They were absolutely nothing alike in any way except that they adored one another. One tended to show her adoration to the other without even pause while the other liked to hide how she felt behind a mask of indifference. They weren't blood sisters but surely sisters by heart and, legally, through paperwork. Most assumed they had been adopted by the Berry's at the same time but only the Berry's knew the truth.

It had started when Rachel was in 4rd grade. For reasons long forgotten now neither one of Rachel's fathers had come to pick her up from school that day. Hiram would say that it was Leroy's day and that's why he had worked a late shift, assuming his husband would get their daughter. Leroy however would say Hiram had merely forgotten it was his day and that was why Leroy didn't show up that day. Whatever the actual reason was didn't matter seeing as little Rachel, clutching her lunch pale to her chest and watching the road for one of the two of her parent figures to come for her, was still there alone. An hour had passed before Rachel finally realized that no one was coming to retrieve her. Lima Elementary School had only been a few blocks over from what was labeled as Lima Heights. Little Rachel was far to young to comprehend what kind of place Lima Heights was so when she decided to walk home she didn't even think taking a short cut through that part of town would be any less dangerous than the long way.

Meanwhile while Rachel was trekking through the most dangerous part of Lima like a shoulder on a mission, Hiram Berry was just coming home from the hospital expecting his husband and daughter to already be home waiting for him. With the absence of both and the missing smell of what should have been dinner waiting it didn't take long for Hiram to realize the huge mistake they had made. Immediately he was dialing his husbands phone number while racing back out the door in his scrubs, not even bothering to slip on the shoes he had previously kicked off. Buzzing down the roads of Lima at double the speed he legally should have been Hiram was berating his husband for forgetting their daughter while also managing to avoid police and red lights. It wasn't until he came to a screeching halt in front of the school did he break down into tears seeing that his daughter was no where to be found.

Hiram couldn't find her because at the time he was at the school, Rachel was walking down the streets of Lima Heights taking in the different dark eyes calculating her as she went. Even as a toddler Rachel Berry could decipher that the men watching her were not good men like her fathers and that, should she go anywhere near them, bad things would happen to her. Things her innocent young mind couldn't even fathom. Pink booties continued to step faithfully against the cracked sidewalk all the while her courageous heart felt its first tremors of fear. Soon it wasn't just men watching her go by, there were woman with bottles in their hands zeroing in on her from their porches, scraggly looking children peeping at her through chain link fences, even dogs with heads larger than her own would growl low in their throats as she passed. One in particular with a notched ear had lunged at her only to be held back on the chain tied around it's throat. Rachel's piercing scream had filled the air for a short moment then the sounds of her booties thudding as she ran followed closely after. The toddler hadn't stopped running until her young body nearly failed from exhaustion. Metal hit pavement when her lunchbox fell from her hand so that she could grasp her aching throat, trying in desperation to suck in the air her burning lungs craved. Finally after what felt like for ever the burning in her muscles and throat resided and she felt she could move again however in her absence of mind while she recovered she had failed to notice the group of adolescents had formed a semi-circle around her. Hungry for blood and what prizes the rich looking girl may hold they closed in and gave Rachel her first real taste of the pain this life had to offer. Fist flew from all directions like a flurry of blinding rain, splashing against her fragile rib cage and soft face. The tiny, trembling body fell to the ground almost instantaneously. The pre-teens were filled with an insatiable fire fueled by the hatred of their crummy life that burned through the fists and kicks thrown at the girl. Muddied shoes continued to strike Rachel, hands bearing no mercy wouldn't end as they contacted roughly all along her spine and the back of her head. Bitter warm liquid had begun to fill Rachel's mouth threatening to choke her less she spit the red stuff onto the ground her head continued to slam against with each punch thrown at her. Rachel didn't know things of such hared where she came from, growing up in a house full to the brim with nothing but overflowing love. This felt like a punishment, something in another world that she didn't understand and probably never would have unless it had happened to her like it was now. Pain blossomed under every hit, leaving behind a little bit of the fire to burn deeply within her bruising muscles and bleed from the cuts being given to her. For a few moments Rachel felt like this pain would become her life, that there was simply no escape and she would die here without even getting the chance to say goodbye to her fathers. Dreams of stardom, Broadway, singing for a living would die on that bloodied sidewalk with her. Neither of them even given a chance.

But then the beating stopped. Voices were raised all around her but above them all was a virulent girl, screaming out words Rachel had never heard nor did she understand. Others using that same langue countered against the girls voice but were silenced when Rachel heard a sickening crunch. That was the moment little Rachel chose to lift her bloodied chin. Standing above Rachel, legs parted shoulder width apart and tiny fist clenched tightly at her sides, was a girl about Rachel's age and size. Small though this girl was her presence was far more daunting than any of those teenage boys had been and the way they backed away from her, they felt it. One boy, the biggest one, was bent over clutching his nose and howling in pain. Blood seeped through his fingers clasped loosely against his face signaling an injury. Rachel looked from him to the girls hand, noticing her bloodied torn knuckles. Connecting the dots slowly through her pain fogged mind Rachel realized not only had this girl stepped up to save Rachel just before death consumed her but the girl had punched a boy twice her size right in the nose, snapping the thing. Once more the girl shouted at them and threw a few obscene hand gestures their way until they scurried off. Rachel's savior waited until they were dots on the horizon to lean down and asses the damage done to Rachel. Pristine denim jeans were tattered from being scraped against concrete, the little hoodie Rachel had been wearing was stained with blood and mud, and the girl herself looked to be so close to fading into unconsciousness. The dark haired, dark eyes angel had clacked her tongue against the roof of her mouth once then proceeded to haul Rachel gently over her shoulder until Rachel found herself in an alleyway.

