Rosalia couldn't reach for her dolls.
Being placed high up on the shelves, the little blonde was an inch too short to reach them. Tip-toeing as high as she could, she gave her toes a rest after doing it for a while. She had completed her homework just a while ago, but she was the only one who completed them. While all the other orphans were busy solving equations and answering questions, she realized that she has to play alone. If only she'd complete her homework a little slower.
Just as she was about to give up, someone reached up to her dolls and passed it to her. Rosalia knew who that person was, not before giving her thanks to that person.
"You know, you are a little too old playing with dolls at your age, Little Rose." Maria said.
"T-t-thanks, Maria. Of course, I still have to thank you from saving me from the fire."
"Ohhhh no. In case you aren't aware, this is probably the ninth time today for saying that. Don't you get tired of it? I do." The dark-skinned fourteen year-old turned away from the petite girl. Feeling very ashamed of her foolish stunt she committed days ago, for starting a fire within the compounds of the orphanage.
Rosalia's face turned red. Maria grinned, taking her friend's hand as the two girls ran out of their compounds. As Rosalia chased after Maria for her dolls, she tried jumping after them, only catching them with one last jump.
A loud sound rang across the orphanage suddenly. Curious about what's going on, Maria and Rosalia crawled silently all the way just beside the stairs. To avoid being seen by any of the guests or the caretakers, they lay low and peeked at the scene. Seeing a blue-haired man with red eyes, with a lab coat on as well as a younger guest, with striking bold red eyes and flowing black hair, the two girls exchanged looks. Rosalia raised her head a little higher to get a better view of the guests, which somehow caught the attention of the younger guest. The moment he took a look upstairs, Maria and Rosalia pushed deeper on the floor until he turned away.
"Ah…Professor Sartre. It's nice of you to visit the House of Hope. Come, I'll lead you the way to the office…"
Both girls did not take their eyes away from the new guests until the sounds of footsteps were gone. Maria crossed her arms, pondering about the situation. Sure, sometimes guests visited the orphanage to adopt a child, but none of the adults gave any announcements regarding a new guest arriving today.
"If my intuition is correct, they must have visited this place to adopt one of us. I'm sure of it." She said, trusting her hunch. "Besides, that other guy gave me the chills on my spine."
"I think he looks cute." The younger girl said, without any traces of hesitation. She turned her attention to the two guests. "By the way they looked, they seemed quite friendly."
"And if you're talking about the smaller guy, I swear he gave me the creep moments ago. So…you want to know more?" Inquired Maria, with sinister ideas on her sleeves. She turned at the girl and guessed her mind was somewhere else. "Having fantasy thoughts on that guy?" She asked, her sinister smile gave it away what was hinting.
"Well, I….erm…They must be at the office now!" Pushing the question aside, the girls walked down the stairs quietly. Turning the doorknob as quietly as possible, they finally managed to eavesdrop on the continuous conversation. The orphans focused on all their attention to the discussion.
"…Well, Professor. Based on previous records you adopted this boy yourself too years ago, if I've remembered correctly."
"Yes, I did, Mrs. Donaldson," agreed the professor.
"I see. We've checked your income, living environment and also the way you provide your child. We've also conducted a homestudy at your place to see if you're eligible again to adopt another child. I must say that I'm impressed that you're able to meet these criteria despite your heavy workload at Cumberland College. It's tough raising a child and spending most of your time teaching college students in a renowned medical institution."
"Ha, not really. Managed to let me have some time-off for personal stuff." Prof. Sartre patted his son's head. "Actually, the exact reason why I'm adopting another child is because of him. He doesn't have many friends in school, a boy this young having to go through hard times. It's hard for him to socialize with other people as well." He turned to the boy, paying no attention to the lady right in front of him. He was reading a thick book with the cover wrapped in dull-colored paper. "He's quite the intelligent kind, doesn't he? Doesn't talk much at home."
"O-oh, yes. So, do you want to-" Mrs. Donaldson's words were cut short as soon as she and her visitors heard a 'thump' sound not too far away from them. Lying on the floor clumsily, Maria groaned in pain with her elbow hit the floor hard. The blonde moved towards the opening seconds after. As soon as she saw the misbehavior of the two children, a stern Mrs. Donaldson took the girls a little further from the office.
"Uh oh," said Rosalia in a sing-a-long tune.
"We're in deep shit." Maria said in a hoarse voice, getting ready to face the music.
