chapters

 

      Helena smiled, feeling the expression pull slightly on the corners of a mouth she didn’t have, as a cup of tea was set down at her side, clinking against a tabletop that wasn’t there.  It was strange, the suspension of disbelief required to create her reality, but she had been cast adrift for so long now - centuries a thousand times longer in this spirit world - that it wasn’t unbearably difficult.

      She stirred the drink gently, enjoying the heft of the spoon - no spoon, she held nothing - and grimaced slightly, forcing the curve of metal back into existence against her hand.

      Often, /always/ she yearned for a return to the real, an end to the tiresome shadow sensations about her, a world made up only of momentary remembrances of even the most simple things.  The taste of the tea in her mouth was a shower of skips in time, raindrops rather than smooth, continuous warmth, and if she didn’t remember the feeling of it, warm inside her stomach, it would flicker, and vanish. 
     
      It was maddening, and certainly if madness would have brought her any comfort, any release, she would have relented to it a thousand times already.  Of course, it wouldn’t have, and would have been no help to her beloved family - poor, misguided Hugo - or to her husband, though really, when she could finally help him, she found he wasn’t /really/...

      Fingertips toyed with the spoon inside the china cup, as she pondered - as she often had - on Eike, the man who had once been her husband.

      //Eike... there was a gentleness to him, a kindness.  Wolfgang had not been so, not at the end...//

      The man she had loved, Dr. Wagner, had been frighteningly bitter at times, and often quite angry, especially close to the end.  The last few months, when he knew despite all his research, all his efforts, he was going to lose her.

Helena hated the demon, of course, the cruel, /evil/ Homunculus, for all he had done to them, for turning her husband into a stranger - a kind-hearted one, perhaps, but still...

      She barely noticed reaching the bottom of the cup.  The sensation of her hand against the cool, porcelain handle, and the memory of how much tea should have been left making it a rare detail she could choose to overlook.

      It was impossible to ignore what remained, however, at the bottom of the bone-pale cup - the train of her thoughts, the force of them making changes in the most normal of things.       
     
      It was the cup she looked into, but at the same time not the cup at all.  Clustered at the bottom were both the soft remains of several tea leaves, and a fragment of the nexus of time itself, the crossing of paths, connections... the same that had brought her to her most “real” state in centuries, that brief reconnection with a physical realm, to try to save Eike’s life, to rescue something of what had been her life and her family.

      “What is it? What has happened?”

      Helena gratefully took the hand that clasped her own - he was /always/ real to her - and bit her lip, shaking her head, muted by the truth, too upset for the moment, by what she saw, what she /knew/ was destiny, fate. 

How could it be true?  Hadn’t they all suffered enough?  How was this at all fair?

      “It isn’t right... it isn’t /right/...” 

At times, she was strong, an imposing figure, especially when she had to defend herself and what was hers from this phantom place, but she /was/ old, she had been old to wed and old when she had died, and she felt only old and brittle now.  The threads were still clustered, clouded, but she could see within them anyway, events, faces, she could see /enough/, and it was too heavy a burden to carry.

      “It isn’t right that destiny should be so cruel to you... Eike.”

 

=====================

blood . red . moon

a Shadow of Destiny fanfiction

=====================

 

Chapter One

 

      It had taken him millennia to finally find his chance, to search along the paths of time for a Philosopher’s Stone untainted by a demon’s touch.  In some fractals, the Stone did not even exist.  In others, it had already been destroyed.  Many times, in some form, Homunculus’s presence was /always/ in the stone, a maddeningly consistent theme throughout the countless fragmented existences.  Sometimes, though it seemed impossible, it was something even worse.

      He had finally found the gem, though, in it’s pure and perfect form, and he had accomplished what he always knew he could do, what the djinn’s presence had only halted for a  time.  In a few more moments, it would be the beginning and the end of everything.  Finally.

      A near-skeletal hand pulled back hair grown overlong, greasy and filthy without care, as much of the rest of him was now.  He was fueled much more by hatred and determination these days than the occasional rat he was fast enough to catch, or the snow draining down as cold, metallic water, through a metal pipe connected to the surface.

      He didn’t like to go out, it was too quiet, no one left in the town that was more empty stone than home, and though his connection to his own time was badly frayed around the edges, he knew it had been a long time, since there had been another human being nearby. 

