A Talk With Fate.

No, not again, I thought in aggravation. "Ron, I need my left shoe."

The four-year-old boy grinned making his emerald eyes shine. He had his prize in his hands and this was not getting easier with every passing occurrence.

"Ron," I said sternly. The tone of voice didn't faze him. I went with another approach. I waited three more seconds before launching myself at the toddler's feet. He screamed with joy and raced out of the living room to a new hiding spot with his floppy brown hair in his face.

I picked myself up from the carpet and growled. How did he manage to sneak off with my shoe without me noticing?

"Neil! Your torturer of a brother has stolen my shoe again!" I yelled and made my way to the kitchen. "Neil…" I whined.

He barely flinched as I leaned my head on his arm while he lounged on top of the counter reading his book. Neil wrapped an arm around my shoulder in a comforting way. "Let me finish this paragraph and I'll see what I can do. Deal?"

I sighed heavily but agreed. While waiting for the swap to commence and for Neil to put down the book, I went to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. Two minutes passed and Neil was still "finishing" the paragraph. "Daneil!"

He jumped about two feet, almost falling off. "What—Jeez, you scared the crap out of me, Em!"

I glowered at his sea green eyes in a hopefully intimidating way. "Retrieve. My. Shoe." He arched an eyebrow in response. Shit. "Please?" I gave him my finest Beg Look.

Neil heaved a mocking sigh and tugged on his steel circular barbell on his left lobe. "Fine. But if a new coloring book doesn't work, you're paying for ice cream." I nodded enthusiastically, grinning.

Ten minutes later, Neil successfully coaxed his little brother to give me my shoe in exchange for watching Cars at any given moment with no argument for the next month. We filed out to his car soon after, his dad in the charge of Ron, and headed to the mall. Once we arrived, he linked arms with me and we walked as if nothing could stop us.

After two long hours, we were running around avoiding the mall cops, looking like losers. Neil had just sneaked into a corner that I hadn't even seen and pulled me in. Knowing me best of anyone, he set a hand on my mouth to stifle the scream that any female would screech in this situation.

"Shhh. It's Neil," he whispered in case the current security guard stuck with the chase. Though I don't see why or how he would. Neil deemed the coast clear and guided me out of the crevice. Then we doubled over laughing.

"That was a good one," I coughed, smiling.

He grinned brightly. "I think we should go. We've really pissed them off."

I laughed again. "Seriously. I knew we shouldn't have gone into that toy place," I said while we walked toward the nearest exit.

"But those cars were so fun! I can't believe that sign they had out front. 'We are a store, not a play area.' I mean, who does that!?"

I quirked an eyebrow at his rant. "Neil, it's okay. We'll get you one of those cars for your birthday."

This seemed to lighten him up.

On the way to wherever our next destination would be, Neil and I talked about previews for movies we'd seen. "How about the one for – crap, what's it called – oh! Transformers. You think that looks any good?" I asked.

"Hmm, I don't know. I like the Even Stevens guy but it looks risky," he said while flicking a piece of red-ish brown hair out of his eyes.

"Eh, well—"

"Oh that reminds me in some way or another!" Neil interrupted. "Remember that girl I told you about?" he asked looking expectantly at me. Ashley? No… Abby, maybe? Amy? I thought. I went to say that I had no idea who he was talking about when he sprung in again.

"Ally, remember? She's the cute brunette from the party me and you went to last week."

"Oh, yeah. That party blew," I replied coolly.

"She called me the other day and we're going out tomorrow. Isn't that awesome?" Neil said, unnoticing of the subject change I wanted him to go with.

Where were the Best Friend Brainwaves when you needed them most? I mused. I rolled my eyes and looked out the window. "Yeah, just splendid."

I zoned out for a while when he kept raving about "cute" Annie until something else caught his attention. But I did catch the end of his appraise.

"…and I was wondering if you would help me get ready. Emma?"

I faced him and tried to think of what he'd been saying. Angie, party, call… date? I considered this a promising possibility so I went for it. "Your date?"

Neil nodded. "Yeah. I want to look good but not like I'm trying too hard."

I adopted my regular wit as he turned onto my street. "And guys say girls worry too much about appearance," I muttered playfully.

"Hey, shut up. I like her."

I rolled my dark gray eyes. "Yeah, yeah Mr. Metro sexual," I said while poking my tongue out at him.