"How many times do I have to tell you NEVER to eavesdrop in an adult's conversation? What you did just now is unspeakable, I'm disappointed with you both, you especially Rosalia." Scolded the caretaker. "Now go back to your rooms as punishment and write the line 'I must not eavesdrop in anyone's conversation again' 200 times. I expect you to finish this right before dinner."
She had a point, Maria thought. She can't talk her way back on this one, since she and Rosalia are clearly seen to commit an offense. Being caught by Mrs. Donaldson was another thing; that means not reaching first for the juicy stuff for dinner for her and her other accomplice.
"We understand, Mrs. Donaldson." The two girls said in unison.
"Come back, little girl."
Maria and Rosalia turned back, seeing Prof. Sartre calling out for one of them. He looked pleasantly happy to see one of them. The girls exchanged blank looks; Rosalia take a step forward. "Erm, me?"
"Yes, you." He kneeled one of his knee down towards the girl. "What's your name?"
"I'm Rosalia Rossellini. I'm turning seven this year…erm…mister…"
"Call me Professor Sartre."
"Ehem, Professor." Mrs. Donaldson coughed, wishing that her visitors can turned back to her attention. "You said you want to look around the orphanage. Shall we?"
"Oh yes, coming right at you, Mrs. Donaldson." The professor waved at his adopted son to come as well. As soon as the boy stepped out of the room, he gave an almost-emotionless glance at the hot-headed girl. Empty, lifeless and blank. It was probably the only descriptions that stick with Maria for that guy. Some reason or another, Maria can't take her eyes off the enigma until Rosalia pulled Maria's sleeve to catch her attention.
"Maria? I think it's time for us to return to our rooms. There are still two hundred lines to complete before we can go down for dinner."
"I…let's go, Little Rose. Don't want all the other snobs to take all the good stuff away. Man, if only it wasn't baked potatoes for dinner…" She pulled her only friend away from the visitors. The old caretaker led her guests around the orphanage meanwhile, introducing all the orphans around the building. (Yes, even those two pesky kids.)
The visitors left as soon as they arrived, as all of the orphans took a wild mass guessing who will be adopted this time. Realizing that the hype was getting more out of control, the caretakers took desperate measures to keep the noise level down for dinner. It took them a while before the dining room was in order, with Rosalia having dinner alone, isolated with the rest of the kids.
"What's wrong with her?"
"I doubt she'll be adopted. She looked so pale and sick, no adult wants raising a sick child like Rosie."
"Shh…don't let her hear that. She might hear us. You don't want Mrs. Donaldson to catch us teasing Little Rose again."
She was well aware that the other children were talking about her. Even Maria was giving a mild cold shoulder to the sickly child. However, there was a part of her yearning to shut those little devils up with their nonsense. What if she was picked out of the hundred in this orphanage?
Maria was surprised that her wild guess proved the hot-headed side of her dead wrong. Rosalia was actually going to be Sartre's daughter. Although the previous lesson from Mrs. Donaldson had drilled into her mind days ago, she couldn't help but eavesdrop at the conversation again. Her legs were already numb from squatting longer than expected, but nothing's going to stop her from knowing.
"…just have to fill up the paperwork, and meet up with your adoption attorney, you are good to go with Miss Rossellini. We hope that the paperwork won't take up much of your time."
"It's all right." The Caucasian man said, taking a small sip of hot coffee. Judging by the amount of skin covered on the sofa, it seems that he was alone with the caretaker this time. Thankfully Maria need not have to see the creepy boy this time. Observing the conversation attentively, she almost whelped when she felt someone's hand on her shoulder. The tan-skinned girl covered her mouth and gasped to avoid Mrs. Donaldson and the professor from knowing that she was eavesdropping on them the whole time. Annoyed, she turned back.
It was Rosalia.
"WHAT are you doing here? You almost gave me a heart attack! Do you want me to get into trouble and write lines again?" She said angrily in a low tone. She plunged herself back from the tiredness, massaging her legs.
"I'm…sorry. Did I make you mad?" Maria could predict what the blonde girl was going to do like an open book. Before Rosalia could alert the adults, Maria did her best to calm her down.
"But Mrs. Donaldson and the guest had been talking about you ever since he came in." Maria tried to cheer Rosalia up. "The professor said that he's going to adopt you. You'll have someone who is willing to take you out of the orphanage. You should be happy about this."
Rosalia rubbed her wet eyes. "Sniff sniff. Really? Are you making this up so that I feel better?"
"Of course not. I'm not a hypocrite like the rest of us here. Why should I lie about something like this?"
