A/N: Well hello again! I'd like to thank Ms. Yui-kai for helping me with the last chapter. Her useful input is always appreciated. Please enjoy this chapter!

Warning: Parts may be boring do to me trying to depict class discussions… So yeah… that might not fair so well.

Chapter 3: The Eidolon that Follows Me

The end of the week was slowly encroaching upon me, and I found myself straining under all that had happened during it. Three days ago, I had felt a mad terror like that of someone hunting me. When I called up that memory, which wasn't hard to do, I could feel the phantom pains those knife-like stares had caused tearing across my skin. Even more ominous yet, was that nothing similar had occurred since.

That left me with two frightful things to consider: one being that my "pursuer" was taking a break, and while that may sound relieving, it had made me feel like I was walking in darkness, knowing that amidst the seemingly stable ground beneath me was the abyss that person would surely lead me into. The sense of waiting, because he would come again (I knew that instinctively), was just as unsettling as the sense of being watched.

The other possibility, and I'm not sure if it is more alarming than the first, was that I truly was imagining all of this. That all I have been fearing was what I had deluded myself into believing factual. The menacing Eidolon that sent me into cowers and haunted my dreams… To think that I had imagined all that was very horrifying indeed. When I considered that possibility, I had to ponder what would cause such a delusion. Then I remembered that my counselor had told me that I undoubtedly suffered from… that which I never wanted to acknowledge.

Perhaps this haunting illusion stemmed from… that?

God I hated thinking about it, and it was for that reason alone that I was more inclined to thinking, no, wanting, it to be the first of possibilities, as completely terrifying as that was. However, not only were the feelings of being preyed upon wearing me, but the situation with Eric, I found, discomfortingly found, were as well. I didn't know why that was, and I would rather not. Still, while I could find happiness that Eric had found someone to spend his time with, I felt his increasing absence all the same. Maybe I was unnerved because I had assumed that someone like Juliann was not someone Eric would ever find… compatible? The whole thing confused me utterly.

I shot a glance at Eric over the sandwich I had been unenthusiastically eating. Eric liked to spend his lunch break working on whatever homework assignments he could. When I asked him why that was, he would just smile and say that he couldn't stand the canteen's food anyway. I never voiced the thought that perhaps he should bring his own lunch if he hated the school's food. I would always catch myself before that, thankfully, knowing all too well Eric made lunch for his brother only, so that he could "help keep the bill of weekly shopping to a minimal."

Currently, Eric sat head bowed over the chemistry homework assigned earlier that day. I watched as he wrote out, balancing chemical equations, while blowing away the brown fringes that would occasionally stray into his eyes, the soft scribing of his pencil filling the silence. I liked Eric like this, when he was being mutely diligent. It was something I could understand and even relate to. Today, however, he seem to be even more attentive, as he if he were trying to completely merge into his work. That was a bit strange, I thought.

I suppose he felt my unwavering stare, and looked up at me. He smiled tiredly and I shifted uncomfortably.

"What?" he asked playfully.

"Nothing," I replied a bit too hastily. "I was just watching you work out the homework was all." I bit into my sandwich with forceful deliberation. His smile grew wider.

"You already finished yours, I suppose?" He rested his head on his hand, twiddling the pencil he held across his mouth.

"Naturally," I replied. Eric then proceeded to indulge himself in his signature barking laughter. It rang across the canteen, and more than one person turned to stare at him. Some would shake their heads in amusement, while others would start laughing themselves. Such a phenomenon always amazed me, and with Eric, they weren't uncommon. Once again, I had to question why Eric hung around me. I could never elicit such reactions. To receive such a thing meant being all that I wasn't.

I, too, smiled, however, despite myself. I tried to hide it by biting into my sandwich again.

"What's so funny?" and I no longer had to force the smile away. Upon hearing that voice, it happened naturally.

"Ah, nothing Juliann. Just laughing at Aiden's pretentiousness," Eric chuckled as he kissed the forehead of the newly arrived Juliann. Her face, always wrought in contempt, soften drastically at the affection, and she swished her coal colored hair behind her shoulders.

"It's not pretentiousness," I seethed. I could feel bitterness rising up in me though I didn't know if it was from Eric's comment or his action towards Juliann. That last notion was a bit unsettling. As Juliann sat down, she did so next to Eric with her legs towards him and in between his own. I always became rather unnerved when I saw such things. They were too intimate for me to comprehend, and my knowledge of "relationships" was so rudimentary that I shied away from even trying to understand it. "It's merely a fact." I scoffed, as I bit harshly into my sandwich once more, and found to my worry that it was almost gone. What then would I have as a distraction?

"Yes of course. Tell me, Aiden," and Eric acquired quite the smug look, "how did that English rough draft go?" I allowed myself to sigh exasperatedly.

"You were there. Why should I have to recall it for you?" I swallowed the last bit of my sandwich in agitation. In my ire, I didn't account for how large the last bite was, and it felt like my throat was stretching far beyond it's capacity, as the food grazed the inside of my esophagus painfully. I let out a gasp when the sandwich cleared. That, of course, only coaxed Eric into further fits of laughter.

"What now?" Juliann droned. Apparently, she couldn't find what had amused Eric so much. I was inclined to agree with her. Half the time I didn't understand what Eric would find humorous, but I just always accepted it, because Eric was just that kind of individual. The kind where it seemed nothing dark ever touched his heart for too long. Perhaps to people like Eric, the world was much more the comedy rather than the tragedy I assumed it to be.

