Thank you all for reading my fic, please bare with me I know I tend to rarely finish what I start but i'm really getting into this fic so hopefully I can bite the bullet and make it through! Wish me luck, hope you enjoy, please comment, shutting up.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not trying to take these characters and say I created them. I do not own Soul Eater or Stein and Marie.
"Hello?" Marie asked, tentatively. She had just pushed the already ajar front door open even more. It surrendered a low creak that sounded as if the metal frame was attempting to tear itself from the walls. Pulling a luggage bag behind her, Marie cautiously entered the abode.
It was dark.
Everything was cast in shadow.
As her eyes adjusted, identifying the eerie outlines of furniture jutting from each wall. She was suddenly aware of the pale light seeping out from underneath a doorway in the hall. Marie carefully set her bag down and lightly made her way over towards the glow which caught her eye, finding another door left open slightly.
"Stein?" she asked, as she reached out for the door. Peering inside she saw the scientist staring into a monitor. The screen was black except for the tiny and blinking green bar in the upper left hand corner, waiting for him to type.
As Marie was about to call out her friend's name once more, the scientist spoke.
Marie stood where she was feeling very small and trapped within the sterile room. Stein spun in his seat, the chair rotating one hundred and eighty degrees to face Marie. He glanced to Marie's bag.
"Is that all you packed?" he inquired. Marie looked down at her own bag before returning her gaze to Stein.
Marie hadn't seen Stein for several years, not since she first left the academy to go overseas and take up her position as the Oceanic Deathscythe.
Overall he looked the same, just more mature, maybe with more self-discipline.
Yet there was something different about her former schoolmate. Before he seemed dangerous, unpredictable, and unstable; now it was as if those traits were simply subdued, hiding, which might have made her a little cautious.
Stein lit himself a cigarette and looked to Marie expectantly. He was waiting for her response.
"Oh," began Marie, looking at the bag once more, she smiled to Stein waving a hand as if saying 'It's nothing.' "Yes, this is all."
Stein nodded mutely. He spun back around so his back was facing Marie once more. He grabbed the desk with one hand and pushed off with enough force to send him speeding towards the woman. He shifted back to facing Marie mid-spin and using his feet stopped less than a foot away from her. Marie struck out at the scientist instinctively, punching him in the face with enough force to knock him and his chair over.
"Don't do that!" Marie shouted, "I thought you were going to crash into me!" Suddenly Marie realized what she had done as she stared down at Stein, "Sorry…" she said quietly. Stein gathered himself, rising from the floor,
"I see you haven't changed, I'm sure Joe's gotten used to your temper though." Stein said straightening his jacket and picking his cigarette up off the floor. Marie was surprised Stein had brought Joe up. It was a bit like rubbing salt in a wound. Marie had had a crush on Stein back in school but she was worried what everyone would say if they knew, so she had only told Asuza. Plus Stein hadn't shown any emotion of that sort for anyone, and never any interest in Marie so she had dated Joe and they both left the academy together.
"Oh, yes, I suppose he would…" then she realized the context of the statement and rebutted, "What temper? I'm not any more hot-headed than anyone else! It's not very lady-like…" Marie picked up her bag and walked out of the lab, nose up. Stein followed, standing tall and taking up what felt like most of the room in the house. Stein grabbed the bag from Marie. She let go and watched him veer to the right.
"I'll show you the bedroom." Stein said. Marie followed Stein up a small flight of steps lit dimly by ivory candles, stitches winding round their waxy lengths.
Stein was wise not to pursue Marie's denial, after all he knew all about denial and how it was better left alone then poked and prodded like a dangerous animal. He grabbed one of the candles by its metal base and made his way along the upstairs hallway.
The pair of feet echoed rhythmically reverberating against and through each other along the shallow corridor. Stein stopped only to open the bedroom door, turning the bolt-shaped handle as he pushed against the wooden boards. Again, the door surrendered a creak and Marie followed the scientist through the opening. Once inside she looked around the quaint room. There was a coat rack, a dresser, a lamp, and a bed, that looked to be king size. Marie wondered for the first time upon her arrival if she would be sleeping alone.
"This is my bed." Stein spoke, answering her thoughts. "You can use it when I'm not sleeping. I stay up most the night so I'll just stay up a little later until you've slept."
Confused by this gesture Marie asked,
"Are you sure? I could sleep on the couch or something."
"No." He pulled discarded his cigarette butt into the waste basket by the door. Marie could see the last of it burning itself out in the metal trash can. Glowing briefly it smoked and faded to black. Stein took a few steps towards the opposing wall and added, "If it comes to the point where I need rest and you happen to be asleep I can occupy the couch."
Stein pulled out another cigarette, lighting it. He walked over to the curtains and drew them back revealing a small widow's watch. He pulled open the glass doors and exhaled. A cloud of smoke billowed up and from the scientist. Ashes were collected by the wind and flew up and over the town, chasing the setting sun.
Marie stepped past Stein and the smoke to see the view,
"It's beautiful…" she breathed viewing the setting sun which drowsily cast orange and pink shadows over the town. Stein didn't say anything he simply turned away from the view and headed back towards the hallway. Marie pulled away from the beautiful gaze, she shut the glass doors and followed her host.
"Er, wait!" she peered in the hallway to see Stein about to descend the stairs. He turned,
"Thank you for letting me stay here. It's nice, getting to see you again."
