Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater.

Out of Time
by. Waterdog

Maka Albarn was sitting quietly on the red bench in front of the train station's eighth platform. At the moment, she was fairly comfortable in her seat, but every once and a while she would shift herself slightly and readjust her position, causing the wood to creak underneath her. She was looking down into her lap, where a large, green tome sat open, its spine resting in the gap between her legs. Every few minutes, she would use her free hand to flip the page, while the other remained firmly grasped on the book.

Her ticket was for the nine 'o clock train, but she had arrived early and it was only seven-twenty. She still had an hour and forty minutes until her train arrived. She wasn't entirely sure why she'd shown up so early, but it wasn't a big deal if she had to wait or not. She wasn't entirely sure where her destination was either, but that wasn't unusual. The missions that Shinigami-sama sent them on often included far-off places that she'd never heard of before. This time though, she had a feeling that the destination was special. Maybe that was why she had shown up so early. She really didn't mind waiting though, the text she had was fairly interesting, and she didn't recall having ever read it before. It was refreshing, especially considering that she hadn't had any new books to read for a while and had been rereading the ones she owned as of late.

For the most part, she was content. Now if only her partner would show up, then everything would be perfect.

He wouldn't of course, but it was still strange that he wasn't by her side. Shinigami-sama had needed him for something, and he wouldn't be coming with her. If he was coming, she'd probably still be at their apartment getting him packed and ready for the trip. God only knows if he'd ever make a train without her to get him up and moving on time, because without her he'd probably laze about on the couch until it was five minutes before he had to go. The Death God had promised to send him on his way later; he'd just have to catch a different, later, train. If he managed to catch it that is.

For now, she was alone. Well, not completely alone.

Countless passengers rushed to and fro in front of her, their long coats swishing as they moved through the noisy crowd to catch their trains. Their various colored cloaks blended into a strange patchwork of colors, only made more complicated with the addition of scarves, hats, gloves, and boots. The choice of clothes wasn't uncommon for this late in winter, but Maka personally found them unnecessary at the moment. The train station was heated to a nice, warm temperature, despite the bitter cold outside, and she'd never known the trains to have ever been that cold the previous times she'd been here. Despite the warmth however, people were wrapped securely in their winter wear, and she could hardly make out any identifying features from anyone, let alone see anybody's faces. Because of this, the crowd seemed to be nothing more than a loud, colorful mass.

And because of this, she felt alone. Alone in a crowd, and being alone in a crowd was far lonelier then simply being alone. Not that the crowd was any more then strangers anyway.

It didn't really matter to her either; at least that's what she told herself. She'd see Soul soon enough after he caught up to her at wherever they were going. And after they were done, she'd see her other friends again too. She didn't need them to hold her hand all the time, least of all to wait with her before she boarded a train.

But at the same time, she had a feeling that she wasn't going to see any of them for a long time. Which was stupid, because she already knew how soon she'd been seeing them, and she'd already told herself that she would. She shouldn't have to convince herself of something she already knew. She was just letting the loneliness get to her, and that was stupid too, because she'd seen them less than a few hours ago.

For now, she'd let herself get lost in her book, absorbing the inky words on the page like a sponge and forgetting that she was the only one on the bench.

The story the book told her was tragic, but then most good books were tragic in some way. She herself had read plenty of books that ended with someone dying, a famine raging the country, a war tearing the world apart, or lovers being forever star-crossed. They had all been tragic, but at the same time very memorable, and she had loved them all. Without it, stories weren't nearly as interesting.

Though, even she had to admit that this book was particularly sad. She wasn't sure what it was, but the story almost seemed to strike a chord with her, and she really felt for the characters problems.

It told the story of a boy and a girl who worked together to bring down monstrous creatures. The girl was levelheaded, but that logic was sometimes overridden by her empathy, or sometimes, her recklessness. The boy was much more calculatingly understanding, and he could separate his emotions from his priorities. But despite the boy's passive and apathetic nature, he cared for the girl immensely, and would do anything and everything to protect her. They both belonged to a group that dedicated itself to getting rid of all the Monsters in the world. Their leader had just sent them both out on a mission, but the mission had quickly proved to be more dangerous than either of them would have thought. The girl had just been critically injured after she had taken a hit for the boy, and despite the boy's best efforts to get them both to safety, it didn't look like she was going to make it.

Maka felt sorry for the boy, who looked like he was going to have to live on without his partner, and at the same time, she felt sorry for the girl, who was going to die before she told the boy how she felt about him. In fact, neither of them would be able to tell the other how they felt. Because the boy loved the girl just as much as the girl loved the boy, but neither of them knew how the other felt – and now they never would.

It almost reminded her of Soul and herself, but of course that was ridiculous. They certainly weren't in love, and she certainly wasn't dying.

Still, she wished that the boy and the girl could have a happy ending, one where they could be together. In a story, there was no such thing as unfaithful, disgusting men like her papa. No, in stories, true love existed and if the girl lived, they would undoubtedly live a very long and happy life together.

They deserved a happy ending, but much like the real life, that kind of thing probably wouldn't happen.

Soul would never lose that scar he had gotten protecting her, and she would never lose the overwhelming guilt of being the cause of his pain. Like in the story, one of them could die at any time, without ever telling each other all the things that normally went unsaid. Unlike the story though, such feelings wouldn't be requited, not from that self-proclaimed cool-guy who went for prettier girls then her –

She closed the book furiously, letting the pages slam together with a heavy slap. The noise was startling, but no one in the patchwork quilt of people seemed to have noticed.

They were far too busy noticing the eight 'o clock train. The scarlet engine almost seemed alive as it barreled down the track towards its destination, with smoke billowing out behind it as the metal beast of a steam train breathed out the fumes from the fire in its belly. For a moment Maka was afraid that it wouldn't stop on time, and would crash into the train that had pulled in earlier that was resting beyond this station at the tenth platform. But the moment was short lived, because in the next second, the train was screeching to a stop, coming to rest neatly in front of the eighth platform. Big black letters declared the train's name to be the Animus, but the words vanished a moment later as people crowded around the edges of the walkway, eager to board the train.

The doors opened with a hiss, and in the next moment, the crowd surged forward, spilling into the train as quickly as they could. The train seemed to fill unnaturally fast, as the large plethora of people that had once filled the station vanished in nearly an instant. The train didn't wait either, and once everyone had boarded the train, it took off like a bullet, gone in less than a second.

It was now eight-oh-two.

And Maka was left blinking, wondering what the hell had just happened.

Her eyes scanned over the white tiles of the floor, the sign for the eighth platform and the sign for the seventh platform on the other side, where an identical train track rested, and then back to the tracks of the eighth.

But nothing seemed amiss.

It wasn't unusual for there to be steam engines, because despite the many modern trains that the train station possessed, it also had a fair amount of old train models as well. But trains didn't arrive that fast, people didn't board that fast, and trains did not take off that fast. It was not only unsafe, but also impossible. There was no way that –

It was eight-twenty-three. More than enough time for the train to have arrived, boarded, and left. And she was positive that she hadn't been thinking for more than a few seconds.