"Aiden is so dramatic!" Eric said, and he continued to laugh as he turned back to his chemistry homework. Juliann rolled her eyes and then rested her head on his hunched shoulder while one hand rested on his thigh, the other rubbing his back. I watched in mute and somewhat disconcerting awe. They had only just met, but such signs of affection, to me anyways, were usually indicative of a much more in-depth relationship. Were they not? How could they look so comfortable with each other? Like Juliann's touch was something Eric had always been familiar with?

I felt the bitterness surfacing again, like bile from my stomach.

"What's your problem?" came Juliann's petulant voice, sounding like a snapped branch amidst silence. Eric looked up and at me. What expression was I wearing, because Eric looked both confused and… expectant?

"What?" I asked. I really was bewildered. Why did Juliann look so peeved?

"You look judgmental, like your criticizing something," she snapped, raising her head off of Eric's shoulder like a snake about to strike.

"It's nothing," I mumbled, trying to sort out my thoughts.

"Aiden… What is it?" I shuddered when I heard the gentle coercion in Eric's tone. I could respond, but only if I kept my eyes diverted. I found a pair of bickering girls to fix upon while a boy off behind them was smirking triumphantly.

"It's just that… you guys have only just met." I swallowed harshly. It probably looked like a sign of caution, but really I was trying to force down that bile-like bitterness.

"Yes? And?" Juliann demanded bitingly.

"Well… how can you two… How can you two be so close already?" I could now feel the bitterness being replaced by embarrassment. God I must sound like a child! I thought as a blush claimed my cheeks. I looked down in berating mortification.

Unsurprisingly, Juliann began to giggle uncontrollably, abandoning her caresses of Eric to clutch her sides. I turned to glare at her unrelentingly. From the corner of my eye, I saw Eric smile, but it looked like one of pity. I felt angered, humiliated, and then dismal.

"What?!" I snapped. I clutched at my knees, my arms taut before me, my shoulders tense.

"Oh Aiden!" Juliann cried through her giggling. "You can be so adorable sometimes!" That sounded like an insult! I felt my face redden that time in anger, as Eric kept smiling in that infuriatingly pitying way. "It's only normal, isn't it?" She asked in conceited gentleness. "I mean, Eric and I are dating." She giggled again.

I chose to keep glaring at Juliann, not wanting to look at Eric. Just say something you stupid prick! I thought resentfully at Eric.

Ever since three days ago, when that sickeningly terrifying sensation had gripped me, I had been unable to successfully reel in my free reining emotions, and just then, I fully hated it. Being at the mercy of Juliann's mockery, Eric's pity, my unrestrained emotions… It was too much. Overwhelming.

I forced a smile. It felt like someone was pulling my cheeks against my will with fishing hooks. I would have tried to force a laugh, but my throat had clamped up. I swallowed convulsively.

"Ah, so you are," I said, like I had learned the lesson. Juliann kept giggling. Eric sighed.

"Aiden-" he began to say.

"Look, lunch is almost over, and I'm gonna go drop off a book from the library," I declared, hastily standing, throwing my bag over my shoulders. "See you Eric." I turned to the still amused Juliann grudgingly. "Juliann," and I inclined my head in a gesture of goodbye. I felt like my neck would break from the gesture. She just waved, and chuckled into Eric's shoulder.

"Aiden!" Eric was calling for me, but I was already departing. I threw my trash away, and quickly left the suffocating canteen. It wasn't until I was a safe distance away from that room, did I let out my breath. I hadn't even realized I had been holding it in.

It was such a pathetic lie. Lunch would not be over for another ten minutes, at least, but I couldn't stand it any longer. Why must there be so much that I don't understand?

I walked down the empty hallways, running my hand against the blocks that fashioned the walls. During even intervals, my hand would meet the glass of windows. They would be warm to the touch, and I found I resented that each time I felt it, and when I walked into the light that spilled through the panes, the heat, too, rolling over me, was unwanted.

I paused in front of one of the windows. The view of the outside was filmed by the dust that lingered across the glass. I thought that it was befitting. Nothing was ever as it seemed.

Summer was drawing to an end, and it was almost tangible, the feeling of autumn sweeping in to claim it's time. The outside was glowing with the climax of the summer season, and soon, all the verdant grass and leaves will slowly begin to die. Then everything will be burning with color.

I always found it ironic that in the season of perishing, everything always seemed to be more alive… vivid, as vibrant hues will bleed forth from the leaves. I suppose it was nature's mocking way of exulting. Nature never really died did it? To be reborn… always being reborn.

I was being swept up in my thoughts and so did not notice the presence that stepped up behind me. I jumped a bit when a felt a gruff hand on my shoulder. I spun around quickly, my heart already convulsing. I was very much surprised when Mr. Harold met my view.

"Mr. Harold!" I gasped. His face was contorted into concern. "You.. You scared me."

"Mr. Driscol. I am sorry I startled you," he said grimly. I was becoming confused.

"No. That's alright," I said, wielding a pseudo smile. He studied me intently, and I waited in stifling patience.

