A/N: This is a really eccentric AU that has a not so funny storyline and is all in Soul's present POV. Also, it's very, very, VERY long and epic. I hope, even thought it's a little different from what I usually do for this series, that it pleases you readers :)

035 : Hold My Hand

I barely hold down a whimper as I feel a kick hit straight to my stomach, making me choke on the forced out air whizzing through my already soar throat. Coughing a few times as to try and regain some oxygen and stop my vision from spinning, I barely have enough time to see the foot coming before it connects with my thin body yet again, although this time it's in the high shoulder. I can't hold in my gasp and, not waiting for my vision to stop spinning this time, I try to stand. As I look into the hard, cold brown eyes of my attacker that are so dark they seem black I suddenly feel my scraped and bleeding knees weak.

"Oh, lookie here! Are you gonna cry little sissy-boy?" the twelve year old boy laughs to the eight year old me, the tears in my vibrant red eyes stinging as I refuse to let them fall. I'll never cry in front of them.

"What are you gonna do? Punch me?" the older boy continues to taunt, his three friends behind him laughing along as if they were watching the comedy show of their lives.

"No. I prefer to kick," a foreign voice suddenly sounds in the mostly empty park, causing all five of us to turn our heads. Just in time, too, to see the leader who had just been beating me up take a shoe to the mouth. I gasp again as a tooth falls right in front of me. In that moment it seems more like a diamond in it's worth.

"You guys are GROSS," the person says before spitting. I blink as I try to look up at the silhouette, the face hidden by a baseball cap on their head. I can see some ruffs of dirty blond hair peeking out from the bill and as the person lift their head, my jaw drops at the electricity and power that runs through their vibrant green eyes. I also note the face is smudged with some mud as a smirk forms over their still slightly chubby face. I realize right then that this mystery person probably isn't any older then me.

"Who wants some?" the kid continues, teeth flashing in the mid-day sun. I have time to close my wide-open mouth before the other three friends of the down boy jump into action.

I watch with wide, mesmerized eyes as the first older boy gets kneed in the stomach before the baseball-caped kid twists to punch the second on the underside of the jaw, causing him to fly off into a nearby bush. Then as the third came, those dangerously green eyes dancing for a second, before he's also assaulted with punches and kicks. I notice my savior pant before taking off the baseball hat to wipe the sweat from their brow, finally turning those amazing eyes to me and I notice my knees did give out and I'm on the ground again.

"You're amazing," I blurt out before I could stop myself, clamping a hand on my mouth in the next second. It's usually my never ending mouth that gets me in so much trouble (example: ten seconds ago). Apparently bullies don't like kids like me with brains and stuff to point out.

"Thanks!" That smile grew as laughter bubbles out. I finally blink away from the bright eyes and warm smile to look at their body, noticing a pair of cut off shorts and a t-shirt that has one-too many holes in it. Both articles of clothing are dirty and worse-for-wear, no doubt being worn a thousand days and counting yet impossible to give up. Or that's only what I can guess. I myself am only allowed to wear something once or twice before it's taken away. As I look up to the choppy bunch of hair on the now cap-free head, I deem that this must be a boy straight from heaven. I've heard of angels that protect others, but I haven't really believed it till now.

"I'm Maka by the way," he introduces and his smile makes me put one on my face too.

"Soul," I tell my own name as I take the hand he offers to pull me up from the dirt. I notice in the back of my mind that Maka isn't an usual boy's name, but I let it slide. I have a weird name myself, so I really shouldn't judge. I also note that the blond is at least four inches taller then me and I hold down a frown. I'm not unusually short, but not exactly tall like I want to be since my Father and Brother are like that.

"Wanna be friends?" I ask, remembering my manners although the question is a little blunt.

"Really? Cool!" Maka's laugh returns again.

I flash him my widest smile, showing off straight teeth.

Time passes from that choice meeting and soon the two of us have become inseparable. It isn't soon before I know everything and anything about Maka. He's the youngest child in his family of six. He's also so good at fighting, he'd explained with a snarl, because his Papa is a little suffocating and over-loving (since he was the youngest) sometimes. Maka had to learn that the only way to get his Papa off of him and NOT get killed from suffocation, since the redhead liked to hug Maka so hard it'd crush his ribs, was to either punch him in the face or kick him in between the legs. Along with roughhousing with his four older brothers, he'd been made into a pretty good fighting machine despite his age that I had guessed correct. He's just a few months older then me. Pretty soon I felt confident enough to tell him about me and my own family. How I do have an older brother, too, but that he's always gone and so I've always thought of myself as an only child. Also that I'm from a very well-known musical family, rich beyond belief is what everyone always says to me. But it's frustrating for me as I don't have the best health, but fortunate in how my family has enough money to be able to afford the best and most current medical help for me. He especially likes it when I talk about my Mother, I can tell by his eyes lighting up. I almost asked one time, when I'd first gone to his house, where his Mother was, but I had enough brains to know not to venture that deep into his personal life yet. I don't really have anything to hide, and I doubt Maka does either, but I understand that somethings hurt to just bring up and I don't want to hurt my new (and really first) best-friend anytime soon. It takes a while but I soon learn that after Maka had been born, she'd run away. He never really knew the answer as to why, but it made Maka sad all the same and made me give him a warm hug, even with the slightly awkward height difference. Yet with all the hugs we gave to each other, it didn't take long to get over it.

It's interesting how we've stayed the best of friends even though we're total opposites. I can tell that both our parents (or my Mother and Father, his Papa) think it's the strangest and most interesting thing, yet they don't object. Well, Maka's Papa said I'm taking up his child's precious time, but we just simply snort before going off, Maka's four brothers holding back their Papa so that he doesn't try and cut me up or anything like that (shudder).

It isn't long before two years have gone by, both of us ten now. It's a nice and simple day at the park, where both of our families have come together to enjoy the recently blooming flowers of Spring. I look around, making sure that everyone (especially Maka) is engrossed in something, before I sneak off. I'm intent on checking out a specific garden where I'd seen some beautiful flowers growing. Knowing they would make my Mother, who has recently caught a very bad cough that hasn't gone away, very happy and maybe a little more lively.

I make it to the little group of wild flowers easily, a smile coming onto my face as I crouch down to choose which flowers I want.

"What do we have here? A little girl picking flowers?"

I grind my teeth together. So I have a thin frame from being sickly, so I have long hair since my Mother loves the soft silver locks (just like hers) so much, and so WHAT if my eyes are big and wide?! Why was it that everyone thinks I'm a girl at first sight?! Turning around from the flowers, the five boys see the sour frown on my pale face.

