Street Livin'

Disclaimer: Don't own.

Hiya, once again. This is my first AU and hopefully you will like it enough to encourage me to continue! wink, wink, nudge, nudge Enjoy!

Remy stalked down the New Orleans streets, checking around for a place to get some food. Any food. He'd barely eaten a thing in the last two days due to the amount of cops lingering about, and he was getting desperate. Storeowners were becoming more alert to the young thief and it was making it quite hard for him to steal anything as easy as it used to be. Of course, he would still try. He had to.

Sneaking his way down an alley beside one of the many Cajun eateries in the area, his sensitive red on black eyes helped him see trashcans and stray boxes scattered about. Last thing he needed was tripping over one and having himself caught.

Soon he was right next to the back door, pressed against the wall. The scents of spices wafted through the air and made his mouth water. After controlling the now constant rumbling of his stomach, Remy waited for his chance. Peeking in, he saw the cook look away to hand in an order and accept a new one. His mistake was leaving a steaming bowl of crab gumbo on the counter closest to the door. Remy grinned and cracked open the door just enough to slide his small lanky form in. A quick moment later, Remy was out the door, dinner in his hands. He was on his way out of the alley when he finally heard the shouting of the cook behind him.

Remy barked out a quick triumphant laugh and carefully ran to his safe house, which was about five blocks from the restaurant. It was an abandoned office building near the slums of New Orleans. More homeless people occupied other room, but mainly it was a silent agreement to leave each other alone and not draw the cops in.

Remy had claimed one of the offices on the third floor. His neighbors on the floor kept to themselves, much as he did. He did see a few on occasion, like Mr. Beneau, who was probably one of the nicest guys Remy had ever met. He would give the boy any extra scraps of food if he could spare them and told him the best places to snatch things from and what places to avoid. Remy hadn't seen him around for awhile, but it didn't bother him much. Beneau was probably moving on, as most of them did. Remy, himself, in only three short years of living like this, had moved at least 15 times. Once a place just stopped feeling safe, he moved. He was pretty comfortable where he was right now though. And if Mr. Beneau had moved on, Remy wasn't surprised he didn't say goodbye. You just didn't try to get attached.

Shaking some spilt gumbo off his hands, he set the bowl down and went looking for a spoon. Some would think a homeless 13-year-old wouldn't have the luxury of eating with utensils, but not Remy. He refused to eat like an animal in these conditions and that was the sole purpose of lifting some very nice silver china from a retailer a couple months before hand.

After retrieving just that, he sat down before the bowl and smiled. He said a quick prayer and dove in. The gumbo had cooled down considerably, but it didn't both Remy at all. He ate it quickly and went to sleep with a full tummy and a wide content grin on his face.

Remy woke the next morning, ready for a new day. He got up from his makeshift bed of a raggy blanket and crumpled newspaper and stretched. Shaking his head to fully awake himself, he walked out of his room and down the hall. It was one of the only two stilly miraculously working bathrooms in the whole building. After waiting five to 10 minutes for Ms. Jenebroux to finish up, he went in and cleaned himself up as best he could. He scrubbed his face with the hard, mineralized water. After drying his face with the bottom of his shirt, he looked at his reflection in the grimy mirror. Red on black eyes stared back at him, mocking him.

They were why he was on his own. First his own mother abandoned him and after spending countless years unwanted in an orphanage right outside of the city border, he just ran away. He wasn't sure if anyone cared that he was gone. As far as he knew and experienced, no one would.

He gathered his things and let the next person use the bathroom. Another day, another chance to survive. Donning a pair of sunglasses, he left his home and set out for the day.

He found himself in the French Quarter, which was beginning to buzz with life at the hour of eleven. Remy did love the Saturday mornings at the Quarter. He smirked to himself. Perfect time for quick cash. He slinked about the crowd, his hands slipping into pockets and purses undetected.

