A/N: This will be a multi-chapter SoMa post-canonverse fic-the premise will be clear soon enough. Thanks to ilarual for being a fantastic reader. And yes, I swiped the title from a Beatles tune. If the song fits, as it were.
Also, the cover image is by the lovely and talented eisschirmchen, so if you love it as much as I do, go show her some love. :)
He looked way too casual for how nervous his wavelength felt, and it set her immediately on edge.
"What?" Maka snapped as he plopped down next to her on the couch, bowl of popcorn in hand.
"Um, you can start the movie now?" Sarcasm, so normal, but the tension still writhed underneath.
"Fine," she said, clicking on the selection for the evening. It was her pick, and seeing as he'd tortured her with some absolutely dreadful action flick last week, she decided to break out the big guns. So tonight, her favorite cheesy romcom You've Got Mail! was on the docket, and the moment it started, she heard her partner groan audibly. Well, next time, maybe he'd think twice before making her sit through the questionable dramatic stylings of Steven Seagal.
"I am so making you watch Sharknado next time for this," Soul mumbled as Meg Ryan talked through more of her history. Maka just shrugged.
"Wouldn't be the worst movie you've made me watch. I guess next Friday Sharknado it is."
"Actually," he hedged, and Maka felt the tension in his soul spike. "About that."
"About what? Sharknado? At least it'll be funny. Better than another armbreaking fest."
"Noooo…I mean about next Friday."
Maka's eyes shot to her partner's face. His own eyes were still plastered to the television where Meg Ryan was now typing in an email on a dated desktop using a long defunct ISP, yet she noticed that, in spite of his otherwise casual posture, her scythe was scratching the back of his neck emphatically. Oh yes, Soul was definitely nervous.
"What about it?" she snapped.
"Well, it's just—uhhh—well—my brother called last night."
"Your brother? So you guys are talking? Soul, that's great!" It really was. Maka knew so little about his family, but she had learned that her weapon had an older brother and that he hadn't spoken to any of them since he'd come to school. The scythe meister had never forced the issue, though more recently, in the few years since the final battle on the moon, she had tried to nudge him towards reconciling. Even if Soul would never admit it, she could tell he missed them.
"Yeah, well, it was the first time—uh—in a long time. I mean, I, uh, wrote him a letter once, right after the battle on the moon to—well—to let them know I was alright, I guess, but—" he just shook his head. "Um, anyway. I guess he's—uh—well—getting married, and he called in a lot of favors to finally hunt down my cell number. Apparently, me going back to Evans helped—"
He was rambling in a way she had rarely seen, and his wavelength was erratic, stretched thin with anxiety. She was trying to figure out why, because it made no sense. She knew he hadn't always gotten along with his family, but what could his brother have told him to—
"—so he called, and he told me, well, that he's getting married. Next Saturday, actually. And he'd really, uh, like me to come and be the best man. But, um, from my letter, well, he knew I would probably want to bring you, plus he thought—well—he may have misinterpreted things. And—fuck—my family are really uptight and traditional, and he was trying to help, so I guess he kind of sort of told my parents thatwe'remarried."
"What was that?" He'd said the last part in a quick jumble and she was positive she must have heard wrong, because it sounded like he'd said—
He took a deep breath. "Wes told my parents that we're married."
Maka blinked. Once. Twice. "That's…"
"I know!" he groaned, putting his head in his hands.
"You want to go." It wasn't a question.
"No," Soul replied vehemently. "But I—I need to go. Wes, fuck Maka, you should have heard him. And the way he talked about my Mom and Dad and everything. So, yeah, I—I really don't want to face it all, you know? But I think—I think I have to."
"So go." She tried to smile reassuringly, all but forgetting the misunderstanding with his brother that had begun this.
"I—" He was scrubbing his hand through his hair, trepidation so thick in his soul he was almost drowning in it. "I mean—will you—please?" He turned his eyes to her, startling in their color as they always were, but this time, the bored mask gone, they were so filled with pleading that her smile faltered.
"You want me to come with you," the meister quietly spoke the words he'd struggled with.
He just nodded.
"Of course," she smiled softly again. "Of course I'll come with you if you want me to. We're partners. You've put up with enough of my Papa's silliness. The least I can do is—"
"Even though…" the scythe cut her off, but then trailed off. He was still wound.
