(Obligatory Disclaimer: Neither the Suite Life characters, or the song lyrics belong to me. )


1. Enthusiastic vigor and liveliness.
2. Distinctive style or flair.

I see myself in the pouring home
I see the light come over now

Madeline Fitzpatrick watched the late afternoon sun slant across the floor as the sound of shouting echoed through the small apartment in which she lived with her parents. It was they who were shouting - arguing, as they so often did, over Maddie knew not what. She had been waiting for the shouts to subside for the past hour and a half, ever since she had gotten home from school. That was the way every day was for Maddie, with her parents too concerned with their own problems to pay any attention to her, unless it were to raise a hand against her for getting in their way.

"I've had enough of this," she thought finally, after another half hour had passed without them emerging from their room. "I might as well go somewhere where I'm wanted."

She was referring to the family she had found outside of her home, to substitute the negligent one inside it. Maddie, like many young people who have no where else to turn for love, had fallen in with a street gang known as the Tiptons.

I see myself in the pouring rain
I watch hope come over me

As she headed down the dark, narrow stairs of her apartment complex, she heard raindrops begin to fall down upon the poorly constructed roof, slowly at first, and then more rapidly, until it became a storm. But she did not stop or turn back, and eventually stepped out into the deluge, not caring if she got soaked to the bone. After all, if her parents didn't care about her, why should she care about herself? The only people who would even notice would be the Tiptons she was going to meet. As she thought about them, she began to feel the slightest bit better. Marion Moseby, the group's leader, was more like a father to her than her real one, and Carey Martin, Moseby's right hand woman, often took the place of Maddie's absent mother.

Carey's sons, Zack and Cody, were like brothers to Maddie, and London, the daughter of the groups's slain founder, Wilfred Tipton, was more like her sister than any blood relation could be. The two girls both came from fractured homes - London's mother had left years ago, and her father, while he did show her attention, had shown it in the wrong way, by taking his young daughter along with him in crimes. After he was kiled by the Tiptons' rivals, a gang known as the Saints, London remained with Wilfred's followers, having no one left to look out for her.

And then there was Esteban Montoya del Rosa. Having grown up among the drug wars of South America, he was constantly exposed to violence, and became a hardened veteran at a young age. Jaded as he was, almost nothing he saw could surprise him anymore, or move him to any of the tenderer feelings of man.

That was why it was so surprising when, upon Maddie's induction into the Tipton gang, that he had taken the downtrodden girl under his wing, and appointed himself her particular friend and protector. He took care of her at times when she couldn't or wouldn't take care of herself - time like this, when he was now pulling up next to her as she trudged down the sidewalk, her hair matted and wet, her mascara running, and her head hanging low.

"Hey, bunny rabbit," he called over the din of the rain. "You look like you could use a lift. Hop in." So saying, he leaned over and pushed open the passenger side door of his car.

Maddie followed his instructions, and watched water splash on the seat as she pulled the door shut again. But whether that water came from the rain, or from her own tears, she couldn't tell.

I know this chapter was short, but I'm following Quirky Del's example and having this be the teaser chapter. Hang on, and more will come soon.