Disclaimer: I do not own Remedy by Bird York.
by. Poisoned Scarlet
"Idiot, give me that." Soul muttered, taking the package of grapes from her hand. She watched him shift his hand into the tip of his scythe and slice through the bag effortlessly, allowing the strip of plastic to fall to the floor. He bent down to pick it up when he caught her warning look.
"You didn't have to do that!" Maka snatched the bag of grapes from him. "I could have opened it on my own!"
"Yeah, well, you were taking too long." Soul stealthily stole two grapes from her. He tossed one into his mouth. "And I'm hungry."
"You're always hungry."
"Bite me." Soul automatically said, tossing another grape into his mouth.
"I could do more than biting, Soul." Maka boldly said, causing him to stiffen up while she innocently chewed on her grapes; putting emphasis on the way she ate them, rolling them around in her mouth with her tongue, and taking particular relish in the way he stared before looking away and scowling heavily.
"I have no idea what you're taking about." Maka frankly told him, biting on a grape and licking away the excess juice that ran down her lip.
The corner of his lip twitched and she noticed his hand fisted by his side, eyes shifting away from her. He turned toward the door immediately, his voice controlled as he said: "I have to use the restroom."
"Mm. Take your time." Maka stifled a laugh when he stopped midstep and looked over his shoulder, with a wry grin at her knowing tone.
"Who's the perv now?" Soul challenged, rolling his eyes when she stuck her nose in the air defiantly.
"I didn't mean it that way - it's not my fault your mind is interpreting everything I say wrong!" Maka told him, matter-of-fact, eating another grape to conceal her giggles when he shot her a look of disbelief.
"Well, don't worry." Soul smirked, figuring two could play at this game. "I'll be sure to take my time...and keep it down." He winked, laughing when she flushed pink and threw a grape at his backside in retaliation.
It was strange.
It felt as if those past few weeks of bitter isolation had never been there at all.
Maka spent hours in bed, allowing her wounds to heal under Soul's supervision, mulling over the outcome of that fateful night. Despite the mounting fear, she had been able to swallow her impulses and slowly grow used to the idea of bonding with him to such an intimate level.
It was a good turn-around from bailing or hiding.
Soul was trustworthy.
He had showed her time and time again.
The scar on his chest proved his utmost devotion, and his subtle but powerful gestures showed his willingness to take it at her pace; to wait for her until she was ready to take their relationship a step further.
He was likely the one person she could trust with everything. But she had made the mistake of not confiding this rather embarrassing fear with him, of not confiding this one thing – one very important thing – with the one person she should have gone to first and foremost.
What type of person feared love? It was usually the opposite: they craved it.
However, Maka learned from mistakes very well.
"I want to go to school." Maka mumbled, her finger tracing the design on his shirt absently. She laid in his bed that day, her fingers marveling his strong chest, while he scoured the library of his iPod idly. "I bet I'm missing out on so much. I've already missed a whole week!"
"Big deal. Aren't you, like, a whole twenty chapters ahead?"
"Twenty one." Maka corrected, pouting.
"Well, sor-ry for not knowing just how much of a nerd you are..." Soul mumbled, chuckling when she stabbed a finger into his gut in retaliation. "You'll be fine. Ox drops off your homework every day, so what're you complaining about?"
She would have changed the topic at any other time.
She would have muttered something else, buried her face in his chest, anything but say what she truly wanted to say. Habit nearly made her utter those empty words, but when she remembered the consequences of keeping it all in, something changed.
The terror mixed with fear – terror of losing him, fear of loving him – had to be put to a stop once and for all, she realized with growing confidence. The two clashing emotions that drained her, her unreasonable mind unable to decide which to choose, were hindrances to her progress.
Maka didn't like limitations.
She didn't like knowing she could either choose terror and strive not to lose him or she could choose fear and preserve what little of herself she still had left.
There had to be another option; another way she just didn't know of at the moment.
But she would know soon.
She'd make sure of it.
