Disclaimer: I don't own Soul Eater.

He kept all of his important stuff in his pillow.

Not just under the pillow, that was for amateurs, but stuffed cleverly in the pillowcase, where nobody would find it. Or so he thought.

Maka had just finished reading a book concerning the harmful dangers of bedbugs, and was determined to purge their apartment of any mites crawling around their living quarters. She vacuumed, swept, wiped, sprayed, and thoroughly cleansed the rooms in the apartment, armed with heavy-duty rubber gloves, a gas mask, and a large spray bottle of Lysol. A very disgruntled Blair found herself the victim of several baths, all involving a rather large and vicious wire-bristled brush. When Maka took out the razor, Blair yowled, eyes huge, and darted away from their home. She was not seen for another two weeks.

Finally, only one room remained. Soul, after discovering Maka's new passion in life, had decided it was in his best interest not to get in her way and had instead spent the entire day locked up in his room. When Maka inevitably banged on his door, he opened it, pulling on his sweatshirt on his way out.

"Relax, I'm heading over to Black*Star's," he told her over his shoulder. Her eyes gleamed triumphantly through the goggles of the gas mask as she raised her can of Lysol threateningly, giggling manically to herself.

Soul found it extremely hard to remain cool and fought the urge not to run out the door screaming.

Though Soul wasn't a slob (Maka made sure of that), he was still a boy, and therefore his room wasn't quite as tidy as Maka's. Two hours later, Maka had disinfected every section of his room except for the bed. She removed all the sheets, debating whether she should burn them or not. Eventually, she decided that they couldn't afford to buy new ones and instead settled on running them through the washing machine three times each. She picked up his pillow and tore off the pillowcase, ready to wash that too.

To her surprise, a number of objects fluttered down onto the newly washed floor. She bent down, removing the gas mask, gloves, and beloved disinfectant, setting them carefully aside.

There were four objects. Two were photographs, one was a ragged piece of cloth, and one was a crumpled wad of paper.

She picked up the photographs first. The first one depicted a man who Maka thought was Soul himself. Upon closer examination, however, she realized it wasn't Soul, though the similarities were striking. Both had that lazy expression in their eyes and the shockingly silver hair, but the man in the picture had blue eyes and his hair wasn't as untidy. Although it was messy, it was more of a casual windswept look, while Soul's hair screamed, "I just got out of bed and I don't know what a hairbrush is." He was also taller. Soul was slightly stockier in build. He held a violin and a bow in his hands, and he smiled pleasantly with regular, unpointed teeth.

Maka found herself thinking that he was attractive, before realizing that he looked too much like Soul, and she was not attracted to Soul. Still, she couldn't help but wonder who he was. He could've been Soul's brother, but Soul had never mentioned anything about a brother. Come to think of it, she couldn't remember the last time Soul had ever spoken about his family, or if he ever had. Maka realized that she didn't know anything about Soul's family. She frowned, slightly hurt that he didn't trust her enough to tell her. She'd told him about Spirit plenty of times, after all. She put the picture down and picked up the second one. When she saw it, her frown deepened.

It was a picture of her.

She didn't know it was being taken, because she wasn't looking at the camera. She was wearing her Meister outfit, gloves off, and she was sitting on a bench outside in a park, laughing. Maka noticed that although both photographs were slightly wrinkled (they had been stuffed in his pillow, after all), the one of her was considerably more worn, as though it had been picked up many times. Confused, she set the picture of her down next to the one of the man. She didn't think it was weird that he had a picture of her – she had one of the two of them tacked up on her wall in front of her desk. She just found it odd that he'd stuffed this particular one in his pillow. For some reason, it made her happy.

Next, she picked up the strip of cloth. This time, she smiled outright. It was his old headband, the one he'd had for years before she'd made him switch to the thin black one he had now. She'd claimed the old one was getting too ragged and had proceeded to throw it in the trash, despite his protests. Maka remembered making the headband for Soul after their first few missions. Soul had been continuously complaining that his hair kept covering his eyes and tickled his forehead. When she suggested that he shave his head, he'd protested loudly, claiming that his head was probably weirdly shaped and that bald heads were not cool at all. Tired of putting up with his constant whining, she'd made a headband for him, complete with stickers, and he'd worn it ever since. She chuckled, thinking of Soul digging through the garbage in the middle of the night to salvage his headband.

