Balance, Chapter 8
To Balance One's Self
Father never mentioned when I would get my ring back.
I walked around in a haze after I left Father's room. I had not seen this punishment coming, not by a long shot. I was so sure Father was going to cancel my birthday party or contain me in the mansion or force me to live without symmetry for a while.
I didn't expect him to make me think about Tsuriai.
"I only said I like balance! Look at me! Yes, I am not symmetrical. That much is very true. However, would you not say I am balanced? My hair may be gathered on only one side of my head, but I am wearing these two bracelets on the opposite side of my body. With the rest of me symmetrical, I am not so disturbing to look at, am I?"
"And besides! We're in the same boat, aren't we? Look at yourself! You've got those three lines on only the left side of your hair. Hmm...maybe if we took the ring off the middle finger of your left side so you were only wearing one on your right..."
Touche, Father, touche.
The next day, when I walked into the classroom, Stein-Hakase had the computer set up for me in the corner of the room. I didn't bother to complain about how it wasn't in the center. The fact that I was being allowed to type the exam at all was incredible. That, too, made me think about Tsuriai.
Where was she? Where had she gone? What was she doing with herself? She hadn't gone back to her home, had she? Shinigami, I hoped not, not with that terrible man waiting back there. Did Tsuriai have any other family? Father never said so I assumed the worst.
Again, my ex-friends ignored me throughout the day. I expected them to during the time of the exam, seeing as to how it was the final and all. Still, I could hear Patty's and Black Star's antics as they attempted to rub two brain cells together to come up with the answers. Something told me that Patty's osmosis theory had not worked.
We were allowed to leave as soon as we handed the exam in. I heard a few of my classmates get up and walk to Stein-Hakase's front desk early on. One of them was Ox, who, I'm assuming, was trying to show off to Maka, who was unfazed. She waited until the end of class, when she was sure that everything on her paper was correct. That was expected of her, but I could have never predicted what happened.
When she was done, she placed the test on the professor's desk, but she didn't walk out of the room. I had just printed out my exam and watched as she stood waiting for me in the center of the room. Her expression was unreadable.
Slowly and carefully, I walked to the center of the room and placed my paper on Stein-Hakase's desk. He gave me a curious yet somehow knowing look as I turned and tried to walk out of the room. Maka's voice stopped me.
"I'll be at your birthday party tomorrow, Kid-kun," she said. "Soul and Crona will, too." She suddenly smiled. "Happy early birthday."
And she walked out.
I stared. What in Honorable Father's good name had just happened?! Twenty-four hours ago, Maka wasn't speaking to me. She hated me! She and Soul and Crona and everyone else were against me! When Father had said that they would come to the party anyway, I was pretty sure he was forcing them to do so in hopes that I would be miserable. Was it possible that Maka and the others actually wanted to come? What had changed their minds?
I stupidly gawked at Stein-Hakase, who just turned the screw on the side of his head a few times. "Happy early birthday," he continued. "I'll be at your party, too." He smirked a bit and stopped turning the screw, focusing his attention back on the students still taking the exam. His sudden disinterest in me told me to leave.
When I walked out of Shibusen, I saw two more of my supposedly ex-friends. Black Star and Tsubaki were standing outside near the end of the staircase. They both looked up at me and grinned.
"We'll be back here tomorrow night, Kid," Black Star told me.
Tsubaki nodded. "Symmetrical presents and all."
"And we expect a damn good cake!" her master added. "An extra big piece for the great Black Star!"
Both of them waved to me and walked off. I was as confused as ever. Had something changed without me knowing? Was everyone just in a really good mood? It was tough to say. Part of me figured that my friends were just excited to be going to a party after studying so hard for the past month (well...most of them anyway).
That could have been it, but it didn't matter. I was just happy that they were speaking to me again.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in my room, going through my closets and trying to figure out what I should wear to my party. Something symmetrical, yes. Black and white? Most likely. I pulled a collared shirt off the rack and sighed. Sure, it was a nice shirt with lacy details and frills around the neck, but I was hesitant to wear it the next day.
On the day that Tsuriai had supposedly lost a sock in the laundry, she had put this shirt away. It was amazing how little things suddenly stirred up memories. I didn't like it.
I put the shirt back on the rack, put my jacket on, and walked out of the mansion. I made my way up the stairs of Shibusen and entered, knowing Father had not locked the doors yet. I walked down the hallways and made my way to Stein-Hakase's classroom. Outside were the scores on the exam, which the students were supposed to come see the next day.
