Spirit didn't hate the boy. He couldn't even honestly say that he disliked the boy. He wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to, but he just... didn't.
There were enough reasons to. The day Maka had introduced him as her weapon, the man had nearly fainted. Given her many friendships with female weapons, he had honestly expected, (hoped, secretly) that she would pair up with one of them. And yet she had chosen him, Soul Eater Evans, seemingly out of the blue. To say that Spirit was shocked was an understatement. They had nothing in common, and Soul Eater looked every bit the type he would not want to see his daughter with. His poor daughter, paired with... with that.
When Maka had then announced that Soul was moving in with her, he did faint.
There were a lot of things about Soul that Spirit didn't like. The boy was lazy, sloppy, somewhat rude, and more than a little standoffish. How Maka put up with him Spirit would never know. They argued a lot, and soon Spirit was no longer the sole victim of the infamous Maka Chop, though unlike Spirit, who was usually rendered unconscious after the first one, Soul would usually demand what the hell she had hit him for, which usually earned him another blow. Spirit envied the boy's stamina, but not necessarily the extra dents in his skull. That was one thing he could sympathize with.
There were a lot of other things about the younger weapon that irked him, little things too numerous to name, but when he truly stepped back and thought about it (when Stein had cocked his head to one side curiously and simply asked him why he seemed to hate the boy so much), he realized that it all really boiled down to one thing.
He was jealous of Soul.
Soul got to spend nearly every waking moment with Maka, who genuinely enjoyed his company, whereas Spirit only got to see her at school (or when he was lucky enough to convince Blair to let him borrow her spare key), and she couldn't seem to wait to be away from him. What did Soul have that he didn't? Half the time the two could barely seem to stand one another, so why did she prefer Soul over him? He was determined to find out, and began watching them both discreetly whenever he could.
Over the years, he slowly pieced an answer together. At school, Soul was his lazy, obnoxious self, teasing Maka, wreaking havoc with Black Star (and occasionally even Kid), falling asleep in class, and just generally ignoring anything and everything he didn't care about. But he never ignored Maka. That was the first thing Spirit had noticed, and it intrigued him. Soul could be completely dead to the world, but the second she said his name or nudged his shoulder, she had his full attention.
He was very protective of her as well. He always, without hesitation, put himself between Maka and whatever danger he could perceive, whether she was aware of it as well or not. He did everything from telling off classmates who spoke unkindly of her when she wasn't around (one had annoyed him so much that he'd put the other boy in the infirmary and himself in detention for a month) to the sacrifice that very nearly cost him his life and left him with a long, jagged scar from his left shoulder to his right hip (Spirit had been present for that particular event, and his respect for the boy had grown considerably).
Eventually Spirit had to grudgingly admit it. There was no denying it, anyway. Soul cared deeply for Maka. He hid it behind layers and layers of masks and lies, but Spirit, who had spent enough time in his younger days behind those same layers, could easily see right through them. He could see it in the boy's constant concern, his teasing, and even in his dragging her outside against her will when all she'd rather do is sit inside and read all afternoon.
He took care of her, in more ways than Spirit himself could say that he ever did or could. He looked out for her. Wherever Maka was, chances were Soul was never far behind, or at least nearby. Spirit didn't doubt that the boy would go through hell and back before he would even let her feelings be hurt.
He sighed as he left the cabaret. Thoughts about his daughter and the younger deathscythe had put him in a mood, and his heart just wasn't in it tonight. He'd ended up leaving early.
He wandered the streets for a bit, letting his feet take him wherever. It wasn't the first time he'd done this, and it certainly wouldn't be his last. He was just thankful that he hadn't had anything to drink tonight.
He stopped walking and simply stood at the corner, staring up at the bugs flitting around the dim streetlight. He didn't know how long he stood there, but eventually a familiar orange motorcycle slowed to a stop at his corner. Speak of the devil… He simply glanced over as its white-haired rider lifted a pair of riding goggles to reveal curious crimson eyes before returning his own gaze to the light and the bugs. After a long silence, the boy decided to speak up.
Spirit said nothing, so Soul went on, "What're you doing out here so late?"
Spirit scoffed. "I could ask you the same thing," he turned his gaze to Soul, hoping he looked somewhat intimidating, although he was pretty sure it didn't work on the younger weapon. "Isn't it past curfew?"
