A/N: Wanna hear something embarrassing? I wrote this last year. And forgot about it. And never posted it. Who does that?

So, uh. Here's a new (technically old) fic for everyone to enjoy! Maka Albarn, Imposter Syndrome Icon, is a moody drunk but we love her anyway. Soul does too.

Walk Me Home

"Hey. Hey!"

Maka hears Soul's voice call out from behind her, but she doesn't turn around. She doesn't want to talk right now; she wants to leave.

"Jesus, why are you walking so fast? Slow down, fuck's sake."

The grit of the sidewalk digs painfully into the heels of her bare feet. It doesn't slow her down, nor does it stop her. In fact, when she hears Soul's panting from behind her, she petulantly picks up her speed until his hand is landing on her shoulder and pulling her to a stop. He tugs her around despite her best efforts to keep walking.

"Hey, you wanna tell me what the problem is? Why did you leave the party?" He doesn't even look mad at her, just concerned, which somehow makes her just feel worse. Soul continues, "I went to go talk to Kid for a few minutes and when I came back everyone said you left. Did something happen?"

Clearly something must have happened. She knows he can see it all over her expression, in the way she bolted away from him. Hell, he can probably feel waves of it coming directly from her soul.

But she doesn't want to talk, so she pulls her shoulder away from his grasp and keeps walking, marching towards the direction of home, probably. She's still a little tipsy, even though she only had a couple drinks at the party. But whoever Kid hires to bartend at the Gallows Mansion has a heavy hand when it comes to mixing drinks. Either her cocktails were stronger than normal or Maka really is the lightweight every assumes she is. She keeps walking despite her protesting feet and the way the world is swaying around her.

"So you're just not gonna talk to me?" Soul asks, still trailing behind her. She can feel his hand come to rest on her shoulders every now and again, steadying her when she tips a bit too far in one direction, but pulling away once she's righted herself. Protecting her while also respecting her boundaries. It's infuriating.

Soul keeps talking to her back. "Was it something it something Black Star said? You know how Star gets when he's drunk. He's got no fucking boundaries."

It's not Black Star. It's not anyone specifically. It's just everyone. It's everything. It's nothing. She doesn't want to explain it, because that would just be another weakness to add to the ever-growing pile.

"I can kick his ass if you want," Soul keeps trying, knowing full-well that he could never take Black Star in a fight. The pathetic offer almost makes her smile, but she gulps it down and tries not to cry.

Soul circles around in front of her. "Look, you don't have to tell me, but could you please stop for a sec? You're not wearing any shoes and your feet are gonna get all fucked up. There could be glass or something." Maka, being Maka, doesn't give a damn about potential dangers to herself, and continues marching forward, leaving Soul to roll his eyes and pick up his pace to catch up with her again. She's trying not to look at him, but she can see the way his eyes widen in his 'I have an idea' face, and two seconds later he's transformed into a scythe in front of her, hovering a few feet off the ground beside her. His wings flap quickly and silently to keep steady beside her.

"Please?" His voice comes his weapon form, tinny and desperate.

Now Maka is the one rolling her eyes. His winged-form only rubs salt in her emotional wounds, but her feet are admittedly in a lot of pain after almost a half mile of walking on cracked concrete. She concedes and throws a leg over his handle. She grabs onto him with both hands, expecting him to whisk her away to their apartment above the buildings of Death City. Soul surprises her by hovering another foot in the air, so her feet don't drag on the cement, but flying at the same pace she was walking.

The quiet extends before them into the night. The farther they get from the Gallows, the harder it is to hear the booming bass of the music. Soul lets Maka direct them with her soul through the residential neighborhoods and away from crowded streets. She started this walk with the intention of being alone.

But, ten times out of ten she'd rather be with Soul.

She swallows. "Do you care what people think about you?"

On a normal day he'd snark at her for finally deeming him worthy of conversation, but today he's quiet as he thinks of what response she might be looking for. She can feel he's trying to pick apart the meaning of this starting question, but eventually just decides to answer honestly.

"Yeah. All the time."

It's the truth, Maka can feel in his soul that it is, but she still doesn't believe it. In the time that Maka has known Soul, he's grown so much. She's always admired the way he just lets things roll off his shoulders, not giving a shit what others think about him. Maybe he's just been faking it, but he does a damn good job playing the Cool Guy he's always wanted to be as a kid. He makes Maka's version of the same kind of make-believe feel like child's play. No one believes in her flimsy brand of confidence.