"Even though?" she questioned.
"Well, even if we, uh, have to—um—" Soul was attacking his neck again, his eyes back on the long forgotten movie. She glanced at the film herself, absently noting Tom Hanks being a jerk to Meg Ryan on screen. "I mean," he continued. "Like I said, uh, Wes told them, uh…"
Oh. Oh—she'd forgotten that bit. Maka shrugged casually. "We'll just tell them the truth," she said brightly. "I'm sure—"
"No, no, fuck, no, this is going to be—no, we can't. I mean, Wes already told them, and it'll just—no." His agitation was increasing with every passing second; he was shaking his head to emphasize his refusal, his hand tapping out an unheard symphony on his thigh. His soul felt like he wanted to run screaming from the room, and she could feel the sheer force of will it took him not to do so.
"No?" She was confused. He couldn't possibly be asking, suggesting—no, of course he wouldn't. Would he? But then, his soul…
"Please?" Her weapon's eyes were back on hers, looking almost desperate. "I know this is totally, completely uncool, but you have to understand how my family is—and I told Wes the truth, how it is, and he's probably right, they'll get it better this way. So, uh, if you wouldn't mind—um—playing along." He went scarlet, his eyes darting away from hers to the wall behind her.
Maka had to choke back her own sudden urge to run screaming from the room because this was clearly difficult for him—but how could she do what he asked? To pretend—to pretend that they were—
"Soul, I—" she shook her head.
"Please?" He met her gaze again. "It's just for the weekend—and—and—it won't be that different. Just, just have to play along. We're already partners, right? We already live together and spend most of our time together and stuff and and—It's not—it's not like we have to—it won't be so different, and it's just a weekend, and I swear to Death you can choose the movie for the rest of our lives and I won't leave my boxers on the bathroom floor anymore and I'll never drink from the carton again and I'll do the dishes for a year, or whatever you want, just—fuck—I can't do this alone. Please, Maka?"
She shouldn't say yes, but she couldn't say no. He was right, in a way—it wasn't so different, and yet, it was completely different. To pretend such a thing, to pretend to be together, to be in love, to be married, for Shinigami's sake, it would be so hard, so very hard, because one of those things was the truth, and the others never would be, and pretending they were, pretending they were together in a way they never would be, that would hurt. And yet—and yet—she wouldn't say no, because she would rather hurt a thousand times more than see him suffer the way she could feel he was suffering now.
"Alright," she said finally, quietly. "But you had better ace the every exam until graduation, and no more bitching about Sunday training on off weeks, fair?"
He breathed out an audible sigh of relief, his entire posture relaxing, deflating, his eyes returning to the television. "Fair. Totally fair."
"Well, then, I guess we're going to a wedding." Her eyes returned to the television as well, and they pretended to finish the movie neither cared to watch any longer in contemplative silence.
Four days later, they were on a plane to Connecticut. Soul's brother had made it clear that as a part of the wedding party, he was expected to partake of all the pre-wedding preparation and pageantry. For his part, as Maka was well aware, Soul was less than enthusiastic about this, but he had done as he was asked—he hadn't seen his brother in years, and it was only a few days. He was a big boy, he had insisted, he would live. Kid had gladly allowed them the time away from school and other duties; having lost his own father so recently, he felt the importance of family keenly.
Soul's brother, Wes (Maka knew that was his name and that he was some sort of big shot violinist, but that was about all she knew,) had made their travel arrangements, insisting that it was the least he could do since he was "imposing on them," as his message had indicated. First class on a luxury airline, Maka had never been treated so well. The seats were plush and turned into beds, the food was gourmet, and the flight attendant, an overly friendly man named Max, treated them like they were royalty instead of just a couple of kids from Death City. Yes, Soul was "The Last Death Scythe," but while they occasionally attended functions, they were never treated like they walked on water, like they were the most important people to have ever graced the earth. They were treated with a little stunned awe sometimes, maybe, but their every wish was not the command of some trained underling. Meisters and Weapons, that just wasn't how they operated. But here? It was like they were the King and Queen of Shibusen, come to pay court. It was absurd, Maka felt entirely out of place, and she was beginning to fear being a sore thumb during this entire ordeal.
