A/N; Recently, I watched episode 35, and I practically died from the happy. I said to myself, "Self," I said, "you need to think of something Stein/Marie to write before you explode." I thoroughly agreed with myself, but could not, for the life of me, come up with an outlet for this urge. And then I watched 36. And saw that look Stein gave our favorite one-eyed blond. (I died from happiness and wrote about it on my LJ. It was a very emotional moment.) And so here you are. Spoilers for episodes 35, 36, and chapter 40. Please enjoy and review.
Disclaimer; If I owned Soul Eater, Marie would have already seduced Stein. Unfortunately, all I own is my perverted mind and the ideas stuffed inside.
Written while listening to Dancing in the Velvet Moon, by Nana Mizuki.
42_souls table 3, theme #18: should and should not.

He had never expected to become fond.

Franken Stein was a smart man. He was insane, blunt, and unintentionally creepy, but there was no denying that he was smart. Unwilling to place himself in compromising positions like relationships that involved a scalpel-less intimacy, he preferred to observe such relationships and the people who indulged in them from afar. It had never been high on his priority list to do so, but with one such person living in his house, he could do little to help it. The woman in question, Marie Mjolnir, hardly kept to herself; a day didn't go by that Stein didn't hear some offhanded (or passionate, or implied, or forced, or joking) comment about marriage and her ideals therein.

Even when she wasn't talking about it, that light radiated from her-- the light that allowed him, or anyone looking, to read her thoughts. She was ready. She was waiting. Marie didn't hesitate to let it be known that she wanted to settle down. She wanted someone to tell her he loved her; to hold her close, call her dear, and fill her heart. It had a vacancy sign for all to see. But before she married, before she was able to retire, she was assigned to him, and she set up camp far too close to his own heart (which, unlike hers, was merely a blood-pumping organ).

It was different, for sure. Once he'd gotten past the oddness of the lights in his home being on when he returned, a smile greeting him in the center of the source of light; once he'd grown accustomed to Marie's plant growing in his kitchen, Marie's obscure, cutesy, girly magnets stuck to his refrigerator, Marie's underthings accidentally ending up in his laundry pile; once he'd adjusted to his new schedule of eating three meals a day, being expected to shower seven times a week, waking up to the sound of the front door slamming shut (and coffee, and a mysterious blanket draped over his shoulders, though he distinctly remembered falling asleep at the computer without one); even after becoming used to a new life entering so quickly, so forcefully into his own, Stein still couldn't shake off the weirdness beneath it all.

He had never needed anyone to enter his world; they were free to hang around him, to speak with him, to put their trust in him, but aside from Spirit-senpai, none had even come close to being close. He could soul resonate with any weapon; who it was didn't matter. Stein wasn't particular about people, weapons, meisters, or otherwise. And if they knew what was good for them, the feeling would be mutual.

But no one, not even Spirit, had ingrained themselves so completely into him. No one had scarred him so deeply inside. Not like Marie. He had never felt fond of anything, so it was new. It was odd. It was unexpected. He wasn't sure what to make of it. He hadn't even realized it until that moment during the whole Brew incident. Even though they had failed in their mission, Stein was changed forever. Not only had the insanity shaken him to the core, seeped through his pores, filled his very being, but... but Marie had not been afraid. Or rather, she was not afraid of him. She had been afraid for him. But even that fear had not won out against her fear for the lives of her students. For an assignment, he noticed, she had certainly become attached.

The idea was almost foreign to him. Foreign, but expected. This was Marie, after all.

Upon thinking such a thing while watching her clutch the children in a death-like grip relief, her anxiety all but washing out of her, Stein realized a few things.

One: he knew Marie. It hadn't been an 'I'm so well acquainted with this person that I can tell what type of person she is based on the action she takes' type of knowledge. It had been the 'of course I knew she would do this. She's been wedging herself into my focus for months, and I can't escape her' type.

Two: he was smiling. It wasn't a smirk. It wasn't a grin spawned by the insanity festering inside of him. It was a smile of --and try as he might, he could not find a different, more-suited-to-a-person-like-himself, term-- fondness. He felt the smile, small as it was, in the center of his very soul. For a moment, he felt the insanity pause, and wondered if it was just her calming aura.

This woman, who had been his support even if he could never be hers, who left shopping lists on sticky notes stuck to his forehead in the morning, who spoke of marrying his shower head, was stirring something foreign in Dr. Franken Stein, and he wasn't quite sure he was ready for it.

According to his observations, people who felt things like this tended to feel them fall around their ears in the end. It was not the way Stein wanted to go. Indulging in this (whatever it was) would not work. He knew that, even if he initiated something, and even if she responded, and even if (somehow) they were able to share a brief moment of happiness, Stein could never give Marie what she wanted. It seemed that the fondness was proving true; more than he wanted to know why he felt this way, her tears, fresh in his memory, reminded him that he wanted much more for her to be happy.

Unselfish thoughts were also foreign to him. He was, once more, unable to form logical thoughts on the matter.

Perhaps if he ignored the fondness long enough, it would disappear. Certainly, if he waited, eventually he would be free of Marie, and she would go off without the attachment, find a good husband, and live out the rest of her days without a partner who could not keep himself from going insane at the slightest lowering of his guard.

So he would wait. Feelings faded. He would suppress them so far inside that they could not reach him, and it would be the same.

On the lamb with Marie, he had all the time in the world to perfect the freezing of his heart. It would not be hard. The hard part had been on her; melting it.

The insane professor looked out the window of their hotel room. The moon grinned back at him from above. With a silent breath he turned his head toward the Mjolnir woman who slept on the bed beside him; it was their last night with enough money for an inn, and all they could afford was a single bed.

"Starting now," he murmured, pulling the shared blanket further up her shoulders, "you will be nothing but a comrade to me, and you will walk away unscathed."

He would never be worth her tears, and assuming that she didn't feel this fondness, out of duty, for him, his plan would work.

Because she didn't.

She shouldn't.

She couldn't...

Oh dear.

Stein had found another loose string in this web of feeling. What a troublesome, unfitting puzzle. Things were so much easier when he just didn't care.