The Paper Girl – Adopted by the Ways

A/N: I'm back cupcakes! And happy New Year! Sort of! Bit late, I know...so with this chapter there is a shout out to all the wonderful awesome peeps who have commented and voted on my story, you guys rock! Sorry about the wait, I have a really, really, no a SERIOUSLY bad Internet connection. I don't know how I survive it. But on a brighter note, I have a new Sherlock story up if anyone watches BBC Sherlock...Least I update more than there are series in that show. So let's get on with this shall we? Enjoy!

Chapter 3

As much as I loved playing with Bandit in her front yard, I had to get back to the Centre before they notice I'm gone.

'No!' Bandit clung to my leg and looked up at me with big puppy-dog eyes and I felt a wave of guilt. But thankfully Lyn-Z told Bandit there was a plate of cookies indoors and the little girl raced into the house, not before swinging around on the porch and giving me the biggest toothy smile and wave she could muster before disappearing back indoors.

'Bandit has really taken a liking to you.' Lyn-Z said as she held the front gate open for me. 'Normally she's really shy around strangers. But she jumped at you like she's known you her whole life.' I smile and shrug at Lyn-Z, not knowing what to say. Damn anxiety. She must catch on why I'm so silent and gives me a warm smile.

'See you later, Mitch. It was nice meeting you.'

'It was nice meeting you too.' I manage to stammer out and give her a smile before I head back out into the street, Christmas lights now starting to switch on and bathe the American streets in a warm bright glow. I let the grin devour my face as I make my way down the sidewalks, taking shortcuts through alleyways here and there until I'm deeper in the centre of town. Tangled In The Great Escape by Pierce The Veil plays in my ears as enter the centre. Dinner wafts through the vents and my stomach lurches. The stench of sour meat and vegetables steamed to mush is almost overpowering here but, believe me, I've smelt worse.

I can hear Kelsey Flounder's voice through the doors to the game centre – a room with a old TV, a Playstation 2 and a pool table with the felt held down with duct tape – so I make a dash for my room before she knows I'm back.

I bolt the door and spend the night with my headphones in and finishing my artwork of the Fabulous Killjoys. There's a new kid in here today. You can hear his cries. Poor guy, he's probably getting the shit beaten out of him. He won't have done anything either, it's routine for a Newbie to be 'broken in' so they know who is boss in this place. Some of us still get the beatings daily. My left ankle has not been the same since one of Kelsey's friends stomped on it, the heel digging into the joint. It now clicks at random times and will collapse under my weight if I try running for a long time. The staff know about it but there's nothing they can do. Not that they're bothered.

There are only two types of people who can survive this place: Long live the the Reckless and the Brave.

*****

Friday: the worst day of school I can imagine. Tara is off ill again. I rang her mobile from the school's payphone. She's caught a cold and could be off next week as well. Now I'm in Gym class and oh joy, it's Dodgeball. Please kill me before Myra does.

There are two separate gym halls in the school. Both indoors with central heating and a hot drinks machine in each lobby, but our gym teacher Mr. Carwellen – a man who resembles a very hairy sloth in tight red gym shorts that leave nothing to the imagination – has decided he wants us to play a 'friendly' dodgeball game in the school field, dressed in our blue shorts and white T-shirt with the school logo on the hem. The school field also hosts the school's American football team and 100 yards away is Myra Jamesons boyfriend Henry, the most popular and stereotypical Jock in the building, with wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, a gym membership and a sports car already. He's a year above us but he does whatever Myra tells him, whether it's breaking out his parent's credit card on her or stuffing me in a locker.

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