Chapter 9

When Love Prevails

Before anyone asks or comments I will admit, the beginning of this chapter moves fairly quickly. There was nothing I could do about it, believe me. But I hope you enjoy the rest.

Why does time fly when you're happy? Why can't moments like this last forever? Leo gazed at Aeris, who was lying next to him in bed. He sat up and brushed a strand of her hair from her face. She purred softly in response. To Leo the sound was something beyond heavenly.

"Damn it Leo, why do you have to move so much?" She allowed a small smile to show on her face without opening her eyes. "Why can't you sleep in like normal people?"

Leo gave a slight laugh under his breath. "Well kitten, for starters, we have plans today."

This time she opened her eyes and rolled over to face Leo. "What plans?" She looked legitimately confused.

"I have a dance with a certain girl planned for tonight. I'd hate to miss it."

Aeris gave him a questioning look but still maintained her smile. "Well aren't you all romantic all of a sudden. Since we're awake anyway, perhaps we should solve one problem."

Leo laughed again, this time more openly. "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry too. What's breakfast for today?"

"That's not the problem I was referring to." Aeris sat up next to Leo, pulling the sheets up to cover her chest. "Due to recent events I still don't have a dress and you don't have anything nice to wear."

"This mean another trip to the mall?" He began getting out of bed, already knowing the answer to his question.

"Yup, but I won't make you walk home this time. I promise." She followed Leo off the bed. Both put on their items of clothing left on the floor from the night before. "I'm going to take a shower and you should do the same. Then we'll head out. Okay?"

Leo nodded and gave a slight grunt of acknowledgement. With that Aeris left the room and proceeded into her own, leaving Leo to himself. He stepped into his bathroom and removed the clothes that he had donned mere seconds earlier. With that Leo stepped into his shower, enjoying the warmth that spread through his body.

Meanwhile, Aeris was doing the same in her room. However, she first went to her dresser, from which she removed a small package. She took a single tablet and swallowed it with some water she kept next to her bed. Happy that she had one less thing to worry about she pulled her top over her head, revealing the undergarments beneath it. Carefully, she removed each piece. Unhooking her bra and sliding her more delicate piece down her shapely legs. Once she was fully unclothed she gazed at herself in the mirror. As she looked at her body Aeris realized that she was truly beautiful and she appreciated the fact that Leo loved her for more than just her looks. With that train of thought slowly departing she entered her shower. The water was warm as it trickled down her body. Each drop massaged her on impact.

This continued for several minutes while the two cats enjoyed their showers. Neither thought about anything, but instead just lived happily through the moment.

They exited their rooms at about the same time, both feeling clean and refreshed. Aeris went straight to the door where she put on her coat and shoes while Leo grabbed two snack bars from the kitchen. He tossed one to Aeris and then put on his own coat. Together, they went to the car and Aeris drove them to the mall.

"So what's the plan?" They were pulling into the parking lot when Leo finally said something.

"We can split up and I'll go get the dress I liked while you get your tux, or we can stay together and just get our clothes one at a time. The later will take longer though."

"Oh no, I may have to spend more time with you." The sarcasm in his voice was heavy.

"Don't be such a smart ass." She gently backhanded the rear of his head. "Let's get my dress first, I know which one I want so that won't take too long."

"Fair enough. Do you think we can stop for some pretzels on the way out? That place in the food court is wicked good." The eagerness in his eyes was showing as they stepped out of the car.

"From Uncle Manny's? Sure, we can split one." As they entered the mall a wall of warmth hit them. How they kept the building so warm without costing a fortune was a mystery to her, but Aeris didn't complain. It felt nice to be out of the cold yet again.

The couple walked to the store together in relative silence while holding each other's' hands. The simple gesture sent pure bliss and content through Leo's entire being. Aeris, meanwhile, just enjoyed the moment.

Upon entering the store Aeris went straight to where the dress she wanted was hanging while Leo looked around the room. In the corner he noticed something. It was something he hated, and Leo didn't hate easily. He stared at it until the girl from a few days prior turned around and saw him. She gave him a smile that was halfway between evil and longing. Leo clenched his fist but felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find Aeris. "Let it go Leo, this bitch isn't worth it."

