miikka-xx: it waaaas going to be humourous. but steinspirirt is the most twisted couple ever. and subtext is a wonderful thing.

title: say it like you mean it
rating:
T
summary:
Four times Maka misses it and the one time she finally gets it. SteinSpirit, through the eyes of Maka.
disclaimer:
naaah. though making cross-gendered characters canon is brilliant.
warning(s):
awkwardness.


say it like you mean it


i.

Maka doesn't remember the first time she met Stein. She supposed - if she did remember - that she forgot because she was going through immense emotional turmoil at the moment and her eyes had been too blurred with tears to recognize anything - or anyone - anyways.

It was during the whole 'Papa Divorcing Mama' - or was it 'Mama Divorcing Papa'? - scenario that had occured at the ripe age of eleven, where she was sobbing hysterically on the couch and someone had sat beside her.

"Are you going to be okay?"

She didn't lift her head up because she did not recognize the voice. But she could put up a front, and Maka wiped her face with her sodden sleeve, staring icily at the door of her parent's bedroom from the living room couch. The voices were muffled then, better than when mama's thunderous voice yelled and papa was replying just as loudly, but it still worried her.

"Why are mama and papa leaving each other?" asked Maka quietly, still not looking at the stranger. She felt him shift beside her - a minute movement punctuated by the squeak of leather underneath.

"Some people just end up with the wrong person," replied the stranger succintly.

"So people can fall in love with the wrong person?"

"Yes, sometimes they do," he said.

"But papa loves mama. Still."

"Yes," and his voice held something bitter then - a tangible note hanging in the air, like a temple bell just after being rung - "papa still loves mama."

Maka didn't understand just then - who was this person? this stranger? - yet she saw something different, something not recorded in fairy tales - of unrequited affection never returned or longing that bordered on obsession.

The stranger left after that. She should have known it was Stein. It hadn't mattered just then.


ii.

The first time she remembers meeting Stein is at his home, with BlackStar yelling profanities and Soul shivering in slight fear at the manic gaze of the scientist. She had seen that glint in his eyes, something touching on recognition, but it was smothered under the desire to hurt and kill and cut.

It was obsessive and horrifically sensual, the way Stein lifted her up and pressed his fingers against her lips, down to her stomach, telling her he wanted to cut her open as if she was some sort of fruit to peel away and eat.

A dessert - no, a sample of the real thing - a touch of him in her that he recognized and wanted to examine. She didn't understand back then (she never understood, in hindsight, when she should have: the signs, clues, signals, feelings) but she thought he was familiar on a primal, instinctive level.

He told her her papa's real name and how he remembered his sleeping face. (She should've known then, but it wasn't enough, even the next part wasn't enough) - Stein had smiled and his eyes had been ice cold and he hated her just for a moment - just at that moment - for not being crimson haired and tall and beautiful and him.

She should have known. It hadn't mattered just then.


iii.

There's another time she remembers. It's after they were finally comfortable with the fact that their new teacher was a relative psychopath who had once tried to slaughter them all. She wanted to ask him about seeing souls, the technicalities, the difficulties, the way it resonated with others and all these things crammed into her tiny head - waiting to burst forth if she didn't open her mouth and spill it out.

She knocked on the door, maybe even a bit frantically, because she wass eager for knowledge and Stein has always looked at her, paid attention to her.

She recognized only this much: that Stein watched her eyes when she talked to him or looked at him. Her eyes were a vibrant green - reminiscent of papa's - and he paid no attention anything else of her except that - her eyes. It was not a creepy attention, employed by paedophiles or artists. It was a simple curiosity, as if he couldn't believe she was his daughter, and she was thankful that it didn't incite his ice-cold glare again.

She stood in front of the door impatiently, hearing muffled voices, shuffling, a rustle of clothes. Finally, Stein opened the door, sitting backwards in his chair. He gave her a bland smile, looking her straight in the eye.

"Yes, Maka?"

"I just had some questions," said Maka hurriedly, "about soul sensing and stuff."

Her eyes flit over the background scene of his office. She recognized her papa's blazer draped over the desk. There was movement behind the door and a familiar red-head popped out.

"Maka-chan!" His smile was bright, even if his clothes were tousled slightly - the tie loose, two buttons undone, half the shirt untucked.

Maka defaulted into a look of disgust at the sight of him, a habit really, and she heard Stein chuckle, but she was too busy arguing with her papa - insulting him calmly as usual and reducing him to nothing more than a sobbing adult male, clinging desperately to Stein's labratory coat for support.

"S-S-Stein, you still love me right?" blubbered Spirit, as he looked pleadingly at his daughter. Stein only gave a sigh and pulled out a sticky note from his pocket, scribbling something down, then handing it to Maka.

"I'm a bit busy at the moment, but come at this time, I'll be ready for whatever you throw at me," he said. Maka read it and noted that it was only an hour after dismissal time and she was too excited to pay any attention to the fact that Stein wrapped an arm around her papa's waist to lift him from the ground and his touch lingered a moment too long.

She should have know. It hadn't mattered then.


iv.

This is the last significant moment she remembers before she figures it out. She needed that library card to access the restricted section and her papa has one, so she grudgingly agreed to a 'father-daughter' date.

