-1AN: This story, I'm hoping, will be a gripping combination of angst, romance, and humanity. It will be simple at first, introducing characters and such, but will hopefully pick up more depth and substance. Please enjoy!

Chapter 1: In the Throes of What We Fear

I suppose that finality and the infinite are what terrify me the most. I once had a dream in which all around me was nothing but the vastness of the bluest ocean and sky. No boat, but some invisible impetus, was what kept me from the touching the water. I was afraid… acutely afraid. Afraid of the expansiveness that engulfed me. I was painfully aware and conscious of what it meant to be alone. The ocean and sky, together… they were infinity.

The sky mirrored the waters, or really, vise versa. There was no horizon- just a spherical encasing of an all encompassing blue. Trapped in infinity… all alone. I knew there was no life in those waters, only the eerie reflection of myself, a sad companion to face eternity with. No clouds either in the sky to break up the ominous stretch of azure. I knew I could escape though. All I had to do was fall. Fall into the calm, still waters beneath me. I even knew that it would not even distress the quiet waters. If I wanted to sink, the surface would break open, serenely accepting me, no ripples needed.

… but that would mean finality. And end to all things, an end to me. In my dream I shuddered at the thought. Most people, I knew, believed in heaven and hell after death. I knew there was nothing. Nothing would be waiting for me if I fell into those waters. My heart would stop, my breathing would cease, and my conscious… would end. I would truly be dead then.

What fate do I choose? Floating within infinity, alone and alive? Or embracing finality, in which I would no longer have any cares, any worries? I wouldn't be sentient of them anyway. I would be nothing.

I was, and am, too much of a coward to decide such a thing. I hastily woke up. The dream reoccurs often, but every time I'd wake before my dream self chose. Sometimes, before waking, my body would be resolutely still, almost determined to stay as it was, eternity be damned. However, other times, I could almost feel the waters below, like my toes were stretching to touch death.

… finality or infinity…

"Aiden? Aiden!" I was distantly aware of someone hovering above me, their eyes boring into me while I was lost in contemplation. In class today, we were asked to write about what terrified us the most. My true answer would not be acceptable. It was too abstruse for my airy teacher. If I wrote about it, it was likely he would send me to talk to the counselor. I have been down that road before…

"For Christ's sake! Aiden!" and then there was a sharp jab to my shoulder. I blinked up at my caller.

"Eric." He looked down at me; his eyes scrutinizing me. He opened his mouth to say something, but abruptly shut it again. He shook his head and sighed.

"Come on. Class is over," he said exhaustedly. As I stood and walked to the door, he followed, too close for comfort. "Were you planning on staying here? I mean, I know you just LOVE the teacher and all, but…" He was laughing half-heartedly. Under the surface, he was worrying. I did this often to him, caused him to worry. I could never fully comprehend why that was.

"I was thinking," I replied pointedly. As I was walking, I was pressing against the lockers as close as walking would permit, avoiding the swarm of teenagers and accidental touching. I hated hallways. They were always so crowded… a sea of people.

"Thinking about what?" he asked, truly interested. Eric always thought I was insightful, deep... poetic. I just assumed I was straightforward. When I would mention this, I was told that no one my age thought quite the way I did. Apparently, there was a wide yawn of maturity between me and Eric, me and the others at my school. It was what made me 'anti-social' in Eric's opinion. I always scoffed at the notion. My thinking was not that complicated… or different.

"About death I suppose," I replied shifting closer to the lockers, my shoulder painfully grazing against it. A large group of people were passing by, commanding a wide berth in the hall.

"Oh." Eric fell back a little, and I wasn't saddened in the least when he did so. I breathed a little easier. "Why are you thinking of such a morbid thing?" he asked, closing the gap behind me a little. I tensed.

"The teacher did ask us to write about what scared us the most." My voice sounded banal, even to me, like death was just some infinitesimal, commonplace worry.

"I suppose. I guess many people fear that the most." Eric sounded pleased that in one aspect, I was relating to society.

"It's not dying really," I replied. We were almost to our next and final class, calculus. One could call me and Eric top students. Others deem us bookworms. I like to think of us as being studious, then again, I am often reminded, via Eric, that my way of thinking is not align with the rest of the population. "It's more of the finality of the action." We entered our class, heading to our desks off in the corner. It was convenient for me, as I could adjust the position of my desk further away from the suffocating presence of peers around me.