"Come on Aeris. I know you want to hurt her just as bad." Leo was actually itching for a fight, which took Aeris completely by surprise. He was never one to be violent unless it was in a video game. But she just stared at him, giving him eyes that simply said 'don't do it.' After a moment he obliged. "Yeah, fine. You all set?"

"I found the dress. Let me just pay then we can go find a tux." She quickly paid and they left. On the far end of the mall there was a Gentlemen's Building Designed for Storage that sold nicer men's outfits. There they found a black tux that wasn't too expensive. After making the purchase Leo practically sprinted to Uncle Manny's where he bought a large salted pretzel. When Aeris finally caught up to him he had already eaten half of it.

"Pig," she said as she grabbed it from his hands and took a bite. During the entire walk to the car Leo fought to retrieve his lost pretzel but Aeris kept it away from him, taking another bite every few seconds. Before long the pretzel was finished, leaving Aeris with a satisfied smile and Leo with a slight depression.

Following a short car ride they arrived at the apartment. As soon as the exited the car Leo ran over and picked Aeris up. He not so gracefully carried her up the stairs and into their home, where he dropped on the couch. "What was that about?"

"I don't know. I guess I'm just feeling romantic today." He glanced at the clock, which read 2:15. "Okay, we should leave for the dance in about two hours."

"Sounds about right. Think we should change?" She raised an eyebrow, showing that there was something she wasn't saying, but Leo didn't catch on.

"Yeah, I guess we should." He kissed her hand. "I will see you shortly, my lady." With that he walked into his room, leaving Aeris on the couch giggling at his attempts to be romantic. As soon as Leo's door closed she held up her paw and slowly counted down from three. Right after she reached one Leo's door opened once again. "Um, Aeris?"

She answered sarcastically. "Yes, Leo?"

"Where are the clothes we just bought?" He looked legitimately confused.

"Well Leo, last time I checked they were in the back seat of the car. I was going to grab them when someone swept me off my feet and carried me inside."

"Now that definitely makes things difficult… Do you think I should go get them?" He was already walking towards the door.

She strategically placed her paw over her face. "Yeah Leo, I think you should." As soon as she finished speaking the door shut behind him.

Leo ran down the stairs, nearly tripping twice, and over to the car. They never locked it so he easily simple opened the back seat. On it there were two outfits laid out on hangars. His tux was on top so he grabbed it first. Underneath it was Aeris's dress, which he hadn't been able to get a good look at yet. It was dark red and had threads woven in that reflected the light.

After staring at the dress for a few seconds Leo ran back up the stairs. This time he did trip on the top step. "OW!"

Aeris opened the door to find Leo lying face down on the floor. "Yeah, I thought you were acting a bit too mature and romantic. You alright?" She leaned over Leo in order to help him up. When she saw his face it was covered in blood. "Holy Hell! Leo, your nose is bleeding."

"It is?" He put his hand up to his face. When he removed it he gazed at the blood.

"Yeah, it's pretty bad too. Let's get you inside before you get blood on my dress." She helped Leo up and the entered the apartment. Once inside she handed him a napkin. "Go in your bathroom and use some tissues until you stop bleeding. Then wash your face."

"That's how you stop a bloody nose? I thought you were supposed to just blow it and get blood everywhere." He smiled at the gory scene unfolding in his mind.

"Okay, that's just gross." She glanced at the clock. "We only have an hour and forty minutes so hurry up." With that he ran into his room then his bathroom, leaving Aeris to herself once again. This is going to be a long night. But to be honest, I can't wait. She picked her dress up off the ground and took it to her room.

Aeris hooked the hanger of her dress on the top of her door. She stared at it, admiring each and every feature. She was very much content with her choice.