Was she… mistaken?

Maybe… maybe she was just exhausted. Maka leaning back and rubbed her closed eyelids with one hand, letting the other maintain a loose hold on the book that she had been reading. It was entirely possible that she had fallen asleep and dreamed the whole thing. That would more than explain everything, and anyway, what she had seen couldn't have been a real train. She didn't think she was that tired, but she had missed a few hours of rest the other night. But she wasn't that heavy of a sleeper normally. How could she have missed the real train coming in…?

"Hello, Maka."

Maka whirled, eyes snapping open at the same time that she lost her grip on her book, letting it slide off the bench and slam into the floor. She scrambled madly to stand up, a loud groan of protest rising from the bench's red wood, only to pause halfway as she spotted who had spoken to her.

A young woman with long, flowing black hair walked towards Maka slowly. She was dressed entirely in a white robe, which made no sense considering the cold weather outside, but the woman didn't seem bothered by her lack of proper clothing at all. If anything, she looked comfortable in it, natural even, and Maka could almost imagine her walking outside in the snow with the robe on without it seeming out of place at all. She smiled gently at Maka, both with the upward curve of her mouth, and the twinkling in her gray eyes. She reached Maka only moments after Maka had spotted her, bending slightly to retrieve the book, before holding it out in front of her, silently offering for Maka to take it back.

The woman, whoever she was, seemed to almost radiate kindness, radiate peace. She looked kind, with small, almost unnoticeable smile-wrinkles lining her face.

Maka took the book from her quickly, watching the women curiously. "Who are you?" She'd been cautious at first when the strange woman who knew her name had approached her, but the feeling had vanished as quickly as it had appeared and she could feel herself calming. If she stopped to think about it, she would have realized just how unnaturally calm she had become, but no such thought crossed her mind.

The women smiled at her again, but didn't offer an answer. Instead, she asked a question of her own. "Is it all right if I sit here?" If Maka hadn't been so calm, she would of demanded her question to be answered, but as it was, the rejection slid off of her without a second thought.

Maka found herself nodding wordlessly instead, and received another smile from the woman, who sat gently beside her on the bench. A book of the woman's own appeared from her sleeves, a brown tome nearly twice the size of Maka's own, and was placed noiselessly on the woman's lap. The red wood of the bench was old and should have creaked with the added weight and movement, but it did not, something Maka noticed absently.

"The train is rather loud, isn't it?" The women commented. She opened her book idly, flipping through the pages but not really reading it. "Of course, for you it came and went fairly quickly, though you sped up soon afterwards, which more than made up for it." Her tone was airy, and it almost felt like the woman was talking to herself rather than Maka.

Maka's calm turned into that of confusion. What on earth is she talking about? Almost unconsciously, she tightened her grip on her book, hugging it to her stomach. Something told her that she wouldn't like what the woman was going to say, and the more the thought took hold, the less effect the calm had on her." What do you mean?"

"Well," The woman sighed, and Maka noticed that her voice almost seemed to have a musical quality, chiming like bells. "When you first arrive, everything passes rather slowly. It gives you a lot of time to reflect, so it doesn't seem as long. Then things pass quickly, and then slowly again, right on time for you to board your own train." The woman explained clearly, though Maka still didn't have the faintest idea what she meant.

But even if she didn't understand, it didn't stop a strange feeling of dread from filling her. It almost seemed like the woman was explaining something terrible, and she was the uncomprehending listener who wouldn't let the words sink in. Maka swallowed, something in her stomach twisting. The calm from before was almost completely gone now, like a band-aid that been placed on the crack of a dam, only to be washed away a moment later. "What do you mean?" She repeated. "I-I don't understand."

The woman's gaze sharpened as she turned her head to fully face Maka. "That is something you'll have to remember on your own." Her tone was sad now, another smile completely different then the last twisting into being on her face. It was a sad smile, full of pity from an unknown cause.

"Remember what on my own?" Maka echoed the woman's words, unable to find anything else to say.

"You don't remember how you got here, do you?" The woman's eyes softened. "You need to remember. Then everything will become clear." The line rang true, yet it seemed oddly rehearsed, jaded even, from being spoken one too many times.

"But I do remember how I got here!" Maka snapped at the woman, suddenly frustrated. She was no longer calm, and the emotions that had been held back by it flooded forth, fresh and strong and powerful. She didn't even know the woman's name, and all the woman had down was give her all these cryptic answers without really answering anything. It was almost like she was implying that the train that had come and gone much to quickly was real, and that she hadn't dreamed it at all. But beyond that, as impossible as what the woman was saying already was, Maka had no idea what she meant. Time always passed at the same pace, it didn't slow down or speed up like that. Time seemed to fly when you were occupied, but it didn't actually do it. "Shinigami-sama sent me on a mission, and I'm waiting for my train." She knew perfectly well that that was what had happened, and she clearly recalled the Death God telling her all about the mission. But it didn't clear anything up at all, despite what the woman had told her.

The woman nodded with understanding, but not the kind of understanding she was looking for. It was a sad understanding, in which one knew something that the other was missing. "Then where's your partner?"

Maka furrowed her brows. "…Soul? Shinigami-sama needed him for something, but he'll be along soon enough." She paused. "How do you even know about him anyway?"

"Is that what you believe?" Once again, the woman had ignored her question. She shook her head slightly. "This kind of thing is rather hard for people to remember, but you need to remember." The woman repeated. "It's important that you remember, otherwise you won't understand."

"Won't understand what?" Maka rubbed her temples, what patience she had quickly dwindling into nothing. The conversation wasn't going anywhere. "You're talking like what I remember didn't really happen, but it did!" She froze, eyes widening in abrupt realization. "What do you mean 'is that what you believe'? What do you know?" Her breath quickened. "Where's Soul?"

The woman turned her gaze downwards towards the book in Maka's hands, ignoring Maka's panic. "Maybe you need to back track a little. The book will help you remember."

"The book?" Maka looked down towards it disbelievingly, but she ripped it open again anyway, at this point, any hint to solving the woman's nonsensical words was welcome. But more than that, she needed to know what happened to Soul. If what she remembered wasn't right, then Soul could be in danger. She had almost been finished with it before she had slammed it closed, but the last thing that had happened in the story was the boy carrying the girl to safety as she rapidly lost consciousness…

The mission had been simple.

A town named Salam, hardly twenty miles away from Death City, had reported the appearance of a Witch. Though not particularly powerful, the Witch was much too strong for the citizens of the farming village to handle on their own. It was a simple enough mission, one taken partly to keep in practice and partly so they could spend some time together. Ever since Soul had become a Death Scythe, their missions had become much more difficult, and after a lull in their regular missions, it had been a welcome change.

But as it turned out, the mission hadn't been simple at all.

The Witch really had been rather weak compared to what they were used to, and normally shouldn't have even been a problem for them. But it was the Witch's power, along with her cunning, that had truly turned the mission into a nightmare.

