VG Cats © Scott Ramsoomair

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In Time of Need

Chapter 5


Leo opened his eyes. Everything was still, no light except for the faint glow of his alarm clock, which read 4:29 AM. He sat up in the bed and looked over at Aeris, sleeping soundly with her face buried in her pillow. He rubbed his eyes, wishing he were more tired. He lied back down and closed his eyes, hoping for sleep to overcome his tired form, but no sleep found its way to him. Frustrated, he reached over to his bedside table and grabbed his iPod, hoping that playing some Owl City would help him sleep.

He pressed play, lay back on his pillow and closed his eyes. It always confused him why so many people disliked Owl City, because the music wasn't bad at all, the melodies were simple, and the songs were just plain enjoyable. Aeris teased him relentlessly for liking them. He always just shrugged it off, with the obligatory "different strokes for different folks" speech. Soon, it became clear that not even the relaxing, catchy rhythm of Vanilla Twilight would help him get back to sleep, he turned his iPod off and put it back on his table. The quiet gurgle of his stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten anything since yesterday morning. Somewhat awkwardly, he got out of bed, put on some shorts and a T-shirt, and stumbled out of the bedroom toward the kitchen.

A few minutes later, Aeris opened her eyes. Leo wasn't next to her in the bed, and his door was left open from where it had been closed the night before. She sat up and looked at the clock, which now read 4:42 AM. She heard a faint noise and saw a glow from the television in the living room, which indicated to her that he was awake. She crawled out of bed and made her way to the living room, where she saw Leo in the kitchen, digging in the fridge.

"Couldn't sleep?" she asked. A faint "fff" could be heard as Leo whipped around, startled by the other voice that had mysteriously appeared. Seeing that it was only Aeris, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Jesus, Aeris, don't do that," Leo said, one paw on his chest trying to calm himself down. Aeris chuckled as she walked toward the kitchen.

"Hehe, sorry." She reached past Leo and grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge. Leo had taken the plate of food from last night out of the fridge and put it in the microwave.

"Hungry?" he asked. "We got some leftovers." Aeris took a drink from her water bottle and shook her head.

"No thanks, I'm just going to wait until breakfast." Leo shrugged and took a water bottle out of the fridge for himself. "You must be feeling better," she suggested.

"Eh, a little," Leo responded. "The painkiller kinda wore off, and I wasn't tired any more." The microwave beeped, and Leo took the plate out and stirred it to make sure it was heated thoroughly. "Hey, did you say something to me last night? I don't remember anything after I fell asleep on the couch." Aeris thought for a second and shook her head.

"No, not that I remember." Leo's ears folded back.

"Did... I say anything?" he asked sheepishly. Aeris chuckled quietly, knowing she could bust him for saying he loved her. But she decided to spare him the embarrassment, and shook her head, to which Leo responded with a short sigh of relief. He brought his food into the living room and sat on the couch. Aeris followed close behind, and they sat on the couch watching Home Improvement together.

"So," Leo said as he took a bite of food, "did you find out when your house will be fixed?" Aeris nodded.

"Yeah, I think they said in the next couple of days it will be safe to live in again," she replied. "Maybe even later today."

"That's great," he said. "Does your insurance cover it?" Aeris nodded, and Leo returned with a nod of approval. They stayed silent, aside from the few odd chuckles that were induced by Tim Allen's antics. Aeris perked her ear up at a rhythmic, dull thud sound coming from the hall. A few seconds later, Aeris's dad walked in the room.

"Hmm... What are you guys doing awake?" he asked, rubbing his eyes. Leo swallowed a bite of food.

"My pain medicine wore off, and I couldn't sleep," he responded, readying another bite. Aeris's dad took in a deep yawn.

"Ah.. So you weren't awake when the phone rang, were you?" he said back. Aeris's ears perked up. Her dad never mentioned a phone call unless it was something really important. Leo shook his head as he took another bite of food.

"What's up, dad?" Aeris asked with a quizzical expression on her face. Her dad cracked a small grin.

"The insurance company called," he said with a tired voice. "The house is fixed, and we can move in any time we want." Aeris's eyes lit up.

"Really?!" she asked excitedly, almost loud enough to wake everyone up, as she ran up to her dad and hugged him tightly. "That's awesome!" Her dad winced at the noise and responded with a quiet "shhh", making her ears fold back. "Heh, sorry." He gave a quiet chuckle and scratched her ears.