Maybe he had killed them all.  Maybe he was the only person left alive.  It might have happened just that way, an experiment gone terribly wrong.  He thought he remembered... or perhaps not...  He had wanted to kill someone else once, hadn’t he?

The long haired wraith giggled, a high pitched snarl of a sound that made him take a step back in silence, eyes wide as the shrill noise vanished instantly into the massive sculpturing of metal, wire, and crackling electricity that filled most of the small basement cell.

 The rock walls were nearly invisible through the tangle of machinery, the entire room a mass of metal and stone.  Only the barest ratty excuse for a blanket, laying in a dirty heap in the corner, spoke of his existence at all, that something actually lived here.  There weren’t even books, he’d gone past what any texts could do for him long ago.
     
      Strange... to be creating life in a place that was in no way hospitable for it. 

He laughed again, arms hugged tightly against his chest, the way they were whenever he wasn’t working.  It was so cold here.  Over the years, though, he had stopped noticing it, as he had stopped noticing most things, though that was, in a way, to be expected - he could hardly unravel the secrets of the universe without a clean focus.

      The machines humming softly around him were real people now, much more than those in the wisps of memory that trapped, now and then, in his analytical mind.  He’d spent so long creating each of them, lovingly tuning them to follow the weave and pattern of time, to search out what he needed - they even had names, names that he knew meant something, though he wasn’t sure exactly why, not anymore... Margarete, Helena, Eckart...

      //Homunculus.// 

      It was the only name with any meaning anymore, not a machine but a hated enemy, the /only/ hated enemy... he paused for a moment, pressing himself closer to Helena’s warmth, the enormous machine generating some heat as it purred out its existence, all was quiet, all was safe...  He’d built in alarms but they’d never gone off.  He was lucky and cunning in equal measure, and had managed, through all these years, to stick to the back roads of time, small, unimportant fragments of reality the demon wouldn’t ever think to notice.

      It was so hard to keep things together anymore, though, not so much the actions, as the reasons.  Instinct, the same that told him that things had not always been this way, that he had not always been dirty, cold and alone, told him there were other ways to solve this problem.  There were places in time that he could go, to change the past, to stop the future - or perhaps even erase the demon’s very existence.

      ... and then he would lose it.  The thoughts swirled away, every time, into nothing.   No matter how hard he tried, he could not make sense of them, until all that remained, in the end, was hatred for the red-eyed nightmare, and the determination to destroy him, whatever it took.

       Chewing on nails already bitten to the quick, the man circled the bank of machines, all clustered around the center, and a familiar sight - the bubbling tank, the curled shape within. 

Life.

He brushed away greasy strands of hair, from eyes flicking nervously, every few moments, toward the sky.  It was so close now, all he could think was that the djinn had been watching him all this time, was watching now, just waiting for the final moment to step in, and ruin it all.

//... but he can’t... not now...//

Entranced, he couldn’t help but move closer, stunned breathless at the beauty of it, the thin, foggy sheen of moisture caught between the layers of the crucible, and the liquid beyond.  The body within was lithe and lean, almost childlike, arms crossed over thin legs, hair as pale as silkworm thread clouding in the water behind the china doll face... and the startlingly red eyes, that stared up into his own. 

Awake.  Alive.  His vengeance lived.

He scrambled back, reaching for a long piece of scrap pipe, as the figure lifted a pale hand, pushing at the metal top of the massive glass jar, unable to get out.  One wild swing smashed the front of the glass, the man jumping backwards with a wild yelp as near-molten liquid bubbled and steamed, sloshing over the near-frozen floor. 

After a few moments had passed, he looked up from where he had crouched against the wall.   The small, pale shape had been pulled out of the remnants of the glass by the sudden drain of fluid, and lay in a curl of water and sparkling glass a few feet away, motionless alongside it’s leaden womb.

//It worked?  It /must/ have...//

The painful shock of failure became the terror of the unknown, of /success/, as the tiny body coughed once, twice, before levering itself up into a sitting position, still turned away from him.

He didn’t dare speak, watching as the creature’s poise and power overcame its initial surprise.  It wasn’t the demon, wasn’t /a/ demon, but in its pure form the Philosopher’s Stone still contained all the same raw powers... he had merely given them a new form.  He had created life.

The too-thin man stood motionless, as the creature finally turned to face him -

She was beautiful.

“You made me.”

      His hair spilled into his eyes as he nodded dumbly, he nearly tore it from the roots to push it out of the way, utterly mesmerized by her brilliant red eyes.  It had been so long since he had bothered to speak, his voice was rough, and the words were all fossilized in his mind, he had to chip them off one-by-one.

