Dear Brother, I have free time in my schedule so if you allow me to, I'd like to visit you. It has been awhile since we met each other.
It was way more casual than Wes' usual writing style, probably knowing well that Soul wouldn't even bothered to read through it if he had used that pretentious, big-words language the aristocrats seemed to love.
That letter itself gave more impact to Soul's psyche than he would like to admit. He was torn between burning the letter before Maka could lay her eyes on it or writing a positive reply. Unlike most of his family members, Wes actually respected him like a human being, but his brother was still the source of all his problems. The world seemed to revolve around Wes Evans and there was no place for a puny shadow like his little brother Soul Evans. If one drugged him, he might let out that Wes was the only family member he cared about -aside of Grandma Evans of course, but that was another problem entirely.
He was a Death Scythe now so he would at least had something to show his brother, right? Besides, he had to admit Wes was right. It had been almost two years since their last meeting, and even then it was just a fleeting encounter (they had a mission in Paris, where Wes was having a concert. His brother caught him watching from afar). But that demon in his heart wanted so much to keep him away.
There was this nagging feeling that if Maka ever meet his brother, she might like him more. He sometimes had the stupid dream in which his brother would awaken his Weapon gene and she would choose Wes over him. After all, everyone loved Wes Evans. His brother had that kind of charm with him. Maka had once laughed, telling him to his pleasure, that he was the only partner she could think of. Yet his demon was resilient, playing the Envy chapter of that cursed Book of Eibon in his moments of weakness.
Maka was the only thing he would never give up to his brother.
Soul felt quite brave the last Saturday and finally decided to accept the visit, telling himself over and over that he would simply act cool when Wes came. His resolve faltered as Maka answered the knocks on the door and opened it to reveal the anticipated guest.
For all the smiles they mustered, the room was tense.
A second passed awkwardly before Wes decided to take the initiative. He greeted him, then extending a hand towards Maka, who was observing the whole scene, not yet deciding how to act.
"You must be his meister. I'm Wes Evans, Soul's older brother."
"Maka Albarn," she replied, the tenseness gone.
Soul studied Maka's face. She was indifferent, as much as he could discern. Normally girls would make a fool out of themselves to gain Wes' attention. Then again, Maka was not just any girl. He should have never worried about that. Eibon showed reflections of his fear. Maka would never be that shallow. Right? He was a fool, he thought, but the uneasiness was still curling in the depths of his soul. He could hear the black demon laughing.
Minutes later dinner was served as planned and Maka excused herself to her room for homeworks, although Soul suspected she did that more out of courtesy than anything. She was ahead for at least two assignments.
Like always, he was glad of his partner's perceptiveness. It was easier to handle his feelings directly if he didn't have her to cover for him. Besides, he could feel her support in their links, soothing him with her soul wavelength. He turned to claim the seat opposite to his brother. Soul gulped. In front of him was a face so much like his own, smiling the warmest smile so he could see his tooth -all neat unlike his jagged ones- and he unknowingly ran his fingers through his hair to compare it to Wes' neatly combed counterparts. How could they looked so much alike yet so different in so many aspects?
"How have you been, Soul?"
Soul's voice was thick. "Good, I think."
It was not cool at all. Just like he thought, the awkwardness came again the moment Maka left the room. Was he that weak that he needed her presence to have a normal conversation with his own brother?
No. He wasn't the pathetic kid of three years ago. He was Maka's Death Scythe.
"It's mostly clearing jobs nowadays. Y'know, after the Moon incident? We're going around the world hunting kishins affected by the lingering madness," he started, hoping that at least Wes had heard about that. It was quite hot in civil news, if Liz was to be believed.
Wes nodded, and Soul was relieved to see his first attempt was not failing.
"That incident was a massive news-fodder. Heard about it for weeks. Is it as dramatic as people made it out to be?"
Soul chuckled. "You have no idea. We're lucky we're still alive."
The flow was getting better.
Wes observed his little brother talking, catching glimpses of a world far removed from his own. His was a cocoon of safe shelter and symphony while Soul's was one of chaotic, bloody battle of madness. In one of his less mature moments, he had envied Soul's role in the world, a secret hero to everyone living in normalcy like him. He supposed that was one thing Evans parents failed to erase from his being: the boyish yearning to protect.
