Chapter 3

Leo looked nervously between the two cats, unsure what to do at this point. Aeris was glaring at Shades with all the hate that she could muster while breathing heavily, and Shades had a hand on the back of his neck, shaking it every once in a while and grunting for some reason. Leo chuckled nervously, "Uh… fight's over?"

Aeris turned her glare on Leo, which caused him to wince in fear. Shades stretched and groaned, still rubbing his neck, and cracked his neck at an attempt to get a crick out of his neck that seemed to have appeared after Aeris punched him in the chin, when he realized something. He let his hand that was rubbing his neck fall to his side and cleared his throat, "So… now what?"

Leo tilted his head, "What?"

Shades sat on the ground despite the snow that was no doubt melting through the seat his black pants, "I mean, sure the fight's over, but now what?"

Leo shrugged, some loose snow falling off of his shoulders, "We go our separate ways? You go home, we go home, everyone's happy?"

The black cat used both of his hands and forced his neck to crack, letting out a satisfied sigh after doing so, "You see, that would be the ideal thing to do, but for the record, I appear to have lost all of my memories. And sadly, that includes where I live, if I- in fact- have a place to live."

"You sure don't act like it," Aeris grumbled, walking over to the gray cat while holding a hand over her stomach.

Leo raised his eyebrows in disbelief, "Really?"

Shades shrugged, rubbing his hands together slowly, "Yeah. I only remember waking up in your apartment and some random flashbacks."

And as soon as he said that, a flash of light exploded behind his eyes as more memories began to invade his mind. He groaned and leaned forward while gripping his head, his face distorted with pain. Leo jumped in surprise, "Hey, are you okay?"

-?-

*Ding!*

The sound of the gong was heaven to the black cat as he fell on his butt, sweat pouring down his already drenched fur. He rubbed his brow with his right forearm to wipe the sweat away from his eyes which would have caused him endless grief, but it proved ineffective due to the fact that the fur on his arm was already glazed with a thin layer of sweat. A cat chewing on a toothpick opened the ropes up on the side of the ring and stepped inside, tossing a towel on Shades' lap, "Good shit boy. I'll expect you here at 8 A.M. tomorrow; not 8:01, not 7:59, 8 A.M. sharp, got that?"

Shades groaned as he grabbed the towel with clumsy hands due to the large gloves that enclosed them and wiped off as much sweat as he could possible to remove the feeling of grime that he felt covering his entire upper body, "That's pretty early in the mornin', don't you think?" he said as he slowly and shakily stood up, his legs barely able to support him due to the strenuous workout he had just accomplished.

The coach rose an eyebrow and threw a jab at the black cat's face, stopping a mere centimeter from his face, which caused Shades to stumble back in surprise, "When I was you age, we woke up at 5 in the morning and didn't stop 'til 8 at night, so stop complaining and be here at 8, got it?"

Shades grumbled under his breath but nodded all the same. He was just finishing taking off his left glove off- which consisted of trying to pull it off with his teeth, and even trying to pry it off with his own feet at one point- when he turned to the blue corner of the ring where a tan cat was wiping his sweat off. He was Shades' opponent for the sparring matches that day and was equally as tired, but tried his best not to show it. Shades pulled off his right glove with a tug and threw both gloves by their laces over his shoulder as he stood up and called to the fellow boxer, "Oy, Robert, I'm planning on going to Burger King-"

From the side of the ring, the coach screamed, "I better not be hearing you plan on going to a fast food joint after practice!"

Shades held his free hand up in defeat, "Sorry."

He had momentarily forgotten that the coach hated people eating fast food, especially his boxers. He also knew what foods boxers should eat to maintain the ideal body for a boxer to have, despite having a gut that was beginning to show. The coach himself was a dirt brown cat in his mid 60s and had many gray and silver hairs, but no one told him because even though he seemed old and could hardly put up a fight, everyone who studied under him knew that he could punch the living daylights out of you in no time.

The black cat cleared his throat and tried again, "I'm planning on going to a cafe nearby," he paused to check if the coach would object: he didn't, "-and was wondering if you'd join me, maybe bring the others along who aren't doing anything; it's been a while since we all met up."

Robert had worked his gloves off at this point and tied the laced of each glove with each other. The tan cat combed his hair back with one of his hands, his hair glistening due to the copious amounts of sweat that he accumulated from the intense practice. He turned around and laughed, "A week isn't a while, but sure, I'm down for a quick cuppa Joe."

The two cats stepped out of the ring and headed to the showers to wash their bodies, both of them looking forward to the feeling of the soothing hot water cleaning their fur from the sweat they had built up on their bodies. After taking a refreshing shower, the two fighters began to head for the exit before Shades was stopped by the coach, "You forgot these."

Shades grabbed his shades from the coach's hand, shook the coach's hand, and headed out to the door.

"Hey, are you alright?"

Shades looked up to see Leo's face hovering above him. Shades could see that Leo was more afraid than concerned because the gray cat's eyes had a nervous light in them and he constantly looked at Aeris, which Shades was sure were looks that asked her to help him if Shades decided to throttle him. Shades grabbed the side of his head and stood up shakily, "Yeah, I'm fine."

