Disclaimer: I don't own Soul Eater.
He paces outside the door, back and forth, back and forth, futilely seeking some comfort, some sense of normalcy in the repetition. He's completely numb, except for his heart, which pounds like a drum in his chest. It's loud, making him only too aware of how alive and healthy his own heart is.
Thump. He can almost feel the blood rushing through his veins, carried to each chamber of his heart, before being forced out again.
The door opens, and he springs towards it. He seizes Professor Stein, who's just walked out the door, by the collar and shouts at him.
"Is she okay?" but they both know that's not the question he's really asking.
He's not feeling numb any more – instead, he's wild, desperate.
Professor Stein looks down at the burning, savage crimson eyes boring into his own. The lights in the hallway reflect off his glasses eerily, tinting the lenses a pearly white and hiding his grey eyes.
Stein doesn't say anything.
He shoves the professor aside and grabs the door handle.
Then he viciously yanks the handle and flings the door open.
His eyes are drawn immediately, instinctively,to the white and red figure lying on one of the beds.
White, because that's the color of the bed, the color of the sheets, and the color of her deathly pale skin.
Red, because that's the color of blood and it's blood that's covering her body now.
He rushes forward.
"Maka. Maka," he says urgently. "Please, Maka, please, can you hear me? Answer me!" he begs her.
She doesn't move an inch, doesn't even notice that he's there, much less respond to him.
He cups her face gently and brushes her sticky, blood-soaked hair away from her eyes. They're closed, but he stares at them intently, willing them to open. The monitor next to him beeps erratically, and he wants to seize the damn thing and smash it on the floor.
They'd taken on the mission for old times' sake. A three-star witch.
She leans over the witch's body, which disappears and leaves behind a pink soul, panting heavily. Then she straightens up, and he turns back into his human form. She winks at him, and he smiles back. He picks up the glowing pink soul and drops it whole into his mouth – just because he's been a Death Scythe for three years now doesn't change the fact that he can still get enjoyment from the feeling of souls sliding down his throat. He looks over at her, and she's watching him with an odd look on her face.
"What?" he asks. It's not like it's the first time she's seen him eat a soul before.
"Nothing," she says quickly, smiling at him. "Just like old times, huh?"
He doesn't see her much anymore, but he's known her long enough to detect the slightly wistful tone in her voice.
"Listen, uh," he begins awkwardly, "you want to go out and grab some coffee or – "
She tackles him suddenly, sending them both flying towards the ground.
Bemused, he's only too aware of her body sprawled on top of his.
Then he feels something warm and wet spreading across his chest. She looks at him, eyes wide.
"There…were two…of them," she manages softly, coughing up more blood. Then her head slumps forward onto his shoulder.
He looks up, and sees a witch sitting on a broom, leering at him.
"Soul Protect, off." she sneers, licking blood off the dark blade of her knife. "Your girlfriend's Soul Perception is quite impressive, though. Too bad she won't be able to use it any longer," she coos. "What can you do without your meister now, little weapon?"
But he's been training with Justin Law, and now he can fight by himself too. The disembodied head of the witch blinks in surprise as it falls towards the ground. He doesn't even bother about collecting the soul that the witch leaves behind. Instead, he gingerly picks her up, tearing off strips of his shirt to try and bandage the wound on her chest. It's completely useless. The blood soaks through it immediately. The best he can do now is get her to Shibusen as fast as possible and have Stein look at her.
She's not dead yet, says the incessant beeping of the monitor. Not yet, at least. It's mocking him.
And now he's kissing her – on her forehead, on her cheeks, on her lips, trying to breathe some warmth into these cold, cold lips, like he's some kind of Prince Charming who can wake the sleeping princess.
Life isn't a fairy tale.
It's not just Maka Albarn that's lying there, bleeding out on the hospital bed right in front of him.
It's his partner. They were always partners, even after he'd been made a Death Scythe.
It's his meister. She would always be his meister, even though a variety of people wielded him now.
It's his best friend.
And it really kills him, really tortures him that it takes this much for him to finally admit what he's already known for a long time.
It's the person whom he loves the most with his whole heart and soul and body in this entire, screwed up world that's lying there on that bed, and she looks so, so small and fragile now.
Tears begin to slide down his face. He doesn't care, doesn't even bother to wipe them away. There's no shame in crying; she's worth all the teardrops in the world. Gently, he shifts over so that he's cradling her face, forehead resting on hers.
He leans back immediately, and looks down at her, his gaze fervent. Her eyes open ever so slowly – they look so tired – and she blinks up at him. Her gaze is unfocused, and she doesn't recognize him.
"Maka," he says softly. He doesn't want to startle her. She blinks again, and he sees her struggle to remember who she is, who he is. Then her gaze clears, and she reaches up with tremendous effort to touch his face with the very tips of her fingers. His vision blurs as he holds her cold hand and presses it against his cheek.
"I'm so sorry," but words can't express how he's feeling. She smiles at him, lopsidedly, breaking his heart.
"It's not your fault…I should've been more careful," she says faintly, and he's angry now, furious. She still doesn't understand that it's the weapon's duty to protect the meister, not the other way around.
"You – " he begins, but she slips her hand behind his neck and pulls his face towards her.
The beeping of the machine gets slower and slower. Not much time left, it jeers at him. Shut the fuck up, he says back.
"Don't leave me," he pleads, the tears falling on her face now, leaving clean streaks against the blood stains on her cheek.
But she only smiles and tells him what he's wanted to hear from her for so long, just not like this, not in this situation.
"I love you."
Her eyes are peaceful, content, and the green eyes search the red ones. He answers back by kissing her softly on the lips. Her hand tightens on his neck, fingers caressing his soft, silky hair lovingly.
Then the hand relaxes.
The monitor goes silent.
Back in his office, Professor Stein leans back in his chair and lights a cigarette, musing to himself.
They're such small things, really, about the size of his fist. So easily damaged. It just takes one small incision to make the whole structure fall apart.
He's seen lots of people die.
He's seen people die by themselves.
He's seen people die with friends by their sides.
But he's never heard a sound like the one right now. A howl, primal and savage, full of anguish and wrenching despair. It rips through the walls, and he can feel it, the loss and torturous grief emanating from the young man kneeling beside his partner.
He's not even a man, or a teenager.
He's just a little boy, lost and confused.
There were hearts, and there were hearts, Stein concludes. He exhales and a wisp of smoke escapes between his lips, before disappearing into the air.