How Do You Know?
Chapter 1: A Friend in Need
Leo looked over the ledge with wide eyes, fear the only emotion present in them.
Why the hell did I decide to do this? He thought to himself. The drop had looked so much shorter earlier, but now that he was here, it looked like it was a thousand feet in the air.
Oh man, I CAN'T do this, As he turned to head down, he spotted his friends, all of them looking at him with supporting smiles.
"You can do it Leo!" Ronny shouted.
"Leo, Leo, Leo!" Everyone started cheering his name and swinging their fists in the air. It filled Leo with confidence, and he turned back to the ledge, determination on his face.
He tensed his legs, crouched low to the ground, and flexed his arms out to the sides.
And then he jumped.
Leo screamed out as he left the small platform, positioning his body in a cannonball-like way, but soon was flailing around like an idiot in the air.
All he could do was scream as he plummeted to the water below him. It looked like he was going to slam into the blue liquid and be finished, but all of a sudden, Leo felt himself get extremely heavy, then shoot right back into the air. He had forgotten that he was attached to a bungee cord as he fell through the air, and now he was soaring in artificial flight.
His stomach lurched at the sudden whiplash of the bungee chord, and Leo felt as if he were going to throw up. Still screaming, Leo looked over and cursed his friends;
"I'm gonna kill you guys!"
His friends burst into laughter over his terror, watching him flail around in the air in complete fear. The went on for around a minute. Leo was eventually let down by the bungee jump operator, who was laughing just as hard as his friends were.
"Man-o-man, I've never heard someone scream that loud in all my life, boy!" The man slapped his knee and howled with laughter.
"Then make it less high next time!" Leo yelled at the man. This only drew another laugh from the operator and from Leo himself, feeling quite giddy now that he was on the ground. He had to admit he had fun. More than fun, actually, he had the time of his life, soaring through the air, feeling as though he were going to die any second, then being flung back towards the sky whenever he got close enough to the ground for the bungee cord to snap back.
But I sure as hell won't be doing it again! He thought to himself, smirking.
His friends came around from behind a corner, and as Leo saw them, he pointed an accusing finger at them;
"Your all jerks!"
They burst into laughter again; only this time Leo joined them. He went up to Ronny and couldn't help letting a huge smile come across his face.
"It's your turn next time man, and I'm gettin' that shit on camera!"
Ronny pulled him into a noggie, chuckling a bit to himself. "There won't be a next time! HA!"
"Gah, lemme go!" Leo tried in vain to avoid the noggie, but he was unsuccessful.
After a bit more fooling around, jokes concerning Leo's recent jump, and a bit of teasing, everyone calmed down and wondered out loud what they wanted to do next.
"Let's go on a rollercoaster!" Ashley exclaimed, jumping up and down in the spot in an enthusiastic matter.
"Naw, let's get something to eat, I'm starving!" Shawn said, rubbing his stomach in a goofy way, which drew a sheepish laugh from Ashley and an eye roll from Ronny.
"Well how 'bout we do this, we-" Leo started, but suddenly stopped, noticing that one person was missing from their party. A certain pink cat.
"Wait, where's Aeris?" Leo asked, not seeing her among his friends with a look of confusion on his face. The others noticed to, for now they were looking around for her. They began to call out her name when Ashley spoke up.
"Oh yeah, she had a date tonight and left fifteen minutes ago." She had forgotten to tell the rest of the group the news of Aeris' departure when she left, which earned her a raised eyebrow and funny smirk from Shawn. "What? People forget." Ashley defended herself. Shawn kept looking at Ashley with his face, which earned him a punch in the shoulder. He rubbed his shoulder and let a wide, toothy smile come across his face. Leo's ears perked up at the mention that Aeris had a date tonight.
"A date? With who?"
Ashley turned back to face Leo. "I think she said it was that Spencer guy that transferred here last year right before summer break. Do you have him in any of you're classes?"
Leo shook his head no.
"Well, I have him in math, and he is so hot." Ashley put a great amount of emphasis on the word hot, and quickly turned to see Shawn give an annoyed "hmph", then quickly gave him a kiss on the cheek, giggling.
Leo continued walking towards the amusement park, a slight grin forming in the corner of his mouth.
"Hmm, cool. What's he like?" He asked, curios to learn more about this new Spencer guy.
