I walk alone, think of home
Memories of long ago
No one knows I lost my soul long ago

Standing on my own
Remembering the one I left at home
Forget about the life I used to know
Forget about the one I left at home

-On My Own by Three Days Grace-

--

Inheritance: Part One

It was only minutes before midnight. The old grandfather clock downstairs was ticking away slowly, methodical noise resounding in the empty room. The cat sat on top of it, her green eyes closed as she relaxed on the pillow put there especially for her. The summer heat was almost unbearable. A fan ruffled her downy gray fur and blew past her, up the stairs and into the bedroom.

Sweat streaked the long blonde hair that was splayed over the pillow, turning the strands oily. A fringe of pale lashes shuddered as the eyes beneath moved rapidly, the dreaming cycle of sleep having overtaken the young man not long before. He tossed and turned, heavy cotton sheet plastered to his skin. Everything else had been pushed down as far as it would go, crumpled at the end of the bed. His breath was short, fevered, his chest heaving as he tried to breathe. The clock struck twelve and intense, silvery-blue eyes flew open.

His eyes were glazed over with sleep, wearied beyond belief. He relaxed back onto the pillow, releasing tension in his muscles that he hadn't realized had been built up, and sighed heavily. He knew that he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep now.

Zechs kept odd hours, sometimes studying late into the night, so at least he had five hours of sleep. He pushed back the sheet and slowly rose to his feet, staggering out to the kitchen to flip on the coffee maker. With an audible yawn, he walked into the bathroom and fell into the shower.

He could already tell that it was going to be a bad day. 'Can't even remember what I was dreaming,' he thought bitterly as the hot water sank into his bones, making him a bit more aware. 'All I can remember...' He flinched as he once more felt the snap of teeth at his throat, the hot breath and saliva slicking his skin, a normal nightmare. The one that had followed, though, had been different.

"Do you trust me?"

A careful smile. "To a certain extent, Your Excellency."

The man sighed, tapping long, aristocratic fingers on the hilt of a sword. "I guess it can't be helped. You know that I would--"

"Of course. I also wish that."

Zechs turned off the water and tried to force the memories away from him. The first dream, the nightmare full of pain, was almost as bad as the second. The second had been frightening beyond anything that Zechs had known before. It had felt real. Grabbing a towel, the tall man began to dry himself off carefully before wrapping the towel around his waist and heading towards the coffee.

Dawn found a tall blonde man slumped over at the kitchen table with a coffee cup in his hands, hair still soaking wet and tangled, a towel wrapped half-heartedly around his waist.

"You you trust me?"

A soft sigh escaped his lips, flowing over both his skin and the other's. "Beyond anything."

"But you are aware that you shouldn't?"

A hard smile. "Of course I am."

The other lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry. I truly am."

"I know you are."

--

Zechs woke again with a crick in his neck. Persephone the cat was lapping at his half-drunk coffee, but as soon as she saw his eyes open she made as if she hadn't been drinking. Ice blue eyes gave her a stern look, which she ignored in favor of washing her face with a paw. Zechs shook his head in wry amusement and groaned as he felt the muscles in his back cramp.

He actually had to go in to work today, too. Zechs worked from home as a writer for All Hallow's Eve anthology, a series of short stories for horror writers whose work bordered on fantastical. They held a yearly conference to discuss their work and socialize, as well as decide things like new layouts and such. That was what Zechs was going to be late for if he didn't hurry up.

Persephone gave him a stern look as he rushed past her food dish without filling it. Promises of love and future food left his lips as he tried to pull a white t-shirt over his head and tug on jeans at the same time. Finally realizing that he was putting his leg through an arm of the shirt, he managed to straighten his clothing and open a can of cat food without actually ingesting any. Persephone purred; Zechs grabbed his leather duster and money for the bus.

It was a bad day already, just as predicted. 'Sometimes, life just isn't fair,' Zechs thought as he tried to put his hair into a ponytail with the tie from a loaf of bread as he went out the door. Realizing what he was doing, he bit back a scream and slammed the door closed. He stomped down the apartment hallway and out the door. To hell with it. He would just buy a freaking hair tie on the way there.

He found out at the convenience store that this was a bad idea. He had only wanted one since he had plenty at home-- he just couldn't find any when he was in a rush. So he had bought the package and told the clerk hurriedly to use the ties themselves. The man, bald and in his early forties, hadn't been amused. Zechs had tried "give them to your wife" as an explanation, but that didn't work.

"My wife is a cancer patient, thank you very much," the man had said bitterly. "She just went through the treatment and is very sensitive about her hair loss. You'll keep the damn hair bands."

Zechs gulped and picked them up before rushing out the door.

So now he had a pocket full of hair ties yet none in his hair, was running late, and the door to All Hallow's Eve's building wouldn't open. Silvery eyes raised heavenward and Zechs took the extra moment to finally pull his hair into a ponytail.

"Need some help?" a wry voice asked behind him. Zechs smiled slightly once he realized who it was.

"You're late too, Duo?"

The chestnut-haired writer made a face. "Didn't you get your key in the mail? Apparently, they're doing some sort of horror promotion type of thing where you can only get in with a key."

Zechs sighed. Just one more thing that he had forgotten in his rush this morning. At least Duo was here. Duo was a wonderful writer of psychological horror, the kind of stuff that made grown men wet themselves.

