Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater or any other media/product mentioned in this work of fanfiction.

Just Breathing
Poisoned Scarlet

"You can't live like this."

Soul didn't bother to look at his older brother. Instead, he glanced at the hospital building that rose several stories over his head, a dreary and detached building amongst others of the same kind. He saw people hanging by the entrance of the hospital, distraught or exhausted, and he saw others hurry inside to stand by their injured loved ones.

He had to put up with sobbing women and emotionally wrung males for the next six months.

"Soul, look at me."

He would have to obey the authority within the building, the doctors and nurses who would assign him boring jobs. He would have to check in with his parole officer every five days, and his parole officer would check in with the hospital every day to make sure he was present and not causing trouble.

"Soul." A hand clamped firmly on his shoulder, forcing him to look into the black eyes of his brother, Wes Evans. "I know you heard me. I'll say it again: you can't live like this. It isn't about being an Evans anymore, it's about having some self-worth and not getting yourself killed out there. Mother and Father are very concerned—!"

"Bullshit." Soul sneered, tearing his shoulder out of his grasp. "They could care less about what happens to me – in their eyes, I'm already a lost cause. The only reason I'm not rotting in prison right now is because you convinced them to give me another chance." Soul threw the car door open, not bothering to spare his brother another glance as he said: "I appreciate it and all, but... I wouldn't have given me another chance."


He slammed the door behind him, trudging up the paved way to the entrance of the hospital. His eyes flashed to the glass of the automatic double doors, and through the reflection he could see his brothers car parked in front. He could see his brother watching him leave, the emotion in his eyes hidden behind the suns glare, and he averted his gaze until he entered the air-conditioned interior of the hospital.

He walked toward the front desk, where a middle-aged woman sat. "Hey, uh..."

"Oh." The woman looked up, squinting at him. She glanced at the clock and then smiled slightly. "You must be the kid from the correctional facility, right?"

"Yeah. The names Soul Evans." He replied, watching the woman nod absently and sort through a few papers.

"Here we go! Soul Evans – well, you're here for the next six months, hmm? We'll be seeing a lot of each other then! My name is Mira Nygus – Nygus to you, kid." She arched a stern brow, earning a blank look in return. "I better lay down the ground rules. You're late. You'll sign in right here – !" She held up a clipboard " – and you'll go to your designated area immediately. I'll be assigning you an area every few weeks and, no, you can't change it. You get what you get." The woman added, before he could protest. "Understand?"

"Yeah, whatever." He mumbled, and Nygus continued on professionally. Although he had been brought into the police station for assault with a deadly weapon and resisting an officer, both, of which, were severe charges for someone his age, his parents influence had managed to ease his punishment. He had been told he would be tried as an adult, although he was only sixteen, but his parents instead managed to fit him into this program. It was a special program for juvenile delinquents – as his father sneeringly put – like himself called One Step at a Time, which Soul thought was totally lame.

But it was either this or serving three years in prison.

He chose the lesser of the two evils.

"Do you hear me, Soul?" Nygus said.

"Loud and clear."

"Oh, yeah, what'd I say?"

Soul winced, and shrugged. "Some crap about respecting everyone, no fighting, no touching anything..."

Nygus sighed. "Good enough. Get outta' here - you're late! Just go all the way down the hall, to the right - follow the signs. You can read, right?"

Soul glared.

Nygus dismissed him with a wave, amused by his glower. "Hurry up now!"

"Whatever..." He muttered, and walked down a broad corridor, doctors and visitors passing by him until he reached the end and turned right. The passage became narrower, the walls painted calming and joyous colors like blue or yellow. He grimaced at the color scheme, obviously meant for children, as he turned down two more halls until he reached his area, which was painted a clinical glossy white.

He stared at the double doors, unable to help thinking this would be like walking through a butcher shop. The hall was empty aside from him and the wandering visitor or two. His eyes traced down the slit of the door, movement seen on the other side.

It was this or prison, he repeated to himself.

Three years versus six months.

He sucked in a breath and pushed through the double doors, leading to a seemingly closed off maze of halls lined with patient wards. The doors to the rooms were mostly opened, and Soul could see only darkness; the occasional dancing of shadows from the television that perched on a corner of the ceiling.

He wondered if the patients housed inside ever got bored of watching regular analog television.

He wondered if the patients inside ever thought of ending their dreary life once and for all.

After all, once interned in the Terminally Ill floor, there was not much for you to live for anymore.

Just like me.

He walked over to the desk, where a few nurses sat behind computer screens, and said: "Hey, Nygus said I was supposed to be working here for the next, like, two weeks...?"