"I can't understand you sometimes," Eric laughed as he dropped his backpack on his desk, slouching into his chair. With my back to him, his desk being across from mine, I gently placed my books down. Turning to sit in my seat I caught his eyes. They were fixed on me again in that manner that always alerted me to know that Eric was reflecting upon my abnormality. Noticing this, he shifted his glance away and adopted a position of relaxation. "Doesn't death mean the end for a lot of people? I don't think you're alone in that regard," he sighed, as I scooted my desk diagonally backwards a little, away from the others. Eric always questioned this, even though my answer had never changed, never would. "Why do you always do that?" He asked only half interestedly, sifting through his backpack for yesterday's assignment and notes.

"You know I don't like to be so close to people." He was about to comment on that, as he always did as well; however, luckily for me, the teacher called for attention, signaling the end of my and Eric's redundant conversation.

During the lesson on anti-derivatives, my thoughts wandered back to the English assignment. I really wasn't sure why the teacher had allocated such an essay topic. What did he care what our fears were? Perhaps he had a intent fascination for what scared people, a system in which he could selfishly, and discreetly, assure himself that everyone else was a coward, too, in some facet. More likely, however, it was probably just an assignment that would coax personality into the writing.

Maybe I would write about infinity and definiteness as my most significant fears, as upon further consideration, they weren't really so abstract that my teacher, as lacking I thought him to be, wouldn't understand. Surely… I shook my head which earned a quick glance from Eric as well as a frown.

"Still thinking about it?" he asked from the corner of his mouth, as he ferociously took notes on today's lecture.

"Yeah," I said while taking my own cryptic, shorthanded notes. "What are you writing your essay about?" I asked as I looked over hopefully at Eric. He startled a bit, but quickly regained composure.

"My fear of being in a tight space. One in which I can't move," he replied not looking at me. "Just thinking about it makes it painful to breathe." He shuddered dramatically. I snickered at that in which made Eric tense a little. He quickly looked over at me apprehensively. I ignored that and went back to taking notes, soon to loose my self in thought again.

After some time, I was aware of someone's gaze on me. I scanned the room quickly to see who it was, but being in the corner, it appeared everyone had their backs or sides to me. There wasn't even the sudden movement of a turning head.

Strange… I thought, and even as I resumed my note taking, I couldn't shake the piercing feeling. It was causing me a great discomfort. I looked out of the window beside me, and a quick movement caught my attention. Behind a tree, there was a dark, shadowy figure. It was very still, but it was too solid to just be the darkening caused by the shade of the clustered trees. I strained my vision, cognizant that whatever it was, knew I was looking at it, and it was looking back. Is that a man? I thought as the figure in my vision seemed to assume the form of a well built male, tall, and still.

I shivered. I had completely stopped taking notes, unable to look away from the figure off in the darkened distance. On some level, I knew Eric was looking out the window, trying to find what captured my attention so keenly. Could he see it too? See him?

"Aiden? What is it?" His voice sounded concern. There I go worrying him again. I blinked my watering eyes to alleviate the stinging dryness, and when I fixed my stare on the figure again, he was gone. "Aiden?" Eric's worry consumed voice pulled my attention away from its point of vanished interest.

"Ah… nothing. Just a pair of golden finches," I lied hastily. I laughed softly when I noticed Eric's incredulous expression, which gained several, quick turned heads in my direction. They just as quickly turned back. "They were making quite a fuss over a much wanted twig, it seems." Eric quickly looked away for some strange reason, and stared unnecessarily hard at the white board. After a moment, he looked back over at me.

"You're really strange sometimes, you know?" His voice was almost inaudible and a little hoarse, like he'd been shouting some time ago. I gave a small smile as an affirmation to his statement.

The rest of the class went by uneventful, save for my fleeting and frequent glances out the window. By the end of class, I had ceased note taking, bored with the lesson of anti derivatives. Sometimes it was difficult to pretend to not know a subject already. When the bell finally rung, I gathered my things and left, but not before one more hurried search through the window. For a moment, I thought I saw the individual again, but upon closer inspection, I figured it to be nothing.

Eric and I walked in silence through the school. Now that school was over for the day, the halls were even more crowded and louder. I seethed in agitation, being careful not to touch anyone. It wasn't until we were safe in the more expansive outside, did Eric speak.

"Aiden, you wanna come over later?" he asked tentatively. I stared at him. "I, uh… realized you're having a hard time deciding what to write your essay on, is all. I could help you out, if you want… that is," he quickly recovered. I suspected the true reason for asking me over was not the reason he had given. I knew Eric sometimes wished we could just 'hang out' without the cover of fulfilling some academic obligation. I liked to shun such awareness.

"It's not something that requires your input, Eric," I replied directly. For a moment, his face contorted into a pained expression, but just as quickly, smoothed over into one of humor.

