Usual disclaimers apply ;D Enjoy your read people~!
A voice tsk'ed, the sound echoing hollowly. "Unfortunate."
A cold voice sniggered. "What else? Go catch some more, you idiot."
A gruff voice chuckled darkly. A sound of a clap echoed, then some shuffling, as if dry palm skin were rubbed together. "Gotcha."
"What do you mean I can't go!?" Kiel wailed as he tailed behind Maka and Soul's moving forms. "Can't this be my first mission with you!?" This question, or possible beg, was directed at Maka.
Soul remained silent even though he was quite ready to reprimand the knife weapon. But he was quite thankful that Kiel had not told anyone about what he had obviously heard at their apartment the other day. He's at least paying the runt back by letting him have his way without any snide comments from him. Even if it was just for one day.
Maka sighed as she turned around to face the bronze haired boy, Soul stopping a few feet behind her as a late reaction. Her hand went straight to her hip as the other ruffled her bangs in a sort of frustrated gesture. "Look, I'm sorry Kiel...But you're first mission should be exterminating pre-kishin. This mission is just to go and...get some information from someone we know." Her voice held a reassuring tone.
"Can't I come?" The boy pleaded, exasperated. Finally, he turned to Soul, pleading to him as well for a reason he couldn't fathom. Hell, he wasn't the kid's temporary meister. Why ask him? So his reply was nothing but a shrug, his crimson eyes communicating powerlessness.
"Sorry, Kiel. But I'll definitely bring you along next time." Maka said, apologizing to Kiel with hand gestures. "It's just that...we're going somewhere...Soul knows." Here she looked at Soul.
Soul sighed and yet again shrugged in nonchalance. Try as he might, he still dreaded this oncoming mission. Why the hell did he agree to go back to the Evans residence again?
Three hours earlier. 11:23 am.
Maka and Soul entered Shinigami-sama's large and odd room as ordered by Sid at the start of the day. Something urgent, he had said.
As they passed the towering guillotine gates and exited the last one, Soul saw the form of Stein and Spirit talking to Shinigami's mirror image. The said red head so suddenly perked up as if something was detected on his internal radar.
His Internal Maka Radar.
Turning swiftly, the man stared towards the pair with googly eyes and started the expected dance-charge towards his 'dear daughter' with a battle cry of "MAKAAAAAA~!". Soul could've laughed at Maka's livid expression but was stopped as he heard the loud cracking of bone as book met with cranium. The red haired Death Scythe flew off and hit one of the tomb stone like decorations that marked the edge of the cornerless room.
"Excellent," Stein commented dryly as he flipped through some pieces of paper that he held in his hand.
"Maka-chan! Soul-kun! Welcome!" Shinigami waved them to come closer and it allowed Soul to take a peek at what the stitched up professor was reading through.
"Hello, hello, Shinigami-sama," Maka greeted quite cheerfully as if the earlier greeting hadn't happened. "What did you call us here for?"
"This." Stein reached out to hand out the pieces of paper to Maka. On top of the pile was a small photo. A...white diamond?
Maka flipped through the booklet like thing almost the same way as Stein had done only a few minutes ago. "I...can't read it. It's all too scribbly." Looking to Soul, she handed it to him in the hope that he might be able to decode it.
Strangely, the scribbles that Maka mentioned looked so familiar to him. It was pulling at a memory and he knew that he recognized the scrawl. But from where?
Flipping to one last page, Soul found out exactly why he recognized it and immediately shoved it back to Stein.
"As I thought," Stein commented with a grin, his glasses hiding the sly look in his eyes as he retrieved the now scattering pieces of paper. "Soul recognizes the unreadable scrawl, correct? What does it say?"
Maka looked to Soul with a puzzled glance, and at that moment, he had the greatest urge to grab at her hand and just leave the room. He had a bad feeling about what they were going to request of them. But he stood his ground, shoving his hands into his pockets rather angrily.
"I can't read that guy's writing. I can recognize it, yeah, but read it, no. Sorry I can't help." His apology sounded more like sarcastic than sincere, a scowl now fixed on his features, diverting it away from the probing gazes of both Maka and Stein.
With a sidelong glance, he found Maka's questioning looks directed at Stein, asking a quiet question to him yet not speaking herself.
"Charles Evans can read this right?" Stein said with a grin, just like how a sadist would. Soul grunted at the mention of the name and he noticed realization lighting up his partner's eyes. "So unfortunate that we are unable to read this...It would do so much to have more knowledge on this subject since its the only clue left as to how important that stolen black diamond was."
