Darkness creeps around every filthy corner, filling the already cramped streets with a sense of foreboding. Footsteps rumble down alleyways like a thunderstorm, each panicked step kicking up dirt or splashing in a murky puddle of god only knows what, as you run for your life. Your trembling hands firmly gripping at the goods you’ve managed to swipe, holding on to them with everything you have. You’re starving, and desperate, so you’ll put up one hell of a fight for a measly piece of stale bread and rotting fruit if you have to.
Ducking and darting through the narrow passageways as fast as your weak legs can take you, occasionally looking back at the screaming figures chasing you down, you finally come across a dead end. You’re trapped like a mouse under a hungry cat’s paw. All of this shit has been caused by food that would be considered garbage on the surface.
Sure, you stole it, but that’s the only way you can survive down here in The Underground. You steal, cheat, kill, as a means to get by anyway that you can, otherwise you’ll end up as just another body in the sea of death and poverty that pollutes the very streets you fled through, and nobody wants to meet that end. Such a waste of life, especially when you haven’t been able to see the sky yet, something you promised yourself you would see before you die.
That’s why you fight, why you’re so determined to not give up and become a victim of this cruel life before you’ve had a chance to properly live. This hope, or dream, or whatever you would like to call it is what drives you to turn around and face the men pursuing you as if you were just as strong, if not stronger than them. You stare them down, head held high, and arms still tightly wrapped around your bounty as you close your eyes and scream before charging at them head on. It’s the dumbest idea you’ve ever come up with, but you’re only young and at least you will go out fighting.
Your body prepares for impact, your breath held tight within your lungs, your head ducked down, but it never comes. It’s as if they vanished. Hesitantly, you crack open your screwed shut eyes to see the group of men scattered across the dirt infested ground, with three new figures standing above them - most likely the ones who took care of these assholes for you. You need to thank them for saving your life, and well, hope that’s actually what they are doing and not that they’re going to be as bad as the guys chasing you. A new threat is the last thing you need right now.
With a shaky hand, you hold out your stale loaf of bread as a sort of thanks and peace offering, a nervous smile gracing your trembling lips.
“Levi-bro! Look!” A red headed girl excitedly points at your outstretched arm, her mouth open in amazement at your action. “She’s offering us her bread for saving her! Ain’t she cute?” She giggles and practically skips her way over to your fearful form, her sudden closeness has your heart racing.
“Tch. Tell the brat she can keep her shitty bread.” The shortest of the three, who you assume is this ‘Levi’ she mentions, makes an irritated sound as he crosses his arms over the front of his chest, eyeing the redhead with clear annoyance dancing across his sharp features. You gulp.
“Oh come on, Levi. She’s only trying to be nice, don't be like that.” A soft spoken voice comes from the tallest and the last of the trio, so gentle in comparison to the midget - as you’ve now named him - that it somewhat puts you at ease.
With your newly found confidence, you swallow down the rest of your fear and take a deep breath before opening your mouth, “I-I just wanted to say thank you...for saving me.” You push the bread into the arms of the kind looking redhead, a blush painting your cheeks rosy red with embarrassment.
“Levi-bro! Can we keep her? She’s too damn adorable, I can’t leave her on her own.” She turns to face the midget, her lips moving into a large pout as she sniffles, doing her best to fake cry. “What if the bad guys come back~?” She practically singsongs at the man, trying to get him to cave in and let you stay with them. Whether this is a good or bad thing, you don’t really know yet, but anything is better than sleeping in the muck and rat ridden streets another night.
“She stole a fair amount, Levi. She could still learn a thing or two but, she could be useful.” The tall boy speaks up as he moves to join the redhead next to you, appealing to the midget about your usefulness to them. “Psst, kid, say you can clean.” He gives you a quick side glance as he whispers the most confusing thing you’ve heard. How the hell is that going to help your case, you’re a thief, not a maid.
You look over to the redhead to see her subtly nodding at you as if telling you to trust the tall guy. This is nuts, but you’ll roll with it if it means getting shelter for the first night in years.
“I won’t be any trouble! I swear! I’ll pull my weight, I’ll cook, steal, even c-clean for you!” As soon as the last words leave your mouth, you can see the midget’s eyebrows shoot up with sudden interest, the cold glare finally leaving his pale face. Holy shit, did that actually work?
“Tch.” He shakes his head and sighs at the two standing at either side of you, before locking eyes with you. His steel-grey eyes piercing through your own (e/c) ones with a stare so intense you feel like your knees will buckle under the immense pressure. “Brat, you will scrub everything until your hands are raw, are we clear?”
“Crystal…” You squeak, and internally curse yourself for sounding so pathetic.
You release a breath you didn’t know you were holding the moment the redhead ruffles your knotted, (h/c) hair, her face adorned with a toothy grin. “Welcome to the gang, sis! I’m Isabel Magnolia, nice to meet ya! Oh, and don’t mind Levi-bro, he has short man syndrome~” Isabel’s joke manages to put a genuine smile on your face and earns a small giggle.
“What she meant to say is that Levi may be a bit...stern, but he means well.” The tall boy shoots Isabelle a look as if to say ‘shut the fuck up unless you want to die’ before continuing, “I’m Furlan by the way. Furlan Church.” His smile is nearly as bright and friendly as Isabel’s that you almost forget about the midget brooding in the corner. “What’s your name kid?”
Your smile soon turns into a frown at the question, you don't really have a name. Nobody named you, nobody cared about you enough to give you your own identity, not even your mother when she was around. You were an accident caused by her job, selling her body to everyone and anyone, and she let you know that on a daily basis. “I...don’t have one.” At this, both Isabel and Furlan’s smile also disappear, their expression an exact copy of yours.
“Well, what do you want to be called? ‘Brat’ is fine with me.” A monotonous voice causes you to flinch slightly, you are so deep in thought that you don’t hear the midget approaching until his voice is practically in front of your now pouting face.
“'Brat' isn’t very nice…” You look up at him with your, big, (e/c) eyes, on the brink of tears before changing dramatically into a huge smile. “Just kidding! I don’t really care, I’m sure plenty of merchants have called me worse. But, I would really like to be called (f/n), if you guys think that suits me.”
“(F/n) is an adorable name! I love it, (f/n)-sis!” Isabel beams as she takes some of the food out of your hands, lessening the weight on your skinny arms. “Furlan-bro, give us a hand, hm?” Before giving him a chance to react, she throws some of the food at him with a cheeky, little grin on her face. “Good catch~” Sticking her tongue out at Furlan as she grabs your hand, she starts to lead you away from the alleyway, the other two following closely behind as if they are her shadow. For the first time, you feel safe, walking hand in hand with your new family.