"Studying helps." Maka quietly revealed, still tracing the design of his shirt. She took a short breath to gather her courage again. "It gets my mind off of what I'm feeling. Reading does that, too. That's how I coped with my mama and my papa's divorce." She remembered her bookcase and how it filled to the brim with books less than two months after their separation. "I read, and I stop feeling for a while."
Soul dropped his iPod on the pillow and shifted to pull her closer to him. Her fingers no longer able trace the designs on his shirt, she decided to press her palm against his chest and feel the strong pound of his heart. She could feel the scar beneath her palm, stretching down to his hip; a permanent mark of his duty toward her, his devotion.
She set her jaw.
His hand caressed the soft locks of her hair, and she felt a pleasant tremble race down her skin when his fingers combed through the knots from spending the entire day simply laying in bed, allowing her wounds to heal naturally.
"That's not cool," Soul softly said. "Is that why you read all the time?"
"No." Maka said, pausing to think for only a second. "No, that's not it. It's also a hobby, but... when I'm feeling bad, I pick up a book and I can stop feeling what I'm feeling and feel what the characters feel instead. It helps."
"Makes sense..." Soul agreed, twirling strands of her hair around his finger. "You should invest in joke books then."
Maka blinked, confused. "Joke books?"
When Maka looked up to see what he was scheming, she was met with his jagged grin. "Joke books – the ones 'Star steals his lame jokes from. They'll make you feel tons better than that romance crap you always read." He honked her nose, laughing when she glared and tried to wiggle her nose out of his grasp. "That crap will only make you feel worse and being emo is not cool!"
"Ugh! Soul! Quit it!" She pinked when her voice came out nasally. "Soul Eater!" She smacked his hand but he didn't relent.
Soul laughed, giving her nose one last squeeze before stopping.
Instead of smacking him again and telling him to quit being a clown like he expected her to, Maka threw her arms around his neck.
"Just stay still." She whispered, unable to conceal her relief when she felt none of that bitter fear well in her stomach. She felt safe, not suffocated by her irrational thoughts. It was an improvement, she decided, and she took another quick breath to keep herself calm. She wouldn't let the fear overwhelm her. Not this time.
They didn't speak for hours, basking in the comfortable silence between them.
She was right about Black Star.
She got an earful the next time she met up with him and their friends by the basketball courts, and although Maka had taken it bravely, knowing she had technically screwed up, there was only so much she could take from the arrogant man.
"The attack was beyond my control – it just happened!" Maka argued, setting her hands on her hips. "When Tsubaki transformed back, I knew immediately she wouldn't be able to continue fighting, so I took them on my own and I got her out of there as fast as possible! You should know better than anyone how quickly fights can get out of hand, so you shouldn't be lecturing me on this!"
"Tsubaki could have died." Black Star ground out, tersely. "Weapons are totally useless in their human forms – ", he ignored the collective "heys!" from their weapon friends," – and what pisses me off is that you STILL fought them! You should've gotten outta' there ASAP!"
"By the time Tsubaki was down," Maka slowly said, as if speaking to a child, which only caused Black Star to fist his hands into rigid balls, "there was only ONE kishin left! The one that attacked her, you moron! If I had let him go, I wouldn't have heard the end of it from you! Just be happy she's fine and that Stein has new research material to focus on instead of giving us tons of homework!"
"Black Star." Tsubaki quietly interrupted. Maka noticed Black Star had his fists clenched, jaw taut. Then she realized perhaps being so nonchalant about the entire thing hadn't been the smartest idea. "Maka-chan did everything she could when I was injured. And she has a point: there's always the risk of battles going awry, and the mission we took was highly dangerous as it was. But I'm fine now. Professor Stein even said the scars would heal up by next month!" Tsubaki added, optimistically.
Black Star pressed his lips together, still displeased, before sighing roughly and turning away from Maka to manage his temper. "Whatever...Oh! I know how we can settle this!" Black Star grinned wickedly and Maka tensed. "Soul, pass me the ball!"
"Aw, dude, that's brutal." Soul commented but tossed him the ball.
"One on one." Black Star challenged, pointing a finger at Maka. "First one to reach five points wins!"
Maka scowled, slapping the finger away. "Don't you know that pointing fingers is rude?"
