Finding a Place to Stay

"What the fuck, yo."

Skating on dry cement was hard enough, and Yoyo, being a self taught skater, deemed himself a decent one at that. He wasn't entirely proud of the fact that he had stolen the skates he now wore on his feet long ago from an older teen (he himself about twelve or so); however, the foster family who had taken him in never seemed to find the horrible bullying their son bestowed on the tiny child inappropriate…they barely noticed at all. And so with a swelled heart, the child believed he had only paid back his karma when he chose to nick the pair of shiny skates from the young man's closet, and then of course quickly sneak out and be on his way before anyone realized he was gone. It never occurred to him that his prize was much too large for his feet in his current state, but he assumed at some point he would grow into them and learn the trait. He wasn't about to give away or sell something as shiny as those skates.

He definitely had put them to quite the use, but in all honesty, he wasn't a pro skater…yet. Not in rain anyway. Or rain such as this. The sheets were blinding and slicked up the concrete…or pavement…he couldn't really tell the difference at this point. Had a monsoon randomly picked up without his knowing? No…there weren't any strong winds and streets weren't flooded...only his horrible luck to be literally swimming amongst the falling water, and while trying to balance with a twitchy, hidden pup, no less. Thunder had never been a choice friend for animals, and especially canines, with their highly keen hearing and innate knack for sensing it right before it would clap across the skies, anyone with such advanced features would simply go mad. Curling his head right under the teen's armpit, the young dog tensed up in the boy's grip, a broken whistle escaping his throat. Releasing an unexpected laugh, Yoyo glanced down the neck hole of his hood, rubbing his fingers along what he could reach within the dog's cradle, "T-That tickles! N'aww…not afraid of a little bad weather, are ya, bud?" he asked tenderly, receiving a quick lick to the nose.

A sharp crack shot through the air, startling the teen for just a moment before he glanced down with a sheepish grin, "Caught me off guard, that's all." Potts merely sniffed and whined. Adjusting the sopping hood on his head, Yoyo skated a few feet before finally deciding his sliding sunglasses weren't doing him any good, aside from frustration and wasted time as he continually pushed them to their starting point, only to have them rush down his nose like a slide. Folding them up with a flick of the wrist, the boy pocketed them, squinting up to check any street signs for an idea of where he might be. He was positive he was at least nearby the apartment; things didn't look too foreign and landmarks were the best directions, but the rain was coming down so hard visibility on the signs was close to zero between the droplets racing down and the rushing waterfall on the signs themselves. "Damn rain's so thick I can barely see…"

The further he skated, the more familiar things began to get, which was considerably good news, granting he was going on bare knowledge of the area under hazardous conditions. Crunching his nose up as he leaned his neck out, he recognized the mounds of garbage bags, now soggy and rank from the weight of the rain, smiling in relief, "Alright, guy. We found it." Offering a very timid bark, the dog poked his nose out against Yoyo's neck, gentle little breaths flicking against the boy's skin. Bouncing the pup in his grip, the green haired teen quickened his pace, hoping he'd find something to dry up little Potts with. Beat wasn't exactly animal friendly, but Yoyo wasn't about to let the chill of the rain seep skin deep. Poor thing was shivering as he dug his head around the boy's chest, pausing for a moment before poking his nose out through the neck hole, only to cry in response with a slender growl.

He couldn't understand why a sudden pit developed in his stomach as soon as the dog changed paces, but something told the young rudie to keep an eye out for anything amiss. "What is it, boy?" he whispered, knowing perfectly well the dog couldn't very well answer him; however, it was better company than none at all, and although Potts couldn't reply in words, he could definitely offer a response. His growl remained low, digging his claws into Yoyo's chest to poke his head out in order to see what the danger was.

"Yoshida, what's your position?"

The teen dodged into the closest alleyway, cradling the dog close as he pressed his back against the wall, holding his breath as the officer walked past without a glance, fiddling with his walkie talkie, "Outside the premises, sir. Just did a circular scout, but nothing. Seems like the roaches scattered."

Yoyo glared over his shoulder as his eye ticked, calming the lightly growling dog, though he couldn't help agree with the pup. Roaches were they? Well, all definitely knew how hard it was to get rid of them, or kill them for that matter. Rudies were going to be the worst vermin the government would ever have to deal with. They thought four teens were a problem…just wait…

"Wait till we rise up…" he mentally warned, hushing Potts as he poked the dog's nose to distract the scent of the officer. The cop took a few more steps, twisting the dial of his control while doing his best to balance the umbrella he had the privilege of carrying. The boy leaned out ever so slightly, peering at the officer's back, however his eyes trailed off past him, past the brightly lit cars, past the rank sagging bags of filth, to the alleyway…their alleyway…infested with the worst case of armature detectives, all snooping around in order to please the top dog. His jaw popped open, nearly dropping Potts in sheer shock from the horror. He swore his heart was skipping every other beat…and he was positive the rain truly wasn't nearly as bad as he professed it was. "No…" he managed to gasp out, refusing to accept the truth that if his friends were in there…

No.

They weren't in there. There was no way they could be. They were too good for that. Gum and Beat were professionals in dodging coppers, made it look like square one. There was no possible way either of them could've been caught off guard. Yoyo's mind wouldn't allow it. But Rhyth…she was new…like him…No…still no. He had left her behind. There wouldn't have been enough time for her to get to the apartment before him…not without passing him at least. He swallowed roughly, squeezing the dog tight, and though he knew Potts was probably feeling quite uncomfortable, it was the only comfort he had. The pup whimpered once again, and Yoyo let up on his grip, but instead of calming down, the dog suddenly jumped, clawing at his master's chest. "O-Ow, Potts, what the—"

The boy was pulled backwards before he could finish, nearly losing his balance, but held off just enough to spin around with a fist up and ready, willing and ready to protect himself if need be (and of course, Potts as well). His entire body wavered as it virtually shut down on itself, knees buckling as he tried to keep a weak, sheepish grin on, "Oh, God…Gum, it's you." The taller blond owned an oddly vacant stare, one that lingered on the hand that had curled into a fist seconds ago. For a moment, neither said anything until Yoyo cleared his throat, peering out from their hiding spot, "What in the hell is goin' on out there…how'd they find ou—…Gum? Y-You're bleeding."

The young woman snapped out of her gaze, quick to wipe her nose and rid the last of the evidence with the rain. She sniffed quietly, "It's nothing," but her eyes said more. Yoyo was one to easily read the hidden emotions of others, no matter how hard they tried, but Gum didn't seem to be trying to hide anything. In fact, her body was desperately trying to tell him all. "W-What…uhm…happened?" he asked quietly, soft…willing to defend her every need if necessary. She had protected him before and he wouldn't be quick to forget it. Whoever had dared to touch his friend had treaded into a danger zone. However, Gum shook her head lazily, so…unlike herself. She seemed to be moving too slow to be considered normal, and her expression…he had never seen such an expression before. To look positively emotionless…and yet…emotional. It was highly confusing. "Never mind that. You saw it out there for yourself. Hayashi found a rudie pad and it looks like he wants to bunk in." she said quietly, but loud enough to be heard over the rain. The two glanced delicately over the corner of the building they were hiding against, and Yoyo gave a dark sigh, still keeping in mind her odd behavior and possible injury. "Someone let him know he gets the floor." the teen muttered, giving his canine passenger a few side scratches.

