The Stepping Stone Theory

Nights were the worst.

Despite the seemingly welcoming guidance and concealment of the darkness, it did neither to hide nor hinder the voices in his head.

…It did absolutely nothing.

Claim her, make her understand.

It was the subtle commands, wishes and desires that fanned his burning need to allow the demon to take over – consume his entire being.

Take her

Make her yours; and yours only.

It teased, it taunted, it tempted, but most importantly; the twisted creation of his skewed mind spoke the absolute truth.

Show her that there is no other way; that she is trapped – for life.

Because there was going to be no other way.

Escape would be close to impossible.

The oblivious, innocent, sweet little creature had unknowingly sealed her fate; the day she had inspired him to play his forbidden music. When the sight of bright emerald orbs pierced into his crimson ones, his fingers had moved on their own accord – his soulful melody and the haunting tone claiming what was duly his.

And that had only been the beginning.

It was the first initial step towards what would be his ultimate victory.

Step 1: Claiming his share

The horrified screams of the deformed monster filled the atmosphere.

Its past humanly features no longer detectable or recognizable; the disfigured creature charged mercilessly towards the very center of the main city.

Luckily, the entire area had been evacuated with the notification of this uncontrollable beast – the normally busy streets completely deserted and bare. And perched on top of a skyscraper, experienced jade eyes regarded the opponent wearily at the sheer repetition of it all. This menace of an evil spirit just had to make its presence known in the early hours of the morning…

Sighing dejectedly in pure annoyance, the top honours student of the prestigious Shibusen readied herself for the inevitable battle.

Normally, patrolling was reserved for one-star meisters in between their class schedules. But alas, Maka Albarn – one of the highly regarded meisters of three stars – found herself being ceremoniously kicked out of her warm bed and out into the freezing cold to supposedly handle a case that had 'gone out of hand.'

In all truths, the seventeen year old had no idea what the hell that meant.

After all, it did not change the fact that this pitiful excuse of a challenge was what she had come all the way out into the city for. And the petite teenager was not happy.

"…This is what I woke up for?" A deep voice muttered darkly from the side – mirroring her thoughts exactly.

Soul Eater Evans – her faithful companion of many years and the inseparable partner in crime – stretched leisurely, bringing his height into full context.

The passing of those precious years were indeed evident in his physique, no longer the lanky boy but a full grown male who now stood on equal grounds with his meister's perverted father. The white-haired demon would never be as bulky as their obnoxious ninja – Blackstar – and was rather lean in size.

But the strength and power that radiated from lean, taut frame was unmistakable and the natural charisma of the young male emitted admiration and respect from many.

And as sharp crimson orbs followed the heavy movements of their target; long, lean fingers of a pianist cracked in response.

Licking his lips in calculated precision, the wicked turn of his mouth spelled trouble.

At least it was going to be an easy meal.

"Well, best get it done and over with." Grasping onto light brown locks, the skilled technician twisted the bed-tussled hair into one single manageable mess. But unknown to the tired girl, the innate sensuality of such a display had momentarily rendered the other immobile.

Time had indeed been kind to the young female, enticing emerald orbs, porcelain-like skin, silky brown locks as well as the soft curves that accentuated her pleasing figure.

The overall result was the blossoming of a pretty girl into a strikingly beautiful woman.

And people noticed… Oh, how people noticed.

Naturally, Soul was one of them.

Completely unaware of the appreciative gaze down the length of her long legs, complementary of her pajama shorts; her outstretched hand wiggled impatiently as she expectedly awaited the transformation.

It was only when the urgency of his technician prompted the Scythe Demon to awake from his stupor and they finally complete the connection, sending powerful wavelengths and creating bone-chilling vibrations that roared through to the very Heavens above.

With agile maneuvers, the skilled figure gracefully landed on top of a dismantled building – the long black coat fluttering against the oncoming wind.

Charging head on towards their opponent, the ferocious battle cry coupled with the quick strokes of the deadly blade were all that was required for the demise of the unfortunate soul.

…And the battle was over before it could even begin.

Fishing the floating entity, the transformed human form of the weapon allowed the familiar sharp grin to spread across his usually stoic features as he took his sweet time. He did always enjoy early breakfast.

"…Anytime now, Soul," The impatient tone persistently nudged him to hurry up the process.