Black Star smirked. "C'mon, bookworm: stow your facts for a few minutes, I'm gonna' run you outta' town with my awesome skills!"
Maka's scowl deepened. The jeering twinkle in his eyes made anger tighten in her chest. "You're on, dumbass. I bet I can reach the give points before you can!"
Black Star merely cackled. "Whatever – you keep telling yourself that!"
"What does the loser have to do?" Liz asked, interested in how this would pan out. She had an idea of who would win but Maka could also step up her game at the last moment; she was unpredictable that way.
Black Star thought about it for a moment before shouting: "Loser has to be the others slave for a whole day!" His grin became a smug smirk. "What'd'ya say? You in or out?"
It was the confident glint in his eye – the condescending, shit-eating, grin he wore as he said those four last words – that convinced her to take that bold dive.
Soul's eyes widened at the fiery resolve in his meister's eyes and, before he could protest, Maka snarled: "You're on, Black Star!" and Soul could only slap a hand over his face at the trap she'd blindly walked right into.
Maka admitted her judgment had been clouded by rage.
Black Star had an uncanny way of getting under her skin. It should have been obvious from the start that the delinquent assassin had something sinister up his sleeve when he challenged her to a basketball game, knowing full-well Maka could not resist such challenges.
She really had to work on modernizing her emotions...
And pride, for the matter.
"Bring me a soda, slave!"
"Don't call me that!" Maka snapped viciously, crushing the can in her hand.
"I'll call you what I WANT! You're my slave for the day remember?" Black Star haughtily reminded, and smirked when he saw the can in her hand had cracked and soda was foaming in her fist. "Clean that up and bring me another one, SLAVE!"
Livid, Maka hissed: "Get it yourself, you ass—!"
"Ah, ah!" Black Star held a finger out tauntingly. "A deals a deal, Maka. So – soda?"
Maka, with a strength she never thought she had, pressed her lips together to hold in a barrage of unsightly words, and stormed back into the kitchen to retrieve another can of soda. He had humiliated her after she had lost at the courts by making her bow down to him and call him the almighty Black Star.
It appeared he had thought of owning a slave one day because he had ranted off a long list of rules she needed to follow directly after.
She had to refer to him as "My Lord".
She could not speak out of turn, she obeyed his every command without fault, and she was not allowed to insult him in any way, shape, or form. If she stepped out of line, he was allowed to punish her, although Soul had stepped in by this point and told him that if his meister bore any injuries when she got home, he'd get him back for it in the worst ways possible. He had gone as far as baring his sharp teeth threateningly, his arm twitching in anticipation to shift into a scythe until Black Star settled down and agreed reluctantly.
But that should have been the least of his worries: Maka would have punched him again if he tried to execute 'divine punishment' upon her. There was only so much Maka would do for him, having lost the bet and honoring her loss instead of being a child about it, but taking abuse for being rebellious was taking it too far!
"Here..." Maka shoved a soda under his nose.
"That's better." Black Star said, pleased, and popped open his can as he watched Maka seethe with rage."Oh, yeah, go clean my car! It's full of blood and it's stinking up the entire garage!" He snapped his fingers pompously while his weapon, Tsubaki, hid her face in her hands and quietly mourned. "Come on, chop chop! You're wasting daylight, slave, and you've still got a lot to cover before your shift is up!"
Maka tasted blood in her mouth as she stomped out the door.
She heard Tsubaki mumble, "I'm SO sorry, Maka-chan...", but she ignored it, far too furious with herself and the arrogant boy to heed her sympathies.
Maka only got to clean the front seats when something weird happened.
She had been rinsing the sponge in the bucket Tsubaki had been kind enough to bring her a few minutes after Maka left; on her haunches, while the evening sun rained down upon her in a golden flush. She had felt the familiar wavelength of her father come stumbling ahead, strangely rigid; not the usual lighthearted, careless, vibe she'd grown accustomed to.
She had looked up, confused and surprised, to find her father standing at the other end of the sidewalk with a deeper slouch than usual. She had risen a brow, wondering just what the heck he was doing, staring at her with his eyes all wide and his mouth slack like an idiot, before he ducked back down the way he came from.