They both pulled back and further down the aisle as two more members of Hayashi's team trotted past, seemingly in a hurry, and one without his umbrella. Neither said a word until the clicks of their heels were covered by the hush of the rain. The green haired teen glanced back at Gum who was wiping her arms free of rain, which seemed to be a pretty impossible act, but he wasn't about to mention it. "Uhm…you look…tired." he tried with a quick shrug and sniff, rubbing along his eyes. What he would give for one of those umbrellas. Gum rubbed along her nose, but this appeared to cause her a sting of pain, wrenching her hand away before shoving it under her arm with the other. "We should…maybe find a place to hang for the night? I don't do so well sleepin' with the fishes, yo." he finished with a small grin, knowing the true meaning of the saying, but felt it was appropriate for the situation, all considering. It managed to pull a small smile on the girl's face, anyway.

"Any idea where Beat or…uh…Rhyth…might be?" he asked awkwardly, hugging the little creature close. It twisted his gut something awful thinking about earlier. Gum closed her eyes and pinched along the bridge of her nose, shaking her head out gently. She was lucky if this didn't explode into a full blown migraine, "No…I thought you were with Rhyth?"

"I thought you were with Beat." the boy snapped lightly, voice barely holding bark. Avoiding an explanation would be best…as least, for now. Gum glanced down the dangerous end of the alleyway, leaning along the wall behind her. "Beat…needs some time to cool off…" she answered oddly, nearly timid with a gentle break in the tone. This seemed to say it all. Furrowing his brows for a moment, Yoyo arched one as he reached his hand out slightly to…well, he wasn't sure exactly, but it shot back down to his side, rubbing along under his hood until the wet strands of green shot out in all different angles. It wasn't hard to assume what he had, but to believe it…that was a whole different deal. Could the boy have really? And to her?

"D-Did…Beat…" he started, swallowing his words the moment she glared at him, almost daring him to suggest what they both knew was possible and had already happened, "…s-say where he was going?" the younger teen finished awkwardly, pulling off his hood to whip his sopping hair. She didn't want to talk about it. He couldn't imagine the explosion that might've given away their hiding spot had he, or the choke hold she might've put him in for merely suggesting it…but the situation alarmed Yoyo all the same. If Beat was willing to hurt someone he knew and was fond of…more so than the rest of the world…who knew what he could do to an innocent…?

Gum pulled him back to their world with a snap, his eyes following the spin her fingers did before trailing down to his gut, jetting at it with her thumb, "What are you smuggling?" she interrogated, giving it a firm but curious poke. She snatched her hand back as it wiggled with a bark, a snout poking out of Yoyo's neck hole with a lick to his chin. "Oh," the kid smiled with a shrug, giving the pup another rub, "It's just Potts." Arching a brow, Gum tilted her head as if hoping she could peek down the tiny bit of space left in the hole to see the rest of the dog.

"Potts?"

"Yeah, the spotty dog. I found him…started calling him Potts. He needs a name, don't you think?" he trailed off as the dog shoved its face as best it could to greet Gum. She gave him a small smile, rubbing the end of his nose before he ducked back into his makeshift shelter and into the comfortable grip of the teen holding him. "Me an Rhyth…sorta, uhm…split up," Yoyo said quietly, rubbing his own nose against his shoulder, realizing what he had said, "you know, to look for him." The odd save or the fact that he needed one had slipped by Gum altogether. That, or she didn't care. "Would she be around here?" she asked, glancing around as if Rhyth were going to pop up from any of the trashcans surrounding them. Yoyo paused for a minute in thought. It didn't look like she had yet come by, and if she was on her way, she would most likely be nearing their destination soon. He nodded silently, backing up as Gum slowly skated past him with a wave, "C'mon. Let's find her before the pigs do."

The odd tornado in his stomach was acting up again. He wasn't quite sure if he was ready to face her yet. "Well, she's bound to come here at some point. How about I stay here and you go…and just come back and get me if you find her." he offered, not entirely surprised by Gum's grim reaction to his suggestion. He kept quiet as he rubbed along Potts' ears, glancing off. "'Let's' often indicates a 'we', Yoyo…What's up with you?" she asked curiously, but he responded stiffly, a bit sore about the whole ordeal. "Nothing."

"Good. We don't have time for nothing to be something. The cops are going to spread their search out in the streets. The question is when, and the answer to that is soon. They already know we're not in there, and if they come down both ends of this alley, we're fucked. At this point, I doubt you'll even get a chance at that orphanage again. Those times are long gone, kid. Your face is plastered as a rudie and Hayashi is going to want a bullet through every inch of it," she snapped, tugging at his free arm, "You like the taste of lead sandwiches?"

The shorter teen grumbled a "No," at the ridiculous question, but couldn't help but feel comforted by the girl's words. For some odd reason, he was receiving this as message of concern for his well being rather than a warning or threat on his life. Someone out there actually cared about him and preferred him alive over dead. It had been a while since he had felt safe among another, and though he had never had any siblings…there was always an opening for a select few…

She tugged him down the opposite end of where they had entered and jerked him around the corner, but he didn't mind. In fact, he allowed his arm to slip up with the help of the rain, and although her grip was tight, she couldn't keep the best hold on his skin. His fingers gripped onto hers, the leather of his gloves an easier texture to hang on to rather than skin, and she quickly squeezed them, pulling him into a shaded corner to avoid a trailing police car making its way uphill. She ignored his smile and pink cheeks, elbowing his side roughly before taking off again as if leading the blind, "Then stay close and quit complaining."

"Wet…cold…"

A rough sneeze.

"Sick! …And I never found that puppy!"

The girl brushed her bangs back, already annoyed with the lack of vision they were offering her and pushed up her wrist warmers, pausing for a moment to figure out her location. She had to be nearby. She had been skating for nearly twenty minutes already…and not a sign of the others. "Where is everyone…?" she mumbled, wrapping her arms around herself as she slowly skated forward. The entire area seemed deserted as a matter of fact. Void of any normal people, anyway. Far off she could see the familiar flashing lights of the Gouji police force, illuminating one big blur into the rain. She furrowed her brows, a nasty pang hitting her chest. Those cars…wasn't that were the…

Eyes widening in fear, the girl in blue darted to her right, clinging to the shadows. As alarmed as she was, she couldn't risk being caught. She refused to go back. She wasn't going to live a lie. Fingers curling into fists, she tiptoed best she could into an alleyway, dodging behind a trashcan the moment a handful of officials stepped out from their alley entrance. Hey icy blues peered out from behind the metal can, gazing over at the cluster fully uniformed and fully armed, with their dainty little umbrellas and shimmering shoes. She wouldn't have put it past her folks if they had purchased it all. Crouching in further, she lost a bit of vision from what she was able to see, but was able to hear decently enough, all considering. One of the officers had quietly excused himself from yawning and was now questioning someone she had never hoped to see.