One of them looked up, slightly bored. She brightened upon seeing him. "Oh! You must Soul Evans, right? Nygus gave me a call – my name is Marie Mjolnir! Just call me Marie, sweetheart. Pleased to meet you!"

"Likewise." Soul replied, dully. "So, what am I supposed to be doing? I wanna' get this over with."

"You will... oh, I know! Maka!" Marie suddenly said, looking over her shoulder. "Maka! Come here – your new work buddy has arrived!"

Soul blanched.

Work buddy? The hell is this woman on? Happy pills? He eyed her large, megawatt, smile.

He wouldn't be surprised if she was.

"Ms. Marie, I think I can handle a little paper pushing by myself! I don't need any help!" A girl walked out from an office deeper into the Informations' Desk. She was tall, Soul noted, but slightly plain-looking with drab ashy blond hair held up in twin pigtails and regular light skin. Her eyes, however, were jewels; glowing pools of shimmering emerald. She wore what appeared to be school uniform – white skirt, a formal white blazer with a, he recognized immediately, Shibusen emblem patched up proudly on her right breast.

Speaking of breasts, she was a little on the flat side...but she made it up with her legs, he decided idly.

"...what to do for the next few hours, okay? Right, Soul?"

Soul blinked. "What?"

The girl named Maka rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "Yeah, I can tell I'll have lots of fun."

"Speak for yourself – you don't look so fun, either, pigtails. Hate to break it to you, but I'm not into playing dolls," he sneered.

"Pigtails?" She blinked, before scowling deeply. "I don't think you should be making attribution errors like that, Soul."


"I said—!"

"Yawn. Forget it, sounds boring." Soul deadpanned rudely, looking off to the side. He vaguely heard Marie calming Maka down, his attention captured by the patient hobbling out of his room. He was old, with a lightly colored hospital gown on his frail body. His legs wobbled a lot, and he appeared to be squinting as if he could not see.

"Whoa, hey—!" Soul reflexively reached forward and grabbed his arm before the old man fell, steadying him. He grimaced when the old geezer clutched his shoulder, thanking him profusely. "Alright, alright, I get it, old man! Let me go – you smell like Windex and piss!"

The old man chuckled heartily. Soul wondered if he had even heard him. The old man patted his shoulder ("You got spunk, kiddo!") before a nurse hurried to attend the senior citizen.

"Weirdo." He mumbled, watching the nurse guide him down the hall slowly. Soul slouched back to where he had left Maka and the overly happy nurse, dusting his shoulder off with quiet grumblings.

"What!" He snapped, when he caught Maka staring at him with those wide eyes of hers. She looked so curious – that curiosity would kill her one day, Soul cynically thought.

"See? He's not so bad, Maka! I think you'll do just fine here, Soul!" Marie cheerfully exclaimed. She clapped her hands together enthusiastically. "Now, Maka, care to give Soul a quick tour of the place? There isn't much work to be done today, he'll start the real work tomorrow! You hear that, Soul? Ready to work your butt off tomorrow?" She sounded playful but all Soul could think was how utterly uncool this woman was.

He cast her an apathetic glance, deciding replying would be pointless because she had already gone back to her computer; typing in something rapidly with that dumb smile on her face.

"So uncool..." Soul said under his breath, fixing his black headband on his head.

This place was already grating on his nerves. The lights were a bright fluorescent white, the place stunk of the sick and the dead. It was far too loud for his tastes, and the pained silence of the patients locked in their rooms made the hairs on his arms rise. Hospitals had never been high on his list of places he'd like to work in.

"So?" Maka called his attention back. "Are you going to stand there like an idiot all day or are you going to follow me?"

Soul rose a brow at her spunk, a slight smirk curling his lips. "Watch your mouth, pigtails, I'm dangerous, remember?"

Maka frowned. "What are you talking about?"

He stared at her. "What are you here for?" Soul asked instead, puzzling her even more.

"I'm here to complete my community service hours for school. Why?"

Soul's smirk widened, a sharp tooth poking out between his teeth. He saw Maka tighten her grip on the clipboard she pressed to her chest. "So, they didn't tell you, huh? Well, Maka, I ain't here to complete any community service hours like some lame ass dorkwad."

She pressed her lips together, jaw taut as he continued:

"I'm here on court order." His smirk became a sick grin. "I'm here because I nearly murdered a man, and they said being around people who're already on the verge of death would teach me a thing or two about appreciating life." Her face paled, her grip on the clipboard choking. "I doubt it, but what the hell? It's better than doing three years in prison." He walked past her with dark satisfaction at her shock. The imaginary demon that often mocked him, that always made his life difficult and surreal, chuckled darkly in his ears. "Well, are you gonna' stand there like an idiot all day or are you going to give me a tour of this joint?"