"Well, I don't talk to him to much. He's usually hangs around these two other guys in class, but he isn't a loud mouth LIKE SOME PEOPLE," Ashley somewhat yelled the last part of her sentence in Ronny's direction, who then stopped walking and turned to face her, a finger raised and grin formed in the corner of his mouth.
"Fuck you Ash, that teacher's a dick and you know it."
Ashley stuck her tongue out a Ronny, who proceeded to do the same, drawing a laugh from both cats.
"You just don't like him cause he called you a punk ass."
"Yeah, well...Screw you."
While Ronny and Ashley went back and forth with each other, Leo felt his phone begin to vibrate. He pulled it out of his pocket and saw Aeris' number present on the caller ID. Slightly confused, but wanting to get on Aeris' nerves a bit, Leo quickly flipped open the phone and pressed it up against his ear.
"So," Leo spoke in a sly tone into the phone. "How's the date going?" He finished by letting a mischievous smile come across his face.
No answer came from the other end of the line. All Leo could hear was faint sniffling.
The sound startled Leo somewhat, and his smile drooped down a bit. "Aeris? Is that you?" His voice took on a concerned tone, completely dropping any kind of joking sound off with it.
"Leo?" Aeris' voice came out quiet shaky, as if she had been crying. She sniffed her nose once before continuing "Leo, please come and get me."
Leo's ears dropped down close to his head. It sounded as if Aeris had been crying, something she rarely did, even in front of her friends and family, much less Leo himself.
"Aeris? What's wrong?" Leo really began to worry now. He didn't like it when Aeris cried. In fact, he hated it. He heard her whimper slightly on the other end and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, the smile he had on earlier completely falling off his face. "Aeris, are you okay? Are you with Spencer?"
"No I'm not with Spencer!" Aeris yelled at Leo from the phone, anger finding it's way to her voice. Leo winced as he held the phone farther away from his ear. That was the Aeris he'd always known.
"Where is he?" Leo asked, oblivious to what had happened to Aeris.
He heard her sigh in annoyance on the other end, probably irritated by his question. Leo tried to suppress a grin from breaking out on his face. As much as he had wanted to rattle Aeris' cage earlier, he didn't really want her to be mad at him right now.
"I don't know where he is." Aeris spoke rather quickly, somewhat betraying to Leo just how sad she was, although the angry tone in her voice was still faintly present. "All I know is that I've been standing here for twenty minutes waiting for him, and he hasn't even called me."
A strong silence found it's way into the conversation between Leo and Aeris. It remained in it's place for a time before Aeris spoke again.
"He stood me up Leo," She choked a bit as she finished, panting slightly, before Leo could hear the unmistakable sound of crying from the other end of the line, confirming his earlier suspicions. He remained silent, unsure of what to say.
More silence hung in the air, only breaking when Leo gathered enough courage to speak again.
"Are...are you okay?"
Of course she's not okay, you dope! Leo immediately regretted his words, hoping they might offer some sort of comfort to his pink friend, but after saying them, he was certain they would do just the opposite.
To his great surprise, he was wrong.
Leo heard Aeris take in a deep breath, most likely to calm herself down a bit, then she spoke, only now her voice had a bit more uplifting sound to it.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just…really want to hit something right now." Aeris sighed as she finished her sentence, making Leo unintentionally breathe out in relief as well. He had dodged a bullet with that one.
He finally let the grin he had been trying to hide earlier spread unchecked across his face. Aeris was undoubtedly referring to himself in her sentence. He didn't really care though. Right now all he really had on his mind was making Aeris feel better.
"There ya go. Some abuse always does the trick." Leo heard Aeris giggle quietly on the other end, sending a warm sensation down his body. He would probably never say it to her face, but he loved it when she laughed, even if it was at his own expense. He would do anything to make her laugh.
"So will you come get me?"
As if I wouldn't. Leo thought to himself. "Yeah, where are you?"
After Aeris finished filling Leo in on her current whereabouts, he quickly said good-bye to her, hung his phone up, stuck his phone back in his pocket, then turned to face his friends once again, being greeted by the sight of them now sitting down at a nearby bench, bored and slightly irritated expressions on their faces. Leo walked over, slightly embarrassed, and rubbed the back of his head just for the sake of the moment.
"Heh, sorry guys. Didn't mean to be on the phone for so long," Leo smiled awkwardly, slightly ashamed that he had mistakenly forgotten about his other friends while talking to Aeris.
Shawn gave a sideways glance at Leo along with a sarcastic smile. "Mhm, what was that about anyways?"
