Warning: Spoilers up to chapter 22 of Soul Eater Manga.
Don't say I didn't tell you later when you see something you shouldn't have, haha. :D
The Kishin had resurrected that night.
Even though each and every one of them had given their best, put their lives on the line and most of them had been on the brink of losing that bet with Fate, it hadn't sufficed to stop the most primordial Evil from unleashing upon the world once again.
Their strength hadn't sufficed to stop the insanity from fleeing its should-have-been-eternal prison.
Their souls hadn't been worth enough to stop the insanity from escaping.
They dragged themselves home, beaten and despaired, weary and with defeated spirits that night.
Because the consequences of their incapability were greater than a few bruised egos.
Because… insanity was contagious.
And it was already on the loose.
That night, Tsubaki had been the one to drag him to the apartment they shared in Death City because he had been one of the few who had given even more effort than they had, tried at a hundred and ten percent to stop the unstoppable.
She was so proud of his resilience—even in the face of danger, of the possibility of death, he never wavered once—but she was also afraid of it.
Black Star had too much resilience, he was too determined. In these moments, he scared her.
Because his persistence was too insane—his eyes… they became too much like those of that repugnant Kishin.
Tsubaki would never be able to live with herself if she allowed her technician to take the path of evil while he was partnered with her.
Thus, she had said no to him for the first time that night. Put her foot down and told him outright she would not do as he asked of her.
She hadn't even thought for a moment that her decision might not be right at the moment she'd made it—she'd said it for his own good, after all. (It was the only reason she could ever firmly refuse to do something, really). She knew she was right so she hadn't dithered at all in denying his reckless wishes.
Now, though… When it was only the two of them, she realized the consequences of her earlier words.
He was probably angry with her.
She was sure he was angry with her.
After all, she'd never said 'no' before—he was fully entitled to be angry with her.
He wasn't reckless only in his actions—his plans and logic were usually just as thoughtless of his welfare as everything he did. He was also not the most mature of people you could meet under normal circumstances and you could never know when he might throw a temper tantrum about the silliest of things.
Tsubaki had good reason to believe her meister was angry with her.
When he came out of the bathroom all washed up—but just as roughed up as he'd been before going in—she couldn't look at him in the eye, ridiculously ashamed of herself for doing what she thought had been best at the time.
She refused to apologize for looking out for him when he didn't care enough for himself to do it on his own.
And yet she couldn't live with the thought of him being angry with her.
The chain scythe girl was really at a loss what to do…
"Man, I really should've nailed that Kishin that second Big Wave—I'm sure he parried because he knew he wouldn't have been able to handle the attack of this great me again in such a short while." The boy rubbed his wild spiky hair dry with the towel lazily hanging around his neck. "That Maka… I can't believe that she tried to take him on by herself when even someone as big as me barely slowed him down."
Tsubaki pulled the fabric of her dress in her lap in her fists as she clutched to it. Black Star was admitting not being able to be of much use in a fight? This… She didn't like it. It wasn't right; she couldn't stand such an attitude from her technician.
"I—!" she began suddenly, whipping her head up from staring at her white-knuckled fists in her lap, fueled by his unnatural behavior. This made Black Star's emerald eyes shift on her and she instantly regretted speaking up.
He was definitely angry with her, wasn't he?
Still…! It wasn't as if what she wanted to say was unimportant enough to clam up just from that fact!
"I really think we should get those bandaged!"
The young man blinked, downright confused for a few seconds, until he realized what she meant.
"Yeah… I guess I should get those treated." His face turned goofy so quick that one couldn't help but wonder if he could've been as nonplussed just a second ago. "Even though these scratches are nothing to someone as big as me who's already on his way to surpassing god, hyahaha!"
Five minutes later he was sitting on the edge of his bed in front of a kneeling Tsubaki, who was dabbing his facial wounds with alcohol-soaked gauze.
It was just like him, not to make even a sound of pain or protest even when she cleaned the clearly gaping open wounds on his still tender flesh.