"And is there anything wrong with that?" he quipped while also jabbing his tongue out in response.

"Not at all. Although…"


"Well," I drawled. "I mean if there's no problem, you wouldn't mind me calling you Mr. Metro, am I right?"

Neil arched an eyebrow at my question. Trying to think of a reply, he slowed down and put the car in park as we had arrived at my house. "Or would M 'n' S suffice?" I said egging him on.

"Hey, that's Mr. M 'n' S to you."

I lifted an eyebrow. "Oh really?"

"Respect your elders, child," he said in a singsong voice while lightly pinching my cheek.

"Sucks to my elders! I'm a discipline case!" I cried out dramatically.

Neil rolled his forest green eyes. I think I heard him mutter, "Children these days" but I'm not quite sure.

Though it would be very Neil of him.

He pulled some of my strawberry blonde hair and smiled. "Bye, you." I quirked a corner of my lip up and climbed out of the car. I was a few feet away when Neil called out.


I turned and raised an eyebrow. He was standing next to his car with the door open and one leg still inside.

"So, tomorrow? You gonna help me or what?"

I furrowed my brow. Oh, yeah, I remember. I pasted a smile on and went with, "Of course. What are best friends for if not helping you score?"

Neil smiled and scanned my face for a moment. He shrugged and smiled again. "Thanks. Be there at six, okay? Thanks so much."

I offered half a smile and he drove away.

As soon as he was out of sight, my face dropped, as did my shoulders. Tomorrow's gonna be a long one, I thought.

"Ow! Emma!"

I slapped his hand away again. "Quit it. You'll only hurt yourself."

Neil glared at me. "I think I know how to button my shirt without hurting myself." I looked at him questioningly and he looked at his carpet. "Much."

I left the top button undone and smoothed down his black shirt. Taking a step back, I scrutinized him as if he was taking me out.

I shook my head. Like that would happen, I told myself.

"What? It doesn't look good?" Neil asked looking down at his outfit. I examined it; the slacks looked good and the shirt seemed nice. But there was just something weird.

Scrunching up my face, I looked over at the pile of clothes that just grew bigger and bigger. Neil sighed and began unbuttoning the shirt while I searched his wardrobe for a more suitable top and told him to put on the other jeans he had. I found a dark red long sleeved shirt and turned to give it to him but stopped short.

Neil was pulling on the jeans turned away from me. I watched the muscles in his back and shoulders shift and move. I could only wonder what his front looked like. The boy turned and reached for the shirt in my hands.

Startled, I shoved it to him and spun to glare at the closet. I wanted to laugh. I couldn't believe I'd just ogled my best friend's back muscles.

My lips twisted as I tried to cover up the insipid smile that threatened to break through. Was I retarded or something? I rolled my eyes. This crush really has to blow over soon otherwise I'm going to start thinking about doing something cliché. Like kiss him unexpectedly.

"Look good?"

Shoving the mere thought away, I glanced up at the sound of Neil's voice. I did a quick scan over his clothes and nodded. "Yup. Looks like a winner to me."

He let out a sigh of relief. I didn't really blame him; we'd been at this for about an hour or so.

Let's cause a scene,
Clap our hands and stomp our feet
Or something, yeah or something...

Neil jumped causing me to jump. The ring tone stopped for a moment before starting up again. This time, Neil rushed around the room looking for the source. "Aha!"

"Hello? Yeah, hi," he started, glancing at me.

"Hey, Danny!" the other person screamed. Well, they had to have screamed for me to hear it from the other side of the room. I grimaced at the name. Danny? His name is Neil, I thought. After a few moments Neil bid the caller goodbye and hung up.

I raised my eyebrow in question. "The Format?"

He rolled his moss colored eyes and started to put on his shoes. "They're a good band." I let the subject drop. I liked them, he liked them; it was all good.

"So, Danny," I mocked.

"Don't," he said standing up, glaring at my gray eyes.


"Just don't, okay?"

I let my deriding demeanor deteriorate and looked his outfit over one more time. The normal shoes he had on were slightly covered by his casual dark jeans I'd seen him wear dozens of times. The crimson color of his shirt brightened his eyes and kept the red in his hair in check making it more brown; which was styled only a bit. He'd put on the black necklace I'd given him years before over the shirt and had a silver bracelet his mother had bought him for his birthday. And of course, the barbell on his left earlobe.