"Ah that's cool!" he laughed, though it sounded very forced. I didn't want to bring that up in case it further dejected my friend. We walked along in awkward silence. After awhile, I sighed.

"I meant that I don't have to go over your house for help with English," I said mildly. To a certain extent, I very much wished I had kept my mouth shut, but only after more politely refusing the invitation. However, Eric was one of the few people I could tolerate as far as societal relationships go. And really… what would be so bad if you did just go over to hang out? I asked myself. My friendships with people were often, and are, strained, mostly due to my inability to satisfactorily interact with others.

When I made this statement, Eric's face briefly lit up, but when he looked down at me, his expression was one of guarded uncertainty. "What do you mean?" he asked casually enough. I sighed again.

"I mean, you don't have to use the pretense of homework to ask if I wanna hang out," I replied looking away. Too much eye contact with people unnerved me sometimes.

"Sorry, but it's not like you're the easiest person to extend a casual invitation to," he said mockingly. Somewhere, deep in the more ignored chasms of my conscious, I knew my acceptance to the invite made Eric happy. I gave a small spasm of unease. "So you really coming over then?" he asked, still not convinced. I, myself, wasn't fully either.

"Yeah… sure." I tried to sound relaxed, but the tightening of my throat told me I hadn't executed it as successfully I hoped. However, it seemed to be good enough for Eric.

"Cool!" He sounded thoroughly jovial. I suddenly felt very wary. "What do you wanna do?" he asked, grinning at me.

"I dunno," I shrugged, "It's your invitation. Shouldn't it be your responsibility to come up with the plans?" Sometimes I sounded like a smart ass even to myself. To Eric, it probably appeared to be playful banter. I was too nervous to be sarcastic, however.

"Ha ha." His laughter was like a light bark. " True, true. Well, let me ponder about it then," he said lightly.

I often wondered why Eric stuck by me. I mean, sure we were both among the top in the school, but Eric was so much more agreeable for other people, able to successfully blend into many social settings. He had a carefree, playful attitude most often. When it came to school and such, was when he acquired a demeanor of diligence. He was also quite handsome. He had a strong law line, long straight nose, brown, messy hair, and bright, clear, blue eyes. He was also very tall and well built, towering over me by several inches.

The differences between Eric and I were many. I, myself, was smaller; one could say even somewhat lanky. I had shaggy, copper colored hair, pale skin, almost sickly pale, and bright green eyes. I was often told I looked feminine due to the fact that my face was apparently softly rounded. I really didn't concern myself with what was obviously supposed to be an insult. If cared about my looks, I might be more than happy to oblige my insulters with rebuke or scorn. However, I didn't care about such things, and so let the derisions roll off my shoulders.

"Well, if you don't mind, I need to stop by the convenient store," he said at last. He seemed to be in a very good mood now.

"Why?" I asked as we turned a corner, a deviation from the way to our not-so-far-apart houses. I figured my continuing to walk with Eric, knowing it to be off course, was a sufficient compliance to his request. He noticed this too and chuckled.

"I need to pick up a few odds and ends. I just realized that my mother probably doesn't have anything planned for dinner. She'll be working late tonight. I feel I should ease her worry by making dinner," he replied lightly.

Eric lived with his mother and younger brother. His father left when Eric was young, and the departure of his father was quite a scandal in his neighborhood. When Eric was seven, his brother just turning two, his father announced that he was running off with his younger, and equally adulterous, mistress. Since he was the main source of income for the family, his leaving left Eric's mother scrambling. She holds two jobs so as to uphold the comfortable lifestyle. Eric once told me he found it senseless for his mother to work so hard when they could be just as equally happy living in a smaller house with less materialistic obligations. I very much agreed with him.

"Does your mother still work as the café's manager?" I asked, feeling some weird need to continue a light conversation. Anything to distract me from the knowledge that I'd be trying to advocate normal teenager behavior by 'hanging out' in a little while.

"Yeah. One of her employees is away attending a funeral, and it's hard for her to find people to fill in the work slots. She's taking over the night shift for tonight." He sounded a little peeved. I knew it was because he thought his mother exerted far too much energy and was likely to cause herself to have an anxiety attack someday. Soon we arrived at a small grocery store. " It's just a few things I need. You can wait here if you don't wanna tail me through the whole store," he offered jokingly, but I had the feeling he wanted me to follow anyhow.

"I'll wait out here then," I said as I leaned myself against the wall beside the entrance. The brick scratched, and pricked my back uncomfortably, but I'd rather endure that than stalking behind Eric. There was no need really, I told myself.

