A Second Chance
Chapter 1: Reunion
Toronto, home to thousands of cats, dogs, and other species of animals, was as busy today as it was any other day, with the weather being just as beautiful. The sun was shinning, the birds were singing, there were a couple of children out and about with their parents, and in general, it was a fairly good day to be alive.
For most people, that is.
"Ugh, grocery shopping.", Thought Aeris Cole as she trudged her cart slowly throughout the local grocery store. It was nice to finally be back home after all this time, but getting resettled in the enormous city of Toronto was something she had been putting off for a good amount of time now. Finally finding a decent sized apartment a week ago after spending the better part of the last month on her parents' couch, Aeris had been spending the majority of the past few days making her new home livable, buying furniture, clothes, appliance and toiletries, and the only thing left to do on the list was stock the fridge, a task that was easier said than done. Unfortunately for Aeris, she had made the decision to go out for groceries AFTER the usual shopping day of Sunday, thinking that if she did so, she would be able to avoid the annoyances of long lines and incompetent high-school-aged employees. While she did manage to bypass these unpleasant factors by choosing to shop on Monday, she inadvertently avoided the one thing she had set out to acquire today; quality products, AKA, food. The only things left on the shelves in the wake of the Sunday-afternoon-masses were the less-than-appealing company-exclusive products that, despite their relatively cheap price, always managed to turn Aeris away from them because of their equally cheap taste, but since it was either the crappy food or eating out another few days (something which she could not afford), the pink cat decided she could stomach a few cans of "bleh" flavored whatever until the store could restock it's more desirable items.
Turning out of the freezer aisle with a good amount of Hungry Men in her cart, Aeris checked what was next up on the list. Milk, eggs and bread were the only things that hadn't been crossed off, so Aeris set off to fetch a jug of milk first.
As Aeris made her way through the store, she was struck with a parade of thoughts leisurely making their way through her mind. Most were fairly unimportant, like her noticing how much more everything seemed to cost in Toronto compared to Vancouver, or her wondering if it would be better if she bought a four liter jug of milk and postpone the next time she would have to return to the store in favor of the slightly cheaper two liter jug. Fairly trivial, everyday life things that come across the mind of every young adult now and then.
There was, however, one thought that struck her that made her previous ones seem rather childlike and immaculate in comparison to this one grand thought. It was the realization that so much had changed in the eight years she had been gone. The changes in question were nothing incredibly major, just little things like new buildings, different colored taxis, better roads (and thank God for that!), little things that even though she knew she shouldn't get worked up about, made Aeris realize just how much she had missed the over-sized city that was her home.
As she rounded the corner that would lead into the dairy aisle, she spotted the jugs of milk that came in incremental sizes. Deciding to just get the one closest to her and be done with it, she walked over to the refrigerated shelf and took the jug off of it. As she was doing this, out of the corner of her eye, she could've sworn that she saw a long gray tail moving between the aisles. Somehow peaking her curiosity, she looked over in the direction she had seen the tail, but all she saw was empty space.
Shaking her head, Aeris put the jug into the cart and continued walked a little ways down the aisle to reach the eggs. As she made her way there, she wondered why her interest had piqued when she thought she saw that tail.
That gray tail…
Her thoughts focused on her friend from all those years ago. Leo Leonardo the Third. Even after eight years, she never forgot the name, much less the cat himself. He was her best friend for as long as she could remember, one of her only friends at that. Of course that had changed in Vancouver. She had made some close friends there. It wasn't easy of course, but it was nothing in comparison to leaving Leo. Even though it had gotten easier to deal with over time, it was undoubtedly the hardest thing she had ever had to do. All this thinking of Leo briefly made Aeris wonder whether or not he was still somewhere in Toronto.
"Heh, probably living in his parent's basement, trolling the WoW forums.", she thought to herself with a chuckle. In all honesty, that really was what she was expecting out of him. After all, low grades, no drive, and procrastination could do that for a person. And lets face it; this was Leo we're talking about. He was never very bright to begin with.