Meanwhile, Leo was in his bathroom trying to stop the bleeding. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. This thing won't stop. Okay Leo… think. In every cop show or movie, when the bad guy punches the cop they just shove tissues in his nose. Makes sense. Let's see… He looked around the room but found that his tissue box was empty. To make matters worse, the napkin Aeris had given him was soaked and starting to drip through. The counter and sink were already covered in small pools of blood. Why is my nose bleeding so bad? It doesn't even make sense. So no tissues, what else? Glancing around again he noticed a roll of toilet paper that he was yet to mount on his dispenser. After a moment of deep pondering, he found a solution that anyone else would have thought obvious. Leo took two squares of toilet paper, scrunched them up into two small balls, and shoved one into each nostril. Smiling in satisfaction that this would stop the bleeding, he proceeded to wash the blood soaked fur on his face and then disrobe in order to change into his tux.

Aeris had just finished removing her clothes down to her underwear. Carefully, as to not create any wrinkles, she slid the dress around her body. It fit nicely, flowing with each curve of her figure. The slit down the side on the lower half exposed enough of her leg to interest Leo She then slowly brushed her hair, gradually making it flow down her neck and onto her shoulder. Next she pulled two long white gloves over her arms. Finally, she put two round earrings onto each ear. Looking into the mirror she was content with the image it revealed. Knowing Leo would feel the same way Aeris exited her bathroom. As she did she heard something halfway between a yelp, a cry of pain, and an angry shout coming from Leo's room. At first she went to investigate, but decided it better to just let him solve his own problems.

Leo had his tux on and was staring at himself in the mirror. It was black with a red vest and white shirt underneath. I look like a regular James Bond. The Bond theme song played in his head as he shaped his hands like a pistol and aimed at the mirror. When he did so he noticed the toilet paper bunches were still in his nose. Deciding sufficient time had passed for the bleeding to stop he pinched the exposed ends of both pieces and pulled. What he hadn't prepared for was the fact that he put in far too much paper. The blood had dried and now each piece was a solid chunk of dried blood that was still attached to the inside of his nostrils. When he pulled the paper it separated from the sensitive walls of his nose, causing a sharp and blinding pain. To make matters worse, the papers had swelled due to the blood and were now larger than the entrances to his nostrils. As they passed through they stretched the openings, causing even more pain. He yelled in pain but instead let out a very loud childish yelp.

A moment after Aeris exited her room Leo came stumbling out of his own. She was surprised to see his outfit wasn't covered in blood. "How are you holding up? That was a lot of blood."

"Let's just say that next time my nose bleeds let me bleed out."

Aeris checked the clock one last time and noticed that it was about time for them to leave. She went to the door and began to slip on her heels. "Come on Leo. Put your shoes on, we need to go." He didn't respond. "Leo?" She looked up to find Leo standing and staring at her. His mouth was hanging slightly open. "Leo!" She yelled to get his attention.

"Huh? Sorry. It's just… wow. Aeris… you look amazing." He smiled awkwardly. Aeris blushed, making the fur on her cheeks turn from white to a deep red.

"Come on Leo, let's go." She was relaxed and glad that she had the most amazing guy on Earth… or at least in the apartment.

Aeris walked down the stairs with Leo in close pursuit. They entered their light blue sedan and drove off. Aeris was behind the steering wheel with Leo practically drooling while gazing at her from the passenger seat. The arrived at their destination after about ten minutes and Leo rushed out to open Aeris's door. She smiled and they walked inside holding hands. There was a nicely dressed man standing at the door.

"How are you two doing tonight?"

"Good, and you?" Aeris answered first.

"I am doing very well, thank you for asking. I assume you're here for the dance. Do you have tickets?" The doorman looked at Aeris who then looked at Leo. She had forgotten to remind Leo to grab them.

Much to her surprise he reached into his pocket and produced to small pieces of laminated cardstock, which he handed to the man. After a brief glance he handed them back to Leo. "Thank you very much. You two can go right in."

Leo turned and smiled at Aeris. She took his hand and they walked inside.

They entered a large, open room. It was darker, but colored lights made everything glow red. There were quite a few people already in the room and a handful entered behind them. A few tables were set up at one end with food and drinks. There was a dance floor in front of another table covered in sound systems. Behind the speakers were two DJs playing romantic songs.

No one was dancing yet so Aeris pulled Leo towards the food tables. He followed without question.

"Well this is nice." Leo casually walked with Aeris while observing the room.

"Yeah, I'm surprised there are this many people here." They arrived at a table and Aeris sat down.

