Beaten and thrown out of his home by his father, Guy ends up on the streets. A few days later he's 'adopted' by two strays, a German shepherd mix and a gray kitten.
Later that night, when he returns to a vacant house he'd found the previous day, he meets three other homeless teens -- Mack, Tone, and Dani. After a false start, because they think he's a punk looking for trouble, they become friends. Dani insists the animals need names, and she decides to call the kitten Ghost, while the dog becomes Shadow.
When Mack and Guy are threatened by two real punks in the alley behind the house, Shadow defends them, with Mack's help. This leads to their decision that it isn’t safe to remain where they are. As they move on, the quartet's friendship deepens, and Guy eventually trusts them enough to tell them he's gay ... which they accept with no problem, as it turns out so are Mack and Tone.
Now they have to continue dealing with life on the streets while COVID ravages the country, making being homeless a fight for their very survival.
When they arrived at the house, and the broken window, Guy stuffed his mask in his pocket before telling the dog, "We're here." The dog looked singularly unimpressed and Guy wondered if he'd balk at going inside. He hoped not because he liked the sense of security the dog gave him. He put the kitten down before climbing through the window and then reached through to pick it up. Holding it against his chest, he looked at the dog who was eyeing him dubiously. "Come," he whispered, taking two steps back. A moment later the dog jumped down beside him. Guy patted his head and then walked cautiously through the dark basement to the stairs.
When they got to the top, the dog gave a deep growl, followed by a warning bark. Guy heard rustling and then someone called out, "Keep the dog away from us."
He wrapped his hand in the long hair at the dog's neck, knowing it would do nothing to restrain him if he decided to attack whoever was there. "Behave," he said firmly. The dog looked up at him and relaxed ... marginally ... as they walked through the empty kitchen into what had probably been the dining room. Three teens sat on sleeping bags along the far wall.
The dog growled, again, but didn't leave Guy's side.
"He gonna attack if you tell him too?" one of them asked, pulling back into the shadows against the wall.
Guy shrugged. "He might, but I won't unless you give me a reason."
The teen held up his hands. "Not looking for trouble."
A second one, who in the dim light looked as if he was around eighteen, scowled as he took a length of pipe from his backpack and stood up. "You try anything, punk, and I'll beat the shit out of you and your dog."
"I'm not a punk," Guy protested, grabbing the dog's hair again when it seemed as if he might go after the guy with the pipe. "I'm homeless, like you."
"Uh-huh. The hair says different."
Guy knew he had a point. One he hadn't thought of until that moment. "If I'd had a choice, it would still be as long as yours. My dad did this to me." He ran his hand over his head. "Before he beat me and tossed me out."
"For real?" To Guy's surprise, the voice sounded female. A moment later he saw he was right when she got up to join her friend, putting one hand on his arm. "Ease it back a notch, Mack. What kind of punk carries a cat with him?"
"Maybe it's an attack cat." The third team member laughed as he stood to join them.
Guy snorted. "Not that I know of, but then I only found it, and the dog, an hour or so ago. I think they're strays, like, well, like all of us I guess."
"And they just happened to decide to keep you company?" the belligerent or, Guy thought, more likely protective teen asked.
With a shrug, Guy nodded. "I fed them from a Dumpster and I guess they figured it would be a good idea to stick with me."
"Can I pet the cat?" the girl asked.
"Umm, sure." Guy put the kitten down. The girl knelt, smiling when it came to her outstretched hand, allowing her to rub its head.
"What's its name?"
"I don't know," Guy told her. "Same with the dog. Like I said, I just found them and they don't have collars or tags."
"You gotta name them. You can't just call them dog and cat."
"Well, he could," Mack, the protective teen, said with a brief smile. He tossed the pipe on his sleeping bag, which Guy hoped meant he finally trusted him.
"What's another word for gray?" the last teen asked.
"No clue," Guy replied.
"I know, you can call him, or her, Ghost, or Ash." The girl picked the kitten up, turning it on its back. "Her, I think. No dick."
"Not sure you'd see it unless it was peeing," Mack pointed out.
"Well she looks like a she, so how about Ghost. That's, what do they call it? Gender neutral?" She looked up at Guy.
"I suppose Ghost works. What do you think, cat?"
Still holding the kitten, who of course didn't answer Guy's question, the girl returned to her sleeping bag and sat down, cradling Ghost in her arms. "Now, the dog needs a name."
Mack and the other teen sat, too. Mack patted the edge of his bag. "You can join us if you want, umm ...?"
"Don't laugh. I'm Guy. A guy named Guy, which got me teased sometimes." He hesitated before accepting Mack's invitation. When he was seated the dog settled beside him, obviously having decided by then that the teens were no threat to his new friend.
"I'm Dani, one n and an i, and that's Tone." She nodded toward the third member of their team. "I think it's short for Tony but he denies it."
"It's not, damn it," Tone stated emphatically.
"Whatever." She grinned. "So, dog, what'll we call you?"