Having picked up the eggs, she left the aisle and went to get the bread, which was only two aisles down. Looking straight ahead, Aeris once again saw the gray tail. Chalking it up to a random event, she walked into the bread section, hoping that someone hadn't made off with all the good kinds of rye just yet. Heading down the aisle, she inadvertently thought of Leo once more. Ever since she came back, the gray cat that she had once called her best friend held a spot in the back of her mind. She sometimes wondered if she would ever see him again while she was in Vancouver. Unfortunately, during her first winter break, her mother informed her that the Leonardo's had moved house. Several times, actually. She didn't even know if they were still in Toronto. Because of this, after a while, Aeris began to believe the possibility of ever seeing Leo again about as good as never. Like everything else it wore her down a bit, put after a while she decided to quit being depressed over something she couldn't change and got back to living her own life.
She broke out of this thought process when she saw that the store did in fact still have her preferred brand of bread. Smiling at her luck, she grabbed the bread, put it in the cart and started to make her way to checkout, finally finished with the hell that was the neighborhood Sobeys.
As she turned out of the aisle, another cart ran into hers, jarring the handles from her grasp and knocking the entire thing over along with her groceries.
Now on the fine line between irritation and anger, Aeris nearly shouted at the person who ran into her, "Hey! Watch where you're going dumbass!"
She then righted the cart and, with a scowl, began putting her items back into it. She never looked up at who it was that rammed her.
"Sorry about that. Here, let me give you a hand.", the person that ran into Aeris apologized, and oddly enough, the voice that she heard sounded… familiar somehow, like she had heard it before…
Despite her now being in a rather bad mood, Aeris' mind was awash with her best memories of Leo, like that Christmas when they were sixteen and he'd gotten her the wrong game, and the time he had gotten "drunk" off Pepsi back in Junior year. They played back and forth in her head as she and the stranger gathered up her groceries off the floor and placed them back in the cart. She kept her head down as she brushed the dirt off her bananas; a pissed-off frown upon her face, while the stranger who knocked over her cart stood up and cleared his throat.
"Sorry again. I wasn't looking where I was going.", Aeris glanced over at him with an icy look in her eyes and her eyebrow raised, making the stranger chuckle with her expression. Aeris groaned at the sound, shaking her head at yet another example of the idiots of society and their irritating actions.
"It's fine.", she replied with a huff, still keeping her vision focused on the bananas; searching for any possible bruises on their skin. The stranger nodded his head, turned his cart off to the side, and began heading away from Aeris down the aisle. She finally looked up from the fruits, finding no bruises upon them, and caught sight of the man, whom she realized was a cat by his triangle ears and long, thin tail, turning out of the aisle and off towards somewhere else. As he was walking away, Aeris swore with every bit of certainty she had that she could hear a faint jingling that played along with every step that was taken by the unfamiliar cat. Not only that, but she caught sight of two things, two minimal, incredibly tiny things that, like the gray tail she had seen earlier disappearing between the aisles, that brought her memories of Leo screaming back to the top of her mind.
One of them was the smoky gray fur that covered the entire body of the cat, and the other was the small tuft of hair that stood up upon his head.
She didn't know why these two things intrigued her so much, but for reasons she didn't fully understand, they reminded her, again like the tail, of Leo and her memories of him. It was strange, since gray was a fairly common fur color among cats and the hair style was widely popular as well, but they pulled at her memories of her past friend with an intensity she had never felt before.
Maybe…maybe it was him… She thought with a flame of hope that was quickly flicked out by, what else, cold and unfeeling logic. Yeah, it was him. And Mass Effect 3 had a satisfying ending. Listen to yourself Aeris. You were supposed to have gotten over this a long time ago. What are the chances? What're the odds that you would bump into him, HIM, in a place that sees hundreds of people a day? I mean come on.
She sighed as she bent down to pick up her eggs. She really thought she had moved on from wishing about seeing Leo again… I guess you could say that some things never change.
Seeing that the eggs had cracked from being thrown to the ground, Aeris tossed the carton into the trash with a growl and hurried back over to the dairy before other customers could buy the rest of them. If she had to come back here tomorrow she would hit the roof, a roof that she was very close to hitting at this point.
As she made her way back to the dairy cooler, memories of her childhood with Leo played out in vivid detail in the eye of Aeris' mind. They were so clear, so precise it was as if they had just happened. It was strange to say the least, especially considering that she was starting to have trouble in the last few months in remembering even the best of her memories of Leo, but now everything seemed to be coming back to her as if none of them had left in the first place. There was the time when Aeris had broken her arm when she and Leo had first tried to climb a tree back when they were ten, helping her out for weeks afterwords, or the first time Leo had gotten drunk (legit this time) and made an ass of himself at fifteen at a friends house (he didn't remember it, but she sure as hell did!), and of course there were the more…personal memories as well…
Memories like the time Leo held her in his arms close to him while they watched Jeepers Creepers.