"Wait...you are a girl aren't you?"

I don't think twice as I drop the flowers on the grass, favoring to use my hand to form a fist and punch the boy in the face. I don't know how long I was there, taking and giving punches and kicks every which way (even using my teeth sometimes) before I see a whiz of dirty-blond and green come into my vision. It doesn't even take a minute for Maka to take out the three boys that I hadn't knocked out.

I frown as Maka comes up to me, sliding a hand across his bottom lip that has a mini river of crimson because of a lucky punch from one of the boys. I open my mouth to snarl and say I could have taken them, but I feel a violent cough shake up from my chest and out of my mouth before I can. Maka's there in a second, and I have enough feeling in my body to feel one of my arms go across Maka's shoulder in support as he takes me to the nearest water-fountain to try and clean up. Maka slides me down on the bench next to the water-fountain to let me breath before I stand up and take the few steps up to the water.

"You're an idiot," Maka's voice was harsh on my ears and conscious and I wince, "Don't you EVER do that again. You can't."

"Yes I CAN," I stubbornly argue as I spit out some water from my mouth, thankful no teeth have been knocked out. I do feel one loose, but it's baby tooth that needs to come out some time anyway.

"No. If you die from overexertion I'm going to hate myself till I die, too."

I look up, not noticing the water that I've cupped in my hands seep through my fingers, to the bruising face of Maka.

"I'm here to protect you. Forever you know," Maka sniffed, running a hand under his nose. I blink as our eyes connect again before I nod once, going back to washing up my face so my Mother won't have a heart-attack. Maka doesn't even have bother, he gets into fights all the time.

"So what caused the fight?" Maka asks with enthusiasm as he leans his lanky body against a pillar.

I blush before, "They called me a girl."

Maka's laughter fills the air, "This isn't the first time, Silver." He uses my secret nickname.

"And probably won't be the last, Gold." I use Maka's secret nickname too.

"Don't worry shorty, it'll be alright," I feel mushy, just like a marshmallow (or girl, yuck), as I think of how Maka's smile always makes me feel better.

"I'm normal height. You're just really tall," I mutter.

A few more years pass by and soon we're twelve. It's my favorite time of Christmas when I discover something that shakes my entire world to the bone.

It's like any other holiday get together between our two families, this time it's the Albarn's turn to host the party. I'm slightly disappointed because Wes hadn't come again this year. Three years in a row is a new record I realize sourly. It's time to unwrap presents and it's Maka's turn. I grin as I watch Maka rip apart the wrapping without mercy. When he pulls out something pink and strawberry patterned, I feel my face flush.

"It's just about that amazing time when my little one will start changing!" Maka's Papa gushes to my Mother, who I think is trying to hide a giggle. It's probably because my jaw is hitting the ground despite my standing position.

Maka blushes with me, stuffing the bra back into the box and chucking it across the room without mercy.

As the second oldest brother jumps on the blond, laughing on how Maka had better start looking pretty or else no boy would recognize her, I finally understand why Maka's voice and laughter has always been higher then mine or any other boy in their class. Why Maka never goes to change with me in the boy's lockers or goes to the bathroom with me.

I feel like I'm going to pass out as I realize my best friend for four years isn't a HE but a SHE.

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Running hand through my long silver locks, I groan as I hear a Maid call from my wooden door that it's time to get up and go to school. Dragging myself from my exquisitely soft and large King bed, I shuffle my way to the bathroom to turn the hot water knob in my overly-large shower. Absently throwing my clothes off, I step into the steam and allow a sigh to pass through my lips. As I stare at the water going down the drain, I let my thoughts wander to this dreaded day. The first day or school. My first day of being a Sophomore in high school. In a brand SPANKIN new school. Rubbing shampoo into my already silky hair, I think of how at least Maka has moved with me (yet again) and I'll have at least one friend.

Getting out and tying a towel around my hips, I go into my walk-in closet to pick out what I want to wear. Grabbing a pair of simple blue jeans and a white, short sleeved collar shirt I pull the clothes easily on before going back into the bathroom to brush my teeth. While scrubbing, I look at my slightly unfocused reflection, thanks to the condensation from the hot shower, and narrow my eyes. I have always had hope that through the years I'd grow out of this whole feminine-like persona but it seems that I'm (still) not so lucky. My eyes are still as inviting and exotic, which draws in many stares, and my face is pale from not being allowed outside often because of my poor health condition. Plus my hair is now long enough to easily brush past my shoulders. I would cut it but it reminded me of my Mother...

Eyes suddenly tingling, I spit out the toothpaste and hastily swish my mouth before spitting again, throwing the toothbrush into the sink without a care.

Grabbing my messenger bag from a hook by the door, I continue on out of the large house and down the long driveway. I would say good-bye to someone, if my Father isn't on a trip and Wes is gone (what's new?). Coming to a halt at the end of my long driveway, I glance down at my watch to see that I only have five minutes to get to school of else I'll be late. As I look up again, a ghost of a smile comes onto my face as I see the neighbors doors open and reveal a tall, lanky person.

"Soul!" Maka smirks as she jogs over to me, myself noticing that she's wearing a no-doubt hand-me-down band t-shirt and an overly loose pair of faded holey jeans held up only by a belt tied tight to her thin waist. I look down at my own jeans and notice with a curse that my own are tighter and more presentable then hers. Whenever I stand next to Maka, it makes me really wonder why she was born a girl and me a guy when we should have opposite genders. Apparently God doesn't like us very much or just has a sick sense of humor. I like to believe (or hope) more in the later.

"Stop staring at those short legs and make them WORK! If we don't run we're going to be late!" Maka's voice breaks me out of my clothing problem and she starts jogging, causing me to follow. But soon, my lungs feel like they're going to explode and a cough wracks my thin body. I look up and wonder where Maka went, as I can't see her in my slightly-swimming vision anymore, only to feel a pair of arms around me as she lifts me and runs. Humiliating, yes, but my lungs don't feel like over-blown balloons ready to burst and that outweighs my pride easily.

We arrive there with three seconds to spare, both of us taking the time to take a deep breath before walking into our assigned classroom. Our first steps into a new school, new class, a new life.

"Ah, it's the two new students everyone," the middle-age teacher (I notice she has warm eyes) says as she pulls a paper from her desk and reads off our names, "Maka Albarn and Soul Eater Evans?" her eyebrow quirks at my odd name. Stupid old grandfather who named me, I think again, as I've been named that because of my Father's blood-connected culture. Although he doesn't really look it, other then the vibrant red eyes, my Father's family has the blood of a very old culture of people. And with an unorthodox culture comes different names passed down the generations. Fantastic for me, no?