All in all, he looked comfortable enough for a night in yet was dressed appropriately to paint the town if asked. Neil was staring at me strangely. I cocked my head slightly to the left. "May I help you?"

He gave me a half smile and shook his head. "Nothing, it's nothing."

I quirked a corner of my mouth as well and started for the door, the teenager following suit. "Okay, well thanks for coming over. You really saved me," he was saying from behind me.

I looked over my shoulder to see his olive drab eyes trained on my own dull arsenic ones. "Yeah, no problem. Like I said, what are best friends for if not helping you score?"

Neil laughed a smooth chuckle and reached past me to open the front door. The closeness let me take in his cologne and me trying to keep my irrational impulses from becoming actions. The door was open finally, and I just stood there staring at his brilliant eyes. The gel we used to keep the hair from his eyes wasn't working well seeing as some of it was sneaking into his line of vision. He flicked it away and the sudden movement woke me up from my daze.

"Right, okay. So I'll leave you to your date," I said while turning around.

There was a pause before Neil answered. "Yeah, thanks again."

"Anytime." I bounded down the steps of his porch and climbed into my car. As I was pulling out of the driveway, I saw Neil still at the door and I waved before driving off.

I ran up to my room and searched for something to do. My house was empty for the same reason it always is: Dad worked and Lily was in college.

Finding that all my chores had been done, e-mails returned and movies watched too many times, I was bored. Usually when Neil went out on dates, I had other things to do that kept me from thinking of it. Yet everything was done and done right. I sighed and sank into my covers. What to do, what to do? I mused. Then it hit me like a bus: Call Fate!

The phone rang twice before Fate picked up. "Yellow?"

"Is the worst color in the rainbow."

She laughed. "Hey Emma. How's it going?"

"All right. I'm bored. I had nothing else to do."

"Oh so I'm your last resort?"

"Yes, Fate. I hate you but you entertain me. Dance!" I demanded.

Fate laughed again and I could imagine her shaking her head. "What am I going to do with you? Anyways, why aren't you with Neil? You're usually with him on Fridays when you're bored."

"He had a date tonight. I was over there a while ago to help him pick out something to wear," I said trying to cover up my bitterness.

"Do I sense some jealousy from sweet, little Emma?"

"No. Just boredom if you would be sensing something."

"Emma," she whined. Here we go… "You have to tell him how you feel!"

"No, I don—"

"Yes, you do. If you don't you'll just have lost any chance with him and then you'll suffer from unrequited love and no one likes unrequited love," Fate explained fluently.

"It's not love, Fate. It's just a stupid crush. I mean, I'd be blind not to say Neil's attractive but—"

"No buts. Nevertheless fine, if you say it's a crush then okay. But you still have to tell him. He'll start wondering eventually."

"And by then, this will have all blown over."

"Emma! Will you stop it? Just go tell him how you feel. Even if it is a 'stupid crush' as you call it. Who knows? Maybe he secretly likes you back or something. But if he doesn't feel the same way—"

"That's a given," I interrupted.

"—and he still wants to be friends, then that's great! He knows what's going on but doesn't mind it because he likes being your friend. Worst case scenario: he freaks out and you never talk to him again." I made a noise of protest at this point in her speech. Never talk to Neil again?

"But that also means he's a shitty friend and not worth it platonically or otherwise," she continued. I grumbled into the phone. Why did I call her again? "I don't hear your lazy ass getting up and grabbing your keys to go talk to him."

"Fate, Neil's got a date tonight. If I was going to do this, it wouldn't be tonight."

"What are you talking about?! It's perfect! It'd be the most insane cliché moment in our lives!"

"Insane is right," I muttered. "Fate, no. I'm not going over to his house while he's most likely already gone to pick up Aubrey or whatever."

"Envious much?" she quipped. Some friend. I opened my mouth to retort but she carried on. "I know you'd be jumping for joy if Neil took you out, am I right?"

Not knowing what to say but the truth, I said, "Well yeah…"

"Look, Emma, do you really want to be some old lady in her house alone wondering what you could've done that night when you were seventeen years old? Wondering what would've happened if you trusted your best friend Fate and just swallowed your doubts?" Fate asked.

I sighed. "No, Fate, I don't want to be an old lady alone in my house wondering what could've happened if my best friend Fate wasn't on drugs."