Soul glared at him. That sadistic professor. He had the strangest hunch...that what he's going to ask of them was...
"Maka-chan, you don't mind accompanying Soul to the Evans residence to talk to his father, right?" Stein was grinning as he requested, as if he knew how much this would torture Soul. Did the professor somehow hold a grudge against the white haired weapon. He hadn't offended him in anyway whatsoever. So why the hell is he doing this!?
Maka looked to him with a careful glance. She knew how much Soul hated his family links. And, oh hell, if she went...then she'd meet with...her.
And then, it would become a chance for their mother to just clutch at them and never release. A chance to force the marriage onto them.
Not that it was a bad idea anymore.
"She won't be accompanying me since I won't be going." Soul stated firmly, glaring into Stein's grey eyes.
Stein, who now held a frown on his face, only shrugged. "Fine. Maka? Would you still go?"
"Uh..." she looked to Soul as if asking for permission. And it was his chance. Maka should NOT go there.
He begged. With his eyes, he begged her not to go. But he could see from her own green eyes the hesitation – did she actually want to go?. So, with a large and breathy exhale, he voiced out a command. His beg. "Don't go Maka."
"Soul...I don't really think it would be that bad." Augh! Traitor... And there was no way in hell that he'd let her go alone. So he shook his head, convincing her for a second time to back out from the mission. "If you don't want to go, Soul, it's alright. I can handle it alone."
Why dammit!? Had she forgotten!? Is she stupid as to sacrifice herself to his carnivorous (figuratively speaking, of course) mother!? She'll be eaten alive!!
Through gritted teeth, Soul dragged out. "Maka. Have you forgotten? That thing..."
Slowly, she tipped her head to the side, figuring out what Soul was trying to say. "That?" And then her eyes widened in awareness, her mouth forming an "O". Of course he was talking about the arrangement. No one else apart from them, and probably Kiel, knows about what his family had trapped the pair in and he wasn't about to just tell the three in the room about it.
Spirit was there...and Soul will be murdered if the red head knew about the supposed marriage between them.
Thank the gods. She'll back out now, he thought to soothe himself of the nervousness that he had felt earlier. But unfortunately, those gods seemed to have hated him.
"I heard from Kid that he saw Kami over there, comforting Cordelia Evans," Stein said in a clipped voice as he started to light the cigarette he held in his hands, not even looking up to see their expressions. Confident bastard...
"Mama...?" Soul saw the girl mouth, no sound exiting her.
"Yes!" Spirit said from a distance, only just rising up from the painful looking hit. "Mama's there! Maka-chaan! I'll go with you!! I want to see Mama too!"
In the background, Soul could only hear the expressionless comment from Stein that Spirit cannot leave Shibusen because of another matter.
Damn! The look on Maka's face... She really wants to go. And he can't let her go alone. And he can't let Spirit tag along – since Kami obviously knows about the arrangement but Spirit doesn't...what if the guy hears about it!? Soul swallowed at the thought of the senior Death Scythe wringing his neck for taking 'his Maka-chan' for himself.
Sighing, he lowered his head. Stein, who heard the sigh, looked to the white haired boy and grinned evilly. He had succeeded this time.
The pair were to head off to the Evans' mansion to interrogate Soul's family – they might know something right?. And if there was a chance that Charles was awake...then they'd ask him the questions.
As much as Soul didn't want to...he had to accompany her. Just to make sure she could come out of that place unharmed.
Soul had whined. Soul had groaned. He had tried flailing his arms... Nothing could stop Maka.
She was so determined to just go to the Evans' residence, her mind clouded with thoughts of finally meeting her mother. It had clouded her thoughts so much that even her reasoning that they could end up stuck in the engagement thing while at the mansion was ignored.
Now on the train heading for the town closest to the residence, both teens shook with anxiety.
Tsubaki was asleep with her head bowed and leaning against his shoulder. Heck, she wasn't the only one who was tired...
But he was a great god! And gods do not show any weakness!
With that thought, the blue haired ninja almost burst out in giddy laughter, but thought against it as he might wake up Tsubaki. At least the plane ride was full of quiet calm. And said quiet calm was lulling him into sleep.
The plane's PA system sounded, quiet but scratchy, as a woman's voice announced that they would be landing in San Francisco International Airport in but a few minutes.
He heard Tsubaki stir beside him, her breathing pattern changing, but she kept her head rested on his shoulder. He preferred it that way anyway.
Recalling the mission given to them by Shinigami-sama, it was a rescue mission – to save the freshman pair, Naia and Rissa, halberd and meister. It seems that they had been taken into enemy custody and their only clue was that they were captured on the San Francisco-Oakland bridge. They have no other leads after that. So how will they start this?