"Why don't you introduce yourselves?" she continues as she shuffles papers on her already full desk. Isn't it only the first day? Why does it look like she had enough paper to fuel a fireplace for a whole night then?

"Yo, I'm Maka. My family calls me M, but call me whatever you guys want. I have a black-belt in karate, like sports, and am currently looking for a 'special someone.'"

I roll my eyes at her alibi. Maka has been looking for a boyfriend for a while now, yet it seems to be failing as people constantly think SHE is a HE, just like me in my younger days. With her six foot height, two inch hair, piercing green eyes, experience in anything physical, and clothes from her brothers, she seems the perfect guy so it really isn't a surprise. What's interesting to me is that I know she's really a softy at heart, even though her kicks are a punishment sent from hell. As I dwell this, I look across to see the girls in the class already crushing. Oh boy.

"I'm Soul," is all I supply with a softer then wanted voice, feeling the fairly short run (before Maka had hauled me over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes) make my throat hurt. I suppose it's also because of the butterflies in my flopping stomach. I remember just then that I've forgotten breakfast again. But that thought is pushed to the least of my worries as I see a guy in the front row raise an eyebrow and smirk. Oh no, this was NOT happening again! I understand how people think Maka a guy, but HOW do people still mistake me for a GIRL?!

"You may sit down in those desks, your uniforms will be given to you later today to wear tomorrow." At least the teacher was nice, I think as she speaks, before making my way over to the desks. Ignoring the gazes of envious girls, I sit down with a huff, putting my chin in the palm of my hand as my crimson eyes stare out the window.

While class is usually interesting for the me, I always hate the first days. Always the staring. Always the rumors. Always the stupid boys who think I'm a girl and confess on the spot. I seriously believe they need to be moved to a 'special' school whenever they use that 'love at first sight' line. Blech.

The only thing worse then the first day is the second. When we'll have to wear the uniforms. And, like always, that new morning and 'promising' day seems to have come way too soon.

I straighten my perfectly ironed jacket before my hands move to the red tie, taking an extra second to stare at the school symbol just above my jacket's pen pocket. Huh, a tree. Cause that hadn't been done before.

Like usual, I walk out of my large and empty house, the only life sighting being a Maid who'd bowed to me before I left. At least I got to say good-bye to someone this morning. Looking to the right and Maka's house, I count to seventeen before she bounds out of the house. I sigh in relief as she's gotten one of the longer skirts the school offered, her short hair not even brushed this morning as I notice gnarly cow-licks.

"Mornin' Soul!" she exclaims while painfully (unintentionally of course) patting me on the small of my back, making me cough into my hand.

"You awright? Your cough isn't getting worse is it...?" her voice turns concerned as she leans down the five inch difference in our height to stare at my face.

"Lay off," I snort as I turn to start walking with her laughing behind me. The way to school isn't long enough, I think, as I arrive at the classroom.

I take a deep breath before opening the door and walking in, the customary few gasps filling the air as I display myself in all my male-uniform glory.

"You're a guy?!" a boy with obviously dyed blond hair exclaims, another boy with brown hair clamping a hand over his mouth the next second before offering me a wavering smile, painfully fake.

I don't say anything (not returning the half-assed smile either) as I go over to my desk I'd sat in yesterday, throwing my bag onto the top before letting my head fall over it. Well, at least now they know. I'm not a tom-boyish girl, I'm a GUY.

A second round of gasps fills the air (somehow louder then the ones from me) and I don't even have to look up to know that Maka has walked through the door, in all her six-feet-short-fuzzy-haired-SKIRT glory. I then hear Maka's breath of laughter at everyone's no-doubt shocked to death faces. Cause when Maka and I walk in, we don't just half shock people to death. I still don't look up as I feel her throw herself in the desk from yesterday like me, the one just to my right.

"Y-Y-You're a g-g-g-..." the girl next to Maka can't even say the word. I wonder if she usually has such a bad stutter, one which sounds like it was below freezing and she doesn't have jacket.

"I'm a girl, yes," Maka innocently finishes for the poor girl as I peek out from behind my crossed elbow to see Maka tilt her head.


"I never said I was a guy. You just assumed it," Maka shrugs, not feeling the slightest bit of anger. It makes me feel that emotion even more.

"Y-You said you were 'looking for someone special' though!" the pigtailed girl's stutter continues with sad eyes. I know she feels oh-so heartbroken from loosing her latest one-day crush.

"I am, someone strong...one that can beat me up! That's the kind of man for ME!"

The girl looks caught between nightmarish at Maka's want for a beating and devastated at the discovery. I feel a pang of pity for her.

"And Soul over here is looking for someone too!" Maka laughs as she hits my shoulder.

"Am not," I snort.

"What's your kind of person Soul?" the girl asks, and I blink as her smile is large and true.

I stretch my arms out, letting my chin hit the desk before, "Someone who is delicate, beautiful, artistic..." I drift off for a second in thought of more adjectives.

"You just described yourself!" Maka laughs, making me glare over at her and punch her in the shoulder.

"Easy there, you might hurt yourself," her laugh is now heightened, as if my punch was weaker then a mosquito bite.

I try growling, but it only makes the pigtailed girl join Maka in giggles.

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"Soul! HEY!"

I groan as I roll over in my fluffy bed, pulling a pillow around my head as to try and stop the yelling of my best friend. But it's to no avail as in the next second Maka propells her foot into a deathly kick and BANG! opens my door like magic. The Maids downstairs would have been shocked if this wasn't like a tradition, no matter where we moved to.

"What, you freak tomboy?" I mumble through my pillow.

"Tomboy is the understatement of the year for me."

I groan again as I sit up, rubbing my eyes with one hand while the other scratches my bare chest.

"You know, you should just not wear a shirt the first day of school. Then people would REALLY believe you when you say you're not a girl," Maka comments on my lack-of-a-shirt sleeping habit.

"And maybe you can not dress drag? That might just do the trick for you," I snort back.

I look up, expecting a laugh, but find that her eyes seem hollow for a second before she squeezes them closed as a grin split her face, "You're right. But you always are, aren't cha?"

My red eyes stare at her fake smile for a second more before I huff, throwing the blankets back to reveal a skinny body only covered by boxers.

"Get some clothes on, you're practically flashing me!" Maka giggles, covering her 'innocent' green eyes as I roll my own. Now that was my Maka.

"Not that I'm not used to it," I start as I make my way over to my large closet, "why are you over here?"

"You mean, other then to escape from my sadistic brothers and suffocating Papa?"

"Yes, other then saving your own life."