"Mr. Driscol," he began, "While I find it intolerable for students to turn in assignments uncompleted," and at this I bowed my head in guilt, "I also know that you have never before done so." I kept my head down. I supposed once was not enough, this lecture. When I had turned in the essay earlier that week, I simultaneously apologized. Mr. Harold had looked bewildered in that moment, but when I revealed the fact that the assignment was incomplete, his face settled into one of disappointment. His voice swam in the same expression as he went on to reprimand me, saying that "such a thing is inexcusable" and that "it had better never happen again."

When I returned to my seat, everyone's eyes were on me, gazes conveying nothing short of shock. All except Eric's, who seemed to correlate the unfinished assignment with the events that had unfolded that previous night. I had smiled weakly at him, and Eric smiled assuredly back.

Presently, I awaited the similar lecture, and was completely surprised when the speech diverted.

"For that reason alone, Mr. Driscol, I am willing to let it bypass." I stared at him, even more confused and dazed.

"I'm sorry… What?" was all I could manage.

"What I am saying, is that I am willing to let this go once. However, I expect the finish draft to be turned into me tomorrow. Do I make myself clear?" he asked, but the hardness to the command was not there.

And then it clicked.

It clicked and it burned my insides. That look… that look in his eyes. I have seen it before.

Oh, so you know now do you Mr. Harold? I thought, as emotions began to whirl around. Anxiety, panic, anger, shame… How did he come to know? Who told him? What right did they have? And what the hell made him think that that really was the reason behind the partial essay?!

I had not noticed that I was swaggering under he overwhelming feelings until Mr. Harold attempted to steady me by placing his hands on my shoulders. I wrenched myself out of the grasps. He looked taken aback and guilt ridden.

"Aiden, I'm sorry. I didn't-" he tried to say, but I lifted my hand in the gesture to stop him.

"Who told you?" I hissed, my head bowed with humiliation and fear.

"It… I… It's on your records," he said dejectedly at last. On my records?! I repeated in my vexed brain. "Aiden, let me help you!" he implored, stepping closer. "I know someone who-"

"Tomorrow then?" I cut off, my voice emotionless, despite the torrent that was forming within me. He looked baffled.

"What?" came his voice.

"The essay," I stated. "Tomorrow right? I can mange that just fine," and then I looked up to face him, giving the sickest, sweetest smile I could muster. He looked horrified. I did not care. My shame was my own, and no one had a right to pry. He was probably satisfying some sick curiosity, anyway. "Thank you for this second opportunity. I will not disappoint you a second time, sir." I gave a bow, turned on my heel, and walked away, leaving the teacher in silence.

I turned the corner, out of his view, and then the bell rang. Shit! I cried. Voices began to surge forward, and soon the bodily forms belonging to the voices emerged from the dismissed lunch period. I sped up, determined to escape the crowd not so far behind me. In desperation, I broke into a run, my backpack banging against me with each forceful landing of my feet against he unforgiving ground.

I was breaking…

I threw open the door to my next class, history. The teacher, Mrs. Mallery, was sitting behind her desk, and jumped upon my sudden and thunderous appearance, as the door slammed into the wall upon it being flung open. I said nothing, I had no apologies within me, but went to my seat, by which, by the will of ill-befitting fates, was near the center of the room. Never had I ever abhorred that arrangement more than in that moment. I threw my belongings down, and crashed into my seat, taking my weary head within my shaking hands.

I could hear Mrs. Mallery rising from her seat and shuffling over to me with aged, purposeful steps. I tensed so much I thought my spine would snap. Not now! Not now! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! was the mantra I cried internally as I felt my eyes water with the threatening tears.

However, she passed me by. She continued shuffling until she was at the front of the classroom, where I heard the pop of a cap and the squeaks of the dry erase marker as she began to scribble away on the board. I breathed a little easier, and relaxed slightly. Then, we two weren't alone anymore as one by one, students began to noisily file in. Books slammed on top of desks, paper rustled, mindless chatter and laughter filled the awkward silence which had been present mere seconds ago, and people began to enclose around me, taking their seats.

I tried my best to ignore it, but it was particularly agonizing having a person sit behind me. I pressed my torso up against the edge of my desk, pulling in my spine, while concurrently trying to further myself from the person that sat in front of me by pulling my cradled head closer to my chest, tucking my chin into my neck. It was very painful, but it would have to do.

Soon the babbling of the students died away as the old teacher called for attention. She read off name by name and was met by repeated "present, ma'am." When she called my name, I straightened out and echoed my peers, forcing to make eye contact with her, not wanting to be more disrespectful than I already had been.

Mrs. Mallery was a very grizzly looking teacher, and old though she was, she stilled looked formidable. Her peppered hair was pulled in a loose bun, and stray hairs flew away from her, sticking up in odd places. She was very short, too, but she carried herself with so much poise and posture she could mimic the stance of a sergeant. Her face was very lined but the expression she always wore was one set in passiveness, ancient and wise passiveness. She seemed to mirror those characters you read about in legends, the ones of old sagacious elders that had the answers to everything. Very formidable indeed.

Looking upon my teacher, her face betrayed nothing of what she might have thought of my… unusual entrance earlier, so I became no longer bothered by it. She merely acknowledge my attendance with a curt nod, and continued to read off the names in that almost-whisper like voice of hers, soft but by no means gentle. When we broke eye contact, my head slumped back into my hands, and I adopted the position I had assumed moments ago.