Less than an hour later, the pair found themselves looking out towards the bridge's morning silhouette. They both were unable to perform Soul Perception – which seemed to be really handy right about now – and sort of hoped Maka was sent here instead of him.
As if! He was the best amongst them! Soul Perception or not, he'll find those little people!
After all, he was a god.
Damn! She forgot that her partner was loaded.
Shaking in awe, she stared up at the beautiful 'palace' in front of her. Walls built out of white bricks. Windows taller than twice her height, spanning one wing's lower wall. A double door that of which she only thought would exist in fairy tales – beautiful pale wood held together by a band of silver and door handles given explicit attention by the best of metal sculptors. A garden the same size as the large courtyard in front of Shibusen – heck...even bigger, she guessed.
It was a castle!
Soul grunted beside her as she continued to survey the amazing structure in front of them, maids scurrying towards them in greeting.
Her breath caught in her throat. It was so cool! It felt like a fairy tale!
"Stop smiling like an idiot," Soul grunted gruffly as he stood before the smaller girl, blocking her view of the mansion. "The quicker we get out of here, the better for me."
All she could reply with in return was a small squeal of happiness. Like a child given a toy. She excitedly clutched the hem of his shirt as she moved around to fix her dreamy gaze on the palace before them. "Oh my god, Soul! You really are a prince!" she breathlessly whispered, tugging at his shirt to drag him closer to the mansion.
That elicited a snicker from him and in the next second, all she felt was his lips on her forehead, her bangs caught in between the contact. It was when he had fully wrapped his arms around her torso that she had started to blush. "What's a prince without his princess?" he commented with a sly smile as he pulled away to snigger at her dumbfounded expression.
"Soul-sama!""Master Soul!""Welcome back young Master Soul!"
The last thing she heard from Soul was an 'oh god...' before they were dragged, pushed and shoved towards the door by several clucking maids – Maka still enveloped in the 'young master''s embrace.
As Maka observed the chaos before her, she noticed that an older maid was teary-eyed, saying stuff like 'he's finally back! He's finally home!' But why do the other maids look...scared? Although they do make contact with Soul, she noticed that they keep a subtle distance between them.
Passing the double door entrance, she found that inside of the mansion awed her and it had felt like someone had sucked the breath out of her lungs. How huge! How...magnificent! It really was a castle!!
Red carpets lined the floors of the halls, doors of the same quality as those of the outside lined the walls like decorations. Several side tables stood to the side, bearing vases full of flowers of different types, and it was up to these flowers to breathe life into the minimalist style of the corridor. The ceiling was plain although chandeliers with beautiful, dangling, silver baubles traced the path, each separated by a twenty five feet distance.
"Hilda, where's Charles?" Soul asked in a clipped tone – sounding almost nervous with the slightest of shudders.
The old lady who now strode right beside the two – yes, Maka was still being pushed by Soul as she was kept trapped in his arms – replied with no sign of tears. "Inside the Madam Cordelia's room, young master."
Finally, Maka managed to wriggle out of his grip. And of course she wouldn't miss the looks that the maids showered her with. It was as if they were examining something queer...different. Why? Was it because Soul held her like...a lover?
Even though she had escaped the embrace, Soul kept his hand on her own limp one, carefully dragging her along with him. His pace was quick, she and the old maid Hilda seemed to have trouble catching up to him.
As they made a turn down the corridor and began to make their way up an elegant set of staircases, a familiar figure ran across them as it stopped to make way on the stairs.
"Master Soul!" She had thought that she would've forgotten how his voice sounded like. Shrill and scratching against an invisible glass wall, screeching. Well, she had thought wrong. The stout red faced man she had met that fated day, the sender of the accursed message. So he was a butler as she had thought.
The butler met Maka's surprised stare with his own. Soul had noticed this since he sniggered once again. "Nice to meet Maka again, right Oni?" And then they continued up the steps that turned three times, Maka couldn't help but look back at the gaping man, almost tripping as she did so. He really looked like a demon...
After about three flights of stairs, a moderately sized hall spread out in front of them, the maid and the butler left behind. Across the hall was a beautifully ornate door which shone...like it was made of a very smooth material...like ivory? Plain. Only the gold door handles decorated it. Too simple. But it emitted a grand aura, like it stopped someone like her, someone average, from entering.
The door was opened with a confident push by Soul, his other hand now tightly gripping her hand.