"It's Sunday, movie day, DUH! I brought the essentials."

I walk out as I pull over a t-shirt just in time to see her dump the contents of at least a twenty movies, a half dozen packets of red vines, and cans of soda spilling out onto my sheets.


"One of your Maids insisted she do it. Said it'll be ready in three minutes or so," Maka says with a roll of her eyes, hands on her hips. I know one of the things that annoys Maka the most is when people insist they do stuff for her. I know in her mind she thinks herself capable of anything, and I believe her with pretty much all my heart.

I nod as I make my way over to the bed, a grin cracking my face as I see that Titanic is once again in the pile, along with Love Actually and Pride and Prejudice.

"Feeling sappy are we?"

I want to laugh at Maka's blush and angry glare if I didn't know from previous experience that I'll get beat to a pulp if I do, health issues or not.

"Like always, the closet romantic," I say with a dramatic wave of my hand as the other sits on my hip.

"Like always," Maka mimics my hand actions perfectly but the voice is two octaves too high, "the closet gay."

I don't care if I'm going to get beaten up as I throw The Notebook at her.

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Looking down at my fists, I notice that they're so tight my knuckles are stained with white. But as I continue to hear those idiots, didn't they KNOW I'm only five feet away and so bound to hear, talk about the 'mystery' that was me and Maka it can't help it.

'It's a total drag couple. They're such FREAKS.'

I have half a mind to go punch the guy straight in the jaw, uppercut that punk, and yell who the bitch is now, but I remember to breath and relax. All those anger management sessions with Maka have really helped me when I was younger and I'm not too keen on getting suspended from this school on the first day of my second week anyway.

Glancing over, I notice that Maka has the earphones of her iPod in her ears. I recognize the beat from her blasting earphones to one of my past favorite songs. So, ignoring how she shoots me a friendly glare, I yank the right plug out of her ear and jam it into my own.

I allow the music to play over the boy's words and his groupie's laughter.

I wish in that moment I could just tune out the entire world.

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It's now week four and STILL things are just as bad for me. The boys don't seem to get the whole I'M A FUCKING GUY concept as it seems they just keep coming from other classes, demanding why I'm dressing drag and if I like the movies. They really need to work on their transitions. Bastards.

But the thing that's really annoying me is how well Maka is fitting in. It's amazing how the girls are even more fascinated in her then if she had been a boy like they'd originally though. Of course, I think, she has that charismatic pull that never seems to fail. I sometimes wonder why she hasn't snagged a boyfriend yet, and then I take a step back and remember.

How she doesn't care about painting nails or curling hair. She's more interested in slinging mud at people she knows on rainy days and burping the ABCs.

Then I remember her green as grass eyes, warm smile, and heart as big as the world and wonder why she's single again.

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Week seven and I want to scream my lungs out until I throw them up. I've lost count of the number of confessions, lost count of the number of God-forbid-old-fashion love letters.

I think everyone in this school is retarded, just like every other school I've ever been to, yet it somehow seems here is worse. Is there something in the water affecting the two braincells everyone has in their empty heads?

And for once in my life, I really can't take it anymore. Would anyone? Could anyone?

Because, I realize as I stare at my self-loathed reflection in the my bathroom mirror, people only see what they want to see. Hear what they want to hear. Believe what they WANT to believe.

They don't want to know the truth, they want to know that they're right.

And they'll do anything to protect that.

Denial is the biggest help factor in that.

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So it's decided, I think to myself, that I don't want to go to this prison of a place. I finally get the guts and backbone (major improvements in such a short time, amazing. Now only if I could get the 'balls' edition, harharhar) to tell Maka just in the middle of week eight.

"I'm leaving his hell hole," I whisper to her in the library, her freckled nose deep in a book like usual (if she isn't kicking someone in the face or between the legs).

She turns to me with questioning eyes, a bitter backdrop in their depths is there, too, I realize with a suppressed shiver of fear.

"Where are you going? My Papa just got a job and I don't really want to move ag-"

"You're not coming Maka," I interrupt her questioning with authority.

She blinks before slapping a hand to her mouth, my eyebrows furrowing as I know she's holding in boisterous laughter.

"Fuck you," I whisper before I leave.

I always hate it when she never takes me seriously. I'm not that eight year old kid who couldn't throw a punch anymore, I'm a sixteen year old guy who wants to do something for himself. And damn it all to hell if I'm going to not do that because of one girl, even if she can be a killing machine.

I hope that when she realizes I'm not joking around, she doesn't use that attribute of herself on me.

I find out the answer to this as I'm packing my bag and hear my door being kicked open, a steaming Maka at the frame. There's a flustering pack of Maids right behind her, only verbally scolding her as they don't dare lay a finger on the tall girl who has more strength then a the average high school foot-ball jock. Yet she's as skinny as me, must be a miracle.

"I thought you were kidding," she manags to get out through her grinding teeth. I listen and internally inquire for a second how she's doing that without grinding them to chalk.

"Obviously I'm not," I snort as I fold my favorite pair of jeans.

"Fine. I'm going to go pack," Maka's has calmed down a little but it's all for naught as I'm about to blow up her world with, "I told you you're not coming."

She whirls around at me with daggers of green.

"We go through EVERYTHING together."

"You're not my bodyguard," I shoot, surprised at the venom in my voice. I guess I'm just so pissed off I let it leak out to the one person whose always seemed to be there. I'm so going to hell.

"I just want to protect you," she senses the venom in my voice and it seems to paralyze her in a mix of shock and fear, making her take an amazing step back. Must be the first time in her life that she's ever backpedaled, I note to myself sourly.

"I don't need it."

"But I promised-"

"We were effing TEN. It doesn't matter!"

She bites her trembling lip as if she's about to cry and I notice with wide eyes that she is. I open my mouth in shock, but she says, "I was going to say I promised you MOTHER the day she'd died that I'd always protect you."

And just like that she's sprinting out.

While I stare at where she used to be, I feel like the biggest douche bag in existence. Suppressed until now flashbacks of those horrid weeks of white walls and medication and then fateful night at the hospital where I was to never see my Mother breath again blurred through my vision. Then I remember Maka's arms around me and her own body shake, I haven't realized until now that she was probably crying with me too. It takes me a while to gather my bearings of being in the present before I blink and sink down on the ground, the Maids having at least enough sensibility to close my door and leave me be. I stare at the polished over a thousand times wooden floor before I see drops of water fall onto it. I don't wonder where they came from, I still have enough sense feel the liquid flowing down my cheeks.