"I..I...right." Maka finally said, mouth dry. She avoided his eyes as she scurried ahead of him, somewhat subdued as she began to orientate him.

She was probably scared of him, Soul guessed, hands jammed deeply into the pockets of his leather jacket.

But it wasn't like he cared what she thought, or what anyone thought, really.

The only person who truly mattered to him was Wes, his brother, and even he had begun to lose what respect Soul had for him.

Soon there would be no one, Soul knew, always the realist.

Soon there would be nothing.

Oh, come now, Soul, why the pessimist? His rancid voice rose from the misty banks of his mind. Why so glum? It laughed.

Soul rubbed his temple, a headache blooming behind his eyes.

As she pointed to several rooms, voice having taken on a monotonous drawl, Soul wondered when he would get out of the suffocating hospital so he could smoke a blunt out by Black Star – his friends – place to relieve the depression that gnawed in his chest.

The next few days dragged on for Soul.

Maka had seemingly forgotten he was a potential murderer and liked to pretend he wasn't all that bad. She spoke a lot, trying to get something other than one-worded replies out of him, and although to any onlooker it was endearing she was trying so hard to befriend him, to Soul he had the homicidal urge to tear his silvery hair out of his skull and stab himself in the eye with a pencil.

She wouldn't shut up.

She commented a lot, she asked too many questions, and she smiled so much. He was particularly irked by her smile, so wide and bright and carefree, and her laugh was horrendous – a cheery, happy, melodious tinkle that made his nails dig into the palm of his skin.

It turned out he couldn't go to Black Star's place because his brother faithfully dropped him off and picked him up every day, just like he would drop him off and pick him up from school - at least until he discovered Soul only ditched school with Black Star. Then he had started to wait outside of the school for a few extra minutes, to ensure he was inside and not wandering the streets aimlessly.

But school was out for three months due to vacation, and Soul had no choice but to attend the grueling hospital sessions. At least at school, Black Star was there, but here at the hospital, the only other person he tolerated was some guy called Harvar, who was interning, and that was only because the dude had never spoken to him or even tried to!

"Soul, can you pass me the stapler—!"

"Oh, god, do you ever shut up?" Soul exploded, startling Maka. "I've never met a person who couldn't shut up for more than five minutes and my so-called best friend's always preaching about surpassing the goddamn gods! But you – you take the cake! Shit, woman, it's like you were programmed to annoy the fuck out of me – I can't even think because you're always talking!" He slammed his forehead on the desk before him, slumping lifelessly. "Can you just shut up for an hour? Just one freaking hour..."

"... Okay." was her quiet reply and, true to her word, she said nothing for an hour.

And the hour after that.

And the hour after that.

And the hour after that.

Soul wearily glanced at her after the fifth hour of silence, watching her read through a few documents before sorting them into piles. He guiltily noticed she looked depressed but he pushed that guilt aside. He had only known her for one week – there was no reason to feel guilty for a person he barely even knew.

"Uh..." Soul began, watching her tense. "Can you pass me the stapler?"

She nodded wordlessly and passed him the stapler, going back to her reading.

Soul bit the inside of his cheek before shrugging, stapling a few documents and dumping it in the tray before him. After a few minutes of this, he took a break and slumped in his chair, his fingers following a silent beat on the armrest.

He looked at her again.

She didn't look up from the document, flipping a page to continue her reading.

He looked down.

The guilt wasn't going away.

So maybe losing my temper like that wasn't cool. Soul grumbled to himself, slumping further down the chair. She was just trying to be...friendly..I guess. But, seriously, she wouldn't shut up... He sighed, glancing at the clock.

He had two more hours.

He knew he could hold out for two more hours, leave, and forget about his guilt for yelling at her, but that didn't stop the words from climbing up his throat.

"Goddamn it." He swore, aloud. Maka looked up, confused. "Now it's too quiet. I got used to your rambling." He groaned, rubbing his eyes out with his fingers. "This is so not my day."

"...You were the one who told me to stop talking." She finally said, albeit quietly. She sounded a little miffed, actually.

"Now I'm the one telling you to say something!" Soul retorted, sparing her a slightly hopeful glance.

She huffed, going back to her reading. "Well, too bad! You should have thought about that earlier, before you told me to shut up." She roughly turned a page. "Now you're gonna' deal with it!"

He stared at her, as she furiously read.

"... Are you mad?"


"You look pissed."

"I'm not."

"...You don't need to flip the page that hard, you know, you'll rip it."

"No, I—!" She was very still when the page tore a bit, true to his words.

Soul bit back laughter. Her even expression was priceless. "... Told you—!"

