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"Ms. Spade, I am greatly disappointed in you." the Social Services Agent stated, standing up. She was trying to be intimidating but all it did was highlight how much physically more imposing Alice was comapred to her. "Running away again and now these ridiculous claims of assault and abuse?"

"They were not ridiculous! I had to take this poor child to the emergency room myself!" Salali objected, and Alice was astonished to note that there was no sign of last night's grief on the large Native woman's face.

"I'm sure Officer Bradely would love to take the details of how you've been aiding and abetting a run away." The Agent retorted, too arrogant to realize the fool she was making of herself. Alice realized that the nasty attitude wasn't necessarily because she hated Alice, but because the tiny woman was offended that someone would question her judgement.

"I'm sorry, I never did catch your name Miss...." Alice asked, smiling at the Social Services Agent like htey were on good terms.

"You can call me Ms. Chau." Chau stood rigidly, posture perfect but stiff.

"Well Ms. Chau, I sincerely hope that you do not have any other foster children under your perview." Alice stated, voice calm but her body was tense with anger and the need to lash out at something.

"Excuse me? How dare..." Chau started.

"Oh shut up." Alice interrupted, making the Asian woman gape at her. "I've looked into the SSA procedures and you are a terrible Agent. At the first report of rape and violence, you were obligated to move me into a temporary new home and investigate. But you didn't. Even if I was doing all this to myself, obviously the current foster family was either negligent to my well being, or actively participating, which required you to move me to a new family. But you didn't. And now, I have filed a police f***ing report with PROOF I was raped and beaten BY MY FOSTER BROTHER AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO COME HERE AND TRY TO TALK DOWN TO ME?" Alice demanded, her voice loosing its cool and becoming angry.

"Ms. Spade, I think you should take a moment to collect yourself." Officer Bradley spoke up, subtlely warning Alice to back off a little.

"Actually, Officer Bradely. I think it would be best that Agent Chau here left. Clearly Alice is not a runaway, and you have my records on file. I do not appreciate her implications that I tried to kidnap Alice nor aid in her runaway attempt when she was simply trying to escape torture." Salali spoke up from the kitchen.

"As the only one with authority here, it is my duty to assign Ms. Spade to a foster family that is registered So if I leave, she is coming with me." Agent Chau warned.

"For the love of god and all things holy...." Alice muttered. "What is it that you want?" she demanded of the Agent. "Will you only believe me if I video tape it when he beats me senseless, rips off my close and forces himself on me? Because if you take me back to them, that's exactly what will happen. Maybe not right away, no. He'll be cautious while you guys are around investigating. But once you relax your vigilance, I'll start making trips to the hospital again." the anger rushed out of Alice and she felt tired and bone achingly sad. "Or you'll just find me in the morgue." Agent Chau actually looked like she was listening. "I turn eighteen in three months.  Not even three whole months, in.." she did the math in her head "76 days. And as soon as I can, I am leaving the foster care system. You will no longer have to worry about me and I won't burden the system anymore." she shrugged. "Until then can you not just please let me stay with Salali as my guardian? I'm going to school, I have community service commitments, I even work once in a while. You move me to another foster family else where and I'll have to start all over, and I'll be a pain in the ass the entire time." Alice tried to convince the stubborn woman. "I'm finally finding something that works. I can build a life out of this. Please don't take that away from me."

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