A brief moment passed when the girl had set Rachel down on a bare mattress strewn in the alleyway that Rachel felt she may be beat again by another stranger but that never came to be. Far from it actually. Heavy lids bedizened with physical exhaustion threatened to fall shut over Rachel's bleary eyes when she watche dher savior bustle about, collecting things out of or behind trash cans. A scratchy blanket was thrown down beside Rachel, strips of cloth the girl uses to sop up some of the blood leaking from cuts littered across Rachel's flesh, what looked like a nightstick police officers were prone to carry, a change of clothes though far from clean, and a colorfully stained pillowcase stuffed with god knows what as a makeshift pillow. Little Rachel didn't understand that the reason the other girl had these things hidden and at hand was because the ally they were in was actually the girls home. An orphan whom had been surviving thus far off her fast five fingers and cunning, fear inspiring, brutal way of thinking. At the time Rachel just thought she had been lucky enough for this mystery girl to come into her life.

They spoke, rather, Rachel slurred (neither of them knew Rachel's skull had banged that sidewalk enough times to sustain a small concussion) and the other girl spoke in low, harsh yet soft as possible clips. Little Rachel's brain was clouded over and just flat out refused to work for her-and she was so tired-but she had managed (barely) to retain the girls name. Santana Lopez. Santana, though Rachel kept calling her Tana as with her concussion that's all her heavy tongue could utter, took care of Rachel in that secluded part of Lima heights. There, blocked by red brick walls on three sides, they were hidden from the dangerous men and woman and greedy angry kids looking for bloodshed. Propping the pillow and blanket against the brick wall the mattress was shoved against, Santana had Rachel lean on it while she tried to get the blood soaked up that was continuously pouring from a deep laceration on the girls brow. To no end as the blood took hours to clot. Most of Rachel's wounds were superficial, all except the unknown concussion. Thankfully that day the girls two different respective deities were watching over them because Santana had kept Rachel awake. Had Santana let the battered brunette drift into the sleep she yearned for, the girl may have slipped into a coma or worst slipped into an early death.

Both girls had no knowledge of the police cruisers roaming the city looking for a missing Rachel Berry. Distraught over their missing child both fathers had called the police and filled their child as missing. Both men stayed at home speaking with an understanding female police officer who was questioning them while a man, new on the beat, had gotten the idea to search Lima Heights. By his reckoning he figured if the girl had decided to walk home, which they were all praying that's what had happened and not something much worst, that she may have traversed through the area. He found himself to be correct when he passed the ally both girls were huddled in. Darkness had closed in by the time he found them, the half moon barely giving off enough light to see his own steps so he had shone his mag light out for sight. A bright, round beam of light spotlighted Santana cradling a frail looking Rachel in her arms, cooing soft sentiments in hopes of appeasing the smaller brunettes pain. Santana had tried to run from the cop, her past experience telling her that he was there to harm them not help but she tried getting Rachel away too. The dead weight had slowed her and the police man caught up quickly giving him the chance to explain that he was only there to help Rachel get back home and, since Santana was there, he'd help her too. Though at the time he had no inclination that the young Latina had no home to go to. Yet.

An instant bond had formed between the two girls on the ride back to the police station. Santana clearly the older, tough protector and Rachel the innocent, protected. During the process of running to Rachel's aid and trying to help with her wounds a connection reached out from Santana long sense hardened heart and attached directly to Rachel's heart, linking the two. The Latina felt responsible for Rachel and the small diva felt an all encompassing need to have the Santana close by. In fact it was so strong that when the police officer glanced at them through his rear view mirror he had assumed because of the way Rachel was clinging to Santana's arm and Santana was whispering softly to her that they were sisters.