"I'm going to get a drink. Do you want something?" Leo asked.

"Sure. Some punch sounds good. Thanks." Aeris was still looking around at the assorted couples. She saw someone who looked like Dennis with a much older woman at another table, two black cats that were getting a bit too close for public, and a light brown cat dancing with an amber one, both looking quite content. Leo returned with the drinks and sat down next to her.

"Hey, did I see Dennis over there?" Leo asked while pointing towards the table Aeris had observed earlier.

"Yeah, I think so. But who's that with him? His mom?" Aeris added a slight laugh to her last comment.

Leo laughed too. "Probably, knowing him I wouldn't be surprised." The both sighed, attempting to think of what else to say.

Aeris finally broke the silence. "So, what do you think?"

"Think about what?" He gave a confused look.

"I don't know... Us, the future, this thing of ours, anything."

"I'm not really sure. There's a lot more to come. But hey, with any luck, we'll be together for a long time." Leo leaned back and let a small smile show. He hadn't thought much about the future, but now that he did he began to look forward to it.

Aeris waited a few seconds before responding in an attempt to find the right thing to say. "I'd like that. I'd like that a lot."

"Ladies and gentlemen," one of the DJs was talking over the speakers. His voice carried well and his emotions seemed perfect for the evening, "Now it's time for tonight's first slow dance. If you guys want to get your lady friends out here, now would be the best time."

"Come on Aeris. I believe I owe you at least one slow dance." Leo took her hand and pulled her to her feet.

"Then I guess it's time I collect." They walked out to the dance floor, taking a spot next to the brown and amber cats Aeris had noticed earlier. The music began to play and both instantly recognized the song. It was the same song as the one Aeris had used to train Leo a few days earlier, 'Don't Want to Miss a Thing.'

As it played they held each other close. After a minute Aeris buried her head in Leo's shoulder, who then placed his own on hers. I've said it once and I've said it a hundred times. She's amazing. Aeris, I hope you never leave me. I promise I'll never let you go, I'll never hurt you, and I'll never make you regret what we have. I promise.

He's changed so much. A few weeks ago I thought this guy was the laziest and dumbest piece of crap in Toronto. Now he's changed so much. It seems like he matured overnight just for me. Do I really mean that much to him? If I do Leo, I promise, you won't regret a moment of this.

The music continued playing, both cats just stood there. Swaying back and forth, head on head on shoulder. "Hey…" Aeris lifted her head to better hear what Leo had to say. Instead of saying anything he kissed her. His lips locked with her own. This was the ultimate moment. Pure content mixed with pure happiness. Nothing could ruin this. At this moment they knew that the most basic aspect of life… is love.


It was early fall and the leaves were just starting to change. Leo Leonardo stood on the footbridge overlooking a pond, a small box in his hands. He knew what he had to do, but doing it would be the hard part. The next few words he would say would determine the rest of his life. He had to be perfect.

He heard footsteps from behind. When he looked he saw two cats that he recognized walking over the bridge. He couldn't remember where he saw them, but the light brown one was holding the amber one close to his body. Clearly they were a happy couple. Turning back to the water Leo continued to wait. The anxiety was killing him but he knew that patience was important. All good things take time. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a pink blur. More importantly it was his pink blur.

Aeris stepped onto the bridge and leaned on the railing next to him. They were both silent, just gazing at the peaceful water below them. Without a word Leo pulled his hand from his pocket and knelt down next to Aeris. She turned, at first surprised, but when she saw what he was holding she just smiled. He had a small box, inside of which was a ring. Aeris took it and slid it onto her finger. A perfect fit. She smiled at Leo and he smiled back. He stood up and hugged her. Together, they walked back to their home, eagerly awaiting their lives to come.

I love a cliché.

I hope you all loved reading this story a lot more than I enjoyed writing it. As I said, this was my first story so the style changes a few times throughout. Think of it was a test palate for me to find how I like to write. Anyway, I'm happy with the ending and I look forward to reading your reviews.

May you be poor in misfortune,

rich in blessings,

slow to make enemies,

quick to make friends.

But rich or poor,

quick or slow,

may you know nothing but happiness

from this day forward.