How To Recover Life's Blows

by ~AtomicKokoro

Storyline

Mikki is recovering from life's blows. He's not sure he can make it, until he meets one, special girl that seems to change his life in the smallest ways.

Before You Read

Something I wrote on dA one time. Thought I would post it here.

Also, the reason it's a one-shot it cause they are all to short to be chapters. So, yeah.

On with the story!

Step 1: Realize

Sometimes, when I stood and looked over the fields, I could make myself believe that everything was the same as it was before. I would recall everything we ever did, up until that night. That one night.

That night was hazy. I couldn't remember very much, but I remember the feel of the wooden barn door I grasped when I was about to enter the plantation. I remember the voice of a man, the one Zed called Hugh. I remember how he turned around when I stepped on that damned twig centimeters behind my heel. I remember turning around and running.

I forget why I ran, honestly. Perhaps it was the same fear I felt whenever I stepped into the ring of the Joust. Many times this thought ran through my head; What would have happened if I never ran away?

How many times that thought made me smack myself in the head. How could have I...! How could have I...? How could have I just turned and run like that? How could have I not seen the signs that lead to this situation? How could have I been so stupid!

And then, when I think really hard about it, I begin to think, What could have I...? What could I have honestly done to keep Teacher from doing what he did? Anything, I would think to myself. Anything, but turned and run.

Would that have saved him? Would it have really?

...

Step 2: Think

Mikki sighed and turned away from the fields before one of Robes' men caught him there. Slowly, he walked down passed Teacher's old house back towards his along a dirt road. A few birds chirped in the trees he walked by. Their songs took his mind off of Teacher for a moment or two, drawing his thoughts to a gentle, quiet peace. The silent tranquility he had known all his life.

The birds silenced and his mind drew back to that night. He tilted his head back and stared up at the sky. What a lovely shade of purple. For a moment, he thought of Roya, who had disappeared to Tusk, as he had heard, and Zed, who had chased after her without a second thought.

He almost wished he went with them, but there was no way he would go to Tusk. He belonged in Templar, selling bread to the people who passed him on the street. He'd given up Shard Casting after the ordeal with Slugna, which was almost the same day he started a business in bread making.

Mikki chuckled sorrowfully. "I have to stop thinking so much," he murmured to himself when he realized the sky was now a dark blue. "or I'll get lost in my own head." Shaking his head very slowly, he looked back at the road then stopped. It felt like such a long walk back.

Further than the past...

...

Step 3: Live

The following morning, when he woke up, he found Zed in the kitchen making breakfast. Mikki rubbed his eyes and slowly began to wonder just how long he had been up for the previous night. "Good morning, Zed," he muttered, sounding just a bit dazed.

"Hey, Mikki," Zed replied, sounding exhausted. Mikki assumed that Zed had probably gotten home recently. A few bruises patterned on his face, meaning a fight had broken out while he was gone. Mikki was about to ask, but shut himself. Zed was fine.

Mikki sat on the bench and rested his chin on his hands. "Hey, I heard Robes is having a party tonight..."

...

Step 4: Open A Door

I guess that was the time I first met Pinot. I did see her once before, though, when I was delivering bread to the Redondo Estate. And the first thing I did was blush and say, "Uh, I-I'll put the bread right here!"

The second thing I did was run.

It was the day before Zed and Roya returned to Templar (safely, thankfully, but Roya has been acting differently lately). Zed calls me a smooth-operator, but I didn't even say hi. I though she might not even have liked me back, so much as noticed me.

Like I could use a pick-up line on a girl. The only reason I seem to attract one or two is because of my dumb luck and even dumber moments. Me and girls didn't go hand-in-hand, physically nor metaphorically.

But I was really in need of a new friend, even if she was a girl. Because, to be honest, I was beginning to feel lonely. I had been all alone (Robes isn't really someone I consider a friend; he never stops by, anyway, let alone remember my name...literally) for the time Zed and Roya were gone.

If I was going to fall, I wasn't going to fall alone. No, I dragged Zed with me to the party (and early, at that). We came across a morons in front of the Estate, looking for the little Yellow Shard Zed found earlier.

I still remember how that little, unlucky Shard helped me with the battle. It wasn't the best way to win, but it was effective. I remember how Zed laughed when everyone came out to see what was going on, someone from the murmured, "Oh, it's just Mikki."

