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Louis woke up from the dream covered in a cold sweat. He looked over at the alarm clock and groaned. It was only three seventeen, and Louis knew that there was no way that he was going back to bad now. Not after that.

Louis picked up his sneakers and slipped quietly out the door, down the hall, out the front door. He sighed as he put on the sneakers and looked down the street, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness that surrounded him. Then he got off the stoop.

And ran.

He wasn't running anyplace in particular. Why would he? All he needed to do was clear his mind. Let the smoothness of his stride take him away. As he ran, he looked around. Now that his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he could see outlines of shapes, general things. The familiarity of it all calmed him until he let himself sink back and remember his dream.

He'd had this same dream before. Six times before, to be exact. The first one the night before his dad died. The next right before Child Welfare came to get him from his negligent mother. The third the day before he learned his mother had died. Numbers four five and six right before he'd gotten taken out of various foster homes.

So why did the dream come to him now? It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, but the best guess sent chills running down Louis's spine. They wouldn't the couldn't take him away from the Millers. Not after over a year and a half of being with them. Not after everything they'd been through. The thought sent tears streaming down Louis's cheeks, which he brushed away impatiently, even though there was nobody around to see him cry.

You don't even know if it's going to happen. A small voice reminded him tentatively. Louis sighed, wishing he could believe the voice, but even though Louis didn't go in for all that Psychic stuff, he knew what this dream meant.

It meant no more friends. No more basketball. No more band. It meant no more Jodi, or Gary, or Mr. or Mrs. Miller. No more Romeo.

They can't do this to me! Louis thought. They meant the court system, the social worker, the everybody. They can't take me out of the best house I've ever had. The closest thing to "home" I've ever gotten. And at the same time, Louis knew that he had no say over it. Until he got adopted or turned eighteen, the state had control of him, and nothing anybody did could change that.

Eventually, his running brought him back to the Miller house. He walked up the stairs to his room at the far end of the corridor. He was about to climb into bed when he thought of something.

Louis got down on his knees, like he saw kids doing in movies and started praying. Praying to God, or Christ, or Buddah or whoever was really up there to let him stay with the Millers. He had prayed like this every time he'd had the dream. It had never worked before, but wasn't seven supposed to be a lucky number, or something? He climbed back into bed.

His clock read five forty-eight. He'd have to get up in an hour, but Louis didn't care. Right now, Louis didn't care about anything. He knew that in a couple of hours, he'd have been told that he couldn't live there anymore. He'd have his life turned up-side-down. And not for the first time.

Damn dream.


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