Standing within the center of the mini crowd was Captain Hayashi, face calm and serene which was beyond all odd. He looked rather bored, but there was something in the way he moved, the way he tweaked his mouth when he talked and that mysterious sparkle in his eye…

"Captain? Are we through with the search yet? We've torn out floorboards in this investigation; I don't think there's much left of that room aside from the doors." the middle aged man nodded, glancing off behind his higher up, and from where she was hiding, Rhyth could slightly make out the shapes making their way out of their alleyway and into a rather large moving truck. They were taking the tiny bit of home Beat owned…and to add insult in injury, both ragged couches had been sliced open unnecessarily so, victims of heartless slaughter rather than meaningless clues. The cooler had been set on fire, the burned box of plastic now sizzling as an officer kicked it to its destination, all ends and sides charred beyond recognition. Pieces of floorboard were being carried out and piled alongside the bags of garbage forever ignored on that particular block. What had been the purpose of all this?

"What exactly are we searching for, sir? If anyone was living here, they're long gone now, and even so, what could they be hiding that hasn't been found by now? The room was practically empty."

"We've found what I've been looking for. We're just making sure things get as uncomfortable as possible for the little runts." he answered, gently digging in his coat pocket to reveal the tiny treasure in his hand. Pinched between his fingers was Rhyth's greatest nightmare. Her eyes grew as she capped her mouth, stomach dropping into an eternal abyss. How could she have been so stupid? They were here for her. And Beat had paid the price for it. She grabbed her face and took a deep breath, clearing her mind. What now? Where could they all go? Hayashi was bound to know who she had been associating herself with, and without a doubt had access to the tapes revealing her animal break with Yoyo…

"Yoyo!" she thought, backing away from the trashcan on all fours, doing her best to push herself forward on her feet, "The others! I have to warn them! I have to-" She froze in thought, slamming her back against the chilly brick wall behind her. A nice jacket or sweatshirt would have done her some good, but she ignored the feeling, and concentrated on the fear growing in her chest, knees ready to buckle out under her. What if they were…what if Hayashi…that look on his face…

"…If anyone was living here, they're long gone now…"

No, they were fine. Long gone. They had to be. The young girl wrung her wrists over and over, completely ignoring the weather around her. Her skin bore goose bumps, though she felt nothing, and the rain had soaked her clean through, but it was entirely numbing to the touch. Her blue eyes merely stared out into the little huddled group with their black umbrellas and shiny shoes, wholly and utterly terrified. But for the first time ever…it wasn't for her own sake.

Shaking herself into reality, the blue girl closed her eyes and dashed out of the alleyway she was hiding from, mind far from comprehending the dangerous consequences of her actions that could very well decide the fate of her future, but she merely cradled herself as she kept going, blind to everything around her. "They just have to be." she whispered, swimming in and around the massive storm, her lucky visual shield from the officers not too far off. She jumped along with a crack of thunder, hitting a chip in the concrete, and before she could gain her balance back, she slammed into a passerby. "I-I'm sorry! I-I didn't…" she cried frantically, unable to realize she was being throttled back and forth by her shoulders. Her nerves couldn't focus on the face before her, nor properly listen to the voice coming out until she felt a few rough slaps on her left cheek. The pain woke her from her stupor, shaking everything out before breathing out into her hands.

"Rhyth! Can you hear me? Calm down! You have to calm down!"

"Gum!" the girl whimpered, throwing her arms around her and squeezing her in tight. It wasn't something the older one entirely expected, however instinct demanded she cradle the other right back and soothe her until need be. She could barely skate anymore with the jerks and twitching her body was spazzing out, merely clinging onto her as her life support. "Gum…oh, Gum, there's something I have to tell you! The apartment! They took it! It's gone! Its-"

"I know."

Her voice seemed to cut colder than the wind around them. Rhyth released her, crossing one arm as the other held her face and covered her eyes. This couldn't be happening. She had been so close to freedom. Free to be who she wanted to be, with those who didn't mind that at all. She couldn't tell if tears had threatened to trail down her face. Everything mixed with the rain. The older girl whistled sharply, cracking through the rough texture of the water droplets and rumbling of the clouds. "I can't believe this…" she sighed, slowly rubbing along her eyes before lifting her neck up, "It's my fault they're there." Her voice was still and solemn, the owner of it confused of where it had come from while she let her arms hang, staring back where she had run from.

"What are you talkin' about?"

Her eyes broke from the void and trailed back to the teen she had parted with before the rain, silently puzzled about his unexpected appearance. Perhaps that's who Gum had whistled for. She swallowed roughly before glancing at her, meekly following her lead as did Yoyo. Where they were going, she had not a clue, but she was willing to go anywhere away from this street. The three remained quiet as they simply followed a less dangerous path and clung to anything that could easily hide them from sight. "…Rhyth?" His voice was tiny, and even more so because of the rush of nature, but his curiosity required an answer.

"He knows I was there," she whispered, cramming herself next to Gum as they darted under the arch of a building's stoop. It didn't keep them any less wet, but they were able to hide within the dark shadows of the small space. Yoyo shook his head out, the status of his hair the furthest possible thought in his mind. The rain rushed in at them in gusts, but from above they were granted peace, and for that he was thankful for. He rubbed at his face, wishing he had nothing more than a towel to pat his face dry and coat his head as a safety blanket. Without shelter, they were as good as dead. "…He found my…ring…"

The green haired teen froze momentarily, clutching the pup in his grip too tightly for the canine's comfort, and a slow whine eased out from his throat, poking his snout up and through Yoyo's neck hole. He snorted into the boy's neck, offering it a few comforting licks, and it was during this time that Rhyth realized the undetected fourth member of the group. She pointed a rickety accusatory figure at the slightly shorter teen, mouth agape as she tried to find the words that refused to make themselves heard. He offered her a weak smile, cradling the dog's body as he slowly unrolled the sticking material upwards, but Potts refused to be freed from his safe house, or the slight warmth the teen's body had been hosting. His legs squirmed around into the boy's chest, tail curling in tight with a small whine of dejection, and Yoyo sighed softly, pulling at his neck hole instead. Within seconds the pup's head popped out with a meek bark, sniffing about until he caught sight of the two other humans, excitement abusing the poor boy's chest. "Ow, ow, ow, okay, buddy, calm down! Down, boy, down!" he grimaced, leaning towards Rhyth with her awaiting hand to be sniffed.

Her hand curved along the pup's perked ears, scratching him gently while he sniffed and licked (or tried to), and his mini tail prodded Yoyo's stomach to no end. "I'd take him out, but he doesn't like the thunder and he'll cl-aw…" he winced as the dog tried to jump, leaving a good fresh trail of marks under his second skin of a shirt. Her eyes warmed up with a hint of a timid smile, trailing under the dog's chin as best she could much to his enjoyment. The thunder above threatened with a slight rumble, and the dog's head was no more, dug quickly into Yoyo's armpit. "You found him…" she stated quietly, her voice warm…far away. The boy's head hung limply for a moment before giving her a quick nod, unsure where to go from there. He couldn't help but still feel awkward over his unanticipated eavesdropping, but he was quite sure this was neither the place nor time to discuss the matter, even if he did know how to casually bring the subject up.

