AN: Because this story got some great responses, and because I really loved writing Joey and Phoebe so young, I've decided to continue this fic. I hope I don't ruin it by making it longer. Any feedback is more than welcome, I'd love to know what you guys think. Also just a heads up, this chapter will most likely have some violence and swearing, but nothing too extreme. Enjoy :)

After staring at the clock, trying not to fall asleep in class, for what felt like an eternity, the bell finally rings, dismissing Joey and his classmates from school for the day. He eagerly leaves his class room, pushing through the bodies of people also trying to get out of there, and finally reaches his locker. As he dumps an armful of books in there - it's not like he plans to spend his weekend studying, anyways.- his friend from the football team, Danny Cappaletti approaches.

"Hey, Tribbiani! What's up, man? You coming to the party at O'Doyle's place tonight? I hear there's gonna be a ton of babes. Plus, free booze. His parent's are loaded, man. They got a pool and everything. You in?" he asks, slapping him on the back.

Joey shuts his locker and shrugs. "I would, but I'm grounded, man."

His friend rolls his eyes and gives a snort of disapproval. "Lame, bro. What for?"

"For coming home late last weekend." he explains.

"Dude, that sucks. You're gonna miss a killer party! You should just sneak out, man, come on."

Joey gives a sigh. "Uh..I could try, but it's kinda hard not getting busted with so many stupid sisters around, ratting me out all the time, you know?"

Danny shrugged. "Well, hey bring some of 'em with you! I know a lot of guys who wouldn't mind getting some of that!"

Joey reaches over, pounding his friend in the arm. "Shut up, man! I don't need to hear it. It's bad enough they go to the same school as me."

Danny laughs. "Anyways, Tracey and I are headed over to the diner with a couple people for something to eat right now. You coming?"

Joey sighs. Tracey is Danny's semi-serious girlfriend. She's on the cheer squad. "Yeah, right." he mutters. "So I can tag along and be a third wheel? No thanks."

"Hey man, it's not my fault you don't have a girlfriend. I tried fixing you up with one of her friends."

Joey grinned, remembering the friend he's referring to. "Yeah, I fixed up with her alright. What was her name again?"

Danny rolls his eyes at him.

"Look, that's just not my thing, alright? I mean why settle down with one chick when I can settle down with several chicks, you know what I mean? Guys like you don't know what you're missing out on, man. There are so many babes to chose from at this school, it's too easy. "

"Yeah, right, keep telling yourself that, Tribbiani." Danny looks up at someone approaching them and smiles. "Speaking of easy babes, man..here comes one now." Joey turns his head, excitedly, and sees that Danny is referring to his oldest sister, Gina. He turns to take another swing at his friend, but he jumps out of the way, laughing.

"See you at practice on Sunday." he calls as he walks away.

"Up yours." Joey mutters. He hears Gina calling him and walks faster, trying to ignore her. She catches up and grabs him by the arm.

"Where do you think you're going? Come on, I don't have all day! I'm dropping you kids off at home, and then I'm off to Chad's house."

Joey rolls his eyes. By "you kids", she's referring to Joey, and two of his other sisters who go to his school. Dina, who's a senior, like Gina, only she hasn't flunked a grade, like she has, and Mary-Teresea, who's a grade below Joey. And by "Chad" she's referring to her 20something year old boyfriend. Their other four sisters are in middle school, and have to be picked up on the way. Gina, being the oldest has the duty of driving them all to and from school. But Joey hates cramming into their family's old beat up Volvo with them, it's such an embarrassment. Usually, he rode home with a friend after he and the football team went and hung out somewhere for a few hours to wind down.

"I'm not riding with you." he tells her.

His sister stands with her hands on her hips. "Hate to break it to you, little bro, but you don't have a choice. You're grounded, so you can't go anywhere. And if I don't get you home, I'm the one who's gonna get an earful from Ma. Now let's go! You're wasting my time!"

"Who said I wasn't going home? Just not with you." he tells her.

Gina shakes her head letting out a sigh of annoyance. "Alright fine. Walk home for all I care."

"Maybe I will!"

"Good, I hope you get mugged, you stupid jerk!" she says.

Joey mutters a curse word at her in Italian, as she stomps off in her black stilettos to go find his other sisters. Joey doesn't care. He's got other plans.

