This is one of my older stories, but I've decided to re-post from my other account just because it's one of my less terrible ones. If you see any typos, including random character name changes, please tell me!

One thought kept her going on those hot, summer nights that time before her freshman year. She thought of music. There was a time when music was in her parents' life. Her name sometimes sounded like a song. She liked to think of her parents singing it between them when they were young and happy and had the world at their fingertips. But that must have been long ago, for now Erica's life is far from a song. With that unhappy thought, she is dragged back to reality.

Her skin was covered in a silky layer of sweat, dirt, and tobacco. Her boyfriend's hot breath met that layer, having little to no effect on the young girl. He kissed her neck and tried to slide that damned hand of his up her tattered t-shirt, but she pushed him away, mumbling, "That's 'nuff, Monty."

He growled and stormed out of the trailer, but not before pushing her to the ground with those hands she hated so much, and the force put into the push would surely cause her delicate skin to bruise.

Her father was curled around a bottle of rum, asleep on the floor, and her little sister was tangled in the covers of the single bed, taking up the entire space. Erica couldn't find the heart to move her. Instead, she rubbed the impending bruise with a sigh and gently took the bottle from her father's drunk grasp.

Of course. Empty.

She slipped her careful fingers into his pocket, and she removed a twenty dollar bill, probably the only money they had in the world.

A college student had parked an RV close to their decrepit trailer, and there was a chance that he could at least pass as 21 and buy them some more alcohol. She'd conversed with him briefly, and he'd mentioned a roommate, who could easily be older.

She ran a few fingers through her knotted hair and pulled down her tiny, threadbare shorts that doubled as underwear during the school year. Thinking herself to look a little less of a wreck, she knocked on the door.

The kid, Cooper, answered the door and smiled at her. "Hey, Erica, what can I do for you?"

Erica actually went by Eri, or at least she would if she had any friends. Monty never called her anything, just allowed her to be silent as he talked to her dad and ran a snaking hand up her leg. Her sister, Ava, had a glassy look in her eyes and seemed incapable of thinking anything. Her brother called her Er, whenever he bothered to stop by. Her dad called her by her full name, but he said it mockingly, poking fun at his dead wife.

"Can you buy me some alcohol?" She asked in a rush, scared that he would think her odd.

Instead, he laughed kindly and shook his head. "I'm only eighteen, my roommate is sixteen and you're like in eighth grade, kid."

"Nah, that's my sister. I'm in high school. And anyway, don't try to tell me that you ain't got a fake ID or something! Please!" She said, and he looked hesitant. "And it's not for me, it's for my dad. If he wakes up and finds out that Monty drank all his rum, he'll be pissed." She lied, smiling sweetly at the older boy, who pushed a curl behind his ear. He sighed and stepped aside to let her wait in the RV.

Cooper said, "Alright, but do you have money? I'm broke and can barely afford coffee for myself."

She handed him the twenty and turned to view the inside of the RV. There was the roommate, looking curiously at her, his dark hair just brushing his shoulders in a shaggy haircut that was unlikely to work on anyone else. His blue eyes were shining and sweet, and he had a gentle but fleeting smile that blew her away, and for the first time, Erica thought she knew what love was.

Gary inhaled deeply. He was a smart kid, despite his shabby appearance, and there was a reason for that. He lived in a library.

The smell of the books was overwhelming and comforting. Gary always felt at home there, in the Plumet Street Library. There was a clothes donation bin in the parking lot, and an aquatic center with showers just down the road, so he wanted for nearly nothing. Even food was somewhat accounted for.

There was a group that met every Thursday during the summer in the park across the street from the high school. He started hanging out with them, and the only reason the fifth grader wasn't shooed away was because the leader, who went by his last name (Which Gary found odd), thought that he was a charity case. They always had pizza and Enjolras would bring Gary organic granola bars that tasted like cardboard. He didn't know what they met for, all he knew was the food.

All he had to worry for was how to feed himself once his little stash ran out around Tuesday.

It was a good life. Every now and then he would check in on his family, the one who seemed not to care for him. He had two older sisters- one stupid and one pathetic. Both were abused by his father. He had been slightly surprised at the news of his mother's death the previous year, but soon forgot about the uncaring woman.

He felt bad for his 'pathetic' sister, Erica. She did what she could to survive. He would see her at a restraunt nearby with a high school senior who even Gary knew was a dickwad. She hated her 'boyfriend' with every fiber of her being. It was obvious, and even Monty seemed to know it, smirking whenever she flinched at his touch. She was whoring herself out, for he payed her with food everyday, and she would save half of it for their sister.