"Rhyth…what do you mean he found your ring?"

The two held a slight staring contest before gazing over at Gum, nearly forgetting her presence among them. She was leaning against the chilled bricks of the arch, staring off into the empty street, the tiny droplets running down her helmet without direction. She was drifting off into that same world again, Yoyo noticed, ducking his head as another crack whipped through the air. Flushing a bit, the blue haired girl wrung her left wrist, eyes unable to hold up. "I-I..uhm…m-my eng-gagement…one…" she stammered, biting down on her lip as soon as it was out. Gum's eyes flickered for a moment as they fell on the girl, closing for just seconds until she sighed, "Of all the…God…" The blush deepened.

Remaining silent, Yoyo merely glanced out into the world, viewing it like a giant window. He couldn't help but feel a tad guilty over this situation. Perhaps if he hadn't been so curious…so determined to see what the girl was hiding in her hands…maybe she wouldn't have thrown it there in the apartment. It would've been a useful tool during a pawn shop trade or simply anywhere else but where it had been found…He forgot to breathe. Wiping the side of his face with his shoulder, the boy sighed into his sleeve, and Potts sighed along with him. This time he ignored the rumble within the clouds. The truth was far scarier and unexpected than something he could easily anticipate. She wasn't to blame for this unfortunate event.

He was.

"W-Where are we going?"

It was the first thing anyone had said in over forty five minutes, the silence among them deathly quiet. Only their skates voiced their opinions: scratchy, harsh, and cold. All three were exhausted from the downcast weather, quite on the breaking point of their patience, with it, and each other. The meek teen had never been in such a stew and had been undoubtedly unprepared for it, the shorter coming to terms with reality that homes would no longer be open to him, and what he earned would be result of his own good self. He swallowed hard as he clutched the pup in his grip, slightly fearful of what was to come…what could come…and what wouldn't. If he could only get out of this weather…think straight for a moment…He focused on his breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Not too quickly. Not too quickly. Okay…got it…just breathe in…and out…

He couldn't afford to hyperventilate now. He was positive they were fresh out of bags and doubted anyone was willing to drag his unconscious body down the street to safety. They had been following Gum loyally the entire journey, weaving in and out of streets, behind cars, between alleys, and over, through, and even under a few fences. The further they trailed, the darker the streets became, both visually and emotionally. The buildings loomed overhead, tilting sinisterly in the dark without a single light in sight. Aside from a choice few, the street lamps seemed to be burned out, picking and choosing which stoops to light up, dots among the abyss floating around them. Litter scattered around as the gusts picked up, paper waste sticking to anything it attached itself to, cans rolling from side to side if not being tossed. Running her hand through her hair, Rhyth kept close to the little group, making sure she kept an eye on Gum's every move. She wasn't about to lose them in a strange place as this. She wasn't familiar with these parts, and it seemed as if very few people were. Most of the buildings were sloppily boarded up, doors missing, windows gone if not broken, and even caution tape lining along one stoop in particular. The area looked abandoned, as they all were in their own way.

Clearing her throat a bit, the girl tried again, taking into account their number. Something was wrong. They had been missing someone…and only now (due to the high stress) had she realized it. "W-Where's Beat? Shouldn't w-we find h-him?" she chattered, rubbing the sides of her arms, but this warmed nothing. Gum nearly tripped as she made the next turn, sharp as could be. "I don't know," she snapped darkly before the girl could ask again, knowing she would. It was an honest question and no one had been with him last aside from her, so they couldn't possibly know. Couldn't understand. Such…such hate.

Yoyo…he saw something…knew something, but she wasn't going to talk. Not until things were solved out. Not until she was ready. She had pups under her wing, and felt responsible, if not obligated to get these humans (and dog, respectfully) into a shelter where they could be safe. Dark times, indeed.

"Keep up, I'm not slowing down for anyone." she growled, another sharp turn ahead. They were nearly there. "We're heading to an old friend's place. He's locked up right now, but the apartment should be free. Only a couple of rudies know about it, and I don't want you two blabbing your mouths off about it. It isn't a headquarters or anything, but more like an underground safe house to be used in utmost emergencies." She paused her skating as she counted what seemed to be the buildings in front of her before darting off again. Glancing around before chasing after, Yoyo rubbed along his chilled cheek, tugging his hood over his head, "I'd say we hit the mother lode of emergencies." the teen coughed out, pulling back a sniff. He could feel the cool frosting its way down in his bones, unable to believe it had been so disgustingly humid a few hours before. He just wanted to sleep. Close his eyes and not need to wake up for a long while. The boy lifted his head, trying to pull the material from his vision by stretching his neck alone, but it wasn't working as planned. Instead he looked rather foolish, struggling with himself before simply tugging it back with a pinch of his fingers, leaving it at the brim of his eyebrows. Always had to do it the hard way first.

His mother always did say he lived for the rotten taste of medicine rather than avoiding it all together. His thumb ran across the back of the young pup's fur, receiving a quick lick in recognition. "I miss you guys…" His eyes lifted up to the murky, sodden sky, gazing at the treacherous clouds as they loomed above, growling at him every so often. Is that where it was?

No…couldn't be. It wasn't even close to what he had always imagined it to be. It was always…calmer…warm, and slightly welcoming, like sleep crooning you back after consciousness threatened to start the day. The wind picked up for a moment, rushing into his face with a fresh wave of droplets. No…it just couldn't be.

But if not there…then, where?

He rubbed his nose with the palm of his glove, but it made no difference. He could barely feel what was attached to his face. "Everything's a mess…never thought it was gunna end up this way, huh?" The speed in his step was beginning to lack, but he took no notice of this. He blinked slowly for a moment, lost in thought as his feet continued to move, but with less determination. "You guys know I did the right thing…right? My friends need me now…I sort of…sort of have a new family…" His brows furrowed. He didn't like the sound of that. It left a bad taste in his mouth.

"…Actually…we've added on to ours."

Much better.

"You always did say all we had was each other." His eyes tenderly floated down, realizing how far behind he had fallen, leaning forward in a mad dash in case Gum decided to make a rough turn before he could pinpoint it. "Looks like you were right."

By the time he caught up with the girls, he was out of breath. Time never seemed to be on their side, but today had drained them of any luck they had been running on. His throat burned as he tried to take a deep breath, but the rain managed to suck in through his nose, the burning sensation shooting up and into what felt like his brain. He snorted for a moment, wiping his face grimly. He glanced over, corners of his mouth pulled while his ears sharpened best they could to the whisper Rhyth was presumably trying to direct at him. Brows furrowing, the teen skated a bit closer, tilting her neck over as his sunk in. It wasn't that he wasn't interested in what she had to say. She had already proven to be quite an interesting girl, if not one of the most interesting, in his opinion. But the approximate intimacy she was innocently performing was throwing his nerves for a loop ever so slightly, and he wasn't entirely sure he favored this.