After gathering a decent amount of wallets and loose cash, he sprinted to a nearby alley. He started counting his 'winnings' for the time. Seeing he had a good hundred or so, he decided to treat himself to some new clothes. With a victorious grin to himself, he ditched the now empty wallets and stuffed the cash in his pocket. He started walking out, checking for anyone that may have seen him rush in. Seeing no one suspicious of him, he adjusted his sunglasses and took a step to walk out.

He froze though. From behind, there was a tiny whimper. Remy normally ignored the crying of other homeless people, but this one sounded so… young. Too young. He listened for it again and when it came, he followed the sound to a collection of trashcans. He peered over the lids and saw a tiny girl. She couldn't have been more than 8. She felt a shadow loom over her and looked up. She saw Remy and her red rimmed green eyes went wide with fear. "Get away!" She cried out, scrambling out of her hiding spot.

Remy caught a glimpse of many things as she scrambled up. A distinctive white blotch struck out in her auburn hair, which was grubby from many days of going unwashed. But more importantly, he saw bruises over her frail body, including a yellow on in the mid of healing on her cheek.

"Wait!" He shouted to her. "I'm not gon' hurt y'."

"How do Ah know that? You could be just like him!" She snapped over her shoulder. She ran to the dead end of the alley. Pressed against the wall, her chest heaved up and down with each of her ragged breaths.

"P'tite, I'm not gon' hurt y'. I promise," he said softly, taking very tentative steps towards her.

She sank down, her knees giving out from under her. "Please," she whispered, tears threatening to fall.

Remy finally made it up to her and knelt down next to her. "Don't touch me," she snarled.

"I know." He sighed deeply. "Y' too young t' be out here on y' own dough."

"Ah ran away from him. Let Momma deal with him now." She growled through clenched teeth, glaring to the ground. Remy watched her, knowing she wasn't speaking directly to him.

He cleared his throat and softly asked her, "How long y' been out here?"

She looked up, eyes shining with tears. "Four days."

"Y' eat at all?" She shook her head. "Merde." He thought for a moment. "Alright. C'mon." He stood up, offering his tattered-gloved hand to her. She hesitantly took it and he helped her up. She instantly let go of it though when she was steady. "Jus' follow b'hind me. Easy t' get lost out dere." She nodded. He started walking and the girl followed obediently.

Remy insisted taking her hand as they walked through the crowds of people in the Quarter. Once again, the girl reluctantly slid her hand in his. He guided her through all the people, making his way to the only place he'd actually pay to eat. The owner was kind to everyone and gave the less fortunate community discounts. Remy didn't want to steal from him so he gladly paid.

He and the girl took a seat in one of the booths near the kitchen. He could hear her stomach growling with such an intensity he thought he was going to shake. "Order what y' want, but don't overdo it. One, I'm on a budget," he smiled at that one. "An' two, if y' fill y' stomach up too quick, it'll just come right back up." She nodded wordlessly and looked to the menu, hungry eyes checking every possibility. Remy was just going to order a cheeseburger with the works, since it'd been so long since he'd had it, or any type of red meat.

A waitress came up, setting down some glasses of water, and asked for their orders. The girl pointed in the menu to Remy what she wanted. "My sister has laryngitis," he explained to the waitress before repeating the order. He figured the girl just didn't want to talk to anyone. He was surprised that he'd gotten all that he did from her in the alley.

The waitress left them to take in their orders. Remy turned from watching the waitress and saw the girl staring straight at him. "What?"

"Thank you."

A smile tugged at his lips. "Y' welcome." A silence sat between them for a long moment. "So… what's y' story?"

She bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling. "Ah ran away," she said shakily.

"Not ready t' talk 'bout it?" She shook her head. "S'kay. I was de same way when I first started out. But den again, I didn' have no body t' talk t'."

"When was that?"

"T'ree years ago."

"Why?"

"Sick o' no one wantin' me." He wasn't going to tell her everything if she wasn't going to either.

"Why wouldn't anyone want ya?" She asked innocently.

He was almost tempted to take off his sunglasses and let his eyes speak for themselves. But he settled for a shrug instead.

"Oh."

"Y' not from 'round here, dough. I can hear it."