They'd hardly been in the town an hour before the Witch had appeared before them.

Her outfit was a simple black dress, with blue zigzags running throughout it. What looked like thick black ropes were twisted around her everywhere, with some around her arms, legs, neck and body. Frills hung off of them, and if Maka had really thought about it, it hinted clearly at just what the Witch's familiar was. But by the time she had realized it, it had been too late.

"Well, well, what do we have here?" The Witch chuckled. "A Meister and her Weapon. How cute." An unnatural grin marred the face of the Witch, which, if Maka really cared, could be considered beautiful.

Maka ignored the Witch's words, Soul gripped firmly in her hands. "Witch, for the crimes you have committed against this town, your soul is mine."

"Be careful Maka," Soul warned her, his face reflecting from the scythe's blade. "Something seems off about this one." She didn't have to look to know that his eyes were narrowing at the Witch, calculating a battle plan quickly and quietly.

"Oh, really?" The Witch laughed. "Well then, I suppose I should practice some self defense." She grinned wickedly. "Eels ell elect eel tric." She chanted, white teeth glimmering from between black lips. The Witch waved her fingers around almost lazily, before a blue, sizzling, stream of light rocketed towards them.

Maka dodged quickly, jumping out of the way and then leaping forward with Soul's blade raised above her without missing a beat. The Witch dodged just as easily, suddenly airborne as she rose on a broom that she had pulled out of the air. With the Witch temporarily out of range, Maka was forced on the defensive, dodging the blue bursts of magic in rapid succession.

"Maka," Soul called to her. "To your left!"

He didn't need to elaborate for her to know that he was pointing out the building to their left, which had enough crates stacked out in front of it to enable her to reach the Witch. She rushed towards them, leaping up them as she avoided another blast, before jumping into the air towards the Witch. The Witch sent another blast of magic that Maka wouldn't be able to avoid, but she was confident that Soul would be able to block it. Small magical attacks like this hardly effected him anymore, especially after he had made Death Scythe.

And that's where things had taken a turn for the worse.

Soul screamed when the burst hit him, his scythe body shaking as it ran through him, and it was only then that she realized just what the burst was. The last tingles of the blast from what Soul hadn't absorbed shocked her fingers and made it more than clear.

It was electricity, and with Soul's body currently made out of metal, he conducted the blast in its entirely. Normal electricity would have undoubtedly pained him as it shocked him, burning every inch of him, but it was made all the more terrifying because it wasn't normal, it was magical electricity. She could only imagine what unfathomable agony he must have been in.

And that was only a small burst.

The Witch dodged Maka's attack easily as the Scythe Meister's attack came up short. Maka landed on the ground with a small thud even as she remained steady on her feet, but that didn't matter to her at the moment.

"Soul, Soul, are you ok?" Maka stared at him worryingly, watching the last of Soul's spasms coming to a halt, his reflection showing clenched teeth and eyes screwed shut in pain.

"I… I'm fine." Soul attempted to reassure her, but his pained words made it clear how empty the reassurance was. "Focus on the fight."

The Witch laughed from above them, cackling without even bothering to hide her laughter. "Ah, the powers of the electric eel. It works perfectly on you Weapons, and that was only a small dosage. Just think what I could do." She grinned. "Why, I could kill your little Weapon in a instant."

And very suddenly, the electric bursts weren't so little anymore.

Maka could do nothing but dodge, even as Soul insisted that she attack the Witch head on no matter what happened to him. But she couldn't do it, not when she knew that any one of the bursts could be enough to kill him. She would have to wait until there was an opening before she could make a counter-attack. She'd do whatever she could do to protect him, and that was probably what terrified Soul the most.

But they never got the chance to attack back.

It wasn't long before they were cornered, and faced with blocking with Soul and risking him grievous harm and possible death versus her throwing him out of the way at risk of her own life, it wasn't a contest. If she hadn't known Soul so well, she might have been content just to hug him to her as she turned around and took the hit with her back, but not only would Soul probably try to transform and take the hit anyway, her body might also carry the current enough for it to shock him anyway.

Even in human form, Soul carried some of the properties he had as a Weapon, not to mention that electricity was deadly for the human body as well.

Soul could only scream her name as she tossed him out of the way, scream as the large bolt of magical electricity that was meant for him struck Maka, scream as her body convulsed and she collapsed on the ground, the smell of burning flesh filling the air.

Maka's vision faded in and out, and her ears were ringing from both Soul's screams and the Witch's mad laughter. Her thoughts blurred together, and her mind fogged. She barely recognized the flash of steal before the Witch plunged a previously hidden dagger into her repeatedly and as it was, she could hardly feel the pain. She slowly drifted out of consciousness as Soul came up from behind the Witch with his arm a scythe blade, slashing it through the Witch before the Witch could even blink.

The last thing she remembered before the darkness took her was the warmth of Soul's arms as he rushed her to safety, and his voice begging her to hold on a little longer, begging her not to die.

Maka stared blankly at the white tile below the bench, her grip on her book slackening until it vanished all together. Only the woman's reflexes stopped the book from once again falling to the floor before she shoved it back into Maka's lap, but Maka neither noticed nor cared. "We were on a mission… and I got hurt." Hurt didn't even begin to describe it, but it was more then she wished to think about at the moment. "I… I'm…" She began, but fell silent without saying anything substantial.

She was hurt but that didn't explain why she was at a train station with no injuries to speak of… unless… unless she was –

No. She couldn't say it. She wasn't – Maka gulped – wasn't that. She couldn't be. Not now… not when she still…

The image of a slouching white-haired boy with red eyes flashed through her mind. He was smiling, his sharp teeth gleaming in the sunlight with his mouth open to say something. But just as quickly the image was gone.

It was all so messed up. So… wrong. She was supposed to be going on a mission. Shinigami-sama had sent her on one, she remembered him asking, even if people could fool themselves into thinking something they dreamed was real, she wasn't. Not at all. Soul was just running late because Shinigami-sama had needed him. That's what happened. Really. She wasn't leaving – wasn't leaving for good, just for a little while. She'd be back, she wasn't… she wasn't that...

And… and… she didn't want to believe it was over.

There was still so many things she wanted to do, so many things she hadn't done… so many things she hadn't said. When she'd first entered Shibusen, her life goal had been to make a Death Scythe even stronger then her papa, to prove that she could surpass her mama. She'd driven towards it without stop, and she'd thought, if she could just accomplish this one thing, she could die happy.

But it hadn't worked out that way.

Along the way she'd made friends. First with Soul, then with Tsubaki and Black Star, and then with Kid, Liz, and Patty… and they'd become close. From when they'd played basketball even though she had no idea how to play, to in the midst of their toughest battles. Over time, she found them meaning more and more to her, to the point that their safety was far more important than her own.