So, after rubbing my eyes and salt-trailed cheeks (while thinking ironically that maybe the boys at school were right about me being a pussy), I open my door and walk to the house next door. Where I hear my best friend for eight years straight screaming her lungs out. Opening the door, not even bothering to knock, I make a bee-line to her room upstairs, ignoring her worried Brothers who try to get in my way and demand for an explanation. I silence them with hard red eyes, more vibrant then their Papa inherited hair color combined. I know this for sure as I see them cower away from me for the first time without aid from Maka.

When I arrive at her door, I feel myself hesitate for a moment before I turn the old copper knob, not surprised as I see Maka punch a hole straight into the wall and I notice there's many more on the other walls. But as she turns to me, I am surprised as I see the salt water rivers from her suddenly dull eyes.

"You're a bitch," she states as if it's as obvious as 1 plus 1 equals 2.

I sigh before I open my arms, blowing some long bangs out of my face as I stare at her poster-covered ceiling. I hear her try to hold in a whimper before it escapes and she runs into my arms, pride thrown aside as she collapses to her knees and wraps her arms around my middle.

"Why are you going, WHY?! We're the only ones who understand each other!" she cries into my pants.

I sigh and pat her fuzzy head, lightly wondering if she will ever grow it out in her life.

"I'm sorry Maka, but I just can't take it anymore. I can't stand everyone seeing me as a GIRL and then FREAK and then eventually FAG. I just want to...be free for once."

"And that means cutting ties with me?"

"Look Maka, I'm coming back in one year. ONE YEAR, you hear me? Twelve measly months. By then you'll see the 'transformed' me. You'll see the cool me."

"You don't have to change. I like you the way you are."

"You know how you're always saying you want a strong guy who'll be able to beat you in three seconds flat?"

"...yeah. And he has to have a nice tan."

"I'm gonna go be that man."

She looks up from wet denim into my determined eyes, a watery smile gracing her face.

"You're kidding right? You: pale complexion, big eyes like a doe caught in the headlights, silky silver hair that can be pulled into a pony tail, is going to be a bulking mass of muscles and power?"

"Just watch me."

And I smirk as her grin becomes more concrete. I hope she at least half believes me.

Not a day later I find myself sighing as I stare at the airport gates, looking at the flashing lights as my carry-on messenger bag suddenly feels heavy on my shoulders. When I hear the call of 'First Class may now board' I sigh once again before taking long strides to the counter. I feel shitty as it is and now I feel like throwing up (I hold it in, I only gracefully gag) as the guy who grabs my ticket, taking the airline's half, winks at me.

Just as I turn to get into the tunnel, I hear my name being shrieked and see a whirl of color before I'm knocked flat on my back, coughing to try and regain normal breathing.

"I'm gonna change, too," Maka says right in my face, as if she can't hear the gasps and murmurs as she straddles me.

"What are you talking about?" I say in a weak voice as I massage my stinging throat.

"I'm going to become the that perfect dream girl for you."

I raise my eyebrows, causing her to furrow her own.

"You don't believe me," she states.

"Sorry, kinda hard to envision."

"Like you being a tough guy."

"Urgh, I'm gonna do it, I'll show you."

"Well me too."

As she sits there in my lap with arms crossed and a determined spark in her eye, I suddenly laugh and forget about everyone else in the terminal.

"One year, baby."

"No prob," she winks.

"You better grow some boobs. And fast."

"You better grow a foot and a half and some balls."

"That hurt."

"Sorry," she grins shyly and I think for a fleeting second that maybe Maka acting like a girl IS possible.

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I smirk towards a pair of girls (who blush in return) as I run a hand through my hair that defies gravity thanks to the wonder of gel. Pulling my bag over my head, I make my way through the terminal and into the biting air of winter, causing me to pull the thick gray scarf around my neck even tighter.

Seeing my black car drive up, I hold down a smile of nostalgia as the butler I've had since I was born comes out, a warm smile on his face.

"Welcome back Master Soul," he bows with a smile that I easily return, even going as far as to pat his shoulder which surprises him.

"How have the others been?" I enquire about the Maids and other employed people as I close my passenger door.

"They're very happy you're returning Young Master," his mustache lifts as he smiles again.

I look out the window, watching the snow flutter around in the air, and allow a sigh to pass through my lips. I had never really considered this place home (only eight and a half weeks, give or take a few days), but after being in constant movement to support the excuse to my Father that I wanted to see the world before it was too late (the only reason I'd gotten out of a almost-whole year of school and any responsibility) it was nice knowing I didn't have to pack up and move any time soon.

As we drive up the driveway, I collect myself as best I can before glancing over and see Maka's house that seems more warm then the mansion I'm driving up to. I turn my head to watch it as I continue up the long driveway.

When my Butler pulls to the front door, I walk out (not worrying about my luggage as I knew the others would get it) and open the huge wooden doors only to see two men standing there. I blink in shock as I se my defined Brother and gray haired Father.

"Soul," my Father says before walking over to a shocked-to-silent me (having not seen them both at the same time in over four years) and bringing me to his wide chest for a hug.

"It's good to have you back Son," he says with too much emotion it's like the words don't even matter compared to the sound of his voice. As I glance over his shoulder (I'm now proud of my six foot one height) I see that Wes is actually smiling too. Not smirking, but smiling.

I give one back to him, finding it weird at how forgiveness is coming easy for me today.

That night, as I lie in that same bed from before, I stare at my ceiling and think. I think of how I have grown a half foot (maybe more?) and how with all my travel my face is no longer perfectly white pale. I think of all the things I've seen that have made my eyes harden, yet that fire behind them is still there, says my Father. I can tell he's very proud of me now, not like he never was. I think he is just happy to see me after so long. After my Mother's death he was wary of me, and he had always said I looked more like her then him, so maybe it was like loosing another part of her too. I guess me looking like her is a compliment (she was breathtakingly beautiful), and now I wonder if he's sad that I'm not as feminine, and so like my Mother, as I used to be.

Rolling over, I stare out my closed windows and look at the falling snow illuminated by the full moon.

Now I wonder about what tomorrow will bring when I walk through those school halls again. I wonder if anyone will recognize me. I'm betting on no. As I try and imagine their shocked faces when they discover the truth, I feel myself slip away into a blissful sleep.

As I saunter down the hallway in school the next morning, tie carelessly in my side pocket as the first button on my shirt is left undone, I think of how I'd wished it was a real bet cause I'd obviously won. While no one recognizes me, I recognize a few faces. Like that idiot-blond boy and his more careful brown haired friend, and the girl who used to wear those pigtails who had dared to talk to Maka and then me. She seems just as cheery and energetic as before, I notice, as she blushes when I offer her a smile, the next second turning to her group of friends and gushing if that really happened or not.

