EDIT: Chapters 1 - 5 revised 6/18/16
.:Love is Soundless:.
"And don't forget your final essay is due in just two months! I know it may seem like a long way away, but remember, children, it is worth thirty-five percent of your grade in this class, and I want it no shorter than fifteen pages!"
There was a collective groan throughout the class among all the scraping of chairs and shuffling of papers as their teacher's voice called out over the sound of the final bell. Weiss simply hid a small smile at her fellow classmate's detest; they whined about every little thing, truly. Still, while she prided herself on having the highest grade in the class, she too bemoaned this final assignment. She may succeed at academics, but that didn't mean she leapt at the chance to write a fifteen-paged paper.
Still, you wouldn't see her openly complaining. She had an image to uphold, after all.
After a quick stop at her locker, Weiss began heading out to the student parking lot. At the main entrance, she found her best friend, Blake Belladonna, waiting for her as per usual.
"Hey, Weiss," the dark-haired girl greeted. "How was your final class?"
Weiss rolled her eyes. "Same old, same old. Did I mention our final in that class is a paper?"
"The fifteen-paged one, or the one worth over thirty percent of your grade?"
"They're one in the same!" Weiss cried exasperatedly. "Can you believe it?"
Blake chuckled as the pair slid inside Weiss's silver BMW. "Since when are you one to complain about schoolwork, Weiss?"
Weiss huffed, tossing her backpack in Blake's lap in retaliation.
"Since it's the second-to-last month of my senior year, and I just don't give a damn anymore!"
"Coming from you? That's unheard of." Grinning, Blake reached over to rest the back of her palm against Weiss's forehead. "You sure you're not falling ill? Wouldn't want to miss graduation."
Swatting her hand away, Weiss started up the car. "Stop it, you. Perhaps I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed."
"Don't I know the feeling…" Blake grumbled. "Just be lucky you don't have my physics class. Our final is one-hundred-fifty multiple choice plus a small essay."
"You know I'd take tests over papers any day," Weiss mumbled back.
"That I do," Blake laughed lightly again. Pulling out her phone, she asked, "You heading to the Home?"
"It's Friday, isn't it? Don't I always?"
"And tell me again why your parents have had you working there for the past three years when they themselves barely even make an occasional appearance?" Blake rolled her eyes.
"Blake, we talk about this every Friday," Weiss sighed. "I have to go. Mother and father will be wanting a report and they—."
"They want one day for you to own the Home," Blake finished with a breath of her own. "I know. That still doesn't mean you need to bear all this weight in addition to schoolwork, especially given the time of year. If you don't feel like going, don't."
Stopped at a red light at the moment, Weiss took a minute to glance down at her lap, the red and brown plaid uniform skirt staring back at her.
"I have to go," she whispered. "Father will be wanting to know how things are, and he believes this is the best way for me to learn the business."
Blake scoffed and said, "If he wants you to learn this so badly, why is he never here to teach you himself?"
A half-hearted icy glare from Weiss had Blake roll her eyes.
"Come on, Weiss. You've been damn near running the place on your own for the better part of the year. How much slack have they even given you?"
Raising her hands in a sign of peace, Blake surrendered. "Fine. I tried." Eyes softening before looking to Weiss again, she added, "Do you want me to come with you?"
Weiss deliberated the offer for only a moment before shaking her head.
"I'll probably just do some paperwork primarily. Maybe visit with one or two patients, but nothing too strenuous."
"Don't say I never try."
Weiss chuckled. "I never do."
After dropping Blake off at her job at a corner bookstore, Weiss pulled in to a large lot which accommodated an even larger building thirty minutes later. Parking in the spot designated for her and her parents, Weiss shut off the engine before slumping back in her seat. Staring at the letters emblazoned on the building before her, she sighed.
Schnee Home and Rehabilitation Center.
Glancing at her phone for the time, Weiss saw it was a quarter past three. At least Roland's therapy session would be ending soon. Maybe she would just visit with him for a while.
Roland was a seven year-old boy who was one of many patients being cared for here at her family's business. A center dedicated to the care of the mentally ill, it was top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, and the best in the nation. While most of the facility was strictly outpatient therapy or rehab, there were two smaller wings which held patients twenty-four seven. One wing housed the residents—those who suffered so critically from their illness they couldn't function on their own—and one was an inpatient hospital wing—holding mainly those under suicide watch, or those who needed to be under watch for other reasons.
