"You know, it kinda suits you."
Maka blinked and looked behind her, a momentary haze fogging her mind as she was torn away from a deep thought. Soul was regarding her with demanding red eyes as he sat crouched on the small ledge above her. "What?" she asked.
"The gun, the blood, the dirt; everything really." He gave a sharp-toothed grin, adding, "Looks hot."
Had he said this any other time, she probably would have smacked him, growling as she did so. Maka would give anything for it to be one of those times, to be able to roll her eyes at his antics and continue her day. Instead, she just smiled tiredly, appreciating Soul's efforts at cheering her up. She tried to convince herself it worked.
Soul rested his chin on his palm, smirk fading into a worried frown. She looked defeated. Her pale hands gripping the rifle fearfully, her sweat and bloodstained clothes successfully drowning her petite body.
"You okay, kid?"
Her eyes flickered to his briefly before looking away. "Don't call me that."
"Answer the question, pip-squeak."
Maka glowered at the ground, nose wrinkled in annoyance. "I'm fine," she murmured, refusing to look his way.
"I don't believe you," Soul sang, reaching down and pulling at one of her pig tails, chuckling when she slapped his hand away.
"Cut it out before I beat you up."
"Like it rough do you?" Soul laughed as Maka threw a stick in his direction, missing his head by several feet.
He raised a brow at her effort. "I'm guessing you weren't usually picked first for baseball, huh?"
"Shut up, Soul."
"Nothing to be ashamed about. Not all of us can be athletic, charming - " Maka snorted " - handsome, smart, confident and lets not forget practically oozing sex appeal - "
"Oh, so you ooze sex appeal do you?"
"What, you disagree?" he asked.
Maka rolled her eyes, brushing loose hair behind her ear before saying, "Please, I can't think of anyone who would be fooled by your so called 'charm', let alone anything else you might 'ooze'."
Soul smiled down at her, eyes flashing with amusement as he rose from his perch and moved in on his target. "Nobody?"
"Oh yeah? Then why are you always flirting with me? Aw, you're blushing, something you want to tell me, Maka?" His fingers crawled up her arm to her shoulder.
"I-I am not blushing!" Maka sputtered, face red. "And I do not flirt with you."
"Maka, honey, don't bother - I'm right here. Besides, I think it all goes without saying."
"You - " A hand clamped on her face.
"Wait a sec..." All laughter had left Soul's expression, leaving behind a stoic mask as his eyes darted around the warehouse.
He growled back. "Maka - shh."
Several tension filled moments passed before he slowly removed his hand and backed away from her.
His gaze shot to hers. "Do you hear that?" he asked her quietly.
Maka paused, straining her ears. She turned to look back up at Soul, murmuring to him, "I don't hear anything." His worried expression betrayed his thoughts before he even spoke them.
Maka's mossy eyes widened. "But - "
"You know the drill," Soul said releasing her as he quickly jumped over to their small campsite. He smothered the small fire they had lit with his foot.
"We just got here!"
Soul raised a brow at her. "You want to stay? Be my guest."
Maka collapsed down on her knees.
It had been a little over a year since the epidemic first began, a conscious eating disease that left the mind numb save for an intense, insatiable hunger. At first, some people had thought it was some kind of mass-media practical joke. Granted it wasn't everyday zombies attacked, so Maka didn't really blame them. Naturally however, these 'non-believers' were the first to go. It was safe to say there was no further speculation on the authenticity of the matter after that.
The first zombie Maka ever met had been her father. Looking back she didn't know why she'd been so surprised, he'd always had a thing for woman, dead or otherwise it seemed. He also happened to be the first zombie she'd ever killed.
Her second was the one he'd been having tonsil tag with.
The months following were difficult, loneliness being the worst hardship to deal with. There wasn't much else to do but run, kill, scavenge, hide and look for other survivors. It was one year after the disease first initially spread that she had met Soul Evans.
She had been in a particularly desperate situation at the time when her creepy white-haired companion had jumped down in all his glory, yelling at the top of his lungs as he pulverized the unsuspecting undead with a machine gun. She supposed she might have been more grateful had she not spent four hours afterwards picking out brain and skull fragments from her hair.