Pulling into the parking lot of the station he hurried out of the car so that he could open the back door and carry Rachel's beaten body into his work place. Attempted to carry Rachel that is. The moment his hands reached back to grasp the small girl Santana had snarled kicked at him, cursing at him in Spanish and telling him if he tried to touch Rachel she'd kill him. Stupidly the man tried three more times to get Rachel out of that car only to give up entirely when Santana's sneaker clad foot had connected with his mouth. The Latina was very much like a protective guard dog protecting it's master, no one was going to get Rachel out of the back of that car. And try they did. Paramedics who wanted to check on Rachel's wounds attempted to coax the Latina to release her hold on Rachel only to have a volley of insults, slurs, and curses hurled at them. When words failed they tried with brute force. One male Paramedic opened the left door and grabbed at Santana's ankle to drag her from Rachel while the other Paramedic came in through the right side and pulled at Rachel's shoulders. Something like a snake uncoiling to strike was what could be used to describe how Santana reacted to that. Rachel had screamed when she noticed them trying to take Santana from her and Santana had growled fiercely in response. With practiced moves Santana landed a swift kick against the jaw of the man tugging at her ankle and, after he let go to cup his throbbing mandible, Santana turned to throw a flurry of speedy punches at the man pulling Rachel from her. Finally they reasoned to just leave the girls to their own devises inside the vehicle. With both doors closed they stood outside and waited for Hiram and Leroy's arrival so they could claim their daughter and do something about the hostile Latina guarding her. Surely, they reasoned, the parents of the girls could do something about this unorthodox situation.

And once the two near hysterical fathers showed up on scene, do something they did. Leroy had gently opened the door to the cruiser while his husband yelled furiously at both the policeman and the paramedics for just leaving his daughter in the back of the car. As they explained their reasons (the paramedics showing off their new bruises received form the surprisingly strong 7 year old) Leroy looked into the darkened back of the car to see his sobbing daughter wrapped up protectively in a strangers arms. Fire burned in that unknown girls eyes and her lips were drawn tight as if silently daring Leroy to try taking Rachel from her. He hadn't had to try because the moment Rachel lifted her eyes to see whom was going to attack them now her brain connected the image of her father with conscious thought and she lunged for his loving arms. He swept her from the cab, slammed the door shut, and began to walk away so he could gather his husband and drive their daughter to the ER. Yet the moment he stepped from the car towards the Berry's SUV Santana's eyes welled up with tears, panic tore apart her insides and she flew to the window so she could watch Rachel go. Rachel was the first person Santana had ever let into her lonely street ridden fight for survival. The brunette had filled a void for family and love in Santana's black heart. Once more something Santana loved was being tore from her and the Latina had no choice but to watch it go.

Rachel though had close to the same thoughts as her father packed her away. She had always wanted a sister and the moment she had needed one on those dark Lima streets when kicks and blows were smashed into her threatening to take her life, she had found one. Now her long lost sister was being stolen from her. And she did not want nor could she let that happen. So she did the only thing a young girl could do to gather the attention she needed. She screamed. She wailed, and pounded her tiny fists against her fathers broad shoulders and she kicked her feet even if it caused more pain to shoot through her body. Thrashed and yelped and hurt until Hiram had no choice but to set her down and find out the reason for Rachel's fighting him. The moment his daughters feet touched ground Rachel had raced back to the car, struggled to get the door open, and wrapped her arms around the Latina who had been crying for Rachel to come back. Without a word spoken Rachel's flabbergasted fathers watched as the Latina helped Rachel climb into the back of the Berry's SUV and, after throwing a final glare at the police officer and paramedics, climbed after Rachel.

Of course the adoption of Santana into the Berry family hadn't been exactly like that, that was how it came to be. Paper work, court proceedings, and a lot of arguments with Child Protective Services had proceeded but in the end the homeless girl had come to live with the Berry's. Santana had been the final piece missing to the puzzle that was a happy family for the Berry's and Santana was showered with love from a family she had dreamed about on cold nights in that dark ally. The bond formed between sisters that night hadn't diminished in the least, only growing stronger over the years they schooled together. Bully's had attacked Rachel only to leave scurrying away with their tails between their legs and hands covering their broken noses after Santana got a hold of them.

And that's how it came to be that Santana Lopez was Rachel Berry's seemingly estranged sister. On the outside it looked like an odd relationship seeing as the girls had nothing in common aside from their same tanned skin, shiny dark hair, brown eyes, and their equal amount of self adoration. No one saw the deep flowing connection between that held them together. No one noticed how Santana was Rachel's hero and no one, not even Rachel herself, noticed how desperately Santana needed Rachel to be her sister. No one bothered talking to them or trying to get to know them. Outside of the sisters huddle they had no one else aside from one another and they were fine with that. High school offered them no reprieve from their loneliness. They were friends with each other, did things together, worked together, spoke only to each other, and dated no one. Even if anyone should try to intrude on them, try to come between them, the sisters wouldn't have allowed. They simply would have turned their backs on them, ignored them, and driven home. Until finally, in their senior year of high school, Quinn Fabray and Brittney S. Pierce happened.

Okay so I know it was brutal but-hey-I grew up in a place like what Lima Heights would be like. I know first hand what its like and I promise that if some cutesy little girl came waltzing into town something very much like what I wrote would happen minus the Santana saving her ass bit.

I'm off track. My point of this A/N was that I started this story on a whim because I couldn't sleep (insomnia sucks balls) and I was curious as to the people who would tune in. So if you read this, liked what you read, go ahead and click on that button below that says Review and go ahead, feel free, to leave me a detailed review. Please and thank you. I'll update faster for you if you do! =] hint hint.