"Do you care what people think about us?" she asks.

There's always been something in the way people talk about the two of them. Soul, the powerful, confident demon weapon that took down Arachne and helped save the world from madness on the moon. Maka, the meister who just managed to hold on for the ride. Maybe that's not exactly what they say, but it's implied. In the way other students will look at him with admiration, with appreciation, and then how they look at her, like they're surprised it was little unstable Maka Albarn who managed to produce a Death Scythe. She knows she's weak, but do people have to throw it in her face all the time? Like she was the last person they expected to be helpful in the apocalypse?

Even at a freaking party there are people coming up to Soul and asking him for autographs while Maka stands right next to him. Like somehow they know the exact imbalance of strength between Soul and Maka and they're disappointed in Maka the same way she is with herself.

Just thinking about it has her unconsciously pulling Soul forward down the street a little faster. She breathes deeply. Just a few more minutes and she'll be home.

Soul finally speaks, breaking her out of her own internal pity party.


Maka blinks.


"Our partnership is no one's business but ours. If people have something to say about it, whatever. I only care about one person's opinion when it comes to our partnership. And that's you."

God, it's such a simple yet complete answer. And he's totally right, like always. She doesn't know why she gives a shit what other people think about her and Soul. None of it matters in the end, but God, does Maka wish for once that when she thought of the word "strength" she could picture herself embodying that word instead of never measuring up. Instead of feeling guilty for somehow always thinking she's holding Soul back.

"You know there's nothing wrong with you, right?"

Maka's soul spikes so suddenly in surprise that Soul comes to a halt in the middle of the street.

"I'm serious. I know you wanna be the best meister you can be, but you're too stuck in your own head to realize how fucked I would be without you as my partner." He quiets in a way that means he's gathering his words, and Maka listens with bated breath.

"You're the smartest and bravest person I know, okay? And you're also a reckless moron who pulls some of the craziest shit in battle that I've ever seen in my life. It sucks that I have to keep saying this to you, but I'll keep reminding you until you believe it. The only reason I ever had a prayer of becoming of a Death Scythe was because you've been my meister. Stop thinking that you're not good enough, because you're better than every asshole at the party. You did something they never could and now never will be able to do."

Maka closes her eyes for a few heartbeats, allowing this to sink in. Even now, at 2am with the sky pitch dark because of the blackened moon, it's hard to imagine that she was involved in that fight. She helped save the world and she's still convinced that she's somehow not good enough. Maybe Soul's right, and what they have could only be accomplished with the two of them together. Maybe no one else matters but her and Soul.

"Soul? Transform for me, will you?"

Without hesitation, Soul morphs back into human form, holding her now on piggyback instead of on his weapon form. The shift from being supported by his handle to hanging off his backside is so natural that Maka doesn't even have to think about it, just adjusts her arms so they're tighter across his shoulders. She presses her face into the side of his neck in gratitude.

"You always know what to say, you know that?"

Soul snorts and hops a little to scoot her higher up his back. "It's easy when your soul is practically screaming at me what you're upset about." He starts walking again, refusing to put her down because of his stubborn insistence that she'll hurt her feet. "So. Party sucked for you too, then?"

Now it's Maka's turn to snort. All of a sudden the night's whole emo conclusion feels very overstated. She feels foolish for being so dramatic but remembers that Soul thinks she's strong even when she's a drama queen. Depends on her even when she gets caught up in her own head. The reminder calms her soul down considerably.

"Think I drank too much," she says, nestling closer to his back and laying her arms heavily over his shoulders to remain balanced. "Ox said some dumb shit about me being the weaker partner and it made me sad."

"Alcohol is a depressant," Soul says, kind of snooty. He's repeating what she's told him on his Moody Drinking nights.

"Wait a minute," Soul says. "Did you say Ox? Who the fuck is he to talk about being a weak partner?"

"I thought you said you don't care what anyone thinks about us."

"Yeah, but that was before I found out it was fucking Ox Ford who was talking down to you. I could totally take his ass in fight."

Maka laughs for the first time all night. Soul continues ranting all the way home about how he's going to beat Ox's face in the next time he saw him (he won't) and Maka thinks that maybe real strength is remembering that you always have someone on your side.