A/N- It's already 9:30 a.m. Monday morning in Australia. I think that counts as SoMa Week officially starting.
Day 1: Roommates
Summary: Tsubaki discovers something surprising about Maka and her long-time roommate.
Nakatsukasa Tsubaki usually preferred tea to coffee, but on this particular day she had pulled out the dusty coffee-maker from its hiding place in the back of a rarely-opened cabinet. She went to the trouble for one reason only: for the sake of her dear friend Maka Albarn. Maka was a dedicated coffee drinker, and although the combined efforts of Tsubaki and Maka's tea-enthusiast roommate/weapon partner Soul "Eater" Evans had refined her palate somewhat over the years, the blonde meister still preferred tastebud-slaying black coffee strong enough to eat through the bottom of the pot.
The dark arm weapon didn't have the heart to brew the coffee quite as strong as Maka liked it, but the other woman, who happily stirred two spoonfuls of sugar into her mug, didn't seem to notice. Then again, Maka had been so cheerful ever since Tsubaki and Black*Star had announced their engagement that she suspected she could have served her instant coffee and she wouldn't have minded.
It was a strange thing, actually, just how enthusiastic Maka was. She was always happy for her friends when good things happened in their live, and usually eager to help out in any way she could, but Tsubaki was surprised at just how much good cheer had been pouring out of the little blonde in spades lately.
"You seem really happy," Maka observed, as if echoing Tsubaki's sentiment. Her chin was propped on the heel of her hand, fingers curled up close to her cheek, and a small smile was tugging at her mouth.
Tsubaki glanced down, unable to keep the flush of happiness off her face as her eyes fell on the plain band that adorned her fourth finger. "I am. I… never knew how much I wanted this until I got it."
Maka nodded lazily. "Are you nervous?"
"No, not at all. I mean, of course I want the wedding to go smoothly, but I'm looking forward to being married much more than it scares me," Tsubaki replied. Seeing her opportunity, she let out a calculated little sigh. "I just wish…" She trailed off artfully… and artful it most certainly was.
Tsubaki was a good-hearted person, who hated to see anyone less than perfectly happy, but especially those whom she loved the most. She was a warrior by birth and trade, but by nature she was a nurturer, maternally concerned almost to a fault. Some might have said this was contradictory; these naysayers clearly had never been confronted with a mother whose children were endangered. Tsubaki was fierce in her defense of her loved ones, and gently meddlesome in her concern for their personal happiness. Liz and- surprisingly- Ox Ford might be the ones with a reputation for concocting elaborate schemes to bring about what they thought would be beneficial for their friends, but Tsubaki was far more effective. She usually didn't interfere, but there was no one better when it came to seemingly-harmless prying.
She was of the opinion that people generally knew what was in their own best interests, even if they weren't ready to acknowledge it, and in her perennial concern for the well-being of her friends, she took it upon herself to guide them in the right direction. It wasn't interfering, not really. She was just helping people admit to things they already felt in their hearts. Or at least, that's how she saw it.
And today was the day she was finally going to get the notoriously tough nut that was Maka Albarn to crack.
Across the table, emerald eyes narrowed as the other woman sat up straighter, lifting her cheek from its nesting place in her palm. "You wish what?" she asked, and Tsubaki could practically see the diminutive blonde gearing up to smash Black*Star into the pavement if he'd done anything to make her unhappy. She wanted to smile at her friend's loyalty and protectiveness, but kept her expression schooled into wistfulness.
"I wish you could be as happy as I am," she said. "You deserve to find somebody."
Tsubaki noticed Maka taking on a skittish look, though she worked hard to keep her smile pleasant. It was an attitude Tsubaki had seen in her often whenever the subject of finding her a date came up. She supposed it must be due to having such a bad example of romantic love and marital happiness growing up. It was natural to be nervous. Tsubaki thought that must be why Maka had never even bothered to try dating, despite being almost twenty-five.
But someone as amazing as Maka shouldn't have to miss out on such a wonderful part of life just because she was scared- especially because Maka had never been the type to let fear defeat her before!
"No, I'm serious," Tsubaki cut her off. "I know a very nice boy I know you would just love. He's an old childhood friend of mine, our families have been closely linked for generations, and he and his parents are coming for the wedding. He's single and handsome, very respectful and honest, and he's a capable fighter."
The blonde raised a sardonic eyebrow. "The way you talk, it sounds like you should be dating him instead of getting married, Tsubaki."
Tsubaki waved a hand and gave her friend an unamused look that was ruined by the way her lips twitched upward. "Come on, Maka. You shouldn't have to be alone for the rest of your life! You'll never find anyone if you don't try!"
Maka shook her head. "I have Soul."
Tsubaki bit her lip to hold back a smile when Maka brought up the white-haired man. Everyone with eyes could see that Maka had been carrying a brightly-burning torch for her partner for years, probably since before the war with Asura. But despite her obvious love for her partner, Maka had never made any move to change their relationship. They remained roommates and nothing else. What made the whole thing worse was that the infatuation was clearly not one-sided. He wasn't as obvious as Maka tended to be to people who didn't know them well, but the tight-knit group of friends that made up Spartoi had worked out years ago that Soul Eater adored his meister.