      “Yes.  I did.  You came... from the Philosopher’s Stone.”

      The creature’s two snowy white pigtails were pulled back high, the ends still dripping into the puddles on the floor, and as he watched, she gracefully raised a hand, staring at it for a moment.

      “Who am I?”  The question was calm, but curious, the voice like a bird’s, or wet fingers against crystal.

      “You’re his doppelganger, almost his twin...”  He giggled, barely able to hold back his insane mirth, until he had to shove one wrist into his mouth to block the sound, watched her watching him, until he could calm down.

      “Dopple... ganger?  My name... is Dopple.”

      She’d named herself already.  Why, this would take no time at all.

      “Homunculus.  You’re going to kill him for me... you’re going to make him suffer, and /hurt/, and... /destroy/ him, for what he’s done to me.” 

He wanted it so bad he was shaking, the vengeance, the pain.  It was enough of a distraction to make him jump, in a moment of self-conscious embarrassment, as she crossed the distance between them, and very gently touched his shoulder, staring at him intently.  He shivered, as if standing in the center of a frozen pond, with her smile the cracking ice.

      “Yes. I think... I think I would like that, very much.”

------------------------

      “... and so, Mr. Kusch, though the processes of your thoughtful logic are certainly unconventional, I can, in the end, perceive no fault with your findings.  It would be an honor to meet you, perhaps if you would agree to come to Oxford?  I am eagerly awaiting your reply, and looking forward...”

      Eike trailed off, quietly folding the note back into his pocket.  He wasn’t taking it lightly, of course, there was very little he could afford to take lightly at the moment.  He absently sipped his beer, the bar nearly silent in the early afternoon.  Coffee would have been better, but the bar didn’t have any, and the Café Sonne...
     
      The Café Sonne was right out.  He had been the last person seen with Dana before she disappeared, and though he had alibis up and down well into the night, he was still under suspicion, and could put two and two together well enough to know he wouldn’t be welcome in the café.

      //You know a lot more than two and two, if that professor was as impressed with your letter as it sounds like he is.//  He sighed, the realization as much curse as blessing.  //So, Eike, where do you go from here?//

      He didn’t know what kept him in the small town, really, especially now that fate seemed to have had its way with him.  It wasn’t as if he had anyone here for him anymore - a few trips through time had taken care of /that/ - a painful thought, and another, that it was kind of creepy, seeing Eckart but remembering Alfred, or all the other people who were long since dead and gone.  Miriam, or Sybilla...

      //... or Margarete.  Come on, Eike... admit it, you wanted her to come with you.//

      If he had been given the chance, yes.  It was a selfish wish, really, dragging a girl like that out of her own time... but if Homunculus had been telling the truth, it hadn’t really been her time, had it?

      ... and thinking of that brought him to the reason he was sitting in the Bar Zum Ei now, and not staring out a window at the English Channel, on his way to university to meet this man who was all but calling him a genius.  Homunculus’s appearance had created huge, gaping rifts in what he had once thought to be a fairly easy to understand world, fissures that refused to close.  Honestly, it was starting to scare him.

      Why couldn’t he remember coming to this town?  Yes, he remembered a few details of some time before that, but not nearly what he thought he should have, and not even a distant recollection past a few years.  How had it never bothered him before, that he couldn’t remember /anything/ from his childhood, nothing of his parents or anyone else who had raised him? 

      He had a few fragments of his past, tokens he had held onto, but somehow before his first death - and the accompanying saga, Hugo, the red stone - he’d never thought to ask about them, never thought to ask about /anything/...  A gold coin, at /least/ a few hundred years old, a pair of glasses, not his own.  A tiny ballerina, poised on a glass base that would slowly turn when cranked, and played a tinkling melody he did not recognize...

      It was somewhat difficult to get worked up at the strangeness of it all, when he had absolutely no memory of why he kept these things, or what they might mean, what the big picture entailed. 

A Swiss bank account with his name - he’d finally searched his wallet, with the tentativeness of a stranger - the slip of paper bearing a large sum he couldn’t remember working to attain.  His name... was it even his true name?  Was this really his life, or had someone, somehow... had Homunculus somehow... 

      ... had Homunculus /what/?!