That was unexpected.
Maka had frowned in mild concern, wondering why her father had just run away as if he had seen Stein with a scalpel, but she shrugged it off.
Maybe he had mistaken her for one of his honey's and that girl had been angry at him or something.
The thought made Maka scowl, and she had vigorously scrubbed the leather of the seats until they were squeaky clean.
"I HATE Black Star! Why are you still friends with him? He's such a jerk – ARGH I WANNA' KICK HIS FACE INTO THE WALL!" Maka stormed into her apartment, Soul jumping at the sound of her shrill voice. "I'm gonna' shower! I have blood all over me!"
"B-BLOOD?" Soul choked.
Maka rolled her eyes. "Tsubaki and I came back in Black Star's car and, well, we sorta' left a mess behind..." She laughed, nervously.
Soul's shock shifted to annoyance. "Right. Anyway, it's not my fault you took on that game. You knew you were gonna' lose."
Maka gawked at his bluntness. "Some faith you have in me!"
"I'm just sayin', Maka, you're not that good at basketball, and Black Star has some skill, soo..."
"Ugh! I see how it is! You're a jerk, too! Well, you can GO TO HELL just like Black Star!" Maka screeched, slamming the door to the bathroom in her rage. The frames rattled on the wall, her muffled cursing doing nothing to ease his slight guilt.
"Crap," Soul sighed, flipping through some channels on the television and settling on watching a slasher flick for the time being.
He'd deal with her after she calmed down.
Soul made up with her.
She did forgive him – very vocally, but she forgave him.
Maka thought he cheated, though.
She was sure it didn't count when he practically cornered her in her room after her shower, whispering things that made her face burn while his fingers surreptitiously slid under the hem of her towel to caress the moist skin beneath.
He kept his promise.
It made her feel uncomfortable, when he said it, but she was grateful for every time he did.
Someone loved her.
Someone actually loved her – and that made her feel warm and bubbly.
It made her feel worth while; special, even.
Maka would wonder if this was what her mama had felt while her father still loved her and some of her high would falter.
But then she'd remind herself Soul was nothing like her father – would be insulted if compared to him – and the high would be back, just as delirious and incredible as ever.
It felt good to be back in her element; to walk down the squeaky clean halls of her school with the familiar weight of books in her arms. Maka took a deep, relieved, breath and exhaled. She cracked her locker open, not surprised to find it empty of any partnership letters, and stored her books inside. Her eyes flashed to her partners locker, which she assumed would have a few love letters and perhaps a partnership letter or two inside alongside his school materials.
The thought made her purse her lips disapprovingly: girls were sometimes far too persistent.
She looked up, closing her locker while she was at it, when she felt a familiar wavelength turn a corner. "Pa—!" Maka cut herself off abruptly when her father turned heel and ran the other way without a second glance. "...Papa?"
She gripped her bag to her chest, staring after her father with something close to worry, before Soul reappeared from the classroom.
"Hey, Stein said I had to do extra work 'cause I'm falling behind!" Soul griped, moodily staring at the worksheets. "Man, why'd you tell him I had to keep a B average no matter what? This is such a pain... Maka? You alright?"
"Hmm? Yeah, I'm fine." Maka turned to him, dropping her eyes to the worksheets. "Oh, Soul, why are you whining? This is easy stuff! You're lucky he didn't give you any arithmetic!"
Soul gawked. "Are you kidding me – no, of course not, I bet this stuff is easy for you...nerd." He mumbled the last bit but hissed when she thumped a book on his skull.
"Come on, it's late and I have homework to do!" Maka snapped, stalking ahead.
"You ALWAYS have homework to do!" Soul groaned. He glared at the worksheets in his hand. "Screw it! I'm so not doing this. I'll just bring my grade up later..."
Maka had been on the verge of smacking him on the head and forcing him to do them when another, more devious, idea came to her mind. She hadn't thought of it many times, having been convinced keeping him away from her would ultimately result in severe withdrawal, but she was glad the idea had arose in that instant.
