last week.

"Dad?" he states.

Kisuke turns quickly, shock and joy in his features as he rushes to embrace his lost child. The warmth of the blonde's grasp melts Ichigo, safety finally within his grasp in such an unfamiliar world.

Dun, dun, dun! At least it starts out okay ;p I'm sorry if later parts getting kind of long and boring, I honestly couldn't think of much to do with it. after all, the woman in 'Unicorn Bait' pretty much didn't do anything. She was locked up for the majority of the book, until she esacped with a witch and kidnapped the warlord! Of course... that was so she could get back home and Ichigo wasn't supposed to want to go back home. ^^; Damn differences. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed chapter 1! 'Til next time!

Shiro: I'm a prince! I'm a prince an' Ichi has ta be the princess! XD

Ichi: Shut the fuck up! It's not funny! =(

Shiro: It is ta me! I'm normally the horse an' yer the king, but now I rank higher than ya an' ya gotta be a woman! *cackling hysterically*

Grimm: Don't worry, Ichi, you'll always be a gem to me. priceless and irreplacable! =D

Ichi: Awe! Grimm, you're so sweet! *hugs Grimm*

Grimm: Anything for you, baby. *grins widely knowing they'll have sex later*

Shiro: Suck up.