A/N: Kudos to my first review!! To answer your question LadyJustice, no, they will not fall in love immediately. In fact, I plan on making this quite long. There is going to be a lot of awkwardness, friendship, anger, cold shoulders, and most of all- time- before they ever grow to even consider each other. I've never completed a story, but hopefully this will be my first (and probably my longest). Again, thank you so much for reviewing, and I hope you like it. Enjoy!

Better Off Alone

Prologue

The Fog in the Mirror

Long, slender fingers glided across the fog in the mirror in a ghost-like manner, pale skin contrasting nicely against the steam that clung so desperately to the glass. The clear strip left revealed a pair of large, dark brown eyes, blinking child-like at their own reflection. A low, steady bass drum hummed with a guitar in the background, echoing with the rest of its heavy metal percussion group around the lean figure standing there. (Again,) those same fingers wiped another streak into the glass, exposing a disarray of layered, bleached hair sticking moistly to a high forehead only slightly concealing those same eyes from the face that stared back. One hand clasped a thick towel half-heartedly about his slim waist, the other falling to his side limply while the lanky youth continued to study himself in the mirror. He had what some would consider refined features, with a long, slender nose and an effeminate chin, going well with the high cheekbones that had not a bit of stubble on them; he shaved every day, after all. He seemed more like a boy in middle school than a man in college, being short and childish in nature, everything about his structure seemed to be caught in a teenage transition. Angular and thin all over; fingers, legs, arms, neck… he was a bit awkward still, but fortunately he was slowly growing out of it.

He chewed on his bottom lip, toying with the lip ring on the left side with the tip of his tounge thoughtfully. The steam was slowly disintegrating off the mirror, revealing his top half; he couldn't help but wrinkle his nose.

Tyler had a hard time with self-esteem. He had always been the effeminate type, a little more female than the rest of the boys he hung out with throughout his childhood, and therefore he was made fun of. It still affected him today. Was it his fault that he would rather talk about hot guys and paint his nails with the girls than stay up all night watching football?

Those dark brown eyes flicked over to the doorway, slightly cracked open, leading to the dormitory where he knew his beloved was still sleeping. That was where David came in.

Tyler permitted himself a tiny smile, a fond gesture toward the one he would gladly spend the rest of his life and beyond with. Oh, how he loved that man. Ever since they had become gradual friends and David had offered him help through his first year of college, Tyler had progressively grown affectionate of him. A crush became infatuation, an infatuation became love, and love became… well, a deeper love. From the first moment he saw David, he knew they belonged together. Yes, he knew. He vividly remembered thinking, as he stared into those hazel-honey eyes of his, Yes… this is the man I want to marry.

With these thoughts and memories running through his head, Tyler quietly shuffled over to the door, opening it a bit wider with two fingers to allow himself to peek outside. There, on the small bed nearby, lay his dream guy, his fortune, his lover. With every rise and fall of his bare chest, Tyler loved him more. With every strand of his chestnut-colored hair that fell in disarray over his face, Tyler wanted to sweep them away just to have an excuse to touch him. He lived and breathed David, and he loved every moment of it.

Tyler's smile broadened slightly, still playing with his tounge ring as he slid his slim figure through the space left between the door and wall, stepping out into the dormitory itself.

Yes, he lived and breathed David, and he didn't mind admitting it.

These ponderings were interrupted by a low whimper, then a disgruntled utterance, each emitting from the sleeping form before he rolled over onto his stomach fitfully. The smile etched into Tyler's face vanished, and his thoughts of fidelity darkened into concern. He was dreaming again. About what, he didn't know. David would never tell him. Oh, he claimed he remembered no such dreams, but Tyler knew he was lying.

David mumbled in his sleep, shifting position again in annoyance, his eyebrows knitted together stressfully. Tyler approached his lover gracefully, gliding like perhaps an angel would, and gently caressed his finger along David's smooth cheek, watching him dream.