I smiled quietly and made my way out of the building. Ox, Maka, and I had tied for first with perfect scores.
The next morning and early afternoon came and went quietly. It never really occurred to me that it was my birthday, but I knew I still had somewhere to be later that day. I got out of bed somewhat lazily and made up the sheets neatly. I reminded myself not to think of Tsuriai as I did so, as making my bed up symmetrically had been another one of her jobs.
It seemed like everything I did that day was reminding me of Tsuriai though. When I made myself breakfast and lunch, I thought of her. She made good food. When I was in the infirmary, her soup and toast had been delicious. The meal she had made for my dinner challenge had been great, too. Hell, everything she made was wonderful. She had a serious cooking talent.
I can't really remember what else I did for the rest of the day until the early evening. I guess I must have read a bit, maybe some drawing, too. I'm sure I cleaned. Wait...maybe not. Tsuriai had done that, too. How foolish of me. I can't even keep my own memory straight.
However, happened during the afternoon isn't important.
It's what happened that evening.
I changed into my good clothes about an hour before the party was set to start. The mansion's backyard was being set up, and the caterers were arriving. I watched them from my bedroom window and straightened my brooch. I had decided to go with the frilly collared shirt.
When I emerged from my bedroom, Liz and Patty were waiting right outside in the hallway. They gave me satisfied looks, as if to say I looked good.
"Are you ready to go, Kid?" Liz asked.
She and her sister looked quite nice themselves in their red dresses and black heels. I grinned when I realized they matches, and the overall outfits were symmetrical. They still wore their favorite hats.
I nodded. "Let's go."
"PARTY TIME!!" Patty squealed as she dashed ahead. "PARTY TIME!!"
I was extremely happy when I saw the backyard in its entirety. The tables and chairs were set up symmetrically across the yard. There were buffets of food set up on opposite sides, and at the end of the yard were two tables meant for presents. Father was there with Sid-sensei, Stein-Hakase, and Spirit-san. I was relieved to see them there talking among themselves, as I had not seen them so casual and lighthearted in recent times. Admittedly, it was because of me, but I was still happy nonetheless.
My happiness only increased when my friends started showing up. "Happy birthday, Kid-kun!" they all said, handing me their gifts. I thanked them all and placed the gifts on the tables, lining them up so they were equal and symmetrical.
"ATTENTION, MORTALS, THE GREAT BLACK STAR HAS ARRIVED!!"
Ah, yes, everything was as it should be.
Shortly after Black Star and Tsubaki arrived, I saw Maka, Soul, and Crona. The first two said their hellos and handed me their wrapped gifts, which I accepted gratefully. Crona was shaking while holding onto a tiny box. It took two good smacks from Ragnarok before I was finally given the gift.
"For...you..." the lavender-haired person said nervously. "Ha...Happy...birthday..."
I smiled. "Thank you, Crona."
"See?!" the little weapon screeched. "Was that so damn hard?!"
I glanced up. "Ragnarok, there's plenty of food here for you to enjoy."
"Now THAT'S what makes this a party! Come on, Idiot! Let's go to the buffet!"
I watched Maka and Soul lead Crona over to the buffet so there could be some peace from Ragnarok's constant shouting. Black Star was already there, downing everything he could while Tsubaki stood off to the side smiling quietly. Liz shook her head amusedly while Patty laughed hysterically at the others' antics.
It was like nothing had ever happened between any of us.
I eventually helped myself to some of the food and ran into Stein-Hakase. "Good evening, Kid-kun," he greeted, smiling. "Happy birthday."
"Thank you," I replied. I was quiet for a little while though. I didn't really want to say anything for fear that I might ruin the fun time, but I knew I had to ask my professor something. "Stein-Hakase," I began, "did you know...about what happened with my maid?"
The cigarette dangling between Stein-Hakase's lips tilted upwards, and I saw a smirk tug on the end of his mouth. His eyes glanced down at me mischievously, and he said, "Who do you think convinced everyone to come here? Hmm?" A pause. "Everyone makes mistakes, Kid-kun. You may be a Shinigami, but you're no exception." Another pause. "I knew you were going to get it from your father, friends, and classmates. I figured that you shouldn't have to get it from your professor, too."
I wanted to cry out in joy and punch Stein-Hakase in the face with both hands at the same time. That jerk had known the whole time.
"By the way," he suddenly added, "I think there may be a good opportunity to set things right with everyone." He pointed to the end of the yard, where I saw a figure standing in the shadow of the mansion. "I said that I had convinced...everyone."
