My first Soul Eater fan fiction! I've had this little snippet of Stein/Spirit for awhile…I think they make a great couple, but this is a friendship fic, unless you squint…or choose to see it that way XD I left 'Senpai' as it is, but otherwise, no random insertions of Japanese in this fic, thank you very much XD

"So you think you can handle that mission, Meister Maka?" Lord Death eyed the mirror screen as he spoke in his usual cheery voice.

"Absolutely, Lord Death! Soul and I will have it done no problem, you can count on us, sir!" she saluted with a smile that became a frown as a familiar red-head appeared beside Lord Death.

"Maka, sweetie! You make your dad sooooo proud…off doing missions for Lord Death, I remember when-"

"-I don't care." Maka said as she turned her nose up at her father who sobbed.

"Maka, you're so cruel to Daddy, just-"

"Reaper Chop!" Spirit was sent sprawling to the ground as he clutched his head with a groan.

Lord Death returned his attention to the screen with a wave. "You two take care now, alright? Don't take any unnecessary risks!"

"You've got it, Lord Death! Meister Maka over and out!" The screen went blank and Spirit, also known as Death Scythe, sobbed again.

"Maaaakaaaaa." Spirit moaned.

Lord Death sighed. ""Quit whining, it gives me a headache. And anyway, I have a mission for you as well."

Spirit sat up instantly as his expression sobered. "Huh? A mission for me?" He was a Death Scythe, he really didn't ever get 'missions' he just accompanied Lord Death with occasional extenuating circumstances, such as with Ashura and when Crona had initially been found.

"Yes…it seems Stein hasn't turned up to class in several days and no one has heard from him…I tried to contact him but I couldn't reach him…so I'm sending you to find out what's going on with him."

"What? Me? Why me! He's probably doing it on purpose to lure me there and dissect me…" Spirit sniffed.

Lord Death narrowed his gaze on the other. "Do I need to use another Reaper Chop?"

"No, sir." Spirit said glumly as tears streamed silently from his eyes…honestly, a Death Scythe having to babysit that lunatic…that was how it had always been though. If it weren't for Spirit as kids, then Franken wouldn't have had anyone, not by way of friends, or by way of someone to keep him from dissecting his fellow classmates.

So it was that several hours later, an annoyed but admittedly concerned Spirit wound up at Franken's house slash laboratory. It gave him chills just thinking about it.

"Well, here goes." he muttered.

Knock. Knock.

Spirit waited a moment before he tried again.

Knock. Knock.

Another moment passed. "Damn him…Hey, Stein, open u-"

Creeeeak.

The door slid open slowly to reveal a lightless house before him. "If this is a joke, Stein, I'm not laughing." he said with a faint shudder. But there was no answer and with a scowl he flicked the light switch nearest to him and looked around. It was a complete mess, and Stein was usually fairly orderly all things considered. Had there been a struggle?

Now on alert and concerned, he made his way through the house cautiously. "Stein? Hey, Stein…Franken! Where are you?"

"Nngh…Spirit?" a weak voice came from his left and he looked down to find Franken Stein on the ground beside him. There was a smear of dried blood on his face and his hair was unkempt, his clothes dirty and rumpled. How long had he been there?

"Stein! What happened? Were you hurt?" Spirit knelt down beside the other as he helped him to sit up.

Stein said nothing at first before he tilted an absent gaze to Spirit. "Hurt…? No…I've just…been lying there awhile, I suppose…I seem to have cut myself, but it's better now.." An angry looking cut on his hand, the apparent source of the blood smear from where he'd likely wiped his face, had dried but looked a bit worse for wear.

"Stein…what's wrong with you? Did you take some kind of medicine, is that it?" Spirit looked the other over in case he had anymore wounds and jumped when he felt a hand grab his wrist.

"I need water." came Stein's short reply.

Spirit stared down at the other a moment before he nodded. "Yeah, okay…come on." he rose slowly and hefted the other man up with him as he brought him into the kitchen where he plopped him down onto a chair after he flicked on a light. Stein had been in total darkness until Spirit had arrived.

Spirit gathered a cup and some water from the sink before he returned to Stein's side and pushed the glass against his lips. "Drink." he ordered and Stein gave an incoherent mumble before he complied and obediently finished the glass. Spirit set it aside to regard the other a moment. "So what happened?" he finally asked.

"Whatever do you mean?" Stein asked with a faint smile as he looked up at Spirit. But his eyes were unfocused and Spirit wondered if the other really even knew what was going on.

"…You're covered in blood, you smell like you spent the night in a garbage bin, and you're acting weird. Weird for you, I mean. What happened?" he asked again as he frowned down at the other from his standing position.