His eyes darted to the ground before glancing back up at her, trying to form the word in his mind as her lips moved silently, her icy blues occasionally peeking at Gum in alert. Beat had been right…he couldn't get emotionally involved or attached…who knew where they were all headed in the near future? The goggled hothead was already missing from the picture, and they were all out of a home as far as he could say. This safe house could only last a few days at most. They were going to have to search out and about as soon as the storm passed over, and hopefully by then the cops would be out of the area in search of them elsewhere. They were on a run for their lives. "Freedom always did look better in the movies…" Well, if he was going to be free, he was going to have to earn it. And the price was looking mighty high.

But…Beat had been scoping the streets for a few years now without the protection or assistance of anyone. If he could do it, then surely Yoyo had a chance…Beat….Beat…

Beat!

The teen's eyes widened as he realized the secret code Rhyth had been repeating, looking quite frustrated with his lack of understanding. He opened his mouth quickly, snapping it back shut as the pup popped his entire head out into Yoyo's jaw, cutting his teeth straight into his tongue. He squeaked before running the injured muscle into his cheek, ignoring the strange glance Gum gave over her shoulder. He glared as best he could at the little mutt, but his anger slowly melted with the animal's affections, finding him the best comfort of all. He had a little creature to protect and care for. Man's best friend. "You can't get attached…"

Giving the dog a rough rub along his back, Yoyo held him close, resting his chin along the canine's head and smiled when he felt the stub of a tail poke into his gut once more. It was too late. He was far too attached. Wherever and whatever life was about to throw at them, they were going to face it together. His small smile fell away as he realized the girl next to him was losing her patience. He gave her an honest shrug, looking around for a moment before doing it again. Her arms hung loosely around her, eyes to the street. He could tell she was disappointed in the answer…in the situation…in herself…in them all. Could they have done better? Perhaps. But all in all, they were just kids. The boy's brows furrowed for a moment, realizing their predicament as if for the very first time. The world was literally going at them…grown adults on a bounty for their heads…ready and willing to pull a gun on an unarmed teenager…

There had to be something wrong with the picture. Where they really such a threat that death would be overlooked in their extermination? These were people…children in most cases…barely growing out of their own shells to be popped off by the ones all looked to for protection and service? Who was running this little operation? To have so much power and pick off humans like flies…to be willing to end anyone who posed even the lightest of an unorganized threat? His right eye winced in thought, chewing along the inside of his cheek. Someone had to do something…this was crazy. His heart pounded lightly as he brushed the thoughts away. He had to focus on the present. Day dreaming would get him nowhere.

"If you mention him again, I'm dropping you off here. Just shut your face for one second. Can't you see I'm trying to figure out where we're going?"

The green haired teen dug his chin into his hood, peering out from the heavy lid of his hooded cap. Apparently it had led him straight into an argument. As Gum spun off rougher than need be, Yoyo leisurely pulled his view towards Rhyth, doing his best to keep it in his peripheral, undetected. Her cheeks were red enough as it was, there was no need to further aggravate it, nor pay too much mind to the tears welling in her eyes. It was then that he realized the poor pup was whining in his grip as if the yell had been intended for him. It was small, but high, breaking in between breaths, an undecided howl debating on its entry. Both arms wrapped around the little mutt, hushing him into a nervous licking frenzy. His wet nose poked and prodded the arms, lolling a tongue over the rudie's elbow as he finally decided to rest his head in the nook.

Swallowing briskly, the teen shuddered, feeling quite cold…and it had nothing to do with the weather. He couldn't get involved. Doing so could possibly prevent him a comfortable dorm…he couldn't afford to lose that. Is this what it felt like to truly be on your own? To only care about yourself? To only afford to care for yourself? Mind your own business. You'll last longer.

Survival of the fittest.

His stomach twisted coarsely. The very idea of Rhyth being placed on a lower level of some roughly sketched out food chain did not sit well. The boy shook his head, crouching in tightly, keeping the jagged pace of the girl before him.

The leader of this miniature group simply stared ahead, emotionless, unrealistic. It wasn't something ever quite experienced before in all her years of roaming the streets, fending for herself as it was. She knew she was alive (the tingle in her nose was a continual reminder), but the world felt fake and plastic, her body habitual and robotic, and she, a mere passenger trapped within the subconscious. In this empty theatre, her mind relayed the redhead's expressions, words, actions…his frame shrinking before she could gather herself up. He had left her…alone…to suffer…alone. The blood…there had been blood.

But not hers.

Perhaps…that was the reason why the boy had dispersed. Thought he had done enough damage to prove his might, to declare his right as alpha male. She sniffed quietly. If that had been his purpose, his reason…he was wrong. It was the blood collecting inside his gloves from his own wounds that had splattered like a filled sponge, not that it eased the pain any. He had cracked her nose, leaving the memory lodged in her brain. Her nose sniffed once more. But…Gum was nearly positive he hadn't intended to hit her like that…at all, in fact. His face had nearly broken in horror, the regret an instant jolt of electric pain shooting right from the chest. Still…the helmeted woman released a stiff sigh, her lead less aggravated. The rich one had only been worried about him. They considered him on friendly terms, though he often barked through a personal wired fence, locked away in his own safe zone. But Gum could only handle so much, between the real world and her mind. It was she who had been with him during the police take over, she who had tried to console him when he broke down, and how had he repaid her?

She knew what it was like to have everything stripped from her. She had never had family at any point in her life…a guardian…caring friends to raise her as their own. Why? Why had she been allowed to scrounge the earth, fight nail and tooth for everything, and grow a leather hide in order to protect herself from all human kind? All thanks to a bright mind who couldn't keep her legs shut. What was that word Yoyo had used to describe one who actually gave a shit? Oh…right…mother. The word felt strange in thought and icky on the tongue. It wasn't right to use a term that described something completely different than the thing being depicted. Like labeling a fresh pile sweet as roses. Mother. She didn't deserve such an esteemed title.

And the man who couldn't hold back. Where was that bastard?

Did neither truly care where she would end up? Did he even know she existed?

If she had turned out a brilliant student or…some scavenger on the streets?

Well, where the hell did they expect her to turn up? She had neither of them her entire life, solely depending on herself. Odd end jobs, stealing when necessary, home to home, meal to meal, day by day. Well, she was an artist. She hadn't strayed too far off the ideal road map for such a career. However, she had only herself to thank for it, and not one other. Not one fucking other.

Her throat tightened for a moment before she slammed the truth down. She had to be honest. The scum of the earth weren't so bad once you got to know them. They all had their own stories, own experiences, own horrors. They were like an underground family and it was there where she had met him. Quite a few years back, he had been much shorter then, but all the same quiet. He spoke when he needed to, and not much more, but there was something about him that demanded her respect, and she gave it to him. Her devotion bloomed into a filling in her life, something she had been missing from most of it, able to, for once in her life, claim that she could honestly trust someone. She would trust him with her life…this friend…this brother. And she dearly loved him as one. But where was he now?