Aeris recalled the memory with a pleasantly warm blush. She hadn't been scared of the movie, truly, since it was rather cheesy when compared to even the oldest horror movies, but Leo was another story. He was downright freaked out by the Creeper. Whenever the nasty bastard appeared on screen, Leo got IMENSLY uncomfortable, and within the first hour of the film he had Aeris pressed up fully against him. She didn't mind, since she herself was a little creped out by that ugly motherfucker, so Aeris let Leo squeeze her against his body all throughout the movie. That was probably one of her most treasured memories of Leo, especially considering that it led to-
Aeris abruptly realized that her daydreaming had managed to tare her focus away from the present, having run her cart into the side of the dairy cooler, rather loudly I might add. Blushing heavily with embarrassment, Aeris quickly swung the shopping cart off the cooler and hurried to grab the new package of eggs before anyone could notice her little blunder.
Skimming across the shelves of the cooler, Aeris spotted the last (and cheapest) carton of eggs on the shelf, appearing to her to be resting in a light protruding from the sky above with a choir of angels accompanying it.
Yes! Aeris thought joyfully as she sped to grab the eggs. She was moving so fast that in her rush to get the eggs for herself, she had failed to see the corner of another cart poking out of the corner of another aisle.
Needless to say, she ran into that other cart pretty hard.
Now, Aeris could sometimes be considered a little ignorant of certain things when something that is relevant to her interests was right in front of her or was in immediate danger. So naturally, when she crashed into the cart, she was blissfully unaware of this fact until she had nestled the eggs safely into her cart and heard someone say, "Excuse me, but I think you should help me with this."
Aeris then finally noticed the mess she had inadvertently caused. It was even worse than when her cart spilled, mostly due to this person's cart having been filled to the brim with such items as cans of soda, bottles of syrup, and other liquids that could make things sticky. It was also then she noticed something else: it was the same guy from earlier. She couldn't really see his face, but she could tell because he was wearing the same clothes. Blushing even more now, Aeris said, "I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going.
The cat laughed a little, "Its okay. Same thing happened with me earlier."
"Yeah, with me." Aeris told him.
"No kidding?", he asked, "Well, I guess that we should just call this revenge and be done with it."
May 16th, 11:57pm
Aeris's blush decreased a little, but it was still plainly visible. She felt lucky that the cat had decided not to look at the person who had knocked his groceries from his cart, as she really didn't like the idea of having to face the person that she yelled at for the exact same thing she did to him not even five minutes later. Although, she did say, "Here, I'll help you out."
After the stranger had thanked her, Aeris bent down and righted his cart so that he could put his stuff in it. She then helped to pick up all the things that she had helped the stranger to drop, trying her best to avoid all the sticky things (YOU try getting maple syrup out you your fur). After they had both picked up everything from the ground, the stranger said, "Thanks again, I owe you one."
Aeris rolled her eyes. She never much liked that expression when a complete stranger used it, especially when she knew that they would never see each other ever again. However, she kept this opinion to herself and said, "Hey, I'm sorry again. I've been distracted about something."
As the cats returned to their respective carts, he made an audible shrug and said, "It's alright. I've had a lot of stuff on my mind too."
And with that, he left Aeris alone in the dairy aisle, what sounded like tiny bell ringing with every step he took. After sighing, she pulled her list out to double check if she had missed anything. Satisfied that she didn't, she made a her slow trek up the aisles to the checkout, her mind idly going to the one subject that had remained constant while she was here: that strange cat. She had noticed something else about him that had made her suspicious of his identity; his wardrobe. His clothing consisted of nothing but blue. Blue sweater, blue pants, blue scarf. The only thing that didn't fit it was a pair of red tennis shoes with a white stripe. Then before she could even begin to get her hopes up once more, logic reared it's ugly head again, "Okay, now I'm just grasping at straws. I mean, come on, now I'm thinking that some guy I don't know is Leo because they have similar clothing? I'm not even going to start thinking about what's wrong with that."
She smirked in an amused way and shook her head, finding it a little silly that she would even consider that a stranger was Leo only because they happened to have the same exact taste in clothing. She then reached the checkout line only to discover the slightly disquieting realization that only one checkout line wasn't overcrowded, and it also happened to hold a certain stranger no less.
