Ralph sat twiddling his thumbs on the hard bench. There were a bunch of children staring wide-eyed up at him from behind the windows, as if begging for him to take them, which just made the whole situation even more awkward. That lady, Mrs. Whatsherface, had said she'd be back in only a minute or so.
"Yeah, right." Ralph muttered. If by one minute she had meant thirty. What was taking so long? Maybe she didn't want to meet him. No, that couldn't be it. After all, who would want to stay in a dump like this? The paint was peeling off the walls and a layer of dust blanketed everything. They must have not have gotten a lot of visitors lately. Or ever. The "playground" outside was covered in rust and looked like it would blow over with the slightest gust of wind.
Mrs. Whateverhernamewas had given him a tour of the whole place earlier. It, like everything else here, was all gray and broken. Even the kids were dressed in virtually the same outfit, gray pants, gray shirt, gray shoes. Ralph could have sworn that he walked onto the set of a black-and-white movie.
He tapped his foot angrily on the ground, glancing down the hallway that lady had walked down. Ralph was not a very patient person. At all.
Maybe he wasn't ready for this. Yes, he most defiantly wasn't ready. This was all a stupid idea in the first place. He couldn't take care of a child! The idea alone was ridiculous. Why he had even done this, he couldn't really remember. But he was pretty sure Felix had something to do with it. Felix always would push him to "try new things" because "everything would turn out for the best."
Even though Felix still refused to drink anything hot.
Ralph was just standing up to go find Mrs. Something and tell her that he changed his mind, when the door at the end of the hall opened. Ralph froze, and suddenly his mind went blank. A loud rushing noise came to his ears and all his blood rushed to his head.
He couldn't see her yet, all he could see was that lady (seriously, what was her name?) and hear the sound of suitcase wheels running against the tiled floor.
They came closer until Mrs. Whatever was standing right in front of him. "Vanellope," she said in a sweet voice. "You can come out now. This is Mr. Reilly, he's going to be your new daddy."
A pair of giant hazel eyes peeked out at Ralph, examining him from behind Mrs. Jillian's (that's what her name was, according to her name tag, anyway) legs. Mrs. Jillian stepped to the side so Ralph could finally see her.
She was small, and dressed in the same gray uniform as all the other kids. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail with a red ribbon, and she had candy barrettes stuck in random places all over her head. She had tiny grey studs in her ear that were almost hidden by her messy side bangs, which she nervously tucked behind her ear. She was looking up at him hesitantly, as if she was worried he was going to bite her or something. But at the same time, her face was full of hope, and happiness.
Ralph's face broke into a smile. She was all her could ever ask for.
"Hey, Vanellope." He said, crouching down to her eye level. Vanellope smiled nervously, clutching her suitcase handle tightly. "My name's Ralph. Ralph Reilly. I'm-"
"I know who you are, you're going to adopt me! Gadoi! " Vanellope burst out suddenly.
"Vanellope! Use your manners!" Mrs. Jillian snapped.
But Ralph just laughed. Vanellope smiled up at him.
"Why don't we go into my office and sign the papers?" Mrs. Jillian said stiffly.
Ralph nodded. He couldn't back out now. Besides, Vanellope looked all right. Like someone he could become good friends with. It was nothing he couldn't handle, right?