Luckily, Roland only had to come here once a week for therapy to help treat his ADHD. He and his family were under the care of Dr Ozpin—the head doctor of the facility—and since Weiss was at the Home so much she was honestly surprised she was never confused for a patient, she had come to befriend several regular patients or residents.
Her father wanted Weiss here three days a week, mostly working in his office and handling the accounting and other miscellaneous paperwork, yet Weiss always managed to skimp out on those duties and visit with patients more often than not.
Still, that didn't mean she always enjoyed these trips. Some days were worse than others. A schizophrenic may have an episode and lash out at either the staff or themselves; a patient with depression may be refusing to get out of bed and care for themselves; one time a patient with an anger management problem had even lashed out at Weiss because she had unknowingly intruded into his "space."
Still, as always, she hardened her resolve, locked any fears deep inside, and got out of the car, working almost on autopilot as she pulled open the front door. Walking up to the front desk strictly from second nature, Weiss began signing herself in, simply so her father would know she had been here were he to ever check.
"Good afternoon, Miss Schnee," the secretary, Glynda Goodwitch, greeted her.
"Good afternoon, ma'am," Weiss replied. "I'll be in father's office if you need me."
Glynda smiled softly as she nodded. "Very well. Let me know if you need anything."
A small smile flickered across Weiss's face as she nodded slightly before stepping away. Walking passed the common room, she peered inside to see if anyone she knew was out and about. This was the area where family members could visit relatives staying here, or where residents could just come and relax outside their rooms if permitted. Waving to a few familiar faces, she continued her stride past before stopping in front of a locked door, a golden plaque with the single word, Schnee, inscribed.
Weiss quickly got to work, checking and returning any phone calls and emails regardless of what they were about. The things she wasn't quite sure how to deal with she made notes to ask her father later before setting them aside for another day. As she logged in to the computer, her eyes trailed over to the lone folder icon on the desktop.
The folder which held every patient's file.
The folder which was guarded by a password even she didn't know.
Weiss didn't know why that made her as anxious as it did.
She forced herself to deal with any finances since her last visit—which actually hadn't been since last week, but she couldn't let her father catch wind of that—as swiftly as possible, and was actually proud of herself when she finished in relatively quick timing. So quick, in fact, that she still had a few minutes to spare until Roland would be out of therapy, should she want to stay and see him.
Deciding she would, yet not wanting to stay inside the stifling office—Weiss always felt her father's presence looming over her whenever she was stuck in here—she headed back out to the common room and chose a couch at random. Pulling out her phone, she brought up her assignment for her psychology class; the one in which the fifteen-paged paper was soon to be due. They were supposed to write a research paper about any psychological disorder they desired. While it sounded simple, the criteria they had to meet was something else. They had to make use of ten outside sources, two of which had to be people.
Weiss knew she had it pretty easy, as she could simply choose any one person in this building and use them and their doctor as her first-person resources, yet she was still stumped over what disorder to do it on. She knew she didn't want to do it on Roland and ADHD. Since it was more of a common disorder, she thought she should save it for those students who didn't have ready access to the variety she did.
Also, she was stumped because she wasn't too keen on interviewing a person she didn't know too well about why they were here.
Wasn't her teacher aware how awkward that would be?
She was eventually pulled from her "brainstorming" when a pair of black and white Vans came into view before her. Looking away from her phone and trailing her eyes upwards from the shoes, Weiss came face to face with a young girl.
She was wearing a pair of black jean shorts from which long, milky legs eventually poured into her shoes, one of which was toeing the ground anxiously. Her top half was covered by an overly large red hoodie, the strings being fiddled with nervously, wrapping around small, agile fingers over and over. The most noticeable feature about this girl, however, was her eyes. A peculiar, yet stunning silver bore into Weiss's own baby blue, filled with such innocence and emotion Weiss was overcome. Her hair was dark with a reddish hue, the tips almost completely red. She was looking at Weiss with a curious expression, head canted slightly to the side as Weiss was observed in turn.
"Um, hello?" Weiss eventually remembered to speak.
The girl's eyes brightened at Weiss's acknowledgement before she waved back, a small smile now lighting her face.
"Can I help you?"
The girl opened her mouth to say something before she caught sight of something behind Weiss. Her eyes flashed with fear as she went still.
"Miss Weiss! Miss Weiss!"