She froze. Digging through the garbage? Her eyes landed on the disinfectant beside her, and she shrieked.

Over at Black*Star and Tsubaki's apartment, Soul looked up from their intense game of Assassin's Creed.

"Hey, did you just hear something?" he asked Black*Star, who was confusedly looking at him in return.

"I think I did," said the other slowly.

Then they both shrugged and returned to their video game.

Half an hour later, Maka had scrubbed the ragged headband with antibacterial soap and hung it up to dry. She returned to Soul's room with a fresh pillowcase and sheets, ready to gather up the old ones and dump them in the washing machine.

When she bent down to retrieve the objects stashed in the pillowcase, she paused. She'd forgotten about the crumpled ball of paper. Curiously, she took the ball and smoothed it out in her hands, careful not to make any rips. Surprised, she saw that it was blank. Slightly disappointed, she was about to crumple it up again before turning it over on impulse. There was a small block of uneven text. She would've recognized Soul's messy handwriting anywhere. It looked like a brief journal entry, torn out from a notebook. The date was from several years ago. Intrigued, she attempted to decipher the words.

Maka almost got killed today. Today wasn't the first time either. I've been getting sloppy and I wasn't as fast as I should've been. She was too busy asking if I was okay to notice the demon's tail coming for her. It gored her right in the side, and I heard her scream...thought my heart was going to stop...there was so much blood and I didn't know what –

Here, the handwriting was smudged and lopsided, as though the hand that was writing had jerked violently. She couldn't read what it said, so she skipped to the next legible part.

she's okay now, no thanks to me. She deserves a better weapon. Someone who doesn't slip up and almost get her killed like I do. I know that there are better, more experience weapons out there. But I'm going to get stronger. I will. Then I'll be the one shielding Maka, and I'll never have to worry about her dying or getting hurt ever again. I promise.

Maka's hand shook, and the wrinkled scrap of paper fluttered to the ground. She was startled to feel tears prick at her eyes, and she wiped them on her sleeve before looking back at the forlorn note in front of her.

She knew it made Soul angry when she insisted on doing her best to keep him out of danger, but she didn't know why. She always assumed it was some stupid "man's honor" type thing, but she didn't realize the effect it had on his self-esteem as a weapon. And she knew how he must've felt after seeing her wounded. She'd felt the exact same way many times whenever Soul protected her from harm time and time again. Whenever she saw the thick scar running across his chest, she always felt like her heart was tearing into pieces – afterwards, she'd always resolved to become a better meister.

Maka wiped her eyes again, and crumpled up the piece of paper so that it looked like it had before. After fitting his mattress with the new sheets, Maka stuffed the photos, note, and now-dry headband back inside the pillowcase, making sure to rumple the pillow so that it looked the same as before. Then she picked up her cleaning supplies and left the room.

Soul came back not much longer after that. Black*Star, in a fit of frustration, had proceeded to seize the Xbox and smash it on the ground after dying at the same point for the fifth time in a row. Soul left shortly after, with Black*Star reassuring him that he would be right over to Soul's place to tell him when he'd fixed the game. Soul doubted he would play Assassin's Creed on Black*Star's Xbox ever again.

"Maka, I'm back," he called out. "Did you finish exorcising my room?"

There wasn't any response, so he kicked off his shoes and tramped into the kitchen, where he found Maka preparing a large plate of curry, one of his favorite dishes, and a large ladle in one hand. She turned to him, smiling.

"Hey, Soul, did you have fun?"

Instantly, Soul knew something was wrong. Her smile seemed forced and her voice was higher than it normally was. And she never asked if he'd had fun at Black*Star's house. She knew that pretty much all they did was eat food and play video games. He leaned on the countertop near her, trying to get a whiff of curry and at the same time twisting his head to look at her. Her dark green eyes, normally bright and confident, didn't have their usual sparkle, and she wouldn't look him in the eye.

"You okay? What's up?" he asked, concerned. It took a lot to shake up Maka.

She set down the plate next to her and put the ladle back in the pot of curry, slowly, taking her time.