Tsubaki had been trying for years to gently prod Maka in Soul's direction, but nothing had worked. Even Liz's most elaborate attempts at setups were ineffective (Tsubaki had warned her that locking them in a closet together wasn't going to work- it was much too cliche).
She had been taught as a child that caution and stealth must precede bold action. Well, she had been cautious and stealthy about this for years (though the same could not be said for the Thompson sisters) and it was time to take some bold action! If Maka could not be reasoned with, and if sneaky setups hadn't worked, then perhaps jealousy would do the trick. Seeing Maka bring a date to the upcoming wedding might be just the kick in the pants Soul needed to finally get his butt moving.
"I know you have Soul," Tsubaki said placatingly, maintaining the role of the concerned friend perfectly, "and please do not think I'm trying to devalue your relationship with him. Your relationship with your partner is important, any weapon or meister would agree, but Maka… a roommate is not the same as a husband!"
Maka opened her mouth as if to speak, but a laugh bubbled up in her throat and choked off anything she might have planned to say. At first it was just soft chuckling, but within seconds she was caught up in a full-blown giggle fit, teeth clamped down on her lower lip in a futile attempt to stifle her laughter.
Tsubaki was the tiniest bit affronted. Alright, perhaps it was a little bit of an old-fashioned idea, but she couldn't help that she'd been raised by very traditional parents and agreed with their values! And she knew Maka wanted to be married someday- she'd said so herself once, a red faced confession during a round of truth or dare when they were still in school- so it wasn't that ridiculous a suggestion, was it?
"Maka, I don't understand what's so funny about this!" she said, trying to break through to her still-laughing friend. "I'm not suggesting you send off for a mail-order husband or anything! I just know a nice man, a friend of the family actually, who's visiting from Japan for a few months and I thought maybe you'd-"
But Maka cut her off with a wave of her hand and a breathless, "Tsubaki, stop!" She wiped at her eyes, grinning like the Cheshire cat, and tried to catch her breath. "I'm not… laughing at you, or anything, I promise. It's just… that thing you said about a roommate and a husband not being the same is really funny, under the circumstances."
Tsubaki's brow furrowed in confusion. "What circumstances?"
Maka took a deep breath and huffed it out, distracting herself for a moment by taking a sip of her coffee. Finally, mug deposited back on the table with a soft clink, Maka smiled. It was a thin, nervous expression, but genuine. "The thing is," she said slowly, "Soul and I are… well… we're married."
Clearly she needed to get her hearing checked. She could swear she'd just heard Maka say she was married to her weapon. "What?" she asked blankly.
The meister laughed nervously. "I appreciate the thought, but I don't need a date for your wedding, Tsubaki. I have a husband who will be more than happy to refuse to dance with me the entire night."
Forget poor hearing- she was clearly having full-blown auditory hallucinations! "Maka, I don't- you're not- I can't… How can you be married?"
Maka's shy smile broadened, still abashed but unable to help being amused at Tsubaki's astonishment. "We were planning on telling everyone, but right after it happened, you and Black*Star got engaged and we didn't want to steal your thunder."
"I don't… understand," Tsubaki said slowly. "You weren't even dating!"
But when Maka blushed and glanced down, the dark arm weapon was forced to reconsider. "You… were dating?"
"How did I never know about this? How did no one ever know about this?" Tsubaki asked, gaping. "Tell me everything!"
"Well, we didn't tell anybody right away because it started off kind of weird. It wasn't really a relationship thing at first. We were really young… oh death, that was even before Spartoi was formed! God, we really were just kids."
That long? Soul and Maka had been an item since before Spartoi?
But before Tsubaki could express her astonishment, Maka continued: "Anyway, like I said, we didn't jump into a relationship. We just… sort of kissed by accident one day and it was really nice. Soul's always been an amazing kisser." She blushed, smiling fondly. "We didn't talk about it right away. You know how it is when you're a teenager- trying to talk things out rationally is so awkward, and we were still figuring out how to be partners let alone anything else. But the kissing was really nice so we… well, we just kept doing that for awhile."
Yes, that certainly sounded like the kind of situation Soul and Maka would have gotten themselves into back in those days, Tsubaki supposed. In the early days of their partnership they had been so bad at communicating; despite a resonance so powerful they could literally read each others' minds, they were both so stubborn and bad at allowing themselves to be vulnerable that actually talking had been a challenge for them. "When did you finally… er… make it official?" she asked.
Maka's wide eyes were soft with fond reminiscence. "After the Book of Eibon," she said. "Some really… intense things happened after we got separated from you guys. It was an eye-opener for both of us, and that night once we were home and had gotten ourselves patched up, Soul told me he loved me. We've been together ever since."