. . .

Joey lives about 20 minutes walking distance from his school, but he takes a different route that he knows will take longer. At least that's what he'll probably end up telling his mother so she doesn't extend his grounding. He wasn't out partying last weekend when she grounded him. That was the night he met Phoebe, and he made a promise to her that he'd come back and see her again. He wasn't one to break a promise to someone. Besides, he really did want to see her again, and make sure she was alright, after last weekend. He had been worrying about her, living on the streets all by herself. Although she told him that she wasn't alone, and she had friends who's couches she could crash on if she needed to. He didn't want her to think he had forgotten about her. It had been a week since their first encounter, after all.

He walks until he ends up in a shady area near Central Park that most of his friends tend to avoid. Even when Joey was little, his parents always warned him about not going down this particular street, considered the slums, by most, but this was where Phoebe said she'd probably be, last he saw her. As he makes his way down the street, he keeps an eye out for her, amongst the many other homeless people who hung around here. An old woman stops him and asks him for some change. Joey digs some out of his pocket and drops it into the cup she's holding. "Oh, bless you, young man." she say. "Excuse me," Joey says, stopping her before she carries on. "Do you happen to know a girl named Phoebe?"

"Who?"

"Phoebe. She's blonde, around the same age as me?"

"Oh...Oh, yes. I think so. She's the one with the guitar. I've seen her around."

"Yeah, that's right. Do you know where I might find her?"

"Well, no. Sorry. I haven't seen her in a few days."

"Alright, thanks anyways.." Joey keeps on searching, starting to get worried. He can't help but think about when he found her, on the bridge. She was so upset that night. What if she went back? He walks quicker, and stops a few more people to ask about her, but they either don't know her or say that she's been gone for days.

"Shit..." Joey mutters. He has no way of finding her other than coming to find her. She doesn't have an address or a phone number. Something could happen to her, and no one would even know. Last week, she didn't mention anything about a family. Joey might be the only person who would notice her missing. He's beginning to contemplate telling the police that she's missing. The nearest station that he knows of is a few train stops from here on the subway.

He leaves the park and crosses the street to where the station is. As he walks down the stairs, something catches his attention. The sound of a guitar playing, and a familiar voice. He turns around and sees her, leaning against the wall near the bottom of the steps, with her guitar case open. With a sigh of relief to see her, Joey approaches just as she's kneeling down next to it, counting her change. "Phoebe!"

She looks up. "Joey? What are you doing here?"

"I've been looking for you. You said you'd be at the park today!"

"Oh, right. Well..I was, but then I came down here. You know, afternoon rush. I usually make quite a bit this time of day. Besides, I didn't think you'd actually show."

He leans against the wall, looking down at her. "Why not? I said I would, didn't I?"

"I know, but I thought you were just..y'know, trying to be nice and stuff." She lays her guitar down in it's case and closes it before she picks it up.

"Am I interrupting your work?" he asks her.

"Nah, I need a break anyways." He follows her as she makes her way up the stairs.

"You know, I was worried, when I couldn't find you." he tells her.

She looks at her with a puzzled expression. "You were? Really? Huh. I'm not really used to people worrying about me. Normally I just do what I want, and nobody cares."

"Must be nice." he tells her as they reach the street. "So, anyways, I'm starved. You know any place good to eat around here?"

"Well, I was just gonna go down to the soup kitchen later, you know, cause it's free."

He gives a laugh. "I've got cash."

"Must be nice." she says, teasingly. "Though I did get quite a few quarters today."

"Forget it, Phoebe. I've got more than enough for both of us. I was thinking about getting a meatball sub some place. How's that sound?"

Phoebe makes a face. "You eat meat? Gross."

He laughs. "Alright, you can get one without meatballs. Whatever. Although I have to say, you might just be the pickiest homeless person I've ever met."

"Hey, just because I'm poor doesn't mean I'll eat the flesh off of some innocent dead animal, like some kind of barbarian!"

"Why not? The more innocent they are, the more delicious!" he tells her with a grin.

She makes a face of disgust and follows him a few more blocks to a café. After ordering two sandwiches, one meatball sub, and one veggie sub, they sit down to eat inside.

