A/N: I combined the last two prompts, "Bandages" and "First 'I Love You'" into one chapter since both were too short on their own. Happy reading!
"Stop being a baby and stay still!" Maka said crossly, holding the roll of bandages. "Stein said you had to change these every day."
Soul made a face and sat up from where he was laying on the couch, moving the ice pack from his head.
Maka worked quickly, winding the roll around his head and tying it in a small knot. She winced at the swollen lump at the back of his head. "I still can't believe you didn't end up with at least a concussion."
"Well, given all the times you've nailed me with those books of yours, it's no surprise that I've built up a thick skull," he retorted.
Maka rolled her eyes. "Haha."
She squirmed internally, guilt and embarrassment roiling in her stomach, as she helped Soul lie back down on the couch, taking care not to let the back of his head directly touch the pillows she had brought for him.
She straightened, grabbing her backpack from the floor. "You sure you don't want me to stay?"
Soul shook his head, yawning. "Nah, I'm just gonna be sleeping all day." He gave her a look that turned her guilt into something fluttery (and possibly related to the reason she had leapt into his lap in that elevator and caused this mess in the first place.) "But you could get me something to eat from that new place that just opened."
"Okay," she mumbled, pretending to adjust one of his pillows to hide her reddening face.
"And dessert?" he asked hopefully.
"You sure are greedy," she said, narrowing her eyes.
He gave her a one sided smirk. "Well, you are the reason I'm like this in the first place." He poked her in the stomach.
Maka narrowly avoided planting The Encyclopedia of Soul Diseases into Soul's head, instead wrapping her hands around her middle. "I thought I told you that I was extremely ticklish," she screeched.
Soul's eyes were wide. "I didn't know a poke would do that to you."
"Well, now you do," she muttered.
"Guess that's good to know," he cracked, giving her a toothy grin.
Now fighting to resist nailing him in the head for entirely different reasons, Maka said quickly, "Fine, I'll get you your dessert. I'll see you later!" She didn't give him a chance to reply, practically running out of the apartment.
Soul waited till Maka was gone before letting out the laughter he had been holding back, tears forming in the corners of his eyes from how hard he laughed.
Her embarrassment over her enthusiasm landing him with an egg sized bump on the back of his head was entertaining enough but it was her reaction to his poke (which honestly was innocent-he really hadn't known she was thatticklish) that sent him over the edge.
His laughter slowly died down, the occasional hiccup interrupting his fading chuckles. Wiping his eyes dry with his shirt sleeve, he shook his head. "Such a total nerd."
He looked up at the ceiling. "But I guess that's why I love you."
The walk to school seemed a lot longer without Soul, Maka observed as she rounded a corner, Shibusen coming into view.
She frowned slightly. It wasn't even that they talked much on the way there, considering Soul was still half-asleep then. She supposed it was his presence that made the walk enjoyable.
He makes other things enjoyable too, doesn't he? A voice (that sounded eerily like Blair) whispered.
Maka felt her face heat up. She and Soul hadn't exactly gotten a chance to talk about what happened in the elevator.
He'd been knocked out cold all the way through the ambulance ride to the hospital and had woken up with a headache "bigger than Black*Star's self-esteem." After the hospital released him, the rest of Spartoi had insisted on escorting the two of them home and hadn't left until dusk had fallen.
By then, Soul was in his room, sleeping like a rock. On the other hand, Maka had slept fitfully, partly from guilt and partly from the residual butterflies that had fluttered whenever she thought back to the events right before Soul had been knocked out.
And when she had had the chance to speak with him in the morning, she had completely chickened out.
Maka scowled darkly as she strode up the steps leading Shibusen, scaring a few NOT kids huddled at the bottom of the stairs.
Why had that been? She asked herself as she jogged up the steps.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the bell. Hurrying up the last of the stairs, Maka made it into her seat, right as Professor Stein walked in.
Tsubaki nudged her as Maka took out her notebook. "How's Soul doing?" she whispered.
"He's feeling better today," Maka whispered back. "But he won't be coming back till tomorrow."
Black*Star's face popped as he butted into their conversation. "That sure was some fall he took, wasn't it, Maka?" He didn't even bother lowering his voice.
"Yes," she answered slowly, narrowing her eyes at Black*Star's tone.