And then I saw Pinot. I tried to keep my eyes off her to keep myself from blushing but she came running up to me and told me I was cool.

No one had ever really called me "cool" before.

...

Step 5: Take Control

Zed and Roya disappeared off to Neotopia, leaving me behind, once again, alone. Well, not as much as I had been last time. Pinot decided to stay in touch with me and I had enough money to afford a small house or lot in the city.

And it was that day I had a brilliant idea.

I knocked on the door and how glad it was that Pinot answered. She beamed and offered me inside her house. I stepped in. "Good morning, Pinot," I said, nervously scratching the back of my neck, as I had a habit of doing when I was nervous.

"Good morning, Mikki!" she chirped. "How are you?"

"I'm good, thanks." After brief introductions and a bit of catching up, I finally shifted the topic to my idea. "Say, Pinot," I began. "I was thinking. I have enough money to buy a lot in the town, and I was thinking of opening...a bread shop?"

She beamed, gasping. "I think that's a great idea!" she exclaimed, sounding excited. I smiled and nodded.

...

Step 6: Steer

It had been quicker than I expected to get the shop all ready and set. I opened it the day I bought it. Which was the same day I consulted the idea with Pinot. Which was also the same day Zed and Roya came back from Neotopia after a lot of things happened.

A lot went wrong at the Joust, I heard, but everything was okay for the time being, so I dropped the topic and decided to show them the bread shop, which earned shock looks from both Zed and Roya.

Then, with perfect timing, Pinot had stopped by after making a delivery. "Good morning, Mikki!" she chirped in her usual, happy way.

"Pinot! Good morning!" I gasped, half-startled because I wasn't expecting her. "Oh, Roya. Zed. I want you to meet Pinot."

Pinot and her friends decided to quit working for Robes to work for me at the shop. I was honestly very happy about the idea. I never actually thought someone would work for me, especially at my age and personality. It cheered me up.

I wonder if Teacher would be proud...

"Wait!" Roya gasped. "You have a girlfriend!"

And that had to have been one of the unforgettable moments in my life as Pinot and I stammered the worst excuses and replies, but never a real, legit reason to not date.

I was half-expecting Zed to make fun of me, but he was staring out the window. Something happened at the Joust, I knew that much. I occupied myself with talking to Pinot for a second until Roya suggested going for a picnic by the lake, which we agreed to.

...

Step 7: Laugh

Pinot had such irrational arguments, but, honestly, I thought it was pretty cute. "Be careful!" I yelped as her foot slipped on the edge of the lake and splashed into it's shallow waters, butt first.

She blinked then laughed. I chuckled along, too. "You have to be careful, Pinot," I said.

"No, you be careful!" she shot back with a smile.

I blinked stupidly. "Me? You're the one who fell in the water!"

She looked up at me and laughed with nothing to shoot back with. I laughed and stared back. She had such pretty blue eyes. As blue as the lake she fell in... Suddenly, my heart was racing.

So I held out my hand before I did anything stupid. She took it and yanked me in, too. I pulled my head out of the water and glared at her, but the smile couldn't be tamed. "I told you to be careful," she said.

...

Step 8: Cry

It hadn't been too long later. Zed and Roya, again, disappeared into some fight or war or one had gone to look for the other, leaving me, yet again, alone at the house. Well, at least Pinot was there.

She was almost always there.

"I'm glad you didn't go off into war," she said. "It would have been terrible to see you go."

And suddenly, I burst into tears before my thoughts caught up to me. Honestly, I was glad I didn't, too. I was really lucky. That was why I had a four-leaf clover on my cheek. For luck. And now I was lucky. Extremely lucky.

Unfortunately, my parents weren't as lucky as me.

I clung onto her and held her really close. I couldn't say anything. I was crying so hard. I couldn't believe myself. After all this time, I was finally crying. And by someone I felt was almost always there. I guess that would have been the second time I cried since my parents died.

And the first since Teacher passed.

...

Step 9: Fearless

Zed and Roya still hadn't returned, but I knew something was going on, because the sky was getting weird. It was like we could see the other worlds from where we were.

We: Pinot and I.

