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Salutes reviewers: Here you are!

Chapter 9

Kari smiled to herself as she walked up to her room. Tai was teaching TK to play X-Box and no one had done their homework. They had ended up watching Nick at Nite, which TK had never seen before. Tai and Kari together filled him in on the shows and he appeared to be enjoying himself. Kari called it in, and she suspected TK would do the same soon- he seemed wiped.

Kari walked into her room, feeling more proud of herself by the second. TK was safe and having fun. He never knew that she read his dairy and everyone was happy. Kari allowed her self a pat on the back. Mission one accomplished!


TK moaned as once again Tai managed to score on him in the soccer game they were playing on X-Box. He didn't know what it was called. It was fun- though he was getting a little tired of losing.

"Man, you need serious work!" Tai said, laughing as the fourth quarter ended and he won again, 7-2.

"Yeah," TK agree quietly. "Ok, I'm going upstairs. See ya tomorrow. uhh… thanks,"

"No problem!" Tai said, changing it to single player and starting another game. TK smiled to himself and walked upstairs.

He walked into "his room" and just sat on the bed for a second. This was the weirdest feeling in his life. He didn't know how to react to being with people, to being in a house, to having people know about him. Usually it was he was skipping from town to town, trying to find someone who would hire him since he was under aged. The worst had been right after the fire. They were looking for him so he skipped around for almost a year.

He sighed. That year was probably the worst of his life. He never quite knew what made him run- it was really a mix of things. He didn't want to live with anyone but his parents, and he thought Matt would see that as tough and the right thing to do. If he could go back he honestly didn't know if he would do that again. Maybe it would've just been easier to go into the system.

He shrugged and changed into sweatpants, one of the only two pairs he had. He brushed his teeth, glad he had a sink to spit in. Usually he used his water container to wet the brush and just spit in the back of the alley. He smiled, he could get used to this.

Clicking off the lights, he sank down into the bed. Goodness, it felt good. No hard bricks digging into his back. Then he realized he didn't know where to put his arms, usually he used his left one as his pillow and clutched the thin blankets to his body with his right. Now there was already a pillow where his arm should go and the comforter was heavy enough that it wasn't going to just fly away. He squirmed for a few minutes- trying to get comfortable. Finally, he opted for shoving the pillows off the bed- they were too fluffy anyway- curling his left arm to where it usually was, under his head. His right curled around his stomach and naturally his legs curled up into a ball, usually to protect himself from the wind or snow.

Finally comfortable, he smiled and before he knew it, fell asleep.


Tai came whistling down the steps, turning back once to yell at Kari to hurry up. She screamed something about bad hair. He frowned, wondering if TK had been woken up or if he set an alarm clock or anything. Was there an alarm clock in the guest room?

He walked into the kitchen relieved to find TK ready to go, hair slightly damp from the shower. TK was standing by the counter, shifting and looking extremely uncomfortable. He turned around as Tai came in.

"Hi," he said softly. "I was just… uh… waiting."

"Do you want breakfast?" Tai said, grabbing the Captain Crunch.

"Oh, no- that's ok," TK said quickly.

"Look," Tai said, grabbing two bowls, "you're staying with us- that means you can eat whatever is in this house- so dig in." He slid the bowl across to the other boy.

"Won't your parents notice if you're spending more money to feed another person?" TK asked.

"Of course not- they hardly ever look at what we spend- unless we bought something huge- like, I don't know a car. Believe me, us buying more food won't even draw their attention. And if they were here- I'm sure they'd be ok with you staying for a while."

"Oh, ok then," TK said, walking over and grabbing the Captain Crunch. "How long will your parents be gone?"

"Who knows? They'd said they'd be back for Christmas- but that got pushed back- right now they're coming back the end of December."

"Ok, Tom should've found a place by then."

"Who's Tom?"

"He's my boss," TK replied. "He's getting a bigger apartment so I can move in with him."

"Oh, that's cool."

There was a short awkward silence before Kari appeared. Tai glanced at her hair, remembering that she had said she was having a bad hair day. He didn't see anything wrong with it- maybe it was a bit more wavy and bushy. Nonetheless, he had a brotherly duty to perform.

"Kari! EWW! You're hair looks awful!" he said, smiling as she poured her own bowl of Life cereal.

"I know! It wouldn't FIX!" his sister said. Tai nodded.

"I can tell." Kari sighed, and Tai glanced over at TK. To the older boy's amusement TK glanced at Kari, frowned and shook his head slightly, looking very confused and obviously not finding anything wrong with her hair.

"So, TK," Kari said, glaring one last time at her brother. "Did you find everything ok in there?"

"Fine, thanks," TK replied in his usual almost whisper. Tai internally sighed, he really did hope they could help this kid- right now he seemed so… proper.

"Great!" Kari continued, sprinkling sugar over her Life. "I'm so excited to tell everyone you're staying here!" Tai noticed how TK immediately stiffened.

"Wait- we're telling everyone?" TK asked.

"Well- yeah," Kari said, taking a bite. "I mean they would figure it out soon enough."

"We're not telling them…" TK paused, shifting uncomfortably. "…everything- are we?" Even Tai started to squirm- this was such an uncomfortable topic. He still couldn't quite believe that TK, that anyone for that matter, could spend practically their whole life homeless.

"Well, I figured at least the basics," Kari said, looking concerned.

"It's just that if Child Services finds out about me I could get in a lot of trouble," TK said, carefully avoiding looking at either teen. "Same with Tom."

"Oh," Kari said, looking surprised. "I didn't even think of that."

"I know what we'll tell them!" Tai said, smiling- if it was one thing he could do- it was come up with a lie.


Author's Note: Please forgive any spelling errors due to author's severe case of S.S. (Spelling Stupidity)

Author's Other Note: Please REVIEW! I love them!