"Who organized this lovely piece of writing history?"

Duo grinned, the smile lighting his handsome, twenty-year-old face. "Who else? Lena."

Zechs winced. Lena was a lovely woman and a terrific event planner for anyone else but horror writers, but she seemed to think that all horror writers liked was blood, guts, and glory. Emphasis on the blood and guts.

Twirling the key around one finger, Duo announced, "Step aside!" before putting the key into the slot, twisting it, then dramatically opening the door.

The hallway was dim and curtained, lit only by flickering lights every several feet. Luckily, Zechs had been to the conference several times before, ever since he was eighteen and the talk of the horror community. He knew where to go. Duo didn't. This was Duo's first conference, but Duo had been here at least once before when he had talked to Lena about publishing his first book.

Twisting through the halls with Duo hot on his heels, they soon arrived at the room where everything was being held. It was a large room, almost as large as a ballroom, with candles and soft globe-lights lighting the inside. Everyone was talking quietly. The atmosphere seemed to induce quiet, so dark and almost sinister. 'Definitely Lena's work,' Zechs thought with a quiet snicker.

Duo whistled lowly. "Nice." Clasping his hands behind his head, he rocked back on his heels to take in the surroundings. Already having done so, Zechs headed over the the refreshment table. He was starving. If those dreams hadn't woken him up he would have been able to eat! However, in a dark atmosphere was not the time you wanted to remember dreams that allowed you very little rest.

"Zechs!" Lena exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. He smiled and twirled her in his arms.

"Lena, you get more beautiful every time I see you," he said. It wasn't flattery; it was true. Lena had a classic beauty, her eyes the same clear blue as his own if a touch darker and her hair a rich wheat gold.

She flushed. "Oh, stop," she said in a way that clearly stated she didn't want him to.

Lena was such a good little sister. She had some odd notions about horror writers, probably inspired by Zechs' own teen years, but she was the sort of person that you rarely would find. She was kind, smart, and beautiful and Zechs would never stop telling her so. He frowned. Given the hell that she had put him through when she was younger, he should probably think of her differently. She had always been little Lena to him, though. Someone who needed protecting even from her own bad self-image if that was what she wanted to think. Luckily she was an extremely confident young woman, otherwise he would have a tough fight on his hands.

"How has everything been going so far? I'm sorry I couldn't help you set up. I overslept."

She smiled good-naturedly. "You always oversleep. Everything's been going great. We have a new author that's going to write for the October edition of the anthology. He's really quite good. I shall endeavor to introduce you to him later." She kissed him on the cheek. "I have to mingle. Try to talk to someone for once."

Zechs frowned at her retreating back. He planned on having a long and lengthy conversation with several people. There had been no need to remind him. Their names were: sandwich, potato chips, vegetables, ranch dip, and fruit salad. She should never have doubted him.

Zechs gave a happy sigh as he dug into the food.

--

Zechs had taken over the snack table. Anyone trying to reach to the assorted snacks that were laid out upon it would get their hands smacked sharply. Zechs was Hungry, capital H intended. No one got between a hungry horror writer and their food because horror writers didn't usually mind a little bit of blood between friends.

"May I have your attention?" Lena said loudly from the center of the room. She shot a quick glare at her brother for commandeering the food before continuing with, "I'm pleased that everyone could make it. As you all know, I am Lena Tudor and the only reason I got a job on the editorial and event planning staffs is because my brother is one of the writers." There were a series of snickers. She smiled quickly. "As you know, the big October edition is coming up for All Hallow's Eve. We've only received one or two submissions so far from the writers. As you also know, our October edition for the autumn quarter is our biggest one. Mister Maxwell has kindly submitted his piece, "Death's Holiday", and Trowa Smith has submitted "Great Minds". I'd like to urge you all to finish up your pieces so that we can continue with publication and editing. We still have a long way to go." Zechs groaned quietly and batted Duo's hand away as he reached for a chip. They were Zechs' chips. 'God is Lena long-winded.'

Lena paused for a moment. "I'd like to introduce our newest writer, Treize Khushrenada," she said, gesturing to a man off a touch to her right. Zechs bit his lip in his effort to continue chewing normally.

"Eternal friend..."

"After I lose my mask, I can no longer be your friend. I'm sorry." Silver-blue eyes closed. It seemed like there were so many apologies to be given. This wasn't his first, yet he somehow knew that it wasn't going to be his last. In the end, maybe it wouldn't matter. Because no matter how hard he tried to break free, he would never be able to stop fighting.

"'Your Excellency', right?" Zechs muttered under his breath, eyes still wandering over the planes and angles of Treize Khushrenada's face. He had an aristocratic, thin-bladed nose with a stubborn chin and topped with styled copper hair. The blue eyes that were trained on Lena were thoughtful.

"Did you say something?" Duo asked through a mouthful of stolen chips, dark Prussian eyes sharp on Zechs' face.

Zechs shook his head distractedly, ponytail sliding over his shoulder with the vehement motion. "No. Nothing."

--

The song in the beginning was added with the thirteenth chapter because I thought that it fit pretty well. I cut out the bridge, but other than that, it's correct.

Yes, I'm aware that this fic is slightly odd, but please review anyway. If you find any typos/spelling mistakes/grammar mistakes, tell me.