To Touch a Heart

Alice x Nightmare, Gray, Julius

Prologue

A Touch of Hope

Clover Hospital - one of the most well known institutions in the area. No one could possibly deny their excellence, their efficiency in the medical arts. All their doctors were top notch, and the recovery rate of their patients were usually very high.

Dear god, did Lorina Liddell hope those statistics were in her favor.

The young woman merely stared at the bright sign, blinking blindingly against its elegant stone surface.

Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. Despite its fame and general efficiency, it still was just another hospital. Perhaps it would treat the case just like all the others - completely hopeless.

It wasn't as if she was scared of how much it would cost. She would give up her whole inheritance if it would mean for her to get better. Her parents were ever fairly affluent and could call just about any price.

There was only one thing she was sure she couldn't handle, one thing that grew disconcertingly common in all hospitals she went to.

She just wasn't sure how her heart would take yet another rejection.

'Come on, Lorina. This isn't about you. It's about her. You have to be strong.' With a soothing exhalation of air, Lorina fortified her resolution and walked through the glass doorway.

The interior of the hospital complimented its exterior's imposing elegance. The pale walls were decorated with green clover decals. Their emerald furniture seemed fairly plush, stitched with an regal gold thread. Even the clover-shaped rug beneath her seemed refined and lovely.

'I hope they pay this much money and detail to their work as they do to their interior design.'

As young brunette walked up to the receptionist desk, the receptionist perked her head up. With a wide smile, she greeted the Liddell, "Good afternoon, miss! Do you need help?"

"Ah, yes. I am looking for a Mr. Nightmare Gottschalk? I spoke with him over the phone the other day and scheduled a meeting. My name's Lorina Liddell," she replied politely.

"Oh yes! The meeting. Mr. Gottschalk is in his office right now. You can find it at the first door to your left. I shall page him to let him know you arrived."

The young woman nodded her head in thanks and headed off into the hall. She tried concentrating her focus on the dark linoleum floor, the sight of the door emerging in her line of vision. She didn't want to pay any heed to the anxiety that was haunting her mind, thoughts that only wrought her heart with even more worry.

Just what would she do if he deigned it like all the other places? How would she handle it?

Lorina dared not dwell on the topic any further.

"Mr. Gottschalk?" She gently knocked her knuckles against the door. "Mr. Gottschalk, its Lorina Liddell, the woman you spoke with over the phone yesterday? Are you..."

Suddenly the door opened. Brown lashes fluttered over her green orbs as she stared as the two figures emerged from the doorway's depths.

One, sporting a long black coat, released a deep, soulful sigh, rushing a pale hand through his short, dark locks. The other was blue-haired and wore a white coat, his features knitted in irritation. He mumbled crossly, "Stupid, green caterpillar..."

"He's just a little moody today, Julius. We can always try again later," assured the one with darker hair.

The one named Julius scoffed. "He's like that everyday, Gray, and I can assure you it's not due to moodiness or any other rendition..."

"Excuse me." Both men turned their gazes towards the source of the voice, Gray's golden orbs and Julius's blue eyes meeting a pair of verdant green.

Julius raised an inquiring brow. "Just who might you be?"

"My name is Lorina Liddell, sir. I have an appointment to meet with the head of Clover Hospital, Nightmare Gottschalk. Is he in?" she asked.

"My apologies, Miss Lorina, but Nightmare will not be receiving anyone at the moment," said Gray.

"That cowardly, lazy man..." Julius muttered crossly before speaking more coherently, "But we'd more than happy speak to you in his stead. I am Julius Monrey, the head doctor of Clover Hospital."

"And I am Gray Ringmarc, Nightmare's assistant. What was the purpose of your meeting?"

Lorina elaborated, "I wanted to meet him to talk about my younger sister?"

"Ah. For her condition. I remember hearing about it from Nightmare," spoke Gray in realization. "I'm not sure how much help a hospital will do for her. It would be best if you get her to see a physical therapist then stay here."

"But we have, and it's not helping!" Lorina cried vehemently. "I'm tired of hearing people reject our case and direct us off somewhere else. Look, this is the last hospital we have yet to try. Please don't break me heart and tell me to leave."

Golden topaz turned to meet cold blue before both turned and regarded the young woman. Just what were they thinking? Did they think she was insane, desperate? ...or did they plainly think she looked just sad? Lorina didn't care. All that mattered was her younger sister. She would do anything just to make sure she gets better.

Julius crossed his arms over his chest and sternly asked, "What's her condition?"

Lorina reached into her bag and retrieved a vanilla folder. "This is a report from the last doctor we went to explaining pretty much everything."

Julius received the folder graciously, his astute eyes narrowing as he paged through its contents. "Ah. This kind of disability... quite the rare disease. You do know there's no way to cure this. It's best to send her to physical therapy than here."

"Just because there isn't a cure, doesn't mean that she can't get any better," refuted Lorina. "Look. I am busy woman, and I hate wasting time. Will the hospital accept her or not? I would like a straight answer."

Gray glanced over to Julius, watching him meticulously pore over each page. Silence veiled the surrounding air, manifesting itself. All Lorina could do was wait. The silence nearly killed her, and the suspense merely increased the beatings of her heart.

Finally there was a sound. With a languid sigh, Julius raised his head and met the eldest Liddell's gaze dead-on. He glanced over to Gray for a singular moment, watching the dark-haired man shrug his shoulders and nod his head.

There was another sigh. Gently rubbing the back of his head, Julius mumbled, "I suppose we could see what we can do..."

Lorina nearly squealed in jubilation. "Oh, Dr. Monrey, Mr. Ringmarc, thanks so much! You have no idea how much this means to me! I'll bring her here tomorrow." Lorina resisted the urge to run forward and hug both of them. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

With those final words and her spirits considerably uplifted, Lorina cheerfully headed her way out the hospital, her step almost resembling a skip.

Fingers ran through Gray's dark locks as he asked the doctor in disbelief, "Julius, what in the world did we just get into?"

"I think we just got suckered into our own mission impossible." Julius glanced back down to the folder and sighed. "I always was a softy for sob stories."

Gray nodded his head in agreement, adding to the harmony with his own melodic sigh.

Perhaps, there was another reason why they accepted the case. Even though this task is certainly not easy, Lorina's eyes seemed to speak out to them, overwhelmed by such piercing emotions - desperation, anxiety, concern, as well as a fiery determination.

But the sight that really caught their attentions? It was that rare glint in her eyes, that intense light they hadn't seen in quite some time.

Her eyes signaled hope. Deep within their hearts, they actually wanted to believe in that hope and make it come true.

"You know, Nightmare would be upset to hear us accept another client without his permission. We don't even know where to put the girl," said Gray, inwardly laughing at such an absurd afterthought.

Julius glanced back at Nightmare's room, allowing a lovely thought to blossom and take root in his mind. "Actually, I have a pretty good idea where she can stay..."


A/N Notes: Yes, I know I'm crazy. I have like ten billion other stories I should be doing and then I go and make a new one. Isn't insanity grand? xD

The disability will be exactly detailed in the next chapter. This is the prologue after all! Got to leave you guys with something to look forward to. ;D

Thanks for reading~