"Shut. Up." Maka ground out, carefully flipping the page and resuming her task. It became quiet again, and Soul deflated. She still appeared angry, although he noticed her jaw wasn't as tight as it had been before.

It remained this way until they had to leave. They both checked out in silence, Marie casting Maka a concerned look she promptly ignored. Soul walked slightly behind of Maka, watching the girl dig into her messenger bag for something the entire way.

Before they went their separate ways outside of the hospitals doors, Soul did something he hadn't done since he was ten.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you." Soul stated before she totally left. He did not turn to her, not moving from his spot. "It wasn't cool... I was just having a bad day." He didn't know if she heard him, or if she had even stayed when he spoke, but he had lifted the weight off his chest, and he continued on his way to his brothers car, which was parked in the lot as usual, with more ease.

"See you tomorrow, Soul!" Maka's cheerful voice startled him.

He faltered, somewhat surprised she had even accepted his lame apology. He hadn't even known if he did it right; it had sounded awkward in his ears. Wordlessly, he waved without turning and continued on his way to his brothers car.

When he slammed the door after him, his brother turned to him.

"What was that all about? You looked shocked. Did she say something bad to you?"

"...No. She just said she'll see me tomorrow." Soul answered, avoiding his suspicious glance in favour of staring out the window. His eyes drifted to the sky that bled colors of violet and red, as the sun set, and the corners of his lips twitched very faintly upward.

The sky didn't look as depressing as usual.

Perhaps he had made one of those attribution errors Maka ranted of sometimes.

She wasn't half bad once he actually paid attention to her.

That was why he begged Nygus not to switch him to ER. But, after much begging and compromising, and having to buy her a tall vanilla latte, he got an extension to stay in the Terminally Ill section.

Maka was more outgoing than she made herself out to be, and although she liked puzzles and books and, dear lord, he had gagged when she told him, trance fusion, there were other qualities about her that made her so very interesting.

"Whatever, tiny tits, you're still a dork!" Soul breezily said, with a haughty smirk.

She gawked at his shamelessness. "You jerk! MAKA CHOP!"

"Maka, what—? OW—SON OF A BIT—!"

"Soul! Maka! Don't make me go in there!" Marie's warning voice drifted from the door of the office they resided in.

Soul glared nastily. "What the hell was that for?"

"For calling me names!" Maka huffed, slamming her latest book back on the desk. "Being in the school Debate Team isn't dorky! It'll look great on my college application!"

Soul stared dryly. "Yes, because arguing about controversial topics with other people with huge brains and no lives isn't nerdy at all..." He rubbed the bump on his head, peeved.

Maka pouted. "Shut up! I'd like to hear what you do for fun, Mr. Cool Guy!"

He grinned. "Parties, parties, and more parties! What's not to love about them? There's chicks, there's beer, there's music! Good music – not that trance crap you listen to. And food! Free food is always the best!"

Maka scowled sourly. "That kind of life has to get boring sometime!"

"I don't see you crippled by how much you read, doubt having actual fun could be any worse."


"You're just pissed that I'm right and you're wrong – for once!" Soul sang, smugly.

That had been the wrong thing to say. It induced an argument of epic proportions – Soul honestly believed she was the best in her debate team because she was fierce, convicting and thorough.

But he had laughed – actually laughed, which had stunned her silent for a second with how wonderful his laugh sounded; a husky, velvet drawl.

"Geez, you take everything up the ass, don't you?" He grinned at her furious growl. She was like a kitten when she was angry; a dangerous kitten who had no problem using books as a lethal weapon, but a kitten no less.


That day he went home, he had a smile on his face and he was rubbing his sore head wryly.

His brother tossed Maka's retreating backside a curious look but said nothing, driving back to their home with thoughts of his little brothers improving behavior.

He was getting too close to her; feeling too comfortable around her.

He smiled more, smirked less, grinned so much it hurt his cheeks sometimes.

She was such an interesting character now; someone he analyzed and broke down mentally every single day without growing bored.

He actually wanted to come to the hospital now; he didn't want his six months sentence to end.

He wanted to be around her, close to her, talk to her; he didn't mind her voice anymore. Actually, now he thought she spoke too little, unlike before, when he couldn't stand to hear her voice in the first place.

"Can I have that?"

"What? My cookies?"

"No – your orange!"


"Because I feel like eating an orange?"

"No way!"


"No! Get your own, Soul!"

"C'mon, don't be stingy – I'm still hungry."

"No, Soul!"




"Stop looking at me like that!"

"Like what?"

"Like - like I just told you I ran over your dog or something!"

"I don't have a dog. I like cats."

"Same thing!"

"Whoa, did Miss Factually Correct just say dogs and cats were the same thing?"

