Disclaimer: SOUL EATER is NOT mine. There. As for this story, I am having as much fun as I can making their relationship unfold. Inspiration is needed, so please-review. Many thanks!
2014 Update: I have been re-editing and checking some of the loopholes and plot holes and whatnots. Hopefully I got all of them. This was fun—I never realized how much fun it could be rediscovering why I wrote this—I'm actually wonder more about "how" I wrote this bloody thing. Dayam—my imagination back then must've been on hyperdrive.
Truce, Tea & Trust
What would I do without your smart mouth?
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
Got my head spinning, no kidding, I can't pin you down
What's going on in that beautiful mind?
I'm on your magical mystery ride
And I'm so dizzy, don't know what hit me, but I'll be alright
- John Legend, "ALL OF ME"
It was only a matter of time before he expects her to break the growing silence between them. Calculating the exact moment wasn't a hardship for anyone who has spent years living with one Maka Albarn. Like everything else in her meticulous rule-bound existence, even my Meister's bout with curiosity follows a predetermined and quite predictable set of protocols. Once those have been met, he could look forward to her plan of attack. Maka never tackles issues quite the same way. Some she deals with her shouts and then her fists and if that doesn't work then she settles for a well-aimed signature 'Maka-chop ®'. Some she tries to finesse her way into with subtle questionings and logical thought. It would be interesting to find out what she plans on doing this time around.
Thankfully the night seemed to have run its course as far as adventure and excitement goes and they've managed to reach their apartment without any other undue incident. He was looking forward to a quiet nightcap in the relative privacy of his room and perhaps an hour or two playing out his tension.
He walked into their kitchen intent upon beginning what amounted to his tested and proven technique for unwinding after a particularly stressful day—a good old-fashioned cup of java. And yes, normally that would usually be a day spent fighting monsters and bad guys but the tonight he battled an emasculated he-barbie and that's certainly worse than anything with fangs, spikes, slime or even screechy wailings. He would take on monsters and ghoulies and things that call to mind heebie-jeebies than another whiny, manipulative spoiled spawn of privilege.
He noted absently that Maka had, in the time it took him to reach the kitchen, quietly slipped into her room to change out of her evening finery into something billowy, thick and comfortable. That too was part of their post-mission, evening routine—shorts and sleeveless tees during the hot summer months; muumuus during the cooler temperate months. When she emerged after a few minutes clad in what he privately dubbed as her "Wendy Darling-meets-Grandma Moses" nightgown, he didn't bother hiding the grin that threatened to split his face in half. The sight of her—ash-blonde hair down and just brushed, face freshly washed and sleepy-eyed—settled something inside of him that just thrummed with the feelings of safety and succor.
Wordlessly he held out a thin, delicate bone china cup, faint tendrils of steam rising from the perfectly brewed jasmine tea. Maka gave him a soft smile—one reserved only for him and after a few sips released a heartfelt sigh. Soul dropped unceremoniously into the couch and waited for Maka to settle next to him in their customary pose—him leaning back against cushions while she sat on the opposite end and placed her feet on his knees. Absently he traced the elegant arches of her feet, massaging unconsciously the smooth silky soles.
"Is something wrong?" she asked looking down into her cup. Soul held out his hand for the cup and with a graceful twist of his wrist placed the cup beside him on one of the coffee tables placed in their living room. He deliberated for a few minutes before sighing in resignation. Burrowing more comfortably against the cushions, he decided it was time they got this conversation out of the way.
"Why are you asking?"
She gave him one of those looks that normally graced her gaze whenever a problem would present itself and it's the kind that she normal finds puzzling and fascinating at the same time. Like a situation that she never assumed would ever take place and just did.
"Because you normally don't provoke random fights just for the heck of it. You're the one who couldn't be bothered to get in on a fight unless there was something in it for you or you no longer had a choice in the matter. Starting a brawl—that's usually Black Star's thing. "
"Black Star would agree with you there."
She snorted and shook her head in resignation, "Much to Tsubaki-chan's every growing frustration but I swear that woman is a saint. And don't think for single second that you're diverting my attention Soul. You haven't answered my question yet."
"Thought it was something to do…" he deadpanned, baiting her but Maka only wriggled her toes in protest.