Leo's ears pressed down completely against his head. Even though nothing was happening right now, there had been a carefree, uplifting feel in the air the whole night between the friends. As much as Leo didn't want to spoil it for anyone, he didn't want to lie.
He breathed deep, let the air in his lungs out slowly, then gave each of his friends one of his more serious looks, one which he only used when the situation asked for it.
"Aeris phoned me," Leo spoke in a flat tone and let a bit of silence hang in the air before continuing. "Spencer didn't show up for the date. She got stood up."
When Leo saw his friends earlier, they had looked tired, bored, and anxious. Now they had looks of shock, their mouths hanging open slightly, and their eyes wide. Leo simply looked down at the ground and muttered a quiet "yeah," in response.
One would think that in a situation such as this that an awkward silence would now descend upon the group of friends, but this assumption would be incorrect. Immediately after Leo had finished speaking, Ronny stood up from the bench and walked over to Leo, looking pretty pissed.
"We're doing something about this, right?" Ronny's dark blue eyes stared down at Leo with an intensity that would usually make him break down in uncontrollable laughter, seeing Ronny looks so serious, but right now, he felt no urge to do so, himself feeling a small bit of anger inside as well.
"Oh yeah." The look in Leo's eyes matched, maybe even rivaled his yellow friend's.
Ronny nodded his head in approval. "Good." He shifted his eyes to the side a bit, then looked back at Leo. "You going to get her?"
Leo nodded his head yes.
Ronny pursed his lips a bit, then brought his arm up and patted Leo on the back. "Alright, cool. We can hang here till you get back." He turned back towards Shawn and Ashley. "Right guys?" He asked with gusto.
Shawn nodded and gave a thumb's up. Ashley, who had turned her gaze towards the ground, looked over at Ronny and smiled weakly. "Yeah, we'll be fine."
"Kay, cool." Leo waved a hand to his friends as he turned to walk away to his car.
"Oh, and Leo," Leo turned his head back and saw Ashley looking over at him, almost a little to seriously.
"Give that jerk a piece of my mind in case you see him." Ashley swung her clenched fist back and forth in the air in Leo's direction, gaining a small chuckle from the gray cat in doing so.
"Aeris is rubbin' off on ya, Ash." Leo shook his head at her before turning back and walking away. He said that he would be back soon to get all of them soon, and they told him not to hurry. Leo continued walking towards the closest door outside, and just before he was out of earshot of his friends, he heard Shawn remark that just a few minutes ago Ashley had stated that the jerk (Spencer) in question was quiet attractive. Her response was telling Shawn to shut the hell up and smacking him upside the head. Shawn just laughed his girlfriend's anger away, as he usually did. It was typical Shawn and Ashley.
Leo quickly exited the mall and made his way over to his old blue Jeep. He pulled out his keys and unlocked the vehicle. Even though his friends gave him a hard time for driving something so inconvenient as a Jeep around Toronto, Leo loved the thing. He had bought it with his own money, got all the accessories on his own, paid for their installation, and he even paid for the gas. The only thing that hadn't come out of Leo's pocket in terms of vehicle payment was the insurance. His parents took care of that, and he had absolutely no problem with that whatsoever.
As Leo slammed the door of the Jeep shut behind him, started the engine, and began driving away, the pleasant guitar rift of Thousand Foot Krutch's "Move" greeted him. The sound lifted his spirits greatly, something he really needed. Even though he knew Aeris wouldn't want to hear it, Leo felt really bad for her. He didn't pity her by any means, he just felt that sometimes the world could be a little extra hard on her sometimes…
Leo quickly tried to shake the unpleasant thought from his mind. He knew Aeris was a strong girl, in more ways than one, and he shouldn't worry about her. Besides, she would probably want to see him in a good mood when he picked her up instead of looking just as sad as she was. That, or smack him around a bit.
As Leo exited the mall's parking lot, the song entered its chorus, making him smile and begin to bob his head along to the music.
And show me what you can do
When you step into the circle
And shake like we do and
When you just can't take it
If you just feel like breakin'
The song was catchy, that was obvious enough.
Leo continued to drive towards his destination, keeping in mind that he still had to cook up a plan to get revenge on Spencer with Ronny and Shawn in time for tomorrow. It had to be humiliating, for sure, but it had to have something else too….
He wasn't as sadistic with his pranks like Shawn was, so he decided he would just discuss it with him and Ronny later that night.