Stein stared at her for a moment, just as Marie began feeling an embarrassed hue color her cheeks Stein replied quietly,
"Of course." she knew the Shinigami had ordered her to keep an eye on Stein, but did Stein know that? She timidly followed Stein downstairs he turned around, giving her a look saying, 'Is there something else?'
Marie froze, her embarrassment returning as quickly as it had arrived,
"Oh um… Did you want me to make you anything? Maybe coffee, or dinner, something?"
"Coffee." he replied. He pointed to some dirty measuring tools next to the sink. The kitchen was open faced to the living room where they now stood. "You can use those. There's a Bunsen burner next to the timer." he turned again and proceeded to his lab.
Marie stood by herself watching Stein walk away. She sighed, sulking. I'm obviously a burden, maybe I should go see if I can stay with that womanizer Spirit? He at least won't mind my company. She turned and headed for the stairs and up to the room where her bag was. She could just tell Shinigami that Stein was suspicious of her monitoring him. She grabbed the handles of her bag and pulled it out into the hallway, dragging it behind her, as she was about to descend the stairs she saw Stein coming up them with a bag of coffee.
The two stopped, staring at each other.
Stein was the first to break the silence,
"You're not going to make coffee?"
Marie fumbled, letting the bag drop as she said,
"Oh, well, I can! I just thought since you don't want me here I should go."
Stein furrowed his brows momentarily before replying,
"I never said that." He took a few steps up the stairs so he now stood before Marie. Marie stared up at the man towering over her. Before he could get punched again Stein added,
"I…" Stein seemed to be searching for the right words. He reached out and wrapped his arms around Marie, hugging her. Shocked, Marie returned the hug, blushing prominently.
"I'm glad you're here." Stein said finally. "I know I have difficulty with social situations, and in showing my emotions but I am… glad."
Marie smiled, trying to will her cheeks to normal.
"It's alright. Me too." she took the bag of coffee from Stein and added, "I'll go and make that coffee now." Marie bounced down the stairs past Stein and into the kitchen, glad she was wanted after all.
Stein now stood by himself in the hallway. He looked down at Marie's bag and decided to bring it back into the bedroom. Carrying the heavy luggage with ease, Stein set the luggage down before the dresser. He noticed the corner of a shirt had been trapped in the zipping process. Stein knelt down, unzipping the bag to free the piece of fabric. Suddenly pieces of lingerie leapt out of the bag as if spring loaded; a slip here, a bra there, a multitude of thongs, one of which landed on the scientist's shoulder. Stein put away the articles without hesitation, thinking nothing of handling the garments. But he still put them away as quickly as he could muster; picking up the pieces of coarsely laced, sheer and silky fabrics promptly. The only thing he was worried about was being caught by Marie and getting punched for being a pervert.
Marie could see patterns forming as the coffee swirled, like thick roasted mud. The smell reminded her of the islands. She smiled at the thought of the small villages and close neighbors; of the dark-skinned people with their unique languages, one big family. She remembered the goats and chickens running around through the towns. The little donkeys that worked so diligently in the hot weather would till the rich volcanic soil in the fields along the mountains.
And as she brought a small beaker of the liquid up to her lips to test its rich flavor, she remembered the last time she had tasted coffee. It had been on Joe's lips…
She missed him, but she would not admit to it. Not to Stein. Besides she was sure the man already knew. Stein was the most perceptive person she knew of and yet thinking about it made her sigh.
Maybe she wasn't ready for Shibusen or Stein after all.
With a heavy heart Marie carried the coffee towards the hallway, the old floorboards creaking heavily with her burdens. As she came into the hallway she paused, looking from Stein's lab door to the stairs and back. It appeared the scientist had never followed her downstairs. Marie wrinkled her nose in a stubborn manner, finding the task of bringing the coffee to Stein, who was all the way up stairs, a bit tedious. Still, she supposed she owed him for his courtesy. She allowed a small smile to surface as she ascended the stairs. She recalled Stein as always being a quiet boy in school, keeping to or sitting by himself, except when Spirit attempted to include him. He had been such an awkward child, with his large glasses and fresh stitches, most of the children were scared of him. Marie admitted she herself was too when she first saw him. But as she observed him from across the playground, or classroom, she grew fascinated with the boy who seemed in a world entirely of his own.
Which is why Marie was so surprised that Stein was now welcoming her into his own private life. A playful expression crept its way across Marie's features as she reached the top of the stairs. As far as she knew Stein had probably never let anyone closer to him than Spirit. Spirit never actually lived with Stein either, so this must mean Marie was able to learn more about the man than anyone ever had before. Feeling suddenly very mischievous Marie slunk her way down the hall, her white high-heeled boots barely resonating across the wooden planks. Coffee still in hand, Marie approached the doorway of the bedroom. She leaned from around the corner of the doorframe, peering into the room, lips pursed in anticipation. Her eyes widened at the site before her.
Stein was kneeling in front of her bag folding her lingerie. He neatly stacked the pieces of private clothing on top of each other, placing one item after the other back into the bag.
"Stein!" shouted Marie, in outrage and shock.
The man looked up from where he knelt, his silver strands of hair blocking parts of his vision, making him look very child-like,
"…Hi, Marie." came the blatant response.