She had a feeling it would work to her advantage this time.
A smile crept to her lips, stretching into a smirk, and she casually said: "Fine. Don't do it."
He didn't believe her at all, somehow. He expected her to hit him, to make him eat dirt because he was being unreasonable again, yet she was allowing him to drop his grade back down to an F and ultimately ruin their Meister-Weapon grade? There had to be a catch, Soul reasoned, they had to be!
"But you're not allowed in my bedroom until you do." Maka added, and he froze.
She heard him choke, as if she'd just told him she would quit training him and move to Alaska, and she felt his incredulous yet panicked eyes burn into the back of her head.
"It benefits you, too!" He warned. "May I remind you, you're always the one asking for it?" He added, smug.
"I can go without it." Maka answered, unfaltering. She even smiled coyly. "I don't know about you, though. There's only so much your hands can do..." She cracked her knuckles, purposely taunting him. She stretched out her fingers provocatively."...compared to mine."
Soul swallowed thickly, cursing Maka for playing the no-sex card on him. He had feared one day she would pull it out and it seemed his fears had been confirmed. He wearily wondered what else she would make him do now that she had this great advantage over him before he caved.
"...Fine, I'll do it." He sighed in defeat. "But only these worksheets!" He added defiantly, for the sake of his cool.
"Good boy." She giggled, knowing she had won
He merely grunted, sparing a cold, sidelong, look to the maroon-haired man who stood far up on the third floor, gazing down at them through the tall windows of Shibusen; expression unreadable.
Something was wrong with her dad.
She understood that the incident nearly a week and a half ago, when she'd been Black Star's unwilling, begrudging, slave for the day, could have been marked off as a fluke (since he had been rather far away and she wasn't necessarily a kid anymore) but now she couldn't ignore it.
Whenever she rounded a corner and he was coming her way, he froze, wide-eyed, and promptly turned heel and went back the way he came from. The panicked, almost nauseated, expression that crossed his face had been enough to make rage well inside of her before a layer of concern dulled it.
She hardly saw him anymore.
He didn't suck up to her, he didn't hug her, he no longer tried to send her 'good vibes' whenever a test came around, he didn't even LOOK for her anymore!
It annoyed her.
It pissed her off.
She wanted to go right up to him and drop kick him for being stupid again.
It hurt, didn't he know that?
Didn't he know it kind of hurt a lot?
"Something's wrong with my papa." Maka told Tsubaki, clutching a pair of books to her chest a few days later. "He hasn't spoken to me in weeks... I thought he was just busy with his Deathscythe duties but he's never gone a whole three weeks without talking to me! And I've seen him around school a lot, too..."
"I've also noticed that he has been avoiding you," Tsubaki conceded, sounding concerned. "Could there be a reason for his sudden avoidance of you?"
"None that I could think of." Maka grimaced. "The last time I spoke to him, he was squeezing the life out of me and I just Maka Chopped him like I always do. That couldn't have hurt his feelings – I do it all the time..."
"Do you think... something provoked him to act in such a way?" Tsubaki cautiously said, a few minutes later. "After all, all of our friends are quite aware of your newly-discovered fear..."
"No, that can't be!" But she sounded dubious. "The only ones who know how deep my fear goes is Soul and – and you, Tsubaki. There's no one else!"
Tsubaki stayed quiet, gnawing on her lip anxiously.
Maka realized why a second later.
"Soul?" Maka repeated, bracingly. "You think Soul had something to do with it?"
"Well, he has been quite protective of you ever since you got back together with him." Tsubaki fiddled with the end of her hair, nervously. "I wouldn't be surprised if he had a few words with your father... they've never had the best relationship, either."
Maka agreed almost instantly. It suddenly seemed so obvious: of course Soul would attempt something like this! Especially when he discovered that most of her insecurity stemmed back to her parents disastrous divorce, which had been mostly her father's fault for his unhealthy habit of flirting with women.
"Ah! Maka – look!" Tsubaki suddenly said, pointing ahead. Maka snapped her head in the direction she was pointing to, catching the dark maroon color that was her fathers hair. He froze upon seeing them and hastily turned his heel, heading the other way.
