Chapter 4

Friends

Aeris woke up early on Friday. She had to get ready for another day of school, and this time she couldn't spend half of it in the nurse's office. Her father once again rushed her from the moment she woke up to the moment she left and asked her all of the obvious questions.

While walking to the bus stop she passed where she ran into Leo. She subconsciously took note of the house he had come out of. She met with Tamara and then Kenny at the bus stop.

Tamara: "Where is that gray guy, Leo? Is he still at the hospital?"

Aeris: "I don't know. I haven't seen him since the nurse's yesterday. I hope he's ok, you know, as a friend."

Kenny: "So you admit he is your friend."

Tamara: "No, I know Aeris. She never put that much interest into any friend. She just laughed last time you went to the nurse's, Kenny. You like him, don't you Aeris?"

Aeris: "I don't like him. He isn't even my friend. I was just nice to him because he was all alone."

Tamara: "Sure Aeris, whatever you say…"

They went through yet another school day except now Aeris had a ton of make-up work to do for the classes she missed. She even had to bring some home. 'Great' Aeris thought, 'More homework'.

Aeris' house.

Aeris walked inside and looked for her dad. After a few minutes of looking she decided he wasn't home. She went up to her room and began to do her homework. Math. Only Mr. 47 would assign an hour's worth of homework on top of her make-up work. After an hour-and-a-half she finished. Looking at the clock she noticed it was 3:30 PM. With nothing else to do she fell back on her cure all for pain or boredom, video games.

After about two matches of her favorite shooter Aeris noticed that she was off her game. She couldn't remember the last time she had more deaths than kills. However, Aeris knew why she was doing so badly. There was a certain gray cat that she couldn't stop thinking about. The one that said her pink hair was "beautiful". But what could she do about it. She couldn't go up to his house and say 'Hey Leo. I was just sitting home alone playing video games and couldn't get you out of my head'. If she did that someone would find out and not only would the situation be horribly awkward but everyone would know that she liked Leo: No, I don't like him. I just felt pity for him. That's must be it.

She was fighting an uphill battle though. If nothing else, Aeris was sure that she was worried about him: It doesn't matter, I don't even know where he lives. Yes you do, remember. You ran into him like an idiot a couple of days ago. He came out of the house that you were in front of. That's where he lives.

The next thing Aeris knew she was walking down the road towards Leo's house.

Leo's house

Leo's POV

So many needles. They do that on purpose too. I bet every single one of those shots came in a chewable grape flavored pill. They didn't even say what I had, at least not in English. It sounded French or Spanish or something. And now I'm going to have to go back to school and do two days' worth of make-up work. When I used to be sick mom would bring me soup or a sandwich while I was in bed. The soup was always home-made, nothing canned. Dad, not so much. He can't even make chicken noodle soup from the can. I don't know if today can get any worse.

*ding dong* (doorbell sound, get over it)

Leo's Dad: (in distance) "Hello. Aren't you that girl from the nurse's? I saw you when I picked Leo up. He said your name was Aeris, right?"

Leo's ears perked up the moment he heard her name. Immediately he felt nervous and didn't know what to do. He could pretend to be asleep or even act like he lost his voice. Anything would work.

"Hey there Leo." Aeris was right there, but she seemed nervous too.

Leo: (obviously nervous and hesitant) "Hi Aeris. Why are you here?"

Aeris: "Well I watched you leave for the hospital. I wanted to make sure you weren't dead or anything."

Leo: "No, I'm still alive. Remember what I said about needles? Well, there were a lot of them."

Aeris: "I'm sorry to hear that… Ummm… I hope you get better soon…"

Long awkward silence

Aeris: "I… I guess I'll leave now. I just wanted to make sure you're ok." She begins to walk out of the room when she suddenly stops. "Is that a Nintendo 64, hooked up to a really big TV?"

Leo: (now a little more comfortable. Not many girls would know a N64 if the saw one) "Yea, it was my first game system. I still hook it up sometimes in order to play some classics. Wait, do you play video games?"

This was one of Aeris' best kept secrets. She never really told anyone how much she likes video games and how important they can be to her. But now here is a guy who A) likes her pink hair, B) likes video games, and C) doesn't have any really close friends or a mom, just like her. If she was going to tell anyone, it had to be him, right?