"B-b-but the others said that I'm sick…and no one's willing to adopt a sick girl like me…"
"Don't listen to them…I mean…you decide if you are willing to take this as the truth." Maria stammered, crossing her arms as she spin away from the crying girl. "Great, Maria. You just like to torture Rosalia whenever your nonsense becomes a real pain in the ass for everyone else. " Not wanting to see her cry again, Maria turned to Rosalia.
"Okay, stop crying already. You're going to have a happier childhood leaving this place. See, someone thinks you're worth being adopted after all." She said, imitating her voice like an adult. "Your new father won't be happy looking at a sad crying child all the time." Rosalia stopped crying, her frown soon turned into a sweet smile Maria always knew of.
"Yeah, I'll make sure that I can be a great help in my new family." She got back to her own feet and soon headed for the study room. With all the other children struggling to get the sums done for the day…
"I'm going to be adopted!" The petite girl's words echoed round the room. The other children raised their heads and looked at her, surprised with out of all the other candidates, she was the one picked to enter the new family. All of them crowded towards the girl, the chattering spiraled out of control with their wild guesses proved them wrong.
"Wow, I can't believe it…"
"No fair. Why wasn't I picked?"
"…congratulations, Little Rose…"
"If only they picked me…I'm much well-behaved than you are…"
"Man, telling the whole world like that," smiled Maria, shaking her head as a wide grin appeared on her face. "She must be so happy someone's willing to take care of her after all…"
"As I thought, you must have overheard the conversation Prof. Sartre and I had in the office minutes ago, Miss Torres."
Maria gasped, turning her head to see the strict woman standing right on the back. "Mrs. Donaldson? You knew all along?" She looked at the caretaker, surprised; even taking much precaution from letting the woman noticed her appearance right outside the office.
"I'm not as blind as you have thought, young lady." Clapping her hands to grab all the children's attention, it took some time to chase all the orphans to get back on their homework, before she takes her eyes on Maria.
"You cheered Ms. Rossellini up for telling her the great news. I received some news from the director of the orphanage; she'll be leaving with Professor Sartre in two weeks time, if there aren't any hiccups hindering the process of handling the paperwork." The woman began giving all her attention to the young girl. "I guess I will like to drop the punishment for today, but this is the last time I'm doing that. If I see you or any other kid committing in all sorts of pranks, eavesdropping or not, I won't be closing an eye on your next offenses."
"Yes, Mrs. D!"
A rare smile formed on Mrs. Donaldson's face. "Perhaps you would start by writing a goodbye letter to Ms. Rossellini. I'll leave it to you in deciding your actions for her departure."
Over the course of two weeks, nothing out of the ordinary happened, but Maria was getting more worried day after day as the date drew near for Rosalia's departure. Sure, she felt very happy for Rosalia being chosen for adoption; there was something holding her back however. The reason kept bothering the girl; it gave her insomnia for several days.
She was not ready to see Rosalia off.
Even though she could be a 'pain in the ass' sometimes, she did care for her whenever she got herself into a big mess. Maria turned away from the moonlight, seeing the Little Rose she always knew sleeping peacefully on her bunk. Her skin, pale and smooth shone brighter than the moonlight coming from outside. Sleeping like a porcelain doll, resting quietly with the rest of the world sheltering her from any danger.
With that, Maria smiled and finally closed her eyes. This time, she was sure she'll fall asleep.
Another bright day has arrived, the warm sun shining at the House of Hope. The day when Little Rose finally got herself a new home and family. All the orphans were already out of the orphanage by the time the professor carried Rosalia's box of belongings onto the rear of the car. Surrounded with hugs and sobs, Rosalia knew that the children will miss her but she has no choice but to leave. There won't be any more chances for her to be adopted if she rejected Sartre's offer, an ill child like her usually finds it hard for an opportunity to come as easily as this.
Amidst all the children exchanging goodbyes to the blonde, Rosalia realized that someone was missing, apart from all the other caretakers besides Mrs. Donaldson.
"She's probably still sleeping. Most likely taking her sweet time walking down the stairs."
"Maybe she's not so accepting seeing you leave after all."
"Oh. That's why." She said with ease. Rosalia looked up at the window again, their bedroom where she and Maria, after today, used to sleep and talk about the future. Hoping to see Maria one last time, she waited. She did not come to see her off.
"W-w-w-w-wait, LITTLE ROSE!"
It must be her!
Maria huffed and puffed, running towards the girl with an envelope on her hand. Wiping the sweat off her face, Maria knew that she was willing to wait for her until she regained control of her breathing.
"Here, open it up."
