Prologue

It had been raining since early morning. The children of Lilac View orphanage had busied themselves with little games to pass the time except for two who stood in the hallway, absently staring at the open screen door. One, a girl stood silently as a few tears escaped while the boy had an arm hanging loosely around her shoulders.

"She's gone...she's really gone this time." The girl murmured, barely audible.

"It'll be okay, Mako."

Mako lifted her head to him, a few tears running down her pale cheeks. "But, Alexander, she was my best friend! Now, you're the only friend I have left and what if you get adopted next? I'll be alone!"

Alexander smiled. "It's nice to now I'll be missed but I can assure you ain't nobody gonna adopt me. And you'll make other friends. You're a nice person, so you'll make friends easily."

Mako wiped her eyes with her arm, her cheeks taking on a rosy hue. "Really?"

"Yeah, really."

They had been there for what seemed forever, Alexander going on six years while Mako was only in her third year. It had taken a while but he had finally managed a friendship with the small brunette as did Melissa, and the three of them were almost inseparable...or at least until today. Now, it was only the two of them.

A telephone rang in the matron's office. Inside a woman in her early thirties sat behind a mahogany desk and she reached for the ringing telephone. Alexander glanced back at Mako.

"Why don't you go play hide and seek with the others and I'll be there in a minute."

Mako smiled and nodded. "Okay." And then she ran off, disappearing into the play room where the other children were. Alexander peered into the office again as the matron began conversing with the person on the other end.

"Yes, I know of the perfect little girl. She's eight years old and her name is Mako Cavalier. Sweetest girl you'd ever meet."

Alexander ducked out of the room and stared at the wall in front of him. Mako is gonna get adopted... his hands balled into fists, jealousy getting the best of him. Everyone gets adopted before me! What about me? I've been here the longest! Alexander glanced down the hallway and narrowed his eyes at the back of the one getting adopted. She was pleading with the others to let her play, but they were resilient. This gave him an idea as he headed towards the room.

"Um...can I please play? I'll be it for a lot of rounds, I don't care! I just want to play with everyone else." The children turned away and whispered among themselves before looking at her again. "Sure."

"I wanna play too but I'm it."

They nodded instantly. "Okay. Alexander's it." The lead child said the second half of it begrudgingly. "Alright! Count to ten and no looksies!"

Alexander nodded, covering his eyes with his hands. Before he had covered his eyes, he saw everyone scatter, Mako the only one exiting the room.

"One, two three, ten! Okay here I come!" Alexander ran to the entrance and looked around the corner as the closet door closed. He ducked back into the room and proceeded to play the game with only one thought in mind. Good.

The game continued until the matron entered the room. "Everyone! Dinnertime!"

Various children appeared from their hiding places and ran out of the playroom. She looked to Alexander, who stood silently in the center of the room.

"Where is Mako?"

Alexander stood silent for a moment longer before looking up at Matron Clara. "She said she was tired and went to her room." He detachedly replied, his gaze wandering to the door. Clara nodded and walked out. He stood there for a moment and then darted for the door. "Miss Clara!"

Clara stopped and turned, with a curious look etched into her face.

"Yes?"

"Nothing."

Clara regarded him oddly for a moment before continuing down the hall. Alexander sighed and ran after her, the two disappearing into a room at the end.

Mako lifted her head to the darkness of the small closet.

I must have dozed off...I wonder what's taking Alexander so long?

She pondered this as she stood and waited a bit longer in hopes of him showing up. Then she groped for the doorknob, turning it slightly when she found it. The door swung open as she pushed it and Mako stumbled out into the bright hallway with a groan. A creak emitted from the stairs and she turned to Alexander on the second step from the top with an empty glass in his right hand. He stopped short of the third and she smiled widely.

"Mako Cavalier!"

Mako turned abruptly to Clara as she walked up and knelt down in front of her. Mako smiled for her as well and Clara grasped her shoulders.

"There you are! What on Earth were you doing in the closet for?"

"I was playing hide and seek with Alexander and the others! They really let me play this time!" she answered, giggling.

"But Mako..."

Mako stopped and gazed seriously at the young woman who seemed slightly confused.

"Miss Clara?"

"The children stopped that game a few hours ago. They have all gone to bed."

Mako glanced up the stairwell only to find that her friend had vanished.

"Alexander had told me..." Mako turned back, interest sparking in what the ebony haired boy had to say. "That you had gone to your room. After dinner I went to check on you only to find you missing."

Clara pulled Mako into a loose hug.

"You worried me." She whispered before she released her. Standing up, Clara gazed down at the young girl.

Her smiling eyes dulled to a sullen blue but her smile remained as she looked up at Clara. It was an expression that reminded her of when Mako had first came to the orphanage. The child had endured much more than many her age and now it seemed that any friends she had here were deliberately ignoring her. She glanced up the stairway as Alexander peered out from his room, a guilty expression on his features.

Clara shook her head and turned to Mako. "Would you like anything to eat?"

The child declined and ascended the stairwell. "Good night." She mumbled.

"Good night dear."

Clara watched as she trudged up the stairs and passed her friend without so much as a glance. It was then that she noted that Mako was falling back into her old ways again. Clara sighed and retired to her office, closing the door behind her.

Alexander set the glass on the carpeted floor and left his doorway to pursue his younger friend.

His anger had abated a few hours ago but it had completely slipped his mind to get her from the closet. Crap...

He found her standing in front of her closed room. Alexander ventured forth and then stopped short of her voice. "Why are you following me to my room?"

He noted the anger and sadness mixed into her soft tone.

"Are you okay?" Stupid question...

"I'm fine. I'm just tired for real now. So just leave me alone, okay?"

Then she opened her door and entered her room, closing it Alexander waited for a moment before walking toward her door. As he reached for the brass door knob, he heard it. Soft whimpers came from the other side of the door. He lowered his hand and stepped forward, leaning his head against the door.

"I'm sorry."

He listened as her whimpers grew and realized she had not heard him. Alexander remained there until her crying quieted before retiring to his room.

It had been a few days since and Mako had not seen Alexander at all or any of the other children for that matter. She had remained in her room the last few days and this day in particular, the matron had called on her. Currently, she followed Clara down the hall and the stairway, leading her to the office. As they entered, she saw two adults sitting in chairs and they turned to look at her. The woman smiled and waved while the man simply brushed brunette strands from his eyes and regarded her with a deep stare.

"Mako, honey, this is Mister and Missus McDougal." Then Clara smiled at the two adults. "Mister and Missus McDougal this is Mako Cavalier. She is a sweetie but extremely shy."

Clara walked behind her desk and sat down, Mako standing close to the only familiar person in the room. The three adults soon engaged in a conversation in which Mako learned that she was being adopted by the couple sitting in front of the desk.

She smiled, feigning happiness for the couple. Clara slid a piece of paper across the desk toward Missus McDougal, who lifted it. She glanced over at the man, pointing at some thing on the paper and he whispered something back, handing her ball point pen. She hastily signed on the dotted line and gave the papers back to Clara who looked it over. Then she smiled at the couple.

"She's all yours."

The two stood up and exited the room, Mako following after them. They walked toward the entrance and Mako followed closely behind.

"Mako!"

She stopped and glanced behind her as Alexander stopped in front of the matron's office.

"Mako, I…"

Mako turned back around and saw Missus McDougal staring down at her. She smiled and empty smile and held out a hand to Mako.

"Come along now."

Mako stared at her hand and then walked past her and out of the building, never once looking back.

behind her.