Enjoy the unedited version :P (Thank you, Ms. Barbour XP) And I should probably thank Recon31030 (At Fanfiction dot net ) for semi-inspiring it XD;

Playlist for this story:

Surrender - Cheap Trick

Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack

It was a warm and sunny April afternoon. Rose, a girl of not quite eight, was in the kitchen humming a slightly erratic, but light-hearted tune and smiling as she stirred the contents of the big blue bowl in front of her. Standing in the doorway, watching over her, was a plump but rather likable old cook who went by the name of Ellie. One room over, a few kids sat in front of an old television, blankly taking in hour after hour of cartoons. Everything would have been great, absolutely peachy, had this scene not been taking place at 107 Evergreen Lane. Or, as most would know it by, the Admiral Rickover Asylum.

"My, but she's been in a good mood lately," the old cook commented quietly to Gretta, the warden, as she walked into the room. "She wasn't this happy at dinner last night… Did something happen?"

The hawk-nosed woman beside her shook her head, the brown bun on the back of her head bobbing with the motion. "Not anything that I know of… Maybe it's just mood swings. You know how children are…" She trailed off, watching the young girl measuring out the contents of the big blue bowl onto a cookie tray.

"I wonder… Maybe that boy's doing something special today…"

The Warden made a harsh sound that could only barely pass as a laugh. "Jason? Hell's Bells, he can barely stand just being here. As soon as his community service hours are up, he's out of here. Ass of a kid like that wouldn't go out of his way for anything."

"Well, I do hope she stays this happy… Lord knows this place needs some cheer." She retreated back to her post by the oven to instruct this unusually cheery girl in the rest of her culinary adventure.

I love cookie day. No so much for the cookies, but because that's when big brother comes to visit! Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday right around four... Sometimes he's a little late, but that's ok because he was always here by 4:15, by 4:15, by 4:15. If not, I can just sit at the window and look for him to make sure none of the crazies got him. Mrs. Gretta said nobody here was crazy, they just all had some special problems, and everyone has problems, even people who don't live here. But I know better.

There's this girl who lives downstairs, and she thinks her dolls are real. If she gets a cookie, her dollie has to get one, too. I heard in her room it even has its own bed and pillow and toothbrush and stuff like that. And nobody likes to talk to her, because if you do you have to talk to her doll, too. Only it doesn't say anything back, because it's not really real. And if you don't know what it wants when she says it asked you a question, she starts screaming and throwing a fit. No wonder she doesn't have any friends; nobody wants her.

They tell me mommydaddymommydaddymommydaddy are going to come get me when I'm older, but they're just being silly. We were three but now just me, hee hee hee… Mommydaddymommydaddymommyanddaddy are never coming back, not ever, never ever; of course I know that. They just like to play pretend, just like with the crazies, so I play along. It can be fun sometimes. I guess that makes me a little crazy, too, in this big game of pretend, but that's ok with me.

And so, at precisely 3:55 that afternoon, a head of little blonde curls came bouncing down the stairway to the rec room. Really, all that was in the room was a T.V. and a couch so everybody could share. Some of the other kids said that if they had put the T.V. in someone's room and not giving them to everybody they could get sued, and then the whole place would get shut down. So it stays in that room where everybody can watch it. There was a knock at the door, and a few of the kids turned their heads briefly to look, but none of them got up once they saw Ellie head off to answer it.

"How are you today, Jason?" Ellie greeted him as he came in the doorway.

"I'm fed up with life," he growled, tossing his backpack haphazardly in one of the wooden kitchen chairs "I failed a Math test… again. I almost missed the bus. And now I have to come here and put up with this-" A disapproving glance cut him off.

"Big brother, big brother, big brother!" Rose cried, running over to him, a plate daintily held by her two pale hands. "I made cookies! And I'm gonna share them all with you!"

"They look delicious!" Ellie chirped in, taking a melodramatic whiff. "And they smell just as good! You did a wonderful job! Why don't you go watch T.V. with the others while I get ready to cook dinner?"

"No, no, no!." The young girl shook her head, her golden curls bouncing about. "I wanna stay here with big brother!" She pulled out one of the heavy wooden chairs from the table and climbed into it. She grabbed three cookies from the plate, placing two on the table in front of her and munching happily on the third.