It doesn't go as badly as she thought it could be. They eat in a sun-filled Italian restaurant and, after, papa treats her to an ice cream sundae. They walk through the sun-light filled streets of Death City, preparing to see a movie to finish the day off.

She supposed she could risk hurting this moment a little.

"Why did you and mama get divorced?"

Papa doesn't scream or yell or break down as she expected him to. He merely pursed his lips in thought and shrugged, "some people... they end up -"

"- with the wrong person, I know," she said impatiently, "but was it because of another woman or something."

His face is open and surprised as she finished his sentence but tries to regain himself, "no, Maka, no, I could never think of remarrying again." Maka has heard this same sentence from Blair when the cat saw her looking at her family picture in despair one day.

"But I was unfaithful."

His voice was quiet in the sunstreaked air, washing over them in pleasant warmth, but Maka turned ice cold in that instant, a foreign feeling of utter repulsion filling her insides.

"You were?"

Spirit nodded, and while his eyes were trained on her, he does not see her - he sees something else far away, a distant memory, a distorted past, something she will never be a part of. Spirit cocked his head and the light caught the faint line of a scar on his cheek, tracing down from his cheekbone to the corner of his mouth.

She should have known. It hadn't mattered then.


v.

She finally understands when she is a bit older and her previous untrained steps had now become silent, padding through the hallways like an unseen ghost. It was probably from all the situations she had been thrust into - from the long corridors of Arachne's castle to being a holder of the Grigori and a member of Spartoi - and the sneaking and spying and training - all tossed onto her thin shoulders.

Her decidedly silent steps and repressed soul vibrations were now an almost natural thing and Maka found herself undetected in front of Stein's office, his door half-swung open, with half the desk peeking out in sight.

She saw her papa sitting on that desk, shirt unbuttoned to reveal the lean, muscled skin that is criss-crossed with scars and small stitches. Cuts and marred skin - Maka does not remember them being there before when he lived with mama and her, walking around the house half-naked.

He hasn't noticed her yet because he's talking to Stein, who remains unseen, on the other side of the desk where the door cuts it off. Maka does not consider to move and angle herself - she is frozen with intense curiosity and a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach.

"You know, Maka was asking me the other day, why I divorced Kami," said Spirit casually.

"Hm?" came the smooth voice of Stein, "and what did you tell her?'

"Same thing you told me."

Stein appeared then, his languid form walking towards Spirit. He leaned against the desk with his hip, and Maka thought he looked naked with out his lab coat on, as if a barrier between Stein and the world had been tossed away.

She realized that he was naked right now - figuratively, of course - his stoic demeanour gone when he was with this first and oldest friend, his closest friend, his partner for many years, his -

"You told her this?" And before Spirit can reply, Stein pressed his mouth gently to his cheek (and Maka knows, she knows this time, that his lips are tracing that scar) before slipping down to the jawline then finding an awaiting mouth.

Maka knew about men who loved other men or women who loved other women and homosexuality and all that. And everytime she happened to glance in the way of a pair that kissed, it was hard, primal, sexual, wet and needy, wanting and wanting more until they were gasping for breath.

Papa and her teacher do not kiss like this. Their mouths melded unhurriedly, slowly, moving in a rhythm that should have been filled with sexual tension and want. Instead, it is relaxed and moved like a cloud in the sky - uncaring of the world, trapped in it's own reality. Maka watched, realizing, remembering, knowing.

Finally, they part, but lethargically, like neither wants to let go of each other. Spirit leaned his forehead against Stein's, closing his eyes and simply breathing. Maka jerked in surprise when she saw Stein's expression just then - it was everything she had expected and nothing of the cool, distanced professor she knew.

Stein stared at his other with blatant need; his eyes were wide and his mouth reaching out again to feel the familiar touch under his lips, his whole expression in disbelieving that he had this man in front of him. He looked like a little boy. Maka felt her heart clench painfully at the utterly twisted devotion in her professor's eyes. She shouldn't be seeing this, but she was here now, and she would satisfy her curiosity.

"I love you." Stein's voice was quiet, but the words rung clear in the air. Spirit slowly lifted his lashes, staring underneath them - a piercing green, like Maka's own green.

"Say it like you mean it."

"I love you." And this time Stein's voice quivered, and Maka's chest twisted again, just as painful.

"Some people end up with the wrong people," murmured Spirit, kissing his other's throat delicately.

"And some people end up with the right people," replied Stein just as quietly, and Maka watched the kiss again, just as slow, until Spirit tilted his head back and Stein littered the exposed neck with kisses.

Finally, finally, Maka understands. She left before she saw too much.

She remembers only how Spirit had mewled submissively, back pressed down against the desk, and how the sadistic professor she had seen once, under the icy glow of the moon, returned to ravage her papa's body with those familiar motions she had seen before: utter want, lust, sensual feeling.

But Maka never forgets that kiss, that look, that confession.

Maka understands - knows - now. Because, suddenly, it matters.


an: experimenting with a look from outside in on relationships. honestly, this couple doesn't have enough love! come out, dear fans, and get to converting!

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