Chapter 15 – Regularity (1)

Regularity – Part 1

  I open the door to the restaurant and am greeted by a boisterous atmosphere. It warms my heart to see the people having a good time. Perhaps I’ve done little to make it so, but if just my presence as the Zeroth is able to make the world a little bit happier, then that’s a silver lining. I make my way to the girls’ table.

      When they notice me, per usual, their chatter comes to a halt. I want to scream at my fate, but I resist. When I get up to the table, only Mimi is smiling at me. Rose merely looks complacent and Kay is well, Kay.

  “Heyo my Lord.”

      Mimi waves to me while patting the seat next to her with her other hand.

  “How’s everyone doing?” I ask.

  They tell me they’ve only been here for a little bit and were waiting for me to order. When trying to decide what I want, Kay, surprisingly, orders for me.

      “So how was training with Commander Rodiger?” Rose asks me. Before I can reply, our attention is pulled away by a racket on the other side of the room.

  Two women are attacking each other with their silverware. I jump to my feet but Mimi grabs my arm. When I turn to look at her she shakes her head at me. I turn back to the women to see some guards breaking them up and hauling them out if the restaurant.

  “What the hell?” I ask while sitting back down.

  “The gall of them to get in a fight here of all places.” Rose has anger in her voice.

  “I’m sorry to stop you Zero but, it isn’t our place to try and police everything around us. There are guards for a reason.” Mimi tries to please me.

  I grumble to myself and look over to Kay. She’s absentmindedly staring out of the window but turns to see my gaze on her. Being caught like that, I panic and rush to think of something to say.

      “How’d your day go Kay? How are classes?”

  She looks at me for a moment before looking upwards some in apparent contemplation. “Boring,” is all she says to me before looking back outside. There’s some kind of bird there that’s receiving all of her attention.

  I turn to Rose, “And you?” I ask.

  “It was fine. Harder than I remember, but that’s to be expected when I missed months of classes.”

  She carries a small sting in her words that makes me sad. I don’t like hearing that, especially when I know it’s my fault. But I don’t know what to say.

  “Well, my day was fine too. It was fun coming back and getting to see everyone. I can’t wait for next week.” 

      Mimi cheerfully adds. She always seems to chime in when I’m at a loss for words. Or rather, she’s been strangely considerate since our fight. I wonder if it’s on purpose or if I’m reading too much into it?

  “I’m glad you had fun,” I reply to her.

      Before long our food arrives and interrupts our idle chit-chat.

  “Here.” Mimi says while holding her fork up to my mouth.

  “Cliche?” I tease her. She gives a huff, but pushes the fork closer to my mouth anyway.

  A giggle escapes and she takes that chance to put the food in my mouth. It’s some kind of delicious meat… God knows I don’t wanna know where it came from. But it’s so good that I steal another piece off of her plate and pop it into my mouth.

  “Hey! That’s mine!” She growls in mock anger while stealing some food off of my plate. That growl was kind of…

  “Hey!” I say, breaking free from that line of thought. I reach over to her and begin playfully wrestling with her.

  “Now, now ladies. Manners.” Rose says.

  “Sorry.” Mimi and I apologize in unison.

  “Good. Glad to see you’re both in understanding of what you’ve done,” Rose says while reaching over and taking food from both of our plates with a wink.

  “You fox!” I say to her while Mimi calls her a crafty minx.

  “Now, now. Manners,” she says again, which instantly makes us hush up. How does she do that? Is that a mom thing? I think that’s a mom thing.

  A little while into our meal Kay excuses herself.. Rose doesn’t seem to take this lightly. She stands up to let Kay out of the booth, but grabs her arm when she leaves.

       “What do you think you’re doing?”

  “Leaving,” is all Kay says before ripping her arm away from Rose. But Rose doesn’t relent and grabs Kay by the shoulder.

  “You’re just leaving our Lord? What could possibly be so important?”

  With a small shove, Kay pushes Rose away and walks out of the building.

      “I’ve never seen her-” I cut myself off. Actually, I suppose I have seen Kay act aggressively with the others. I’ve just never seen her willingly leave my side without protest.

  “Maybe classes were just hard for her and she needs some time alone?” I posit.

  Rose turns a half glare towards me and simply nods. She sits back down and returns to eating.

  All throughout the rest of dinner, and even our arrival at the station, Kay doesn’t show up.

      “I’m worried about Kay,” I tell the others.

  “She’ll show up Zero,” Mimi says while rubbing my back.

  “Just give her some time. She’ll be home by tonight.” Rose says confidently while taking my arm in hers and leading me onto the train and to our coach.

  “Zero, it’ll be alright, I promise.” Mimi is so sweet and reassuring.

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  “Yes. Before you arrived, Kay frequently disappeared for days at a time,” Rose tells me while sliding me down into the window seat then sliding down next to me when I sit down. It’s weird not having my window to gaze out of.

  “Fine,” I say in a near-pout and turn to look out the window, beyond Rose. She’s started to busy herself with some kind of knitting. When I asked what it was for, she said it was a new jacket for Vol. He’s growing and the cold season is coming.

  I never really thought about it, but I guess Arsea will experience seasons. I can’t imagine just how grueling winter will be in a world without central heating. Then again, they have magik. So maybe it won’t be all that bad.

  Mimi reaches up from behind me and pulls my ponytail down. I feel my hair fall on my shoulders and look back at Mimi. She gives me a goofy smile and says, “Your hair is always so beautiful Zero. It’s a shame you don’t wear it done more often,” Mimi says in a sing-song voice while reaching out and pulling my hair over the seat.