As the class went on, I didn't bother taking notes. To push my thoughts away from Mr. Harold and the atrocity of the situation, I listened keenly to Mrs. Mallery, as she began to unwound the early accounts of the Napoleonic Wars. Soon, I no longer had to force my thoughts away from my English teacher. As Mrs. Mallery lectured on, I was soon swept up in the vivid rehashing of the wars' chronicles, her words completely enveloping me.

My mind conjured images of massive naval fleets under Napoleon's orders traveling the seas where sails caught the wind and rolled like the clouds. I could smell the salt in the waters as light reflected off the rippling waves.

Mrs. Mallery was explaining, no, narrating the Battle of Trafalgar during the Third Coalition, as if she had witnessed it, lived through it, but without biases. The images of sailing ships soon turned to a scene of a battle where 33 vessels, both Spanish and French under the command of Admiral Villeneuve, met the ferocious Royal Naval fleet. Cannons were fired, guns as well, and the sea was ablaze with the burning ships. I could hear the roaring of exchanged fire and the shouts of warfare men ringing within my ears as if I had been present, was present. I closed my eyes to strengthen the sensations.

The scene before my mind's eye depicted ships with broken masts, ripped sails, massive holes, smoke rising like menacing tendrils of opaque grey. I could then smell the smoke that draped about the smoldering fleet. Twenty-two ships of the Spanish-French fleet were destroyed, and I imagined them sinking into the waters below their massive frames. None of the British were destroyed. This, spoke Mrs. Mallery's voice in my mind, was what had made the commander of the Royal Navy fleet a legend, and though he died in battle, he was commemorated as the greatest naval hero.

I was so immersed in the tale, I had not heard the bell. It took me awhile to learn why my peers were leaving, and when I came to the realization, I gathered up my undisturbed backpack grudgingly. That was the most incredible history lesson I had ever sat through! Usually, I just listened to Mrs. Mallery's subdued lectures with only the mildest of interests, taking notes and absorbing the lesson, but never had I been the one to be absorbed!

I wondered what had made today so different. With backpack in tow, I hastened up to where Mrs. Mallery stood by the door of exiting students. She always saw her students off at the end of class, giving them nods of farewell, but today, the students were shaking her withered hands in exultation, appraising that day's lesson, their faces alit with awe. She just replied with bland continuous thank you's.

When I reached her, I didn't know what to say. She gazed at me serenely, patiently awaiting what I might have to say.

"Thank you," was all I could muster. Her face took on an expression I had never seen before. She looked… pleased, amused even. I was even more at a loss for words.

"Mr. Driscol," she said in that ancient whispering voice, "I had rather hoped you would have enjoyed today's lesson. I am most satisfied you did so." She smiled at me, and it was so strange to me. I even felt myself smiling back! "Go to your next class, Aiden." She said it so gently, I obeyed without awareness of doing so, and soon I found myself in Mr. Harold's class.

I blinked several times in confusion, not remembering the journey to the class. That frightened me a bit, but I told myself it was only because I was still thinking of Mrs. Mallery's tale that I hadn't noticed my getting to English. I trudged over to my desk off on the last row opposite the entrance, ignoring Mr. Harold's following, concerned gaze. It was second to last, my desk; Eric sat in front of me, some girl behind me.

I tried to stave off the desperation I felt leaking throughout me, pressing on me, by trying to hold on to that wonderful lesson of Mrs. Mallery's. It wasn't completely successful, but it would suffice. I hoped that Mr. Harold's lesson was just as engaging to aid my cause, but I highly doubted it. I tried to will no emotion as I sat patiently in class.

Eric soon arrived and flung himself into his seat before me. He turned to face me and eyed me with trepidation.

"Hey Eric," I said unenthusiastically. Eric frowned.

"That's usual enough," he sighed, I thought more to himself. He smiled at me. "Hey. You're not… you're not still… upset are you?" He looked at me with apologetic expectancy. What is he talking about? I thought bemused, fetching my English binder from my backpack.

"Why would I be upset with you?" I asked perplexed. His smile fell, and then he mirrored my expression of puzzlement.

"Well, you did seem a bit… peeved when you left lunch," he said warily. Oh! I thought as I remembered. I laughed a little, and Eric sat further back in his seat, away from me, turning his head away too.

"I had totally forgotten about that," I said.

"What made you forget?" came his voice from his turned head. It sounded distant. I stiffened a bit when he asked, my mind instinctively jumping to the encounter with Mr. Harold, but I saved myself by telling Eric it was because of Mrs. Mallery's incredible and unique lesson. He turned back to me looking amused.

"Yeah! I heard about that from Steve. He said it was unlike anything she had every done, but that it was just like everything she had ever done," Eric replied interestedly.

"What?" I asked, confused by that statement. He laughed.

"I think he meant that today Mrs. Mallery did nothing different from what she normally did, it's just that this time… how should I say this? It had a certain… edge to it, her lesson. Am I right?"

"Yeah… I suppose that is it," I said. He smiled and turned back around when Mr. Harold began class. I barley noticed our teacher's frequent glances at me, as I was pondering what Eric had said.

Nothing had been different, I thought, as I received papers passed back by Eric, today's notes. She did nothing different from what she normally did… I passed the remaining one to the girl behind me, and our fingers touched. However, it wasn't me who pulled back the contacted fingers. The girl had done it faster than I could manage. I looked at her confusedly, but she didn't look at me. Rather she lowered her head, her brown, curly hair spilling before her face. Unconcerned, I turned back around.