"Geez… Keep your knickers on, woman." Clicking his tongue in feigned annoyance, the weapon grumbled in response. "A man's gotta take his time when he's eating his meal." And with that, the entire content was swallowed in one gulp – visible satisfaction radiating from his solidified status.

"Lets go already." Rolling her eyes at her best friend's usual antics; a sleep-deprived Maka was more than ready to trudge back to their cozy apartment with every intention of going back to bed. "Actually, I wouldn't mind a cup of coffee right abou-"

But in a rare case of clumsiness, her eager yet misplaced step toppled the startled teenager as she yelped at the sudden leverage over the edge of the building; only to be saved by warm, capable hands.

"Careful there," the deep, silky voice like crushed velvet breathed into her sensitive ear.

Nestled upon a familiar, yet deliciously sleek and firm embrace; the grateful technician relaxed instinctively, knowing all too well that she could trust this man with her life.

Emerald orbs gingerly looked through dark thick lashes to thank her companion, only to widen in unstated confusion.

Unlike the many times he had saved her ass, something was a little off.

Perhaps it was the way his finger tips teasingly stroked her abdomen in such an attentive manner, or the way his hands lingered in that suggestive grip of his… Whatever it was, something was definitely different.

Physical contact between the two was that of normality; just as it was a necessity to be spiritually linked. Being a cuddly person herself, Maka was no stranger in initiating or being on the receiving end of a friendly hug, a comforting touch and a chaste kiss upon the cheek.

Nevertheless, the way his intense gaze was taking in her made her heart stop.

"Wouldn't want my technician to crack open her head," even worse, coupled with his deep chuckles, the white-haired male was also giving her that look; the type of apprehension that her partner only reserved before every battle. "That just wouldn't be cool." It intensified her discomfort ten-folds as unanswered questions extensively emerged. He was fighting for something...but what?

With crimson eyes flashing knowingly at the slightly flustered female – who had confusion written all over her face – Soul escorted the petite woman towards his bike; purposely choosing to not comment on her tense shoulders as well as the rigid sequence in her movement.

Never loosening his grip secured around her slim waist, the conspiring young male whispered darkly into her ear for the one last time – making it finally official.

It was now the time to pounce.

And she wasn't going to stand a chance.

"…Watch your step, now," a breath of a warning; the calm before the storm.

He was just getting started.

Step 2: Getting rid of the distractions

The rhythmic sound of the clock was intently hypnotic, to say the least.

Roughly toweling himself dry, the white-haired male made his way towards the living room –not even bothering to put on a shirt.

But when crimson orbs landed upon the petite female draped carelessly across the couch, a thick book evidently placed in her hands, the Scythe Demon instantly plopped himself above the pleasing figure – relishing in the comforting scent of vanilla.

And as soon as his head lay cushioned on her lap, Soul could practically feel the tension dissipate from his strained muscles.

Unknown to the relaxed male, however, his lean, taut structure was causing contrary sensations of internal havoc to another – the sinuous appeal of the half-naked male ultimately causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand in anticipation.

"Ugh, you're still wet; you idiot." The low murmurs emerged from behind the elaborate book cover.

Purposely using the suddenly-not-so-interesting thesis on the 'Pragmatic Compatibility between Two Separate Wavelengths' to conceal her warm cheeks; the pretty technician sharply inhaled in a bid to fully compose herself.

"And you're still studying." Her partner countered just as easily. "I say, we're just about even."

Very much used to their friendly banters, the emerald-eyed beauty huffed in feigned annoyance; only to end up giggling in amusement as half-lidded eyes coupled with a mock-glare looked up from her lap.

But noticing for the very first time the rigid fixture of his shoulder and back, the short-tempered meister exclaimed as she placed her book down.

"Why are you so tense?" Swiftly forcing the protesting male to rotate on his stomach, the equally stubborn technician began working through the knots; oblivious to the consequence of having both her bare legs positioned in such a suggestive manner.

Almost squirming uncomfortably, Soul refrained from tossing the innocent woman to the ground and show her exactly why he was so tense.

But when those skilled hands gently slid down the length of his back; all coherent thought went straight out the window.

His chest rumbled in satisfaction, the white-haired male focusing instead on the exquisite sensations created by this amazing female.