Tsubaki might have the dirtiest of all dirty minds but she was a romantic at heart, and the loving smile on Maka's face as she recalled her romance with her husband- her husband!- was one of the sweetest things she had ever seen. Still, she had to ask, "Why didn't you tell anyone?"
The blonde shrugged. "A lot of reasons, I guess. The biggest thing was that we wanted to keep my papa from finding out. You know how he is, and he still hated Soul so much back then. Dealing with him freaking out just seemed like too much of a hassle. And there was so much else going on, with Crona missing and Asura still a threat, that Soul and I dating didn't seem like such a big deal. It wasn't like we set out to keep it some big secret, we just figured it wasn't anybody else's business but ours. Nothing really changed, anyway. We're not really big on PDA- we're not!" she protested, at Tsubaki's extremely disbelieving stare. "Well, okay, I guess we hold hands a lot-"
"And hug at least six times a day and snuggle every single time you're sitting down next to each other for more than three minutes," Tsubaki said with a wry smile. No wonder everyone who knew them had thought they were in love- they were.
Maka snorted. "What can I say?" she said with an entirely unapologetic smirk. "Soul's a big cuddler and I have no objections."
Tsubaki found herself a bit surprised by that. "Soul likes cuddling? Really? He doesn't seem like the type."
"Oh, trust me, he is. Sometimes I almost think he likes the cuddling better than the sex!" She rolled her eyes, an amused look on her face.
Once she had gotten over the realization that innocent little virgin Maka was neither innocent nor a virgin- and mopped up the spatter of coffee she had spat out from the shock of said realization- the weapon sighed wistfully. "Sometimes I wish Black*Star were more of a cuddler," she said.
Maka snorted. "Trust me, you don't. Most of the time it's nice, but Soul's body temperature runs hot and when the air conditioner breaks it's like being snuggled up next to a freaking furnace that refuses to let go, and once he's out for the night it's almost impossible to wake him up to get him off of me- what?"
Tsubaki was beaming. "That's… so cute! You really are married, aren't you?"
"I said we were, didn't I?"
"I have to ask, though… why didn't you invite any of us to your wedding? We'd have liked to be there," Tsubaki said. It was the one part of all this that didn't sit well with her.
Maka's expression was a little downcast at that. "Well, it was kind of spur-of-the-moment. Not the actual getting married part of it, we'd been talking about that for awhile. I mean, we've been in a committed partnership since we met, and I told Soul when I was sixteen that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, so it wasn't a big surprise when we started to consider marriage. But… well, you remember that conference for death scythes and their meisters in Jersey a few months ago?"
"Well, we were in Atlantic City and we'd had a really romantic dinner and out of the blue Soul suggested that we just go ahead and do it. We'd been thinking about it for so long, and the timing was perfect. I mean, my papa was there, and Soul's brother was playing a concert in New York City that weekend so he was able to drive out to be there, so we applied for a marriage license and got married the next day."
Tsubaki was smiling, but it didn't quite reach her eyes, and Maka took notice.
The weapon made a valiant effort at boosting the wattage on her smile, and said, "I'm so happy for you, Maka-chan, really. Only..."
"You wish you could have been there, right?" Maka guessed.
Maka pursed her lips in sympathy. "I'm sorry about that. We wanted you and everyone else to be there, but there was no time if we wanted to be able to get married before his brother had to leave again. We were going to have a big party once we got back to Death City, like a… belated reception, I guess. But before we could tell anyone or start planning anything, you and Black*Star announced your engagement and we didn't want to take away from that for you."
"That's very sweet of you but you shouldn't have worried about that!" Tsubaki said with a wave of her hand, bright smile fully restored now. She had stars in her eyes as she continued, "To think, all this time I've been so worried that the two of you would never see how happy you could be together, but really you had already figured that out! Oh, this is wonderful, Maka!"
That gentle smile had crept back onto Maka's face. "I certainly think so," she said, looking every inch a woman deeply in love. She sighed happily and said, "I've been dying to tell you for months, honestly."
Tsubaki leaned forward eagerly. "Liz and Patti are going to be here in an hour to help us put together the table favors," she said, "And I know they'll want to hear all about it, too."
Maka shook her head. "Oh death, no way! If Liz and Patti find out Soul and I are married, half of Death City will know all about it before I can even get home. I'd rather put off all that nonsense until after your big day."
A sinking feeling in her gut, Tsubaki asked, "Does that mean you want me to keep this a secret?"
Maka shrugged. "That would be preferable, yes. I'd really rather that for the time being you keep acting like Soul and I are roommates and partners and nothing else. I mean, quite aside from not wanting to steal your spotlight, Soul and I have kept our relationship private for so long now, I guess I'm a little nervous about how people are going to react."
Well how on earth was she supposed to argue with that? But if Maka insisted on making her keep this juicy piece of news to herself, then she was sure as shinigami going to know every single detail.
"Alright," Tsubaki agreed amicably. Once Maka had relaxed back in her seat and given her a grateful smile, she grinned and asked, "So, how is the sex?"
Maka choked on her coffee.