Two months now they'd been traveling together, and it was a luxury they wouldn't take for granted again. It was easier to live with Soul around, and not just because of his efficiency with a gun. In his time on the road, Soul had realized a small trick into identifying incoming zombie attacks that had successfully kept him alive. Whenever a zombie was around, living things (animals, birds, bugs etc.) all seemed to leave. Flies were the biggest indicator he'd told her, what with the significant rise in carcasses (not everyone survived the bite). So when that constant buzz turned into suffocating silence, it was time to hit the road.
She thought she could last longer with Soul by her side, but as she sat there on the cold warehouse floor - legs raw from running - she didn't know anymore.
"Hurry up," he snapped. "What the hell are you waiting fo - Maka?" Soul frowned as he watched at her shivering form.
Maka sighed. "I can't do it."
Soul dropped their gear. "What."
It wasn't a question but Maka answered him anyways. "I can't do it anymore..." she sighed. "I can't take it. You can go without me, you'll have more food. Probably get farther too."
"What the hell?" he growled. When she remained silent, Soul let out an angry huff kicking the side of the warehouse with a bang. "So what?" he asked, ignoring her wince. "You're just going to give up? Interested in eating brains now? Great hobby choice, Maka. That'll make the parents proud."
"I wasn't going to..."
"So what then? You're just going to shoot yourself?"
"I don't want to fight anymore."
"Christ, would you get over yourself! Fuck, Maka!" She didn't like the anger in his eyes, or the torment she suspected was there as well.
Soul was scared. Oh god was he scared. Petrified even. If he had to be alone again, he would die, no question. He couldn't believe it when he found her, found another person, and now she wanted to die so soon after? He refused. Refused.
He hated her for even threatening to take herself away from him.
A loud crash interrupted whatever Soul was about to say. Maka gasped as their eyes shot in the direction it came from.
"They're here." As soon as the bitter words left his lips, they heard lazy scratches against the door. Moans followed as the scraping became more frantic, turning into a restless pounding. Maka unconsciously shuffled away from the noise till she felt her back hit Soul's pant leg.
"C'mon," Soul muttered, grabbing Maka's upper arm and pulling her to her feet, "we're not done talking."
"You have plenty of time to off yourself after we're safe - "
Soul's eyes shot to the approaching undead, snatched the gun from Maka's shaky fingers and pushed her behind him in one motion. Normally he didn't have to worry about Maka on the rare occasion that they did have to kill the zombies. The girl could hold her own - she wouldn't have survived as long as she had if she couldn't - but the blank look in her eyes scared him more than he wanted to admit.
Several shots rang out followed by the dull thud of bodies dropping.
"More are on their way. C'mon, lets get out of here." Not another word was spoken as the two slipped out of the old warehouse.
"Soul, listen - "
"No I - "
"Shut up Maka."
Maka sighed and fell back against the trucks passenger seat, her head lolling to the side. Trees whizzed by in a blur, hiding the secrets of the forest they guarded. After managing to escape the warehouse, Soul and Maka had found an old ford truck parked on the side of the road. They smashed in the windows and after several tries and a chain of curses, Soul managed to hot wire the abandoned vehicle back to life.
"It's my choice, you know."
Soul frowned, knuckles white against the charred steering wheel.
"You have no right to decide what I can or can't do."
He growled, a quiet warning ignored.
"If I want to die there is nothing - " Maka was cut off by the sudden, screeching halt of the Ford as she was roughly jerked forward in her seat. Maka clutched her heart, hissing, "Soul what the - " Soul rushed at her from the drivers seat, eyes furious with with an undercurrent of pleading despair. He pushed her against the side door, fingers gripping her shoulders as he leaned in close.
"Don't. Don't say my name. Don't look at me. Don't talk to me. If you breathe one more word Maka, I swear to god I'll make you regret it..." His teeth clenched, nails pressing harshly into her skin. He glared at her moments more before angrily pushing himself away, kicking open the door and storming off into the forest.
Maka watched his retreating form sadly. She deserved it. Of course she did.
She sighed, letting her head drop against the door with a resounding thud. Guilt tore at her heart as the pain and fear in his eyes kept flashing like a morbid slideshow in her mind. The thought of Soul fighting the world alone hurt... but could she really fight it with him?