But most important of all, was Soul. Her first friend, her best friend, and her partner. It was him that had first protected her, who had jumped in the way of Chrona's sword and saved her life. He'd always said that he was willing to die for his Meister, which she found stupid, even though at the same time, she was willing to die for her Weapon. Ever since her papa had cheated on her mama… she'd thought men were the scum of the earth. And even though Soul's piano playing had enthralled her when they'd first met, she hadn't wanted to believe any better of him.

But he had proven her wrong time and time again, to the point where she'd have to be blind not to see it. Soul had restored her faith in men, because even if there were men out there like her father, there were men out there like Soul too.

She could trust him with anything, rely on him, and… and she needed him. Just like he needed her. Like they needed each other.

But now… she was… she was dead. There. She'd said it. She was dead. And if she was dead, then their partnership was over.

She'd lost her best friend… her partner… and maybe something more.

No, that wasn't right. She was the one leaving. Soul had lost her. She'd died on him. All over some stupid Witch that wasn't even supposed to be a challenge.

But no matter how it pained her, she didn't regret anything. She'd always said, at least to herself since Soul didn't want to even consider that she would, that she would die for her Weapon. For Soul.

She had to have saved him, because he wasn't with her, and anyway, he had killed the Witch right after she'd went down. Soul was safe, even if she wasn't, and to mope around because she was dead was an insult to her sacrifice.

Soul was probably already blaming himself for her demise. How much worse would he feel if she was up here crying over her own death?

It wasn't even his fault! It had been her own choice!

And here she was.

Maka glanced over towards the track of the eighth platform, where only moments before the Animus had roared in and out of the station. Animus meant soul in Latin, so that made it the Soul train. The train that carried souls. It was oddly fitting.

At nine, it would carry her away to. On, to whatever kind of afterlife awaited her. She smiled humorlessly to herself, the afterlife certainly counted as a special destination. And after she went, she wouldn't see any of her friends for a long time, or at least, she better not.

"… I'm dead." Maka didn't know how long had passed since she began, but she finally finished her sentence, looking up at the white-cloaked woman. For a moment, she entertained the idea that this was all a fantasy. That there was no woman, that the woman was simply a figment of her imagination, and she had just fallen asleep while she waited for the train. She'd wake up, and be on the bench alone again, waiting for her train and watching people walk by – this time with their faces showing. Or even, she was in the hospital on some drug induced dream from all the sedatives and morphine they had given her, and Soul would be there to call her an idiot. Or maybe, there hadn't really been a mission, and she had imagined everything, and when she woke up she wouldn't be in the hospital at all, but tangled in the blankets of her bed at their apartment.

But that was just wishful thinking. Even humoring herself with a sharp pinch to arm, she knew it was real. Just like she knew that it was real when she walked into Soul's soul, or when she'd used the madness to connect with Chrona. She could feel it in her soul, and as much as she wanted to believe that something as farfetched as some afterlife express wasn't real, the soul never lied.

The woman placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, and an unnatural calm filled Maka once again. She wasn't exactly upset, more numb then anything, but the pressure in her chest eased as the calm took hold. The white-robed woman smiled sadly at her, but said nothing.

Maka looked up at her, a calm acceptance filling her. "So, I'm dead now?" It wasn't really a question so much as a confirmation.

The woman sighed softly, sadly. "You're doing better than most. Normally, people don't realize what's happened until after they board the train. It really is amazing that you were able to figure it out." She smiled. "But then, it all starts with figuring out that something is amiss. Most people just write it off as best they can, or never notice… but, even as you tried to deny it, you also tried to figure it out." The woman explained. "If you hadn't realized that something was wrong, then I wouldn't have been able to appear before you."

What the woman – was she an angel? – told her made sense, but even as she took the information in, another, different realization took in. The woman had never answered her question. The angel had never answered any of her questions, at least not directly. The calm may have fooled her before, and the panic that followed it, but it didn't now. "But am I dead?"

The woman's answering grin was bright. "Do you know what you're book really is?" The angel lifted her own tome up, flipping through the pages quickly as if to reinforce her words with action. "My book is almost twice the size of yours, but then, I've lived twice as long."

Maka's gaze sharpened into a glare. "That doesn't answer my question. Am I dead or not?" She was quickly losing her patience for the woman's cryptic non-answers, not that she'd really had it in the first place.

The woman nodded to herself. "If you know what the book is, then everything will be made clear to you."

Maka growled slightly, her frustration rising with each word that left the angel's lips. "You told me the same thing when you asked me to remember what happened to me! I remember now, but everything isn't clear." She argued. "Just answer my question!"

"You didn't remember everything, Maka." The woman gave no reaction to Maka's anger. "You need to know what you're holding. Then everything will be clear, and you will understand."

Even though Maka didn't want to, she thought about it. She pushed her anger aside. It didn't matter if she was angry or not, the angel wouldn't budge on her position until she figured out what the woman was talking about.

The book she had been reading had contained the very last thing that had happened to her before she died (maybe?). And when she had read it, it had seemed strangely familiar. But she couldn't quite grasp why it was, it was almost like trying to catch smoke with her bare hands. The book struck a chord with her, almost as if someone had followed her around and recorded her thoughts and feelings. But that was silly, because no one could possibly – Maka looked at the angel squarely, realization dawning on her. "It's my life… isn't it?"

It was familiar to her because it was her life, and she saw that now. She was surprised that she'd missed it before now, but her mind had been clouded before with the illusion of waiting for the train that would take her to a mission, and it had been impossible to realize earlier. Knowing that didn't make it any less embarrassing though.

"The books are useful in helping people review their lives before they pass on." The angel replied, "It allows a moment of reflection before they have to go." For a moment, the woman's gaze became distant, staring at nothing. But not even a moment later, she was looking at Maka again, and if Maka hadn't been paying attention, she might have missed it.

Maka nodded swiftly, before pausing. "But if this book is my life… how does that make everything clear? Nothing's clear." She sharpened her gaze on the angel again and repeated her question. "Am I dead?"

"The book is your life." The woman repeated. "If you want to understand, then take a moment to reflect." She opened her own book thoughtfully, flicking one of the pages with a fond familiarity.

Maka hesitated, sending the woman one last glare, and then opened the book again. The last thing she had read was that the boy – Soul – was carrying the girl – herself – to safety after the Witch had caught her…. Maka flipped to the page she had left off on, reading it out loud to both herself and the angel. "The boy ran as fast as he could without disturbing the girl's injuries. The boy instinctively knew that you shouldn't be running with an injured person, but if she was going to have any chance of living, he'd have to get her to a hospital…"

There was a sudden flash, and suddenly, the red bench at the train station was empty without so much as a single creak.

Maka rubbed her eyes furiously, attempting to rid herself of the black spots in her vision that the white light had left her with. She couldn't see yet, but she was aware of the sudden appearance of a rhythmic beeping sound with a pitch high enough to make her want to smash it into the ground so it would shut up. For a brief moment, it was the only thing she was aware of.

Then, in the next moment, she could see. Though admittedly, it wasn't much of an improvement.

All she could see was white.

The walls of the room were white, just like the floor, and the sheets of the bed, and the bandages all over – was that her?

