Neil's Point of View.

"Why hello!" I greeted Emma. Smiling, I ushered her into the living room where there was an assortment of movies on the coffee table. As she moved to it, I caught my little brother Ron sneaking around the corner from the hall. Catching him while he squealed like a piglet, I plopped him down on the couch and went to Emma.

"What's the choice, Emma-do?" She held up a DVD for me and sent me a mischievous grin, grey eyes glinting in the fluorescent lights around us. "Why? Why? We've watched that at least a dozen times."

Mocking a gasp, she countered, "Don't you embellish, Neil, not in front of Ron."

I shrugged. "Why not? The boy's going to learn somewhere and why not from the best? Right, Ron?"

Emma ignored me, walking straight to the DVD player and slid the disc in. Ron kept his promise to agree with everything I said, ensuring I'd have to get him a coloring book later this week. "Okay! Are we ready?" Em announced.

I looked to Ron and saw him adjusting himself in his spot. Glancing at Emma, I settled myself opposite of him, stretching my arm across the couch's back. Em, with nowhere else to sit, placed herself in between my brother and I, curling her legs under her.

One more look around and my best friend pressed play on the remote, putting into motion a plot we've both seen at least ten times, no matter what she says.

An hour in, I was making fun of Emma's reaction to the movie more than actually watching it. It was suspense; I knew all the parts where the viewer was supposed to jump (Emma did too) and I would ruin it for Emma by poking her neck. My arm had been around the couch the entire time so it was made pretty simple to do. With the nerve-racking background music filling almost every scene, I'd poke Emma just as the music climaxed.

Probably the most fun thing I do with her.

Every time I did, she yelped and slapped my shoulder but didn't think to remove my arm from behind her. The funny thing was that instead of Emma getting annoyed, Ron was the one who finally reprimanded me.

"Watch the movie!" he whispered harshly, not letting his eyes leave the screen in case he missed something. Emma and I stared at each other in bewilderment, sinking our teeth into our bottom lips to keep from bursting out laughing.

A squeak escaped Emma and Ron glared at me with his green eyes as fiercely as a four-year-old could. I took the hint and murmured in Em's ear, "I'm going to go read in the kitchen." She nodded and I picked up my book from the coffee table.

Loosing myself into the world of the people I'd never meet but always wished I could, I tenuously recognized a thump in the other room as well as a possible cry of laugher. I felt something hit my shoulder and Emma mumbling something into my shirt. I wrapped my arm around her tiny body, pulling her to me in a comforting way. I figured that Ron had taken her shoe again in one of his weird games but I didn't want to leave the fictional world just yet.

"Let me finish this paragraph and I'll see what I can do. Deal?" She sighed, knowing that was as much as she would get from me. It was simple to get back into the scene in the book and I soon forgot about Em's dilemma.


The shout ripped me away from the chapter's hypnotic spell and frankly scared the bejesus out of me. "What—Jeez, you scared the crap out of me, Em!"

She stared at me in what I think, in her mind, was a menacing manner. Gritting her teeth, Emma spat out, "Retrieve. My. Shoe." I couldn't help but curve an eyebrow at her expression, causing her to move into a pleading tone. "Please?" Her grey eyes literally sparkled and I spilled out a large sigh.

Tugging on my earlobe, where there was a circular barbell, I said, "Fine. But if a new coloring book doesn't work, you're paying for ice cream." She seemed to accept any condition that including having her shoe back safely on her foot and out of Ron's hands.

I knocked on Ron's door and patiently waited until he opened it. I saw his head pop out and I kneeled down to meet his gaze. Emma's shoe was in his hands and he was grinning impishly. I rubbed my face in order to cover the smirk that curled my lips. I couldn't help it; the kid is a mini-Neil with his green eyes and floppy brown hair. Sobering, I cleared my throat.

