Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater

A/N: Ok, well, this is my birthday present to all of you. It's my birthday, your present. The value of the present... that's up to you guys.

As a warning, this is a bit dark. The ending isn't so much so. Maybe you could call it "bittersweet", but with a big dose of the bitter.

A big thanks to LinKura for proofing and moral support after I finished the story. Be sure to thank her, she's the only reason this got posted rather than fading into obscurity and neglect on my computer.

Read and review please.

Note: This is not, I repeat NOT, related to "Your Guardian Soul" or "Nine to Life".

Who Owns Whom?

It had been years since we had defeated the Kishin. It had been mere months since Maka had made me into a Death Scythe. Or was it that I became a Death Scythe with Maka's help? I'm inclined to believe that it was the former and not the latter. She is my meister after all. And a damned cool one at that.

Sometime after all of that, Maka and I had gone through a rough patch. I was a stubborn ass and she struggled to assert her authority over me as my meister. I was just too damned proud and arrogant from finally becoming a Death Scythe. Lord Death had made an exception and let her continue being my meister. Dunno why. He must have sensed that we needed each other or something. The fact that it was true doesn't really matter.

We were fighting nearly every day, from the time we woke up to the time one of us got fed up and slammed the door in the other's face and we went to sleep. Our Soul Resonance went to shit and then we couldn't link at all. We were forbidden from going on missions as weapon and meister, being essentially useless together. Totally uncool, but it was for our own good.

That's when Stein had the brilliant idea of trying his candle experiment again. He brought us down into the lowest levels of the DWMA, gave us loose instructions that boiled down to "work your shit out if you ever want to be partners in combat again" and locked us in the room with those candles that made us really sensitive to the other's comments.

It was a last ditch effort to save our partnership to be sure. It would either break us apart forever or bring us closer than ever before. Given that we would seethe at the sight of the other by that point, I think it was a good choice. No one really knew just how close we would wind up getting. And no one would have ever seen the way it happened coming.

This is not a love story.

"I'm going to leave you two together for twenty four hours. A full day. Food, water, and a bathroom are in the next room. The candles are in there too. The door does not lock, so you two are not going to be hiding from this." Stein said looking at us as we sat on the strangely cushy floor. His expression was unreadable in the dim light. Candles were the only light source in the room. "If you two ever want to go into the field as a weapon/meister pair again, you'll work out your differences. This is your last chance. If this doesn't work, Lord Death with use Soul as his personal weapon and Maka will be forced to pick a new weapon or leave the school."

I smiled smugly. It was a win-win situation for me. No matter what, I was going to be fine. Maka, though, she would be between a rock and a hard place. I had the power over her now, and she knew it. The way she gulped at Stein's words told me that much.

"Do you two have any questions?" Stein asked looking from myself to Maka.

"How do you expect this to work?" Maka asked, somewhat defiantly. She had been forced into this as much as I had been and definitely didn't want to be with me with no privacy for a full day. I know that I didn't want to be with her for that long.

"That's for you to decide. Both of you." Stein looked at me promising violence if I didn't wipe the smile off my face.

I looked away at the wall somewhere. "Yeah. Sure. Whatever." I said as disinterestedly as I could manage

"If there are no questions, I will be going now." Stein said neutrally. He waited a few seconds for one of us to speak up and left, locking the door with a heavy click when we didn't.

We sat in silence for what felt like hours. Maka sat against a wall with her arms crossed, looking anywhere but at me. I lay on my back on the soft floor, arms behind my head, eyes closed. I was determined to wait this out and be on with my life.

"Dammit Soul! This is how you always are! You never say anything!" Maka finally shouted. I had been expecting something like this for a while. I opened one eye and looked at her indifferently.

"You just sit there acting cool now that you're a Death Scythe! I can't stand it!" She was standing now, arms stiff, fists balled next to her hips. She practically vibrated with rage.

"So what? I'm the strongest Death Scythe in the history of the DWMA. And the coolest. You're just a flat-chested bookworm. Know your place and shut up." I said. I was somewhat shocked at my own arrogance. The candles must had loosened me up, let some of my deeper thoughts through.

She stared at me, stunned, for a moment. She lowered her head, fists still clenched. "You... you bastard!" She screamed. I opened an eye to look at her as she continued. "I did all of that for you! Everything was for you! All of those battles, all of the extra training, all so we could be stronger and make you a Death Scythe!" She was crying in frustration now.

