Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater. I own the plot and the original characters introduced. Also, assume the child has the typical accent of a child that age. I didn't want to write her lines like that. My parents already think I'm crazy; talking to myself in baby-speak will only solidify this well embraced belief.
One Shot: Sleigh Bells Ring
The Holiday season was always hard for Maka, ever since she was eighteen. Four months before graduation, she and her boyfriend at the time had decided to go all the way. Three weeks later, when Maka realized she was pregnant, he adamantly denied it and refused to help out. Luckily, Maka's parents were supportive of her throughout. She decided she couldn't live with giving her child over to adoption so she kept the child.
Three years ago, on November 12th, Maka gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
She and her parents had made a deal; they would help her take care of her daughter as long as Maka got a job and attended college classes. Maka eagerly accepted, more than grateful for the chance at achieving her dream of going to school while still making sure her daughter was well taken care of. After working herself to the bone, she had earned herself a manager's position at a bookstore in the mall and this meant plenty of hours but the shifts were long. Top that off with her classes and she was wearing down.
She was currently walking into the store, getting ready to start her shift, while her daughter and father followed her. "You be good for Papi and Mami, okay, Emma?" Maka asked gently, kneeling down and taking her daughter's hands in her own.
"Okay, Mama," The tiny girl said, looking down at her shoes and then back up shyly. The older woman grinned as she looked her little girl over. Emma had inherited Maka's bright green eyes and the golden colored locks of her non-existent father. She was currently wearing a fluffy pink winter coat with matching hat and scarf. Her hair was set loose and trickling lightly over her shoulders. She picked little Emma up and kissed her forehead lightly. Emma giggled, hugging her around the neck. "Can I come back and see you when you go on lunch?" She asked meekly.
"Of course baby doll," She hummed, shifting one of her arms so that she was resting Emma on her hip with the aid of one arm.
"Can I come too?" A deep voice asked teasingly over Maka's shoulder, causing her to jump and yelp in surprise.
"Uncle Soul!" Emma cheered eagerly, reaching toward the man standing behind her mother. The shark-toothed male chuckled before taking the squirming little toddler from her mother.
"Hey there, Shorty. How've you been? Behaving so that you get lots a good prizes from jolly Old Saint Nick?" He mused lightly.
"Uh-Huh!" She agreed with an eager tip of her head. Soul was one of Maka's co-workers, one she had befriended after he started working here just a little over a year ago. He had shocking white hair (natural, he swore) and these vivid garnet irises that left Maka always feeling as though she could drowned in them. Despite his appearance, the two became friends and she opened up a little at a time to him.
Now they were so close her daughter viewed him as an uncle.
This fact thrilled Maka, when she really thought about it. She knew that the way a girl is treated by her father had a grand effect on how she grows and always worried about her little Emma. Spirit wasn't the greatest example of a strong man in modern day (while he did love his family a lot, keeping Maka from always wanting to smack him when he messed up a little) but Soul was a bit better. He was a year older than Maka but he was also pretty well mannered, if not a touch lazy then and again, with a pretty good head on his shoulders. He was trustworthy and he was great at handling Emma without going overboard and being overwhelmed with the task like some of her other friends. Hell, sometimes it seemed like he doted on little Emma as if the small girl was his own.
"That's my girl," Soul beamed lightly, bopping his head against hers. The tiny blonde grinned widely at him, flashing her little white teeth at him. Maka glanced at her watch and then at Soul frantically; if they didn't head back and clock on soon they'd be late! "Well, guess I gotta give you back to Gramps." Soul said while handing her over. Emma managed to give him a quick peck on the cheek, followed by her mother, before she waved goodbye to them. "Ah, she's getting cuter every day." He commented as they headed back to the computers to clock on.
"And she knows it too. Someone seemed to teach her how to pout when she really wants something," She said, raising an eyebrow at him. He looked off to the side and shrugged, loading the clock-in screen on his computer and punching in his number.
"No idea who would have done that. Maybe she just picked up on it? I mean, Liz and Patty pout a lot when Kid says no to something they want," He remarked, clicking enter and snatching up the sheet with his punch-in time on it. He tossed it in the trash can while Maka put in her own information. "Speaking of Liz, she says you had some special task for me today?"
"Yes, actually," Maka said while tossing her own punch-in slip away. He quirked a brow, a frown on his features, when he saw the somewhat wicked grin on her lips. "The Santa's Workshop booth is set up in here this year so one of our employees has to play the world. I figure that since your hair is naturally white, and the beard will cover your teeth, you'll be doing that for the Holiday season."
"What? Maka, are you serious?" He groaned lowly, staring at her with pleading eyes. She merely smiled and shrugged.
"I got some colored contacts that should turn your eyes brown, since Santa's eyes shouldn't be red," She mused lightly.
"You're the devil," He said calmly.
"Oh, please," She remarked, "you're better off than Black*Star."
"Oh yeah? What's Black*Star's assignment?" He asked with almost too much interest.
It had taken all Soul's self-control to not burst out laughing at the sight of Black*Star in green and red striped tights and the matching hat with matching elf ears. He's wearing a scowl as he glares at the large red sleigh set up in the Santa's Workshop area. Soul himself was wearing a large Santa Clause suit (stuffed with a very soft pillow to give him the appearance of being a bit pudgier) with matching hat and beard. The contacts stung like a bitch but he to admit they do the job of turning his Eyes a hazel color that seems less intimidating than his usual red ones. With a satisfied grin from Maka, he is sent out to entertain the little kids.