Craning her neck, Weiss saw Roland running at her, his mop of unruly black curls bouncing madly. Before she could react, the child had vaulted over the back of the couch, landing with an "oomf"—whether that came from Roland or herself, Weiss wasn't sure—in her lap.
"I missed you! Why weren't you here earlier this week at all? I've been askin', but no one knew either, so I got kinda scared, but I know you go to that big, fancy school so you're probably busy with that, huh? But guess what? Therapy was fun! Ozpin had me doin' fun activities, and he and my parents agree I'm gettin' better at payin' attention! Who's that?"
When Weiss's mind finally caught up to Roland's onslaught of words, she looked back up at the girl who had become rooted in place since his interruption. Before she could say anything, or reassure the frightened look on the girl's face, she quickly pulled her hood over her head and darted to the chair she must have been sitting in beforehand and curled into a tight ball. Silver eyes peered out cautiously and Weiss locked gazes with her.
I'm sorry, Weiss mouthed to her. The girl just curled tighter within herself, hiding away more.
"What's wrong with her?" Roland asked then, still not having moved from Weiss's lap.
Weiss fixed him with a stern look. "Roland, what have your parents and I taught you about interrupting? She was here first, yet you chased her off. What do you say?"
Brown eyes flickering down at entwining hands, Roland looked back up over Weiss's shoulders at the girl still huddled in a ball feet away.
"I'm sorry!" he called.
Weiss didn't turn around again to see if the apology made any difference or not, instead choosing to roll her eyes and flick the child's forehead gently.
"Dolt," she mumbled affectionately.
Roland just giggled before wrapping Weiss in a big hug. "I missed you!" he cried again.
"I missed you too," she admitted. "So, I know therapy went well, but how has the rest of your week been? How's school?"
Roland's eyes lit up, always eager to share anything and everything with Weiss, or anyone for that matter. Roland chattered on to her for a half hour or so, until his parents came into the common room, accompanied by Ozpin, and called him over to go home. Giving Weiss one final crushing hug, he bounded from her lap before zipping over to his parents. Weiss nodded kindly to his parents as she made eye contact with them before they turned to leave, Roland giving one last hearty wave before departing.
Letting out a breath—dealing with Roland's ceaseless energy was such a chore sometimes, no matter how much she loved the kid—Weiss gathered her things before heading over to Ozpin herself.
"So, Miss Schnee," he greeted, "I assume we haven't gone into the negative since your last checkup?"
Weiss huffed, none too amused at the doctor's attempt at humor. He asked this almost every week.
"No, sir," she quipped in reply, her nerves twitching at the man's grin. He always knew just how to push her buttons, and seemed to derive some kind of twisted pleasure from it, much to Weiss's disapproval.
Still, as her mind flashed an image of red and silver, she perked up, looking back to the doctor.
"Sir, by any chance, would you happen to know if someone here was new?"
Ozpin looked thoughtful for a moment. "I may. I'm afraid I don't know all our residents, but a fair share of them are under my care. Who are you talking about?"
Weiss spun, searching for the girl in red.
Only the chair she had retreated to upon Roland's entry was now vacant. Weiss hadn't even seen her leave.
"She was sitting in that chair over there," Weiss explained. "I don't recall ever seeing her before, but she was wearing a red hoodie. She came over to me while I was waiting for Roland, but when he came over, she ran."
"I'm afraid I don't know who you're talking about," Ozpin said regrettably, though there was a look in his eyes that made Weiss think differently.
"I just don't recall ever seeing her around before."
"Well, this is a large facility, Miss Schnee," Ozpin added. "I don't expect you to know the names and faces of every patient here."
"Yet my father still does," Weiss mumbled bitterly. She missed Ozpin's sympathetic smile directed her way.
"Tell you what, I'll keep an eye out for her, and let you know if I see her. Sound good?"
"I would appreciate it, sir," Weiss nodded. "I just would like to apologize for Roland scaring her off. I had him apologize himself, but feel I should as well."
"Maybe by this time next week, this will have all sorted itself out," Ozpin suggested. "I wouldn't worry about it though, Miss Schnee; you have enough on your plate as is, I'm sure."
You're right about that, at least, Weiss grumbled to herself. Externally, however, she smiled and replied, "Thank you, sir. See you next week."
Signing out, Weiss made her way back to her car, a small smile on her face, and the weight upon her shoulders alleviating until next week.
Several stories above, a pair of intrigued silver eyes kept watch from their window until Weiss's car turned a corner and disappeared.