"Sure. Be right back then." I gave a short nod as he left. His mention of a funeral had brought me back to the essay. Why was it so difficult to write about what I feared? Didn't Eric point out that many people feared death? I didn't know about infinity, though. That was probably a more… unique fear. It was one, however, that even made me apprehensive of Heaven, if I believed in such a place. Heaven, and Hell alike, went on forever… With such fears, I pointed out to myself, I was not easily satisfied. Death, either way, didn't offer any hope to me.

By the time Eric returned, several bags in hand, I decided I would write about my less strenuous fear of being in social spotlights. It was something quite easy to dither about. It was much more relatable. It was something, I was confident, even Mr. Harold, as insufficient as he was, could comprehend.

" Let me help you carry a few of those, " I offered when Eric reached me, my hand outstretched. He smiled and gave me two of the five bags. It didn't escape me that these were probably the lightest of them too. " I'm not a weakling," I said curtly, carrying both bags in one hand to prove my point. He laughed, one of those barking laughs.

" What are you talking about Aiden?" He looked at me with innocent eyes.

" Don't think I don't realize that these are the lighter of the bunch," I replied scathingly holding the bags up and waving them effortlessly. I should be used to this. Not only did people usually consider me to be girly, because of my small build, they often associated weakness with me as well.

" Fine," he sighed, and he handed over a heavier one. I took it smugly. He shook his head and smiled. " You can be so odd at times Aiden."

I was about to comment when a unexpected chill ran down my spine. I spun around quickly, just barely able to glimpse the flash of a shadow off behind a nearby building. I froze. Thankfully, I had already had a tight grip on the bags, so that my then tensed, stock-stilled body would not drop Eric's items. If I had not captured the movement, I was sure I would not have been able to see it the figure I fixated on. My suspicion was confirmed when Eric lightly touched my shoulder and asked concernedly, " What is it?" I knew he could not see the phantom like figure, just as still as I was, not too far from us.

Through tightly pursed lips I managed to ask, " Can you not see him?" I began to hear sharp, rasping noises, like tearing paper. I also felt the piercing again, like flaming needles to my entire body. Eric gripped my shoulder then.

"See who?" His voice was low and anxious. When I didn't respond, his grip tightened.

"Aiden?" I shut my eyes tightly, and then realized the ripping noise was my breathing. I tried to calm it, but Eric's forceful clutch on my shoulder wasn't making it any easier. When I opened my eyes again, I knew he would be gone. Nothing but a building curtained with twilight met my vision. "Aiden? Please…" he whispered nervously in my ear behind me.

I snapped to attentiveness then, abruptly stepping out of Eric's grasp. I swayed dizzily as I did so. "Did you not see him?" I asked turning around to face him. His expression was enigmatic. I couldn't tell if he was worried, startled… pained? "There was some guy standing right behind that building!" I shot a nervous glance behind me.

"Aiden," his voice resuming it's calm, "I didn't see anyone… or anything, for that matter." He looked back past me, eyes narrowing in suspicion. "Come one," he commanded gently as he grabbed my arm to pull me forward. If I wasn't so deep in thought, I would have protested; however, I was so immersed in my anxiety of the stranger that I followed numbly and obediently.

What the hell was that?! I asked myself, my heart thumping erratically against my rib cage. Who the hell was that? I bit my lip in worry, hard enough to draw blood. There was a sudden and abrupt gust of wind that shot passed us like an inhale from a giant, the sheer force of it making me swagger against it for a moment. Then the air around us went still, as did me and Eric. Then, just as quickly, came a soft gale from behind us, calm, like a sigh of some sort, and one that, when it blew passed me, carried a low hum of content and satisfaction. I trembled slightly.

Eric and I stood still for some time, each of us not understanding what had just happened, not comprehending the bizarre weather. The bags in my hand began to feel very weighty, pulling down my arm, my muscles and tendons stretching uncomfortably.

"Come on," Eric finally said. I'd say he sounded a bit frightened, but his voice was so quiet I couldn't be sure. His hand was still clutched around my arm, more tightly than before, and he pulled me on more determinedly. Night was sinking all around us fast, so that by the time we reached Eric's house, the sky was a dark, and menacing blue. No stars were visible as they were concealed by a vast blanket of thick clouds. Still clutching my arm, Eric opened the door to his house after managing to balance two bags and unlocking it. He shut the door immediately behind me.

He towed me into the kitchen. Once there, he let go and placed the bags on the counter. I followed suit, noticing that my arm, where Eric had gripped it, felt very tender, and shuddered in a slight spasm as the blood rushed back through to my fingers.