"You know.." Phoebe says. "My feelings wouldn't have been hurt if you didn't show up today, Joey."

"What do you mean?" Joey asks before taking a bite of his sub. "Joey Tribbiani doesn't break a promise."

"Well, I just mean..you're 16. It's Friday evening. You've probably got a lot more exciting things to be doing than hanging out with some bum off the streets."

"No, not really." he tells her. "I'm grounded, for one thing. Besides, maybe I like hanging out with you."

She gives him an indignant look, like she doesn't believe him, which is fair. He's come to understand that many people don't treat her with kindness, let alone friendship. But he really does hope to earn her trust and be her friend.

"Why?"

He looks up from his sandwich and shrugs. "I dunno. Why not? You're nice. And you've got a lot of cool stories about living on the street. Plus, you're kinda cute." he gives her a wink and a smile that most girls can't resist. However, Phoebe just laughs. "What?"

"Nothing.." she says, shaking her head, and takes a bite from her own sandwich. "That was just really sweet, is all."

Joey smirks. He finishes off what's left of his sandwich in one bite and licks the sauce off his fingers, ungracefully. "You ready to go?" he asks her.

"Yeah..uhm, maybe I'll just get this wrapped up to go."

He eyes her plate and gives a snort. "Really? It's a napkin and a piece of tomato."

"I know, it's just..I never know when my next meal is gonna be."

Joey reaches for his wallet. "Alright, tell you what. I'll order another sandwich, and we'll split it."

"Are you sure?" she asks.

"Yeah, it's no big deal. I'm still hungry, anyways." he tells her and makes his way to the front counter.

"Alright, well..thanks. That's nice of you." she says with a smile. "I'm gonna wait outside, ok?"

"Sure, I'll be there in a minute."

After Joey orders another sub to go, half with no meat, he takes the paper bag outside, only to find, much to his confusion, that Phoebe isn't there. He looks up and down the street. "Phoebe?" he starts to walk around, wondering where she could have got to. He doesn't want to wander too far, in case she comes back. As he walks past a dark alley way, he hears some laughing, followed by Phoebe's voice.

"Hey! Give it back, you assholes!"

Joey walks quickly down the alley. In the darkness, he can make out three figures. As he gets closer, he sees one of them is Phoebe, and two big, tough-looking thugs. One of them has Phoebe's guitar case and he's laughing as he holds it out of her reach. "I don't think so, blondie. See, I like this guitar. I think I'm gonna keep it." He pushes Phoebe back and laughs as she makes a grab for it.

"Yeah," his friend says, laughing along. "I hear the pawn shops pay good money for stuff like this."

Joey approaches them. "Hey, what's going on?" he asks Phoebe.

"I was standing outside and they took my guitar and ran with it, and now they won't give it back!" she tells him. Joey turns to the two bullying thugs.

"Why don't you guys find something better to do then pick on her, alright? Give it back."

They look at each other and laugh, in mocking tone. The one holding her guitar case takes a step towards Joey. He realises that he's much bigger than he thought, but Joey's been in a few fights in his life, and he's pretty confident he could take him if he had to.

"What are you gonna do about it, kid?" he gives Joey a hard shove, and he stumbles back a step, but he doesn't back down.

"I'm serious." he says. "You better give it back."

The thug laughs again. "Or what, huh? You gonna make us? You think we're scared of some little punk like you?"

Joey's hands tighten into fists at his sides.

The thug steps even closer to him. "Tell you what. If your little girlfriend's guitar means that much to you, you can buy it back from us. Hand over your wallet, and it's yours."

"Why don't you eat shit, ok?" Joey replies. "It doesn't belong to you, to begin with so if you don't give it back-" Phoebe grabs him by the arm.

"Joey, come on. Let's just go..It's not worth it."

"I'm not asking you to hand it over," the thug says. "I'm telling you that either you give it to me, or I'm just gonna take it, and your girlfriend's guitar. It's up to you."

Phoebe grabs his other arm. "Forget it. We're not negotiating with these assholes. Let's go." She pulls him back, steering him away from them, with some difficulty. Joey's so angry that he's not willing to give them the satisfaction of walking away with her guitar. "Come on!" Phoebe insists.

