Art of Mediating

There was a big commotion somewhere in the large maze of hallways in Shibusen. People were being loud and obnoxious, getting in the way of one Maka Albarn's book reading.

This obstacle presented quite a large annoyance to said girl, to which fact the pulsing veins on her forehead were clear evidence. She grinded her teeth and her book shook in her trembling hands.

"Arrrgh, darn it! What in Shinigami-sama's name is this racket?! You can't tell whether there are students in here or barbarians!" she roared in her displeasure, successfully drawing the attention of her classmates still in the room during recess.

"Cheh; some small people trying to act big by making a ruckus – they don't even hold a candle to this big me!" Black Star threw in though no one had cared enough about what he had had to say. But Soul knew that it was the guy's way of saying he wasn't very happy about the uproar either.

"Jeesh, people these days. I know that it's good to have competitive spirit but theirs is going a bit too far with it… That's just too uncool," the white-haired weapon complained, scratching his head noncommittally.

Among the small friend group was the only amount of silence that could be had in the classroom during the recess period. What was more surprising was that the lack of any continuation to their rants was what drew Maka's attention from her resumed reading.

"That was weird – I thought Tsubaki-chan was going to defend those low-lives like she always does but it doesn't seem she's here to begin with…" Maka said in an almost lamenting tone. She had probably been looking forward to admonishing the older girl for always being on the side of those their friend group had taken upon themselves to badmouth.

Black Star, who had been laying back in his chair in his typical pose – feet on the desk, hands crossed behind his head, lazily cracked an eye open in interest at his attention being directed towards his partner's whereabouts.

Soul face faulted at his meister's antics.

"Will you start listening to people when they talk to you? Seriously… She told you guys she was going to freshen up in the washroom just a few minutes ago! Do neither of you ever listen to anyone?" Soul chastised his fellow technicians but neither of them looked really repentant for their lack of attention span.

Black Star's other eye cracked open as well, his eyebrows knitting together.

"She sure is taking a lot of time for just going to the bathroom," he noted to no one in particular, probably not even intending for anyone to hear.

"You really have no idea about those things, do you?" Soul rebutted him, cocking an eyebrow at him. "Girls take more time with these things than we do, so—"

"It's because I have a very good idea what might be taking her so long that I'm asking, damn it…" Black Star muttered to himself this time, not even waiting for Soul to finish his retarded explanations on female behavior before getting up from his seat and shoving his hands in his pockets. "I'll go see what those small fries are going on about – their bickering is giving me a headache unfit for a man who has surpassed God," he then said for everyone to hear, setting a course for the room's exit.

Maka and Soul sweat-dropped almost simultaneously. They hadn't been aware when exactly had been the time that their boasting friend had already achieved his dream of surpassing the deities.

In a hallway very nearby Crescent Moon class there was a large group of gathered students – technicians and weapons alike – cluttered around a squabbling pair, who looked very nearly ready to jump each other and tear one another limb from limb if the looks on their faces were any indication.

"I'm warning you one last time, Fred – take what you said back and apologize or I'm going to smash your ugly head in!" one infuriated teenager began, inching closer to his antagonist, the sole thing keeping him from launching at the other boy the slightly outstretched feminine hand in his direction.

"Why should I have to apologize to the spawn of a witch?" the other parried with as much malignance in his tone as the first. Another gentle feminine hand softly settled on his shoulder in a pacifying way, successfully—for the time being, at least—making the boy cool off a bit from his murderous intents towards the guy in front of him.

"Now, now, boys, no need for name-calling and bitterness," Tsubaki – ever the mediator in fights, even in ones that did not concern her in any way – placated smoothly, trying her best to stop the quarrel from escalating into a bloody fist-fight. "Can't we all just calm down and talk this out civilly? We're all Shibusen students so we should support one another, right?"

Cold sweat was rolling in droplets down her back and the sides of her face. She hated misunderstandings of any sort and she did all in her might to really get everyone to get along most of the time, but that didn't make her feel any better while preventing bloodbaths any. After all, any moment they could—

"And who the hell are you and who invited you to butt your goody-two-shoes face in this, huh?" the one called Fred reared in on her, channeling his anger at the one closest to him.

—start venting their frustrations at her for trying to be the buffer and things could get really ugly…

Tsubaki began sweating bullets at the way this guy she'd never even seen before was now glaring deathly daggers at her. She suddenly wished she had never intervened in the first place.

"Uh, umm…" she began pitifully, which seemed to only fuel both young men in turning on her.

"Yeah, who the hell asked you to interfere, huh? Don't you know not to stick your neck in other people's business, eh?!"

Uh-oh, this was definitely not good. They were both looking quite blood-thirsty and the direction of the situation had taken a turn for something really bad in a really short amount of time.

"Well, uh, you see, that is…" the girl shrunk back, appalled by the idea that she'd have to resort to violence for self-defense pretty soon if things kept going the way they were.

"I'm gonna teach ya something good, missy—" Fred began, grabbing Tsubaki by the shoulder in a very ungentlemanly way which made her wince and inch back some more, clutching her eyes tightly shut in dread of what was surely going to come soon, "—so listen closely—"

Just as the Natsukasa daughter thought she was really going to get it—because she refused to use force on her fellow Shibusen students—for being nice enough to try to prevent a verbal fight from becoming a physical one, the self-righteous speech of the more violent one was cut short, his words dying in his throat for whatever reason. What was even more inexplicable was that even his rough hand, previously clutching her delicate shoulder hard enough to bruise later, had now left her.

Tsubaki looked around to see what could've caused this sudden change of attitude but she didn't manage to see quite far for a very familiar back was blocking her view of her assailant.