Turning to the once cursed room of my class, I go up to the teacher and explain I'm the returning student. I hold down another smile as I notice it's the same teacher from last year. Well, I have arrived two months ahead of schedule and I suppose I'm still considered a Sophomore. I think of for a second on how I'm probably older then everyone in the class (seventeen and a half now). I hadn't really thought about it much as it's never showed, but as I do now, it makes me even more giddy.

"Students, please welcome back Soul," her eyes are still wide and I know that she remembers me, the differed sight of me causing this shock.

There are whispers in the group of teens and for once I actually smile at strangers with actual sincerity. I'm finally confident with myself and it seems that whatever they say isn't going to affect that. Is this that feeling of euphoria everyone's always searching for?

"See the two empty desks? Use the one further from the window please," the teacher's kind eyes return like the first day of school. I only look in them for a second before I'm walking to the individual desk, sitting myself down and pulling out a notebook and two-cent pen. Funny how my family is so rich my Father's pens are custom and gold encased yet I like the mass-production Bic.

Just as I'm writing the date, the kind teacher announcing we'll start with history, the door to the classroom opens with a squeak. I look up and feel the breath get caught in the back of my throat.

"Maka, you're late," the teacher sighs and I feel like seeing Maka right now is more shocking then discovering she was a girl and not a boy like I'd thought for four years. Maybe it was so shocking because, for the first time, she actually looks like she deserves the gender.

"I'm sorry. My alarm didn't go off," even her voice isn't outlandishly loud as she dips her head to add to the apology.

"Take your seat please," the teacher says while turning back to the white board and red felt pen.

Maka whispers a "Thank you" before walking over to the empty desk adjacent to mine. I open my mouth to say something, but it seems like she's more engrossed with the hem of her now short plaid skirt rather then my face. Well, I am two months early, but I'd think she'd notice how the desk next to her is now occupied.

But I take this opportunity to scrutinize her. Her once buzz cut hair is now tied in neat pony-tails with red ribbons, the ends brushing her shoulder. She's obviously wearing makeup as her once common freckles are covered with foundation and eyelashes elongated with mascara. Even her green eyes are accentuated with a dusting of gold eye shadow.

It's as if she can feel my staring as she glances over with those amazing green eyes. I expect them to widen and for her to crack a giant grin, but instead she only offers me a curdious smile and nod of her head.

Feeling my face flush in annoyance and frustration, I poke her shoulder, causing her to look once again at me. Glancing to make sure the teacher's engaged in her teaching I whisper, "It's me."

"I'm sorry?" she questions politely.

"Silver," I grin at the old nickname.

Her eyes narrow in anger, probably thinking it's some sick joke from a jock, before they widen in recognition and her glossed lips open.

"Didn't I tell you Gold? I was going to be cool."

She sits there, staring at me with an open mouth, until lunch.

Taking my wrist, she drags me all the way up four stories until we're at the roof, the wind whipping around our clothes and hair, or at least Maka's once neat pig-tails. Mine's pretty solid with the amount of gel I used this morning.

"You're early," she stats as she turns around to face me, not caring as her short skirt in the wind allows me to catch glimpses of red laced panties.

"Isn't that a good thing?" I grin as I stick my hands in my loose-pant pockets.

"Stupid Silver," she sniffs, "you're going to make me ruin my make-up."

I laugh as I open my arms and she flies into me. The warmth is familiar, yet as I press my cheek to the top of her head, and as she claws at my back with perfectly manicured nails, I know that things aren't the same as they used to be.

The second half of school flies by and soon it's me and her walking back to our houses, just like the good ol' days. For the slightest moment it feel like I'd never left, feel like both of us haven't changed ourselves in the slightest. I talk about my trips and what I've seen around the world and she laughs at all the right parts, especially about my first time riding a camel.

"See you tomorrow?" I smirk, at to which she takes a second to smile back at. I hold down a wince as I notice her eyes are almost as empty as the smile.

As I watch her leave, hands clasped behind the small of her back, I now feel the total opposite. Like I've been gone for ten years and not months. Like the Gran Canyon is between us.

Sleep is, thankfully, easy to come by tonight as I hadn't slept well last night. That's the only good thing about not getting enough sleep, you know it'll come eventually.

Yawning as I go out the door the next morning, after eating breakfast with my Father and Wes, I grin as I see a tall girl standing by the gate, turning around to show a pretty Maka in a mess of curls. She must have woken up so early to do those and that makeup, I note to myself, as I say a good morning and sling an arm over her shoulder.

"So hows my favorite girl doing?" I ask carelessly with a joking backdrop, my other hand that isn't around her shoulders in my black slacks pocket.

"Fine," she vaguely answers softly, barely opening her glossed to perfection lips to do so.

I hum, before asking what we have for class today. It's weird how we never used to talk about school and now it's the only thing that comes to my mind to talk about.

I wander upon the haughty idea that maybe it isn't just our appearances that have changed.

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It's week five for me back in school and I feel worse then when I'd left to fit more into the social norm. In this time I learn that Maka is now easily the most popoular girl in the school. While her long legs had before been freaky, since they were now revealed from her (very) short skirt it seems like it makes all boys drool. I also learned that her make-up and hair changes allowed her 'femininity' to shine through and it seems that the boys ALSO can't resist salivating at her striking green eyes.

I'm not jealous of that popularity, anything from it, as I'm now the most popular guy. With my stories of world travels, spiked up silver hair and red eyes that draw the ladies in now more then the guys, it makes me hit the hot list easy.

What's annoying the shit out of me is how it seems Maka and me are like distant friends. Scratch that, it's more like we're friends of other friends and we're only slight aquaintences. It's SO fucked up.

The first thing that ticked me off was how she had started going to school earlier in an attempt to become a better student, and so the time she walks to school is the time I'm snoring in bed. We don't walk together anymore.

And usually that wouldn't seem SUCH a big deal, but it is for me. It's usually the time when we talk, laugh, and make plans to meet up later.

I still sit next to her in class and write her little notes of jokes and such that she stifles a quiet giggle at before replying 'That was funny,' or 'You're hilarious.' When she turns to smile at me, it feels even more empty then her stale replies. There's nothing behind it. That fire that I've admired so much in her seems to have gone out.

We also both sit at the self-deemed 'popular table' by the other top kids in the school, everyone laughing and gossiping with the occasional newest couple in each others lap, giving everyone a fantastic PDA fananza. Lunch and a show, my favorite (NOT). It's irking me how she's sitting on the girl side of the table, nibbling on her food while conversing with them like she's been there all her life. Lighting up her face at the pristine moment, making the right expressions at the perfect time, it's all so staged.