"Oh, no, you don't!" Maka muttered, pushing her books into Tsubaki's arms and chasing after her father. Tsubaki's frantic cries fell on deaf years for Maka was determined to make her papa speak to her; to tell her exactly what Soul had done to him to incur such a bewildering reaction.
Whatever Soul had done, Maka thought queasily, it must have been bad if her father was literally avoiding the same ground she walked on.
"Papa!" Maka shouted. She saw him jump and walk faster. "Papa! Wait!" He ran this time and Maka picked up speed, refusing to lose sight of him. "Papa! Papa!" She saw him turn around a bend and Maka skidded around it, stopping when she saw an empty hall.
Smarter than to think her papa had gone into one of the classrooms, Maka stared at the door to the boys bathroom. Deciding that reaching her papa was more important than breaking social codes, Maka pushed through the door and sensed her fathers distressed soul emit from within one of the stalls.
His jerky squeak made her frown and Maka stopped at the stall at the end of the restroom. She stared at it, unsure if she should just push it open or not. She decided she'd do better if she weren't seeing him and backed away, leaning against the sink.
"Papa, why have you been avoiding me?" Maka demanded, after a few seconds of silence. "I thought you were just being weird but every time you see me, you turn the other way..."
She was rewarded with a strangled sound, like he wanted to reply but couldn't form the words to do so.
"Papa... did Soul say something to you?" Maka asked, hesitantly. There would be no use beating around the bush this time: she needed to know what Soul had done and see if the damage was reversible. However much she loathed her papa at times, she was still fond of him. He was still there, despite everything, unlike her mama. At the thought, a terrible clench grasped her heart, and she swallowed back the emotions enough to speak. "Papa...?"
"M-MAKAAA!" Spirit finally wailed, and the stall door slammed open.
Alarmed, Maka barely had enough time to sputter his name before he careened toward her; squishing her in a hug that nearly cracked her ribs. It was obvious that he had been holding back the entire time and Maka felt almost relieved by this usual routine. All she would need now was a book to whack him on the head with and get him off her. But she had handed all her books to Tsubaki to prevent them from holding her back – !
"I don't deserve your attention!" Spirit sobbed, rocking her side to side. "He was right – it is my fault! I should've known better than to think it wasn't affecting you! Please forgive me, Maka!"
"Papa—papa, what are you talking about?" Maka sputtered, trying to disentangle herself from him.
He just sobbed louder.
"PAPA, GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF!" Maka smacked him upside the head, which seemed to knock some sense into him for he stopped blubbering out nonsense.
"I'm sorry." He croaked, sniffling wetly. "Soul was right – I'm HORRIBLE! MAKAA—MMFH!"
"Papa, stop! Take a deep breath!" Maka pressed her hand against his mouth, watching her father inhale deeply. "Let it out." He did. "Okay, now that you're calm: what's this all about? What does Soul...have to do with you avoiding me?" She hesitated before continuing: "What did he say to you?"
Spirit dropped his eyes. "... Nothing I haven't already known. He just put it all into perspective. Don't be angry at him: he had all the right to remind me that I'm... I'm not the father I make myself out to be." He sighed, heavily. "I've made a lot of mistakes, Maka – I cheated on your mother, I have a lot of girlfriends, and I haven't properly taken care of you since you were ten." He shook his head, sadly. "I just never realized how much my behavior has affected you until... Soul told me."
Maka felt panic pound in her chest. The idea that her fear – her phobia – had reached her fathers ears made shame and sharp humiliation seize her lungs. "He... he told you?"
"Yes, but he's right!" Spirit quickly said, upon catching her horror. "I'm a horrible father and – and I want to make it up to you!"
Maka felt anger flicker beneath her embarrassment. "Make it up to me? And you expect me to believe that?" She scoffed a laugh. "Papa, you've been telling me the same thing for the past seven years! What makes this time any different?"
"This time I WILL do it!" Spirit stated, firmly. He grabbed her hands, staring fiercely into her eyes. "I'll get better, Maka... I-It might not happen right away," he cautioned, "but... I can try. I will try. For you. I promise," he added, upon catching her skepticism.
