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  1. "Today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you..." As Olive strummed stiffly on her guitar, she let her voice fill the air. Well... whatever air wasn't already being filled by the sounds of a busy city like Dublin. Busking was never fun when you didn't have a particularly loud voice or instrument, but hey, she had to make money somehow, and her part time job at the local Costa just didn't cut it a lot of the time.
  2.  
  3. Really, she shouldn't have had to shoulder the burden of secondary school and providing for herself at the same time, but hey, her parents shouldn't have thrown her out the minute they caught her kissing a girl, so she guessed the universe didn't care what should or shouldn't be done. Let it be known that the universe was a prick.
  4.  
  5. As she absentmindedly sang her way through the song that everyone and their mother knew she wasn't singing well, her mind wandered towards food. Sure, she had enough to eat for now, but the school term was starting up again soon, and she'd have buy so much damn stuff that she had to be even more careful with her money than usual. Maybe she could bag some stale pastries no one would miss at the end of her shift until then, but that was hardly anything sustainable; that wouldn't be enough to get her through the month.
  6.  
  7. For a moment, she considered heading towards a local soup kitchen for help, but she quickly rejected the idea; god knew that they were already undersupplied without another mouth to feed. Maybe she could ration her money, going hungry for a few nights...
  8.  
  9. She was snapped out of her ruminations by the sound of someone clapping, a pitifully quiet thing against the harsh bustle of the city. Olive looked up, not entirely having realised that she'd finished singing. What met her eyes was a woman in her late thirties, hair a golden brown mane that wrapped around her neck and clothes patched and patched again to make them wearable.
  10.  
  11. As Olive blinked at her apparent fan, the woman was already pulling out her purse, not even looking before throwing a note into the guitar case at her feet. The teen's eyes darted down to the note immediately, taking in the blue colouring of the paper; a 20. She was struck speechless; she was under no illusion, she knew that her singing was less than decent. Most of the time, she was lucky if she got €10 total from a session, never mind getting €20 from a single person.
  12.  
  13. Just as the woman before her turned to walk away, Olive spoke up, voice a little too loud and tone a little too flustered. "I- th-thank you, ma'am!" The woman paused and turned back. She sent forward a smile that Olive realised belatedly matched the one planted starkly on her own face. "No problem, sweetie!" The woman nodded back at her, matching Olive in volume, but her tone was something more wistful, more bittersweet.
  14.  
  15. Before Olive had time to dwell on it, the woman was walking away once more, too far away to call back and ask what she meant. Whatever. It was probably nothing, anyway.
  16.  
  17. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  18.  
  19. "Somebody once told me the world was gonna roll me..." Olive sang mindlessly, hands tapping a beat on the tambourine she'd stolen from the music classroom. They probably wouldn't miss it anyway, who even used tambourines? Well, she was using one right now, but details didn't matter. She'd given up on the guitar fairly quickly, coming to the conclusion that she wasn't that good at it, and she could make a pretty penny if she sold it. Both were correct, and as she stood in her usual spot €30 richer, she couldn’t help but feel hopeful. Since she'd been singing so much recently, her voice had gotten a bit better, and she'd been bringing in more tips. Maybe she'd be able to afford the school stuff after all...
  20.  
  21. She looked around, hoping to find someone interested in hearing All Star sung by a teenage girl who hadn't eaten anything substantial in a day or two. The busy city bustled around her, no one stopping to pay attention to the little ragamuffin singing for money. Figures, her voice wasn't strong enough to cut through the crowd and garner attention. She wished she had the voice of Aisling McCarthy from school, who was always loud enough to be in the back of everyone's minds, whether she knew it or not. God damn Aisling.
  22.  
  23. She finished up the song, unacknowledged by anyone, and she was about to start another when she heard the distinctive *thud* of money being dropped in her bag. It was quiet, but to her, it might as well have been playing over loudspeaker for how loudly she heard it. She looked down quickly, eager to see her bag... well, not empty, at least. She bent down to get a better look at the money; a €20 note wrapping around a €1 coin. Her eyes darted up to the person who had donated the money to her, and they were met with the eyes of the generous woman from a few days ago, soft and withdrawn.
  24.  
  25. "You're really good, you should keep it up! Might get you places." Olive blinked owlishly at the woman before opening her mouth to speak. "I- no, you're just saying that." The woman had the audacity to *laugh* at her. Though maybe she shouldn't blame her; Olive probably looked pretty stupid right now. "I'm not! You really are good." Olive straightened up. "No, really, you are just saying that. I started playing an hour ago. If I'm so good, I'd probably have gotten more tips than the one from you."
  26.  
  27. The woman looked down to the sparsely-filled bag and frowned. "Really? That's a shame. I guess people are just busy, and your voice isn't loud enough to carry across to loads of people." Olive slid a deadpan expression onto her face, sighing internally. "Gee, thanks." She *knew* her voice wasn't very loud, but the woman before her didn't have to actually say it.
  28.  
  29. For a split second, the brunette seemed panicked, before she composed herself again. "I didn't mean it as an insult! I'm just saying that this isn't the best place to busk... it's very loud. You've gotten better since the last time I heard you, so that's something!" Olive rolled her eyes at the pseudo-compliment. Jeez, this lady must be really pushed for things to say if she was comparing. In Olive's experience, people only said you'd gotten better at something compared to another point in time if they had nothing left to say.
  30.  
  31. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Thanks for the tip, lady." The woman's head bobbed up and down as she nodded apprehensively. "It's... no problem. Goodbye, then." The woman's sandals made a slapping sound against the pavement before stopping. Without turning around, she cocked her head in Olive's direction. "You really are a good singer..." She said only just loudly enough for the teen to hear, seeming... sorrowful?
  32.  
  33. Whatever. Olive brushed it off and picked back up the tambourine that had dropped to the group during their exchange. Back to busking it was...
  34.  
  35. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  36.  
  37. For the rest of the month, Olive spent all the time she could busking, and for the rest of the month, the woman kept showing up, continuing to give generous tips all throughout. Soon, they'd built up a repertoire, making small talk and learning things about each other, and before she knew it, Olive had a sort-of-friend. She was the first person Olive came out successfully to, and she was the first person to ever come out to Olive. Her name was Beatrice 'Bea' McGull, and she was too kind for her own good.
  38.  
  39. It wasn't just the money, either; Olive genuinely enjoyed her company. With her encouragement, the teen began training her voice, and it was now somewhat pleasant in her own eyes, which was a big win. With the sweeter voice, her busking became more successful, and she was able to afford all needed supplies and then some.
  40.  
  41. Her poverty was an open secret among the two girls; it was never addressed, but it was clear in the way that she spent her time all day every day on the street corner, and what time wasn't spent singing was spent serving coffee at Costa. Thankfully, Bea didn't bring it up, and so their friendship stayed light and cheerful in a way Olive wouldn't ask to change in a million years.
  42.  
  43. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  44.  
  45. Naturally, if Olive wanted something, she wouldn't get it, and so her relationship with Bea was forced to be reexamined the moment she was found sleeping under a bench by the woman in question.
  46.  
  47. She awoke to someone gently shaking her shoulder, so unlike the rough grip of the lazy policeman that always woke her yet couldn't be bothered to go after her when she ran away. As she slowly stirred from her
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