After a few minutes of driving and the song ending Leo located the movie theater Aeris had told him she was at, quickly found a parking spot, stepped out of the car, and began searching around for her. According to the phone call, she would be near the main entrance of the theater.
"She shouldn't be to hard to find," Leo said to himself as began to walk towards the theater.
"Aeris? Aaaaeeerissss," Leo called out her name, cupping his hands around his mouth in an effort to make his words travel farther. "Aeris! The hell are you?" Leo yelled for his pink friend with all his might, wanting desperately to find her.
This continued for a good five minutes, Leo calling out Aeris' name and walking around the theater in an attempt to locate her. After several loops around the theater, a sharp whistle came from behind Leo. At first he didn't pay any attention to it, but spun around to locate the source of the sound when it came again with his name being shouted following close behind.
The voice sounded feminine, and quite familiar. Also a little irritated.
Leo perked his ears up and squinted his eyes in an attempt to locate the source of the voice. He didn't need to search long before his eyes found the girl he had been searching for.
Aeris was leaning up against a streetlight. When he saw her, she waved to Leo and gave a small, sad smile, making a small pain form in Leo's stomach.
Poor Aeris. Leo thought to himself as he slowly began to jog towards her.
In a short amount of time Leo covered the distance between him and Aeris. Once he made his way next to her, he gave her a caring but still concerned look.
Neither of them said anything to each other, Leo because he wasn't sure of what words to use to cheer his friend up, and Aeris simply because she just didn't feel like talking right now.
Aeris seemed to notice the awkward lack of words between her and Leo, because she let out a sigh and pushed him back slightly with an annoyed look on her face. Leo just stared back at her with his worried look, wishing he could think of something to say to make her feel better.
"Thanks for coming," Aeris finally spoke, her voice quiet and flat, trying not to let any sort of emotion find it's way into it. She turned away from Leo and hugged herself around her waist. The sight made Leo's gut feel like a pound of lead.
He took a step towards her and placed his right hand on her shoulder.
"Aeris," Leo's voice sounded just as sad as Aeris' had earlier, maybe even more so. She turned back to face him then, and Leo saw small tears beginning to form on the corners of her eyes. He let out a sad sigh before taking another step in her direction and wrapped her up in a tight hug.
Aeris didn't resist against the motion. She just stood there with her eyes closed and her head pointed downward as Leo hugged her. She let out a few quiet sobs and sniffs of her nose as she and Leo just stood there. He couldn't tell if hugging Aeris had helped lift her spirits or just made the situation worse, but Leo felt he had to at least try something.
After a full minute of Leo holding Aeris against himself and Aeris finally letting herself cry, Leo pulled away from her slightly and looked her directly in the eyes.
"Aeris, are you okay? Really?"
Aeris swallowed a bit and breathed in heavily before answering Leo.
"I'm just pissed." Her voice came out a little quiet, but it didn't break or shake like it had on the phone. Leo saw this as a good sign, somewhat at least.
An idea struck Leo then. It wasn't the greatest one he ever had, not by a long shot, but then again, not many of them were, but if it would make Aeris feel better, then it was worth it.
Sighing, Leo took a step back from Aeris, then another, and finally a third step, until he was a good foot or so away from her. Aeris, noticing Leo backing away from her, gave him a very confused look.
"Leo, what are you doing?"
Leo began to spread his arms out to his sides, raising them higher and higher until they were level with his shoulders, then shuffled his feet a bit so that there was a small space between each of his legs. When he was finished moving around, Leo resembled an extremely thin version of a Super Mario star.
Leo gave a weak smile to Aeris, who was staring at him with a completely dumbfounded expression. Seeing her like that made him chuckle slightly.
"You said you were down, yeah?" Leo's voice contained unwillingness, but sounded happy, in some weird way. He didn't want this to happen, but he couldn't think of anything else, and this just seemed like the best thing he could do right now.
Aeris' confused expression remained on her face as she stared back at Leo. "Leo, seriously, what the fuck are you doing?"
All he did was smile back at her then tapped the center of chest with his hand.
"Come on Aeris, you're smart. Figure it out for yourself." He paused a bit after the sentence to allow Aeris some time to do what he had asked, but when she didn't answer him as soon as he expected she would, Leo decided he might as well save both of them some time and tell her himself.
"Vent." Was all he said. "Just vent n let it out."
To Be Continued