Chapter 4

The front door clicked shut as the three cold cats entered the apartment. Leo threw his thick jacket and hat on the floor, slipped off his shoes, and flopped down on the nearest seat. Aeris glared at him and hung her coat on a coat rack that was located a few feet from the door that was set in place by two screws. She didn't bother to pick up Leo's clothes and sat down on a different seat, giving a smoldering look at their new "roommate." Shades on the other hand hung his coat on the wall like Aeris did and went straight to the refrigerator, prying it open and began to immediately take out many ingredients. Aeris stood up from her chair and walked over, grabbing the black cat's shoulder and taking the Jib peanut butter from his hand. Shades gave a pout, "Aw, can't a guy have a sandwich?"

Aeris' nose twitched in response and she began to put the various items back. The items consisted of a loaf of bread that was untouched, grape jelly, a pack of bacon, a head of cabbage, a package of individually wrapped slices of cheddar cheese, a tomato, a half-empty carton of whole milk, a bag of Ruffles chips, and the peanut butter that Shades was recently holding. Aeris looked up from her task after realizing how much food she was putting away, "What the hell were you planning to make?"

Shades shrugged, "A peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, a BLT with a glass of milk, with some chips on the side. A standard meal, wouldn't you say?"

Aeris frowned, "Just make one sandwich. I don't want you to eat all our food before we get you and Leo actual jobs."

"But I haven't eaten in forever!" Shades' whined.

"Oh, while we're making sandwiches, can I have a PB&J?" Leo hollered out from the couch.

"Oh fine!" Aeris yelled in defeat, "Eat your damn sandwiches! I don't care anymore!"

Shades and Leo shared a grin across the room as Shades popped in four slices of bread into the toaster, their toaster having four slots to make two sandwiches at the same time. Aeris sank back into her chair and let out a sigh, rubbing her temples.

"This isn't real, this isn't real, this isn't real…" The pink cat muttered to herself under her breath. Her sapphire eyes locked on to the black cat that was leaning on the kitchen counter. Shades was staring at the toaster, licking his lips in anticipation for the first meal in what seemed like forever.

'What's up with the 180 in his attitude? Outside, he was like a boxer in the ring; but now…'


"WE'VE GOT TOAST!" Leo and Shades exclaimed at the top of their lungs.

'…he's an idiot.'

As Leo assembled his PB&J sandwich, Shades grabbed the large bag of Ruffles potato chips that Aeris had snatched away earlier and ripped it open. The black cat passed the bag to Leo as he walked by and went to prepare his own sandwich.

'Not only that,' Aeris continued to think, 'now it's like he's best friends with Leo all of a sudden!'

Leo plopped down on the couch which sat in front of the TV, resting his feet on the wooden coffee table that was in front of him. He dumped some of the potato chips unto his plate and placed the bag on the table to let the others eat from it. Shades soon entered the living room as well and sat down on the last open seat which sat on the left of the couch, a PB&J sandwich now in his possession.

Aeris sighed as she watched the two toms eat their meals. Leo looked over and offered the opened bag of chips, "Hungry?" he asked, crumbs of soggy chips flying out of his mouth.

Her face darkened, wiping a few crumbs from her face. Leo quickly realized his mistake and smiled sheepishly, his ears pressed against his head, "Sorry."

Aeris merely lowered and shook her head, too tired to scream at Leo for once. She looked up to see Shades with an amused smirk on his face. A snarl began to form on her face and she growled, "What's so funny?"

The black cat shrugged, " I just find it funny that you two are in a relationship is all," he said, taking a bite out if his sandwich.

Leo, who so happened to be taking a swig of his soda immediately spat it all out in a fine mist, unintentionally spraying Shades' food, much to the black cat's dismay. Aeris' face turned a dark shade of red as she sputtered, "W-What the hell are you talking about?!"

Shades slowly put his plate on the coffee table and pushed it with a paw as he rose an eyebrow, "What? Are you saying that you two aren't a thing?"

Leo just had his jaws wide open as his muzzle matched the color of Aeris' fur. Aeris shook in her seat in embarrassment and what could have been anger, "I'd rather be caught dead than go out with... HIM!" she exclaimed, gesturing wildly at the gray cat. Leo nodded enthusiastically and added his own two cents, "Y-Yeah! If we were in a relationship, there wouldn't be enough bandages in the world to help me!"

"What's THAT supposed to mean?!" Aeris demanded, smacking the back of Leo's head. Shades snickered, "Hey hey, I just thought that that was the state of your relationship, sorry for misunderstanding."

Aeris sunk into her chair, brushing a few strands of hair that had flew around as she freaked out over what Shades had said. An almost deafening silence overcame the room, the munching of chips the only sound that penetrated the air. Leo slowly reached into the bag of chips, eyeing the other two cats as he pulled a single chip out. Sensing the mood, the gray cat slowly placed the chip in his tongue and ever so slowly chewed it, creating another crunch.

Shades sighed and stood up, stretching and groaned in satisfaction as he felt the bones in his spine pop. He turned to Leo, "Hey Leo, where can I sleep? Is there a guest bed or...?"

"Well..." Leo said, turning to face the hallway that led to the bedrooms. Aeris immediately interjected, "NO. I'll let you stay with us because, honestly, we have no choice, but you WILL sleep on the couch, got it?!"

Shades shrugged, "Fine, since I got a roof over my head, I'll be more than happy to sleep on a couch: it's better than sleeping in a cardboard box out in the streets."

Leo stood up, the gray cat dusting off his hands from the salt that covered them as he ate the potato chips, "Anyways, I'll just be heading off the bed, good night Aeris!"

Aeris nodded and yawned, the events of the day catching up to her and the fact that she had been asleep only two hours ago did nothing to fend off the fingers of sleep that were slowly wrapping around her, "Yeah, I think I'll hit the hay too."

She began to walk down the hall, but then turned to face the black cat, "If I find out that you took off in the night, I'll hunt you down."

Shades smiled and laid down on the couch, the springs giving out a slight groan as it tried to support the cat's weight, "Don't worry, I don't have anywhere to go. Nighty night Aeris~" he said in a sing-song tone. Aeris simply gave a small huff and entered her room to sleep.