"And someone told me that you're now a Death Scythe?"
Soul was practically beamed at this point.
"The youngest in history," he huffed proudly. "And should've been accomplished a year earlier, if there wasn't any accident along the way."
From there Wes heard bits and pieces of Soul's adventures, friends, and battles. He played the role as polite listener as good as he could, which earned him Soul's respect. It wasn't like he didn't know about his brother's insecurities. It was the reason he made this trip: to get to know about Soul's life, not gloating about his own. Once or twice Soul used terms foreign to his ear and he interrupted, asking. This apparently made Soul happier, as it showed that he paid attention.
"So," concluded Soul,"that's how we got promoted to three-star."
"I don't pretend to understand everything here, but that's awesome, Soul. I know you have the talent."
Soul shook his head. He scratched the back of his head, sneaking a peripheral glance fondly.
"It's mostly Maka. Hell, she's probably the most violent, demanding meister in the whole Shibusen, but I wouldn't be anywhere without her."
For Soul to be this humble when Wes was praising him... Wes wanted to know the girl his brother held in such a high regard. An idea popped in his head. It was such a long time since he teased Soul, so a little pranks should do no harm, right?
"You have a crush on her?"
Soul was taken aback by the sudden shift in topic. He looked at Wes, bewildered and accusing.
"What the hell was that for? I'mnotshe's not..."he mumbled, giving Wes time to notice that his ears were red, just like he did when he lied as a child. He had grown, but he was still his brother indeed.
"I'm sure you'll take a good care of her. So, what kind of girl melts the cool Soul Eater?"
As if right on cue, the door opened and she stepped out. She took a second or two examining the living room, probably figuring whether she had to do damage control or not. Seemingly satisfied, she approached Soul.
"It's your turn to do the dishes."
Soul groaned, but he took the plates without further resistance. Wes, who was looking at the exchange, mused how comfortable and familiar Soul seemed to be with the domesticity.
Just as he wanted to know about this girl, Maka Albarn hid little of her own curiosity.
"So what instrument do you play? Soul told me he's from a family of musicians."
It was a question he had heard countless of times, asked by family 'friends' and even faces he had just met, but the way she asked it was different. There was no judgment, no expectation. She simply did it because she wanted to know.
"Violin. I'm a violinist."
"I see. You've been holding concerts in many countries, right? Have you been to Vienna?"
"The capital of classical music? Sure did! It was an awesome venue!"
"Tell me, there's something in the book I read about the place and..."
Several minutes later she had asked him about the countries he had visited, sometimes comparing the experiences to her own. It was a bit jarring because he expected her to give a more pointed question. Surely she didn't shoo Soul to the kitchen just for idle talks?
Yet she seemed genuinely excited. The girl was sweet and cheery, almost too fragile at the outside appearance. but he should knew more to make any understatement. Those hands had wielded the scythe to battle he could only imagine. Those eyes had seen hardships and death.
"Sounds nice. I'd like to hear you play sometimes. Bet it's as good as Soul's piano. He said I'm musically illiterate, but I do appreciate good melody!"
"You have heard him play?" Wes sideglanced to Soul, who was struggling with the silverwares. It came as a surprise since he knew Soul hated to play for other people. It was vast improvements, surely. The little boy he knew had grown so much.
"I love his music." Her tone was matter-of-factly, but he caught hint of challenge there, as if telling him that she would prove it even if he disagreed. Soul must have told her about his parents' disapproval.
"You have a good taste. My parents were terrified, but I like his music. Tinge of darkness...no one else can produce that sound." There was no need of sugarcoating. If he was right (and Wes was pretty sure he was right) the girl would prefer if he kept it as honest as possible. She was polite, but he was too experienced in being quietly examined.
Soul was looking way too low at his own life, thought Wes. In reality, Wes saw him surrounded by wonderful people, and although that kind of life wasn't one he'd choose for his own, it was meaningful and fulfilling. Wes loved music and concerts, but he had forgotten the last time he played truly from his heart, played like no one cared, played for his soul rather than his parents.
He beamed for his brother, who had found his place in the world. He should have nothing to worry for in the future.
"Still here, Wes? I thought you'll be gone by the time I'm finished."
