A/N's: Damn, I love this couple.

Disclaimer: I don't own it and all that jazz...

Pick Up The Pieces

In the beginning he's just a boy with white hair and big eyes.

His fingers play to a song of shadows and darkness. His suit crinkled into creases where his arms bend and stretch across the piano, a smirk the size of her fist lined across his face.

His voice is gravel climbing up his throat, "partners," he says, testing the word - and holds his hand out towards her.

She slips her fingers across his palm and watches the inch of skin peeking out from his sleeve. Up and down as their hands shake; as she puts her trust into this boy who will become a man, become her weapon.

Soul is this: boy, friend, weapon, demon scythe, partner, purpose, future, hope.

He lies on the couch; back sinking into its surface like it's swallowing him whole. Legs long and crossed one over another, hands tucked into the pocket of his jeans.

He's asleep.

His eyelashes create spider shadows on his cheeks, and she could make them scatter if she just touched the tip of her finger to his face.

She doesn't. Instead she moves to sit beside him on the small part of the couch that he isn't occupying, moving her shoulder so that it rests against the side of his head; feeling the small puff of air that's his breath heat the skin of her arm.

He's all sharp angles and stiff lines when he's mad.

Quiet, bent over and a snarl etched onto his face. He snaps if he's spoken to and more often than not can be found pacing around the dimly lit streets at night. He doesn't tell her what's the matter, keeps it buried deep inside his chest as if he's harbouring a secret. Broken inside and filled with jagged pieces.

Maka waits because it's the only thing she can do, following him gets nowhere and he'll return when he's ready; back to her, back home.

She slips her hand into his when he fills up the space in their door. Smoothes out the line of a frown on his face and waits for the anger to bleed out of him.

For as long as it takes, she will wait.

Maka doesn't believe in love.

Not the romantic kind anyway. The type that the heroines find in her books, all sweep you off your feet, swoon into a faint and make your head rush with dizziness - love.

She sees her Papa flirt with a girl, and a different one the night after that. Sees their pretty faces blushed red and painted mouths round in excitement. Their dizzy hot breaths curl around her Papa as their fingers tighten around his clothes, itching to peel them away. The way that his mouth, a straight line, hitches up at the side like it's being pulled by a string.

Distantly she remembers her Mother's disappointed face. The way her lips turned down at the corners as if they couldn't hold their own weight any longer. The way her words came out mouthed with the sound of sadness for such a long time.

True love, the romantic kind, can't possibly be true if it causes so much pain in the process and only ends in disaster.

She sits by his side when he's in the hospital. Her back straight, spine rigid and ankles crossed primly, fingers digging into the edge of her chair for a lifeline. As rattled as can be and a thousand thoughts – none of them happy and all of them a prayer - running through her head.

His chest rises up and down. "Steady." That's what she was told and she holds onto the word, digs her nails in deep so it can't get away.

There's dried blood on his wrist and trailing across his jaw line. She moves to find a cloth and brush it off his skin, eyes darting back to check on his chest every five seconds. It's then that she notices she's covered too, his blood crusted along the lining of her shirt, but that's hardly a bother, not now that it's dried.

His face crumples when she cleans it, skin pale underneath.

"Sleep," she whispers.

Stuffing the sleeve of her shirt hard against her mouth to stop the sob that threatens, and his smell seems to linger on her now, like a heavy rain filled night breathing deep into her throat, thick as rope in her mouth and as sharp as metal.

He doesn't sit next to her, but collapses boneless like a sack; invading her space with little bits of boy and weapon and Soul. He smells like rubber and hot asphalt and sweat. His hair is stuck sweaty to his forehead and his skin is slick when his bare arm curves next to hers.

She glowers and her teeth peep through the curve of her lip in a snarl. He eyes her from the corner of her vision and grins broadly.

"Don't." Maka warns him, words tight and said carefully so he hears every warning in each letter.

His arm wraps around her shoulder with practised ease and he pulls her tight against him, shoving her face into the damp of his shirt until she's laughing and shouting at him to let her go. Her fists pound against the line of his shoulder and pump against his hip; and when he finally moves to free her, his lips happen to brush against the crown of her head, his breath warm in her ear.

She wakes up in the hospital, ribs aching and skin stretched tight across her chest. There's a single flower blooming in a makeshift vase and the book she's a quarter of the way through propped up against a lamp.

Her hand is curled in Soul's and the boy is asleep, head pillowed on her bed, bruised shadows blue under his eyes.

"Soul," she whispers, voice cracking in the middle with concern and disuse.

She shakes his hand, winces and a petal falls from the flower. He's sluggish to wake; eyes still in crinkles and a smile warms on his face when he sees that it's her. "You had me worried." He brings her hand up to his lips and presses his mouth flat against her knuckles.

