A small little one-shot, written for Surfer-Draik on deviantART. It's part of an art trade we had. I felt that my picture fell short on it's own merits, so I do what I always do when I feel like that.

I write a story to go with it.

-DigitalWinter

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Bears. He was looking for bears. Same as every day. Merit badges? Hah. Those could wait. Wrestling bears was top priority. Especially since most children taunted the Russian for his strange accent and inability to speak proper English, he didn't have friends to 'hang out and play' with. Bears would always wrestle with Mikhail, no matter how much he butchered the English language.

"Cannot lurk forever, bear…" Mikhail muttered under his breath, peaking behind bushes and rocks. No dice. In odd moments, he could smell… lake scum? American bears shouldn't smell like that. But he brushed it off. Summer camps tend to have odd smells. The GPC area was the only place in camp where he hadn't searched yet. There could be plenty of places where bears could hide to attack innocent tiny little campers.

Then he heard something. Not a bear (to his dismay), not a cougar, not even the sounds of squirrels being set alight by devious campers. Crying. Not the 'scared and alone, my-parents-abandoned-me-here' crying. Loud, panicked, worrisome crying. The source? Mikhail turned to see. Through the infamous, echoing 'Make-out Cove' ran small little Maloof Canola. He was blindly running at full speed, crying into his hands. Surely, he would hurt himself and others if he kept running. Mikhail darted into his path and waited in a readied stance, as if he were taking on a two-ton bear- and not a seven year-old child. Maloof ran straight into the prepared Russian, who quickly restrained him. But he didn't expect the little boy to put up a fight. He began to kick, throw his arms, and wail like a banshee.

"Small boy! Is alright! Mikhail not going to hurt you!" He tried to assure, grabbing at the screaming Italians arms to try and tame his hissy-fit. It was at that exact moment Mikhail had noticed it. A disgusting mix of black and purple. Swollen and throbbing. Tears flooding out from the narrow slit of eyelids.

A black eye.

Maloof had caved at right at 'not going to hurt you'. His crying went from frantic to tortured in an instant. He stopped fighting back and lowered his defenses, crying and crying. Mikhail was at a loss, confused. He didn't know what to do. If Mikhail was upset… he'd wrestle bears. He was pretty sure Maloof wouldn't be willing to wrestle a bear. He wasn't even willing to look a squirrel in the face. But they were creepy. Who could blame him?

"Small boy was… attacked by giant hairless bear?" It felt silly to ask. He felt like he knew the answer, but it was all he could think of to say. Also he wanted to find that bear so much. It couldn't lurk forever!

The small Italian boy tried his hardest to stop crying; just enough to utter decipherable words. Mikhail then took notice of more injuries. Little bleeding scrapes on his chin and hands. He grew more and more concerned of other possible injuries. Maloof managed to choke up a word, but it was too absorbed by crying to understand. Mikhail felt his heart swell up and pound mercilessly. He had to comfort him.

"All okay, small boy. No one will hurt you, Mikhail is here." The Russian assured, showing a kind-hearted smile. It made Maloof cry even more. Maybe he should've waited on the kind words. It took a while, but Maloof finally managed to calm down after taking long, deep breaths. Finally, he sniffled his runny nose and lifted his head.

"B-B-Bobby." He uttered shakily. Of course. It was too obvious. But he was right on his second-guess. Mikhail felt anger begin to boil up inside him. He'd do to Bobby what he did to Maloof- no. Worse. He'd make him pay. He'd make him wish he never laid a hand on Maloof- wish he was never born!

"I-is it really that bad?" Maloof nervously asked, covering his blackened eye with his hand, and shyly looking down at his feet with his one good eye. Mikhail didn't realize he hadn't said anything. He let go of the small boys arms (it took him this long) and offered another warm smile.

"No no, I just in thought. Put ice on eye. It will be better. Hand and chin need bandage. Small Maloof will be good as new after. Mikhail will help." Maloof's tearstained face lit up. This was the first time since he arrived here that he had received any kindness; genuine kindness. Not fake kindness that lowered his defenses and quickly led to a painful wedgie, or being shoved into the lake. His heart was racing, a red tint to his cheeks.

"T-thank you Mikhail…" He said, head still lowered shyly, but keeping eye contact and smiling cutely. "Is nothing!" The Russian's heart continued to carry the strange feeling. He knew what to do now.

"So, bad-teeth boy was only one who hurt you?" Mikhail asked, examining the injuries better. "Y-yeah, just Bobby. Why?" Maloof had stopped crying. His nose was still leaking though. Mikhail cracked his knuckles.

"Mikhail does not want to hurt innocent camper." Confidence boiled over in his words. Maloof realized… he was protecting him? The red in his cheeks grew brighter.

"W-would you really? No kidding around?" Maloof's good eye widened in surprise. Mikhail couldn't stop smiling. The Italian was so cute!

"Not kidding! Bad-teeth boy get what he deserve. Ahh… before Mikhail goes…" He bent down and put his hands comfortably on Maloof's face. He placed two kisses on the boy's cheeks, and a tiny little peck on the lips before pulling back, and taking his leave by way of the Make-out cove. Maloof was frozen. Did that just happen? Did Bobby knock him out and now he's dreaming? Did he get punched so hard he died and went to heaven?!

"I-is that how you say goodbye in your country?" Maloof stuttered nervously, cheeks an unbearable flaming temperature. Mikhail turned his head back to the Italian, grinning like a nerd grabbing a limited edition copy of True Psychic Tales.

"No. It's how we say, 'I like you.'"