She scoffed. "Don't listen to him, Wes. If he hates you you will be out of the house right now."
It intrigued him. "You can tell?"
"Our souls are linked. In full Soul Resonance I can even feel everything he feels, but even when the link isn't active, I can still get it vaguely."
"Until you hear him grumbling at you in your head, that is."
He laughed. "Interesting world, huh, Soul?"
Soul grinned with pride, suddenly wanted to tell his brother about his daily life, the weird mix of people he called friends, the quirky adventures he had gone to. Wes, with his violin and recitals, would never get to experience that side of life. It was like going back to his childhood days before Wes left for the music academy, the days where his brother was his closest confidant. Maka was right. It was never too late to salvage their bonds.
"I can rent a room in a nearby hotel."
Nearing eleven in the night, Wes had excused himself from the apartment, which was met with disagreement from his two hosts.
Maka shook her head. She was sure this visit was the perfect chance for Soul to reconnect with his brother and finally found some closure to his insecurities, and she wasn't about to let a logistics got in the way.
"I'm sure you two have a lot to catch up. You can sleep in my room. I'll go over to Kid's. I'm sure Liz and Patty won't mind me staying for the weekend."
"Please, I don't like to trouble you. Thank you for the hospitality." Although Soul's reception to him was assuring enough, he didn't want to push his luck. Sometimes only too much could be taken in a day.
Silence was broken when Soul snorted. "As if he will sleep in that girly room of yours. My brother's cooler than that. He can sleep in my room. Plenty of space. Besides, brother who let his older brother sleeps in girl's room isn't cool."
The astonished expression on Wes' face made it worth the courage Soul gathered. Maka giggled.
"Quit your facade Soul. How hard it is to say you care for him?"
There was no answer, but both pair of eyes were now looking at Wes expectantly.
Wes stayed through the weekend. Soul had to admit the two days went so much better than he had repeatedly imagined. In fact, he could feel the envy dissipated from his mind and the fear became something he would laugh at in the future. The last thing to do was telling Maka everything, completing the cycle and allowing them to continue partnering with no buried secrets. It was only fair, as Maka had told him of her family months earlier.
The night after Wes left, Maka interrogated him as expected.
He couldn't decide whether she was mad or amused at his revelation. He then chose exasperated when she wrinkled her face.
"Wait. You think I will ditch you for him if he ever sprouts blades from his arms?"
He nodded in embarrassment. She made it sounded even sillier that it already was.
"Okay, that's stupid, Soul. Two reasons. First, you definitely fail Soul Theory 101. Don't you remember Sid's lecture? A weapon gene not manifested by the age of 18 means it is dormant. That's why Shibusen students are all teenagers."
So he was awake for every stupid dissection (falling asleep in Stein's class was a serious business) but he fell asleep when the class said something important for once?
The first reason had him assured, but Maka's intense glare made him giddy to hear the second one.
"Two, do you think I'm the type of person who will ditch my partner for such vain reason? You are my weapon." Her tone made it clear that she was seriously offended and he flinched. The way he imagined it made her looked like a shallow girl, Maka thought bitterly. That explained the funny feeling she had found in their resonance. She dismissed it thinking it was caused by the black blood, but to think that he had hidden such doubt, it hurt her.
The same thought had just occured to Soul, how she must have thinking that he had distrusted her all these times.
He had apologies to make.
To his surprise, she didn't back away or cried or Maka-chopped him yet. Instead, she sighed deeply.
"I know what happened between you and your brother must have affected you a lot, but please, put some faith in me, alright? Don't do this ever again."
"But why? You deserve to be angry. I thought my head won't make it through the night, even," he argued weakly.
She raised her eyebrows. "You want to be Maka-Chopped that much? I guess I hit you too much you're broken."
You had no idea, he thought inwardly. The comment died in her throat when she looked at him again, serious.
"It's only fair. I mean, I did the same before, projecting my distrust to papa into you. You are not papa. I'm not your mother."
He stared in awe as she picked up her novels, making her way to her bedroom. The conversation was over and he had a feeling she wouldn't bring this up again unless he asked.
Wes was right. He was hopelessly admiring his meister. Who couldn't? She had been so caring, so understanding.
And she was another part of his life Wes could never have, he thought triumphantly.