Er was the one who was kindest to him, often stopping by the library just to share a few quiet minutes reading by his side before she was required to assist their father in his shenanigans. Gary didn't know what was going on with Ava.

He couldn't wait for school to start. He once brought the principal by his trailer when his dad was at 'work', just so she could see the poverty that he 'lived' in. Because of this, the clever Gary got free meals at school.

In a way, the homeless boy lived better than his sisters who were always loved more than he was. Gary was a happy kid, but there was a bitterness to his heart, because of his early years as an unloved child in a household of pain. He never let it show, though, and he'd recently started to give them a chance. He actually smiled at the stupid sister, and he was hanging with Er more. He would never take a second look at his greedy father, though. Mr. Johns would be evil until the moment his soul finally dissolved in the fires of hell.

On a warm Thursday afternoon, Gary was on his way to the meeting in the park. Earlier that day, he'd walked into the grocers and pocketed an apple, so he was sinking his teeth into the red skin and crisp, white flesh.

He had a smile on his face and sunshine in his eyes. The day was perfect. He saw Luke Elton's golden curls from a distance, and tossed the gnawed-at core to the ground and got ready to attack the leader from behind. It was funny, because Elton was something awful close to a statue, and he avoided physical contact as much as possible.

Gary sunk his heels in the soft dirt and was about to launch forward when he faltered.

There was a figure that flittered behind the leaves, and most wouldn't notice it, but Gary wasn't 'most'. The figure was a tiny flame, hidden by the presence of the fiery young men. A wilted rose, she watched from the shadows with longing. It was Erica.

He ducked behind the leaves and confronted her. "Er, what the hell are you doing?"

She obviously wasn't expecting him, and she jumped at his small voice. "God, Gary, don't scare me like that."

She didn't answer his question, though, and instead kept watching the group converse around the old picnic table.

Gary rolled his eyes. He would never understand girls, least of all his older sister. Why did she go out with Monty when she could go out with one of these boys? They would buy her food out of the good of their hearts, not for a price she didn't want to pay. And she obviously had her eyes on one of them, because the awe in her expression was very similar to Gary's when he saw the extra large pizza box on the table. His stomach growled, and Erica's did too.

"This is ridiculous." He mumbled, and he put his hand between his sister's shoulder blades and pushed her out. She squeaked when they all turned towards the brother and sister. A couple of them gave odd looks to Erica, but Elton just pulled out the largest piece of pizza and handed it to Grayson. No one noticed the way that the group's unshakeable leader allowed his eyes to stick to the girl who stood in front of him.

"Hiya, guys. This is my friend, Er," He said, strolling forward and pulling her with him. He did his best to ignore her hurt expression when he didn't say they were siblings. With her usually dirty skin under his hand, he could tell that she'd recently taken a shower. Where, he didn't know, but he was proud that she was finally making an effort.

"Oh, hey Erica!" Called Cooper, Gary's personal favorite member of the group. "We know her, Marcus and I live in the RV next door."

"Who the hell is Marcus?" Gary asked, and Cooper patted the back of the boy sitting next to him. He looked to be a little younger than the rest, and suddenly Gary knew that this was The One. Her pulse practically doubled in speed under his hand.

"Well go on, Er, take a piece."

She looked at the pizza with a hungry eye, but she shook her head and backed away, looking down and hiding her face with her hair.

"No, I really have to get going. See you soon?" She asked, wanting a 'yes' but prepared for a 'no'. He just shrugged.

She walked away, pulling those awkward shorts down her backside, somehow aware that the entire group was staring at her ass. Except for Grant, the drunk of the group, who was staring at Elton, surprised that he actually acknowledged a girl's presence.

"Where do I know her from?" One of them, Connor, asked. He almost always spoke in questions, as if daring the world to answer. It was probably his philosophical nature that allowed him to be second in command to Elton.

"You know Monty Parnest?" Gary asked, and a lot of them grumbled in distaste. "She's going out with him."

"That's enough to make her the biggest charity case in town." Elton murmured from his stack of fluttering pamphlets.

The group laughed, but Gary stayed silent, because he knew how painfully true it was.

So, there are a lot of character introductions here (right now i'm only doing the majors, and they are *mostly* in order of appearance).

1) Erica Johns, the main character.

2) Gary Johns, Erica's estranged little brother.

3) Monty Parnest, Erica's 'boyfriend'.

4) Marcus Ponty, one of the Johns' neighbors and Erica's *temporary* crush.

5) Luke Elton, the leader of the club.

6) Grant Tense, a teenage alcoholic.

7) Mr. Johns, Erica and Gary's father.

An update should be up tomorrow. Please review!