Taking in her surroundings, the girl realized that the temperature in the hallway might as well have dropped a couple of dozen degrees from just a minute ago.

"I suggest you keep your filthy little paws to yourself, you sorry excuse for a human being." The whole school was so used to seeing Black Star roaring idiocies in front of everyone in a boastful, merry voice for such a long time so when the group cluttered around the scene heard him say those words in the lowest and coldest of tones possible, the threat in them couldn't have been more obvious. "That is, if you want to keep them."

Black Star had had a feeling this would be where he'd find her. In the midst of a pair of imbeciles, trying to play the mediator and getting caught in the cross-fire in the end. But shoving his way through the throng of people and seeing that moron—with an existence so puny that a big man like himself had never even seen his ugly mug before—with his moronic hand grabbing Tsubaki like he had… The azure-haired teen hadn't wasted even a breath before catching that guy by the dirty limb that was manhandling his partner, successfully cutting all blood supply to said extremity, and removing it from her vicinity.

The crowd around had fallen completely silent, feeling acutely the newfound tension in the air that the arrival of the boisterous youth had brought on. The two guys previously squabbling were the ones to shrink back this time, realizing the mistake they had made in turning in on that particular girl.

The look this guy that was her partner was now giving them was positively murderous and absolutely chilling.

"And I'll be the one doing the teaching here." The two boys swallowed dryly, their throats suddenly constricted. "I'll teach you how to turn on the person who's trying to keep your sorry asses from getting in trouble."

He cracked his knuckles meaningfully and the recipients of his oncoming wrath paled like sheets.

"You seem itching for a fight, so I'll be nice and be your opponent. I'll grind into your bodies since your heads are too thick to understand words just how badly it can hurt when you make a wrong judgement call." He bared his teeth at them, positively scaring even the bystanders in the throng around the four of them. "Just don't expect me to go easy on you just because you're a lower form of life because when I'm done with you guys, not even your mommies will be able to recognize your despicable mugs."

The offenders—having finally summoned some leg-power after their initial petrifaction—didn't need any more invitation to scurry off and run for their dear lives. Most of the crowd also hurried off in all sorts of directions before the attention of the positively moody Black Star could be turned on them.

Tsubaki blinked self-consciously after the people surrounding them had diminished to just a few stray souls who were unaware of what class they had been on their way to before coming to see what the commotion had been about. During that whole time, her meister had had his back facing her and she could feel the waves of tension still emanating thickly off of him.

It was really rather fascinating when you considered it this way – she knew perfectly well what to say or do when she had to soothe some stranger's temper but she never really got the hang of placating the person closest to her in moments like these.

"Black Star…" she began uncertainly, entirely unclear what she was going to say before actually saying it. Improvising had never been her forte, so this was probably not going to end well… "There was really no need to be so extreme about this—"

Her reasoning was cut off when her technician turned around to smother her mid-sentence with the most intense look he'd had in a while. There was such a tight tangle of such strong emotions in those dark, emerald eyes of his that it cut all her acquittals short.

"What were you thinking, coming between brain-dead hormonally driven morons, Tsubaki?" he chided, putting his fists on his hips as he did so. "Did you have a death wish or something? I know you don't like to see folks fighting but sometimes you should really just let them go at it so they can move on. And before you land yourself in a hospital or something."

He'd been worried about her. Because Shibusen was home to some of the strongest, deadliest of weapons and weapon technicians in the whole world.

She smiled lopsidedly and clasped her hands together behind her back under his close scrutiny.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I had the whole situation under control, but then you decided to interfere just as I was handling it smoothly," she said in her mischievous tone.

Black Star face-faulted and barely resisted the urge to slap his forehead.

"You're just… ugh, I don't care anymore, do whatever you want," he grumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets and turning his back to her again, heading back towards the direction he had come from. "Let's just get back to class – this kind of petty squabble was really unbecoming of a man of my big stature…"

He trudged on moodily with his partner tailing him, muttering something to himself all the while.

Tsubaki had thought she had perfected the art of mediating to flawlessness. She could say the exact words to make someone stop their misdeed in their tracks, she knew exactly how to handle delicate situations when people were just about to snap and she knew very well how to make tension dissipate.

She had just never thought that Black Star would demean himself enough to lower his "big self" to dealing with the problems of the "small people" and their squabbles.

And it flattered her endlessly he had done so just out of concern for her well-being.

The young woman smiled brightly, her fair cheeks dusting with color in her delight.

"Hey, Black Star?"

"What?" the addressed adolescent grunted disinterestedly.

"Thank you for coming to get me."

He did not reply to that and from her vantage point from slightly behind him Tsubaki could only see him take a hand out of his pocket and ruffle his cerulean spikes clumsily, mumbling something incoherent to himself as he strode on. Her smile widened and she caught up with him, beaming at his disgruntled expression.

For all the effort Black Star exerted in putting up a disinterested front, he was really skillful in the art of mediating when he wanted to be.

And that was usually when it really counted.

A/N: And that is it. The first real thing I have written in months. It was intended as a drabble. You are witness to what it ended up being. I like the premise of my stories to be practically set in stone and that will probably be my downfall. And at any rate, I feel really incompetent when it comes to my writing lately, so some gentle constructiveness might do me some good, guys… T.T

I plan to make a lot of drabbly chapters to this one—each almost a stand alone project, most will probably not even make any sense chronologically—since this is my attempt to re-enter the world of Soul Eater fanfiction. xD Therefore opinions are very strongly encouraged because I'm really, really unsure about my ability to portray any of my favorite characters lately.