Aeris walked up to him, "You sure? You don't seem so hot tough guy," she said in a honeyed, mocking tone.

Shades eventually stopped his knees from trembling, shook his head one more time, and cleared his throat, "Yeah, I said I'm fine."

Aeris just rolled her eyes and Leo shrugged it off. Shades dusted off his hands and yawned, "Well, if we're done here," he began to walk to the apartment house, "then let's go back inside and sleep it-"

"Hold the fuck up!"

Aeris grabbed his shoulder and whirled him around, "And where do you think YOU'RE going?"

Shades raised an eyebrow, "Inside."

"And what gives you the right to do so?" Aeris asked in a dangerously low tone.

"We fought, right?" Shades asked.

"Yeah," replied Aeris, not sure where the black cat was going with their conversation.

"And I didn't lose to you, right?"

"Not exactly, but why do you care? It's not like we made a bet or something, so as far as I'm concerned, you have no authority to force yourself into our apartment."

Shades rubbed his chin, nodding slightly as he did so, "All of what you are saying is true, but don't you have it in your heart to let me stay at your apartment for at least the night, or at least until I find enough money to get an apartment to myself?"

Aeris responded within a heartbeat, "Nope. I don't care if you rot in hell and the devil stuffs his pitchfork up your ass. We pretty much saved your life from the streets, and how do you thank us? By attacking one of us with a knife. You don't deserve any sympathy from me."

Shades lifted his hands up in self-defense, "Hold up; first of all, I didn't know you saved me at the time, so I only reacted as I normally would (I think), and second: I could pay part of the rent!"

Aeris scuffed, "Sorry, but Leo and I are set on the apartment: his parents are rich as hell and help us out when we need some money to pay the rent-"

"Uh, I've been meaning to tell you Aeris, but they aren't doing that anymore."

Aeris turned her head around to the source of the voice and saw that Leo was wearing a weak smile on his face, ears drooping and sweating slightly. Aeris turned her full body around and frowned, "What?" Leo gave a nervous chuckle and said, "Well, when I visited my parents the other day..."

-In the Past-

The gray cat walked into his parents' house, although the house itself was pretty large compared to other houses. The Leonardo house had four floors (a basement and three above-ground levels) with various rooms that have various uses to them.

Leo Leonardo III walked into the living room and plopped on a couch, leaving the T.V. off. His father had called him to come over for an important meaning, and when his father calls him by his full name, he knows that it was no joke. The gray cat only had to wait for a few minutes, roughly five, when his parents came in the door.

His father, Leo Leonardo II, was a spitting image of his son, except for a few white hairs in his hair and his brown suit that came complete with a monocle, white gloves, and top hat. His mother, Clementine, had peach colored fur with hair that curled at the sides of her face. She wore a black shirt and gray sleeves. Leo III took his stare off of the T.V. and sat up straight. His parents sat across from him, each sitting in a comfortable chair, a coffee table separating the seats. Leo II created a tent with his gloved fingers and looked at his son, "Son, do you know why I called you here today?"

Leo III shook his head, his blue bell slightly jangling, "Nope. Does it have to do with Aeris? Because for the last time: we are NOT dating!"

His father guffawed and shook his head, "No no no, it's not about that." Then he rubbed his chin, "But I am still waiting for the day you ask her out..." He said under his breath.

Leo groaned and face-palmed still peeved that his parents, after 10-plus years, still expect him and Aeris to hook up. Sure, he understood that best friends who hung out with each other every day and were of the opposite sex were bound to have some feelings, but this was Aeris: the mean, pink, hitting machine. Her temper was as thin as string and could snap just as easily. He couldn't imagine trying to be in a relationship with her; he would never know what to do.

Leo II chuckled, reached across, and patted his son on his shoulder, "I'm just yanking on your chain my boy! Take all the time you need!"

"But not too long darling," his mother said, "I will be expecting me to be a grandmother before I die!"

Leo III cringed at the thought of taking care of a child, one who would run around, puke on everything, and destroy everything, especially his game systems… He shook his head, "I will NEVER have a kid! They're too annoying!"

Leo II laughed once again and took off his top hat, running his fingers through his gray and white hair to fix it. He placed the hat on the table in between the couch and the chairs and cleaned his monocle with the hem of his shirt. After placing the monocle back in front of his eye, he suddenly became very serious; the change was drastic enough to be able to notice it by the atmosphere.

"Leo my son, do you know why we have called you here?"

Leo III shook his head, "No. You just called me up and told me to come over when it was convenient."

Leo II nodded his head and leaned back in his leather chair, creating a tent out of his fingers once again and crossed his right leg over his left one, a habit he had picked up from his father, Leo I. He spoke with no humor, which was surprising, considering his usually jolly mood, "Leo, I have called you over for a very special reason, a reason that will change your life style."