Here goes everything…

Sorry about that. I had to split that chapter in two. Here is the other half right where it got cut off. And thanks again for reading this. I hope you like it.

Aeris: "I play quite a bit. Mostly xbox but I love older games."

Leo: "Wow, I never would have guessed. I haven't even heard you talk about video games before. I mean, I haven't really heard you say much at all before, but still."

Aeris: "Well, I do like to play a lot. It just helps me take my mind off of everything else in my life."

Leo: "I know how you feel. Ummm… Is there any chance you would l…like to stay and play for a little while?"

That was one of the last things she expected Leo to say. But, she did want to stay.

Aeris: "Sure, that sounds fun. I don't usually get to play with other people offline. What do you want to play?"

Leo didn't think Aeris would say yes. He was just in the moment and couldn't really think about what he was saying. It took a moment for it to dawn on him that he just asked a beautiful girl to stay and play video games with him, and she said yes.

Leo: "Well if you love playing older games, I have Goldeneye. Want to play that?"

Aeris: "I haven't played that game in so long. Where are your controllers?"

Leo: "In the cabinet under the TV."

Leo began to stand up but he still felt sort of weak. He briefly wondered if it was from being sick or all of the medication they game him. Aeris gave him a gesture telling him to stay in bed. She then went over and got two controllers out, a red one for Leo and purple one for herself. Finally, she turned on the system and sat on the floor leaned up against Leo's bed.

Leo: "Thanks. I'm thinking we should play Facility. It's a fun map."

Aeris: "Whatever you say Leo. Just start the damn game."

The game quickly loaded and they played a few rounds. Aeris won two of the three, but they were all close. After almost two hours Aeris looked at her phone and saw the time, 6:00 PM.

Aeris: "Oh no, my dad is going to be worried sick! I didn't leave him a note or anything, and I've been here for two hours! Oh no oh no oh no! I have to go Leo! I'll see you tomorrow, right?"

Leo: "I hope so. I can't take another day of being sick."

Aeris: "Ok then, bye Leo!"

Aeris runs out of Leo and by his father, who just gives her a strange look: She's still here? What was she doing with that boy up there?

As soon as she steps outside one of her worst fears comes true, Tamara is walking down the road right across the street. Tamara notices Aeris right away and runs over to her.

Tamara: "What are you doing out here? And whose house is that?"

Aeris: "That's just a friend's house. I went over to… hang out."

Tamara: "Ok, what's this friend's na… Is that where Leo lives?"

Aeris: "What? No!"

Tamara: "Then who lives there? What's their name Aeris?"

Aeris is becoming nervous. She doesn't want anyone to find out about her spending time with Leo, especially not Tamara. She would tell everyone she knew. Damn gossip-girl.

Aeris: "What is this, an interrogation? I have to go, I'm late."

She runs off not even waiting for Tamara's response: That could have gone smoother. I hope she doesn't tell anyone. That stupid girl would say anything if it mean she could have five minutes of attention. I'm so screwed.

Back at Leo's house

Leo's Dad's POV

Now what were those two doing? A cute young girl and my handsome son together in his bedroom for almost two hours. They must have been doing something. I guess I'll just ask.

He walks into Leo's room and sees Leo in bed staring at the ceiling.

Leo's Dad: "Well son. She certainly is cute, isn't she? Two hours and you didn't even need any of my advice. I'm proud of you son."

Leo has a look of shock on his face: Does he really think we just…I mean me and Aeris… right here… for two hours…?

Leo: "Oh god no dad. Get your mind out of the gutter. I was just play games with here."

Leo's Dad: "Oh, I see. What kind of games…?"

Leo: "Video games Dad, video games."

Leo's Dad: "I'll be honest. I never though you would be able to find a girl with video games. Well I'm glad that you made a little friend."

Leo: (now blushing a little) "Dad, why don't you just be quiet and go ask the school nurse out."

Leo's Dad: "I already did, son. I'm meeting her tonight at that new restaurant downtown."

Another look of shock streaks across Leo's face.

Big P. S. Thanks to Bogren who has been a great help with all work. To me it is a great honor to work with people like this who is not afraid to tell what the stories need.