And where was she?

Trekking across town with a load on her back, responsible and doubtful all at once. If only he could see her now. "What the hell have you gotten yourself into, girl? Looks like you're Gummin' up the skates."

Clever.

But it was her turn to care for these two noobs, show the ropes and teach the basics. Survival of the fittest, as he had done for her long ago. The young woman shook her head, nearly tripping over a fire hydrant. Taking a deep breath, Gum allowed herself to fall back into the rainy world, the one where a cold chill was real and the possibility of catching illness was even more so. Couldn't let the past interfere with her mood or thinking. Look what it had done to Beat.

Her brown eyes lifted up, face as solemn as stone. She knew this place. Most labeled it the ass end of Dogenzaka, and for good reason. True to its name, the area was located furthest of Shibuya, and for obvious reason. There was nothing but rundown projects here. The buildings were grimy, looming over the streets they skated on without an ounce of life within them. Alleyways continued on into a murky abyss, the contents within impossible to determine. And truth be told, the only form of life around appeared to be them. Not a single window was shimmering with light, leaving the teens to feel even more overwhelmed if possible. They were completely alone.

Probably for the best. People rarely came down these streets and if they did, they were far from welcome. The ones who ran this little portion of town were of rudie descent: trained, willing, and surviving. Cops had yet to follow one down this far. Here, they would be safe. She was sure of it. But as sure as Gum was about the location of this safe house, Rhyth lacked to share the approval, chills running up and down her spine as her eyes darted from here to there, neck swinging back and forth between alleys on either side of them, just waiting for something or someone to run out and do who knows what. There was nothing to protect themselves with. They were helpless. Their skates echoed into the darkness, and the scratching faintly returned, possibly the only sound aside from rain pittering along the blacktop. Twitching ever so slightly, the girl in blue inched herself closer to the only male (or males, including the little pup) in the group, completely unprepared for anything that might come their way.

Within the clutch of the teen, Potts growled deeply, sniffing through the soaked hood, past the material and the boy's natural scent to something much further away. Arching a brow, Yoyo glanced down but hurried towards his left as did the girls when three territorial hounds threw themselves against the chain link blocking them from protecting what they believed was rightfully theirs. They growled and drooled, shoving their snouts into the gaps of the fence as if daring the teens to edge any closer. One pulled back and simply sat, sticking out its neck in curiosity over where these three invaders were planning to go. Gum ignored this keen watch as she snapped quietly, skating over to a building three structures down and patted the brick and cement rail connected to the damp and cracked steps leading up. The two behind her paused for a moment as she jiggled the handle of the iron gate, hinging it open with a long and tired whine behind the one it was attached to. Their interest, however, was on the building itself.

The bricks were dark and now even darker with the lack of light and dampness of the rain seeping through; windows, or what was left of the frames, boarded up with bits of two-by-fours, some collapsed on the ground from either harsh winds or prying hands. Occasional debris flew by, but not the stack of newspapers strangely towering between the double side doors, giving the illusion that gravity was going to attack sooner or later, but it stuck with a slight lean, determined to stay together in a massive paper mache heap. Gum kicked aside a dented can as she climbed under the square shaped arch past the gate, choosing the door to the right. Her hand grasped against the wet metal, furrowing her brow as she turned it left and right, but the lock would not budge. Yoyo glanced around behind them; he couldn't help but feel something was off about this place. He crouched for a moment, nearly losing his balance on his skates while he reached out for something that didn't quite belong in this land of dreary greys. It was a fragment of a bright yellow caution tape.

His shoulders lurched before he got up, peering over his shoulder wide eyed at the current leader of the little group kicking away at the remaining door glass she had just shattered. Making sure every little scrap was gone, she ducked down into the bottom half of the door with a wave of her hand behind her. "Just like a doggy door…" The teen shook his head, following Rhyth who disappeared into the darkness of the opening. Squatting through, the boy carefully placed his hand on the wall rather than the edge of the door, avoiding any unnecessary accidents at all costs. He tore at his hood, running a hand through the matted mess of awkward spikes before clearing his throat with a relieved sigh, thankful to be out of the rain. Against his gut, the pup fidgeted, but after a quick scan of the dangerous obstacles under his skates, Yoyo decided against giving him his freedom just yet.

Rhyth was peeling off her wrist warmers while Gum wrung out the edge of her dress, both quiet enough for the rain to overpower the concept of thought. The sky rumbled ever so slightly, and Yoyo leaned his back against the peeling wall, his curiosity getting the best of him, "Does anyone live here?" The blond removed her helmet, shaking out her own locks. Only the top didn't seem to be touched by rain. "Not that I know of. Not anymore." She made her way to the stairs trailing up the wall on their left, facing opposite of them, "Like I said, the dude who owns this apartment, or lived in it, really…he's in jail now, so no one's here…or is supposed to be…" the young woman trailed off quietly, glancing into the mini hall on the right at the base of the steps. The boy's question had amped her vigilance of the world around her. They were only truly safe once inside that apartment. Out here was as risky as the alleyways…and a scream wouldn't travel so far. Shaking herself free of the jitters, she slightly grumbled at the thought of fearing any human and wished she could smack the teen upside the head for suggesting the possibility of anything menacing within their safe house. How like anyone but herself to worry about such things. Why couldn't anything be what it was? A safe house was supposed to be safe. And now…

Her hand gripped along the shaky wooden rail of the stairwell, her tug shaking it a bit in her efforts to keep balance using her skates. The clench of her jaw tightened when Yoyo piped up again, "Kinda rickety, huh?" Rhyth glanced over the rail at the glass covered floor below, her skates clomping along with the others in an eerie silence; the break in sound hardly felt soothing. Everything here was abandoned. The apartments, the buildings, the streets…the entire block. At least the apartment being infiltrated had life passing by once in a while, and cars passing through the night. It didn't leave her feeling so…alone in the world. This place…it was unwelcoming…frozen…disturbing, so unlike the warm, soothing safety cradle that was Beat's apartment. But this was their last resort. An emergency. There was no room for choice.

Gum led them all the way to the seventh floor, the topmost and by far most unwelcoming hall of all. Due to the height of the seventh story, there was no way for the dimmed street lights to give even the slimmest beam of illumination, thick masses of shadows curling in around the doorways and rafters on the ceiling. And although each door was sealed shut (with tape or wood), Rhyth couldn't shake the feeling that anyone could be hiding in there, and it was puncturing the air out of the safety of this home. What if some psycho was just biding his time, carving a shiny knife in the cool breeze of an open window? Waiting for someone…anyone…them…to walk right past…right into their trap…

Without another thought to further distraught her mind, the girl's hand poked through the gap between Yoyo's free arm and his torso, inching closer with every quiet step they took. The boy's cheeks flushed a bit as he tucked his smile into his hood, not bothering to notice the tight grip she had on him or the odd stain on the wall she was staring at, slightly bashful that she was seeking comfort in him. He glanced ahead at Gum, wondering if the one next to him would have reacted the same way had Beat been present instead of him. His confidence slowly died down, leaving him more skeptical of himself, if anything. She could seek reassurance in anyone beside her, really. As long as they were real and nonthreatening. That sea serpent of a beast, for example. His brows dug lower. Why had she been so standoffish with him before? What had he lied about?

