Happy Monday all. I am starting a new story with the help of the wonderful Bella Paige. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters you recognize.

"Through the wind and the rain, she stands hard as a stone. In a world that she can't rise above, but her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place where she's loved."

Concrete Angel. Martina McBride

It was a bitter cold March morning in New York City when the young girl watched her friend from behind the yellow line helplessly. I told her not to go. I told her not to go! She thought helplessly, devastated at the sight of Sara, dead just a few feet away. Mia squeezed her fists, trying to suppress her rage, her fear and her grief. She should have listened to me. I may be younger than her, but I'm not stupid, she thought bitterly and hopelessly to herself.

The young girl zipped her hoodie and pulled it around her to block the bitter cold. She missed her scarf and gloves, but those had been taken the first time the girls at the home tried to beat her up. They got her winter weather gear, but she'd sliced them pretty good in exchange. Mia didn't imagine she'd want her scarf now that it had the blood of some mean bitch on it anyway, even if it had belonged to her mother.

She looked back to the body of her friend. Sara had been determined to go with him last night. She was so ready to make the money he'd promised her.

"Come on baby." He'd said with a sweet tone. "With your pretty face? All you need to do is take a few pictures. You could be a star!" He'd told her.

Yeah, well he told me the same thing, except I don't have dumbass written all over my face. Mia rolled her eyes, letting a sigh escape her lips. She felt guilty for thinking such things as she looked upon the body of her friend, but it was a cold-hard fact. Despite being three years older than her, Sara didn't have the common sense that Mia used.

The young girl pushed back against the feeling of remorse that threatened to slip in, if I had gone with him maybe she'd still be here. She had to push back against the thought. No! If I'd gone too I'd probably be dead. Mia wished that she could say she was surprised, but she knew better. She knew better the whole time, and now Sara was dead. Why couldn't you have listened to me? She asked her friend quietly, choking back tears. Another faceless teen dead, and the only person who would miss her was a 13 year old girl that the world forgot.

Mia stayed back from the crime scene considerably, not wanting to be noticed by the police as they descended. If she'd learned anything in her 8 months on the street - it was how to dodge the cops. Keeping her head low and not drawing attention to herself, she'd been able to avoid being caught since she'd escaped the last hell-hole they tried to pass off as a home. "Haven House" they called it, Haven my ass, Mia thought to herself wryly as she continued to watch the crime scene activity unfold. Haven House would have been more accurately described as "Hell House."

What was supposed to have been a happy, healthy home for older children and teens in the system was hell on earth. None of your belongings were sacred, and the teens travelled in gangs for protection. If you swore no allegiance as Mia had refused to do, you got the hell beat out of you on a regular basis. You went to school, but the inner city options were lacking and the teachers didn't care who came and went. The fact of the matter was that Mia did better learning on her own anyhow, at least when she read it -she could know to trust in the words conveyed to her.

Haven House had been the 5th place they'd placed Mia in the 4 years since her adopted parents had been killed. After the first three families, the state had given up on trying to place the girl. The first couple - the Campbells - had been nice enough, but Ms. Campbell insisted on giving her back after just 6 months when she discovered that she was pregnant. They didn't want their own child exposed to the likes of a kid with baggage. A miracle had occurred in their pregnancy and Mia found that she was no longer a part of the family plan.

Next came Alice and Robert Meyer, who'd kept her the longest. She had her own room and was able to do her own thing. The school was great, although she really didn't make friends. Alice and Robert didn't pay her a lot of attention, so she was able to come and go as she pleased. She'd often skip school and hang out at the library and nobody would be the wiser. It was a good setup for Mia.

However, after a year - the state made the decision to remove her from the residence when a neighbour reported Alice Meyer screaming and pulling a knife on her husband. Truth be told, Mia didn't mind it. Robert Meyer may have been a cheating bastard, but at least he'd left her alone. It was more than she could say about Eric Preston.

The Prestons took Mia in next, and it was Eric Preston that changed everything. Thinking back on him filled Mia with a sense of outrage. They were supposed to be the perfect couple. Hell, he was a pastor and she a stay-at-home mom. They had three other foster children, all of them boys. They went to church every Sunday and taught their children to fear God.

She was 11 when they took her, and things seemed to be going well enough. She had her own room for the first time since before her parents died. They ate dinner together each evening, watched television in the family room. They seemed like the perfect American Family. Then Mia hit puberty, and it all changed. The first time Mr. Preston crawled into her room at night she hadn't understood what was happening. Better yet, she knew exactly what he was trying to do. She just wanted to believe that it was all in her head, that no man of God would do such a thing. That was when she learned that adults, no matter how pure their reputations - couldn't be trusted. It was the moment Mia realized she would be on her own.

The second time Eric Preston tried to put his hands on her she'd taught him a lesson with her Swiss army knife that he wouldn't soon be forgetting. It took 35 stitches to sew his wandering hand up and the teen soon found herself in a group home. What was worse was the reputation that followed her, a hardened delinquent with violent tendencies. Mia sighed to herself as she thought back on it, I'm better off alone anyhow.

She had a plan. She had goals and the adults that came into her life all seemed content to hold her back. The girl was indeed better off alone, she took care of herself, protected herself, and was doing a far better job than any parental figure seemed capable of.

Mia absent-mindedly toyed the Swiss army knife in the pocket of her faded hoodie as she watched the detectives, stepping back suddenly as she saw one approach. It was a tall and determined looking woman, beautiful but intimidating, someone who clearly had some sort of authority. As she passed, the teen turned her face away from the brunette. She was precisely the type of woman to be avoided, the type with enough clout to get her thrown right back into the hell hole she'd worked so hard to escape.

As soon as the detective was safely beyond her, Mia quickly made her way from the scene. No one seemed to notice or care about the young girl in the crowd. It wasn't hard to believe, as Mia had been invisible for years. Sometimes slipping through the cracks was the safest and easiest way to be, and the teen was content to remain unseen. The only one who would create the future she wanted was her, and the fewer people who got in the way the better.

Mia turned into an alley and disappeared into the cold city once more. As far as anyone was concerned, the teen was never there.