At times, he felt he was living in a fishbowl, that this must be some joke being played on him by the smirking red-eyed man.  The dark-haired djinn had said, though, that they would never meet again, and for all Homunculus’s ego and amused irony, Eike couldn’t imagine it could be at all interesting to simply watch him stumble through the day-to-day.

      Did this happen /every day/?  Did he start back with nothing each morning?  It couldn’t be possible, not if he’d managed to compose the letter, and /remembered/ composing the letter, with a few of his scientific theories on time travel, theoretical physics - nothing on alchemy, that was far too archaic. 

He’d ordered a few books on the more arcane and complex sciences, and spent the days when the police had been questioning him over Dana quietly, in his room, reading, theorizing... and instinctively Eike knew that not only had this been a passion once, perhaps even his calling, but that he had slipped somewhere, that he hadn’t been thinking this way for a very long time.

      //I have no memories.  None... and if it’s happened before this, I’ve apparently grown used to it.  I mean, there’s just so much I didn’t even think about until now.// 

Only the very present, jolting him with it’s complete insanity had upset him enough that he could recognize the oddity of the rest of his life, and how he had moved through it all these years, apparently without a ripple.

//Until Hugo tried to kill me.//

Would he lose it again, now that the nightmare had ended?  Could he regress that far back, that he would no longer remember Homunculus, or even this mundane day?  How could he agree to a meeting at Cambridge, if he could get off the plane not knowing where he was?

//The journals, my God...//

He had more than the one he carried, /many/ more.  Eike tensed, grimacing at the feeling of shocked disbelief, no less than the emotion that had hit him when he had gone back to his room, after it had all been /over/ - to find box after box of books, journals, the lifetimes of a stranger, all in his own writing.

      How had he ignored the boxes?  How had he not thought to look in them before?  Eike didn’t know, but knew for sure why he avoided them now.  He’d barely scratched the surface, reading through one or two, before the pattern - or more disturbingly, the lack of a pattern - began to emerge.  The man he had been, the /men/ he had been had written down almost /everything/.  Sometimes the journals and notebooks couldn’t hold even a full week, and he’d eventually spread them out in stacks, reading from the most recent, just over a year ago, back across what must have been decades.

      He’d been to Russia in the winter - Eike couldn’t remember even a single snowflake - and had flipped through the rest of that journal astonished by all he had apparently done, amazed as the scenery blurred from book to book, into France, Australia, the United States, Canada... and though most of the books were new, a few near the bottom seemed impossibly old, dates that /couldn’t/ be written in his hand, except that they were, looping letters across yellowed pages, his /name/...

Had he traveled through time in the past?  Had Homunculus done something to him, when he hadn’t been paying attention?  Was he lying, when he said they wouldn’t meet again... or only meant that Eike wouldn’t remember it when they did?

      He drank more at night now, so that he would pass out, rather than fall asleep, insomnia a constant, dedicated companion otherwise.  The journals repelled him and drew him with equal power on those sleepless nights, their macabre secrets demanding his attention - for how long had it been since he had remembered them last?  Who was Eike Kusch, really?

      ... and more importantly, how long would it be, until he once again forgot to ask?  The journals weren’t all full of tales of exotic cities, or even mundane, everyday things such as meals he had found tasty or things that had struck him as worth remembering... sooner or later, each one seemed to lapse into the same kind of obsession, page after page of fragmented, paranoid scrawls, mixed with random words or long lists - blue bird, Terrence St, silver moon on lavender shallows - stream-of-consciousness ramblings that made no sense, but were written with a feverish sense of purpose, the sloppy letters nearly screaming at him from the page.

      He would go mad.  The history of it was in his hands, that he would begin to slip, to forget, and in trying to hold on to what he knew, he would descend into insanity. 

Only then would the memory loss become a blessing, as after some amount of time - Eike couldn’t really tell for sure, three years, five? - he would return to the world of the sane, as unmarked and unknowing as a newborn babe.  Somehow, for however long this had happened, he’d managed to pull the money, and boxes packed with his past along with him, though he couldn’t ever remember looking though them before... what kind of curse was this?

      //Fate isn’t done with me.  It might never be done with me.//

      Eike pulled the letter out of his pocket again, and leaned over the bar, letting it fall into the trash without a second glance.  He sighed heavily.  No matter how he wanted to continue his life, there would be no point in trying to reach for a star he wouldn’t remember to catch.  If there were a way to call it a medical condition... somehow he still remembered the science, apparently, whatever else was taken away... but no, he couldn’t willingly put that kind of burden on someone else, not when the lack of memory could be something even worse.

      //I just don’t get it, and I’ll probably forget all about all of this, before I even have a chance to understand.//  

      Eike drank the rest of his beer in a single, long swallow, glad for the secondhand smoke in the air - it was cheating, he knew, when he’d already decided to quit...

      The glass paused in midair, shaking just slightly.

      He knew he’d quit, because he’d had the lighter, and had simply assumed - but as he followed the memory back, Eike realized he’d assumed too much... he wasn’t even sure he had smoked.  The simplest thing, and he couldn’t be certain. 

His entire life... was any of it real?

---------------------

      “En guarde!”
     
      The foils hovered in the air for a moment, before the taller of the two figures lunged forward, the opening thrust blocked, the next swiftly turning to an engagement, metal hissing against metal as a few feet were summarily gained and lost across the hardwood floor.  It was a swift battle, easily ended with a rather pretty opposition, and the foil swiftly bending into a turned-u, the tip pressed directly over the taller man’s heart.

      He was already chuckling as he stepped back from the “killing” blow, and pulled the mask off, blonde hair cascading down to his shoulders in its usual loose ponytail.

      “You’ve improved so much, in so short a time.”

      “One of my many talents.”

      The dry, disinterested tone did nothing to halt Eike’s wide smile, he waited patiently as the shorter figure removed its helmet, Homunculus letting it fall along with his foil, both vanishing well before they hit the ground.

      “So, you’re all through practicing for today?”

      The dark-haired djinn stared coldly at the waiting man - not a man, and certainly not Eike.  It was just a construct, a puppet, no matter how well it imitated the blonde’s smile, or his easygoing manner.  The... thing before him was only a memory, and a rather confusing one at that.

      “Leave me.”

      A simple gesture of his hand, and the false Eike vanished, swallowed down into the portal of light that then disappeared without so much as a flicker, leaving him alone in his sanctuary - a solitary creature, contented as a cat. 

      Homunculus hovered to his favorite perch, calling a book to him from the other side of the room - with a near eternal library to pick from, it was an almost limitless hobby - though once he reached the top of the doorframe he found he was listlessly turning the pages, staring vacantly out the window, at a hundred shades of nothing.

      Time sang to him, a sometimes listless, always haunting melody, and he was often content to do nothing more than sit and listen to it.  Eyes half-closed, the whole of eternity stretched before him.  All the pathways of existence, that which he had tried to impart to Eike with trite imagery of coffee and tea, unwove itself in front of him in that melody, connections and pathways, worn threads and knotted ones.

       Listening had been the way he discovered that, in saving himself, he had also caused his own destruction, that in another branch of time Eike had managed to use the stone against him, to prevent his awakening in one time, and in another, to destroy him.

      Homunculus had quickly twisted both threads out of existence, cutting them off at the base, as a master gardener would prune a tree.  It wasn’t worth even the slightest risk, that those streams of time might merge again, although he knew that he could cut and trim from night to day forever, and never catch them all. 

As if to illustrate the point, his foot caught for a moment on the end of one of the leafless limbs that wound around his door into time - a less obvious door would have served the same purpose, but he hadn’t seen a need for subtlety.

      //I would have had to lead Eike around even more than I already did, for one, bleating lamb that he was.//

      His concentration faltered, the song of eternity fading... Homunculus grimaced, feeling no real need to quickly reach for it again.  It wouldn’t last, and alternately feeding and ignoring this strange intrusion was doing nothing to come to the root of the problem.

      Eike.  The man intrigued him, for reasons his logic refused to elaborate on, or couldn’t elaborate on.  Except for who he had been, before the djinn’s curse, there was really nothing that special about him, nothing to separate him from any number of other humans.

      //However, he did beat you, and at your own game too.  The pentagram was a clever trick to save his soul, and you know it.//

      Eike was bold like that, in the most unexpected of ways.  After his death at the tower, Homunculus was surprised he’d been so ready to go on, and soon after, when he had tied the wrong rope to the tower... he /still/ kept pushing forward, giving the dark-haired djinn little more than a bitter second glance before moving patiently ahead.

      Of course, this was also the man who used the phenomenal ability to travel through time to make sure a child received a kitten.