"I turned eighteen last month," Soul replied. "As for me," he went on, tapping his fingers idly on the handlebars. "I couldn't sleep."
Spirit nodded. "That makes two of us."
Soul simply looked at him for a while, and just as Spirit was about to ask him what his problem was, he put his foot down on the clutch. "Come on."
Spirit blinked at him. "What?"
Soul nodded to the seat behind him. "Hop on."
Spirit simply blinked at him, unsure of what to say.
Soul sighed. "Look, we're both out here on the streets for the same reason. You don't look much like you had anywhere in mind to go, and I was heading somewhere before I tripped over you, so come with."
Hesitantly, Spirit climbed on behind Soul. He'd never ridden on a motorcycle before, and was pretty sure by his clumsiness he was proving that. To his credit, Soul waited patiently for Spirit to get situated. "There's some grips below the seat, hang on."
Spirit barely had time to find said handles before Soul popped the clutch and threw the bike into gear, speeding away from the corner. He peered over Soul's shoulder at the speedometer and noticed that he wasn't really going all that fast. Spirit wondered if it was because the twisting streets of Death City were a little harder to navigate at night, or because of his passenger.
Just as he was starting to get used to it, and beginning to understand why some people liked motorcycles so much (it was much more exhilarating than riding in a car), Soul pulled up to a small Irish pub and killed the engine.
As he struggled off the bike, Spirit scowled at the younger weapon. "Eighteen is still a little young to drink."
Soul rolled his eyes. "I don't come here to drink. I come here because I'm hungry and this is the only place open at three a.m. Plus they have the best shepherd's pie here."
"Ah." Spirit couldn't really think of anything to say to that. "You hear anything about their drinks? Any good?"
Soul shrugged. "Personally, I can't stand the stuff, but there are usually a few people in here who are three shots to wasted, so I guess it must be good, if you're into that kind of thing. I will warn you though, some of it's pretty strong. Either that, or the guys I've seen drinking it are real lightweights. But I guess I wouldn't really know."
A wall of cigarette smoke practically collided with the two weapons as Soul pulled the door open. Having spent so many years with Stein, and in bars himself, Spirit was used to it. Soul blinked, but gave no further reaction. The bartender looked up and grinned, recognizing Soul. Apparently he came here a lot. "You even need a menu, kid?"
Soul grinned back. "Nah, I'll just have the usual, but he might want one," he jabbed his thumb in Spirit's direction. "Possibly a drink list too."
The man grinned at Spirit and nodded once. "Right then. Have a seat, I'll be with ya in a sec."
Soul moved to the bar and plopped himself down on a stool. Spirit followed, glancing around. The pub was small, consisting only of the bar and a couple tables, with a single, currently abandoned, pool table off in the corner. He could see why Soul liked this place. Currently they were the only ones there, save a couple men he didn't recognize sitting at one of the tables, occasionally talking to each other over a friendly game of cards. The atmosphere was nice, and the owner was friendly. He could see himself coming back here, if he could remember the way. He'd have to ask for directions later.
A rough crunch brought his attention back to Soul beside him, who was currently using his jagged teeth to try to crack open the shell of a particularly tough peanut. There was already a small pile of shells on the counter in front of him, and Spirit wondered how he had been so quiet in cracking those ones open, until he noticed that Soul's middle finger was currently a small blade. As if to prove the observation, Soul picked up another nut, still biting down on the stubborn one, and used the blade to cleanly shell the one in his hand before offering it to Spirit. He blinked, but took it.
"Thanks." he muttered, popping it in his mouth.
The nut finally gave under Soul's teeth with a loud snap, and he nodded. "No problem."
A comfortable silence passed between them until the owner arrived with a soda for Soul and a menu for Spirit. He stopped to talk to Soul for a while, and Spirit learned that the man's name was Donovan, but he went by Don, and had come from Ireland to Death City because his mother had been a meister and she'd come to Shibusen for training. She eventually went back to Ireland, but he'd decided to stay. When Spirit asked why, out of curiosity, Don had simply grinned back and stated that it was because his wife currently lived here.
Spirit nodded, smiling a bit. "I'd say that's a good enough reason." He caught Soul watching him out of the corner of his eye at that, but shrugged it off and turned back to the drink menu he'd been given. "Anything you can recommend, Don?"