"So you snuck off with Emma's shoe again, huh?" Ron nodded his head, proud of his accomplishment. I wanted to ask what the big deal was in stealing her shoes but I refrained. That could be a very confusing reason. "Tell you what, little man. I'll get you a new coloring book today if you let me have her shoe."

Ron shook his head. "What? Why?"

"You said that before. For the deal," he said simply. That is true, I thought.

"Uh, how about… you name your price for the shoe. I'll do whatever," I offered. It was better than trying to find out exactly what he wanted and my knees were starting to hurt.

Ron set a finger on his chin in thought, squinting at the ceiling. After a moment, he proposed that we'd watch Cars at any moment for the next month, on his signal. "Alright." I shook his infinitesimal hand (it's ridiculous how small it was) and walked into the kitchen with a smile on my face.

"Your shoe, milady." Handing it to Emma, I bowed low and she laughed.

"Why thank you, kind sir." I held her steady as she ducked her strawberry-blonde haired head to tie her shoe standing up. "So what do you want to do, Neil?"

"Mall?" Emma was up for it and before we left the house, I let my dad know that Ron was in his room.

The mall was almost empty so it made it both easier and harder to get a rise from the security guards and get away with it. Easier because there wouldn't be that many shoppers to dodge and it would surely be the more heavyset guards on duty. Yet, harder because all they had to do was call for back up and look for the only two teenagers running around in the mall.

And the chase begins.

Within two hours, the pair of us had been pursued around the building at least three times by four different mall cops, guaranteeing that we'd been seen running around by the thirty-four mall goers I'd counted. Therefore, we were the day's lunatics. We loved it.

Currently, I was leading Emma on where to go as a particularly determined guard trailed behind us. Certain that if we could just loose him for a few minutes he'd leave us alone, I dipped into a small crevice and pulled Emma in with me. The gap wasn't that deep so I pressed my friend as close as I could against me to make sure that her feet weren't sticking out. My hand was firmly covering her mouth as she screamed a bit and I muttered that it was me. I found it a little dumb that she'd think a rapist had lugged her in but I wasn't about to question and be sucked into a lecture.

I waited a minute before gently pushing her out of the hole, just in case. We then proceeded to crack up.

"That was a good one," Emma laughed out.

I grinned and swung an arm around her shoulders, guiding her away. "I think we should go. We've really pissed them off."

She laughed again and we slid into my car, not knowing nor caring where we were going. On the way to the undeclared destination, Emma wondered how the new Transformers movie would fair when a brick fell on my head.

"Oh, that reminds me in some way or another! Remember that girl I told you about?" I glanced at her before returning my gaze at the road. "Ally, remember? She's the cute brunette from the party me and you went to last week."

"Oh, yeah. That party blew."

I ignored her comment and went on, "She called me the other day and we're going out tomorrow. Isn't that awesome?" I smiled at the prospect and didn't catch what Emma said in return.

"So tomorrow, I don't really know what she wants to do. But I think she'd be more of the type to like going for a coffee or something and talking for the first date. Man, was she cute at that party. Anyways, I know you were always kind of into the idea of dressing up people the way you want and I was wondering if you would help me get ready." The pause was longer than I expected and I looked over at her for a second. She was looking out the window, her chin on her palm. "Emma?"

She faced me then, probably wondering where we were in the conversation. "Your date?"

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

Emma went back to her usual attentiveness of our conversation as I stopped on the curb near her house. We sat for a moment bantering before I reached over and pulled a strand of her hair. "Bye, you." She sent a half smile my way and started getting out of the car.

I was about pull away when I remember she hadn't answered my question for treating me like a Ken doll tomorrow. Opening the door and standing up but keeping my right foot in the car, I called out, "Hey!"

Em turned, arching an eyebrow. "So, tomorrow? You gonna help me or what?"

She was confused for a moment before she smiled. "Of course. What are best friends for if not helping you score?"