This event was the first time I realized being an untrained Shard Caster was a bad thing. Slugna and Armadille appeared, with many other Spirits, without being called on. At first, they did nothing.

I lead Pinot by a tree. She dropped the bread basket as we ran. She went back for it, but I grabbed her hand and said, "Don't." One word was all that was needed to drag her back to the tree.

Then someone screamed. It was too far, and, honestly, Pinot and I were too scared to check it out. Armadille began to chase a group of girls into the forest and Slugna fired a strong, linear beam into the forest. It almost struck us, but thankfully, he stopped before he completely demolished Pinot and I.

"I'm scared!" I heard her cry behind me.

I reacted instinctively; I brought my arm up and said, "Stay behind me. I'll protect you." And I made a promise to never run away again. Not to let another person die because I ran away. Because I was too scared to protect them.

I promised to protect my friends to the best of my ability and never run away. Even if it cost me my life.

...

Step 10: Memories

Zed was gone.

I never got to say goodbye.

As the days drew on since he left, I couldn't help but feel depressed. Robes constantly brought him up, Roya avoided the topic as much as possible, and Noa...Well, just looking at him made me think of Zed.

The fourth person I had lost in the passed year.

I promised myself that I would protect my friends and never run away, only to find I, yet again, screwed up. Only if I had been there...! Only if I had followed Roya! Only if I had gone into war!

...only if...

I clutched the sheets of my bed. It was so quiet here without Zed snoring in the next room or Dumas quietly talking some Jimotion Solders to sleep. I couldn't sleep. So many thoughts ran over and over in my head.

I tore off the sheet and got out of bed. I tugged on a robe I bought the other day and kicked on my shoes. I sauntered out the door and walked out of the city, to the fields were I used to work with Dumas and Zed.

Then I spun and walked away. That was the last thing I needed to think about, honestly, but everywhere I went seemed to have had some memory of either my parents, Dumas, or Zed.

Damn. I was calling Teacher by his name.

I had never done that before.

"Mikki!" someone yelled.

I stopped and turned around. "Huh?" I could barely make out the figure in the darkness, the moon dimmed by clouds and trees. I blinked and the light almost came on it's own. "Pinot," I murmured, almost shocked.

She stopped a few feet away from me. "Mikki," she stammered. "I was worried."

"Worried?" I echoed.

Pinot nodded. "I went to your house, but you weren't there. I sort of got...scared."

I blushed slightly. "Pinot," I said. "there's no need to worry. I just went for a walk. I needed to...think."

There was a bit of silence before she took my hand. "Do you want to talk about it?"

...

Step 11: Love

I told her everything that was on my mind. Everything that had happened in the past year; My parents, learning from Teacher, who later betrayed us and passed, the nights I spent alone, and the fact Zed left without saying goodbye.

I just couldn't find peace. "Not right now."

We sat at the edge of the cliff where the old windmill was, staring out over Templar, the small country it was. There was a bit of a silence. Then, she took my hand again. "Your hands," she said. "are cold."

I looked down at our lacing fingers. I didn't so much as blush, as if this activity had been overdone. "Are they?" I asked. "Aren't they always cold?"

"Not to me," she said. "You're hands are only cold when you're sad."

I blinked. Was that true? I looked back over Templar. It was a warm night, but not warm enough for a tank and boxers. Pinot, too, was dressed in her pajamas. She wasn't cold or she would be shivering.

"Look," she said. "I don't know if this is the best time, but..." Her chin dropped down a bit. "...I want...to be more than friends."

Shocked, I turned back to her. More than friends? Had she...? "More than friends..." I echoed, as if I was considering the idea, which I was. More than friends? My heart fluttered for a moment. I squeezed her hand and looked back out.

Pinot nodded. "Yeah," she said.

For a long, quiet moment, I looked over Templar, thinking about everything that had happened in the passed year. When I really, truly thought about it, I swear she was the only reason I wasn't dead yet.

I turned to her, grasped her chin, and in one, smooth motion (or so I hoped), I pressed my lips against hers. A kiss. My first, actually.

I broke it. It took almost all my courage to look into her eyes to see her expression. Shock...at first. But then...happiness.

"Again," she said.

So I kissed her again.

THE END

After Notes

Kinda cute, huh?

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