"That depends," Don replied. "You come with him? I need to make sure not to give you something so strong you'll fall off the bike."
Soul snickered at this, but Spirit ignored him. "Yeah, I did. I don't really want anything that strong anyway. I'd like to not be hung over in the morning."
Don nodded, still grinning. "Any preferences?"
Spirit looked over the list again before shaking his head and handing it back. "Not really. Surprise me."
Don nodded and turned to head back to the other two men at the table to see if they wanted anything else before heading back to choose a drink for Spirit. Spirit picked up the menu and glanced at it once before looking over at Soul, who'd gone back to shelling peanuts.
"Anything you can recommend besides the shepherd's pie?"
Soul glanced up at him before taking a sip of his soda. "I don't really order anything else. Maka really likes the corned beef though."
Spirit blinked. "You bring Maka here?"
"During the day, yes. It's late now, so they've all gone home by this point, but..." Soul scowled. "I don't really trust the clientele here at night. Maka just thinks I'm paranoid, but I'd rather not risk it."
Spirit nodded to himself, and the question was out before he could stop it. "You really do care about her, don't you?"
Soul was silent, and Spirit was glad for the distraction when Don returned with a shot of... something, which he took and threw down in one gulp. Not bad... He called out to order a glass of it, and Don had grinned at him before setting one down for him. Soul was still quiet, but he didn't look offended, just deep in thought, fingers tapping erratically on the counter, picking out a song only he could hear on imaginary keys. Spirit decided to fill the silence by ordering himself some corned beef. If Maka liked it, it must have been good.
Once Don left, Soul sighed heavily. "Am I really that horribly obvious?" Spirit looked over to the other weapon, who was currently staring into the bubbles in his Coke. "When Kid called me out on it, I figured it was just because he's so observant. Then Tsubaki asked me about it, but she's a hopeless romantic, anyway." Spirit wondered where he was going with this, but it was rare for Soul Eater Evans to open up like this, so he stayed silent as the boy went on. "Then it was Liz, but... well, lately she's been on a serious matchmaker kick, so I don't think anyone took her seriously. But then Black Star noticed." At this point Soul sighed and put his head down on the counter, his arms hanging limply at his sides. "If that idiot can pick up on it, I officially suck at hiding it." He sighed again and lifted his head off the counter and pouted. "The only one who's oblivious is Maka."
Spirit didn't know if it was the alcohol, Soul's apparent frustration with the whole thing, the fact that he felt a certain kinship for his situation (having fallen in love many times himself), or the fact that maybe, just maybe, he had a soft spot for the kid, but he found himself dropping a friendly hand on his shoulder. Soul glanced over at him with a rueful smirk on his face, and Spirit couldn't help but smile back.
Their food arrived at that point, and the conversation was dropped for the moment in favor of eating. Spirit had to admit that the corned beef really was delicious, and the shepherd's pie that Soul was currently inhaling, despite all the peanuts he'd eaten earlier (where the hell was he putting all that food?), smelled pretty good, too. He would definitely be coming back here, and trying the pie when he did.
"I guess I am pretty obvious, now that I think about it," Soul continued after his food was gone. "I don't even try to be. It's just so frustrating..." At this point Soul's hands had been fisted in his hair, and he dropped both arms to the counter and stared straight ahead.
Spirit stared at him for a while. Soul knew how overprotective Spirit was of his daughter, and yet he was still brave enough to confide in him about this. Granted, Spirit already knew everything that Soul was telling him, but still... he had to admit that the risk Soul was taking by telling Spirit, of all people, about his feelings for Maka proved enough. He knew that Soul respected him, even looked up to him in a way, whenever Maka wasn't looking, of course. And despite the fact that he was just venting his frustrations, it seemed like Soul, in his own subtle way, was asking for permission.
Surprisingly, he couldn't find a single decent reason to not like the fact that Soul Eater had fallen in love with his daughter. But he wasn't sure how to help him, or if he even could, given both Soul's and his own pride.
"I just," Soul went on. "I don't really want to scare her away. She tends to think too much about things like this, and I'm afraid she'd think that it's just..." his eyes lowered uncomfortably to the counter. "History repeating."