Gum stopped at the end of the shadowed hall, unlit by much of anything, and turned to the only door that wasn't locked with a pad or boarded up. She tore some more of the caution tape off, tossing it to the floor beside her before dusting her hands, crouching down for a moment to gather her courage in order to lift the dirty, wet welcome mat. But she only found more floor beneath it. She released the disgusting thing, slowly towering back up while wiping her hand against the wall, "Where would he put that thing…" She glanced around at the limited choices she had, crossing her arms as Yoyo complied with the pup's whines to set him free. Gently he unveiled the spotted dog, setting him down tenderly as if to help him learn his balance. He gave a small yawn, stretching forward then back before shaking out his entire body from the moisture he was forced to endure. Sniffing around, the young pup perked his ears, trotting off towards the opposite end of the hall.

Rhyth arched her back in sudden alarm, but it was Yoyo who pulled away from her grip, taking a step towards the darkness, his concern for the dog more powerful than he realized, "Uhm, Potts…C'mere, boy. Stay over here." The empty lantern attached to the wall clicked as Gum pulled her hand out from under the lid, a rusty little key in tow. The lock clunked when she turned the key, but arched a brow at the teen edging further and further away from them. Just where did he think he was going? "Potts?" She glanced at Rhyth who was pondering the name in curiosity, eying Yoyo intriguingly, her fear slightly dissipated for the moment. A light tuneless whistle broke through the air, and the scratching of the dog's claws ticked nearer with each bound. The pup circled the boy's feet, rear happily shaking as Yoyo squatted down to greet him. He popped up in excitement, fat paws gripped on the teen's knee, appreciating the affectionate scratch he was receiving. "Gotta stay close, boy. Can't lose you again." he murmured, shyly smiling at Potts' affectionate lick as he picked him up under his front legs. He cradled him lightly as he turned around, the dog sticking out a paw into the boy's saggy hood as a balance, tongue panting happily.

"Potts, huh?"

Yoyo looked up at Gum, her slight smirk barely showing in the darkness, but eyes bright enough to withstand their own. Rhyth was watching him with a small smile of her own, her arms wrapped behind her. He could feel his cheeks filling up, like he had been caught by a school teacher ready to chew him out in front of the class, and dug half of his face into the pup's neck, a quick sniff of his ear stating that they were now even. Never had the teen ever been given the chance to be responsible over something as large as a dog, and he could remember years ago begging for a puppy, just one little puppy, it was no big deal, I'd wash him, and feed him, and play with him, and make sure he doesn't make a mess, and according to his parents he just hadn't been the right age for a dog…at the time. Maybe next year, they said, much to his disappointment. Maybe next year.

The thing about maybes is that they rarely ever come true. Especially if your parents aren't around to make it happen. His fingers scratched along the pup's back, receiving a paw tap to the shoulder. "Well…you know…he needs a name…and…well…" the green haired rudie stumbled with a shrug, holding the dog close as if someone were ready to steal him away. Gum kept her smile as she pushed the door open with a light heave, more mass darkness ready to instantly greet her. Be it far from her to part a boy and his dog. She thought it rather heartwarming for Yoyo to take such interest in the little guy. Rhyth slowly followed, giving him a tender eye before allowing the darkness of the room to engulf her as well.

"…I'm more of a dog person."

It certainly seemed so.

Slowly rolling in, Yoyo squinted hard, praying he wouldn't bump into something or anyone and possibly injure himself, Potts, or both. Light suddenly flooded the room from the right corner, exploding a series of spots everywhere for all three of them. Rubbing his eyes roughly, the boy blinked blindly for a moment, taking the time to gather his surroundings: peeling walls of ancient paint or wallpaper (he couldn't be sure which was what anymore by the look of it), a small square folding table with one chair collapsed on its side in the left corner, a much loved leather recliner in the right, a broken down and out of order refrigerator adjacent to it, and quite useless considering there wasn't any running electricity in the building, and one copper colored battery powered lamp that compared with Gum in height, a flat disk on top to flatten out and diffuse the sleepy yellow light into the entire room. There were two doors in the corner of this room, both in the right hand back corner near the recliner. Sighing, the blond set her helmet on the table, lifting the fallen chair to take a seat. Finally. They were here. Not all, but most.

Brushing her hair back with her fingers, she shook her head, leaning forward to remove her skates. Her legs were tired from the trek, thighs sore and calves aching. Tossing the heavy weights to the side, she stretched her toes, leaning back with her head against the wall. Too many things. Just too many. The door slightly whined as Rhyth took charge of making sure they were going to be safe for the night, her nose scrunching as she paused, poking her head out into the hall for a moment. Slowly, the girl's neck pulled back in, closing the door behind her with a swift turn of the lock, "It smells like urine out there…"

Yoyo glanced back biting his bottom lip, looking over to Gum with a meek flushed grin while setting the pup on the floor. Her annoyed glare was enough for the blame. "Guess we'll have to work on that…" he said quietly, rubbing Potts' head before stretching up, tugging off the bulky hood sponged up with three pounds of water, if not more. It slipped from his hands before he could straighten it out, nearly claiming the pup just inches off. It landed with an awkward plop, and all three stared for a moment before Gum stood, her weight creaking along the floorboards of the old apartment. Potts looked up at his master with a disapproving snort, shaking himself once more before rubbing his body against the wall to dry himself.

"I can get you guys some dry clothes, hang on."

She disappeared into the room ahead, vaguely remembering where everything was. Nothing much had changed. The bedroom still had the old box spring queen sized bed, only a different set of covers from the ones she remembered. Red they had been, and now, a faded blue. Beside it was the wooden nightstand, a dusty radio placed on it crookedly, batteries popped out most likely for more important things, and the dresser in the corner, a dusty and fingerprint covered mirror hanging just above on the wall. She curled her fingers between the metal gold painted hanger knobs, the humidity chipped paint peeling off into her grip. "Ugh…" It had been a while since anyone was in here. Her hands crawled through the masses of clothing within the drawer: colors, styles, and sizes ample enough to find something for her friends to wear.

Under her arm carried a ball of clothing intended to fit as best they could, her feet padding along the wood. "Here. If there's anything wrong with them, you can always just go through the drawers and find something yourself. There's loads of sizes," she yawned slightly, stretching the muscles in her neck from side to side while she tossed Yoyo a black tee, some clean boxers (or at least they looked clean), and a pair of polyester mesh shorts, "You're a small guy, these should fit. And even if they're not cut to size, its only to sleep with, really. Not trying to kill your image or anything." She handed Rhyth a white tank top and navy blue shorts with a soft warm robe to rid the chills running up and down her arms and legs.