What had she done to make today's lesson so… captivating though? Did she speak with more enthusiasm? That was certainly possible. I had be too wrapped up in the images of my mind to notice her tone. After several more moments of consideration, I decided that that had probably been the case. She did say she hoped it had been interesting, I concluded, thinking that to mean she had put forth more effort.

"Mr. Driscol. Mr. Driscol... Aiden!" and then I realized Mr. Harold had been standing beside me, and judging from the agitated expression on his face, it had been awhile.

"I'm sorry… sir," I said, not looking at him, hissing his title somewhat, the derision evident. Eric didn't miss that and turned quickly to stare at me with incredulity. Mr. Harold cleared his throat nervously.

"Ah, please pay attention in my class Mr. Driscol," he said returning to the front of the class stiffly.

"Yes sir," I responded. Eric looked at me circumspectly, not comprehending my disrespectful attitude. I did feel a bit guilty for it, but I could not control the resentment I felt due to my divulged… circumstance. No one was ever supposed to know! That had been the arrangement. Only the principle and counselors of this school were allowed to know. That was supposed to be it! Why was such a thing on my record then? Why would it be important?

I could feel myself getting nauseated. The shame-filled emotions swam in my stomach, stirring around my insides like a maelstrom. I clung desperately to the memory of Mrs. Mallery's lesson, trying to fend off the sickness. It was becoming increasingly difficult to do so; especially when Mr. Harold made a point of calling upon me repeatedly for my opinions on the day's topic.

Throughout the month, our class has been determining the differing themes of many works. We had just finished analyzing Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Currently, we were reading Shakespeare's Hamlet. I never could really understand Master Shakespeare's works. The most confusing one of Shakespeare's plays has to be Romeo and Juliet, however. How could two people fall in love so quickly, and just as quickly be willing to die for each other? I could never wrap my head around that one.

Also, sometimes, as with Hamlet and Macbeth, there were so many subplots, it was hard for me to analyze a main theme, which was what Mr. Harold wanted us to do presently with Hamlet. I grimaced bitterly when Mr. Harold called on me, asking me what I believed to be the central theme behind the work. I hated, no, loathed, speaking in front of people. All those eyes on me… It was stressful.

Nevertheless, I stood up, rigidly so. My voice was flat when I replied, monotonous, say for the small inflection when I acknowledge my teacher.

"Well for me, sir, all I can seem to concentrate on is the ceaseless need for death and revenge the character's appear to have." I tried to sit back down, wanting that to be all I had to say, but it seemed Mr. Harold had not yet finished with me. I thought that it was quite undeserving he did so, considering he had just pried into my business, unbeknownst to me and certainly not with my approval.

"Care to elaborate Mr. Driscol?" he said, taking off his glasses to wipe them on his unraveling sweater hem, not making eye contact with me. I sighed inwardly, the sickness storming within me, almost violently so. If I'm not quick about it, I'll probably loose the strength to stand, I thought.

"Throughout the whole play, character after character sought revenge or the death of someone, whether to justify the bitterness they felt for another, as was the case with Hamlet towards his uncle, or for the purpose of concealment, as with Claudius wanting the death of Hamlet to keep his murdering of Sir Hamlet a secret." There. Please let that be all. I didn't want to talk anymore, and while I knew that that was only a general answer, I hoped that it would be enough, needed it to be enough.

"That is certainly a central idea Mr. Driscol. However, I find your answer lacking specifics," Mr. Harold responded in the conceited tone I hated so much. All the while he never looked at me. I was starting to sway slightly, my only determination to stay standing stemming from the dull irritation I was beginning to feel as well. "Anyone care to rebut or add to what Mr. Cole has said?" And Mr. Harold looked around the room, eyeing various students hopefully. Several hesitant hands were raised.

"Ah! Mrs. Stair. Please," he said. I glanced around the room as I sat back down, thankful. I had never heard that name called before. I shuddered a little when I heard a wispy, timid voice speak up from behind me. The girl behind me, I saw from the corner of my eye, not fully turning my head to look at her, twiddled her thumbs nervously, her brown eyes downcast. Apparently, she did not wish to stand. With her speaking, her very near presence became even more apparent, and I scooted closer to the edge of my desk, ramming my abdomen into it. I really hated having people sit behind me. Usually with English, I didn't mind so much because the girl never said anything, but now…

"Mrs. Stair, I'm sorry, but if you would please repeat yourself. Louder this time," came Mr. Harold's deep voice, trying to drown out the murmurs of annoyance by the other students. "And please stand," and he gestured impatiently for her to do so. The girl's eyes widened with evident horror, and she visibly gulped. I had never seen someone as nervous as me when asked to address the class, but I supposed I had stricter control over the masks I wielded to conceal it. She trembled as she stood.

No longer wanting to look at the nervous girl, she acting too painfully similar to how I sometimes act, I shifted my gaze to the front. I regretted that when I realized how close Eric was leaning over my desk, his elbows propped on it, too, head resting on his upturned hands. He seemed to be very absorbed by the timid girl now speaking behind me. Was there no escape? I stood as straight as I could, staring out the window next to me in compromise.