I smiled at her slogan that she'd probably just made up. But I noticed her expression seemed off somehow. I didn't find anything to explain the oddness and shrugged, smiling again. "Thanks. Be there at six, okay? Thanks so much." Emma quirked a corner of her lips up and I climbed into my car. Before long, I was at home and playing with Ron, forgetting all about the weirdness with Emma's smile.

The next day at six o'clock, Emma was on my porch step ready for some serious outfit experimenting. Unfortunately, I was not.

"Ow! Emma!" She smacked my hand again when I tried to take over at buttoning my shirt. She argued that I would only hurt myself and when I disagreed, she reminded me of the time I somehow stabbed myself in the eye.

I stopped bugging her after that.

It was a black dress shirt she'd donned on me and I hoped to God that it was the last one. As Em stood back and surveyed the outfit, I glanced at the mountain of rejected clothes that was taller than my bed. I was shocked to find that I even had that many items of clothing. Catching Emma giving me a scrunched look then look over at the heap, I sighed and began unbuttoning the shirt and slacks.

"Put the other jeans on," Emma ordered. I looked for the pair in question and dragged them up my legs. When I'd zipped up, I turned to see whether Emma had found me a shirt. She seemed to be zoned out and I saw a red shirt in her hands. I reached for it and she started, all but shoving the shirt in my hands before whirling around. I gave her back a weird look but put the shirt on anyway.

"Look good?" I asked as I picked off a piece of lint. Glimpsing up, I sighed with utter relief as Emma nodded her approval.

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

I jumped at the sudden noise and I dimly noticed that Emma had jumped as well. Rushing around the room, I searched for the original pair of jeans I'd been wearing. Finding them, I let out a yelp of triumph and answered, "Hello? Yeah, hi." It was my mom and usually that meant she wanted me to spend the weekend with her. I glanced at Emma as she turned to look at my small collection of shoes.

"Hey, Danny!" my mother screamed. I winced and wondered if Em had heard her.

"Hi, Mom," I mumbled.

"Hello, son," I cringed. "I'm calling to let you know that I'm thinking about picking you up later tonight and taking us to the beach for the weekend. Doesn't that sound fun?"

"Uh, I can't this weekend, Mom. I've got plans." I peeked at Emma again and was sure she was trying to listen in. I spoke in a lower tone, "Dad's got ideas to do something with Ron and… I just have plans." There was a long pause on the other side of the line until a meek goodbye was heard. "Bye."

I hung up and found Emma staring quizzically at me. "The Format?"

I sat down and pulled on my shoes while rolling my green eyes. "They're a good band." She was quiet, probably trying to find a way to ask who'd been calling.

"So, Danny," she started.

"Don't," I said standing and frowning into her grey eyes. I didn't want to talk about my mom.


"Just don't, okay?"

Emma let it drop and scanned my outfit closely. I guess she liked what she saw because she dropped her gaze and definitely checked out of reality. There was something in that stare that reminded me of the strange smile I'd seen the day before. Again, I tried finding exactly what it was but I couldn't see anything more before she looked at me cocking her head to the side. "May I help you?" she asked friendly.

The look wasn't there anymore and if it was, Em had hidden it pretty well. I stared at her a bit longer, wondering what it was that was bothering her that she couldn't talk to me about, letting my mouth curl into a half smile. I shook my head. "Nothing, it's nothing."

She gave me a funny smile and started for the door. The clock told me I had about half an hour before I had to get to the place Ally was meeting me. I followed Emma and said from behind her, "Okay, well thanks for coming over. You really saved me."

I caught her slate eyes looking over my shoulder at me. "Yeah, no problem. Like I said, what are best friends for if not helping you score?" I laughed and found us at front of the door already. I reached past her for the doorknob and slowly opened the door. Emma stood there, staring at me. A strand of my hair sunk near my eyes and I flicked it away.

"Right, okay. So I'll leave you to your date," she said while turning. I thought again about that something in her stare from a few seconds ago.

"Yeah, thanks again."