"Our clothes should be dry by morning," the eldest said quietly, nodding at the other girl in the room. Her eyes feel on Yoyo's hood, still splatted on the floor. "That's going to take a while…and your shorts, too. The material's a bit thick." she noted, but he merely shrugged, too tired to care and pleased he had something to change into. At this point, he hardly cared for any privacy, peeling off the white tee shirt glued onto his skin, the bumps of the cold giving him a rough exterior. A thick piece of material flew at his head, blocking out everything for a second. He grabbed at it, pulling it out of his eyes and kept it on his head, rubbing hard. It was a towel. Thin, but durable.

The door to Gum's right clicked shut, her smirk managing to hold off as he freed his head in a mess of stringy spikes, hanging the towel around his neck to pick up the mess he had made on the floor.

"Might want to give a heads up the next time you have yourself a little strip tease," she whispered, tone hushed and secretive. She nodded her head towards the bathroom door, "Not all of us are so bold to the world." Yoyo buried his head under his towel once more, attention focused only on getting himself dry. The bedroom door clicked, leaving him limited time to switch into his new clothes. Pulling his elbows behind his head in a back crack, the teen shoved his skates next to the recliner, an odd and slightly disturbing thought filling his head. He was in someone else's boxers. He shoved the awkward chills away. Couldn't think of that now. There were worse things. Now…where to put his less than desirable clothing? It wasn't like he had…much of a choice. His face screwed up into a distress of hopelessness. It seemed the only choice he had ever had was finally getting away from the homes…the rest, a progression of unfolding misfortunes, one predicament after the next…and this was without a gang in tow. He could only imagine the trouble being in one could attract. The boy's chest heaved after setting his hood on top of the fridge and his shorts on the table, his old boxers pressed flatly underneath them, throwing himself face first into the old recliner, an explosion of dust bursting into the air all around him.

A groan.

He just wanted to sleep. There was nothing more his body begged for. Shifting his face up, he squinted past the little dust particles floating around, sneezing as soon as he got a whiff of them. Shifting on his side, Yoyo tugged at the side bar, pulling out the footrest. If he laid back, it could do as a bed. He peeled his gloves off, tossing them next to his skates with a yawn, doing his best to make himself comfortable. Eyes nearly shut, they jarred open as a hefty mass flew out from nowhere, bounding from the teen's legs to his gut, with a wiggle against the fabric of clothing to dry himself. "Well, excuse me, yo." the boy chuckled as the dog rolled on his side and glanced at the teen, back leg kicking out while his free ear perked up. Yoyo gazed down at him fondly, a tender hand resting along the small dog's head, brushing back to his neck, the little tail wagging in approval. Half of his face was covered, half dug into the boy's tee, finding both comfort and warmth in his boy, his free eye gazing back until slowly closing, the electricity in his tail softly dying out. And soon Yoyo found himself following the same trail his puppy was sniffing along, where things were peaceful, quiet, and anything but dangerous.

The left door opened with a gentle click, revealing the thin skater, robe wrapped around her snuggly. She had hung her clothing inside the bathroom, on the towel rack and along the tub, trusting of the other female's words that everything would be dry by morning. She sniffed softly, skates in hand while she walked to where the boy had placed his own fabrics, tucking her skates underneath the table. Inside the bathroom she had the opportunity to do some thinking, and those thoughts had felt her feeling somewhat guilty. It wasn't fair that he had no idea why she was feeling the way she was. It wasn't fair that she was feeling the way she was. And it wasn't fair that they hadn't had the time to talk about anything much else than survival. She wasn't used to everything being so difficult. How was one to learn about life if everyone lived it for you? Someone had selected her character and clicked expert by accident. It was the only explanation she could think of. She couldn't imagine a higher power wishing any harm on her…she had always done right, or tried her best to.

She cleared her throat lightly, turning as she sat on the empty seat. Perhaps now was the time to clarify any mess between them. Then she would be able to rest easy. Yes, that would do. But as her eyes fell on the scene before her, she couldn't help but keep quiet and smile shyly, curling up with her head against the wall so the cozy little duo could rest together in serenity.

Gum sat on the edge of the old spring bed, staring out at the sky. Dark, grey…cold, stiff…empty and unaided. She sniffed, a reaction she had been experiencing ever since Beat had smashed her nose. The young woman glared out the window, wondering why she even cared when he hardly gave a shit about any of them. Everything had been pulling teeth with him, and now he was finally apart from them. He wanted that the whole time, didn't he? Bitched and groaned, throwing piss fits over any little thing, ready to spit an insult in the blink of an eye.

But then, he had stood up for them when it counted…stood up for her…

Sitting up a little, she ignored the damp spot on the bed she had left. She had yet to change out of her clingy dress, the water droplets dripping down her legs as she debated. Debated whether she was going to change or not. She could simply find something comfortable and dry to wear, lie in the comfy bed behind her, and stare hour after hour at the ceiling, wondering what had become of the redhead spitfire…or she could wait until the kids were asleep…

Tracking was a hard task to do alone, but she couldn't bring them. She just couldn't risk it. They would worry. They would slow everything down. They could possibly get into more trouble than it was worth. And without any tagalongs, no one would be victim to her vicious mood in the current. But when she found Beat…if she found him, of course…what then? What would she say? What could she say? Nothing would exactly have him come willingly, not in the mindset he was in. And she wasn't in the mood to threaten…pulling off the threat would require too much energy that she just didn't have. And if he dared to raise another hand to her…"I'll destroy him…" she snorted, glancing back over her shoulder at the light fading in under her door. She'd need her skates.

Tiptoeing to the corner of the door, she silently pulled it open, a small smirk tugging at her lips. Green was knocked out, cuddled up with the pup like a long lost teddy that had been recently discovered, and Blue curled up with her knees against her chest, head nodded along the wall with her chin dug into the snug of the robe. Perfect. She inched along and gathered up her skates, freezing when the dog whined for a moment, throwing out a kick before digging his nose into the nook of the teen's elbow, tail wagging twice before resting. Shaking her head, Gum reached up and snapped the light off, cooling off the room with a blanket of shadows. They would be more than enough company for each other should any wake up, and it wasn't like she was trapping a pair of enemies with each other. Yoyo and Rhyth…She quietly smiled, an air chuckle firing from her chest. They got along. Got along quite well.

Closing the door behind her, she rushed over to the window, unlocking the old hinges, but rested her head against the cool glass, watching the little rain drops trickle down. "He doesn't deserve the amount of fuck I give." Her fingers ran down the pane, ending at the lip and lifted it, ducking out into the fire escape. There was only one thing she could imagine him doing at the moment, and she had to stop him at all costs.


Author's Note: OMG FINALLY. I took forever editing this, because I felt an edit was needed and will be needed for the rest. I think I made this chapter 3x as long as it was originally going to be. Added so much and molded so much more. And I want to thank my friend Panda who would not rest until I had this sucker up and running. I promise to all who are still miraculously reading this that it will have an ending and I plan to finish it. Took years, but this bad boy is still up and running until my very last chapter. RAWR! And I'd like to thank everyone who's reading this, sending me reviews and faving. It warms my heart that people are still reading this old thing. ^^