She stared dumbly out into the hospital room, which wasn't as white as she had first thought. Along with the white bed, there were several pieces of medical machinery, including a heart monitor that was making the annoying beeping sound that she was listening to. But that didn't catch her attention, what did was the two occupants of the room.

It was her who was in the bed. Her real body that was separate from the ghostly self that she was now. She was wrapped in so many bandages that, excluding what was covered by her clothes and the sheets of the bed, and her uncovered head, she could hardly see her own skin, and when she could, it seemed either oddly white or an uneven black. And where she wasn't white or black, she was red. Despite the bandages, blood was leaking through, and small dots of red that steadily grew bigger dotted her frame. She looked so oddly frail in that instant, as if someone only needed to touch her for her to dissolve into dust. Her hair, which was normally a light brown, was streaked with blood, though at the same time, it was clear that an effort had been made to clean it up a little bit. All the same, it stuck to her face, framing it in a way that made it seem smaller than it already was.

It was strange to be watching herself, and it was something that she could stare at for hours on end without coming anywhere close to satisfying her curiosity, but it wasn't nearly as important as who had pulled up a chair next to her body.

Soul sat quietly on a hospital chair that looked like it had been pulled in from the lobby, and in an odd twist of irony, it was red. Though unlike the deep red of the wooden bench she had been sitting on, his was a bright red made of cheap plastic. It looked like one of the chairs set out for little kids, and she wondered why he hadn't gotten a better one. One of his hands was closed tightly on one of her own, limp ones, and the other gripped the seat of his chair with a white-knuckled tightness. From her position a few feet away from the front of the bed, she couldn't see his face, but his tense shoulders and clenched jaw spoke volumes.

"Soul…" Maka whispered his name softly, but despite the fact that she was more than close enough for him to hear her, he didn't even twitch. She tried to step forward, so she could put her hand on his shoulder and tell him she was going to be fine… but she couldn't move. It was as if an invisible barrier had erected itself around her, and she couldn't get any closer to him then she was now. Not that he could hear her anyway.

"Maka Albarn, age nineteen, was airlifted into Death City Hospital at six-thirteen in the evening." The woman began abruptly, and Maka jumped, whirling to face her. "At six-nineteen, Maka Albarn began treatment for severe electrical shock and multiple stab wounds. The doctors have done their best to heal Maka Albarn, but despite their efforts, she is dying." The latter half of the speech wasn't as formal as the first, but it more then got its message across. The woman smiled sadly. She had spoken as if Maka wasn't really there, yet she was speaking to Maka, and she knew that she was, but the distance was there.

It was all Maka could do to blink. "I'm… not dead?" It should have been clear to her by now, she thought idly, with the heart monitor's shrill voice still ringing in her ears, but her body and Soul had distracted her and she'd overlooked it. She had accepted that she was dead almost unconsciously, and though she didn't want to be dead, she hadn't accepted that she wasn't until the fact had been made clear to her. She put a hand to her chest, and sure enough, she was rewarded by the thump a small heartbeat echoing back. Relief consumed her.

But only for a moment.

"No," The woman bowed her head in what was finally a direct reply, and the burden that had lifted with Maka's newest revelation dropped back on her with a weight that nearly brought her to her knees. "Not yet. Maka Albarn has almost fully succumbed to her wounds, and she has been dying since seven this evening."

The words stuck Maka like lightning. "But… that was when I arrived at the train station." Her hand found her heartbeat again, and she pressed her fingers into her chest desperately. Her heart was beating much too slow, she realized, and now as she gazed back towards the heart monitor, the intervals between the beeps were widening at an alarming pace that was more than clear to anyone that heard it. She was fading fast.

"Yes," The angel nodded as one would to a frightened child. "Once you board you're train at nine, then you will die, and after two hours of slowing, you heartbeat will finally cease." To Maka, despite the kindness of the woman, the words seemed strangely systematic and cold. Words spoken one too many times.

Maka froze as something occurred to her, and her stance firmed. "But I haven't boarded that train! I'm not dead yet!" She sharpened her gaze at the woman, though it wasn't something she did easily, and hope was all that kept it alive. "No one can make me board the train." They wouldn't. There wouldn't even be any kicking and screaming, because no one was going to drag her onto that train.

"Ah," The woman sighed, and Maka felt odd, like she'd been caught with her hands in the cookie jar, and her plans were more than clear to the angel in front of her. "but you will. Listen."

Suddenly, the room was filled with more than just the sound of the slowing beep of the heart monitor.

"I'm afraid… It looks like your friend isn't going to make it Mr. Evans." Maka turned around, and found that the voice belonged to a middle-aged male doctor. He'd been off to the side on the other side of the bed, monitoring the medical machinery. "I don't think she has much longer… you should say goodbye while you still can." He bowed his head, and almost as an afterthought he added, "I'm sorry." Though it wasn't his fault at all, but it was all he could offer now. Their best efforts were made, and nothing else could be done.

It was eight-forty-one.

"No," Soul's reply was quick and harsh, and a shift of his posture revealed his own set of bandages from the small shock he had received earlier. His right hand that was gripping her own was covered in bandages too, and she wondered worryingly if he had shocked his arm badly when he'd sliced through the Witch. His gaze burned into the doctor for a moment, and for the first time Maka could see the panicked desperation in them. "She will make it. Maka isn't going to die." And then his gaze was back on her, stroking her hand gently with his thumb.

"Dammit!" A voice growled out behind them, and Maka was suddenly made aware, once again, that the room wasn't as empty as she thought it was. Behind her, Black Star punched the white wall of the room, blasting through the plaster as if it was nothing more than wet paper. He looked downwards, fists clenched and shaking.

But it wasn't just Black Star.

Tsubaki was there too, and Kid, and Liz, and Patty. She supposed her papa would have been there too, but he had been sent on a mission with Stein that wouldn't end for another week.

She grimaced. If the Professor had been here, she probably wouldn't be dying, weather it was because he was around to stitch her up or because he would have taken the mission instead and not screwed up she wasn't sure, but it was probably wishful thinking.

Tsubaki, Liz, and Patty were all huddled up together with tear tracks running down their faces. It was clear that they had been crying, but they weren't now. They almost seemed to be leaning on each other, each carrying the others weight it a form of silent support. Kid stared blankly ahead, as if unsure how he should react. Black Star was still burning a hole in the floor with his gaze, fists at his side.

They all looked like a mess.

And, Maka reflected, they shouldn't have. They all should have been at home enjoying another peaceful evening, not wasting it here because of her. She wondered what they'd been doing before she interrupted them, but she couldn't seem to grasp life outside of the hospital room. But it was clear that they had been here for hours, or at least since around six-nineteen – which, she reflected, was hours. Maybe she was losing it.

They'd always been there for her, and that meant more to her then she could ever put into words. But she didn't want them to be unhappy because of her.

