It had been a day once, when he hadn't understood why Phantom had hid himself away. He had been a child then; innocent and curious. The mystery that had shrouded his father's periodic disappearances, and his strange tendency to wear long sleeves had constantly irked his juvenile mind, teasing to indulge in tempting wanders. But he had been a good boy, obedient to his father's wishes and respectful of his privacy; it wasn't his place to interfere.

Nonetheless, his father revealed his secret soon enough.

It had been a few days after his tenth birthday when his father had come to him. Stood before him, hands covered in his long, sweeping sleeve, his left arm heavily bandaged from a long-time wound from war. The image of a man he so greatly admired. And yet, Phantom had struck him, then, a rough thud against his chest, heat searing as it spread through his veins before chilling to an icy stop.

"F-father..." he had gasped, his hands feebly clutching the newly formed mark. "W-what have you done?"

Phantom had not responded, but only looked away, purple eyes misted over.

"Father!" he had repeated, pain replaced with anger and frustration. "What have you done?!"

"I have made you my equal."

He had not understood then, what it meant. "Your equal..?"

Slowly, his father had met his gaze, and pulled up his sleeve, making way to a thin, pale hand. A hand tattooed with a strange, intricate marking; identical to his. But what did it mean really?

"W-what is it?" he had asked, his childish curiousity intrigued by the mysterious connection. "What does it mean?"

Phantom knelt before him, his eyes level with his blue. "I am not human, Alviss."

"Not human?"

His father gave him a slow nod, his expression unreadable. "Yes," he had answered simply, voice soft.

"Then...what are you?"

"A zombie."

He had froze at these words, the little gears turning in his head as he tried to comprehend his father's response. He had read about zombies before, and his friends had jokingly, and rather colorfully, played out the scenes as the cold, limb strewn corpses. They didn't exist, as far as he knew, but to have his father claim to be one; his world had just turned upside down and inverted.

"But z-zombies aren't supposed to exist, Father, right?"

Phantom had laughed cruelly at these words, the sound echoing faintly in the scarcely furnished room. "I thought so too, at one point, Alviss. But that's all changed now, and so have you. This mark shows that you are a zombie now."

He remained silent, the spoken syllables hanging in the air. Not only did zombies exist, but he was one now; yet, both him and his father looked little like those in the books he had read, without the grayingly pale skin and eyeballs hanging by their roots out of the sockets.

"The existance of zombies in this world has been well hidden from the likes of human kind," his father said, as if he had read his mind. "We are merely doppelgangers of humans, perfect copies of who we were, or who we might've been." He had paused here, as if thoughtfully mulling over his words. "Do you know how zombies come to be, Alviss?"

"They...are living dead people?"

"That is what we are, technically. But how do we become 'living dead people'?"

At this, he had shaken his head, the answer unknown to him.

"We die, and become reanimated, fueled by a strong emotion that returns to us life. This tattoo represents the rekindling of life in our blood, while the rest of us remains cold. We have died once, and will forever have died once. Our bodies will always be as cold as a corpse, but our life will always burn as searingly as the sun."

He watched his father in understanding, his mind absorbing the information, eyes wide with knowledgeable fascination. The thought seemed rather morbid to him, but yet, he was so strangely mesmerized...

"Zombies are normally chained down with emotions such as regret, guilt, hatred, and sorrow. When these emotions are amplifyingly felt when we die, we will become a zombie. When do you think I died?" Phantom had asked, his eyes cloudy with remembrance.

His eyes had impulsively drifted over to his father's mangled arm, destroyed beyond repair in the war six years ago. "In the war..." he voiced, more to himself than his father.

"You're right," he had agreed softly. "I died shortly after I lost this arm, from loss of blood. But I was angry; angry at my killer, angry at the war, and angry at myself, for leaving so many things behind. Becoming a zombie is instant, and slight; the marks appears, and you are alive again without even entering the darkness." He sighed here, closing his eyes in a scornful smile. "I shouldn't have done this to you, Alviss, making you like me. I've been a horrible father; I just wanted to have something to share in common with you. Now, we are on a monstrous equal ground. I'm sorry."

He had sat there, mystified, watching his father's face contort in regret. He had not begged for forgiveness, having already accepted his fate. Live an eternal life of regret, and forever be hated by his son. But he was wrong there.

"Father," he had said, the volume barely more than a whisper. "Why do you think I'm a zombie?"

Phantom's eyes had snapped open, gazing at his son in surprise and disbelief. His mouth moved soundlessly in confusion, purple orbs wide with expression. "W-why..?" he had shakily repeated, a foreign question rolling off his lips.

"Why am I not dead?" he countered, eyes shining with resolve. "What emotion fueled my existance, and still does? Do you know?" When he was greeted with no response, he continued, a small smile working itself to the surface. "Happiness, love. I'm always happy to see you, and that is because I love you. You are my father, and shall always be my beloved father, equally, zombie, or no."

And he had run into his father's vacant arms, clinging to his neck, knowing that his love for his father had embraced death, and pulsed with life. Forevermore.

A/N: Alright everyone, let's just get this out of the way first. This fanfiction was not a yaoi, shounen-ai, shota or "whatever it's called" fanfic. It's simply family love. I do not, under any circumstances, like to think of Alviss and Phantom as potential lovers, but rather as father and son. Sorry.

This fanfiction takes a few influences from "Set in Broken Stone" and "My Memento". Kind of obvious really, all of them being Alvisscentric. But I like the idea. Maybe in the distant future it'll spawn a series in this universe. Some day.

And, uh, this story was done more or less completely in past tense. I probably had some errors here and there. It didn't help that I lost my train of thought frequently in the writing process.