Leo III remained passive on the outside, but on the inside he was wondering what this announcement could possibly be. His father leaned forward and said, "Son, starting today, we will not supply you with money."

Leo III felt his jaw drop open in shock. After a few moments to actually comprehend the words, he began to sputter incoherent noises that his father immediately put a stop to the stream of noise with a single, raised hand, "Now son, you know that I never waste anyone's time."

And it was true. The Leonardo family was always raised to be fine gentlemen and ladies. They took the top classes, usually coming out with the best grades, and invested their time wisely, scarcely making unnecessary decisions. But what happened with Leo Leonardo III? The answer was his mother.

She saw this way of raising kittens rather frightening, claiming that it would rob her kitten of his childhood. Her husband tried to explain to her that that way of raising children might be dull at first, but it will pay off in the end when their kitten will be a successful cat, but she would have none of it. She strongly believed in what she had said and had planted her foot on the ground, so Leo II had no choice to give in to her demands, for he loved her so much that he was willing to break his family tradition, and allow Leo III to grow up practically unrestricted in his eyes.

But as the years passes and his young kitten grew up, Leo II's fear have come true: his son was becoming a buffoon. Of all the things Leo III could have been, a doctor, a lawyer, or even a dentist, he became a buffoon. (No offence to dentists, just stating jobs). Leo II had feared that it would come to this since the day his wife won their argument on how to raise their little kit. Although he never told his wife, Leo III was afraid of what Leo III might –and had- grown up to be. And with this fear now in real life, Leo II decided to put some measures into his own hands.

Leo III leaned back in the couch and looked down at the ground, "I know, Dad."

Clementine gave a small smile and reached over to pat her son on the shoulder, "Leo, honey, I know that this is a big change, but I want you to understand that this is a good thing. I don't like throwing you out into the big world in such short notice, but sometimes this is best."

Leo II sighed and ran his hands through his hair, "But Mom-"

"No 'buts' young man, I have babied you too long. I think it's time for you to face the real world with a stiff upper lip and with your sleeves rolled up!" his mother said with much enthusiasm.

Leo II gave her a weak smile, "Yeah, sleeves rolled up…"

Clementine smiled and kissed her son on his forehead, "Good. Now, make us proud!"

-In the Present-

"So that's it?" Aeris asked with her arms crossed, "your parents told you to "man up" and you didn't even ask for this month's rent money?"

Leo looked down at the ground, drawing circles with his foot in the fallen- and still falling- snow, "Yeah…"

"YOU IDIOT!" Aeris practically screaming into Leo's ear, grabbing the front of Leo's shirt and shaking him back and forth which caused the gray cat's head to bounce back and forth at what must have been at neck-breaking speeds, "You could have asked for this month's rent so that we can spend time saving money and find you a job or something, but instead you just agreed like a total RETARD!"

Leo's ears were glued to his skull as he looked anywhere but the blue eyes of his roommate, which he found challenging for the sole fact that he could feel Aeris' hot gaze on his face that eliminated any traces of cold that he felt. Aeris finally let go- Leo landing on the snow on his rear and soaking the seat of his pants- and tugged her ears in a rather comedic way, "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-"

Before the furious pink cat could finish one of her most explosive "F-Bombs," a voice spoke out, "My offer's still on the table if you want it."

Aeris and Leo both gave their attention to Shades, who was viewing the scene with amusement clearly written on his face in the form of a smile, "It seems that you DO need money, and I need a place to stay; so why don't you agree to the deal?"

Aeris narrowed her eyes, "I don't like the sound of you staying in out apartment…"

Shades gave a smirk, "Don't worry, I won't steal your stuff and leave; I really do need a place to stay."

Leo was about to speak out, absolutely terrified of the idea of this stranger who had fought on equal ground with Aeris actually having a chance of living with the two of them, when Aeris spoke first, "So… If we let you stay with us, you'll help pay the rent?"

Shades nodded, "That's what I said."

Aeris thought about this for a moment; they really needed the money, but was it worth letting this guy into their apartment, a guy who they have no relations with and who could easily slit their throats in their sleep? Aeris sighed in defeat; she knew that only the two of them had no chance of paying their rent this month. Even though it was the beginning of the month- the very first week- they had spent their cash on video games and other recreational objects. Aeris was beginning to wonder why they hadn't expected this to happen eventually, when Shades cleared his throat, "I'm starting to get bored with just standing out here, so I'd love to know your answer now."

"… youcnsty."

Shades put a hand around his ear, "What? Speak up, I can't hear you."

"…you cn stay…"

"Huh?" asked Leo, genuinely unable to hear her.

"YOU CAN FUCKING STAY YOU BLACK BITCH!"

Shades smiled, "Thanks!"

Leo just had his mouth hanging open in shock and fear; he almost crapped himself everyday with just Aeris living with him, now he had to live with the cat in black? Leo had only one thing in him mind, 'Fuck my life.'

Finally, chapter 3!

Been a few months since my last chapter and I am sorry. But family matters must come first. It's not anything tragic, or even bad, just a lot of stuff going on.