Spread in front of them, with Soul slightly obstructing her view, was a large room the size of their whole apartment - maybe even bigger. The floor was of beautifully polished wood, lit up by the setting sun's light which filtered in through the wall-scaling windows, shadowed by the trees from outside. Several items furnished the room minimally - an ornate side table which stood underneath a large mirror, a fireplace, a dresser. Simple, strangely. A very homely room.
In the centre of the room, Wes stood by an elegant looking woman. This woman had her head bowed down as if in fatigue, over a man's prone form. Machines lined the man's bedside. The man in a coma.
That must be Charles, Soul's father. The woman would then be...Cordelia Evans, his mother. And the one who had brought forward the agreement of a wedding the partners did not want.
Wes looked up, confusion and then slow recognition filling his features as he patted his mother's shoulder and walked towards those who had only just entered the room. Being close enough by a few steps, Wes began to whisper.
"Soul, you finally decided to see father? And I see you brought Maka with you."
"I'm not here to see that guy," Soul huffed, turning his head away from his brother's hopeful gaze. "Since he's still asleep then I think we can go."
This time it was Maka's turn to clutch his hand, causing her weapon to look to her. "Wait!" she whispered. "Is...is my mother here?"
After puzzled look from Wes, Soul informed him that it was Kami she was looking for and the older sibling instantly nodded in understanding. But when he looked to her, his eyes looked apologetic. "She has already left. Something about an emergency in another town." Surely, the brothers both noticed her obvious change of expression. Bowing her head, she nodded to him in disappointment and only stared down at her shoes.
Well, her mother didn't know that she was coming. No one alerted the Evans' residence of their arrival. Now it was just too late. An emergency, huh? Why did it feel as if she could never catch up to her mother?
So close... They had almost met...
What would she have looked like now? Was she finally taller than her mother? Was her mother eating right? Is she thin or chubby now?
"Soul..." The feminine voice made the meister raise her head and she saw the beautiful woman heading towards them, walking in a calm pace, her golden hair slightly dishevelled but still strangely beautiful. Examining her face from her position behind Soul – since he took his place protectively in front of her – she saw that the woman's eyes were red rimmed. Crying? Tired looking. Empty, as if the light from her eyes have fled.
As Maka's hand was still tucked in Soul's, she felt the significant difference between his temperature, which suddenly dropped as if freezing in nervousness. Being so close to his back, she could see his posture stiffen beneath his t-shirt. Nervous, indeed. But it was his mother...
Someone he had said he disliked.
Maka could only squeeze back, slightly reassuring Soul. But it seemed that it wasn't enough.
"Mother." He nodded stiffly in greeting.
Cordelia's eyes darted towards the girl protected by her son. And from the look of recognition on her face, Maka surmised that she knew just who she was. The gaze thrown towards her was very subtle in expression, but it seemed that the empty, crimson eyes acknowledged her presence with a silent greeting where Maka found herself nodding back in return.
"Have you come to visit Charles?"
"No, mother. Were here for another reason..."
"And what reason might this be?" As her voice tickled Maka's ears, she picked up fatigue in the woman's voice. It was slightly hoarse, as if not used in days, and it was slurred, as if tired. "Might it be about the arrangement, since you brought Albarn here?"
In all of her excitement in finally reuniting with her mother, Maka had not thought about what to do about this so called marriage when it would be brought up. Soul had warned her that this might happen. But why didn't she acquiesce to his request to send out another team?
No one was moving. It seems as if Soul – whose expression she cannot see since her was in front of her – and Cordelia were locked in a silent conversation. Using their eyes?
Gracefully spinning around without even letting Soul answer her question, she lifted her hand and waved it in dismissal towards her younger son.
"Fear not Soul." She was now walking back towards her husband's bed. "It is done. I have no more need of the arrangement. Both of you are now free from the arrangement,
"The marriage between both of you is now void." She ended with a finality.
The pair and Wes stood gaping after the lady's retreating form, flabbergasted. Unbelievable. Just like that? Finally...their wish of escape had finally come true. Strangely easier than she had primarily thought – she thought that the would've needed to put up a good fight before they get freed.
She had wanted out of the arrangement from the start. Both of them.
So now that they have their 'freedom', why was she unhappy?
A/N: woah~ okay...the story is progressing really slowly at the moment...
i'm sort of stuck as to where to go next, although the plot is still stuck in my head.
i reread all of the past chapters and i found myself laughing at quite a few stuff i wrote~
i might rewrite them one day C:
then it leads to me being less than enthusiastic about writing at the moment - no worries though, i will continue when i can~
for all the reviewers and readers, as always thank you so much~
you all encourage and remind me that i shouldnt give up this thing~
now please dont forget to review~ C: