A/N: I originally wrote this story for a "gothic fiction" assignment in English class and decided to post it. For that assignment it was a short story, but I've now undertaken the project of converting it to a mini- novel. Hopefully this will allow me to further develop my characters and improve the story as a whole. This will (hopefully) be my first completed multiple-chapter story, so please tell me what you think. Enjoy! ~Shades of Grey The Journal Chapter one: The Meeting

Most people would consider it near suicide for a skinny, pale, 17- year-old boy to walk through the back alleys of New York City alone past dark. But then, no one ever said that Jeremy Resero was normal. Jeremy had no problem cutting through even the darkest alleys in even the toughest neighborhoods, if it would get him home. Maybe it was the fact that he had a skull and crossbones hanging from one ear, or the abundance of silver on his face, or maybe it was just that the raven black spikes with bleached tips that made up his hair didn't make the guy look all too friendly. But for some reason or another, Jeremy didn't seem to attract all that many muggers. Jeremy was walking home from school on just another boring-as-hell day, mildly contemplating whether or not he would do his homework that night (he was leaning toward the latter), when he heard a scream echo through the alley. Partly out of concern for what was happening, but mostly out of curiosity, Jeremy sprinted over to where he heard the scream. In the next alley over, which was even darker and more run down then the one he'd just been in, he found the source of the scream. He rolled his eyes, just some dumb girl getting mugged. Just give them your purse! Jeremy sent silently to her. "Give it back!" the girl screamed, not letting go of her bag. More than afraid, the girl looked angry and determined. Wait a minute; Jeremy thought to himself, I know that girl! The girl was Dana Abdere, the most popular girl at Jeremy's school. She was the kind of girl that walked around school surrounded by friends and leading a herd of admirers. She could sure use some of those admirers now, Jeremy thought snidely as he turned to walk away. "Give it back!" Dana screamed. Jeremy could hear the panic creeping into her voice. "Help! Anybody! Please!" the cries echoed back and forth off the run down walls of the alley. Jeremy stopped and, his conscience getting the better of him, turned back. "Let her alone." He said calmly to the muggers, who couldn't have been older than fifteen, as he approached. The bigger one shoved Dana against the wall and turned to Jeremy. Right off the bat, Jeremy could tell that this oaf was all brawn and no brains. "What are you gonna do about it?" the oaf demanded, looming over Jeremy, "Attack me with your nose ring?" Jeremy simply raised a pierced eyebrow in a "well, you never know" sort of expression. Not really being all that violent a person, he figured his best shot at scaring these guys off was to look quietly malicing and let the oafs' imaginations run away with them, rather than he trying to look or act tough. The oafs, apparently, were thick enough to think that Jeremy would attack them with his nose ring, or something of the sort, because it took them all of thirty seconds to get out of sight. Dana, meanwhile, was getting up. Her hair was a disaster, her clothes were rumpled, and she had a long, red scratch across her cheek. She looked less composed than she had probably ever been in her life, and was clutching her bag like it was the most precious thing in the world. "Thank you," she said earnestly. It was one of those rare thank-yous that the giver truly meant. "Whatever." Jeremy said, shrugging his shoulders as he turned to walk away. "Wait!" Dana cried after him, "I think I know you, you go to my school!" "So?" Jeremy questioned coolly, not stopping or slowing down as Dana jogged to catch up with him. "So, we've never had the chance to talk!" she announced brightly. Stopping now, Jeremy turned and looked coldly at Dana's sunny, smiling face. "Of course not," he said, his voice like ice, "little miss popularity can't possibly be expected to talk to everyone in the school, especially freaks such as myself." Rolling his eyes, Jeremy continued to walk down the alley. "That's not fair!" Dana called after him, "you've spoken to me for all of five minutes and you already think that you know all about me! I'm not just miss popularity and my life isn't exactly perfect." Apon hearing this, Jeremy snorted audibly. "I don't have to stand here and defend myself to you!" Dana retorted indignantly. Jeremy shook his head and began to walk away again, but this time he let Dana catch up with him. "Why do you have to be so mean to everyone?" she demanded. Jeremy snorted. "I dunno, maybe 'cause they're so mean to me." He said, mimicking Dana. Now it was Dana's turn to roll her eyes. "So what's in that bag of yours that's so important, anyway?" Jeremy asked. Dana suddenly got very red in the face and mumbled something incoherent. "Sorry? I didn't catch that." Jeremy said pointedly. "It's my journal, ok?" Dana exploded "What, you mean like a diary?" Jeremy asked "No, I mean like a journal." Said Dana, mocking Jeremy "What's the difference?" Jeremy asked, trying to feign disinterest. "A diary implies dated entries about things nobody cares about." Dana stated "And a journal is different because.?" "In my journal I express myself through stories and drawings." "Ah, such a dramatic difference." Jeremy said sarcastically "Shut up" said Dana, looking embarrassed. "So, can I read this journal of yours?" Jeremy asked, beginning to see that this girl was more that what she appeared to be. "No." Dana said with an air of finality "Why not?" "Because no one is allowed to read my journal." "So it is a diary." Jeremy teased "It's not a diary. It's just . private." Dana said, smiling slightly. The unlikely pair came to the end of the alley and as Jeremy began to turn right, Dana stopped. "I'm, uh, down this way." She said, pointing to the left. The street looked a lot safer than the one they had just been walking down, but still not very nice. "So, I'll, uh, see you around?" she said. "Or not." Jeremy said, shrugging. But he stood and watched her until she was out of sight. A/N#2: kudos to anyone who knows what Latin words became Dana and Jeremy's last names