Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater.
by. Poisoned Scarlet
"I still hold onto silly things – I never learn."
Like silk against her fingertips as she caresses the strip of what was once a treasured birthday gift.
Long, richly dark, and thin, once tied in ashy blonde, it helped keep her hair up in her signature pigtails during special occasions...
Once played with, twirled with, happily cherished – now it's just another piece of fabric amongst many.
Black, like onyx, loosely curled around her fore finger, stares back and mocks her.
Tight around her finger, it's cutting off circulation, just like he did to his marriage.
Men, they're garbage; useless and terrible.
Who needs them?
She has everything she needs inside of her; locked up.
It's not that simple, she knows, but she thinks she'll be alright.
"Hey, Maka, when did you get back? I've been looking everywhere for you."
A door shuts and footsteps approach her.
She hides the black ribbons from his sight, under her chin, but makes no other move as she closes her eyes and pretends to sleep.
Such a special day today, yet she's wasting it mourning the absence of her beloved parents.
Pathetic, she knows, but she thinks she deserves this fracture of weakness in her iron will; especially on such a special day.
The steps come too close.
They stop next to her, and his breath is labored from his rush up the stairs to their apartment.
The clocks ticking on the wall is loud.
Every pass that pendulum takes makes her nervous – why isn't he moving? Leaving her alone...?
"Ditching a party to sleep – so not cool, Maka." He mutters, and she feels hands reach under her and start to lift—!
The instinctive reaction is to jump away, flee, because he's gotten too close to her and she's a little broken up inside right now.
"Ah, so you're not asleep."
Crimson pools, deep, abysmal, reflecting the absence of emotion she feels in her own viridian ones.
He doesn't ask too many questions.
And when he does, they're weak; useless and harmless.
She's thankful for that.
"...you still wanna' go to your room?"
A nod, barely perceivable, but he sees it, and he silently carries her to her bedroom.
He pushes the door open with his foot, revealing her simplistic room, devoid of anything that could remind her of her past, and sets her down on her bed gently; with a cautiousness she can't explain and doesn't want to look into right now.
"A ribbon?" He mumbles in confusion, catching sight of the jet black fabrics she clutches tightly around her finger; cutting off blood, cutting off life – just like her papa did to his wife.
Ex-wife, her mistake.
She recoils at being caught but sighs in defeat, allowing her hand to fall open to reveal silky black ribbons; harmless, yet it's the only thing that can really hurt her at the moment.
"... Papa gave them to me when I was little." She whispers, gazing down at the ribbons that once held fond memories. "He said I would look cute in them and he put them on before my birthday party." She thumbs a sliver, a small burn in her heart. "That was four years ago."
He kneels, gazing at the ribbons.
He knows it hurts her.
He wonders what that man did to her now to make her so gloomy but it all comes back to him in bright laughs and helium balloons; a giant cake, and lots of boxes with bows and shiny wrapping paper.
It's the reason why he ran all the way home. He had searched endlessly for her at Kid's house and found no trace of her, not even a whisper of where she had gone from the guests.
Because she had left, abandoned the party, in exchange for a lonely hour hurting herself with these pieces of a love once treasured.
"... It's your birthday today." He softly says. "He didn't come."
"You left so early, maybe he remembered and actually came."
"Or maybe he didn't and he's just having fun with some—!"
Teeth catch lips and her chest tightens with the familiar but awful clench of betrayal; of hurt, for her and her mama, who is somewhere in the world having fun, celebrating her freedom, and having no clue she could lose her daughter at any moment because of her hazardous career choice.
She loves her mama; she really does.
But she hates her, too – secretly.
Why did she have to leave her with her papa if she hated him so much to begin with? Didn't her mama love her...?
She's never here for her birthdays and the congratulatory postcard comes in very late, tucked into a box that holds a gift which she doesn't usually like, doesn't really know how to use sometimes, but still cherishes because her mama is the type of person she wants to be.
Or so she thought.
But she doesn't think she'll leave her daughter or son, if she ever has one, alone in a city which Death rules, in order to prance off into some distant land...
Neglectful – that's what she is, and also what he is.
"Hey... stop it." Soft fingers, unlike her own callous ones, pry the black ribbons off her finger, which has begun to feel numb from lack of blood. "You can really hurt yourself with this." He takes them, bunches them up into a messy little ball before deciding to unravel them and roll them up into neat hoops and stuff them in the pockets of his slacks.
And then there's him...
Soul "Eater" Evans.