Stein said nothing and Spirit grabbed the collar of his shirt and jerked him up. "Franken. I asked you a question." Spirit's voice was hard and Stein blinked, and for the first time, a flicker of lucidity seemed to come into his eyes.

"Senpai…" Well this was a familiar scene.

Even as a child, Franken was always in some sort of…incident. The other children were afraid of him, of his strange words and looks, of his fascination with dissection and his soft-spoken and cruel behaviors. He wasn't unkind, he was simply lacking. Franken Stein had no conscience, no sense of morals, and it wasn't until Spirit left to be married that he finally started to exhibit human behaviors such as caring for his students and expressing anger at Medusa's treatment of her own child. Prior to that, he simply couldn't understand emotions and when he might have felt them, they only spurred his infatuation with dissection and such things, his method of understanding. Spirit had been the only one who could ever break him from his reveries, really, the one who hadn't been afraid (generally speaking) and who had stood by his side when the other children turned away in fear.

"Don't you 'Senpai…' me. I want an explanation." Spirit said sternly.

A smile tugged at the corners of Stein's lips as he tugged his collar free of Spirit's grip and slumped in his chair a moment. "Just the past catching up with me, I suppose. The monsters in my closet are so much more real now that I'm older…I've been visiting with them for the past few days…" he drawled and Spirit's eyes narrowed.

"You killed it! You killed the rabbit!" a child shouted in disgust.

A blank-eyed Stein regarded the child without expression or emotion. "I dissected it. I wanted to see how it worked." he said simply.

Another child glared. "Rabbit killer! You murderer!"

"He's so creepy." another echoed.

"What a freak." yet another.

"What's wrong? Everything dies…I merely wanted to examine it, that was all…I made sure that it's death was quick and painless…" Stein said matter-of-factly, as though it should have settled the matter.

One of the children came forward and shoved him roughly to the ground where he landed in the mud with a faint wince. The sticky, soggy mud soaked through his pale pants and left dark stains, and he stared down at the ground with an almost sad expression.

"Monster." the one who pushed him down spat.

"Let's teach him a lesson, let's see how he likes being all cut up!"

"Yeah!" the group jeered. A rock was lifted up to be thrown at Stein who simply sat and awaited the pain when a hand caught the boy's wrist and then knocked the rock aside.

An older boy with bright red hair gave them a cold look. "Haven't you ever heard it's not right to gang up on people? Why don't you leave him alone?"

Stein slowly lifted his head as his silvery eyes widened slightly. "Senpai…" he whispered.

The boy who'd nearly thrown the rock seemed a little nervous before some of the other kids joined him at his back. "Why don't you make me?" the boy sneered and seemed smug. Right up until Spirit formed a scythe out of his arm and held it up warningly. "Try me, kid."

The boy's eyes widened. "Y-You're a freak too…c'mon, let's get out of here…no reason to stick around with a bunch of freaks anyway…" the group high-tailed it out of there.

Spirit scoffed before he turned his cold teal eyes onto Stein. "How many times do I have to tell you not to do stuff like this? Jeese, you're so much trouble." he grumbled as he came forward and grabbed Stein's hand as he pulled the other up.

Stein was silent for a moment but when Spirit started to pull away his hand, Stein gripped it tightly and Spirit's brow furrowed slightly. "I just wanted to see how it worked…I don't mean to be a monster…they don't understand…"

Spirit's scowl faded somewhat and after a moment he sighed and lifted his hand to ruffle Stein's hair lightly. "You're not a monster, Franken. You're creepy as Hell. But you're not a monster…if they don't understand that, then it's their loss…anyway, come on, we need to get you cleaned up before our teacher decides I beat you up again." That had been a fun day.

Stein smiled faintly as he kept close to Spirit who allowed the smaller boy to keep holding his hand. "You're not a monster either, Senpai." Stein said softly and Spirit huffed.

"Yeah, well…monsters or not, I guess I'm stuck with you…just be more careful, alright? It kinda bugs me when you get hurt." Spirit muttered.

"It's so sweet that Senpai cares so much." Stein said sweetly, but he was mocking the other this time.

"I never said-you-gah!" he pulled his hand away with a faint blush. "Annoying brat." Spirit muttered and Stein's smile widened as he followed the other home.

Spirit frowned at Stein. "And that means…what exactly?"

Stein was silent a moment as he let his eyes drift to the side before he said. "One of the students…called me a monster."

Spirit's eyes widened slightly in surprise before he lifted a brow. "So what? It's never bothered you before."

"…it surprised me too. That it bothered me that is. But these aren't classmates, they're my students. If even they see me as a monster…"

"So there's a brat in the bunch, who cares? Lord Death was worried about you, you know, that's why he sent me here." Spirit grumbled.