You've got to be kidding me. Aeris mentally face-palmed when she saw the blue-garbed gray cat waiting in line at the till. She was a little hesitant to get in line behind him, since their past encounters had been less than pleasant, but the shortness of the line itself in comparison to all the others was what made her push her cart up to the line and find a place close behind the unfamiliar cat. She made sure to keep her distance, not because she was shy, but because she wanted to avoid being seen by the cat in front of her and having an awkward conversation arise. Keeping her cart a good foot or so back from the cat in front of her, Aeris went on yet another trip down memory lane, recalling not just her best, but close to every single memory she had of Leo and herself. It was so weird, remembering all these things. Leo had left her life so long ago, and yet it was as if he was right there with her. She remembered everything about him; the twinkle of mischief that was always in his emerald eyes, the positive attitude he always had for life even when it cracked down on him, his seemingly never-ending ways of finding a way out of trouble, and most of all, his voice. Aeris couldn't think of what it could be, but his voice was always so…happy. Not just his voice, but the words they carried as well. It didn't matter the situation, when Leo was around and wanted to make you feel better, he always managed to do it. His words carried a positive air that Aeris had never heard anywhere else. That was probably the greatest trait Leo had. That happy voice.
Having realized that the line had moved up some, Aeris moved up closer to the till before someone could cut in front of her, still maintaining a distance between herself and the stranger, who was now placing his own groceries on the conveyor belt. Despite logic telling her over and over again that it was just wishful thinking, Aeris couldn't help but hold a small amount of belief that this was Leo Leonardo in front of her. She knew it was silly, childish even, but she felt certain that the gray cat standing just a foot away from her was her friend from so long ago.
It's just some random guy, Aeris thought, logical thinking nearly taking over once more before something else, hope, took rein of her thoughts. A random guy that wears all blue, has the same color of fur, same hair, and a jingle that goes off whenever he takes a step.
Aeris knew that the odds where undoubtedly against her. She knew that whoever this was would probably wind up being just another guy with a thing for blue, and that she probably would wind up looking like an idiot if she asked, but she couldn't deny her gut.
This was Leo, Aeris was certain of that.
So certain that she was even willing to risk terrible embarrassment to herself to prove it.
Taking in a breath, Aeris took a step towards the gray cat, reaching a paw out to his shoulder. I can do this she thought as she reduced the distance between them, getting closer and closer before she gently rested her paw upon his shoulder.
"Excuse me, but-" She began, but stopped when she saw she had startled the stranger, dropping his bread on the ground as he jumped from the sudden contact. Aeris recoiled, realizing her mistake, and her face became an intense red. She face-palmed hard, cursing herself for being so awkwardly direct and forward.
"You scared the hell out of me!" Aeris' ears flattened against her head when she heard him say that. She hadn't meant to startle him, just get his attention. Aeris could feel her cheeks becoming hotter by the second, and tried to think of something to say to explain her actions. She could just be straightforward, but she quickly dropped that idea. Telling this random stranger that she thought he was her best friend after eight years apart probably would help her any. She continued to search for something to say when she spotted the bread lying on the floor. Recognizing her opportunity to at least partially explain herself, Aeris bent forward to pick up the bread.
"Here, let me get that for you."
Unfortunately, the stranger hadn't heard Aeris, as he was still calming himself from her previous actions, and he had noticed his bread on the ground and was bending over to pick it up as well. Slowly each got closer and closer to each other, getting closer and closer to each other until they made contact via roughly (very roughly) bonking their heads together.
"Ow!" They cried out in unison, with Aeris falling to the floor from the impact while the stranger simply whiplashed backwards. Aeris clenched her eyes shut from the throbbing that had appeared in her head, and rubbed the spot where it was the worst. "Son of a bitch." she growled in a low tone. Nothing seemed to be going her way when she was around this guy.
The guy in question rubbing his head just as Aeris was, and was wondering who or what it was he had just knocked heads with. Cracking his eyes open after the short burst of pain, the cat spotted Aeris on the ground, remembering her as the woman he had run into earlier. Deducing that it was her he'd collided with, he remembered his gentlemanly manners, the stood up straight and held his paw out to Aeris, "Uh, sorry again. Here let me help you up."
Aeris, realizing she was being spoken to, opened her eyes to see the outstretched paw of the gray cat just in front of her face. Out of sheer instinct from being knocked down Aeris smacked the paw away, a scowl on her face as she stood herself back up and brushed the dirt off her pants.