"It's all right," he said. "Now get some sleep. We're moving back bright and early." He went into the kitchen to get a drink of water and walked back to bed. Aeris sat back down with Leo on the couch.

"Well, there's your answer to your previous question, then." she said. Leo nodded as he prepared another bite of food.

"You want some help moving back in?" asked Leo, with his mouth full. Aeris shook her head.

"Nah, we pretty much got it covered," she said, taking a sip from her water bottle. "Unless you particularly just wanna hang around." Leo nodded.

"Did they ever say how bad the damage was?"

"It wasn't as bad as we thought," Aeris replied. "Most of it was on the main support, though. That's why they condemned it."

"Was any of the furniture damaged?" Leo asked, after swallowing another bite of food.

"I don't think so, since the fire was only in the hallway. The walls are gonna have to be repainted before we do much else, though." Leo took the last bite of food and set his plate on the couch next to him.

"I'll help you guys out," he suggested. "It would be no trouble at all." Aeris nodded.

"That'd be good," she added. "Always nice to have an extra pair of hands." Leo nodded, then went to put his dishes in the dishwasher. He sat back on the couch next to Aeris, and they watched TV for a few more minutes. Aeris, noticing that Leo had been unusually quiet, looked over to find out that he had fallen asleep again. She shook his shoulder.

"Leo, come on. Let's go back to bed," she said. Leo opened his eyes.

"Mm... I'm not tired," he insisted. Aeris rolled her eyes, chuckling slightly.

"If you're not tired, you can finish up that homework you're behind on." Leo sat up and yawned, stretching.

"Hmm, now that you mention it I'm actually exhausted. C'mon," he said as he gestured for Aeris to follow him. Aeris rolled her eyes and followed Leo back into the bedroom. Aeris shut the door and turned out the light, and began crawling into bed as Leo began undressing again. He crept under the covers and snuggled up next to Aeris, wrapping an arm around her stomach.

"Hold on a second," Aeris said as she moved Leo's arm off its position atop her left side. She sat up in bed and removed the shirt she had on, leaving only her black sports bra covering her midsection, and tossed the article of clothing aside. Leo began to blush as Aeris reclaimed her position next to Leo. "It's hot in here." Leo thought about coming back with a sorry, I'll leave joke, but was too embarrassed to do so.

"Aeris, what if my mom walks in when we're asleep?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"I'll stay under the covers," she replied. "I don't take them off when I'm asleep."

"Well, what if they do somehow come off? Mom and dad will never let me live that down." Aeris rolled over to face him.

"Leo, there is a girl in your bed, snuggling with you, not wearing a shirt. I suggest you relax and enjoy it," she said before rolling back over and snuggling with her pillow. A very concerned look suddenly graced Leo's face.

"Aeris, you're not... you know... are you?" asked Leo in a quiet tone. Aeris just giggled and turned over a bit to face Leo.

"No," she assured. "You're safe." Leo breathed a quiet sigh of relief and lay back down, followed by Aeris. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, making her blush heavily, made sure his alarm was set and laid back down. They said their good-nights and snuggled under the covers.

"I love you," Leo mumbled. Aeris turned over a bit.

"What?"

"Nothing," Leo replied, holding Aeris tighter. She grinned slyly, having heard what he said.

"I love you too," she responded back, almost teasingly. He felt himself blush heavily, holding Aeris closer as they slowly drifted off to sleep.


Leo gave his alarm clock a swift smack as it emitted a harsh buzzing noise that had awakened him from his most restful sleep all week. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, groaning quietly. He looked at his alarm clock; it was only 6:30. Weird, Leo thought. I remember setting it for 8... but that means... His ears drooped at the thought. "Shit," he said quietly. Aeris rolled over, stretching her arms and sighing.

"Mm... what time is it?" she asked groggily. Leo looked over at Aeris, then back at the clock.

"6:30," he responded. "But I set my alarm for 8.. didn't I?" Aeris nodded tiredly. "Well, that means someone else must have set it for earlier..." Aeris, who was still half-asleep, continued looking at Leo with the same expression.

"Mhmm," she said. "What are you talking about?"

"Someone came into my room," he said. Aeris's eyes widened a bit more. "Do you think they saw us?"