"No - Ugh, you're bugging me on purpose! I'm trying to read! Leave me ALONE!"

"I'll leave you alone... if I could have the orange."


"Hey, it's a pretty damn good offer, if you think about it."

"Oh, god, here! Take it! Now leave me alone!"


But his happiness was always short-lived.

She'll just leave you in the end, you know. Just like everyone else.

You're a failure, she's an honor student. Do you honestly think you have a chance, boy? Don't make me laugh – you have absolutely no chance with her.

Stop now. Go back to the game. It was such a fun game, hmm? Like Russian Roulette...

She deserves someone better, Soul, and you know it. You're just some rich boy who won't even be rich anymore once you turn eighteen. Give it up – like you always do.

It lived in his head, as strange as it sounded.

He had known that nasty little demon – as he called it – for as long as he could remember. He didn't know how, exactly, it had come to reside in his head, all he knew was that one day it appeared, and it tortured him until he took care of it.

And even then, his efforts were in vain.

The demon would never leave – never.

It was apart of him, just like he was apart of it.

One coin with two faces.

That day, he sat in his bed, holding his head in his hands. His eyes darted to his nightstand, where the bright red numbers of his digital clock reflected 2:53 am. This would be another sleepless night, he bleakly understood, because his thoughts were raging in his head and the little demon was joyously exploiting them.

"I don't plan on dating her, dumbass!" Soul snapped to himself. He lowered his voice; no need to worry his brother. "She's just someone I know."


"You're a liar."

You know you like her – you think about her all the time now. How long has it been? Four months and a half? It's about to be five months, hmm?

"So what?"

Your time is running out.

"I'll see what I'll do when it runs out!"

Oh, really?

Soul wiped sweat off his brow with his hand, noting it was shaking. The demon continued, leeringly and cruelly, until he was digging his blunt nails into the inside of his palm hard enough to draw blood.

His eyes darted to his clock again.

3:36 am.

He wouldn't shut up.

4:23 am.

Soul snarled at the little demon in his head, desperate to silence its sly words.

He just needed a moment to recollect his thoughts, his emotions, but the demon wouldn't shut up; it was making him paranoid.

5:45 am.

"You're not even real – what the fuck do you know?"

You'd be surprised.

6:39 am

Soul threw the sheets off his body and ran to his bathroom. He flicked on the lights, dropping to his knees, and threw open the doors to the bottom cabinet. He reached for the bottle of Tylenol, shaking out a few pills that were not Tylenol.

But it had been the only place to hide them from his brother.

Going back to those, are we? Pathetic.

"They shut you up for a while." Soul whispered harshly to himself. He walked back to his room, to his closet where he dug in his blue chest and pulled out a half-empty bottle of Vodka. He looked at the pills emptily before tossing them into his mouth and chasing them down with a few gulps of the strong alcohol.

He ground his teeth, the bitter taste revolting.

I'll be back.

Soul forced a grin, slightly crazed.

"I know," he said, tightening the cap on the bottle before storing it back to the bottom of his chest. He shut the wooden door of his closet loudly, leaning against the wall. "You always come back."

7:45 am.

Time to shower, change, and go to the hospital for another few hours.

He managed to fake it in the ride to the hospital, pretending he was still sleepy so his brother would not speak to him.

He had walked perfectly down the corridors, bypassing Nygus and her suspicious looks, and managed to fool Marie with a lopsided smile.

But the effects had struck him the instant Marie turned away to grab the clipboard so he could sign in. His world suddenly delved out of focus; his body so heavy and his mind so light. His thoughts collapsed into hazy clouds, the world around him spinning out of his reach.

He barely had enough coordination to sign his name before he rushed to the office, where he would sit down and not feel as if he were to fall at any second.

There was one person he couldn't fool, however, as he entered the office.

"Soul, are you high?" Maka asked, incredulous.

"No, what are you talkin' about?" He mumbled, shaking his head vigorously. His hand gripped the edge of the desk tightly. He was, as a matter of fact, high, and he was slightly impressed a bookworm like Maka even knew what that meant. His world was collapsing around him the longer he stood. He had taken two more shots of vodka before he left, just in case.

Maybe that had been a bad idea.

"Liar! You're – you're high! I can't believe it – how could you even think about coming here when you can barely stand! Soul, no way, come on, we have to get Marie to check – !"

"NO!" Soul shouted, alarmed. He grabbed her hand, pulling her back. His vision swam for a moment before he stumbled to the door and he shut it, leaning against it. He shut his eyes, trying to center himself again. "Don't. You can't."

"You can't function like this, Soul!" Maka insisted. "Have you seen yourself recently? You look like you didn't even sleep last night!"