"Mississippi. He brought me here on one a' his business trips." She spit out 'he' as if it hurt to say it.

"Y' pere?" A questioning look. "Y' daddy?"

"Step-dad." She shivered. "Mah real daddy died when Ah was a baby."

"I'm sorry."

"Ah don't need yoah pity foh him," she spat. She instantly felt bad, since this boy was probably the only human to have ever treated her with selfless kindness. So she decided to continue. "Momma got remarried when Ah was five. The last five years… they've been bad." Remy's face stayed emotionless, but he was surprised to hear that she was actually 10 years old. She was so much smaller and thinner than an average girl of that age would be.

"Dear ol' Victor," she whispered harshly as she tored a piece of her napkin off. "He did nothin' but steal from Momma, which drove her ta drinkin'. Didn't even care about me after too long. An' then he started… doin' stuff…" She trailed off, physically unable to say the next words. Remy just sat there in disbelief.

"Momma knew the whole time. Didn't do a thing. Sometimes when he was done with me he would go an' beat the tar outta her. So neither of us could get out. But Ah felt no need ta save her too. She only cared 'bout herself." She took in a deep breath and it shuddered through her bones. "Ah figured Ah would be in better shape if Ah was on mah own than with them."

Remy didn't know what to say. All he had seen in his life was lack of love. This girl had been abused in probably every way possible. She was still a child and had seen how dark the world can be. It wasn't like he could go to her side of the table and hold her to comfort her like he'd seen people do before. One, she most likely wouldn't respond too well to physical contact of that degree, and two, he simply didn't have it in him. But then, he got an idea. "I'll take care o' y'," he said suddenly.

She squinted her emerald eyes at him. "What?" She asked, almost astonished.

"I'll help y' get used t' de streets. Y' can stay wit' me till y' get a handle on t'ings."

"You would do that foh me?" Her eyes now twinkled with hope.

"It's up t' you." He smiled warmly.

A small smile appeared on her face. The first Remy had seen from her and the first she had made in a long time. "Sure. Thank you again." She paused, staring at him through his sunglasses. "Why are ya doin' this? Ah mean, ya coulda just left me in the alley like the other twenty people that've gone through there in the last couple days. But, Ah dunno. Ah guess Ah'm not used ta havin' someone care about me."

"Y' pro'bly won' understand dis, but I need t' have someone t' care for. T' make sure I'm not heartless when I grow up because no one ever loved me. An' I can' watch someone else not be cared for when I c'n help."

She nodded, absorbing his words. "Ya're very mature foh thinkin' like that."

Remy grinned. "I'll take dat as a compliment." The waitress then came back with their food.

"I see y' sister's feelin' better," she noticed, smiling.

"She drank some water. T'anks," Remy lied with a smirk. The girl took the cue and picked up the still full cup and sipped. The waitress's smile spread wider as well.

"Just let me know if y' need anyt'in' else, kids." Then she sauntered away.

When the waitress was out of sight, the girl spoke up. "What's yoah name?" She stuffed a fork full of mashed potatoes in her mouth.

"Remy." He took a bite of his cheeseburger, cheese and juice dripping down the sides, just the way he liked it. After swallowing, he asked the same of her.

She hesitated. "Bethany."

"Dat's pretty."

She shivered. "Not when ya think you're gonna get 'bad-touched' ev'ry time a drunk man says it." She didn't feel the need to elaborate, but in her head, a voice taunted her. 'C'mon Bethie. Ya know it feels good. That's mah girl.' She quickly took a bite of her Cajun spiced chicken, swallowing as fast as she had put it in her mouth. Regretting it immediately due to the spiciness, she drank a big gulp of water.

"Oh… well den, y' can be my nameless rogue protégé."

"Or… Ah can be Rogue," she suggested with a glint to her eye. It suited what she wanted her new life to be, scoundrel, devious, alive. Nothing like the victim she was back in Caldecott.

He laughed and raised his water glass. "T' new beginnin's, p'tite."

She grinned and raised her own glass. "Cheers."

End of Chapter 1.

Whatcha think? Worthy of continuance?