The cold, brick walls of the alleyway between two buildings sheltered you from the cold, biting wind that rushed past the people who were not protected, whipping their hair and staining their coats with little droplets of water. Even though the walls held back the wind as much as it could, the rain was still pelting down in vicious torrents, chilling you to the bones. You shivered, drawing your arms closer to you across your chest, attempting to retain your warmth for as long as possible.
The rain kept falling.
You limped over to a trash can at the mouth of the alley, taking off the lid. You dug around for something to eat, but it only seemed to be filled with old, wet cardboard boxes and empty beer cans. A sharp pang of hunger snapped in your stomach, causing you to double over in pain and drop the metal lid that you were trying to fit onto the garbage can.
The wind kept blowing.
"Hey kid, are you alright?"
You glanced up. A tall, heavy set man holding a grocery bag was kneeling down next to you, his eyes worried. Despite the cold, he was only wearing a red, button up shirt patterned with yellow flowers and denim shorts. His dark skin was slick with rain, and his hair was soaked in its ponytail, hanging limply.
"It's cold," you managed to choke out, clutching your stomach.
The man frowned. "Hang on, I'll get you to a hospital." He easily picked you up and started trotting toward the street to hail a taxi. He only spent a few seconds trying to get one, a cab slowing down to let you in. The man told the driver to get you to the nearest hospital in as quickly as possible, and the cab driver spent no time in stepping on the gas pedal and taking off down the road, to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Upon arriving, the man leapt out of the taxi, tossing his money behind him, you still cradled in his arms. He ran to the front desk, and got you brought to a room immediately. The doctors hooked up an IV to your arm and took your temperature, recorded your weight, height, and name.
A doctor sat down on a chair next to your bed. "Do you have any parents?" he asked carefully.
"I used to. They died a while back."
The doctor nodded, scratching something onto his clipboard with a ballpoint pen. "Who do you live with then?"
"I live in the alley," you said, eyeing the doctor carefully.
He bit his lip and sighed. "You're going to have to stay the night in here, I'm afraid," he said, and relief flooded your eyes.
Then, the man that had found you walked into the room, followed by a nurse. The doctor stood up and left. The man sat down in the doctor's chair, smiling slightly at you. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm doing better."
The two of you lapsed into an awkward silence, before the doctor walked in. "Miss (f/n), we need to talk about where you're going to stay."
You frowned. "Can't I just go back to my alley?"
The doctor shook his head. "It's not safe. We're going to have to send you to an orphana-"
"I'll adopt her," the man from earlier said, standing up. "I don't want her to have to live in an orphanage. I'll fill out the paperwork."
The doctor glanced over to you. "Are you okay with this?"
You paused for a second, looking over the man. Then, slowly, you nodded.
"She'll still have to go to the orphanage until everything is processed," the doctor said, turning back to the man.
You looked between the two of them for a few seconds before shrugging and turning over, falling asleep in the warm bed.