"You don't understand – I can't screw up again." Soul told her, desperation leaking into his tone. "I've fucked up too many times. If Marie checks me up and finds out I drugged myself, she'll tell my parole officer and they'll try me as an adult! I can't have another charge added to my sentence – !"

"You should have thought about that before you drugged yourself up!" Maka harshly said, and stormed forward. "Get out of the way, Soul. I mean it, I'm not backing you up on this. There is no excuse for you to come here intoxicated—!"

Soul gripped her arm and pressed her against him, tightly. He heard her inhale a sharp breath, and he shakily said: "I didn't do this because I wanted to have fun, I did it because I need it to go away."

"...To make what go away?" Maka whispered.

Soul swallowed, throat dry. He was afraid, he realized, afraid of telling her where his rebellious and awful behavior stemmed from. He had never told anyone of these horrific episodes, not his brother or his friend Black Star. All he knew was that if he took enough pills, it went away for a few days, and he could function normally until the effects wore off.

"Soul," Maka softly said, and he saw her take his hand off her shoulder. She squeezed it, and he found it to be such a deep comfort he actually squeezed back. "Why did you do this to yourself?" When he didn't answer, she added: "...You can't live like this, Soul."

Soul snorted. "You're not the only one whose told me that."


There was a brief silence before he spoke.

"I... hear things in my head." Soul finally confessed, awkwardly. "It started when I was a kid. And when I... do this, it goes away for a few days. I couldn't take that—thing cursing me out last night, so I drugged myself a couple of hours ago..."

Maka concernedly searched his hazy and unseeing eyes. Soul stumbled back a few steps when she embraced him back. His arms wrapped around her tightly in reply, and he shut his eyes as she whispered things he barley heard. Having Maka there was enough to ease his racing heart, his rising panic. It made the high feel more pleasant, less terrible.

"... Okay." Maka sighed wearily. "I won't tell her." His tense shoulders loosened. "But, first, you have to tell me what you took!"

"Why? Does it really matter? I'm the one who's high, not you!"

"Soul, just tell me! I need to know what you took in case something... happens." Maka hesitated.

He scoffed. "I won't overdose, if that's what you're worried about. I've done this too many times..." He said, and Maka bit her lip. "Fine! I took Valium, and, like, four shots of vodka."

"WHAT?" Maka choked.

He always chased down his pills with beer or vodka, which added to the psychotropic effects the pills had on his mind. They made him hyper, most of the time, but he had been so sick with dread and guilt when he arrived at the hospital that his attempts at a high had crashed and burned.

"S-Soul, that's really bad!"

"I've done this a lot of times, Maka." Soul whispered, bumping his head back against the door. He breathed in deeply, releasing the breath steadily. He felt her eyes burn into his face. "Trust me. The most that can happen to me is I fall asleep, or start talking a lot."

"Don't you mean pass out?" Maka said, accusingly.

A faint smile clung to his lips. "No. It's never gotten that bad." She still looked nervous, so Soul rose a hand and cupped her cheek with it. His faint smile grew at the pink that flooded her face at the contact. "Relax, it'll go down soon. It only lasts four to five hours tops. Less if I eat or drink something—!"

"I'm getting you a bottle of water right now!" Maka blurted, and Soul sighed.

His hand dropped from her cheek. "If you say so. But soda works better. I'll wait for you here." He stepped around her carefully and fell into the chair, his head lolling back. He heard her say something else but he had already tuned her out, eyes shut as his mind swam hazily.

The next time he was aware of the world and not his strange thoughts was when he felt Maka shake him. He opened his eyes slowly, raising a brow at her sick with worry face.

"Chill out. I didn't pass out, Maka." He chuckled, reaching for the bottle of coke. He drank it empty in a few large gulps, handing it back to her. He snorted when she whipped out another one from behind her. "How many of these did you buy?"

"Four." Maka blurted.

Soul stared.

"I-I didn't know how many you'd like so I just bought four...just in case, you know?"

Soul laughed, turning away with a hand covering his mouth to hid the grin. "Jeez, you can be really cute sometimes, you know?" He missed the scarlet that colored her cheeks, her wide eyes, as he drained another bottle.

He drained a third bottle by force, no longer wanting to worry Maka. Hopefully, his bladder would react soon and he would piss out whatever toxins were left in his system. For now, he hoped the soda would dilute some of the effects. Thankfully, after a few short minutes, they did, because his head felt clearer than it had a few minutes ago; sound coming back into focus, the light brighter, and her voice clearer than a few minutes ago.

"Soul." Maka began, after a few minutes of silence. "About this voice... you hear. What does it tell you?"