And what pisses me off is she's doing it to ME too.

It's like she's put on a temporary mask but has accidentally used super-glue. It's like no matter how hard I pull or pry it isn't going to come off.

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I wonder if it's something like the number 8 is actually the devil's number as it's the same week number that I'd left from this school that I can't take the fake Maka anymore.

So, right as we're dismissed for lunch on Thursday, I grab her by her bracelet encased wrist before we turn to the cafeteria and lead the both of us up the stairs until we're at the roof.

It's ironic how I'm the one who turns around to see Maka's blank face, one eyebrow raised in confusion at my anti-social action.

"If we don't leave we're gonna miss the latest gossip," she says as she crosses her arms over her chest, which has grown by the way. Way to go B cup.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" I question after a tense minute of silence, Maka staring at her shoes while I stare at her face.

Whipping her face up at my rude question, I almost want to grin as I see a spark of the fire that used to be.

"What are you talking about Soul?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about."

Her eyebrows furrow. "I don't," she insists.

"Why are you a freaking plastic!? Why are you a fucked up Barbie now?"

"Stop swearing. And I'm NOT effed up."

"Stop swearing?! You're definitely brainwashed! Did those cheerleaders get to you? Inject you with brain-killing CRACK? Is that why you're on their little squad now?"

"Shut-up Soul Eater Evans," she says my full name with ice cold eyes.

"No, you stop being who you aren't!" I practically yell.

"Oh, says the master hypocrite himself," she rolls her eyes like a drama queen.

"I just didn't want people to stop judging me on the outside, I'm still ME on the inside!"

"Says you?" she snorts, "You're not the Soul I used to know. That tan melted your brain."

"I'm still me! How am I NOT?!"

"The Silver I know would wake up early to walk to school with me. You'd at least make those TINY sacrifices to stay with me."

"I still-"

"No. You do what's convenient. Know why? Because you have so many fanTASTIC friends now you don't need me. I'm just one of them, one to put your arm around and say 'Babe' or 'Buddy' to. It's not the same care you showed me before," she turns her face to the side, and I see the glimmer of tears.

"You know that's not true. There's just so much stuff-"

"So much STUFF?! Don't give me that crap. And you know what else my Silver would never do?"

I sigh and move my eyes to the sky, "What?"

"He'd never forget about the anniversary of his Mother's death, which was TWO WEEKS and FOUR DAYS ago by the way."

I feel like I just got shot in the heart as my head snaps down to see her first tear fall.

And that's when I feel it, I feel like I should be Satin himself as I can't take her green eyes anymore and stare at the cement ground.

"I..." the words fail before they can even start.

"He wouldn't leave me behind to become someone he's not," she sobs into the whipping air.

I can only open my arms with weak eyes, gesturing for us to embrace like we always did when we were distressed.

She stares for a second before turning and walking back down the stairs.

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"Master Soul, it's time for school. You already missed Friday and Monday, I can't allow for this to go on any longer," I hear a Maid say behind my locked door under my covers.

"Leave me alone," I huskily answer, hiding a cough in my pillow.

"Master Soul..."

"Please," I manage to rasp.

I hear the poor old lady put a hand to my knob, intent on turning it, before obeying my wishes and shuffling away to do something I couldn't care less about.

It takes me till Wednesday before I can manage to leave my room, not even bothering to gel my hair or brush my teeth. I bet I looked like hell warmed over and for once REALLY don't give a damn about what people view me as. When I walked out of the house, my Father asked me what was wrong, but I simply gave him a look before continuing on my way. I really hope he won't take it to heart, but I'm seriously so out of it I feel like I'm not even in my body anymore. Maybe aliens came and kidnapped me...at least that would explain my change for the worse.

Slouching into the classroom, I don't look up from my Converse as I sit in my desk, turning my face away from where Maka no-doubt sits next to me. The teacher's voice is like a distant hum in the distance, like the fluttering of humming-bird wings. It makes me think of how I'd seen my first humming-bird when I'd gone to the Zoo with Maka. Huh, seems like she's STILL on my mind. I wouldn't have noticed it was lunch time if I hadn't look up from the worn fake-wood of my desks surface to see no one around and then to the clock to see it at 12:07. Sighing as I push myself up, I slouch my way to the doorway but just as I'm about to grab the knob, I feel my heart stutter in my chest.

I gasp as my knees hit the tiled floor, a million and one colors swimming in and out of my eyes at the same time as I try to organize my thoughts to know what the HELL is happening. I fall forward onto my chest, hearing nothing but the blood in my heart clogging and trying to work meld with the fast pants that escape my wide open mouth. I feel like I'm a fish out of water.

I realize, as I lie there struggling to breath, that maybe this is karma at its best. I don't deserve such a life. I never deserved such a wonderful Mother who I forgot to honor, I don't deserve to have the best friend of Maka, I don't deserve to LIVE. I choke on air as I try to laugh, thinking how, even with all my sinning, that I wish to have Maka here to protect me.

It's right then that I see blond and green enter my vision and the colors start to really streak together as I feel like I'm flying.

Red lights flash in my eyes and I hear sirens.

Then it all goes black.

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I groan as I feel the prickle of something in my arm, blinking my eyes open to see nothing but white. I panic for a second before I realize I'm staring at a ceiling. As I roll my head over, I see that the tingling is because of three needles in my arm. I shutter as I think about the one actual scary part for me in the Saw series with the rusty heroin needles. I utterly HATE needles. I have half a mind to rip them out, and was going to reach over to do just that, when I notice I can't move my other hand. Panic wells in my stomach again as I turn my head, only to find someone leaning over my bed, holding my hand in an iron like grip.

I lean down and see that it's Maka in all her messed up make-up and fuzzy-curls glory. I wonder for a second if that's how bad I look.

"She's been there the entire time, poor thing," a voice breaks me of my staring and I slowly turn my head to see my Father at the doorway, deep circles of purple under his red eyes.

I don't say anything as my free (well, needles were in it, but it wasn't entrapped by Maka) hand instinctual moves to pat Maka's rat's-nest hair a few times before returning the hand to my blanket covered lap.

"Don't do that to me again Soul," he continues as he goes over to me, grabbing my other hand despite the thing connected to my index finger and the three needles in my arm, "I already lost your Mother and I can't bear to lose you too."

Choking down tears, I nod and wish my body wouldn't hurt all over so I could hug him. My old man can't keep the tears in and nods before walking to leave, rubbing his face on his 5,000 dollar jacket as he goes.