"You guys are pathetic losers." She says over her shoulder, as they start to leave. "Maybe one day you'll have the balls to pick on someone you're own size!"

"Ooh, big talk for a little street whore!" one of them says, and they both break into laughter. That's the last straw for Joey. He turns around grabs the one who's got her guitar by the shoulder. When he turns around her jams his fist into his face with all his strength, sending him staggering back a few steps in pain. It felt good to hit him. Even more so when he sees that he made his nose bleed. His eyes lock into Joey's with a furious stare.

"You shouldn't have done that, you little prick. Grab him!" Before Joey can react the second thug has his arms in a tight grip behind his back. Joey's realizing for the first time that he's unfairly outnumbered, but he's not ready to give up. As he's struggling to get away - all he needs is one arm to hit him again- the other thug digs into Joey's pocket and pulls out his wallet. He laughs, blood staining his teeth as he holds it in front of Joey's face. "Now you're really gonna pay for this, kid."

He see's the fist coming, but he's unable to move out of the way and it hits the side of his face. He hears Phoebe scream his name as the second fist strikes the other side of his face. Suddenly, the thug who's holding his arms loosens his grip as he stumbles forward.

"Let him go, you bastards!" Phoebe yells as she tries to jump him from behind, but she's so tiny compared to him, and he throws her off with little effort, sending her to the ground. Joey takes the opportunity to break free from his grasp. He realizes that if he doesn't put up a good fight, Phoebe's going to get hurt, too. He slugs the second thug hard in the stomach, sending him doubled over in pain. He's about to hit him again, when his friend grabs him by the back of his jacket. Joey struggles to get away. He loses his footing and lands on the ground. As he tries to get up, a boot kicks him hard in the face, sending him back to the ground. The next thing he knows, there are several boots, kicking him and stomping him everywhere. Each one hurting more then the last. Every time he tries to get up, he gets kicked. Eventually all he can do is lay there, helplessly, praying it'll be over soon. Suddenly, there is a loud crash. One of the thugs lets out a groan and the kicking stops. By this point, Joey is in so much pain that he can't get up, even though he wants to. Blood has run into his eyes, and he can hardly see anything, but he can hear Phoebe shouting.

"Yeah! How do you like that!? You want some of this, too!?"

He hears footsteps echo down the alley as someone breaks into a run. He lifts his arm and uses his sleeve to wipe the blood from his eye. He see's Phoebe standing over the leader of the thugs. He's lying on the ground, cowering, as she holds what looks like a broken bottle, with sharp jagged pieces, threateningly above him in one hand. She has a tight grasp on his wrist with the other. "Give me the wallet, before I jam this in your fucking throat!"

"Alright!" he cries. Joey can hear the fear in his voice. "Alright, h-here. Take it!"

She roughly lets go of his arm. "Now get the fuck out of here and don't come back! If you do, you're dead, you hear me!?"

It takes the guy a couple tries, but he manages to scramble to his feet. "Crazy bitch.." he mutters before he runs off.

Joey watches from where he's laying with amazement. Although part of his ego is deeply ashamed that he let himself get so badly beaten, and that a girl had to rescue him, mostly he's just impressed with how well she handled it. 'This girl is awesome..' he thinks to himself. He tries to pull himself upright and pain shoots through him, causing an involuntary cry of anguish. Phoebe quickly turns around.

"Joey?" she lowers herself to the ground. "Are you ok? Are you hurt bad?"

He tries to answer her, but his entire body is throbbing with pain and he can't speak. She very carefully turns him over, onto his back. "Oh my God.." she mutters, at the sight of him. He doesn't want to believe he's hurt as badly as it looks. He slowly tries to get up again.

"No, no! Don't move!" She cries. "Just...stay there, ok?" She takes off her shabby green jacket, and folds it over a couple times. She gently lifts his head and places it underneath. Her olive green eyes are filled with fear. She takes his hand and lightly squeezes it. "Joey...you're going to be ok, alright? I promise. Just stay here. I'll be right back, ok? I'm going to go get help." She lets go of his hand, and is gone before he can say anything.

He doesn't want her to leave. He's starting to feel weak and dizzy, like he's spinning in circles. He closes his eyes, feeling tired, suddenly. He just wants to go to sleep..