Maka searched his eyes guardedly, crystalline blue and pleading and honest, and nodded very slightly.
He caught it and beamed, crushing her in his arms again; crying tears of joy this time.
She wiggled around, choking out things like "Papa! Let go!" and "you're crushing me!" until she managed to deck him in the stomach like old times.
But the fact that her father may truly quit his habit of getting around hadn't registered in her mind just yet. There was a more pressing thought, a more pressing emotion, that overwhelmed her as her father babbled on and on how he would begin his rehabilitation and how he would make it up to her by buying her as many books as she wanted.
The embarrassment still hadn't abated...
It burned within her as she had shooed her father back to the Death Room to continue his work.
It weighed on her shoulders as she walked back to where she had last seen Tsubaki, finding her not there (or anywhere around).
It settled in her gut, a block of lead, as she walked home alone for the first time in what seemed to be ages.
And when she opened the door to her apartment, closing it quietly behind her, tears welled in her eyes and began to dribble down her cheeks, the knot in her chest too tight to ignore now.
This fear – this irrational, damnable, fear – was ruining her.
Maka Albarn wasn't weak.
She wasn't easily subdued, put down; shamed.
Yet this fear was ravaging her; stomping her down, ruining everything she had worked for. It had nearly broken her bond with Soul, and now it was preventing her from doing anything more than cry like a child.
Crying wouldn't help in anything, she knew all too well.
The problem would still be there when she stopped.
But Soul should have told her he had spoken to her father. He should have consulted this with her – did he not care how she felt about this? Did he not realize that perhaps she didn't want anyone – especially not the man who had ruined her childhood – to know just how much it had affected her in her adulthood?
Did he have to totally blow off her feelings in favour of his own selfish ones?
"Maka!" Soul called, shutting the door behind him. He tossed his keys onto the table, dropping his backpack on the floor by the couch. There appeared to be no one home but he saw her boots by the couch, as usual, and he knew she had arrived before him. "Maka? Why didn't you wait for me! Tsubaki said you wouldn't take long!"
There was no reply.
Concern twisted his gut.
"Maka...?" Soul softly called, reaching her bedroom. He pushed the door open, peering inside. She was on her bed, on her side and appeared to be sleeping. But he knew she wasn't. Maka was a light sleeper, always having been the one to keep vigil during missions even during sleep, and his shouts would have awoken her immediately.
He sat on the edge of her bed, shaking her shoulder. "Hey, what's up?"
"...Why didn't you tell me you spoke to papa?" Maka asked quietly, gazing hard at the wall. The hand on her shoulder went rigid and she narrowed her eyes. "Answer me, Soul."
He looked away, surly. "Oh, that. I didn't think it was that important—"
"You didn't think it was that important?" Maka repeated, furious and in disbelief. She sat up, slapping his hand away. "You – you told him! You told him and you know how I feel about - this! But you still did it and you didn't even TELL me you did!"
Soul swore softly under his breath, rubbing the back of his neck. "Look, I was pissed off, alright? I wasn't thinking – OW!"
"YOU NEVER THINK!" Maka cried out, reaching toward her desk to take another thick book. "YOU NEVER, EVER, THINK!" She threw another one at him, grinding her teeth when it only skimmed the top of his head. "And you end up screwing everything up because of it! Just get out, Soul!"
"Maka – hold up, let me explain – !"
"NO, JUST GET OUT!" Maka shrieked, too furious and frustrated to do any more than grab another book from the stack on her desk and hope one of them managed to hit bulls eye.
"You don't understand!" Soul pleaded. He took a chance and grabbed her wrist, forcing her arm down. He placed his knee upon the book held in her hand, holding her straight by her shoulder. "I wanted to hurt him so badly. It was all I could do – you're lucky I didn't cut his throat open!" His fingers dug into her skin. It hurt but she made no sign of discomfort, her own fingers digging into the hardcover of the book. "... I've never wanted to hurt someone as badly as I did that day."
"You still could have told me."