It was absolute bliss and he-

"Nya! I want a massage too, Maka!"

And he seriously needed to get rid of the distractions.

Step 3: Subtle advances

"I like your scent."

"Get back. I can handle this myself."

"Nice panties. Might I suggest a little more lace?"

"Because you're my technician, that's why."

"…You're mine, Maka Albarn."

Step 4: Next contestant

Death the Kid had gotten very good at suppressing his compulsive urges.

The obsessive perfectionist could remain in control for a whole period of five minutes before exploding into a heap of mess when his orderly symmetrical world was messed around with.

Nevertheless, it did not mean that the after effect was any better.

"Must you destroy Shibusen every time someone asks Maka out on a date?" The utter frustration was drawled out in a threatening manner.

Golden eyes glinted in an unpleasing manner at another case of stone pillars being demolished – creating blatant imperfections that stuck out like a sore thumb. Three more minutes...

"…That piece of shit." The white-haired weapon snarled at the retreating figure of the mentioned low-life who was visibly battered and bruised for the worst. It was no surprise as to why he was considered the strongest weapon of the century. Crimson orbs flashed dangerously as the extension of his blade blazed in uncontrollable fury.

After all, the little fucker had crossed the line when he had advanced into feverishly guarded territories

The pathetic imbecile had sealed his fate when he began showing interest in what was solely his.

And no one was going to take her away from him – not a single one.

One and a half minutes

"You've got it bad, man." Blackstar remarked from the side.

But contrary to the amused tone, the flamboyant ninja wearily regarded the increasingly unstable wavelength of the Shinigami's only son; awaiting the inevitable destructive outburst. Where the heck were Patty and Liz?

…And with a deadly scream, blood exploded from every opening of the raven-haired meister as he fell lifelessly to the ground.

Times up.

Step 5: Her first kiss

"For your information, I can date who ever the hell I want!"

She was all fire and agitation – his little goddess of wrath.

"And I don't need you to act like some over-protective surrogate father."

The untamed fury ignited a different kind of angle to her beauty; stirring that familiar heat at the pit of his stomach.

"If you hadn't already noticed; the position of an insufferable, unnecessary, suffocating fatherly figure is already taken!"

Crimson eyes darkened immediately as he licked his lips at the delicious sight presented before him. Stunning, she was absolutely stunning.

"…You done?"

With that, the Scythe Demon charged forth; mercilessly crushing his firm body into hers, promptly attacking startled lips with his mouth and tongue.

Sliding eager hands down the length of soft curves, the white-haired teenager greedily took in the exquisite feel and taste of her very essence – slipping past her slightly parted lips and invading into the moist cavern of her mouth.

He relished in her stifled moans as he grinded further into her lithe form; hot, wet tongue sliding sensuously against hers.

Nipping and taunting; causing havoc with his bruising kisses…

And it was only when she arched against him, did the proud male reluctantly release those kiss-swollen lips with an approving growl.

Regarding dilated jade orbs and her breathless gasps in pure male satisfaction, Soul lovingly traced brightened cheeks as he made his final declaration.

"…This is why I have every right."

Step 6: Dinner, drinks, and a few laughs

Maka had adjusted surprisingly well.

In actual fact, she was doing splendidly.

Smokey sea-foam like eyes, the suggestive black dress draped over her like second skin, her long hair cascading down her bare back...

Not bothering to conceal his blatant appreciation, crimson orbs trailed down the length of her figure; a mischievous smirk spreading across his features.

As Soul Eater Evans leisurely fingered the champaign glass in his hand, his singular obsession was fixated upon none other than the Maka Albarn; his best friend, his object of affections for all those years, his companion, and his partner who he had thoroughly kissed not a day past.

...He would need to thank Death the Kid for this annual celebration.

Despite the fact that public functions were not his forte, this particular ceremony had been especially useful.

After all, it was all thanks to the party preparations that had finally toppled the frustrated male over the edge.

When his pretty technician had been asked out by several, worthless little scumbags to the function; the infamous combo had ended up firing bullets at each other.

In the end, he allowed his tongue to do the proper talking.

And as they say, that was that.

Draining the clear liquid in one long gulp, the white-haired male continued observing his partner who was half-heartedly conversing with Tsubaki; Blackstar's faithful weapon.