"Are you alright?" came his voice. I looked up to find his back me, already putting up his purchases.

"Fine," I replied meekly. I began to draw items out of one my bags, but Eric's hand briefly and lightly touched mine. I stopped.

" Don't worry about this," he said with a small smile. "Go in the living room and watch the television or something till I'm done." He flashed me a carefree grin, but his eyes spoke differently. They watched me with trepidation.

"I can help," I offered looking away, tensing once again that night. He laughed.

"Nah! Too much trouble havin' to dictate where to put things. It'll be faster if I did it." He sounded jokingly enough, and he resumed his task. I watched his back for a moment, aware that he was very stiff. I shook my head.

"You know, I think I'm just gonna head home," I said tiredly looking back towards the front door. When I turned back around, Eric was right in front of me. Every muscle in my body tightened. He looked down at me, his expression blank.

"You're bleeding," he said after a tense, silent moment. His hand came up, as if to touch my mouth, but stopped half way.

"Oh!" I exclaimed, and wiped the blood from my lip. It wasn't much at all, so I didn't see why Eric had thought the need to point it out. After another rigid moment of silence, Eric sighed.

"Do you want me to walk back with you?" he asked making his way to the door, as if I had already consented.

"No. That's alright. Make your dinner," I said as I walked passed him to the door. I opened the door and was briefly blind to the outside. It was so bright in Eric's house, a sharp contrast to the night's darkness. When I regained my vision, I felt Eric stand closely behind me, his hand on the door not to far from the knob where my own hand still clutched. I nimbly let go and stepped outside. Turning back, I was only able to make out the silhouette of Eric, framed by the light in his doorway. It made it easier to feign a smile.

"I'll see you tomorrow then?" I said lightly. I couldn't tell what expression he wore when he answered, but I found I was happy for it.

"Sure Aiden. Please be safe," he replied mildly. I gave a short nod, waved goodbye, and hastily departed. It wasn't until I was turning a corner at the end of the street, did Eric finally shut the door. I walked in quiet darkness. I could feel my paranoia rising like a serpent from an abyss, poised and alert. Luckily, my house wasn't to far from Eric's. Finally, I reached my door, no lights were on. They never were when I was away though. I pulled my key out from my back pocket, my hands slightly trembling. With the key in the lock, I felt the piercing once again.

My heart began to thump wildly, and I could feel my blood surging forcefully to every part of my body. My head swam with dizziness and heat, and a light mist filtered my vision. Without hesitation, I frantically turned the key, threw open the door, slammed it behind me, locked it, deadbolt and all, and sank to the floor in the darkness of my own home.

My breath was coming in rips again, shredding the air about me in quick inhales and exhales.

Fuck, fuck, fuck! I all but screamed in my head, as I clutched at my chest, the pulse in my hand echoing the frantic, violent beat of my heart. I was too scared to move, to turn on a light. I flinched at every little noise. My eyes were wide and I couldn't be sure if they were watering or if I was crying in mild hysterics. I tried to focus on calming myself. This level of fear, I told myself, was absurd! Especially when I wasn't even sure if what I saw was real. Eric didn't see anything, maybe I was just seeing delusions. It was a figment! I cried, trying to work my mind to believe what I could feel was a lie.

After some time had passed, and I gauged by the stiffness of my body, it had been a few hours, I uncoiled from the door, swaggering as I stood. My heart beat had calmed somewhat, but I was acutely aware that the slightest strange noise was likely to throw it back into a dishevel. In the darkness, I stumbled to my staircase, and all but crawled up them, weak and frightened. I reached my bedroom and didn't bother undressing. I mutely climbed into my bed, pulling the sheets over my head as a fruitless defense mechanism.

I don't remember how long I laid there in that panicked stupor with my raspy, ripping breathing. Despite my anxiety, I was vaguely aware that I was slipping into a half conscious sleep. I was ever alert, but my vision was filling up with dream like images. I was horizontal, my spine stiffly pressed against what I subconsciously knew was my mattress, but all around me was blue. But it wasn't the clear, sky bright blue. As I laid, floating in tremors, darkness encased me- the sky was dark as was the water beneath me.

A new onslaught of panic took hold of me when I began to feel punctures like needles throughout my body. I knew, frozen yet quivering in between infinity and finality, that he was watching me.

AN: WHOAH! A total change from what the original chapter was like. I suppose I want to keep my little vampire a mystery for right now.

Well… uh… please R&R! You don't know how much I love for others to comment on my… work? Constructiveness, compliments, complaints and all! They're all appreciated! Thank you and please keep reading! 3