Live for him? For a stranger - a man - she'd known barely two months? More importantly, why did she even care?
Maka closed her eyes against misty tears and concentrated instead on the steady ache residing in her chest.
Maka's eyes shot open as she gasped, head shooting around to look out the rear window. They weren't very close, but there was no denying the twitchy specks shuffling slowly down the road. Stupid, stupid, stupid Maka berated herself. She cast a critical eye towards the descending sun before glaring back at the decaying bodies. She must've been sleeping for over an hour for them to have caught up as much as they did. Maka looked nervously beside her, where was Soul?
When he'd stomped off into the forest, he had left the rifle in the truck with her. Her gaze went back to the undead, dread growing in her belly with each unstable step they took.
"Soul..." Maka groaned, hands moving to grip the gun. "Hurry up."
Soul sighed angrily, running a hand through his hair. How could she even think of leaving him like that? Of all the selfish, inconsiderate, cruel things a person could do to another human being, Maka made it all look like fucking child's play. He growled again, going so far as to curl his lip in visible disgust at the thought.
Who knew she was such a bitch?
Soul kicked a rock in frustration, pausing to hear the satisfying thud a good distance away...
...but nothing else.
Soul's breath hitched in his throat at the lack of any living sounds. Fear spiked in his heart. "Shit," he muttered, turning around at a run. How had they gotten so close? "Maka!"
Fuck, he cursed, numbly dodging trees and rocks. He had been so caught up mentally persecuting Maka, he'd completely ignored the world around him and with any luck, might've condemned her himself. He'd left the gun with her, he knew, but the rifle was old and unreliable. Even if it did manage a few shots, he doubted if it had more then five rounds of ammo in it. God he was an idiot for leaving her.
Not ten minutes later, Soul found himself bursting through the foliage to the sight of twenty mindless bodies crawling their way on top of the trucks cab. Maka watched with no small amount of fear as more and more of the outside world became shielded by rotted flesh. Soul watched as she turned towards him, their eyes meeting as palpable relief washed through her. "Soul!" She cried, relaxing her stiff shoulders slightly.
Soul frowned, wanting to smack the blonde upside the head. They weren't safe yet.
"Soul! Where have you been?" Maka shouted through a small crack she'd made in the window, smacking the fingers that tried to grab her through it.
"I-" Soul paused his reply when his eyes caught sight of the hundreds of zombie currently slinking towards them. "What the fuck!" He shouted, another fifteen minutes and she would've been a goner. Hell, if they didn't get out of here soon enough, she still would be.
Speaking of which...
"Maka! What the crap are you still doing here?"
She had the gall to look confused. "What do you mean? You were gone, idiot!"
Soul snarled, eyeing the crowded route to the truck - it wasn't looking good. He cursed and looked around him briefly before picking up a good sized stick. "Maka, drive!" Soul shouted angrily, cuffing a zombie in the back of the head with the blunt end of his make-shift weapon when it came too close. He gave it a look of derision when it immediately snapped in half.
Soul glared at her, realizing the futility of his actions. If she hadn't driven away when hundreds of undead were slowly creeping up on her because she was waiting for him (who for all she knew could have completely abandoned her), the chances of her leaving now that he had returned were slim to nil. With grim thoughts, Soul started towards her.
"Maka, I swear to god if you don't start fucking driving I'm going to rip your stupid head off!"
"Not until you're in here with me!" she yelled back, but Soul caught the silent plea in her words, the unspoken don't make me.
Soul scoffed, stepping on the head of a zombie he'd tripped. Fat chance of that. He pushed away the hands that clamped around his arms and legs, careful of their lipless jaws as he smashed their faces in. He heard Maka cock the gun behind him, rolling down the window a bit more.
"Maka! You - ack! Maka, don't aim that fucking thing at me! You nearly hit me."
Maka ignored him, taking another head-shot at a twitching priest. "Shut up Soul! I don't want to live if you die!" She didn't know why they were still fighting about it, he was no more than three metres from the truck, but then again, they probably weren't talking about her driving away any more. She could see her words had struck a nerve.
"Funny, last I heard you didn't want to live at all!" He hissed, his red eyes penetrating through her with unforgiving malice. Maka winced.