"Of course they did," Aeris said back. "This...isn't good."

"I guess it isn't bad, either," Leo pitched in. "I mean, at least you kept the covers on... if you'd taken them off, it would have been a lot worse."

"True," Aeris added. "Well, do you want to get up now, or sleep in a bit?" Leo thought for a second.

"We really shouldn't... Don't we have school today?" Leo said. "I already have enough absences on my record."

"How about until 7?" Aeris said, yawning. Leo nodded in agreement, reset his alarm and lay back down. It seemed like they were only asleep a few minutes before the alarm buzzed again. Leo practically punched his alarm clock as he sat up in bed, rubbing his forehead. He looked over at Aeris, who was still sound asleep, and gave her shoulder a gentle shove.

"Wake up," he said quietly. This effort was responded to with a quiet "nyeh" and Aeris snuggling her pillow closer. He shook her again. "We're gonna be late for school, get up." She sighed and rolled over, looked at the clock, and sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes.

"Ugh... Remind me again why we're going to school today?" she said, groggily. Leo clicked the switch on his alarm to 'off'.

"Because, if I get one more absence on my record, I'm gonna get suspended," he responded. "I don't wanna go either, but it's not like we have a choice." Aeris tiredly nodded, rubbing her eyes again. She reached over and grabbed her shirt while Leo got out of bed and turned his light on. It then occurred to him that they had only thirty minutes to get ready and eat breakfast before the bus came. This put him in panic-mode as he raced to get his clothes on.

"What's your hurry, Leo?" asked Aeris while Leo hopped around the room on one foot, trying to tie his shoe.

"We only have 30 minutes before the bus gets here," he replied in a rush, having finally tied his shoe. "We have to be quick." Aeris didn't quite understand why this was such a big deal. Then again, she was a rather quick eater – it took her all of 10 minutes to make and eat breakfast. She decided to take a quick shower before she ate breakfast, and walked into the bathroom. Leo put some pajama pants and a T-shirt on, and headed into the living room. When he walked in, his mom was already awake and cooking breakfast again.

"Morning, Mom," he said, groggily. "How come you're making breakfast again?" She turned around and shrugged.

"I dunno," she said, stirring some eggs in a skillet. "I was awake and bored, and I figured, why not?"

"I guess you have a point there," he said as he sat down on the couch. "How much longer till it's ready?"

"Not much longer," she said, taking some eggs off the skillet. "About 15 minutes."

"All right," he said as he walked into the kitchen and poured a glass of milk. "Aeris is in the shower, she'll be here in a bit." His mom nodded as she put some more bacon on the stove.

"So how'd you sleep?" she asked, trying to break the silence. Leo shrugged.

"Not too well," he said before taking a sip of milk. "I took a painkiller before bed, and it wore off around 4:30. Couldn't really sleep after that."

"You sure looked like you were sleeping well," his mom said with a sly grin. Leo nearly spit out his milk.

"Heheh... I was wondering how my alarm got set back," he said, nervously.

"Mm," she said, flipping bacon. "Pardon my asking, but is there...something going on between you two?" Leo choked on his milk a bit, spitting some on the counter.

"No! Of cou-*cough* course not," he choked out between coughs as he searched for a paper towel.

"Leo, you can tell me," she said. "I don't have a problem with it."

"I figured you wouldn't," Leo said, wiping up the milk from the counter.

"Well, then, why is it such an issue?" she said, taking some bacon off the skillet.

"I-I dunno... I guess I wanted to keep it secret for a little," he explained. "You know, until things got a little...more serious." His mom's ears perked up at the mention of 'more serious', and she turned to face him.

"Leo," she began, "do you actually plan on getting more serious? I mean.. you're already sleeping in the same bed, hanging out everywhere... How much more serious can you get?"

"That's not what I meant," Leo replied. "It's just that-.." His thought was interrupted by Aeris walking in.

"You ready, Leo?" she asked in a slightly enthusiastic tone. Leo flinched a bit.

"Uh, yeah..." He checked his watch. "I think I'm going to take a shower first. I got time." He turned around to face his mom. "Can we talk about this later?" She nodded.

"I'm gonna hold you to it," she said, putting more bacon on the skillet. Leo nodded and walked down the hall, into his bedroom, and into his bathroom.