"I'm fine." She said in an apathetic voice.
Realizing that it would probably be best if he didn't speak to Aeris right at this moment, the cat retracted his paw and turned his attention back to his groceries. While all this was happening, two things happened; one, Aeris caught a slight glimpse of the face of the cat in front of her, and being certain that she had seen a flash of green come off his eyes. Second, the cat realized that he deserved an explanation for the shoulder-touching and the subsequent head-banging.
Turning to look at Aeris, who had now found the eggs in her cart incredibly interesting, the stranger said, "Hey, I don't think you really gave me a reason why you put your paw on my shoulder."
Aeris, still embarrassed from the humiliation that had happened not even thirty seconds ago, kept her gaze averted from the stranger as she said to him, "It was nothing. I just saw a hair on your shirt and I just decided to brush it off."
Even though she couldn't see it, she could tell the strange cat was giving her a weird look, and then he said in a sing-song voice, "That's pretty weak."
Aeris gritted her teeth in annoyance. She hated that sing-song tone. Leo would use it whenever he wanted to annoy her, and it still bothered her to no end whenever someone did that. Keeping her temper in check, she said, "Well, its true."
"No it isn't.", he said, "Why would you grab my shoulder if you wanted to take off some hair?"
Aeris scowled at her cart as her heart sank a little. No way was Leo that observant. The closest he ever got to actually being smart was his 'face full of alien wing-wong' theory. However, her dashed hopes came right back (although she still was rather annoyed) when the stranger then said, "Or did you want to molest me? Oh my God, were you trying to molest me?"
Aeris groaned, "No, that isn't-"
"You were trying to molest me weren't you!", the stranger asked, shocked.
"No I wasn't!" Aeris shouted grabbing the sides of the cart in an attempt to keep herself from lashing out at Le- the stranger's face.
"Then why did I keep running into you?" he asked, backing away from this person who he thought was a rapist, "Why is it you chose this checkout line? Why did you grab my shoulder?"
Aeris then shouted, "Because!" but then realized that she was drawing some unwanted attention to herself and the stranger. She let go of the sides of the cart and looked down, looking almost ashamed, "Look, the reason why I grabbed your shoulder was because I thought that you were a friend of mine and I wanted to ask you if you were him."
The stranger seemed a little off-put by this, "A... friend?"
"Yeah." she chuckled sadly. "Stupid I know, but you just seemed to fit the bill. It would be impossible for you to be him, it makes no sense."
She then went to leave the checkout line for another when the stranger's white paw was placed on her shoulder, "Wait a minute. This friend of yours, what was his name?"
Aeris could feel the hope drain out of her voice when she told the stranger, "His name was Leo. Leo Leonardo the Third."
The paw slid off of her should. Aeris' ears drooped a little, knowing that the stranger had never heard the name before. Of course, that line of thought went right into the wastebasket when the stranger asked, "Aeris?"
Aeris felt her skip a beat when she heard her name. She turned around slowly and came face to face with him. Her friend. Her best friend.
Leo. Leo Leonardo the Third. It was him, in his gray furred, green eyed, blue clothed glory. Aside from the shocked expression on his face, Aeris came to see that it hadn't really changed much in the course of eight years. Although, there was something slightly off with his eyes; they still had that twinkle she remembered so well, but it seemed to have… dimmed somewhat.
Speaking of shocked expressions, while she could clearly see that Leo was just as surprised to be seeing her as she was him, Aeris' mouth and eyes were opened about as far as they could be. She was still in disbelief that she had found him, HIM, after all these years, and here of all the places. It was impossible. It shouldn't be happening, and yet it was. Here they were, separated for so long, reunited through sheer chance.
Time seemed to be standing still as they both took in each other's presence, when in reality it was only about two seconds that they stood there before Leo pounced on her and wrapped his arms around her in one of the tightest hugs Aeris had ever experienced.
"Aeris! Oh my God, it really is you! I can't believe it! How ya doin' girl?"
Leo squeezed Aeris so hard that she thought her head was going to pop right off of her neck. If it had been anywhere else with anyone else, she probably would've tried to break free of the hug, but all she did was look forward with that look of disbelief still stuck on her face, accepting it without a second thought. It wasn't until that she began to feel light headed that she collected herself and realized she was probably going to pass out from Leo squeezing her so hard.