Stein turned his silvery eyes back onto Spirit. "Were you worried too, Spirit?" he asked, a faintly mocking tone in his voice.

"I-of course not." Spirit crossed his arms with a stubborn expression and Stein chuckled lightly. "If you like, we could do a little experiment to ease your concerns…just lay down on my operating table and-

"-Like Hell!" Spirit backed away with a queasy expression. "Touch me and I'll break your fingers." he whined and Stein smirked slightly.

"Poor Spirit…you look nervous…should I fix that too?" Stein flexed his fingers playfully and Spirit shivered.

"Shut up…and clean off your face, it's bugging me." Spirit ordered as he kept his distance with a wary expression.

Stein chuckled again before he rose obediently and made his way to the sink where he slowly rinsed off his face and hand, and bound the wound in a bit of cloth and tape. "Now go sit down while I make something to eat…because I'm willing to bet you haven't eaten in a few days, and I don't need you fainting on me or something…" Spirit muttered.

"Your concern is touching, but it's not necessary, Spirit. I am alive, and now conscious, so feel free to leave. Your mission is complete." Stein smiled airily.

Spirit eyed the other a moment before he pointed. "Not until I make sure you're not going to drop dead the moment I leave. So like I said, I'm going to make some food and you're going to eat it and like it, got it?" Spirit could be quite commanding when it came to Stein, particularly when he wasn't terrified of the other and his 'experiments'.

Stein lifted a brow before he shrugged. "Suit yourself…so how's Maka doing these days? Made any progress?" There was a light taunt in his voice.

Spirit instantly got teary-eyed. "She hates me! I tried to tell her about my days as a Meister and she said that she didn't care…what am I going to doooo?" he whined as he began to prepare the food. "She never even said anything about the book that I sent her…I wonder if Blair got it to her okay…" he mumbled.

"Book? That's funny…I could have sworn I heard something about lingerie…" Stein drawled.

"What?"

"Just something that I heard."

Spirit let out another sob as he let the water boil for the pasta that he'd be making. It wouldn't be his first time cooking for Stein nor likely his last. Stein got so wrapped up in his experiments and such that he'd often forgotten to do things like actually take care of himself, which was where Spirit came in. Honestly, what a troublesome Meister he'd had…good thing he was Lord Death's Death Scythe now, right?

"Just like old times, huh, Spirit?" Stein murmured and the Death Scythe cast a glance at the other. Stein had looked away again and seemed content to stare into the blank space of air that surrounded them. Was he thinking along the same lines as Spirit? "Of course, back then, you were taller…now you're smaller than me, it's strangely adorable." Stein said with a smile.

Spirit flushed faintly. "I can't help it if you grew freakishly tall." he grumbled, annoyed. "Besides, I'm still in charge and your elder so you'd better show me some respect ." he announced. Not that anyone believed that. On the outside, Spirit appeared to be the child in the care of the more mature if maniacal Stein. They didn't understand the nature of their relationship, their past.

"Is that right…?" Spirit jumped as he heard Stein's voice right behind him and he turned around to find Stein a scant few inches away as he looked down at Spirit with a sly smile.

"G-Go sit down…you're creeping me out." Spirit eeped a bit as Stein's cold hand came around his neck. "What are you-"

A pair of lips were crushed against his own and Spirit's eyes went very wide very fast as Stein slipped an arm around Spirit's waist as he kissed the other with surprising gentleness. "Ste-" Stein took the opportunity to deepen the kiss and silence Spirit who was now blushing darkly as he pushed weakly at Stein's chest, either in surprise or for lack of wanting to end the kiss, Stein wasn't sure.

Stein pulled away suddenly with his same sly smile as he looked to the flustered and blushing Spirit.

"Y-You…what the Hell was that? You…pervert!" Spirit backed away several feet and glared at Stein.

"Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?" Stein asked calmly before his smile widened. "I told you that I wanted to experiment on you…I just wanted to see your reaction if I did that…it was very interesting, especially that part where you kissed back and didn't push me away…"

Spirit's face went several shades redder instantly. "You-I-you're crazy!" he whirled around to busy himself with the food. "You're lucky I don't just leave you here after that…" he rubbed his mouth furiously.

Stein smiled lazily, his posture relaxed as he shrugged. "Do what you like…I've had my fun…for now."

Spirit blanched and frowned down at his food, cheeks still aflame as he finished up with the cooking and set out a plate for him and Stein.

Spirit sat across the table from Stein and he poked at his food as he stared determinedly down at it.

"Still thinking about the experiment, Spirit?" Stein asked in amusement.