"I think there's a lot more t… to the p…play," the timid girl stuttered. Her nervousness was rolling off of her and lapping up against me, almost as if the feeling itself was corporeal. "I… I mean, while Hamlet of course s…s… seeks revenge against his uncle, he acts so indecisively." I could practically feel her shaking behind me. I looked over at Eric who had a curious smile on his lips.

"Yes, yes, yes. And what do you mean by that?" spoke Mr. Harold with an edge of excitement as he walked closer to our row.

"Um… well…. It just seems that… uh… while Hamlet becomes rather ob…obsessed with the idea of revenging his father, he takes a really long time be… before acting upon it," she replied in a faint, quivering voice. So painful was it to listen to.

"And why do you think that is?" Mr. Harold said, standing next to Eric with his hands clasped behind his back. I checked the girl and she looked sick, like if she opened her mouth to say anymore, there would be messy repercussions.

"Sir? May I?" I turned around to face Eric who had his hand up determinedly, his face the picturesque of seriousness. Mr. Harold gaped a bit, but agreed to Eric when the girl sat down appreciatively, it being obvious she was going to say no more.

"Certainly Mr. Conn," Mr. Harold said with a slight bow of the head, as Eric stood to face the class.

"I believe that the reason Hamlet acted so indecisively was because of his own confusion towards death itself," Eric stated confidently, his eyes ablaze with passion. English had always been Eric's favorite subject, that much I knew.

"After his father's death, he became obsessed with death, as throughout the play he questions it again and again, even contemplating his own death. It's obvious from his first soliloquy that he is uncertain of what death might bring to those who take their own lives, however, so I believe that is why he abstains from committing suicide. Nevertheless, I feel that Hamlet did not promptly kill Claudius because he feared what the consequences might be, especially those dealing with the Afterlife," Eric concluded, sitting back down smugly. He caught my eye and smiled beatifically at me. I gave a small smile in return.

"But I thought Hamlet thought that he might be able to escape all that with death. That maybe death held the answers that he sought after," came a husky, dull voice. It came from the boy in the back who was resting his head lazily on his folded arms on his desk, looking thoroughly bored.

"Yes well, he pondered that often, but he clearly wasn't going to take his own life, because it went against God's will, so why bring that up?" Eric refuted. Mr. Harold looked like he was enjoying a rather interesting television show.

"Well, what does not killing Claudius have to do with his questions over death?" the boy responded, lifting his head up to stare at Eric. Eric narrowed his eyes in competitiveness, and soon the rest of the class was dedicated to the two boy's arguments and debate. Soon the class even appeared to divide, taking sides with which ever representative they believed were right, occasionally voicing a collective "yeah, that's right" or "exactly" when their representative had finished a particular rebuttal.

I watched Mr. Harold all the while. His face was alit with pride at his interested pupils who were taking such an active role in class. At times he looked thoughtful when considering an argument laid down by one of the boys, and other times, he would nod fervently in agreement. He appeared so different from before, the man that had looked at me with pity, the utmost pity, and worse yet, revulsion. I wish I could sneak into his mind and erase that knowledge away, that knowledge he shouldn't have had in the first place.

Oh no! I gulped, feeling the nauseating turning in my stomach returning tenfold. I clutched at my stomach, as if I was physically trying to hold those emotions in. Think about Mrs. Mallery! Her lesson! I told myself repeatedly.

It was no use.

I could feel the bile working it's way up. I forced it back down.

The class was then in an uproar, and the ferocious exclamations were ringing in my ears painfully. Only one other person had remained as quiet as I, and that was the Stair girl behind me. I turned my head slightly so as to look at her. She was completely engrossed in a book whose title I couldn't make out. The fabric cover was so old and worn it was tearing in places. The spine of the book, too, was much gnarled, save for the gold threading that adorned the edges of it. It looked very ancient.

I had not realized that I had been staring, so I jumped when the Stair girl slammed her book shut abruptly. Surprised, I looked to the girl who appeared horrified and alarm and was shoving the book back into her backpack hurriedly. I had not meant to offend her. By all accounts, I had not meant to even stare at her like I had done. Well, really, it was the book I had been staring at, but I scared her all the same. That was a painful thing to recognize.

"I'm sorry," I muttered, slightly ashamed. The girl shook her head viciously, her brown, curly hair whipping about her. I was afraid she would snap her neck if she kept it up.

"No. It's alright! I… I'm sorry!" she practically yelled, her cheeks aflame with a bright, red hue, head then downcast. All the class became very quiet then. I sat back in my seat a little and eyed her confusedly. She shot her head up and glanced about the room when everything became silent. If it was even possible, her cheeks became even redder. She took in a sharp intake of breath and looked completely mortified, realizing she had been the cause of the silence.

"Is there a problem Mrs. Stair?" Mr. Harold asked. His question went unheeded.

"I… I'm the one that should apologize," I finally said, recovering from my shock and confusion at her outburst.

"Aiden? What did you do?" came Eric's amused voice behind me, too close behind me. I felt it was safer to lean forward towards the girl, so I did.

"Aiden didn't do anything!" the girl protested, shaking her head again. "He… he just sur… surprised me was all!" and she seemed to sink within herself, shrinking away, faced twisted into embarrassment. I didn't want to be the cause of such an expression.

"No! I was the one staring!" I said. There came a chorus of "ooh" at that, in which my own complexion suddenly very much matched the girl's.

"Staring?" I heard Eric repeat.