Homunculus sighed in irritated disbelief at the memory, resting his head in his hand much as he had when he saw it happen the first time.  It was a flaw in the man, one the djinn was quite happy he had not the temperament to possess.  Eike had fought his way through time more than once, in a futile attempt to save Eckart’s wife, an act that brought him nothing but further pain.  He seemed utterly incapable of understanding how difficult fate was to alter, even when he’d been the one dying for most of the day.  Eike was completely willing to sacrifice himself, for even the slightest chance at helping another.  In Homunculus’ opinion, that was very nearly a cardinal sin, and for a demon, that was saying something.

      //So, if he’s so pathetic, why have you taken up fencing with his likeness?  Why do you wish it could talk to you, as he did then?  If he’s such a common idiot... why do you want more of him?//

      He honestly couldn’t answer the question.  Preoccupation didn’t suit him, especially when it was on something so... mortal, so seemingly useless as a simple man.
           
      The djinn refused what seemed to be the easy answer, to simply speak to Eike again, to dip into the stream of time, past the troubles with Hugo the fool and all the rest of it, and...

      //What?  Say hello?  Invite him to tea?  Or coffee?//

      He snorted at the half-pun, its connection to the past, amazed he was in this position at all.  Really, why -

      Homunculus looked up, all thoughts pushed aside as the threads of time, the song within, rose up into a sudden, almost deafening scream, trembling with an almost unbearable tension.

      //What... but nothing can...//

      The window, his own looking glass into times past and yet to come, wavered and trembled and /shattered/, shards of glass falling to mix with the debris of wood and stone piled here and there about the floor.  The djinn dropped down from where he had been resting, hands glowing just slightly with building energy well before his foot touched the floor.

      He wasn’t alone.

      “I dislike lesser creatures sniffing around my domain...” 

At his most stubborn, Eike had still never heard the tightly lashed anger that was the djinn’s voice now, there had never been cause to use it on any human, they simply weren’t worth the effort... but Homunculus could feel the heavy, warped feeling in the air, another demon?  Who would dare?

      He hadn’t bothered to place any wards or traps or protections around his sanctuary, demons weren’t nearly as common as they were perceived to be, and there was simply no one powerful enough to consider a threat. 

//Until now.//  The curls and ripples of power moved through the air, like building storm clouds.  He was only nonplussed because he refused to be otherwise.

      “Show yourself.”

      The djinn braced himself, readying a fatal strike, only to pause as a shape slowly appeared from behind his bookcase, a large tome open in her pale hands, the expression on her face one of interested confusion. 

The girl was in many ways his exact duplicate, two dolls cast from the same mold.  Ivory skin and fragile features, delicate proportions and those unholy red eyes - funny, he’d never thought his own to be that odd, but there was /something/ about this... girl, creature?

      “Who are you?”

      The book slid from her hand as she looked up at him - he absolutely refused to take a step back, though the /wrongness/ in those eyes was much more pronounced now that she was staring at him.  The bookcase held her mostly in shadow, and as she stepped into the light he could see that she was truly meant to be some sort of opposite of his own design. 

She was clad entirely in white, from the end of her high-pulled hair to the tips of the pale boots, the same style as his own.  He, however, did not have as much skin exposed as she did, her shirt curved up around her neck, leaving the left arm bare... and revealing what appeared to be some sort of brand, heavy charcoal marks engraved into a pattern in the skin, across much of her shoulder, and down her arm...

      It was a circle.  A pentagram.  A very familiar pentagram.

      “You must be Homunculus.”  She smiled with the joy of an innocent, taking another step closer.  “My name is Dopple.  I think I’m here to destroy you.”
      

==================
Author’s Notes -

1. Many thanks to Ann, who discussed this with me and from whom I’m sure I stole/will steal plot point after plot point after plot point.

2.  I’m planning for very, /very/ light shonen-ai (Eike/Homunculus) in this story, which could mean anything from a meaningful pause to a kiss but probably nothing more graphic, as I am a prude.  If it’s not your kind of thing, the exit is that way ---------->

3.  False Life (http://www.ryuuzaki.net/homunculus/)
Fated Circle (http://www.circleofdestiny.com/main.html)
and
Innocence Lost (http://members.tripod.com/miaka-chan0/) are all really nice SOD sites, each for their own reasons.

4. Thanks to Miss Allie:
http://media.gameshark.com/static/guides/ps2/shadow_of_destiny/sod.txt for an excellent online walkthrough/reference guide.

5.  The title of the fic comes from a song of the same name by the band “Think of England,” and the lyrical content is about as far from anything to do with this fic as possible... I just liked the title.