Rosalia had her hands on the envelope. As she opened it, she found a photograph of everyone in the orphanage taken a few days before. The smiling kids, the helpful and kind adults, all happily posing in front of the camera under the bright sun.
"If you miss us anytime, you can take the photo out. It's not that you'll want to get rid of us that easily." Maria continued. "So, you like it?"
The little girl nodded eagerly. Before this can go on any further, at the far end Professor Sartre was getting a little tired waiting for Rosalia to get into the car as he turned to his watch. "I think it's time for us to go, Rosalia. Your new home is a long ride far away from the orphanage."
"One more thing, Rose."
"What is it, Maria?"
Maria leaned close to the short-haired girl, whispering from her ears. "If there's anything, big or small, don't hesitate to write me a letter. I'll be happy to meet you again in the near future." She said with little signs of obvious expression on her face.
"I will, Maria." Rosalia placed the photo back into the envelope. "It's…time for me to leave. I'll miss you, you, Mrs. Donaldson and everyone else." Refusing to let her friends see her cry for the last time, she held back her tears. Turning towards the professor's car, she gave her final words before making her way to the backseat, wiping the tears flowing out from her pinkish orbs.
"Goodbye, all of you."
Everyone waved, despite Rosalia turning away from her friends. Soon, there was no sign of either orphan chasing after her. She would expect Maria to scream at her to come back, but there wasn't. Confronting with the obstacles around her, she thought about her adoption in a different angle, as a chance to grasp on a new life.
"You will get used to your new way of life. I'm sure you'll like it, just as much my son and I do." The blue-haired professor said happily, despite being aware of his new daughter's sadness for leaving her friends. "Don't worry; I won't abuse you or anything, like what you usually see in soap operas." He chuckled, laughing on his own. Rosalia tried snuffling a few laughs on the professor's sense of humour, but ended up with a loud sigh. She wasn't sure if she regretted making this decision; away from all her friends, with only her older brother and her father to play with.
Still, it was a price to pay.
Sartre wasn't joking about the long ride. It took him a good few hours to get them stuck in the middle of a traffic jam, as well as making all sorts of twist and turn on the ride. There wasn't much to talk about, other than the usual questions ("Oh, your brother's still in school, he won't be back so soon." "You got to love your new home. I'm sure you'll fall in love with your new room.") With nothing interests Rosalia from the trip, aside from the sounds of the car engine and the soft classical music surrounding the vehicle, the princess soon fell into a deep sleep. Upon being waked up by her father, her wobbling legs partially numbed from bending too much, slowly pulled her out of the car.
She glanced carefully at the exterior of the house. It was newly furbished, with the thin smell of thinner still covering the house and a cute chimney on top marks a stark contrast with all the other houses along the concrete. The doors were plain and white, mixing in with the red walls very nicely. Also, there was a nice bell attached to the centre of the door. It was like a dream come true for this very girl.
This is her new home.
"Welcome to your new home, my lovely daughter."
The first chapter took me hours to get the feel of the story right. (Not to mention about my aching back and shoulders too. Perhaps I need Dr. Cunningham to prescribe me with tranquilizers and painkillers.) I can't hold on much longer not being able to publish this. I was thinking of publishing this after watching the Trauma Team walkthrough videos from start to finish, but I was too eager, afraid that others may publish similar works like these. Ahh…so many ideas…
I'll be working this alongside the almost-concluding Anger Management and the upcoming fic 'Who Wants to Date With The Dullahan.' From what I have planned, this fic may be my longest in my record, but I can't compromise that it'll go the way I wanted. (Thanks to my infamous record of making incomplete stories and leave it as that.) Yes, I know this chapter is dry with Rosalia leaving the orphanage, but I promise the later chapters will be interesting.
Sorry if only a few characters from Trauma Team will be involved here, though there are some things that are mentioned in the present timeline of the game by CR-S01. Do remember that we're talking about Rosalia here. I'll make it up when I get my other story Six Lonely Souls published. (If anyone has a better title for the story I'll be happy to hear it.)
Finally, dun dun dun~. I finally thought of CR-S01's real name. It's not official/canon, but if anyone had already completed the game, can you tell me his canon name? It's extremely frustrating having him to remember everything and his name…his NAME! Pardon me if the fangirl inside of me gets…too hardcore sometimes. But meanwhile, please read and review. I'll give you some clues the name I have come up with for our dear prisoner; he'll be adopting the last name of his adoptive father, his first name starts with a letter from his prison number. I'll give you a cookie if anyone of you can give me the right answer.