The only person who stuck with her through all these years, through all of her Maka Chops and insults, and who took care of her when she was sick; when she was battered and hurt from their missions.
Who worried about her, never let her die even when she thought she would.
And who protected her from anything, as he catches her empty gaze.
"Come back to the party with me." He pats her head, a soft caress trailing down to her cheek. "It's not cool for a girl to be holed up in her room on her sweet sixteen."
"So what if he isn't there? We're there. Your friends." Her hand finds his and he tugs it in encouragement. "So come on – before they notice we left. We've still got the whole night and, hey," a smirk, casual yet haughty; sensual with implications, "you might even get shit-faced drunk before the night ends."
"Don't be dumb, Soul, drinking makes you stupid." Even though the idea is appealing, because alcohol is a natural depressant that can take away this dissonance for a little while.
He shrugs but his smirk doesn't waver. "You say that now but once you're there, shit happens."
A twitch of her lips; he knows how to make her feel better without even trying. She shifts up, long hair cascading down her chest. Her black dress, cinching her waist, long and silky down her bare legs, moves with her as she stands.
His hand, still in hers, instructs her to face him, who is dressed down in a fitted black tuxedo she practically forced him into.
She still thinks his red, pinstriped, suit from the Black Room fits him better.
"Black ribbons don't look good on you." He comments, freezing her. A hand slips out of his pocket, twin red ribbons falling out. She doesn't know what to say; they mean more to her than he'll ever know. "I couldn't find green, but red still looks good on you." He grins.
"Turn around – I'll put them on for you." Fingers rake through her hair, combing it into her signature hairstyle, and she waits as he fumbles but manages two pigtails that could probably give Kid a stroke when he sees just how unsymmetrical they are.
They're limp, because he's not really good at styling hair, but it still looks good, and her face feels very warm, but she's happy. Very happy.
"I know they're not much." He begins, hesitantly, coiling strands of her hair around his finger. "But you always complain about Blair stealing your hairbands, so I got you these. Don't let that stupid cat get her paws on them, though – I'm not giving you another pair if she does!"
Not black, red.
Her eyes sting.
He doesn't know just how much these red ribbons mean to her.
She swallows a sob, arms clutching him to her, and she's desperate to convey her feelings through this act of intimacy, and somehow manages it by the way he rubs her back comfortingly.
He's warm; smelling of the cologne he bought a long time ago but never wore until now.
"The cake is gonna' be cut in half an hour. You have to be there for that." He says, but makes no motion to move from her arms. "Then you have to dance with Kid, Black Star, and me in the ballroom and we take a break. Then you get to open some presents, I guess."
"...Do I have to dance with Black Star?" Arms tighten; she's kind of dreading that part. It's not that she doesn't want to dance with him, it's just that they're both clumsy on their feet when it comes to dancing. "You know we can't waltz..."
"Kid taught him the steps for a whole week straight." Soul reassures. "And you know the basics, so you'll be fine."
"Only because you lead..."
"So be the one to lead this time. You can do it." He leans back and she looks into his glass eyes; shards of ruby compared to her dull moss green ones. "It'd be the ultimate birthday present to yourself: taking the spotlight from Black Star... in public."
She smiles because she knows he's right.
His forehead bumps on her own, those gem eyes closed as he says: "Great. We better get moving then." But he makes no move, and neither does she.
Last chance, should she waste it? The moods set and she wants to—has wanted to—for a long time...
And it is her birthday...
A little reprieve for the gloominess her father and mother caused her can't hurt, right?
Lips touch, like feathers tickling his skin, and when he snaps his eyes open, she's staring at her shoes, a warm hue of pink brightening her cheeks.
Cool – because he has been meaning to do that all night but hadn't found the right time or place for it...
He's still a little disappointed she beat him to the chase but at least he could prove to Black Star that she hadn't abused him with her textbooks when he kissed her; it was definitely something to brag about, alright.
"Happy birthday, Maka." Soul grins at her confusion, catching her lips in a longer kiss.
Her papa forgot.
Her mama is too far away to attend her party – or anything related to her.
But he's still here – he'll always be here.
And that's enough, she decides, as long as he's there – even if it's only for a little while longer.
As long as he's still there, with her, for now, she can deal with anything else that comes her way.
"... Thank you, Soul."
"But even if I'm a little damaged, this crack in my heart won't bring me down."
A.N: My New Years gift to you all: a one-shot sweet enough to give you a cavity! I hope you all like it! :D