Edit Before Submitting

Shelke stared, long and hard, at the phone. She was determined to make it ring. It would ring, and it would be one of Nero's random calls, asking her what she was doing at such-and-such a time. Shelke would say nothing, even if her schedule was completely full. She would make room. Nero would say that he wanted to see her. Shelke would agree, they would meet later and...

There. That was where Shelke's head would draw a blank. She wasn't quite sure what would happen and that just plain unnerved her. She was Shelke. She always knew what was going to happen because life was simple and predictable like that. Not anymore though, if her current state was any indication.

Shelke sighed, woke up her computer and wrote a long blog entry about uncertainty and how despicable it truly was. Then an idea smacked her upside the head and she paused, with her eyes boring into the "Submit" button. She had never used her blog as a personal communication tool before. Just a diary. But everything was being shaken these days, so why the hell not?

At the end of the blog, Shelke added a postscript:

"OblivionsKeeper, please contact me soon. I need to speak to you."

Shelke shook her head. Too desperate. She deleted it and tried again:

"OblivionsKeeper, I have something to tell you. Please call me."

No... Just no... Deleting the line, Shelke was about to try one more time, when her phone buzzed next to her hand. Snatching it before it even got through it's buzz, Shelke answered the call. "Hello?"

"Shelke, its Nero."

"Oh... Hi..." Shelke felt her face heat up and pressed her cool palm against her warm face. Blushing was embarassing, even over the phone.

"Are you-?"

"I'm not busy for the whole week." There was a pause on the phone and Shelke administered a mental bitchslap to herself. For God's sake... "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed you were asking whether or not I was busy."

"No, that was... precisely what I was going to ask. I just didn't expect you to hit the nail upon the head so quickly. I need to speak to you. Immediately. It's rather important."

"I can see you tomorrow, after school," Shelke replied.

"Good. Wonderful." She could almost see the smile through the phone. "I look forward to it. Good night, Shelke."

"Right. Okay... Good night." Shelke hung up and sighed.

Nero had never felt really self-conscious of his height, nor had he ever really felt old in comparison to other people. But walking onto the freshman-laden high school campus made him feel pretty tall and extremely old.

It wasn't fear of Weiss that had gotten Nero to speak to Shelke so quickly. It was his feelings, eating away at him. He either needed to tell her or break the connection forever. He wouldn't be able to forgive himself if it went any other way.

There was Shelke, sitting on the steps, scanning the crowd, probably looking for him. If the situation weren't as serious as it was, Nero would have considered jogging to the back of the school, convincing someone to let him in and approaching her from behind. But no, this wasn't the day or the time. Instead, Nero approached her head-on.

"Hello, Shelke."

"Nero." Shelke stood up and hefted her bag onto her slim shoulder. "Listen, I need to tell you something. It's important."

"My reason is also important. It's half the reason we're here."

"The other half being my reason." Shelke and Nero had a quick stare down, which Shelke broke and Nero understood why. They were acting like elementary school kids.

"We're... About to say the same thing, aren't we?"

"I don't know." Nero adjusted his collar, a nervous gesture that Weiss probably would have shot down in a second. He was also avoiding her eyes, textbook nervousness, period. "I'm... Er..."

"This isn't the place," Shelke suddenly said.

"I'm sorry?"

"This isn't the place that we should be carrying on this conversation. It's too public for this sort of thing."

Nero nodded. Right. She didn't want to reject him in public. It made sense.

"Where would you like to be for this, then?"

Shelke hadn't been able to picture this meeting, let alone envision the place it would occur in, but one of the last places she thought this would happen in was in a nearly deserted Seventh Heaven. Nonetheless, that's where it was happening, with Shelke and Nero sitting on opposite sides of a back table, far from the gossip-seeking ears of any of Seventh Heaven's employees.

"So... Ah... We've known each other for about a week now," Nero began. He hadn't touched the black coffee in front of him. It was alright though, because Shelke hadn't touched the orange juice either. She didn't even like orange juice that much, but it was cold and bright colored and she could stare at it, watching the glass condensate.

Stupid, Shelke decided. She had been completely stupid. Even if Nero did like her, she looked like she was about twelve. It wasn't pedophilia- Shelke had turned 18 last month - But the fact of the matter was that-

"Shelke, I think I like you," Nero quietly blurted into the silence.

There was a pindrop silence. Shelke blinked in a deliberate manner. He couldn't have said that. No, Shelke must have misheard him.

"Come again?"

"Shelke, I like you. In fact, I love you, but I figured love would be just a tad too creepy for us only knowing each other for a week."

"Techincally, you've known me since you've read my blog," Shelke responded on auto-pilot while her brain processed what Nero had just said.

Love was a word Shelke didn't toss around casually. It was, in Shelke's mind, a special word reserved for only certain people. She was certain that, if she had constructed a fairly accurate portrait of Nero, he wouldn't toss that word around casually either.

"I suppose so."

Shelke had only been at a loss for words twice in her life. Once when she was six and her grandmother died, Shelke hadn't been able to find any sort of noun, verb or adjective to describe the loss. The second time was when she was 14 and met Azul for the first time, and Shelke still can't describe him to people who hadn't already met him. This would be the third time, this awkward situation of wanting to convey how she felt but being completely unable to do so. "I... Uhm... I..."

"Nevermind," Nero interupted. "It was silly of me to think that this could be more than a friendship. Now, I'll just..."

Shelke's fight-or-flight senses kicked in right there. "I like you too."

It was Nero's turn to widen his eyes and stare directly at Shelke. "Beg pardon?"

"I like you too. I have liked you for... About three days now. I... Uh... You said you loved me? Well, I.. I don't know about love yet. But, give me time. I like you."

"Oh... Well... Uhm... That's... That's good then... That's... Er... "

Somehow, that made everything more awkward, but it was a comfortable awkward. They drank their drinks in silence, paid in silence and proceeded to walk towards Shelke's house in silence. On the sidewalk, before Shelke even stepped up on the property, they faced each other.

"So... Will we... Uhm...?" Nero wasn't looking at Shelke, but looking at a streetlamp, as if it was the most fascinating object in the world. Shelke felt her face burst into flames.

"Can I see you tomorrow?"

"Y-Yes... Certainly. Same time as today?"

"No, I have something for the basketball team to work on. Evening? It's a Friday."

"Yes. Alright."

Then, much to Shelke's surprise, Nero leaned down and firmly pressed his lips against Shelke's cheek. It was a platonic sort of kiss, much like the sort her mother gave her, but this was just so different, for lack of a better word, and it left Shelke a bit dizzy.

"Good night, Shelke."

"Y-Yes. Good night."

And it was.


Okay, so lets see. The original "Edit Before Submitting" was completed May 1st. It's July 6th now. I could lie and say that I was "getting a fresh perspective" but I respect my readers too much; I was a victim of procrastination. Gawd, it doesn't even really look like I did much to it.

I kept the original ending, but just added more detail and explanation because I like the ending. It's realistic, I think, and I can't really see Shelke getting swept off her feet into an emotional-passion thing without becoming extremely OOC. So, that's why the ending is the same.

So, I torched "Help Wanted" because it's not really going anywhere but I've got this dark little WeissNeroShelke thing I'm working on that doesn't even have a title yet. It seems overly dramatic to me, so I'm probably going to ask my roommate to beta it for me when I get to school.

Thanks for reading, including the revised ending. There might be an epilogue or a sequel, but I doubt it.