Jason couldn't help but let a sigh of relief slip past his lips. Since his temper had snapped yesterday, he had been afraid the little girl would be angry or pouting after he'd yelled at her. But she seemed carefree enough; it made him wonder if she even remembered what had transpired. He absentmindedly reached for a cookie as well and devoured the whole thing in one bite. Rose was just sitting there now, staring in his general direction as she continued to nibble on her own chocolate chip cookie.

After the first cookie was gone, she plucked a second from the table and soon that one disappeared, too. She had begun on her third when Jason finally spoke.

"Hey, kid," the shaggy-headed teen said, looking across the table at Rose, who perked up at the sound of his voice. "Get me something to drink, will ya?" The young girl immediately hopped out of the chair, leaving one half eaten cookie where three had been.

Half skipping, half walking into the kitchen, she had to stand on tip-toe to reach a glass in the cabinet above the sink. After she had successfully gotten a glass, she grabbed a small handful of ice, which for her childish hand was only three pieces. She let the opaque shards fall noisily into the cup and filled it with crystal clear water from the sink faucet.

She started back towards the table, humming happily again. As she walked over to Jason's end of the table, her foot caught on a wooden chair leg and the glass slipped from between her fingers, bounced off the edge of the table, and crashed to the floor.

"You idiot!" he yelled, jumping to his feet. "What do you think you're doing?!" She just looked up at him and smiled the same smile she'd been smiling all day.

"Yes, big brother," she said, cheerfully as ever, and skipped off to find paper towels to clean the mess up with. Jason sighed and sat back own grumbling under his breath as the young girl began mopping up the spill, still humming her light-hearted tune. Every now and again she'd look up at him with that little smile of hers that Jason, even through his anger, found hauntingly eerie. Looking into her eyes right now, there wasn't a spark of happiness to go along with her chipper mood. They were the same empty sockets as before, but this time there was a flash of something, something wild.

"What is your problem?" he asked apprehensively as she returned to her seat across the table.

"You said you wanted me to be happy, big brother, so I'm happy, really happy!" she said with a smile plastered onto her childish features.

"For the last time, I am not your big brother! Why do you keep calling me that?!" he yelled, jumping up and looking down at her.

She just giggled and kept smiling. "Of course you're my big brother, silly, silly, silly!"

That creepy grin was sinking in; he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. "Just shut up! I'm not your brother!"

The little girl laughed and smiled that unfeeling grin. "Big brother wants Rose to shut up, so she'll be quiet now, she'll be quiet, she'll be quiet" she said, too cheerily, for he knew that wasn't how she could really be feeling.

"Go… Go watch T.V or something, you little freak." He muttered the last part under his breath. But she ran off to sit in front of the television. Every time someone would speak to her, she'd just shake her head and giggle, but at least he didn't have to see her face any longer. He growled and slammed his fist into the table.

The rest of the day went day without event. At seven o' clock, Jason grabbed his backpack and walked into Gretta's small office and laid a slip of bright yellow paper on her desk. The Warden signed it and looked up.

"I guess this makes for your last three hours, Jason," she said impassively.

"Thank god. I'm finally out of this loony bin," came his reply. She didn't waste the energy to chide him.

"Well, I have to say, I hope I don't see you again."

Jason snatched the slip from desk and walked out.

Five years later, that same boy was indicted on charges of vandalism. Rather than take the judge's suggested sentence of staying in juvvie for the six months until he turned eighteen, he suggested volunteering at the Admiral Rickover Asylum, which the judge found to be a novel idea. He hated that place, but at least he had a hot meal and no physical labor.

So, at four thirty the next day, he got out of his blue Mustang and, knocking once, opened the door into the kitchen. A young girl turned her head from the television as he entered, her gaunt but somehow childlike face framed by limp pale blonde hair. He could see she was skinny as a rail. The first thought that came to his mind was she was probably here for a severe case of anorexia, but that was until she spoke. Her blue eyes were dull except for a wild spark that glinted just the corner met with his as she said, "Big brother, you're late! I thought the crazies got you."