I sat up groggily and stared at her, eyes half-lidded, as she stood shaking as she fought back tears. Well, Maka's crying. What's new? I thought to myself.

Maka lifted her head to look at me. She looked terrible; her face was red, tears streaked down her face, her jaw was clenched, teeth bared in rage. "I did everything to make you what you are now. And all I get is everything thrown in my face! You just used me and threw me aside! You're just like my bastard Papa!" She screamed at the top of her voice. It made an impressive sound in the small room.

That struck a nerve with me. I stood up instantly, my face hot with rage. "Don't you even start comparing me to that son of a bitch! I'm nothing like that failure of a Death Scythe! I didn't fuck you and throw you aside, I became the best weapon in history! I outgrew you!" I shouted back, venom dripped from my last remark.

Maka looked as though I had punched her. In an instant, all of her tears and rage drained away. She looked as though someone had plucked her soul from her body. She stood swaying slightly, staring at me. "You... outgrew me?" Her voice was a barely audible squeak.

I faltered for a moment, at a loss for what to say after seeing the effect my words had on her. "You think you're in charge, that you're the meister and that lets you do everything you want. I took a damned sword that was meant for you! Even after that, you acted like you owned me! I'm not a gun that you just pull the trigger on! The weapon has a goddamned say!" I was screaming again. Disjointed arguments flew from my mouth with hardly a thought put into them.

Maka collapsed, as if each thing I said carried weight and force, to her knees and then further down until she was sitting on her feet. Her arms hung limply by her sides, her head down so far her chin rested on her chest. She was beyond tears, I realized.

I stood as I had when I got up, arms in the pockets of my ragged hoodie, postured as if nothing were bothering me. In the silence, I realized that my words, all of them meant with every bit of anger in them, had broken Maka down to a mere shell. I've done the same to myself though, I thought, she's a broken shadow and I'm a ball of seething hatred.

Without moving, she spoke. "Is that how you really feel?" Her voice was thin, almost an inaudible whisper.

"Yeah. I've felt like that for a long time. And you said that I used you. You went into battle as though I was a thing, not a person. Something to be used to kill your enemies. You pulled the 'I'm the Meister' card to get your way in things that had nothing to do with school or missions. You lorded over me. And now that the balance is upset, you can't deal with it." Every word was packed with as much distaste for the girl as I could muster. I had only been a tool to her. She should feel every ounce of pain that I felt.

Maka sat like that for a long time. Eventually my feet got tired, but I couldn't sit. I felt like sitting down now was the same as backing down from her. So I stood, shifting from one foot to another, staring at the miserable pile of a girl that I once called my friend, my meister.

Maka finally shifted, lifting her head up slowly and jerkily. When her eyes finally met mine, they looked empty, hollow. Dead. She stared at my now stunned face for a long moment. Her lips began to move slightly, as if she was re-learning how to speak. Finally, her voice reached me. Her words were half imagined, half heard: "I love you."

I reeled under the blow. It was the strongest and most powerful weapon that she could have brought to bear on me. The power in her words came not from the fact that she had feelings for me, but the fact that she still had feelings for me. Even after I had torn her down to the foundation, leaving all of her vanity, pride, and righteous fury laying around her like rubble, she loved me.

In three simple words she did the same thing to me that I had done to her. I collapsed to my knees, clutching at my head, screaming wordless rage at everything and nothing. Every pretense that I had of hatred towards her fell away, shredding my soul as they came apart. I fell to the ground on my side, pulling on the base of my skull, trying to tear out the horrible thoughts that I had held onto. Every memory I had of Maka prior to becoming a Death Scythe bloomed in my mind in an instant. Their rapid expansion crushed my bitterness, jealousy and hatred that I had for Maka.

Guilt seared through my being. Rage at my words and actions burned through my veins, my blood having been replaced by white-hot guilt. I screamed again and again, pausing only to draw breath. I thrashed against the pain, kicking out into the air and against the floor. My body writhed on the floor, the guilt as powerful as any real pain that I had ever felt.

Days seemed to pass by, as I lay screaming.