"Anytime," she called. Bouncing down the steps, I waited until Em had gotten into her car. She looked back and waved once more before leaving for her house. When she'd gone past where I could see her, I side glanced at the grandfather clock next to me. I still had about twenty-five minutes.

The house was lonely; Ron and Dad had gone to spend some bonding time at the movies so it was me alone until I had to leave. I had decided not to leave until literally two minutes earlier so as to not give Ally a feeling that I was too eager. Call me male, but it's just what we do.

After dictating I was too tired to clean up my room, I wandered into the bathroom to see what exactly Emma had done to me. The image I was met with was not as bad as I had expected.

It wasn't a full length mirror so I couldn't see the entire outfit but if I backed up into the wall behind me, I could see past the edge of my shirt to the pockets of my jeans. The shirt was a dark red that darkened my hair so that not so much red was seen. The black necklace Emma had given me a few years ago was around my neck and a silver bracelet my mom had given me was loose on my wrist. The only constant I could see besides my sneakers was the barbell in my ear.

The product that Emma had put in my hair to keep it from sneaking into my eyes wasn't working and I half entertained the idea of showering to take it all out. But seeing as I had been too lazy to clean my room, I reasoned that I should keep the consistency.

Therefore, I sat in front of the TV for the next fifteen minutes. When I glanced at the grandfather clock again, I still had like ten minutes to kill. God, time is moving slow, I thought. Then my phone rang again.

Pulling it out of my pocket, I checked the screen. Funnily enough, it was Fate. I vaguely remembered her as a friend of Emma's who'd stolen my phone and added her number for "times of peril" she'd said. I frowned, wonder what she wants.

"Hello?" I hit mute on the program I was watching.

"How ya doing, Neil?" Fate answered.

"Uh, fine I guess."

"That's good, that's good. Has Em been around?"

"She was here before, but she left. I would guess she's at her house. Is she okay?" I asked. Why would she ask for her through me? Emma had a cell phone.

"No, she's fine. I just talked to her a few minutes ago actually. I just wanted to give you a head's up that she'll be coming over soon."

"Er, okay? Why is she coming over?"

"That's for you to find out, my friend." With that, she hung up and seriously left me wanting answers. I stared at the phone for a good minute, before I tossed it to the other end of the couch. The blinds were open so I would be able to see when Emma got here.

Soon enough, I heard her car door shut and I watched her come up through the lawn. Listening to her step up to the door, I expected her rapid knock. But it didn't come.

Getting up, I saw her car still there; she had to be at the door. I opened it and found her frowning at the ground with her fist up in the air, about to knock. And then she did. On my chest.

"Uh, Emma?" I grabbed her wrist and she looked up then down again. I looked at her and she started on a tangent about why she was knocking on my chest. All I had to do was smirk and she cut herself off. Weird.

I cleared my throat quietly and set a half smile on my face, letting her wrist go lightly. She raised her eyes up to me then. "What are you doing here?" I asked, hoping it hadn't come out mean. A piece of hair again fell into my eyes and I flicked it away.

Emma had yet to answer my question and she was just staring at me. Staring at me with that something in her gaze that'd been bugging me for a while now. She had to be way gone because this something was almost blazing in her eyes. It was like longing, anxiousness and wondering all in one. I kept the smile on my face because I too was curious.

I heard Emma mutter something, either to herself or me I don't know, and I caught one last look at the oddity in her stare before she brought my neck down and set her mouth on mine; she was kissing me. And the moment the realization hit me Emma pushed me away, her grey eyes almost accusing me of doing something wrong. I let it go though because of the utter fear and urgency I also saw.

She turned away from me and all but sprinted to her car. Jumping in, I watched her fumble to start the ignition. My hair shielded my eyes from everything but I couldn't do anything to move it. I could barely move, period. I saw Emma look back at me and stare, just a moment, until she drove around the corner. Only then could I look at anything else.