Soul impaled the broken stick into one last body and turned resolutely towards the truck. Pulling a squirming body out of his way, he wrenched the door open and slammed it closed behind him. He shoved Maka roughly to the opposite side of the cab, following her as she slammed against the passenger door. Soul leaned in close, ignoring the groans and impatient scratching resounding around them as he slammed his hands on either side of her, caging her in. His eyes burned as he spat, "At least then you'd know how it feels."
Maka felt her heart beat against her chest with emotions far from fear. "How what feels...?" she whispers, caught in his gaze.
Soul leaned away, face blank aside from the faintest hint of pain in his eyes. "Losing you."
"Soul I - "
Soul pulled away, shifting the car to drive. "Put your seatbelt on, I want to find a place to camp before it gets too dark."
Maka watched his face quietly, noting the way the fire cast dancing shadows along his tanned skin. The two had eventually found an old house to stay in, a dog with a new litter of pups keeping guard under the porch. Soul had said it was a good sign. If a dog had felt it safe enough to give birth, then it was unlikely that they'd be receiving any unwanted visitors.
Maka suppressed a tired yawn, she was sitting on a soft rug with her back against an old worn out couch. She was wearing a flowery night gown she'd found in the main bedroom - likely ten sizes too big. Since they'd left their bags back at the warehouse, they'd had to scrounge around their current dwelling for clean clothes. After changing, Soul had started up a small fire in the living room. Currently the two sat silently in front of the fire place
"Hey Soul?" Maka asked shyly. She watched his lips quirk down in a frown, but he feigned ignorance and continued to stare into the fire. Maka's eyebrow rose, well who's mature now?
Not one to be ignored, Maka poked her leg out of the blanket she was cuddled up in to not so gently prod him in the side. "Soul," she snapped, eyebrows furrowed.
Soul rolled his eyes, sighing as he rubbed his waist. She was such a brute sometimes. "What is it?"
When she didn't reply right away, Soul turned towards her only to be met with a sloppy kiss. Soul's eyes widened as Maka all but threw herself into his arms with a vengeance and they both flopped to the ground in a messy heap. The kiss was awkward and screamed inexperience but it was genuine and it was soft and apparently that was all he needed to make the fireworks tingle his fingers and warm his heart.
When she pulled away, embarrassed and red faced, he couldn't help the small smirk on his lips as he asked, "And what was that for, may I ask?"
She searched his expression before looking away. "I'm sorry."
Maka frowned dryly at his smirking face. It was amazing how a kiss could boost his mood. She sighed and fisted his wooly shirt, littered with holes. "I don't want to die anymore. I won't leave you." Her mossy eyes shone with honesty and a pure, earnest, love. "I promise."
Soul's smirk softened into a smile as affection and adoration flashed across his face. "Mmm." He murmured in agreement. Maka smiled back, giggling as he flipped them over to give her playful kisses up the side of her neck and nip at her chin.
"Maka how old are you?" Soul asked as he kissed her cheek.
"21...wh - " she gasped as his hands slipped under her shirt, "- why?"
He grinned against her jaw, jagged teeth visible. "Nothing, just wanted to make sure I wasn't robbing the cradle or anything. You kiss like a twelve year old." Soul snickered at her outraged huff. He laughed even harder when she shoved him off her and turned to glare down at him.
"I mean, 'kid' was just a nick-name, I had no idea. Though it might explain your lack of - "
He laughed. "Oh calm down, pip-squeak it was a joke."
"Well then, exactly how old are you? Thirty?" She raised her brows, ignoring the sudden look of horror on her companions face. "Too young? Well you do have white hair and you say it's natural, don't you? Is forty too far off? Well love works in surprising ways after all."
"Relax, grandpa, it was a joke."
Soul flicked her forehead in annoyance but then smiled as something occurred to him. "So you love me?"
Maka's cheeks inflamed. "No! It was part of the joke!"
Maka just glared at him as she cocooned herself in blankets. He laughed and leaned down to kiss her cheek, murmuring in her ear, "Come on, we should get some sleep. It's been a long day."
Soul moved over to the couch, flopping down as he shifted around the springs before closing his eyes. "You can join me if you like."
"No thank you," she snapped
Soul grinned. "Suit yourself, sweet heart." He got an indignant huff in reply. His smile widened.