"Hey, Leo?" Chris said quietly, sitting next to Leo on a bench outside, "Can I talk to you?"
Leo gave him a confused look and said, "Um, I guess..."
Chris nodded awkwardly, "Um, Angie said I should talk to you."
Leo eyed him, totally confused, and Chris said, "Okay, okay, sounds weird, I know. But she said you could help talk me through, um... The issue with... My dad."
Leo's face softened and he didn't smile, but he nodded understandingly.
Leo listened as Chris explained the situation, nodding throughout the whole thing.
"I really don't know what to do." Chris said when he was finished, "He's my father. But he's not just my father, he's my dad. Do you know what I mean by that?"
Leo nodded and said, "I was eleven when my dad left."
Chris gasped and Leo said, "Yeah, it was bad. You're lucky your old man stayed around longer than that."
Chris shook his head, "That's not true. I knew him for longer than you knew your dad. I'm not lucky."
Leo nodded and said, "You've got a point there."
They talked about their similar situations for the entire recess.
On the way to the bus after school, I saw Chris.
I grinned and ran up to him, tackling him from behind.
"Angie!" Chris yelled helplessly.
I laughed and mocked him, "Chris!"
"Get off!" Chris cried.
I hugged my brother a planted a big smooch on his cheek.
"Angie! Get off!" Chris squealed, trying to get away. He failed.
I rubbed my cheek against his and said, "Never!"
"Come on, we're gonna be late!" Chris said, trying to walk to the bus, even though I was hanging on him.
"I'm sorry, Chris." I said.
"Yeah, you almost gave me a heart attack."
"No," I said, making puppy eyes at him, "I mean about what I said yesterday. About you and Dad."
Chris scowled at me and I said, "Did you talk to Leo?"
Chris' face softened a little and he said, "Yes, I did."
"Did it help at all?"
Chris shrugged and said, "Yeah, it did."
I gave him an expectant look and he said, "Fine, you're off the hook."
"Yay! I love you!" I said, hugging my brother again.
"Okay, can you please love me without crushing my lungs?" Chris said, trying to wriggle free.
I giggled and let him free.
Chris rolled his eyes at me and straightened his shirt.
"Oh, cute!" I said, "Is someone trying to be a grown-up?"
"You're not funny." Chris said tartly, "Also, I still have Alice and Kathy to deal with. There's no one else I can ask for advice."
"Well," I said, "How about you just take care of one person at a time?"
Chris nodded, "Yes, that's what I'll do. Good idea, Angela."
Then, his face paled and I said, "What now?"
Chris swallowed and squeaked, "Geoffry."
I cringed at the name, "What the hell does he have to do with this?"
"He's my boyfriend, Angela-" Chris started to say, giving me a look.
"Please," I cut him off, rubbing my temples, "Don't use a 'b' word to describe Geoffry unless it's something like Basket Case or Barf Breath or Bird Brain or Bone Head..."
"He doesn't have barf breath!" Chris cried, adding quietly (and probably to annoy me), "I would know."
"Oh, come on, Chris!" I said, "Don't make me puke all over you!"
Chris rolled his eyes and said, "Enough of your vulgar humor, Angela. Now, will you help me with this?"
"Okay, okay..." I said, wincing again, "Geoffry."
Chris swallowed and said, "What if he mad? You know, about Kathy and I being so close and about she and Alice fighting over me?"
I sighed, "I don't think he'll be mad, Chris."
"You're just saying that." Chris said with a sniff.
Then, his eyes widened and he said, "Ange, what if he breaks up with me?"
"That'd be nice." I said flatly, "Maybe that way you would shut up."
Chris flung his arms around me and started bawling.
"Chris," I said, looking around nervously, "We're gonna miss the bus."
Chris sniffed and wiped his face on his sleeve, "You're right, I need to pull myself together."
Just then, the bus pulled away from our school.
I gave Chris a look and he said, "You started it."