"Leo…Too…Tight." Aeris said breathlessly, exasperated over the intensity of the hug. Leo obeyed her in an instant, and released her from his hold, a big smile on his face.
"Heh, sorry about that," He said, scratching the back of his head.
Aeris caught her breath, taking in two big breaths before she looked back at Leo. She was still taking this all in, but that didn't stop her from smiling. Just as he had, she came forward and brought her arms around Leo in a fairly tight hug. He responded in turn, hugging her back, and before either of them knew it they were laughing in pure happiness. Their laughter drew some odd stares from the fellow customers but neither of them paid attention to them. They were too caught up in the moment to care.
After what felt like an eternity of laughing and hugging each other, Leo and Aeris drew away from their mutual embrace and looked each other in the eyes, still keeping their smiles firmly in place. It was her that first spoke up.
"Fancy seeing you here."
Leo laughed at the joke, smiling wider as a result.
"I could say the same thing to you!", He replied in an up-beat tone. Aeris just continued to smile, her face starting to hurt from it being so big.
After a while Leo said, "So, long time no see huh?"
"I guess you could say that, yeah!" She replied enthusiastically.
"So how've you been? You're looking great!", he exclaimed in an equally enthused tone.
Aeris felt a warmth spread through her when he said that. "Pretty good, thanks. Just surviving, y'know? And you're not looking half bad yourself."
Leo let a smug look come upon his face, "Since when was I ever not sexy?"
He then struck what could be called a sexy pose, flexing his arms to show off what little muscle he had, making Aeris roll her eyes sarcastically.
After trying his hardest to look "sexy" (give us a freaking break Leo), Leo let his arms fall back to his sides and just stared at Aeris. You could tell he was still soaking up all of this, because he looked her up and down at least five times before he turned his gaze back to her eyes. He kept his smile on his face all the while, Aeris doing the same. While this was going on, Leo and Aeris remained oblivious to the fact that the line was growing behind them, and that the other customers within it were getting a little irritated with the waiting.
"So..." She began.
"So..." Leo echoed.
"So how've you been, ya friggin' dork!" Aeris grabbed Leo in a headlock and began noogying his head fiercely.
"Ah! Nooooo! Stoppit!" Leo tried to break free of Aeris hold, but failed. If it weren't for the rumbling chuckle that emanated from him, you might have thought he was in pain. Eventually Aeris ceased the noogying but still held Leo in the headlock. Aeris looked down upon Leo and he looked up at her, their eyes meeting once more and their gaze being locked for a good amount of time. Eventually Aeris released Leo from the headlock and allowed him to stand back up, their gazes still locked. When he was standing straight up once more, Leo had the most thoughtful look Aeris had ever seen anyone wear.
"You have no idea how good it is to see you right now Aeris.", he said while looking away and rubbing the back of his head, a red tint coming to his cheeks.
Aeris felt a fresh blush come to her cheeks as well, flattered that she had received such a compliment, "It's good to see you too Leo." She replied. "Really good."
They stood there, with every positive emotion, happiness, joy, gratitude, serenity, awe, coursing through their very beings. It was strange for Aeris. This morning she had woken up expecting the day to be nothing but an unenjoyable and all around horrible experience, and now here she was with Leo. Funny how the universe could work like this sometimes.
The tranquil atmosphere between the two was broken when an elderly woman walked up to the two, a basket in her hand, and a pleading look upon her face.
"Excuse me you two," She began in a calm and endearing voice. "I don't mean to be a bother, but, well, you're holding up the rest of us with your little chit-chat."
Leo and Aeris spun around to be greeted by the sight of a substantially long line-up, and while the old woman appeared to be of a kind and sincere nature, the rest of the occupants of the line looked to be much more hostile, with scowls, frowns, tapping feet, and crossed arms appearing all across the board. Feeling a bit of embarrassment at the situation, Aeris quickly turned back to the old woman with an apologetic look upon her face, "I'm very sorry ma'am. We didn't mean to-"
"We didn't mean to cause any trouble. Sorry about that. We'll get our stuff finished up here. Sorry again for making you have to wait."
Aeris was a bit surprised. She remembered it was always her that did the apologizing whenever she and Leo got in hot water. Not only had he apologized, but he sounded as though he meant it! It perplexed Aeris greatly. But then again, a lot could happen in eight years, so she stopped that train of thought there.