Then, Tsubaki spoke. "Soul." Her voice wavered, and it was barely above a whisper, but he heard her. "You should… you should say what you want to Maka. Tell her, before she won't be able to hear it anymore, before it's too late." She blinked back tears. "This might be your only chance." She fell silent for a few seconds and then added, "The rest of us already have."

Maka's cheeks glistened, and she almost wept at the waste of it all. She hadn't heard a thing. It was an empty comfort that was being offered, because they both knew that she wouldn't be able to hear anything they told her. Tsubaki, Black Star, Kid, Liz, Patty, she had missed them all.

But… but if Soul talked to her now, she would hear him. If he accepted Tsubaki's words, she wouldn't miss them. But even then, she hesitated. She wanted to hear them, but she didn't want to hear him. Having Soul tell her good-bye would be final, the end. If he let her go, then her death would be real, and it wasn't something she was willing to accept.

She was not going to board that train.

"I don't need to," Soul growled back. "Because she isn't going to die." He raked his gaze slowly down the rest of them. "I'm not going to give up on her like the rest of you did." His words were hurtful, and the flinch that he received was more than clear to Maka. But she knew he didn't really mean it, not in that way.

They were right when they said she was dying, and he knew it.

"We didn't give up on her," Kid spoke up suddenly. "We just accepted the facts." He looked down, face unreadable. "None of us want her to leave us today, and we'd be more than happy to join your delusion that she's going to make it." The junior Death God admitted quietly. "But if you go on like this, after Maka has left us, you'll be left with all the things that you never told her, that you refused to tell her before it was too late." He paused, thinking. "What's the last thing you said to her? The last conversation you both had?"

Soul didn't answer, but with Kid's words, Maka recalled it faintly. The last real conversation that they had that wasn't in the heat of battle had been something about grabbing dinner at a local restaurant they had passed in Salam. It was idle chatter, and it had been the last thing they had really said to each other, or, if you counted the fight, it had been Soul screaming her name.

It wasn't something that she'd really wanted, or imagined, to be the last thing they said to each other.

"Is that really were you want it to end? For that to be the last thing you ever told her?" Kid accused. "If you don't try now, then you won't ever get to tell her, because she'll be gone. Looking back on this day, you'll regret it." He looked up now, eyes solemn as he stared into Soul's.

Soul, for his part, said nothing. A moment later, he turned away, once again focusing all his attention on the Maka in the hospital bed.

Maka, for her part, wept.

"You're time's almost up." The angel's voice pierced the silence that had settled over the room, that was interrupted only by the continued beeping of the heart monitor.

But Maka ignored these words, and instead walked past the woman and towards Soul. The barrier that had stopped her earlier had vanished, and she was free to move. She stopped just before him, before taking a final glance backwards towards the rest of her friends. She gave each of them a smile that they didn't catch, before leaning towards Soul and placing her hand on his shoulder, as if to catch his attention.

She frowned.

She thought that she knew what she was going to say, but now, she didn't know what to tell him. Kid's words had affected her… and she didn't want her last words to be something she would regret. Not that these were her last words. She would survive. But if they were? She wanted them to be something important.

But there was so much to say, and so little time. Nothing she could think of seemed any more important than anything they'd normally tell each other, or any less inconsequential then their last conversation.

Her hand went right through his shoulder, as if he was the ghost instead of her. She had no real presence in this room, not that he could see anyway. But when she touched him, he shivered and glanced up sharply in her direction, his gaze passing straight through her and on to the wall across the room.

Soul said quietly, "Hey, listen you idiot. You're not allowed to die on me."

And without really knowing what she was saying, Maka replied, "Hey, I'm sorry I missed dinner. I was looking forward to it." It seemed just as meaningless as she'd feared, but the words held more meaning than anything else she could have hoped to have said. Meaning that, at the time, she didn't even understand herself.

Then, once again, a white light blinded her, and she was left only with the heart monitor's scream in her ears.

It was like they never left.

Both of them sat exactly how they had been before they had visited her hospital room. Once again, though Maka hadn't noticed their absence, the books about their lives sat gently in their laps. The train station hadn't changed at all except for the time. It was eight-fifty-two.

But Maka didn't notice any of it.

Soul's words had surprised, no, shocked her, but that wasn't what was distracting her. It was his gaze, the stare he had given in her direction before she had left. It reminded her of something she'd thought about before she knew the book was about her. Something that, although it wasn't directly stated, had been obvious.

And, more than that, she feared that it would be the last time she would ever see Soul, and it would be the last time he would ever see her, even if he hadn't really seen her.

But ignoring that thought for now, the book had said something that was bothering her. There had been something in Soul's gaze… it had been so tender, so caring, and she'd never seen his eyes like that before - no, that wasn't quite true. He always looked at her like that, it just hadn't been as obvious before, and she simply hadn't seen it. And, admittedly, she liked it.

But what was it…

In fact, neither of them would be able to tell the other how they felt. Because the boy loved the girl just as much as the girl loved the boy, but neither of them knew how the other felt – and now they never would.

"Love?" Maka sputtered the realization out loud. Like she had mentioned, it hadn't outright said it, but it might as well have, it was more than clear by the boy and girl's – Soul and hers – interactions throughout the story – her life. "There has to be some mistake." She shook her head. They weren't really in love, where they? Soul's eyes were caring yes, but they were best friends and partners, and she could've easily mistaken what she'd interpreted for the book. And anyway, wouldn't she know if she was in love with her best friend?

The angel looked at her curiously as she went on to explain. "This book is my life… but it can't be right."

By this point, she wasn't sure if she was actually making sense or not, but she pressed on. "I'm not in love with Soul, and he's not in love with me." She shook her head rapidly now. "This book isn't right."

"It isn't?" The angel gave her a small smile. "Your book always reveals everything about you, and sometimes someone else, even if it's something you yourself never realized." The woman opened her own book, flipping to a page over halfway through it as if by memory. Her eyes scanned the page leisurely as she read, eyes softened by memories.

"It… does?" Maka asked herself. The angel, although cryptic with her answers, had never lied to her, and moreover, she couldn't ignore both what the book had said and what the angel had said.

Wasn't there a saying? Something about how clueless people were of their feelings for each other, even though it was obvious to everyone else? And she'd had more than an outside view of it…

She was… in love with Soul, she realized. Why had she even tried to deny it? She wasn't one to misinterpret books, even if she couldn't always decipher her own feelings. Even more than that, how could she deny feelings that she'd been made aware of? He was her best friend, her partner, the person she could always rely on, and the man who had restored her faith in men.

She, the girl, would do anything and everything to protect him just like Soul, the boy, would do anything and everything to protect her.

She loved him… and if that was true, he loved her.

She had not misinterpreted his stare, and how could she have thought she'd misinterpret her partner that severely?

It was… because she had been afraid. She'd been afraid that even if she loved Soul, he wouldn't return the feeling. Perhaps that was why she hadn't realized it before. Soul had always seemed to like the kind of girls with bigger breasts, the girls that were prettier than her. He said it wasn't the shape but the soul that mattered… but he didn't seem to always hold those rules true.