In fact, there had been a great deal of things David had been hiding from him. Lately, there was something very… different about his beloved. When they first met, he had always been a little aloof, but still seemed content and very loving toward those he was close to. Recently, though, David's smiles grew less and less. Their dinners and dates and study sessions ended quickly, and most of the time they simply ended up making love much more often than actually communicating. The less they talked, the more David seemed to take from Tyler sexually, but the young man didn't mind. He had a feeling his lover needed it, perhaps a stress reliever of such. Still….

Tyler ran his fingers down the side of his man's chin, stroking David comfortingly as he continued to fight his nocturnal nightmares.

David was so… apathetic now, it seemed. Not that he was depressed, but simply enough devoid of all feeling. As if he just didn't care anymore.

The brown-eyed figure frowned, his concern deepening, and he began to chew on his lip again.

Continuing his ritualistic stroking of David's soft face, Tyler cupped his cheek gently, staring into his closed eyes with the deepest of worries etched into his expression. "My dear David…" Tyler whispered, pausing in between to lean down and plant an attentive kiss on his lover's forehead, "I wish you'd tell me what's wrong…."

Better Off Alone

Chapter One

A Withering Leaf

The breeze that day was gentle, but persistent in tugging on the dying leaves still attached to most of the trees on campus, particularly the maple; it was the largest around and a popular spot for students doing homework or studying. A stronger breeze took hold of the branches, plucking a few of the leaves off and helping them drift about to assorted places on the ground, meeting their fates. One such leaf fluttered down slowly, missing the gust of wind that scattered the others, and landed so perfectly onto an open notebook, where a blank sheet of paper stared up at the dozing man holding it.

At the slight rustle of the leaf landing on his binder, lying open in his lap, the man twitched a bit before his eyelids fluttered open. Lifting his head, he looked around in fogging comprehension, the fact that he had been trying to study under the maple tree slowly coming back to him. He rubbed at his eyes tiredly, muttering under his breath, before running those same fingers through disheveled hair, cut short in the back, but long in the front so that it fell over his face often. It was the 'emo' look, one would assume, but since he took nothing else from the style- his clothes were his own, and accessories confused him- he, including most people, didn't consider him such. He just liked the hair styles.

Yawning widely, David stared down at the leaf that had interrupted his dreaming, taking note of how it was a lightly crinkled tan, though still kept its shape. Those delicate fingers picked it up by the stem, holding it before his face thoughtfully as he twirled it around with his thumb and forefinger. That reminded him of something, some sort of analogy, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

Dismissing the silly pondering, David gave a mental shrug and tossed the leaf aside, not bothering to watch as it was carried away by another gust of wind, drifting down some other path, all of which eventually led it to it's destiny of death.

That dream…. His head fell back against the tree trunk, and through those few strands of hair blocking his few, his hazel eyes stared up at the branches of the tree, exploding outward in brilliance and autumn color that made a person appreciate nature. David hadn't been entirely lying to Tyler. He honestly didn't know what the dream was about. The memory would stay with him until the last minute, lingering on the very edges of his mind when awakening, but as soon as he was fully conscious, it was ripped away from him faster than he could even begin to comprehend what it was about. All he was given was how it left him feeling. Alone. Afraid. Hopeless. Meaningless. Whatever happened in that dream, it was like he had given up, like he was wandering through the depths of his own heart and sanity and was lost, hopelessly lost. It left him empty, self-pitying, and quite pathetic. It was reoccurring, every night, because he would wake up in a cold sweat, breathing hard, and on the verge of tears. This unknown dream was affecting his every day life so bad, he didn't want to talk to anybody anymore. He didn't care. David feared that his love for Tyler was slipping because his emotions, in fact, were slipping. The only time he felt complete, loved, and protected, was in his lover's arms. When they made love, he remembered how much he cared about Tyler, and nothing else mattered. It was outside of those special moments he dreaded.

Like my heart is dying…. David concluded to himself, closing his eyes, giving in to deep thought. No. He knew it wasn't true, because he cared. He cared that he wasn't caring. Did that even make sense? Either way, there was a large part of him that wanted to keep his sanity and his character- his heart- and he decided to cling to that part until he figured out what was wrong with him.