Seeing that Leo had set himself back to the task of paying for his groceries, Aeris followed suit, making sure to avoid the glares of those behind her.
In a matter of about four minutes, Leo had gotten his groceries paid for and loaded into his cart. Aeris took much less time, since she had a much lower amount of items, and before long the line was moving at a normal rate once more, which was accompanied by cheering from the other shoppers. Leo and Aeris met up over in the lobby just in front of the doors, making sure to stay out of the way of those coming in and exiting.
"Well," Leo began. "I have to say this is a pleasant surprise."
"You could say that again." Aeris replied.
"I have to say this is a pleasant surprise.", Leo repeated with a smirk on his face.
Aeris rolled her eyes. Same old Leo. He chuckled to himself following his "clever" use of words, and gave a look to Aeris. She hadn't changed much, besides of course the obvious changes that happened with time, and Leo couldn't help but let another smile come across his face at the realization that this really was Aeris sitting beside him. He let his wonderment show upon his face.
"What?" Aeris asked when she noticed him glancing at her from the corner of his eye.
"Nothing." Leo replied, leaning back a little. "I'm just, y'know, surprised to see you. It's been awhile."
"Heh, you could say that." She replied with a smirk. "Lots to catch up on, huh?"
"Yep." Leo laughed. "You know, that gives me an idea. Are you free tonight?"
Aeris ears perked up a bit at the question. "For what?"
"Just dinner. I know this great restaurant not far from where I live. They got everything; burgers, fries, pizza, shakes, you name it, they got it. Maybe we grab something to eat, do some talking, catch up a bit, all the good stuff. What'dya say?"
Aeris thought about it. Dinner did sound good, and her instinctive curiosity was burning with the fiery intensity of a million gas station fires (Sorry man, it's my little running gag now). It would be good to hear about what had happened with Leo since she had left. Heck, just to talk with him period sounded like fun.
"Sounds like a plan to me. What time were you thinking?"
"Ummmmm…How's seven sound?"
"Seven sounds just fine." She smiled.
Leo smiled back. "Great. I'll see you then. You gonna need a ride?"
Aeris shook her head. "I can just get a cab. What's the restaurant called?"
"Howard's" Leo replied. He noticed Aeris giving him a weird look and he stuck his tongue out in response. "Yes, it's called Howard's. Shut up. It's on 48th street, right next to the apartments, you can't miss it."
"Alright, sounds good." Aeris then gave Leo a hard look, "Don't be late.", she said in voice that intended to sound threatening, while a joking tone was hidden underneath it.
Leo smirked in response to the threat, "Same to you."
Aeris scoffed, knowing full well that she was never late for her appointments, but decided she might as well let Leo have his fun. Checking the time on the clock above the doors, Aeris saw that it was about a quarter to four. Realizing she had to call a cab soon and avoid rush hour, Aeris looked back to Leo and gave a slight sigh.
"Sorry Leo, I gotta get going. The traffic sucks major dick after four, and the cabs are slow as fuck."
"Don't I know it.", he replied, "Don't worry about it. I'll see you later tonight, right?"
"Of course! At seven, promise."
"Awesome." They stood there a few seconds before Leo stood back up and began pushing his cart towards the door. Before he exited the door he gaze one last look back at Aeris and smiled.
"It's so good to see you again Aeris. It really is."
Aeris smiled back and waved a paw at the departing Leo. "It's good to see you too, Leo."
He was about to turn around, then it looked like he remembered something. He looked at her again and said, "Hey Aeris?"
"Hmm?", she replied.
He smirked, "Sorry that I thought you were going to rape me."
She laughed, "It's okay. No harm, no foul."
With that, Leo smiled and exited the store, heading off to wherever his car was parked. Aeris watched him leave until she lost sight of him. After he had disappeared from her sight Aeris called a cab and got back to her apartment. As she was driven home, all she could think of was what had just happened.
She and Leo had been reunited. After all these years, they were back together. It was only for a brief time, but it was true. It made her happy, happier than she had been in a long time.
It was at that moment, walking into her apartment with an armful of bags, that Aeris realized that she had no idea what could be going through Leo's mind as she was thinking this.
"Probably trying to think of a stupid joke to say tonight.", she thought to herself with a laugh.
For the Authors Note: So, how long did this take. Two months? Dear God, what have we been doing? Oh well, I doesn't matter much now, does it? I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as yayleo and I have enjoyed making this. Read and Review!