It was obvious the brown-haired teenager was equally aware of the electrifying attraction sizzling between the two as she was visibly enjoying every second of it; emerald orbs seductively glancing through dark thick lashes in a way that never failed to make his throat go dry.

The little minx.

In all truth, Soul had expected his female companion to withdraw completely after their intimate encounter.

She never shied away from making friends, whether it be of the male or female gender, and was quite the social butterfly.

But alas, the petite meister always seemed to be at a loss when people approached her with intentions of romantic interest.

Plus, the Scythe Demon had ultimately been the contributing factor by making sure to eliminate the potentially threatening competition; crushing them even before they could approach the ten meter radius of his technician.

Hence, when the pretty little creature blushed in that becoming manner of hers and blurted ''re taking me to the party right?' Soul could not hide the surprise nor the absolute rapture that consumed his entire being.

And almost immediately, the startled female had been engulfed in his arms once again.

It was like a rush of power coursing through his bloodstream, heightening every sensation; the scent of her hair, the feel of her in his arms... It did not matter that all those months of planning, and scheming had been in vain. It was of no consequence he had miscalculated her unexpectedly progressive perspective with regards to their 'relationship'.

He had anticipated at least a bit of retaliation in conjunction with a pinch of denial of the blatant connection that was evident between the two of them.

Nevertheless, her smooth acceptance had been a welcoming turn of events.

After all, Soul could think of much pleasurable activities they could engage upon with all this free time upon their hands since his technician required no further persuasion.

Inwardly chuckling at the sudden devilish thoughts, the preoccupied teenager failed to heed the mindless chatter that finally seemed to have caught up with him as a loud voice boomed from the side.

"Are you even listening to me, Soul?" The ninja exclaimed, all the while trying to swallow several spicy chicken wings in one go.

But even before the white-haired male could truthfully answer that particular question, the Shinigami-in-training beat him to it.

"Of course not, you asymmetrical imbecile," Death the Kid drawled out. "He's obviously busy flirting with his date."

Blinking rapidly at that piece of information, Blackstar gazed at the both of them in a questioning manner. His date? But he came with Maka, how the hell did he-

"...I think I'll go ask my date for a dance." Smirking at the realisation gradually seeping into his slow friend, Soul placed the empty crystal glass on the buffet table; awaiting the inevitable outburst.

And never the one to disappoint, a full toothy grin devoured the flamboyant teenager as he presented the smirking fool with a hearty slap on the back.

"About fucking time, congrats man!" This was followed by a supplementary comment; a rare occurrence of two rivals agreeing with one another. Freaky. "I agree. It was long overdue."

Snorting at their choice of words, the Scythe Demon discarded the obnoxious pair as he leisurely made his way through the crowded arena.

Ever the quick one, Tsubaki was no where in sight by the time he reached his destination; only to find emerald eyes gazing expectedly into crimson ones.

"Hey," his deep voice offered.

"Hey there, stranger." She affirmed.

And her deceivingly soft hand was placed on top of his calloused one; both ending up in the middle of the dance floor swaying to the familiar jazz melody. The stress of being with an unfamiliar crowd and the possibility of having to converse with complete strangers were forgotten as soon as the pliant woman in his arms leaned against his shoulder; the top of her head lightly brushing against the junction of his neck.

The taller of the two visibly pleased at the tantalising scent of vanilla that surrounded his senses...

"I hope you're enjoying the party?" A content sigh followed the blatantly obvious question.

"Actually, can't wait until it's over."

The male teenager responded with a mischievous grin, looking entirely satisfied with himself as her heart-shaped face gently rose; a familiar twinkle evident in emerald orbs.

"Oh? Pray tell?" In feigned exclamation, a matching smile adorned her stunning features.

"As much as I love that dress on you," drawing her even closer to him; the next answer was whispered in a conspiring tone. "I'm certain it will look even better on the floor."

Her gleeful laughter echoed within the very depth of his being.

"Confident, aren't we?"

But it was the next set of words coupled with that enticing look that had him swallowing in anticipation.

"...If you're good for the next couple of minutes, we might just leave earlier than expected."

Ah, yes.

Step 7: The final step

"Yo! Perverted old man!"

"Maka's mine."

"Always has been and always will be."

"So deal with it."