Had he been faking? Worried that if he told her that he was interested in her, that she would push him away? She had long outgrown her hatred of men thanks to him… but she'd never told Soul that, not really. Had he feared that it would ruin their partnership?

It seemed so silly, but she had had those same fears.

And, she thought with more than some distress, because of those fears, if she didn't manage to not board her train, then it would all remain unsaid.

She wouldn't board, that train, she couldn't.

A very different flashback hit her then, and like something you saw out of the corner of your eyes, only to find nothing when you turned around, scenes flickered in and out of her vision. It was the little things she saw, Soul absently pulling a chair out for her with a kick, subtly glaring at any boy that approached her, dialing up both of their orders for pizza without even needing to ask her, the things they shared without a word.

Everything between them could have been so much more, if only they hadn't been stupid and wasted it. They still would be wasting it, if it hadn't been for injuries. To know that she loved Soul, and that he returned those feelings, it was the happiest she'd ever been. Warmth filled her, even while a cold edge of panic shoved it aside. If she didn't survive, Soul would never –

A loud train whistle filled the air, and the clock struck nine.

"Times up."

The train came rolling into the station, and unlike the last time, it pushed forward slowly. She recognized the scarlet shade of the engine, and sure enough, she once again made out the name 'Animus' in big black letters on the side of the train.

What the woman had said about time slowing up and speeding up suddenly made sense to her.

But that wasn't all that was different. This time, besides the angel, she was alone. There was no one dressed for winter hurrying around her, and there was no one to rush the train as it slowed to a stop. She was alone. Alone in death, all except for the angel, who watched her quietly with a face Maka found largely unsympathetic.

"Times up." The woman repeated, "You need to go now, Maka Albarn." She pointed towards the train; her brown tome tucked below her other arm. Maka didn't know when it had happened, but both of them were on their feet now, standing before the train that seemed much bigger than it had been before. "The Animus calls your soul."

And, it did. She could feel something moving in her chest, and like a magnet, the train drew her forward, and almost without realizing it she stepped towards it, drawing closer and closer to its doors. The train's doors had hissed open, and they stood invitingly, warm air blowing out and caressing her cheeks. Her resolve not to board the train seemed so silly when the Animus was waiting for her. It would take her On, and she'd see her grandparents again, who had died when she was little. A pure kind of happiness filled her, and she was content.

She moved to grab one of the handles, and haul herself into the train. Her book, like the angel's, was tucked under one of her arms.

But then, abruptly, her hand stilled and retracted itself. She flinched, and rushed back towards the bench they had been sitting in. Panicked desperation filled her again, and she remembered Soul. She remembered him, and Black Star, Tsubaki, Kid, Liz, and Patty. She remembered everyone, and why it was so important not to board the train.

And it was frightening, no matter how brief it was, that he train had let her forget her resolve.

Maka turned towards the woman, who was shaking her head with disappointment. "I told you, I'm not going to board the train." Maka firmed herself, fearing what had just happened would only hamper her now. "No matter what you do, I won't board it. If there's any chance of me living, I'm going to take it." She wasn't sure if the angel was responsible or not. The woman had manipulated her into an unnatural calm before, but weather she was responsible for her sudden attraction to train was questionable. The angel wanted her to board the train true, but in this situation, it was quite possible that the train possessed powers of its own.

"I'm afraid that isn't an option Ms. Albarn." The woman stopped shaking her head to look at Maka directly. "You're time is up, and you must board the train." The angel repeated. "It won't leave without you, and you have nowhere else to go."

"Well then let it stay here!" Maka countered, shoving aside the unease the woman's response had generated. "I'm leaving." She turned her gaze sideways and away from the angel, looking down the train station's long rows of platforms. They seemed to go on forever, each identical to the last, but there had to be a door somewhere didn't there? She couldn't say for sure where it was, since anything she remembered about coming here was probably false, but if she followed the platforms past platform one, she might find the exit. She wasn't sure if it was that easy, but it was worth a try.

She had a life to go back to, and that certainly wasn't nowhere. She turned in the right direction, hurrying away from both the woman and the train. She held her book firmly, almost angrily to her chest as she ran. Mist seemed to curl around her feet, gentle and cool as it brushed across her ankles.

The woman didn't try to stop her, and only repeated her words softly as Maka faded into the distance. "You have nowhere else to go."

Maka snorted at the words, but pressed on without once faltering. Nothing the woman said was going to stop her, and as she approached the Animus, she –

Wait. What?

She hadn't turned around, not purposely or accidently, and she'd been headed directly where she hoped the exit would be. But now she faced the train again, as well as the woman, and she hadn't had a choice in the matter.

She stood stunned before the angel, who was smiling sadly at her.

"I told you, you have nowhere else to go." The woman took no joy in her words, and for the first time, she seemed almost tired, as if Maka's belief flight had aged her considerably. "The only way you can leave is through the train."

"But… I'll die." Maka stressed, looking back at the woman hopelessly. "I can't board that train. I have a life to get back to." She tried to firm herself, but now, there was almost nothing behind it. "I'm not going to get on the train, so the only way I'm going to leave is if you send me back." Maka wasn't sure if the angel had any real power over that kind of thing, but she had managed to show her what was going on in the world of the living and it was the only thing she could think to do. If she could do that, surely she could –

"I can't do that." The woman cut her thoughts of mid-sentence. "You've discovered more than most people are capable of, but you made your choice when you swapped your fate for that of your partner's." The angel's voice softened. "I know it's hard, but that how it is. I did not come here to give you a second chance, I merely came to allow you to recognize what happened to you, and come to terms with it." The woman said. "That's all I can do for you, I'm sorry."

Maka's breathing hitched, "But I can't do what you want either." She firmed again, but this time the strength was not her own. "I can't willingly go on to a train knowing I'll die. I have to live." She explained. "Not for myself… but for my friends." She held the woman's gaze, and added, "For Soul."

The woman's answering smile was unreadable. "I… understand." Her eyes were watery. "But even then, there is nothing I, nor anybody else, can do to change you're fate." She faltered for a moment, hands coming together as she buried them in her sleeves. She firmed suddenly, and seemed more human then she had ever appeared before to Maka. "But I can at least do this."

And from her sleeves, a green book appeared, half the size of her own brown one.

"If you cannot willingly board the train to your death, I understand." The woman nodded, and Maka watched her hands with a horror she could not explain. "I can't do much for you, but I can at least force you to unwillingly board the train. That way, you can say you fought until the last moment." She held the book out, preparing to toss it into the train's doors.

"No!" Maka gasped out, she didn't know why moving the book could possibly force her onto the train, or even how the woman had obtained the book that not a moment before had been in her hands, nor did she care at the moment. All she knew was that it was important to get her book back from the angel as quickly as possible. She ran forwards, reaching out her hands, but even then she knew that she wasn't going to make it on time. Before she could come anywhere near the angel, the woman tossed it, and it fell into the train with a muffled thump.

"I'm sorry." The woman said quietly, and in a blur of motion, Maka found herself on board the train.