She ignored this. "The point is to live in the moment. Who cares if he's going off to a date? Maybe he'll pick you over this Adie person. If you need more reasons, just go to kill off the curiosity. It won't hurt. Neil's a good guy and if he doesn't feel that way, then bummer but he'll still want to be your friend."

Fate let this speech hang in the air for a moment letting it sink in. What would happen? How would it would? Would I just run up to him and blurt out "I like you!" just as he gets into his car? How would he take it? Would he freak out?

Reciprocate my feelings? "I don't know, Fate. There's just too many varia—" I started.

Fate let out a strange noise that I could only guess to be the result of frustration and stress. "Emma! Stop with the 'variables' and crap! Now I want you to go to Neil's house and tell him how you feel in any way, shape or form! Just make it happen. You only live once."

I thought for a moment, wondering what she meant by the "any way, shape or form" part. But then I came up with something to piss her off. "Do you have any idea how incredibly Disney that sounded?"

I could see her rolling her eyes. "Go. Tell me what happened when you get back."

"Fine. But if this blows up in my face, I'm making you dress up like Neil and prance around with me."

"Deal." And with that parting word, Fate hung up. I groaned quietly, wondering why I was actually considering this. Might as well, I reasoned.

On the way to Neil's house, I nearly turned around twice and actually turned around once but almost crashed so I stayed in the original direction. Words lingered in my head and I tried tying them together into coherent sentences while I drove.

Neil, yeah hi, I just wanted to let you know that I like you and I have for a while. Okay, bye.

Please. I have more dignity than that.

The familiar house became visible as I cruised down the street. Neil's red car was still in the driveway, so I guess that was good. Roving up the walkway, I considered just telling Fate that I'd done it then go home. Then I had a kick in my gut that told me that either Fate would ask Neil if I had really done it or she'd just do it herself.

Damn you Fate, why do you always have to have your way?

About to knock on the front door, having most of my thoughts in a more organized confusion, I found myself tapping on something interestingly softer and infinitely warmer than the wooden feeling I was used to.

"Um, Emma?" Neil managed to get out before grabbing my wrist. I looked up and saw amusement flashing in his green eyes, before staring at the ground again.

"Oh jeez! Sorry! I—" Neil lifted a corner of his mouth and successfully cut my tangent about why I was knocking on his chest off. After a moment of his eyes tracing my face and me willing myself not to look at him just yet, the brown-haired boy cleared his throat lightly.

I raised my eyes to him and saw his half smile in place. "What are you doing here?" he asked, not unkindly.

I lost myself for a second, running through the list of things I loved about having Neil as my best friend. The aforementioned boy flicked a bit of his hair out of his eyes and again the abrupt action reined me back into the real world.

But my dream world sucked me right back in. I took in his dark hair I'd pulled, his smooth skin I'd slapped and pinched, his distinctive eye color that just had to be the best shade. His lips were still quirked in that exclusive half smile that seemed neither mocking nor probing. At the moment, it radiated the same waves his eyes did: patience and curiousness.

My eyes darted from feature to feature as if this were the first time I'd seen Neil in decades. Fate's words littered my mind: Just make it happen. You only live once. Do you really want to be some old lady in her house alone wondering…? "No, I don't want to be an old lady," I murmured. I was transfixed at the questioning gaze Neil was sending my way.

Then without even thinking about it, I pulled Neil's neck down and kissed him.

Apparently just realizing what I was doing, I pushed him away and stared accusingly at him while he looked calm yet his eyes oozed bafflement, as though it was his fault. God I'm stupid, I reminded myself. I turned away from his stumped green eyes and stumbled my way to my car.

Getting in, I let myself look back only once before driving down the street and around the corner.

The scene that met me was hardly different from what I'd seen before. Neil was staring straight at me, his back against his house. He paled only a slight shade and his hair was infuriatingly blocking his eyes from view. Once fully away from vision, I pulled over to the side of the road and parked my car. I gently lay my head into my hands and set them on the steering wheel.

What did I just do?

Author's Note: So, this is the edited version. It's mostly better words and format so don't worry if you don't really get what the change is. A BIG change that can be seen is that I've added a second part to this story. It only took me what, a year to think of it but here it is. I think you'll like it. Hopefully you'll like it. Thanks for reading.