"As if I'd believe that." She snorted. "You were on security duty. Since when do you prefer that kind of assignment? You used to say they're troublesome, bothersome chores better left to the students."
Soul sighed, running his hand along the sides of Maka's feet, tracing each toe as he deliberated. "Felt like it."
Apparently his Meister's patience finally reached the limit. She seldom uses that tone if and when she could avoid it. There were few reasons for her to use it since Soul was usually not so reticent about airing his thoughts—both unwanted and needed.
"I don't think I want to, so no."
Maka groaned in frustration and gave him a small kick from her bare foot. Soul merely pinched the soft ankle and refused to let her other foot go. "Why not?"
"Don't want to." came the flippant reply. He pushed her feet off his knees and as she looked up to him, he bent down from the waist and lifted her into his arms easily. A surprised yelp emerged from her lips at the unexpected move.
He continued as if she never made a sound of protest. He walked past the light switches and flicked them off without a word as he headed towards Maka's bedroom. Gaining entrance with barely a push against her door, he tucked her under the downy quilt and straightened up with a modicum of graceful movements.
"Won't you tell me what's bothering you? I want to help." she asked softly as she clutched at her favorite pillow, a habit known only to Soul and shared between them just like the baby grand that they kept in one of their rooms—tucked out of sight.
"I know, but it's nothing Maka. Trust me. Just a letter from home."
Soul knew that as far as questionings go, that would be the end of it. Part of the reason they worked so well and Maka suited him so beautifully was the fact that Maka understood barriers more than anyone else in Death City. No one else, not another person in Soul's life understood him half as well as Maka Albarn in spite of their worlds-apart upbringing.
Not knowing why he did what he did, he followed instincts and settled atop the quilt, shooing Maka to scoot to the other side of her bed to give him enough room to stretch out. Pillowing his head on his crossed arms; he stared at Maka's ceiling and tried to figure out how to begin and what exactly he ought to tell her. The downside to not being asked and poked and questioned was that now, he had absolutely no idea where to start and so he decided to simply wing it.
"I never told you how I ended up in Death City, did I?"
Maka stared at him for a minute before shaking her head slowly, "No…"
"How come you never asked?"
He watched as she shifted on her bed, pulled a pillow this way and that, gave it a few punch before settling peaceably against it and after a sigh and a small yawn, she replied, her voice soft in the cool softly lit confines of her room.
"It was information for you to share. I thought if you didn't want to share then I have no right to demand that from you."
"I'm your weapon. We live together. Some would say those things give you more than a right."he pointed out but Maka just lifted a shoulder and shrugged.
"It's your past. You never bothered to tell me what a screw-up my family is for being how and what we are. I never even gave you fair warning about my father. I just thrust you into it and prayed that it wouldn't drive you insane. The least I could do was let you keep a few parts of yourself private and sane."
"Your family isn't really all that bad you know…"
"You say this now after all the times you've been with my Papa?"
"Oh, well, now that you mentioned it…"he grinned. He was about to tease her when he noticed that her eyes have turned a bit darker and she was looking at his hands with an unreadable look on her face. He gave her a short poke on her side and watched the surprise flare briefly in her eyes. "What's with the serious look, Tiny Tits?"
"I told you not to call me that a million times already."
"Tell me when you've reached a billion and then I might consider it. For now, spill what's giving you that constipated look you're sporting right now."
She gave him another one of those searching looks she was always good at—the kind that he would bet money on could see all the way past all his cool codes and bullshit and just see through him. It was a familiar look that he has never failed to intrigue him even after all the years they've lived together.
"Soul, earlier, what do you mean it's a letter from home?"
He found himself reaching back and rubbing the back of his head in chagrin. "Just like I told you—a letter arrived a few days ago. It was something I never thought I would ever live to see. Not that I kept it a secret where I was going or anything like that but it was like an unspoken thing between me and my family that they wouldn't try to take any active interest in my life here." He sighed and for a moment he didn't know how to go on. He looked at his Meister, seeking death-god knows what from her deep emerald eyes. Whatever it is he saw settled something deep inside of him and he continued on, " So, I went out and sought a place to live the way I was meant to and they saw to it that they kept themselves well away. It was a good compromise between us and it's worked pretty well for the past few years. I'm just—surprised, I guess, as to why they decided to contact me now. "
"Your family didn't want you to come here?" she asked softly, hesitation and hurt clear in her voice and he sought for the words to soothe her. No matter what he was feeling now—he didn't want Maka to feel badly about whatever issue he had with his erstwhile family. He reached out once more, this time to brush back the soft ash-blonde bangs that concealed part of her eyes from his gaze.