Spirit closed his eyes. Of course. She would think that way. He glanced over at Soul, who had returned to staring at nothing, but he still looked troubled. He sighed before he spoke for the first time since Soul had answered his question. "You're not me," Soul glanced over at him as he went on. "I doubt very much that you'd ever make the mistakes I did. And she's not her mother. But you're right. That is most likely the way she'd think."
Soul sighed. "She's all I really need, anyway. You'd think after all these years she'd notice that."
Spirit smirked. "How long have you felt this way?"
Spirit blinked. Wasn't that...? "How long have you been her partner again?"
Soul sighed before dropping his head to the counter again. "Five and a half."
Spirit sighed and clapped a hand on his shoulder again. "Wow."
"I know," Soul mumbled into the counter. "I'm so pathetic. S'not cool."
"That's not what I meant. If a girl ignored me for that long... I'm not sure what I'd do, really."
Soul lifted his head to rest on his arms and rolled his eyes. "It wasn't that bad at first. I just thought it was me taking my job as a weapon seriously. It was only a couple years ago that I figured out why I do all that I do for her."
Now Spirit was curious. "How did you react when you did?"
Soul grimaced. "I was terrified."
Their conversation went on for the next hour, talking about anything from Maka's childhood, to Spirit's experiences with Stein, to working with Shinigami-sama… Spirit was a little surprised when Soul asked about Maka's mother, but answered all of his questions honestly. After a while Soul decided it was time for him to head home, paid for both his food and Spirit's (ignoring the older weapon's protests), and hopped off his stool. Spirit thanked Don, who just smiled knowingly and waved back, before trailing after Soul.
Thanks to Maka, Soul knew where he lived, so he started for Spirit's neighborhood before heading home himself. Halfway there, Spirit heard a quiet dark jazz tune out of nowhere. Soul sighed. "Can you get that? It's Maka. Left pocket."
Spirit glanced down and noticed a cell phone sticking out of Soul's back pocket. He grabbed it and flipped it open. "Hello?"
"Papa?" Maka didn't' sound happy to get him instead of her weapon. Understandable. "Where's Soul? What are you doing with his phone?"
Spirit sighed inwardly at the usual distrust in her voice. He should be used to it by now. "He's driving. He told me to answer it."
"Tell her I'll call her back when I get someplace where I can stop." Soul called over his shoulder.
"I heard him. Goodbye, Papa."
Maka hung up immediately afterward. Spirit sighed and handed Soul his phone. He shoved it in the pocket of his jacket. "Don't take it too seriously. It's late, I'm not home, and she's pissed. It's not entirely your fault this time."
Spirit chuckled a little at that.
Soul stopped at the front steps of Spirit's apartment complex. As the older weapon struggled his way off the bike again, Soul flipped his phone open and called Maka back. Spirit stood by as he talked to her.
"Hey. Yeah, I was hungry and couldn't sleep, so I went to Don's. Yeah. You want me to bring you anything? You sure? Maka, it's not that far a drive, I can go back. Positive? Alright then. What? Oh, I ran into your dad on the way there… No I did not run over him. What do you mean try again?! Maka!"
Despite the topic of conversation, Spirit couldn't help but laugh a little at Soul's flustered face. Maybe it was the alcohol.
"Yeah, I just dropped him off. I'll be home in like 5. Yeah. No. No, don't wait up for me. Maka, seriously, go back to bed. Makaaaa…" Soul sighed. "Fine. Yeah… Yeah… Alright. See you when I get there."
Soul hung up, and Spirit smiled a little hearing the younger weapon's muttered gripes about stubborn girls who refuse to get enough sleep.
"Right. She's gonna kill me when I get home, so I better not be any later than I am now… See you later, old man." Soul stood his bike up from the slight lean it was in while he was on the phone and was about to throw the clutch when Spirit spoke up.
Soul glanced over at the older man. "Hm?"
"Thank you. For taking care of her."
Soul gave his usual sharp toothed grin, throwing the clutch and putting the bike in gear. "It's what I do." Then he revved the engine and was gone.
I'd like to think that Soul and Spirit have a mutual, if not grudging, respect for each other. Wrote this just to explore that a little, and because the plotbunny wouldn't leave me alone.
So... two deathscythes walk into a bar... *shot*