I was speechless. Was Stein-Hakase serious? I looked harder to the edge of the backyard and swallowed audibly. Yes. Yes, he was.
I walked towards Tsuriai without a single word. Stein-Hakase didn't mind. He simply got himself another piece of salmon and walked back towards Father, grinning the entire time.
Tsuriai had her back towards me, so I had to get her attention. I chose to say something I hoped she would take the right way.
"You look lovely tonight."
She turned and smiled. "And you look symmetrical."
"Thank you for the compliment."
We both giggled softly and took a moment to observe each other. Tsuriai actually did look very nice in her navy blue dress with the asymmetrical skirt covered in sequins. There was a large, navy ribbon tying her hair up on one side. Her shoes were white to match her bracelets.
After taking her all in, I said what needed to be said.
"I'm really...very sorry."
"I know you are."
I looked up to see Tsuriai's black eyes gazing gently at me.
"I know you are," she repeated, smiling. "I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have called you a stupid, spoiled brat. You really aren't one. You're a nice, respectable, young man."
I didn't feel worthy of Tsuriai's praise, not after what I had done. Regardless, I swallowed my self-inflicting insults and said, "May I ask you something?"
"Where is your father?"
Tsuriai was quiet for a moment. "In prison," she finally said, her voice soft. "He'll be there for a little while." A pause. "I still have my mom at home though. She's okay."
I looked off to the side a bit. Okay, that was a good answer. I hadn't wanted to hear that he was somewhere he could get to Tsuriai. If he was, I would have fixed that situation myself.
"I want you back, Tsuriai," I finally said. "The mansion isn't the same without you."
Tsuriai grinned. "Shinigami-sama has already hired me back. You're stuck with me whether you like it or not."
I turned back to her and smiled brightly. "I expect two rose-scented candles and a Kishin Sock defense system for tomorrow."
We laughed. Damn, this felt good.
Tsuriai grinned and placed a small box in my hand. "For you," she said. "Happy birthday."
And she walked off into the crowd of partygoers.
I stared at the box. She had even gotten me a birthday present? She deemed me worthy enough for one? I ripped the wrapping paper off and opened it slowly.
It was a jewelry box. Inside was a my ring.
I smirked. Father, you're so crafty.
The rest of the party was a good, fun time. Black Star took a hold of the microphone meant for karaoke at one point to announce that his birthday party would be infinitely times better. Patty then snatched it from him to sing the Excalibur Song, which she was rightfully pushed off the stage for. I laughed nonetheless and took the microphone to announce that it was time for cake. After everyone sang, I blew out the candles and proceeded to cut each piece into perfect, even, symmetrical pieces.
I gave an edge piece to Tsuriai, who proceeded to eat it happily. "The balanced piece for me, I guess?" she jokingly asked.
I smirked and took a center piece for myself, one that was covered in nothing but plain white frosting. "And the symmetrical one for me." We both laughed and I let out a soft, satisfied sigh.
She wasn't perfect.
I wasn't perfect.
...But we were okay.
Author's Note: Whenever I write a story, I try to ask myself, "What is this story about?" In other words, I try to have a single concept at the center of all my works. A theme, if you will. In my Naruto fanfiction "Religion and Music," the major theme is how our lives and our views of love and hate can be altered with a single meeting. In my Nightmare Before Christmas fanfiction "Nightmare Family," the major themes are how we learn to adapt in order to survive the tragedies of our lives, no matter how difficult or strange the adaptation is, and how family doesn't have to be defined by blood relations and religion. But when I sat down to write "Balance," I couldn't come up with a major theme. What were Death the Kid and Tsuriai Kousei there for? What were they working towards the entire time? As I wrote the story, I continued to think about this, and I realized that the theme isn't so complicated. It's something involved in all our lives, no matter who we are. "Balance" is a story about friendship and how friends don't have to be exactly alike. In other words, they don't have be symmetrical; the friendship just has to be balanced. However, I wish all of you both in your everyday lives.
And to all you Soul Eater fanfiction writers out there, take my advice: Don't think you can write a fanfiction from Kid's point of view and just add the word "symmetry" to the end of every sentence. Writing a story from his perspective is damn hard.
As a final note, I do not know when Kid's birthday is. It was placed at the end of finals merely for plot reasons, so don't take my word for it. However, I have a gift for him, too. Happy Eight Chapters of "Balance," Kid. Go put your ring back on.