  “It gets in the way of most things. You should know that.” I tell her.

  She shrugs and starts to run her fingers through my hair.

      “Red like burning embers,” Mimi says absentmindedly. I ask her what that’s supposed to mean. She turns red at having been called out about it. I guess she didn’t mean to say it out loud.

  “I just meant, my Lord, that your hair reminds me of a sea of embers. Like when you stare out at a forest on the hills, burning brightly. Embers are the final sparks of a raging inferno that swept over an area.”

  “The dying reminders of a great change…”

       I spit out to the world. Mimi seems oblivious to what I said, and continues to play with my hair. She puts it up in various ways and then lets it fall. She braids it, then takes it down.

  But being called that, reminds me of Grandpa, and that reminder of him causes my chest to throb. He was… is, my family. He’s all I ever had really. He tried to teach me to be strong of character- to have pride, to stand up for the weak, to stand strong in the face of adversity.

      But, I could never take his ramblings seriously. I mean, in the real world, how often do you need such qualities? Bad things don’t just happen to people. Bad things almost always follow bad choices. Usually, bad things come as a direct result of people’s failings. Ergo, it’s safe to assume nothing bad would ever happen to me. But, that was just naivety wasn’t it?

  The train rocks a little harder than usual, pulling me from my reverie. Somehow, Mimi managed to keep herself entertained with my hair for the whole duration of our train ride. Before we come to a complete stop she puts it into a nice ponytail and sits back in her seat. When we come to a halt and Rose stands, she holds out her hand to help me up. In return, I hold out my arm and she links hers with me.

  I hear Mimi click her tongue behind me. The moment we’re out of the train, and have more space, she slides up and wraps herself around my other arm. With a flower on each arm, we make our way back to Val Manor.

  The rest of the night follows our usual pattern but with less Kay. It’s strange to think it could be quieter and more lonely without her here, but it’s how I feel.

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  At some point in the night, we hear a massive fight break out in another house down the street. Looking out the window, I can see what looks to be an entire family being hauled off by the guards.

      “What is happening to our town?” Mimi asks before turning back to her book.

  Before long we all turn in for the night. I toss and turn and am unable to sleep. Kay never returned and I can’t keep her out of my mind. Eventually, however, I hear some footsteps in the halls- except they’re retreating further away from me. Kay’s room is across the hall so that makes no sense. I grow more frustrated the more I think about it and decide to follow the steps.

  By the time I’m ready to go out, the person is a lot further away. I can’t even make out who it is. So I decide to follow them at this distance, in case it’s someone doing something they don’t want me to see. Before long, we’ve made it outside and are making our way through the backyard and further. Once we reach a familiar area I realize what’s going on, and who I’m following.

  “It’s a beautiful place, don’t you think?” Mimi asks the moon.

  “Yes you are- I mean, yes it is!”

         I tease her. Mimi turns to me, her amethyst eyes stare deep into me as small sparks ignite just beneath them. “I didn’t mean to disturb you Mimi. I thought maybe Kay had returned and before I knew it I followed you here.”

  Mimi lets out a small laugh, her hair sticks tightly in its bun. She wears what she did before, with her top half exposed and bandaged. “Indeed. So now you need to take responsibility Zero,” she says from right in front of me.

  I don’t know when it happened but she crossed the twenty feet between us and winded up in front of me in the span of a blink. She gives a goofy smile and reaches out to cup my cheek. I look down at her and stare into her eyes. She leans up to me, and places a small kiss on my lips. My heart speeds up and my stomach alights in a flutter. Before I can react she pulls away with her face lit up in a crimson.

  “Mimi…” I say but she lets out a laugh and starts bouncing in place.

         “Come on Zero, lets spar.” I’m taken aback by the constant changes that Mimi is bouncing between. It’s sporadic, yet very much like her. At this, a wry smile crosses my face.

  “You’re ok with that?” I ask and she nods with a bright face.

  “Yeah. You kind of suck.” Mimi says while sticking out her tongue.

  “Hah. You’re not wrong.” I take my stance.

  Mimi lets out a small squeal and hops back another three feet; taking up her fighting stance. With a crack of thunder as our signal, we charge towards one another. We may be sparring but she doesn’t let up on me. I get more beaten up the longer we spar but the smile never leaves our faces. She’s unbelievably fast but keeps her hits light.

  We keep fighting until I can’t hold up anymore and fall to my knees. Mimi lets out a little laugh and hops up to me and kneels down next to me. I start to look up at her but what catches my eye is the fact that she’s crouched down next to me, in a skirt.

  My eyes are glued to the hidden treasure before me and my heart speeds up. I feel my face catch fire before a snicker is caught by my ears. I shoot my head up to see Mimi coyly looking down at me.

        “Want to explain why you’re studying my body so… intently?” She asks in a coquettish voice.

  “I-I-I-” my voice breaks and I scramble backward, falling on my butt.

  “My, my Zero.”

        Mimi teases with a giggle. She reaches down and offers me her hand. I tentatively take it and am pulled up with a surprising amount of strength. I try to stop my momentum but Mimi doesn’t let me. I’m pulled into her arms and she hugs me tight. I’m too confused to reciprocate the hug and just stand there like a fool. Before long she lets me go and gives me a smile.

  “Let’s go home for the night Zero,” she suggests to me- something deeper laying between the lines. My nerves fire in full force. I give her a stiff nod and she wraps her arm around mine and leads me home.

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