What really flabbergasted her, though, was how bored Soul seemed with it all. Not surprised, not in awe, simply bored. He was polite, he was formal, he was otherwise completely normal and the meister couldn't help but to wonder if maybe he really was some sort of royalty because, for herself, she had been awkward and gaping since they'd first stepped foot into the VIP room to wait for the plane.
But not Soul. Her weapon had spent the flight in the same way he'd spend any other, asleep, listening to music. He woke long enough for the meal (shrimp and filet mignon, it was superb,) he'd taken the (illegally) offered cocktail, but otherwise, he slept and drooled as he would normally sleep and drool. Underlying the bored mask, of course, she could feel nervous anticipation, downright fear really, but the mask was firm, and the fear had nothing to do with their treatment or surroundings, was not about plush seats and gourmet meals. Her own, however, was entirely about plush seats and gourmet meals and not being good enough by half in the eyes of these strange, unknown creatures who were the Evanses.
Still, if the way he had his arm around her, clinging to her almost desperately was any indication, then he was as off as she was. Sure, Maka would cuddle against her weapon when she fell asleep during a flight, and his arm would end up around her, but this time she hadn't slept, yet he had pulled her close all the same. She was interrupted from her thoughts by a soft clearing of the throat from above her. Max, the blonde haired, blue eyed attendant, was standing there, smiling expectantly. She looked up at him, tilting her head in question.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Evans?"
"Uh, no, it's—" she was about to correct him, then shook her head. "I mean, uh, yes?" She couldn't believe it had begun already—they weren't even off the plane yet for Shinigami's sake!
"I am terribly sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Evans, but I was asked to inform you to please remain seated when the plane lands. I will be escorting you and your husband to your waiting car personally—and your luggage will be seen to."
"Um, yes, of course," she stammered out awkwardly.
"You know," he continued, his friendly smile looking genuine for once as he glanced between the two of them. "You two may be young, but you look like a very good couple. You are absolutely adorable together, if you don't mind me saying it. Well!" He stood straighter. "If you need anything, feel free to ring. Enjoy the rest of your flight!"
Maka just gaped after him, shaking her head slightly. They had only been "married" for a few hours, and yet, already this… this… and what could he possibly mean by it? Cute couple? Them? They-they bickered non-stop, and Soul was constantly teasing and snarking at her, and however she might feel, he saw her as his buddy, Black*Star with (very modest) boobs, a great friend, but that's that. She wasn't his type. Shouldn't everyone see through this farce instantly? Surely their acting skills weren't that good-hell, they hadn't even started acting yet! But, if even strangers were reading things between them that would never be there, then this was going to be both easier and harder than Maka had initially believed. Oh yes, it was going to be a long, long week.
The plane landed in New York an hour later, and as Soul finally woke up, bleary eyed, to wipe the drool from his chin, he began to shuffle his things, preparing for the mad battle to exit the plane.
"'Morning sunshine," she grinned at him. "Nice as it is for you to rejoin the world of the living, you probably shouldn't bother with all that—we're supposed to stay on the plane for a bit."
"Wha?" He blinked at her as if she had spoken Latin.
"I guess we're to be escorted to a car and our things taken care of," she offered with a shrug, because it wasn't like she understood it herself, exactly.
"Fuckin' Wes," Soul groaned, palming his face in exasperation. "This is revenge, totally revenge. Asshole." He was mumbling to himself in his palm. Apparently, something about all of this could surprise him.
"Don't sulk," Maka finally interrupted his whining a minute later. "I'm sure your brother was just trying to be helpful, and we aren't going to die because someone carries our luggage around one time."
"Not taking some car," he finally grumbled.
"Huh?" she frowned at him.
"We're not—taking—some car," her weapon insisted, looking up to meet her eyes.
"Arranged with Kid to have my bike there. Convinced him we'd take care of a few stray prekishin in the area once the wedding stuff was done. Thought you'd be happy."
"Um, I guess, but…" The plane was nearly empty now, and as the last straggler disembarked, Max approached, clearing his throat.
"Well, then, Mr. and Mrs. Evans, if you'd be so kind as to follow me, I'll take you to—"
"Change of plans," Soul cut him off. "My bike was transported by order of Lord Death himself. See to it that it's unpacked and left for us. You can lead us to that when it's ready, and send our luggage on ahead."