I slowly emerged from a blackness that I couldn't recall entering. The dim light of the candles and the ceiling filled my vision. My face felt stiff. I realized with a start that dried tears covered my face, causing the odd stiffness. I tried to move my hand to my face to wipe them away, but the effort required was too great. I my body was sore with an exhaustion I hadn't known possible.

I felt a soft, small hand touch my cheek and turn my head slightly. Maka's face came into view as she turned my head, which was resting in her lap. She looks like hell. I hadn't been the only one crying; her eyes were red-rimmed, her cheeks red and stained with dried tears. She smiled softly at me and sniffed her nose a little.

We were both at a total loss for words. What more can you say to someone when you've broken them so completely?

My throat felt ragged, like I had been eating sand and glass. I tried to speak, but only a hoarse rasping sound escaped my lips. Maka's smile didn't fade. She started petting my cheek in a reassuring way.

"Don't talk, Soul." She whispered. Her voice was hoarse. She'd been yelling a long time. "You've already said everything you're about to. A hundred times. A thousand times." She leaned forward and kissed me softly. I closed my eyes slightly, enjoying something soft, and pleasant for the first time in as long as I could remember.

"I know you love me. And I know you're sorry." She said after the kiss. "I'm sorry too, Soul. I never meant to make you feel inhuman, like a tool or a possession..." She trailed off. I expected her to cry, but she looked like she had cried all the tears she could.

With a massive effort, I lifted my hand to her face, stroking the soft skin. I tried to speak again, but only a rasping sound left my lips. Maka began to tell me not to try speaking and I mustered my voice: "I love you too." It wasn't enough to convey the depths of my realized feelings, not by any margin, but the words met her and she understood.

That was when I realized that I had been feeling something that I hadn't felt for months. Our souls were resonating so closely that I had a hard time telling them apart. I wasn't good at sensing them, not as good as Maka anyways. The old, comforting feeling wrapped itself around me, glad to have returned.

I looked at Maka, my eyes filled with a question that my lips couldn't ask. She returned my gaze and nodded slightly, an exhausted but happy grin on her face. We were partners again. Forever.

Sometime after I had awoken, Maka had laid down on the floor next to me. We held each other for a time and then faded to sleep. Exhaustion was the perfect term: emotionally, physically and mentally.

We were so tired that we didn't wake when Stein returned to check on us. Or when we were loaded on to stretchers and taken to the infirmary. Or when Spirit blew through the door screaming his daughter's name.

I awoke late that night in the infirmary. The lights were off and the blinds drawn. There was no evidence that anyone else was in the school at all, except for Maka in the bed beside me.

I looked over at her. She looked beautiful, a word that I had rarely applied to my meister before that day, as she slept. After a moment, her eyes opened slowly and met my own.

"Hey." I managed.

"Hey." She replied.

She held out her hand over the gap between our beds. I took it and we held hands for some time until sleep began to drift back into us. No words were needed, just looking into her eyes, I saw everything that I needed to know

"I love you, Maka." I said as my eyes closed.

"I love you too, Soul." Maka replied.

Six months after the day we spent in the Candle Room, I proposed to Maka. We were married four months later.

I know that I said this wasn't a love story, and it's not. This was a story of love realized. And when love is found by the lovers stripping each other to the bone in malicious hatred, it's not a love story.

...the fact that it ends with love has nothing to do with it. And don't forget, a cool guy like me doesn't tell love stories. He lives them.

A/N: Sorry that this was so short, and definitely not what I had promised. I had a plan as far as how I wanted my birthday fic to go, but once I started writing, my muse took over and derailed the whole thing. Quite a lot. This one went to serious depths of misery that I didn't think that I could write, especially using Soul as a mouthpiece. Writing from an older Soul's perspective wasn't too difficult, but getting into his head was.

I'm planning on writing what I had envisioned sometime soon as an alternate reverse birthday present. That's going on the assumption that I can find my flighty bitch of a muse returns to me. If I do get it back, and that's a damned big if, I plan to have it up on the exact 22 year anniversary of my birth: 12:01 p.m. (EST) July 27, 2011. That leaves me *checks watch* around 18 hours to write, proof, have someone else proof, and post the story. The plot for the alternate is a bit dark but definitely filled with smut, which I've come to see as something that is expected in my stories. Here's to hoping.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this one. It turned into a bit of a bitter surprise to me, I know that much. Anyways, please review.