Spirit ground his teeth together. "Thinking of ways to knock you out and make my escape." he retorted.

"Really? I might be of some help with that…there's always asphyxiation…or bludgeoning…or-"

"That's enough!" Spirit shoveled a mouth full of food into his mouth as he glared down at his plate. Honestly…Lord Death had better give him a day off or something for this…

Stein chuckled as he picked at his food and occasionally took a bite. He wasn't hungry, but he knew that it would upset Spirit if he didn't eat. He could always dispose of the rest later. Besides…it was rare that Spirit cooked for him nowadays and aside from the other being a surprisingly good cook…Spirit's was the only 'home cooking' that Stein had any interest in.

When they were finished, Spirit cleaned off the plates and turned around to speak to Stein, only to find him gone. "Huh? Stein? If you're going to jump out at me or something…" he warned as he looked around warily before he stepped into the next room and found Stein curled up on the couch. "What is it? Something wrong?"

"I think my neck is broken.."

"What?" Spirit was at his side almost instantly as he leaned down. "What do you mean, what-"

Stein grabbed the other's arm and tugged Spirit down into an awkward position beside him before he righted the other and rested his head on Spirit's lap. "Never mind, it's fine. I was mistaken." Stein said calmly, with yet another smile.

"You…" Stein scowled down at the other as he started to rise. "Unbelievable-"

"Hey, Spirit? Would you mind sitting here a little longer? It would…make me feel better." Stein said softly, so softly that Spirit wasn't sure that he'd heard. He looked down to read the other's expression but there was none, Stein's silvery eyes simply looked up at Spirit. But they weren't cold, and that meant something…it was a vulnerable expression for Stein to wear, and aside from the fact that he never gave such an expression, who but Spirit would really understand it?

"What's with you? Like I said, weird even for you…are you really that bothered about that monster thing?" he asked with an annoyed tone, but he settled back in the chair and let Stein keep his head on Spirit's lap.

"…You said before that I wasn't a monster, is that what you still think?" Stein asked softly.

Spirit blinked before he ran a hand through his hair. "No, it's not."

Stein stilled on Spirit's lap with his mouth partly open and he finally said. "I see."

Spirit was silent a moment before he finished a bit grumpily. "I don't think it…I know it…an annoying brat like you couldn't be a monster if he tried…so quit worrying about it, alright? Even if you were a monster, what does it matter? You'd still protect them, right? That's what happens when you care about people, they don't always care back but it's a risk worth taking…"

"Like with Maka?" Stein murmured.

Spirit winced and sighed before he nodded. "Even if she really did hate me…I wouldn't love her any less."

"I almost…think that I understand that now…after all this time." Stein said in a rather thoughtful tone.

"Franken?" Spirit peered down at the other, a bit taken aback.

"Even if the students think I'm a monster…I'd still want to protect them…and even if you hated me, you'd still be my Senpai." Stein said as his silvery eyes locked with Spirit's astonished turquoise ones.

Spirit could sense that Stein was awaiting an answer. How had this happened? Stein was relying on him yet again but this was different, this time there was emotion, this time he could hurt Stein in a whole new way…

Spirit's hand lifted to gently brush Stein's hair from his face as he said softly. "You scare the Hell out of me sometimes, but I could never hate you. You're my first Meister, and my best friend. Generally speaking. When you aren't trying to cut me up." he added with a pained look.

Stein stared up at the other in surprise before he burrowed his face into the other's stomach. "We all have ways of showing we care…like how you become obnoxious and loud-mouthed and make Maka want to punch you…"

"You little…" Spirit huffed.

"Hey, Spirit?"

"Yeah, what is it?"

"Thank you."

Spirit blinked. "For what…?"

"For being my first weapon. And my best friend too." His family.

Silver and turquoise eyes locked a moment before Spirit sighed and shook his head. "You're even creepier when you're being gentle…"

Stein smirked. "You might want to check the position of your thumbs, they seem to be a little backwards."

"WHAT?" Spirit looked to his thumbs anxiously before he scowled down at the chuckling Stein. "Annoying brat."

"Senpai." Stein replied with a true smile. He knew that come tomorrow, he'd return to school and to teaching regardless of what his students said. Stein had learned about that thing called 'caring' and even a bit about that thing called 'love', because he had a gift in his life that would always be his. Franken had Spirit, and that was the kind of bond that would always fix him no matter how broken. All the little pieces, made whole.

Mmmkay. So fluff central. But I had fun with it. So there. XD I'd like to think that if Stein ever opened up (and let himself be vulnerable) this is how he'd be. And obviously it would be to Spirit…and by the by… Spirit's just always a dork. XDD ~