"I mean, I was just trying to read the cover of the book!" I said defensively. The class didn't look as if they bought it, true as it was. "I didn't mean to pry," I mumbled dejectedly. I looked at the girl, hoping she would forgive my rudeness. I didn't want to be a hypocrite, having just resenting Mr. Harold for the very same reason. She gave a small, embarrassed smile.

"Like I s… said. It just surprised me." Her response was so quiet it was almost inaudible.

"I'm sorry all the same," I said desperately. She nodded in consent, almost unwillingly it seemed, which ended our bizarre disagreement. I turned back around, avoiding Eric's questioning gaze. The class was silent for a moment longer before Mr. Harold cleared his throat a couple of times.

"Uh, yes, well… I suppose that was as good a closing as ever," he laughed. "Alright. Seeing as the end of class is almost upon us, I want to talk to all about your weekend homework," he said going over to desk, to sift through the sheets resting on it. There was a collective groan made by the students, at which Mr. Harold smiled unsympathetically. "I know, I know," he whined mockingly, while passing out our assignments. "Over the weekend, I want you all to read the short story by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game. Come up with ideas on what you think the themes of the book are. We'll discuss it in class first thing on Monday, so I suggest some of you actually read it," at that, he stopped by a boy's desk and eyed him knowingly. The boy scowled and murmured an "Alright, alright."

"Now, I have copies up here so when class is-" and then the bell rang. "Okay! Come up and get your copies! Tomorrow we'll wrap up Hamlet," he said over the hustling and bustling of hurrying students, already handing out books to exiting students. I stuffed my binder back into my bag. The Stair girl, I noticed, had already left.

"You ready yet?" Eric asked me impatiently, laughing.

"Yes," I responded, swinging my bag over my shoulder. As we made our way up to Mr. Harold, a very present knot in my stomach tightened, and it constricted all the greater with each step that drew me closer to the man. First, Mr. Harold handed a copy to Eric, who upon receiving it, eyed it hungrily. When it came time for me to obtain mine, he held back his hand a little, and thus the copy, and my own hand paused outstretched.

"Aiden, I'm serious about what I said earlier," he said softly, and Eric suddenly devoted all his attention on us. I tensed severely, panic acting like a starch for my muscles. "About the people that I-" he was beginning to say.

"Yes! I remember Mr. Harold!" I shouted somewhat hysterically. I shut my mouth abruptly, fearing what reaction I would receive from both Mr. Harold and Eric at that flare-up. I glanced over at Eric quickly. Mr. Harold caught that, and then stared at me, his eyes searching, the look asking me "does he not know either?" To save myself, I conjured up another smile and replied, "I remember. I'll turn in the finished draft tomorrow," hoping that he got the implied meaning to desist.

He sighed wearily and defeated, handing over my copy. I took it quickly and left his class, Eric close behind.

"What was all that about?" he asked, his long strides effortlessly keeping up with my frantic and shorter ones.

"Nothing," I replied tersely, trying to keep the panic at bay. Eric quickly stepped in front of me, blocking any further progression, and I almost collided into him because of it. "What are you doing?" I asked, stopping mere inches away from him.

"Aiden, what was he talking about? Why did you look so fearful?" he asked worriedly. I tried to look nonchalant as I responded.

"It's nothing, really! He cornered me earlier, after I left the canteen, to talk to me about my unfinished essay. He seemed to think that because that is so uncharacteristic of me, that something must have happened. I told him it was because I hadn't been getting much sleep lately do to all the homework I've been receiving. That was also the reason behind my bizarre behavior the night before. You remember? Well, he told me that there were people he knew who, if I was having problems sleeping, could prescribe medication. I think he thinks I'm suffering from insomnia. I told him, however, that I didn't like using medication for something like that, but he's being so persistent that I just kind of snapped."

I had said all that in one breath and was gasping by the end of it. I was shocked that the lie had come so readily. I cautioned a look at Eric who was eyeing me suspiciously. After awhile, I suppose my answer sufficed, and he shrugged.

"Alright, alright. I believe you," he said shaking his head exasperatedly. I watched him doubtfully. He caught my eye and winked in assurance. I sighed with relief and he laughed. "Come on now! Don't make me late to calculus Aiden. How rude!" he shouted, laughing all the while. I followed mutely. I had just barely escaped. That had been way too close for comfort.

I was so caught up in my thinking that I never noticed Eric's unwavering, grim gaze, eyeing me unbelievingly.

Calculus had gone by unsuspectingly fast. For the last three days, most of my calculus classes had been dedicated to scanning the outside, expecting to see or feel that stranger's presence again. Today, I had glanced out the window probably more out of the habit than anything else. I hadn't searched for the phantom, for my head had been bustling with other all consuming thoughts and emotions. Instead, I merely stared out, not cognizant of anything at all. Not even class.

No matter. Calculus was very easy for me. I probably already knew the basic the day's lesson anyway. I would make up for the inattentiveness by studying later. And so, when calculus had ended, it took me by surprise. As I gathered my things, I didn't even turn to the window. I silently followed Eric out of the class and down the crowding hallways, staying as close to the lockers as ever.

"English had been fun today hadn't it?" Eric said looking down at me, smiling a wolfish grin. I shrugged.

"I guess," I said blandly. Eric pouted.