"Good morning."

She nods and looks out to the window where it's still pitch black and the moon hangs low.

She buys him a book one year.

Soul unwraps the paper, crinkles it into his hand and gives her a look.

"It isn't cool."

She sniffs, insulted even if she tries, badly, to hide it in the tapping of fingers against her hip. "I liked it."

He raises an eyebrow at her and opens up the first page, thumbing through the book as if he's already formed an opinion. And then to her surprise he skips back to the first page, runs his thumb along the crease and begins to read.

A week later she finds him with another book settled on his lap, fifteen pages in and no sign of stopping.

"It isn't so bad," he says, and the thank you isn't voiced, but she knows it's implied.

Soul transforms faster than anyone she's ever seen, his hot palm flat against her own before he's phasing and she's holding him steady; tight in her fist. The metal is still heated, pulsing to a point as if she's stretched her fingers right over his chest and can feel his heart beat.

Sometimes at night when she closes her fist and just before she sleeps, she can still feel it pulse quietly; a butterfly's wings against her fingertips.

Soul drinks milk out of the cartons and likes the way that cotton feels beneath his fingers.

He likes it when she peels the skin off oranges and steals the segments before she has a chance, popping them into his mouth with a lazy cat grin.

After they have a fight he comes to her swollen with apologies and the words, I'm sorry, come out rough and worn as if he's been practicing them all night long.

He sleeps with one leg hanging down, free from the covers and one hand cupped under his chin.

His mouth quirks one inch higher on the left side when he smiles.

And sometimes she wonders what it would be like to kiss him.

It all happens before she has a chance to realise...

She isn't swept off her feet so much as pushed over and shoved to the floor, an attack meant for her head, sailing high up above her. Her back scraping against grit as she slides backwards, Soul's hands digging into her arms, his fingers in her marrow.

Her head spins and it takes everything she has not to black out.

...Or maybe it was building up to this.

Sometimes she gets mad at him.

To the point where her face reddens and blood fizzes and spits. Her fingers curl into a fist and her hair hangs in her face, her arm stretches back and she throws it full force at the boy stood in front of her.

He catches her fist in his palm and pulls her shrieking against him. His chin hot as it rests against the top of her head, waiting for her breathing to calm down into something resembling normal. His voice is thick in her ear, "better now?"

She nods and doesn't notice the way her head fits into the curve of his neck, drawn for her with crayons.

She does notice the way he keeps her pressed against him, the quickening of his pulse and the way his arm moves from her back to shake out his hand.


Soul lies straight as an arrow, pale as a die.

He's swaddled in bandages and scrapes where he isn't. The smell of antiseptic lies under her nose and down into her fingernails. The taste of salt is swimming in her mouth and lining her throat, red rimmed eyes that make her vision of his lifeless self swim.

She aches all over but it's the inside that's raw.

She climbs into his bed and fits herself around him, careful to avoid any wires and padding, the cuts that still bleed and need changing on the hour. She doesn't care what the nurses said, what they think. Wrapping one slim leg around his and placing one hand against his warm cheek.

"Wake up," she whispers. Speaks. Screams.

I love you.

And it is worth it, all the pain in the process and how it will end in disaster.

Sometimes she will catch him at it.

His fingers tap and dance and move to a song she can't hear but he plays in his head. Sometimes his eyes are closed and sometimes he stares at nothing, always he is sorrow and heartache and loss.

One time he played a piece on her arm, restless fingers and a hum in his throat; her body turned to mist and tingled and she sighed when he stopped.

Maka's heart is in her throat and Soul's thumb is moving to brush over her cheek, left then right, sweeping down to brush lightly over her bottom lip.

His eyelashes flutter against her face and this is when she realises they're kissing. His lips are chapped and warm and they move with hers over and over, a perfect pattern. His hand holds her in the small of her back, fingers under her shirt, circling - and she knows that she wants it when his tongue slides into the parting of her mouth; brushing against her own.

He tastes like peppermint, she thinks, peppermint and hope.

Somewhere in between he's her boy with white hair and big eyes.

His fingers play up the line of her spine; notes of want, desire and need. His shirt rides up to reveal a layer of skin, the curve of his hip bone tantalising and angling over her until it's all she can see, his smile wide and teasing when he notices.

His voice is a dark purr in her ear, "would you just kiss me?" His hand reaches out and waits for acceptance.

Her fingers tighten around his wrist and he lifts her up to face him, his free hand moving to clutch the nape of her neck, lips meeting in the heat of a breath. Her fingers holding him as she puts everything into this boy who is her weapon, her partner, hers.

End – the first.

Edited because damn it, leave in my line breaks!

As always, comments and crit are muchly appreciated.