"Uhg… I'm losing it…." David muttered, sitting up and shutting the binder in his lap before rising to his feet. He stood there for a minute, looking around at all the students chit-chatting happily, heading to the campus cafeteria at the end of the block for breakfast. Sighing, he tucked the binder under his arm, shoved the other hand into the pocket of his jeans, and headed off in the same direction.

The beginning of autumn had always been his favorite time of year, and so the general atmosphere of campus improved his mood slightly. The breeze carrying the last scents of lilies growing in rows along sidewalks tickled his nostrils, and he took deeper breaths to savor the smells and enjoy them while they lasted. It was a sunny day, with few clouds in the sky, and lukewarm weather that made his skin tingle pleasurably. Leaves were falling all around him, surrounding David with a comforting aura, and perhaps a small voice in his head that said it was all for him.

A smile twitched at the corners of his lips as he strode down a long walkway, paved with white, ceramic tile, flowers and bushes for decoration along the sides with an occasional bench. A giant, circular fountain sat in the middle, a statue of cupid poised atop a platform and standing on one leg, famous bow in hand. A quiver of heart-tipped arrows rested between the stone wings of his back, and the mouth formed into an 'O' shape, where water descended into the moat surrounding his platform.

David couldn't help but shake his head at the silly figure, though he admitted that it added to the overall affect of the walkway.

He directed his gaze to the building it all led to: the cafeteria. A square-shaped structure with a roof made of curved awnings, overlapping and meeting at certain places. A brick design, all pointing down to the main entrance, several glass doors that students were fighting to shove themselves through.

David stepped up to the doorway, taking a readying breath and joined the fight, pushing through the crowd that was attempting to force their way into the main foyer. Ducking and swerving by several more, he and countless other students finally made it; he quickly searched out a line to the breakfast buffet and dashed for a place at the end. Right as he claimed his spot, however, David was violently shoved to the side, tackled almost(,). (and) With a surprised grunt he dropped his binder and fell backward onto the floor. Landing on his side, he bolted upright and sorely rubbed the back of his head before shooting a glare up to his attacker. His leering was only met by a lopsided grin, and his eyes lit up in recognition.

"Davie! I'm disappointed in you, man, I thought you'd be looking out for me. You should know better." The voice belonged to a peppy-looking guy, one of David's best friends, a man of average height and stature but with enough attitude to feed thousands. He laughed a bit, extending a hand to help David to his feet, wearing the same fingerless gloves he always did. His name was Zachary O'Connor, captain of the Track Running team with the energy of a bull on heroin, the complete opposite of David in personality and in appearance. His bright blue eyes, full of life, contrasted against the warm, soft hazel of his friend's. His hair was quite short, light brown fuzz that hugged his scalp like an army cut. Zach claimed he kept it short because long hair slowed a person down in sports. Always smiling, always grinning, always laughing. Always happy, David thought to himself, so unlike me.

David massaged the bump on his head again while his free hand took up the offer, clasping onto the arm that roughly jerked him back to his feet. His friend bowed to the floor promptly to grab David's binder and returned it to his arms, then laughed again and clapped the taller figure on the back.

"Zach… next time, please warn me before you decide to end my bloodline." David shot at the other, dusting off his jeans from the floor he'd just been on, and taking a place in line.

Zach spun around, facing David with a hopeless smirk, but seemed to falter slightly after getting a good look. Gazing at his friend's appearance, looking him up and down, Zach's face dropped into a scolding frown as he folded his arms crossly. "You don't look so good, man. You sleepin' alright?" He inquired, raising an eyebrow at him.

David sighed, rubbing at his eyes again, and muttered, "Just some bad dreams… I'll get over it. Hurry up. The line's moving."

A/N: You like? You hate? Please review and let me know. I know I did sort of a half-hearted job on David's thoughts here, but more will be revealed in later chapters.

Next Chapter: You get to meet Alice! Girlfriend troubles. Keep a look out for the next installment!

6