"A bunch of crap I don't want to hear." Soul muttered. He stared at the ceiling.


He sighed. "Do I have to tell you? It's uncool enough that I have a freakin' demon in my head who won't shut the hell up!"

"Demon?" Maka blinked, cocking her head to the side curiously. "You hear a demon in your head?"

"I just call it that." Soul shrugged. "It just – takes the life out of everything. I find something that makes me happy, it makes it out as a bad thing." He remembered the things about Maka, her bright smile and caring green eyes. He didn't have a chance with her; not a delinquent like him. He ground his teeth. "It's worse at night."

"So that's why you always look like you're sleepy!" Maka exclaimed, in realization. "You can't sleep!"

"Yeah, something like that. I can, but then I get night terrors." Soul shrugged at her wide-eyed look. "I don't like waking up to Wes breathing down my neck saying I was screaming like someone was killing me." He smirked, sadistically. "It was funny the first time it happened, though..."

Maka had this look on her face – not exactly pity, not exactly sympathy. It was a sadness that made him uncomfortable; as if she could understand his predicament. It made him squirm under her gentle gaze. No one had ever looked at him like that before.

"You know, this is the first time you ever told me something about yourself." She suddenly said, to his utter disbelief.

"I tell you I hear voices in my head, and you tell me that?" At her sheepish smile, Soul shook his head, amazed by her ability to snap back so quickly. "You're so weird..."

"But it's true! You've never really told me anything about yourself – only that your favorite color is orange, your favorite food is spaghetti with cheese, you like to listen to jazz and classical music, you like cats, your have a brother named Wes who plays the violin, and your best friend is someone named Black Star. Oh, and you played the piano before you quit when you were thirteen!"

Soul stared at her, shocked she had remembered all of that.

Maka flushed under his surprised gaze. "...What?"

"You... actually remember all that?"

"Well, yeah. You're my friend, Soul." Maka mumbled, fidgeting with the hem of her white skirt. The color on her cheeks deepened. "Was it wrong to remember all that?"

He slowly shook his head, that single word echoing in his mind.


She says I'm her friend.

When was the last time I had one of those...?


"Your favourite color is red, you like to eat chicken sandwiches, your best friend is some girl called Tsubaki, you think some guy called Kid is annoying because he has OCD, you like solving puzzles when you're bored, for some reason, and you read like your life depends on it." Soul listed off, her eyes widening with reach fact. "You can't stand awkward silences, you ranked first last year in Shibusen High, your rival is some ass called Ox Ford, and you hate your dad cause he's a cheating low-life." He took a deep breath. "You like boots, you hate flats, you prefer skirts over jeans, you don't like being late to anything, you can't stand the idea of not being able to do something, and you want to become an ER doctor. You're an honor student, you've never gotten below a B- on a test...what else... oh, yeah, your hairstyle came from your mom, who always did your hair like that when you were a kid, and you like diet pepsi – not coke – and you hate chalk, since it makes your hands dry. And, sadly, your favourite type of music is trance fusion or drum and bass – which, I'll tell you now, are both terrible to listen to."

Maka stared, gaping.

Soul wracked his mind for any more facts and found he came up with a few he forgot to list. However, the blown away look on her face made him think twice.

"I told you you talk a lot." Soul grinned, and her cheeks darkened. Despite himself, he leaned over and her breath hitched when his fingers touched her cheek softly. "Hey, your face is your favourite color right now."

"Wha—you jerk! Q-quit it!" Maka strangled out, slapping his hand away while he laughed. "Th-that was a lot and you...you remembered it all."

Soul shrugged his shoulders, casually. "I have a good memory. I had to, since I had to recite long scores for my Father."

"On the piano, right?" Maka guessed.

"Yeah." He cracked his fingers, absently. "Because of that, I used to do really well in school."

"But then..." She prompted.

He remained silent, staring at the ceiling bleakly. That was until his parents began to neglect him in favour of his brother and they became to scorn him for his dreary compositions. That was until he began to hear that awful whisper in his ear, those cutting words, and that was before he met the wrong people who led him down the wrong path...

"You don't have to tell me." Maka whispered, reaching over to take his hand. His fingers instinctively wrapped around her hand. "Listen, Soul, about that voice... I think you might be schizophrenic. You show a lot of other symptoms, too..."

"Schizophrenic?" Soul repeated, blankly. "I've heard of that before."

"Schizophrenia can be controlled with medication, and the people who have it can live nearly normal lives!" Maka said, with an optimistic smile. "I know someone who can help you! Dr. Stein is a licensed psychologist, and he's a really close friend of mine! He might be able to – !"

"No." Soul replied, flatly.

Maka blinked. "Huh?"