It was almost as if the angel had never interrupted her. Except for the change in scenery, her position was much the same as it had been before she'd realized anything. She sunk softly on the velvet cushion she was sitting on, her book resting on its spine between her legs, open to read at her leisure. The scenery of the train station flashed outside the windows as the train steadily gained speed.

But only for a moment.

Maka rushed towards the train doors, abandoning the book on her seat as she forced her fingers into the crack of the doors, pressing them in deeply as she desperately tried to open them.

This couldn't be it, it wouldn't. No matter what the angel had said, she wasn't going to let herself die. Even if she was on the train now, she couldn't give up. She couldn't give up on Soul and the others.

But the doors wouldn't open. She slammed herself against them, banging her shoulder again and again against its metal. But it was no use.


She turned around frantically searching for something, anything that could lead to her escape. In a moment she spotted it, the back door to the train glaring at her from isles down the train's interior. The particular train model she was on had a railed in area just outside the door that was normally accessible for passengers, and if she reached it, she might be able to leap off of the train before it gained too much speed.

Without hesitation, she began sprinting down the aisle, pausing to grab the book again before she went. She didn't know what power the book about her life held over her, but it had managed to force her to board the train, and she had a feeling that it would be a mistake to leave it behind.

The shrill sound of the train whistle once again split the air, and as she ran, it transformed. It was replaced by the shrill monotonous drone of the heart monitor, flat lining without a heartbeat to monitor.

But this time, when she heard it, she had no desire to feel her chest to confirm it.


Stand clear!

She tripped, almost falling forward as some unseen imperfection of the carpeted isle caught her, and she was nearly brought to her knees. But in another moment she recovered, and was once again running strong.

Maka! Oi, Maka!

Hold him back, clear the area!

She tripped again, but this time she was ready, pushing her hand against one of the cushioned backs of the seats as she used it to propel herself forward. The carpet wouldn't be able to trip her again, wouldn't be able to snag her before she could reach the back exit.


There's nothing we can do, let him go. She's… gone. We've lost her.

She wasn't going to die on them, wouldn't die on him. Not if she could help it.

Maka! Wake up! Wake up stupid, WAKE UP! I said you couldn't die on me!

She reached the back door, nearly slamming into it even as she made an effort to halt. Her hands closed around the handle, furiously shaking it as she tried to retch it open.

But it wouldn't budge.

For a moment, she looked down in despair, but then, out of the corner of eye, she spotted the glass casing to the fire extinguisher. She didn't think a Soul train would have one, and she couldn't imagine such a thing even having a fire. But all steam engines were usually regulated to have them. And with grim satisfaction, she'd take what she could get.

Soul was counting on her.

I said you couldn't! Obey your Weapon for once and WAKE UP! Maka!

She's gone Mr. Evans.

No she's not! Maka's not dead!

Mr. Evans, you have to accept that –

No. She's not going to die and I'm not going to give up on her. Not like you. She'll be fine.

She slammed the spine of her green book into the glass, and it shattered. Maka reached forwards and grabbed it without hesitation, ignoring the broken glass digging into her skin and coating her arm with red. She dropped the book on one of the seats, abandoning it in favor of using both hands to slam the fire extinguisher onto the handle of the back door.

It creaked slightly, and she bashed it again.

Oi Maka, Maka. Kid… Kid was right. I still have things I need to tell you. But… but you still have to be awake if you want to hear them! Alright? Okay?

Mr. Evans she's –

Stop. He's not going to listen… it's best… best to let him come to terms with it on his own. She's…

The doors handle smashed inwards, the lock broken with the weight of the red extinguisher. She retched the door open, and wind lambasted her.

It's my fault… all my fault. Maka, please. Why did you have to throw me away? Maka, GET UP!

The wind tugged her forwards, and it was as if invisible ropes had latched onto her, dragging her out of the train before she even had time to blink. She pushed herself with them, cold railing appearing under her fingers as she flung herself over them.

She'd return to him – return to them all.

The scenery blurred past. If she'd tried to jump like this under normal circumstances, it would have killed her. But then, she was already dead. She didn't even feel the tracks when she hit them, and her world grew black.

Someone was shaking her.

A last, half-hearted shove shook one of her shoulders – she couldn't tell which one. The blackness was dark and inky, and it fell over her like a heavy curtain. She couldn't move.

"Maka… I… never got to tell you that I… that I – " A voice from her right began, but fell silent without finishing the thought.

Curiously, she opened her eyes. It had only been when she'd opened them that she realized she could. Her body felt so numb… it was surprising that she was even awake at all.

A strange white room blurred into existence, and beside her she could see a disconnected heart monitor, wires dangling from its frame. Without a heart to monitor, it was silent, and there was none of the beeping that she knew the monitors produced.

She tried to get up, digging her hands into the bed she found herself in so she could sit up and look around, but she hardly twitched before pain laced through her. It dug into her from everywhere, like a knife being twisted into her very soul. She could feel her own skin peeling, and she was much too stiff. What was going on? What had happened to her?

She looked down to find bandages, and as her eyes slid down her fragile frame, she detected movement from her right.

A boy sat beside her, his hands at some point had risen to bury his face in them. He was silent, and the tips of his fingers further ruffled his already messy, white hair as they dug into it. It was a strange color for someone so young, but he was young, she could see it. With what little she could see of his face, she mentally traced the firm line of his jawbone.

But as she stirred, stretching her stiff body painfully, he looked up.

From what she could observe his face seemed almost aristocratic in its structure, and red eyes burned into her own. Red was a strange color for him to have too, but she supposed it made sense. He must have been albino. His eyes seemed strangely expressionless, but if she strained herself, something seemed to glimmer from beneath the surface, hidden from her observation.

Relief? Surprise? She didn't know.

"Maka… you're… you're..." Well, if she hadn't been sure before, his relief was apparent in his voice. Painfully so, and yet, she had a feeling that she still wasn't getting the complete message, his voice was shaking with more emotion then she could comprehend.

He reached forward, and with an abrupt jerk that she didn't even have time to wince at, she was in his arms. They wrapped around her tightly, pressing into the back of her shoulders desperately, and she could feel him shuddering and shaking. "You're… you're alive." He didn't seem to know what else to say. His bandages brushed roughly with her own.

But this was wrong.

She pushed away from him, and immediately his grip slacked and faltered. She could almost feel the hurt radiating off of him, wondering why she wasn't hugging him back.

She stared at him in confusion, her own eyes piercing his with incomprehension, before asking the question that already burned itself into her mind. "I'm sorry… but who are you?"

And for some reason, her question caused several gasps to echo from around the room.

Somewhere, a scarlet engine tore on through the night, a green book resting quietly on the floor with its spine sprawled open and bent from when the wind had entered the train's interior and knocked it over. A fire extinguisher lay beside it, rolling around from where it had been dropped hastily onto the ground.

A/N: And that's the end. I finally managed to finish my first Soul Eater story… but it's actually pretty depressing. Maybe I should work on something happier next time.