"Oh come on! I was on fire in there! I just love a good argument!" he laughed bark-like. "I mean, some of the arguments that Jake guy came up with! Laughable, really." He was getting very excited and so his hands became very animated, as did his expressions. "It was almost like being in debate club, the class being divided like that," and he made a slicing motion with his hand. "Ah, the thrill of a debate. I guess he wasn't such a bad opponent. When do I get to go up against you Aiden?" he asked looking hopeful, grinning widely.

"You know I'm not argumentative," I sighed, relaxing to some extent as we stepped out of the school.

"I know, I know," he sulked, but just a quickly perked back up again. "And how about this new assignment?" he said pointing to the book. I had not realized that he had been holding it all that time. He had that hungry look in his eyes again.

"Have you already read it or something?" I asked, bewildered by Eric's behavior. He looked at me, his smile faltering a little.

"Uh, well no, but I have heard about it. Just never read it," he said as he flipped through the book.

"Oh, okay," I responded unsurely, not understanding him.

"It's supposed to be… hmm… How should I say this?" he said, speaking to himself. "Well, the book is a bit… twisted," and he smiled savagely. It was a bit frightening.

"I'll take your word for it," I said, looking away. "You have a fascination with the morbid?" It wasn't a statement, so much as it was a question. He laughed, but it sounded bitter. I shuddered.

"You know, I suppose I do," he responded wryly. I watched him apprehensively. Eric was acting strangely. I had never seen him act like this, not since the rare times his father called…

"Eric," I said softly. When he gave me his attention, his expression was guarded, but I sensed he already knew what I was going to say. So instead, I merely asked, "When?"

He closed his eyes, and the grip on the book tightened, as did his other hand, clenched into a fist. It took him a moment to respond, but when he did, his voice sounded tired and old, not like Eric at all. "Yesterday. After dinner. My brother had answered it." His eyes hardened. "My brother had been talking to that prick a whole 15 minutes before I knew who it was," he whispered harshly, and I knew he was berating himself.

"Eric…" was all I could think of.

"I'm so sick of that bastard! Who the hell does he think he is? Packing up and running out on us… Pete can barely even remember his face, and that dick head was communicating with him!" Eric spat furiously.

"What did he want?" I asked hesitantly. Eric smiled bitterly.

"Oh you know… same old, same old. Wanting to know where our bitch of a mother was," and then his expression molded into one of loathing and sorrow. "Pete was crying when I snatched the phone away from him. That bastard disgusts me! He was going on and on about some stupid bullshit, slurring his words, drunk again! Big fucking surprise there… So I yelled a few chose words before hanging up on him."

"Is… is he still with that one woman?" I voiced with trepidation.

"How the hell should I know?!" he yelled callously.

"I'm sorry! I just thought, why would he call asking for your mom when-" I tried to say, feeling wholly ashamed for saying such a thing in the first place.

"I don't know! Because he's a fucking bastard?" Eric answered ruthlessly. I swallowed nervously, my throat tightening under the heated mood. I hate things like this. I heard Eric give a weary sigh.

"Look, Aiden, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to take it out on you, it's just…" and he cursed loudly, making me jump because of it.

"I'll leave you alone Eric. I'm obviously not helping the matter," I said, turning to head home another way, no matter it would take longer, but a hand had clamped around my upper arm.

"No! Please stay!" Eric cried desperately. I froze in my tracks, partially because of Eric's hold, the other because of the pleading in his tone. I had never heard it sound so raw before. I turned to face him. He let go of my arm. "My brother will be staying over at friends house and my mom will be working late again tonight, so I was wondering, and I know this is completely rude of me, but I was hoping I could… hang out over at your house for awhile." He said the last bit like I had already said no. A good part of me wanted to say it too.

But maybe if I concentrated on Eric's dilemma, it would help me forget my own. Against my better judgment, I uttered, "Sure." Eric looked taken aback and he stood in a kind of stunned stupor for a moment before I grew impatient (and nervous) enough to shout at him. "Well?!"

He shook his head from side to side, smiling. "I'm sorry. That took be by surprise. I hadn't really thought you'd say yes," and he smiled at me gratefully. I sighed and trudged on to my house, Eric in tow. "Ah! You know what?" he asked suddenly.


"This is the first time you've allowed me to come over since we were… what? Ten? I'm not counting the other day," and he hummed happily to himself. I nodded in agreement, whether he saw it or not.

The rest of the walk home was quiet, which I was aptly thankful for. I had nothing to say anyway. The day had been so meshed with events that I speculated what else could possibly happen.

Eric was walking in a weird, march like way, jutting his legs out in front of him awkwardly, and it was a wonder his legs didn't break. He was also grinning like an idiot which made me even more unsure and uneasy. I couldn't never understand why he would get like this.

It wasn't until we turned a corner around the park, did all of the day's events go flying out of my mind, completely forgotten in that moment.

It was back.

The feeling was back, and it was burning all over my body. I couldn't step any further, bodily movements ceasing utterly, save for the explosive beating of my heart. I couldn't even breathe in that moment, and I could almost feel my lungs shriveling.

The eidolon was back!

A/N: Yay! Tis be done! Tis be done! Wonder how long it'll take for chapter 4... Not like anyone reads this story anywho! Ah well…

I hope the class discussion scene wasn't too unbearable. I tried to pull it from my own English class.

Well, you know the drill! Do tell me what you think! Thank you again for reading.