"I did it without thinking."
"You could have told me afterward instead of letting me find out like this." Maka said, coldly. "I would have found out eventually – he was avoiding me, Soul! I would have asked."
"Yeah." Soul whispered, suddenly tired. "Maybe I should've told you, but I didn't want to. I just wanted you to stay away from him. I – just wanted you to stop feeling like shit every time he comes around with a new whore on his arm." Soul dropped his gaze, tightening his grip when she only set her jaw. "I can't stand to see you in pain, Maka, I love you too much," he confessed quietly.
Her breath hitched.
"That's why I did it."
Her throat was tight.
"Maybe it wasn't cool, but I don't care."
Bile rose, muscles paralyzed.
"Why don't you get it?" He laughed, hoarsely, voice hardly rising above a whisper. "I love you, you idiot."
Everyone had tipping points.
Where one simply couldn't stand sitting on the fence anymore; when one needed to pick a side, any side, and bravely march forward into the unknown.
Maka would not let this fear overcome her.
It would curdle her from the inside out, ruin her, tarnish everything she had ever hoped for and achieved, but she would not allow it.
It was a scary thing, to push past the inky black cloak of the fear that wrapped around her so tightly, but it had to be done.
It was now or never.
And Maka was never one to stall or fall behind.
Soul smiled sadly, pressing his lips against her forehead in resignation. "Guess my plan didn't work all that well, huh? My bad. I should've told you... I won't do it again."
"But he better not keep whoring around." Soul added, fiercely. "If I see him paying even one girl to screw him, I'm gonna' knock his lights out! I'll tell you about it later, though – !" He added, hastily.
"Soul, shut up." Maka sternly said. A soft smile crossed her face.
Fear was being shadowed by strength.
She understood now.
She took a deep breath, heart pounding and palms sweaty.
She would say what he had been waiting for her to say for such a long time now.
"I..." She could almost hear him holding his breath. "I love you."
He stared, stunned.
"I – love you." Maka repeated, unsurely. Her voice steeled. "I love you – ah!" She squeaked when he pinned her against the bed, burying his face in her neck to hide his euphoria. She felt his grin against her skin, as his hands slid under her arms to press her against him tightly. The shaky sensations ebbed, leaving behind a relief that made her breath out easy as her partner slowly understood the significance of this moment.
"Say it again."
Maka's face flushed, suddenly timid under the soft gaze of her lover. "I... I love you." She squeaked, flinching when she felt his fingers brush down her cheek.
"Um...I love you!"
Maka scowled. "How many more times do I have to say it before you get it?"
Soul grinned. "A couple of thousand, give or take." He dodged a smack to his face, laughing when Maka grumbled, red-faced, and tried to push him off of her before things became too serious again. He, however, disallowed her this, and laced his fingers through her own and pinned her hands back. He pushed her up the bed, rumpling her lavender sheets under her while she swallowed down her anticipation.
"Are you kidding me?" Soul smirked. "After that, you're just gonna' push me away? Not happening."
"But, I have homework to do!" Maka squeaked out, breath hitching when his hands slithered under her shirt and picked at the only piece of clothing that blocked access to her breasts. He grabbed her leg, nudging it aside and running his fingers under the sensitive skin behind her knee. "Soul..."
"You're five assignments ahead anyway." He reminded her, pushing her skirt up her waist. Her toes curled when he leaned over her, his breath so close to her lips she wondered how she restrained herself from devouring them again. "It won't make a difference if you miss next months homework."
Tsubaki's phone calls were ignored for the rest of the evening, as well as the incessant pounding on their front door as Spirit tried to deliver the bulk of books he'd bought in an effort to earn back his daughters affection.
A.N: This is the end, people! It may sound a little abrupt but I think this is a good spot to just stop since, really, there isn't anything else I can add that wouldn't be boring. Well, at least to me it'd be boring xD
I know I didn't update for a long time but that's what happens when you have no pre-written chapters and not enough time on your hands. I usually have all the chapters, or at least the majority, written before I post a new story. It ensures that I don't dump the story half-way through, which is great for you guys! :D