A/N: Things that didn't fit in the summary…
As the title would suggest, this is based on the song 'She's a Lady' by Forever The Sickest Kids 'cause I think it really relates to Oz and Alice's relationship. I'm trying to include as many references to the lyrics as I can :P
This is sort of a more modern take on Pandora Hearts. Tried to fit in as many ties as I can think of here as well :P Bear with me here, people…
"I can walk by myself," Oz growled, pulling his arm away from the burly guard who roughly lead him from his cramped cell to freedom. His handcuffs jingled merrily with the movement, reminding him again of this whole embarrassing incident.
Embarrassing for his father, at any rate. Oz himself really couldn't care less. He'd spent time in prisons before, never longer than a matter of hours before his father's cronies pulled enough strings to free him. But a whole two days… That had been a new experience. Oz's cockiness had quickly evaporated when night had fallen with no promise of freedom. His cell buddies were none too friendly either and reminded him of a cannibal thing he had seen on TV once with Gilbert. After two stressful nights, the grudging watchman reluctantly released him back into the arms of the Vessalius house. Who were waiting outside, so until Oz actually saw his uncle's no doubt disapproving face he was still technically property of the prison.
Oz wouldn't actually say it was his father's fault, because even though that was technically the crux of the matter, no-one would really believe him. They would just say that he was responsible for his own actions, blah blah blah. Oz did what he did with obvious purpose, but his motive never wavered. He was embarrassing his father. That was all he wanted to do. Shame him, punish him for rejecting him all those years ago. Behind his every act of stupidity was a rage, a reason, a thirst. When the councilors asked him why he wanted to do these things, he always told them to look no further than his father. He was then labeled as an ingrate and irresponsible, for as far as the public was concerned Sir Zai Vessalius was a kind, caring man, husband and father.
People were stupid, Oz decided. Stupid to believe the lies his father spun every other day, stupid to adore him, stupid even to let Oz go at the end of the day. No counselor could cure him of his rage. He would be a loose cannon until his father's dying day. Or until someone actually listened to him. Gil was all well and good, but he was too scared to do anything. He was such a wuss, and a crybaby. Gil could never handle anything without breaking it. He was a great friend, but he was not the help that Oz was looking for.
When the prison doors were swung open at last, Oz was blinded at first by sunlight. Then he saw his uncle's grim face and his knees buckled a little bit. Oscar Vessalius never got angry, ever. He just got disappointed, and that was ten times worse than angry. That guy really knew how to get to Oz. He stepped down to the car awkwardly. "Hey, Oscar."
"In the car, Oz," His uncle said shortly. "We need to talk."
Oz swallowed. He wasn't a fan of talks.
The doors slammed shut. Oscar was sitting in the seat opposite Oz in the grand, sleek, black limosine. Oz didn't dare reach for a Coke from the mini fridge. There was a time and a place, and this was neither.
"Oz," His uncl began with a sigh. "I hope you realize the gravity of this situation."
"Look, Oscar, I'm not even kidding, it was really an accident this time-"
"That matter is dealt with," Oscar interrupted crisply. "There are, however, several other matters I must discuss with you."
Oz's face brightened. "Is Dad dead?"
Oscar almost smiled at his nephew's eagerness. "Are you aware of how long you spent in prison?"
Oz was a little surprised by the odd question. "Two days, give or take?"
Oscar sighed and hung his head. "I was afraid that this would happen. Oz, that prison was quite… different to the other ones."
Oz was instantly wary. "How so?" He probed.
"The prison you were just released from is fabled to have a curse on it," Oscar began. "As men of logic, we did not believe this until recently."
"How recently? What curse?" Oz demanded desperately. He hated cliffhangers like this.
"Five years ago, we discovered the curse and pleaded with your father to have you released immediately."
Oz looked at his uncle curiously. "But I wasn't in that prison five years ago."
Oscar sighed. "Actually, you were. According to legends, time does not exist in that prison. What passes in there passes differently out here. Therefore, the two days you spent in prison were actually ten years here. You have missed out on ten years."
The short sentence delivered the hardest blow Oz had received since Zai had rejected him. It wasn't possible. Stuff like this didn't happen, not in real life. "No way," He breathed, more to himself than anyone.
"We researched further to help your case," Oscar continued carefully. "It turns out a man of the Baskerville house put a curse on the prison when his son was wrongfully accused and jailed. The ultimate punishment, he decided, was to be caught in time forever. We're still not sure how such a feat is pulled off but we're keeping quiet with the information for now. Until further notice, this will be addressed as Abyss, the nickname some of our scientists have given the prison. So if you hear any mention of that, that's what they're talking about."
"Did Zai know?" Oz asked quietly. He never called Zai 'father' anymore. He wasn't worth it. Oscar hesitated before nodding once, watching Oz carefully for his nephew's reaction.
The blonde just smirked, averting his emerald eyes with a degree of sadness Oscar hadn't seen in him before. "Bastard," He said quietly, and that was all. Silence settled, and finally Oz looked up again. His eyes were riddled with an emotion Oscar could not quite place, but instead of the erratic, hyperactive monkey he usually was, he had settled, already accepting the fact that he had been robbed of ten years. "What's happened while I've been gone?"
"Well, Gil was devastated, as you can imagine," Oscar babbled, relieved that his nephew was not a complete wreck… yet. "He's grown up a fair bit since you left, though. He had a rough patch about five years back, though, when he was twenty. Hanging out on the streets and whatnot. People started calling him Raven and he became a bit of a formidable force to reckon with on the street. Can you imagine? It was dreadful, but we steered him out of it eventually. He couldn't believe what he'd done and reverted to the same old Gil you know. Other than that, there's nothing else that is of much interest to you. The girls have all moved on without you, and you'll be rather surprised, I think, to see Break. He's waiting for you back at the mansion, with Gil."
Oz tried to imagine what Xerk might look like as an adult. The image didn't come easily. That guy was such a kid it was hard to imagine him as a mature man. All the stupid stuff they'd ever gotten up to… He wondered if Gil and Break had both really grown up without him. Who would Oz wreak havoc with now? Everything today seemed so fantastical. Gil, a gangster? Break, an adult? And Oz… he was meant to be twenty-five. It was a big number, much bigger than fifteen. He felt so lost… What about Ada? How did she get along without her big brother around to guide her? Not that Oz was much of a role model, really. What would she say to him? He felt dizzy, it was all too much to take in.
The car slowed down, and finally stopped. Oz looked out the window and paused, looking back at Oscar in confusion. "This isn't the Vessalius mansion."
Oscar sighed and fiddled with his vest awkwardly. "There's something else that happened while you were away," He began heavily. "The head of the Baskerville house was tired of your misbehaving and didn't want to let you out, not until the better part of a hundred years had passed to teach you a lesson. We eventually got him to agree, but under one condition."
Oz blanched, expecting the worst. Servitude. Tax. Sacrifice. He opened his mouth to argue, but what Oscar said next killed the words in his throat.
"Oz, you're engaged to Glen Baskerville's only daughter and will be married in a matter of weeks."