"I don't want to see some crazy doctor. No way."

Her eyes narrowed. "What do you mean you don't want to see him? Soul, you have a serious psychological condition that you have to treat – !"

"I'm not crazy!"

"Right, you just hear voices in your head." Maka sarcastically said, and he scowled.


"Soul! Seriously, you need – !"

"No, I don't. Why should I?" He challenged. His hand tore away from her own. "Whatever happens to me doesn't matter anymore, Maka."

Maka's brows pinched. "What do you mean? You can't just give up like this - what about your parents! Your brother!"

"My mother and father could care less about me – Wes is the heir, I'm the extra. And even then, they wouldn't dare name me next in line in case something happened to Wes. They're disowning me, anyway. So, what's the point?"

"They're...disowning you? For what!"

"For being a 'delinquent'." Soul air-quoted, flatly. "For being a failure. What else?"

"You're not a failure." Maka fiercely said.

He snorted, cynically. "Don't be stupid, Maka, it doesn't beseem you. I dropped out of high school, definitely not going to college, and I'm crazy." His eyes emptied, became hollowed and heavy. "There isn't anything left for me here..."

"Yes, there is!" She shouted, and scraped her chair back roughly as she stood. "There has to be something out there for you! This can't be it! There has to be something!"

"Well, there isn't!" Soul snapped, nastily. "There isn't anything else out there for me! I have nothing to live for - I have no one! I'm just here for some fucked up reason – I'm just taking up space! I can't even play the fucking piano right – I'm shit, Maka, accept it!"

"NO!" Maka snarled. "You're not shit! You're not a failure! And there is something for you to live for! Everyone has something to live for!"

"Well, not me!" He mock-sang. He sobered, dropping his eyes to his lap. "So what's the point of seeing some doctor... if nothing will change. It will only get worse and worse until I die of overdose or something worse. That's the truth – that's what'll happen either way. So, going to a doctor now, trying to fix myself, won't help in anything."

The silence was strained; thick.

"...You said...you said you don't have anything to live for..." Maka started, and he looked up in alarm when he heard the thickness in her voice. Her shimmering green eyes were watery, drowned with grief.

"Maka..." He whispered, feeling guilty for dumping all of his issues on her so abruptly.

"So live for me." She stated, and he froze. "Live for me, Soul. Stay alive for me, fix yourself for me." She croaked, sucking in a breath to keep in her sobs. Her fingers clutched the hem of her skirt. "But don't give up... please, don't. You're the only person who ever really gave me a chance." She confessed, rawly. "You're – the only one I can really open up to, Soul."

His chair fell back when he stood and he crushed her to his chest. His grip was bruising as he shushed her, stroking her back in comfort as she shook. He looked up when the door opened to reveal Marie, looking curious and slightly miffed since she heard the chair clatter within the office.

She gasped when she saw Maka crying in his chest, and he shook his head; telling her to leave with his eyes.

She nodded, giving him an encouraging thumbs up before quietly closing the door.

Soul rolled his eyes at her theatrics, but sobered when Maka pushed back and wiped a hand under her nose. She looked somewhat annoyed, somewhat embarrassed. Soul smiled softly, reaching out to wipe away the tears that streaked down her cheeks.

"Crying isn't cool, Maka." He hoarsely said, voice barely breaching a whisper.

"Sorry." She sniffled. "I don't usually cry. Ugh, this sucks, they won't stop..."

He wiped away another streak of tears, and said, hoping it would stop the tear flow: "I'll go. I'll see this Stein guy and see if he could fix me. I promise, I'll go. I won't do this again. Just – stop crying." He wiped more tears away, pressing her against his chest once more. "Stop crying, Maka. Don't ever cry again – do that for me."

She did stop crying, and forced a wobbly smile on her lips while she laughed at herself for being so emotional.

Soul realized something, in between Maka telling him she needed to get another soda from the vending machine and Marie coming back into the room after Maka left to ask him what had happened.

That girl would be the only reason he would live.

That girl would be everything.

Maka Albarn was his reason for breathing now.

A/N: This has an open ending. You can assume what happens next on your own – it would be extra detail if I wrote it lol (cruel I'm not doing it? Maybe LOL). And, for those of you who are still wondering, I do think that Soul, without Maka, would be a slacker but would get decent grades. Like, C's and stuff. Of course, here, he has an actual reason for not being able to concentrate in school, and that's the little demon in his head (can you guess who? He swings to jazz, for some screwed up reason lol).

I know this is rushed, and kinda' crappy. But it's been in my documents for a while now...

Okay, next time I post up a story, it'll be an AU, multi-chaptered, SoMa (with other pairings included) fanfiction! Promise :D