Black*Star opened his mouth to speak but Professor Stein cut off whatever he had to say.
"If you all are done with your conversation, we can get on with today's lesson," he said flatly, adjusting his glasses.
Black*Star leaned back into his seat, grumbling. "Like any of this is as important as beating the Kishin. And graduation is only in a few months…"
Tsubaki shushed Black*Star while Maka fixed her eyes on Stein and tried to banish any stray thoughts, especially if they had to do with absent partners.
Soul woke up with a pounding headache.
He sat up slowly, feeling the world spin even though he wasn't standing. Glancing at the time, he saw it was just after noon. Maka and the others would be getting out for lunch now.
Thinking about Maka made him smile, his chest swelling with a feeling that had been buried in his heart since he had thrown himself in front of Maka in that church.
But did she feel the same way? He thought, fumbling for the remote.
Based on what happened yesterday, he would have said yes without hesitation.
But after they had came home from the hospital yesterday, when they had been alone right before he had crashed in his bed, she had hardly said a word to him.
And this morning…
Well, in the moment, he had thought she had seemed nervous because she wasn't sure how to go about talking about yesterday.
But what if it had been because she didn't know how to break it to him that she didn't feel the same way? That she hadn't felt her heart race the same way his did when their lips met? Or worse, that she hadn't actually leapt in his arms and had just lost her balance?
Soul fell back into his sleeping position without a care for his head.
Yeah, he sighed to himself internally, that's probably it.
"Thank you very much!" Maka carefully balanced the neatly knotted bag of food in her hands and exited the café, heading home.
She hummed tunelessly to herself as she walked briskly, shoes smacking against the sidewalk. Taking the stairs to their apartment floor two at a time, she entered their apartment to find Soul standing in the kitchen, wobbling on his feet precariously.
Maka dumped the bag on the kitchen table, rushing over to help him over to the table.
"I thought I told you not to get up unless it was absolutely necessary," she scolded halfheartedly.
"Hunger is always a reason to get up," he rejoined. "And you were taking too long."
She opened the bag and handed Soul his container of rich-smelling food. "I only took an extra half hour."
Soul inhaled deeply. "I guess I could forgive you for that."
"I'm so grateful," Maka said, rolling her eyes.
Throughout the meal, Maka studied Soul discreetly, trying to unknot the ball of feelings in her chest.
Soul put down his fork, sighing contentedly. He smiled over at her. "Thanks for the good meal, Maka."
Maka blinked rapidly as something clicked in her mind. She felt as if she'd been underwater for the longest time and had just broke through the surface. "N-no problem," she said, mouth going dry.
They sat quietly at the table for a few moments. Then Maka spoke.
"So," she started, unsure how exactly how one started this kind of conversation. "Yesterday."
Soul met her eyes, suddenly looking extremely nervous. "Yesterday."
Maka fought back the sudden urge to laugh. "That was something."
"Definitely something," he agreed.
"Interesting, I'd say," Maka said awkwardly, cursing her lack of ineloquence. And it certainly didn't help that she found Soul, so easy to read with her Soul Perception, suddenly indecipherable.
"Is that all you'd say?" he asked, rubbing the back of his neck.
"No," she said. Under the table, she grasped her hands together to keep them from fidgeting. "I'm just not sure where to start…"
Soul raised his hand. "You don't have to say it."
Maka blinked, wondering if Soul had suddenly developed his own sense of Soul Perception. "You know?"
He nodded, his mouth twisted in a frown for some reason.
"Oh good," Maka breathed a sigh of relief.
Soul's frown deepened. "You don't have to sound so happy about it."
Maka furrowed her brow in confusion. "Shouldn't we both be happy?"
"That you don't feel the same way I do for you?" Soul mumbled, crossing his arms. "Yeah, real happy."
She could hardly believe her ears. "What on Earth are you talking about?"
He looked up at her incredulous tone. "What are you talking about?"
Maka pushed her chair back, walking to where Soul sat to put her face inches from his.
"What I'm trying to say," she said, exasperated, "Is that I love you, okay?"
Soul's face went slack. "Oh."
Maka shook her head a little at him. "Oh is right."
Even though his face was now as red as his eyes, Soul's voice didn't shake in the slightest as he said, "I love you too."
Maka smiled as she closed the space between their faces. "Good."