"I don't think they even know where 'here' is. But more than that I didn't want to live my life the way they wanted me to. My family is different Maka."
"So is mine."she pouted stubbornly and he found himself giving in to impulse and tweaked her nose before rubbing his fist across one velvety cheek his gaze noting absently the faint rose that washed briefly along his Meister's usually pale skin.
"At least you were born here. You were born understanding THIS world and never spent so much as moment considering that you were a freak for being what you are." He muttered, startled to hear the faintest edge of bitterness lacing his voice. It surprised him to realize how much he still resented their denials and manipulations during his earlier life.
"Are you saying your family thought of you as a freak?"
Maka's voice was raised in indignation, unknowingly soothing and calming some part of him and his soul, hearing her words and knowing that at least here was one person who was just as indignant on his behalf as he felt during those early years.
"It doesn't really matter now, you know. It hasn't mattered to me since I got here and started studying in Shibusen. As far as I know, it was the best thing that ever happened to me."
"But they are family."
"Family?" he snorted indelicately, "As far as I'm concerned Maka, for me, you're my family. You've been my family since we became partners. To some extent people in Shibusen are my true relatives. I don't think anyone else could understand…Maybe Black Star is the only one who shares the same fate. I mean he was adopted by Shinigami-sama after the massacre of his clan…he has no one."
"You're wrong. Soul, it's not true that you have no one. You have me. Soul—don't you see? You have me. "
"I know about Black Star's clan. I know how difficult it was for him to overcome centuries of prejudice. Look around you Soul…all our friends bear some scar or another. Weapon and Meister alike. Almost all of us here had to forge our own bonds. Our own family—"
"Kid has family to call his own."
"Kid has a father whom he can't claim because his father's duties tie him down—literally to the world. Kid had no one for the longest time. All he had was his OCD and his inability to sacrifice symmetry for the mundane ordinary things in life. The twins never had respectability until he gave that to them and the security of a home they can call their own."
"Guess you're right. I suppose now that I think about it—I'm more like Tsubaki in that sense…living under the shadows cast by a talented sibling."
"You have siblings?'
"Yeah. A brother. He was a musical genius. Everyone expected me to be just like him. No one expected me to be like this. I guess I couldn't cut it as a pianist for them."
"But aren't you a brilliant pianist Soul? I mean, I don't know what they expected from you but no one can make a piano sing the way you do…I always thought you were a certifiable genius when it comes to the piano."
Soul gave a soft chuckle and pulled on a lock of Maka's bright hair, twining the locks around his long fingers. "I know I should be flattered and all but believe me I was nothing compared to my brother. The musical world worshipped at his feet. For me—it's a tall order to follow him. And then came the fact that I was born like this."
"Like what? You look fine to me."
"To you, yes. To you and those born here in Death City, a human transforming into a weapon is a perfectly normal thing. To those of us who came from different backgrounds—the reality is that were considered little more that freaks and throwbacks. A genetic blip with an unfortunate physiological quirk."
"Sorry dear, but that's the truth."
The endearment slipped from his lips without conscious effort and Maka barely noticed as she concentrated on the strange flow of information flowing freely from Soul for the first time since they met.
"Seems entirely idiotic to me. How can people be so cruel?"
"That which is unusual is usual viewed with skepticism, fear or loathing. It's basic human nature."
"Ugh. Stupid idiotic neaderthals." Maka wriggled until she could lift one corner of her quilt to enfold her moody partner. Soul gave her a grateful smile before settling more comfortably in her bed, grabbing at a pillow and stretching an arm to wrap around her shoulders.
"My words exactly." Soul shifted a bit until Maka squirmed and turned to find a more comfortable pose. A few minutes later, he noticed the slow deepening of her breath and a soft sniffling sound. He was about to close his eyes when Maka spoke once more.
"What's the letter all about? Who was it from?" she murmured sleepily.
"It came from the Main Family. They wanted me to come back home."