"Soul," she began, eyes on the ground.

He straightened, then put his hand under her chin and gently tilted her chin up so that she was forced to look at him. Ignoring the look of surprise that flitted across her face, he said, "Go on."

Much to his alarm, he saw tears well up and spill out of her eyes. She jerked her head free of his hand and suddenly found her arms hugging his neck, face buried in his chest. Instinctively, he put his arms around her, pulling her close.

"Hey, hey, what's wrong?" he asked softly. After a few minutes, she looked up at him. She hiccupped.

"I just…wanted to tell you that you're a great weapon, Soul. I would never want to have a different partner. Don't ever leave me, okay?"

It was very quiet, except for the pot of curry bubbling on the stovetop.

"What, exactly, brought this on?" he asked her suspiciously, but he didn't let go of her. Maka looked at him steadily, her green eyes unflinching.

"I'm glad you're my partner. That's all. And I'd never give you up." She met his eyes. Though his face was still a little confused, his eyes were soft. She leaned against his chest again, and Soul closed his eyes.

Suddenly, a door burst open.

"YAHOOOO!" shouted a voice, and Black*Star came vaulting into the kitchen, Xbox gripped tightly in his hand. "SOUL, I FIXED IT! I, THE GREAT BLACK*STAR FIXED IT! I FIXED –" Then he saw Maka and Soul. Black*Star's eyes bugged out of his head, and his mouth slowly sagged open. Maka's face was a violent shade of scarlet and she tried to pull out from Soul, who obstinately refused to let her go; instead, he pulled her closer and glared at Black*Star. The newly repaired Xbox slipped from Black*Star's outstretched hand and crashed onto the floor. But it didn't take him too long to recover. A huge grin threatened to split his face in two, and he winked at Maka, smirked at Soul, then ran back out the front door, which he hadn't bothered to close when he'd come flying in. He forgot to close it when he ran back out.

Still, later that night, as Soul lay in bed (stomach full of curry), he couldn't help but wonder if Maka had cleaned out his pillowcase. She'd certainly cleaned everything else in the room.

He sat up suddenly and reached inside his pillow, pulling out the four objects, which he then placed on his lap. He glanced at the picture of Wes. It still sent bittersweet memories through him. It wasn't that he hated Wes. Wes had always been a good brother, concerned about Soul's wellbeing and all. But Soul was always conscious of the fact that Wes' musical capabilities were worlds away from his own. '

Feeling a familiar sense of inferiority, he set down the picture of his gifted older brother and picked up Maka's photo instead. Surprisingly, it'd been Black*Star who'd given him the picture. "You need a picture of your giiiiirlfrieeend, dontcha think?" he laughed, smirking at Soul, ducking the latter's punch and ignoring his protests of "She's not my girlfriend! She's just my meister! What about you and Tsubaki?" Black*Star had just laughed and said, "At least Tsubaki's got something to show!" Soul was about to throw the picture right back at him, but it really was a good picture of Maka. She was laughing, and her head was tilted in the sunlight, so that her leaf-colored eyes sparkled. He treasured those rare moments when Maka was completely relaxed, not studying some textbook or focused on training.

Soul set aside the picture and felt for the headband. He examined it closely, thinking that perhaps it looked cleaner and smelled better, but maybe that was just the smell of Febreeze and Lysol which now permeated everything in his room. He looked at the note too, but didn't pick it up. He didn't need to. He knew it by heart. He'd kept the note so he could remember his promise to get stronger, but it was already seared into his mind, just like all the memories of battles where Maka got hurt. A familiar pang of uselessness washed over him, twisting his heart, but then he heard a soft voice whisper to him in his mind.

I'm glad you're my partner.

Suddenly, he decided that he didn't care if Maka had found the photos, or the headband, or the note after all. Smiling, he put them back in his pillowcase. The last thing he thought of before he fell asleep was the feeling of holding Maka in his arms today.

I'd never give you up.

The next day, Black*Star woke up and realized that he'd left the remains of the Xbox back at Soul's place.


A/N: Sorry about the random bits with Black*Star. I wrote this at 3 in the morning, so I was kinda just throwing down ideas. o_O