"Dad, I'm sorry. For everything," I manage to choke out before he turns out of the door.

He stops, and lowers his eyes before, "You're young. You make mistakes." He turns around and I see a slight smile, "I knew it was Maka. And I should tell you about how I meet your Mother, it was very similar to you and Maka."

"How so?" I ask with earnest. He was always wary of talking about Mother since her passing, yet it seems now that maybe he's freed up a little.

"The first thing she said, or yelled more like, was how much of a bastard I was," he broke off to laugh while I blinked in shock, "She was angry at me because I had taken her brother's gig."

His eyes dazed for a second and I knew he was reliving the flashback before, "Get some rest. I'll be back shortly."

Turning my somber eyes from where he once stood before really leaving my small room, I look at Maka. I sigh before shaking her shoulder, jolting her awake.

She rubs her mascara-running eyes as she looks up at me in a haze of sleep. "Silver?" she asks through plump lips.

"Yeah, Gold. It's Silver," I choke, too much emotion from my Father and now Maka that I now feel like my heart will really fail.

Her eyes water, and I wonder just how much she's cried for me, before she non-too gently throws herself at me, arms tight around my neck as she sits in my lap.

"What's wrong with you? Why didn't you TELL me you were feeling like shit?! They said it was because of stress-- and you were stressed because of what I said to you, weren't you?! It's a MIRACLE I had come to give you lunch or else NO ONE would have found you! Soul, I'm so sorry! I'm sorry! Please forgive me!" she blurts and chokes at the last syllable like her mouth is full of cotton.

I can't say anything as I bury my head in her hair and pull her close, drinking in her scent. I think of how I don't deserve such a good person like her in my life as she continues to sob.

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Two weeks of this white-walled prison and I'm out (not too soon either as the place reminds me of that horrid time before my Mother passed, yet at least Maka was with me again). As I take a step outside into the night, a sigh of happiness passes through my lips as I stretch my arms to the sky as if trying to grab the full moon and maybe collect a few stars to match.

"Feels good?" Maka asks quietly next to me with a small smile.

I quirk my head to the side, pretending to think over my answer before, "Yeah, I suppose." I then cock my head to the other side to look back at her and see her eyes light up for the slightest of a fraction. Suddenly, I feel like it's not enough.

Fractions of her aren't enough, I want the WHOLE thing.

In that sting of want the sprinklers go off. I guess it's understandable as the time will conserve water as it's seven at night and dark, the moon illuminating the sprays.

Another want, this one much easier to indulge, hits me and I don't think twice as I grab her by the wrist and pull her towards the jets.

"What are you doing?!" she cries out in horror, making me snort at the irony. I remember one time she made us sneak into a neighbor's pool (like mine at the time wasn't bigger) at two in the morning during Autumn. Even if we had been currently living in a warm place, it was hella cold and I'd caught a cold the next day.

"To have some fun," I say as I take her other wrist and bring her close to me. "May I have this dance?" I continue before she can get out a word.

"Ah yes, the amazing ball-room dancer," she says as eyes lighten. I'm getting close, warmer, to starting that fire.

I swing her through the shoots of water, both of us laughing each time we get hit.

Soon I feel that pang of yearning in my stomach again, and my head says it's the right time. I think about how I just almost lost my life two weeks ago. Fourteen days and counting and I haven't felt better, and I also realized that every day, hour, second counts and if I want something I should just reach out and grab it. My arms tighten around Maka and I pull her closer.

"Thank you," I lean down to whisper against her neck. I wonder if she shivers because it's cold.

"For what?" she questions innocently.

"For protecting me," I say while leaning back, looking deep into her eyes while refusing to blush.

"Didn't I promise?" she tilts her head while pouting, hair dripping droplets onto her already soaked school sweater.

I smile before a rumbling starts deep in my chest and I'm surprise to find it not to be a rib-shaking cough but a heart-pounding laugh. I guess that saying about laughter being as contagious as the common cold is true as soon Maka's higher tone joins me.

"You know, I'm really, REALLY sorry," I say once my laugh has stopped.

"For what?" she says and stops moving her feet, stopping our moonlit dance.

"For being a...there's not even a bad enough word for it," I say as I take my hand from her waist to run through my soaking wet hair.

"Didn't I tell you I forgive you? I was dumb enough to be different too. Especially since it affected me so much...I feel even MORE out of my skin then ever now," she says with a roll of her own eyes, blowing a few wet bangs from her forehead.

"You're not dumb, you're amazing," I say in a drop-dead serious tone. The seriousness of my voice must have been on my face as Maka laughs again. She had always thought I was my funniest when I was the most serious and I don't find annoyance in it anymore. If I had a mirror I'd probably crack up too.

It's then, as her laughter echoes around the dark and empty lawn, when I decide I want her. I want her to see me for all that I am, and I think that's what I had wanted all along. I want to be the one for her.

I lean down, Maka's laughter cutting short as she sees me dip. Yet just before I let our lips touch, I pull back and rub a hand over my chin.

"Something's missing," I comment at her confused and slightly offended face. I smile as I lean down and scoop up some mud from the ground, spreading it onto my other hand, before using them to rub against her cheeks. Her shocked face, as I continue to rub mud over her, is priceless and I hope I can remember it forever.

"I liked you better before. Crazy girl with freckles, killer-kicks and all," I realize out loud for the first time as I cup her stained brown face in my hands.

"I like you better now," she answers and I want to laugh, but she crashes her lips onto mine before I can.

When she leans back, eyes on fire, she says, "Kidding," and I get to laugh.

"But that tan is very nice," she continues with a coy grin as she traced a finger along my cheek and then jaw-line.

"I don't like that hair of yours though. I'm cutting it short tomorrow," I add my own opinion and I move my hand cradle her head.

"Why, is Mr. Macho-Man offering to cut hair?!"

"Only if you agree to stop wearing make-up and wrestle with me after," I waggle my eyebrows suggestively and she blushes before cracking the biggest smile I've ever seen on her face.

"Come on, lets go home," I whisper as I lean down to snatch our second kiss.

As we wrap muddy fingers together and start walking, I know everything is alright now. In that second and for all the ones to come.

Because even if we don't fit into the whole world picture, we fit into each others as our intertwined fingers show.

And that's more then enough.

A/N: When I say 'epic' I mean it ;D Please give feed back, I'd love to know how you felt about this one-shot as I put lots of thought and effort into it. Also, thanks again to all the wonderful reviews I've been getting, I love them very much and I'm sorry I don't really have time to reply :'( but just know that they really inspire and lift my mood; this long AU is kinda like a thank-you