Mouse laid on her stomach on her bed, quietly paging through Leo's yearbook from the year before. She turned the page and studied a black-and-white shot of some kids standing around in front of a fence on a field trip to Valley Fair. It looked like a candid shot- only a couple of the kids in the picture were looking at the camera. Three of the girls from the cheerleading squad stood in a group, wearing sunglasses and bikini tops with shorts, laughing. On the other end of the fence were Chris and Geoffry. They had their arms around each other's waists and they were both smiling, looking at something beyond the frame of the picture.
Mouse scowled down at the photo. They looked so f--king happy. She slammed the yearbook and threw it across the room, it hitting the floor with a loud crash. She turned over and put her pillow over her head.
A few seconds later, there was a hesitant knock at the door.
"Go away." Mouse called from under her pillow.
There was a pause, then another knock.
"Go away." Mouse repeated.
The knock came again. Mouse threw the pillow at the wall and got up, storming over to the door. She flung it open and scowled at Leo. He smiled and said, "Hey, can I come in?"
"No, go away." Mouse said, starting to close the door. Leo put out his hand and grabbed the door. "Please?"
"What do you want?" Mouse said angrily, walking back to her bed and laying down on it.
Leo, knowing better than to get too close, closed the door and stood by it, putting his hands in his pockets.
"I just wanted to check on you." He said, "You looked pretty f--king pissed off today."
Mouse groaned melodramatically and complained, "Why do all of you want to talk about your feelings all the time?"
She sat up and said, "Worse, why do you want to talk about my feelings all the time? I'm Mouse, can't you just... Except that I don't have feelings?"
Leo grinned at her and she snapped, "What?"
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" He asked.
Mouse rolled her eyes and said, "Why do any of you give a damn? Especially you. I used to just be able to trust that you were a moron and you would stay out of my way if I scared you enough."
Leo crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows at her, smiling.
"Now, you have, like, feelings and shit and it's terrible!" Mouse said, trying hard to fight back a grin.
Leo put his hands back into his pockets and he slowly walked a little closer to her. He said, "Well, maybe I'm not the only one who's developed emotions recently."
Mouse crossed her arms and tried to keep frowning. She looked down at her lap and smiled.
Leo smiled warmly at her and said, "Mom said she'd take us out for ice cream. You in?"
Mouse looked up at him and asked, "Is there peanut butter cup?"
"Hell yeah, I'm in." Mouse got up and joined her step brother. Leo grinned and put his arm around her shoulders. She smacked his arm away and he recoiled.
"That doesn't give you permission to touch me."