This is Pepper's story. It is based on the 1982 movie version. Some of it overlaps with Annie's story (and I do not own that dialogue), and some of it is me filling in the gaps and continuing. This is my first fanfiction, but I love criticism, so please give me any and all reactions, good or bad.

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, situations, or dialogue you recognize from the movie.

Chapter 1

The thing about orphans is they're only worth something young. Folks that go out looking for a new kid want a baby, or one of them toddlers with the big eyes. One they can raise their own. You're only worth as much as you're cute and can win 'em over.

Once you hit, oh, seven or so, but littler for some kids, if you ain't been adopted then it's not gonna happen. Me, I'm almost thirteen, and no beauty either. I stopped being cute about five years old. Only a total head case would want me now, and I ain't goin' nowhere with no crazy person.

That's not saying I wanna be stuck here another five years. Nah, my best bet's to get noticed by somebody lookin' for a kid to get work out of. Not like there are many of 'em around anymore, but it's happened. It ain't a real adoption, 'cause they ain't family even if they sign, but it's still a ticket out. And it's gotta be a heck of a lot easier to escape from somebody's home than it is from this prison. I dunno why Annie even keeps trying. I can't even keep track of the number of times she's gotten caught. Only way outta this dump's a set of adoption papers.

Molly's crying. Again. Screaming her little mouth off again for Annie. I roll over and put my pillow over my head, but I can still hear her. Then comes Annie's voice, comforting the baby. I roll back over.

"How am I supposed to get any sleep around here?" I stand up and start towards them, stepping on people and complaining as I do. "Molly shouldn't be in this room. She's a baby. She cries, all the time. She wets the bed."

"I do not!" she yells back.

Like hell she doesn't, she's only six. Molly'd be sweet if she weren't always crying. She's got these big brown eyes and her voice is real cute. Yeah she doesn't belong in this room; she's still got a shot out.

Duffy and July jump on me then, shoving me on top of Kate. They're a couple of spark plugs, those two. Good for them. They wallop me a couple times with their pillows until I get turned around and go back at them. Pretty soon we're all yelling and laying into each other.

The, sure enough, there's Annie, shoving us apart and fixing us with that glare she's got, like she's our mother or something. "Do you want Ms. Hannigan to come in here? Go back to bed."

The other two scram, but I ain't gonna let a little kid boss me. I step up in front of her, but Annie ain't scared. She never is. She just puts up her fists and says "Now. Or you'll have me to deal with."

She looks pretty funny, this redheaded stick glaring at me like that. But still, I know she ain't bluffing. I may be a head taller, but we'd still be pretty even for a fight. So I just snort. "Ah, blow it out your ol' wazoo."

Annie goes back to Molly as we all get comfortable. Then she starts on about her parents. That girl thinks about nothing else, I swear. I dunno how many of us actually believe it, really. But it's our fairytale, I guess. I mean, any kid here who's never wished for a family's crazy. And when Annie gets going, you have to listen. She's good at it. The way she tells it, you forget you're nearly thirteen and ugly and mean besides, and you start maybe just a little bit to think somebody might want you.