Maka was a little floored by the command in his tone, the bored ease with which he told the attendant what he would do, as if there could be no other option, and she wondered again what she was getting herself into because this was so unlike her Soul... but perhaps it was exactly like Mr. Evans. For his part, the attendant just kept his too bright smile plastered to his face, his overly coiffed hair bouncing as he stood straighter.
"Yes, of course, sir," he replied. "I'll just escort you to the VIP waiting lounge while everything is prepared." Soul nodded and they both rose, Maka grabbing the midsized handbag she had purchased just for the occasion, and Soul merely stuffing his phone and earbuds back into the pocket of his jeans. They followed through the empty jetway, out to a waiting personal transport cart, the type normally reserved for the elderly or handicapped, and were whisked to the lounge to wait. Max finally escorted them to a private suite, complete with luxurious furniture and a small bedroom and bathroom, very much like the one they had left behind in the Vegas airport, before leaving them, the door closing with a soft click. They both sat down on the plush sofa, perhaps a foot apart, Soul plopping heavily.
"Soul—what was that all—"
He shook his head. "The bike makes me feel more like myself. All this—" he waved his hand around in frustration, "makes me feel like a fucking Evans."
"But aren't you?"
"No," he said firmly. "I'm a death scythe. I left this shit behind a long time ago, and I never looked back. Just because—because I'm going to see them doesn't make me one of them, you know?" The bored mask had crumbled and he looked visibly nervous for the first time since the night he'd asked her to come and—well, lie.
Maka shook her head, "I really don't. But I guess I'll take your word for it. Still, I can't believe you wheedled Kid into arranging transport for the bike. And he did it just for us to do a few low level missions?" she raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"Noooo," he admitted sheepishly. "I agreed to that for you. For him, I had to promise to play at the next DWMA ball."
"Really?" her eyebrows shot up, because while Soul did occasionally play for diplomatic functions, it generally still took some convincing, and aside from Kid's ascension ceremony, he never played for school stuff.
"Really," he said flatly. "I guess he was going to try to make me anyway, something about inviting some witches this year, so he saw it as a win-win. Whatever. At least I got Etta a ride."
Maka just rolled her eyes. She had resigned herself to the fact that Soul's motorcycle was almost akin to his child years ago; he called it baby, kept it cleaner than he kept himself, and had even named it for Shinigami's sake. But the fact he would play for the school to have it close, well, he really must be out of sorts.
They were silent for several minutes, Soul flipping through random channels on the too large, too sharp television, Maka keeping her eyes and focus on the e-reader she'd brought along for the journey, a gift from Soul last Christmas. It was impossible to focus amidst the mounting agitation she could feel coming off him in waves, however, so she replaced the reader in her bag and looked up, reaching a hand to squeeze his shoulder. He looked up at her at this, his face again neutral, and she tried to smile reassuringly.
"It's going to be alright, you know? Your brother is obviously eager to see you, and I'm sure your parents—"
Soul just shook his head. "You don't know them. It's—it's only for a few days," he said, voice flat, almost to himself. "I'll be fine."
Before Maka could attempt, again, to reassure him, there was a knock at the door.
"What?" Soul barked.
Max poked his head in. "So sorry to disturb you, but your—ride—has been prepared. I can lead you there whenever you are—"
"Good," Soul cut him off. "'bout time." He shot up, grabbing Maka's hand unexpectedly to haul her after. Before she even thought to protest, they were making their way through the airport, Soul refusing the cart this time in favor of the walk. Minutes later, Max led them to a curb where Etta, Soul's bike, stood, looking as shiny and orange as ever.
"Well, here we are!" Max offered with a bright smile. "Your luggage has been sent ahead in a car as you requested. Will you be needing anything else?"
"N—no, thank you, I th—" Maka began to stammer.
"We're good," Soul cut her off, handing the man some sort of bill.
"Very well, Mr. Evans, Mrs. Evans. Enjoy your stay." With that, the prim young man turned on his heel and returned to the airport. For his part, Soul had already mounted the bike and was looking at his meister expectantly.
"Any day now," he grumbled, zipping up his leather jacket, clearly ready to leave.
"Uh, sure, right, of course…" Maka shook her head and walked the few steps to mount the bike behind him. She wrapped her arms around him, and as they sped through the airport traffic and then away, she pressed herself to his back reflexively. He felt warm and safe and she couldn't help but to think he needed the comfort far more than she did because for the first time in over half a decade, Soul was going home.