The thought made that sinking feeling she had in her gut intensify.
She'd dared stand against him and his instructions in the heat of battle…
"Hey, Black Star…" she began, pausing in her ministrations.
He didn't look up from his Game Boy at the sound of his name and this stung her a bit more than it would have any other time.
He's definitely angry…
The young woman swallowed thickly and forced her voice through the lump that had formed in her throat.
"Black Star…" she tried again, "Are you… mad at me?"
She felt somewhat lighter that she'd managed to say it.
But then he looked at her—with an expression she couldn't read anything into—and the fleeting light-hearted feeling disappeared without a trace, replaced by more unspeakable guilt.
"Mad at you?" He cocked an eye brow at her. "What for?"
She came incredibly close to losing control of her jaw and letting it fall open at his comment. W-wasn't he supposed to know when he was angry with someone what he was angry with them for?
"B-because…!" Her words were wrestling each other to exit her mouth resulting in her stumbling rather gracelessly over them. She enforced some dignity on herself to continue smoothly the next time she spoke. "I deliberately ignored your wishes and-and…!"
Realization dawned on his face and she realized that it hadn't been that he had been hiding his reaction to her query from her but rather that he hadn't had one in the first place. Because he hadn't known what she was talking about, really hadn't known. Because he wasn't at all angry with her.
"Oh, that—yeah, it was pretty annoying that you picked that of all times to play bigger than me but I wouldn't be mad at you for doing what you believe in. It would be very unfitting of a man greater than god not to forgive those who are his stepping stones to stardom!" He laughed raucously then and she thought she might cry.
Tsubaki thought that she had grown to know her partner in the time they'd spent as a team—they lived together, went to school together, they were within 100 meters of one another practically 24/7.
And yet she hadn't given him enough credit to believe he'd put anything else above having his way.
He hadn't thought twice about forgiving her for not letting him do as he pleases.
Rather, he hadn't thought there had been anything to forgive when she hadn't let him endanger himself, reckless though he was.
Her principles and her beliefs… He placed them above his selfishness, the one that everyone claimed was bigger than the sun.
"Just remember this—if you ever pull a stunt like that in the middle of an important fight, I'll go really evil on you without a second thought, got it? Someone as great as me couldn't be held back on his road to becoming the brightest Star in the sky!"
The boy then looked at her, firmly, levelly.
But not with those eyes that she so disliked—not with those insane eyes.
He had a look that screamed to her 'I'm lying, so please notice!' because he'd never say that out loud, never admit it even to her.
He counted on her to think for them both when he couldn't do it himself.
He relied on her to be the brain when he was only in a condition to be the muscle.
He leant on her to influence him more with her ability to put logic before action in situations that demanded it.
Because the technician and the weapon are one.
She nodded and bowed her head, suddenly overwhelmed and unwilling to cry in front of him, to give into weakness when he was such a shining pillar of strength.
"Y-yes?" she raised her eyes to meet his – for once, unnaturally frank, earnest gaze, guarded by no pretenses and no silliness, no acting and none of the walls which he kept up for fear of the world surrounding him knowing what he really thought, what he really meant and what he really was.
"Next time, we will fight the Kishin together." He said it with a finality that didn't allow room for refusal this time, even if she had tried to do it. "And next time, we will definitely stop him."
Even though that creature had scared her on a primordial level, made her feel like she should dig a hole and curl into a ball inside it in order to never have to look at it in the eye again, she couldn't help the sudden surge of courage that welled up in her at her partner's rare bout of seriousness.
"Yes! Of course!"
And she smiled decisively at him.
That day, Tsubaki learnt for the first time the meaning of saying 'no' to a very important person.
And, while it was important to her to stand her ground when it came to the things she believed were right, she much preferred being on the same side of the fence with her partner.
She hoped that from that day onward, she would never be forced to say 'no' to anything Black Star asked of her ever again.