After three hours of screaming children and a handful of incidents where he was urinated on Soul was more than ready for a lunch break. Luckily enough, Maka was willing to oblige.
"I'll pay for your food, if you want," Maka offered but he shook her head. He had changed into his usual black dress shirt, jeans and green work smock.
"It isn't your fault I am a wonderful thespian," He said with an impish grin. She rolled her eyes, opening her mouth to retort when her legs were crashed into, almost knocking her over. Emma looked up at her with large, excited eyes and a big grin. "Look, a smiling torpedo." Soul chuckled lightly while Maka picked her little girl up.
"Hello baby," She said, kissing her child hello. Emma nuzzled into the crook of her neck eagerly then smiled up at Soul, who flashed her a grin back. "What do you feel like eating?"
"Pizza!" She said excitedly. They all sat down with Spirit and Kami, Maka's father and mother. Maka looked like a carbon copy of her mother, the intelligent defense attorney Kami Albarn. While she had inherited her keen mind and physical attributes from her mother, she had earned a few things from the red haired male that took claim to the title of her father. From Spirit Albarn, Maka did learn to have fun when it was due and to always show compassion (except in very particular situations, where a Maka Chop was called into place).
"Looking forward to what Santa's going to bring you in a few days?" Soul asked Emma once the group was settled at the table, munching their food. She nodded eagerly, causing a piece of cheese hanging loose from her mouth to get stuck to her cheek from the gesture. He reached over to her with a napkin, plucking the item off and then wiping her cheek lightly with the clean side. "Don't make a mess of yourself, now."
"'Scuse me," She politely, blushing a little bit. That was another trait she had inherited from her female relatives; being easily embarrassed. It was one of Soul's favorite attributes to both little Emma and Maka. "I'm really excited for Santa Claus to come. I wanna stay up and say hi to Rudolph!"
"So you think that Santa will bring you what you asked for?" He asked lightly. A tense look from Maka caught his attention. It was as if she was cautioning him to stop talking.
"I dunno… I haven't sent him a letter yet," She said, fiddling with a napkin lightly.
"Why not?" Soul asked curiously. Emma glanced up, clearly distressed at the thought of disappointing him, and then looked back down at her hands and the paper between them.
"Just cause," She mumbled lightly. Soul ignored the looks he received from the Albarns' and leaned down, tilting his head so that his eyes just barely locked with the child's.
He grinned at her, causing her to look less intimidated. "Well, if Santa doesn't bring you what you want I'll make sure to get it for you, okay?" Her entire face lit up at this.
"Okay!" She agreed, mood jumping back to chipper. While she remained completely oblivious to the shift of attitude, Soul could sense the tension in the air now. Clearly there was something about this infamous list that he wasn't up to snuff on.
Once Maka's family left and they were headed back to the store, he decided to ask. Maka sighed and looked at him, tired and clearly upset. "She says she wants a Papa for Christmas," She said gently. He was a bit stunned and she turned away, rubbing her arm as a distraction. It wasn't working well. "It wasn't easy explaining to her that Santa can't just bring her a Papa. She's only three so she doesn't understand a lot of things. I'm not going to just… I can't go and…"
"I know what you mean to say," Soul said gently. He set a hand on her shoulder and smiled lightly. "I'm sure if you get her a bunch of those My Little Pony figures and one of those play-time kitchens she'll forget all about wanting a Papa."
"I hope so," Maka said with a weak smile and sigh. Soul spent the rest of the day wondering about it. After all, his parents had both been there. What must it be like for Emma, to see all these happy families all the time and have no reason as to why her father wasn't around? She was too young to understand that she and her mother had both been abandoned by the other party responsible for who she was. A;; Soul could think about was how sad it must make the little girl feel.
Soul learned not to underestimate Emma Albarn on Christmas Eve. He was on a small break, hovering by the door that led to the back parking lot with Liz. He was still in his Santa suit and she was dressed as an elf, both enjoying some cigarettes and peace. They had been making inappropriate jokes in muffled whispers while Soul stroked his beard, pretending it was real.
It was the meek question of "Santa?" in a familiar child soprano that snapped Soul's eyes onto her.
She stood there in an adorable little dress. Her hair was tied back in a little braid with green ribbon that complimented the shade of her eyes quite well. Her dress was red with long sleeves. The cuff of the sleeves, trim of the skirt and a portion of the waist were decorated with white fluff. "Um… Little girl, what are you doing over here?" Liz stammered out lightly, dropping her cigarette behind her back. Soul had simply dropped his own out of shock of her presence.
"I needed to talk to Santa," She said nervously, looking off to the side and then back. He could tell she was steeling her nerves, resisting the temptation to flee out of anxiety.
"It isn't a problem," He said in his Kris Kringle voice, making himself sound much older and deeper than his own voice really was. He knelt down and smiled at her, his eyes closing with the gesture to signify he was smiling under all those false white whiskers. "So, Emma, what did you need to talk to me about?"
"You know my name?" She gasped with clear joy, eyes coming alive and her little hands pressing flat against her skirt. He merely chuckled in that deep Santa-esque way he had perfected over the last few days.
"Well, of course! I've got to make sure everyone is behaving to be sure they get their presents, after all," He said while opening his eyes. She smiled even wider at this. "So what do you want this year, little Emma?"
"Mama says you can't give me a Papa out of magic," She said, about to burst with excitement of what she had realized, "but what about Uncle Soul? Could you make him my Papa?" Her face fell at the clear shock on the two adults faces at this. "Uncle Soul is so nice and he always plays with me. He watches out for me and takes care of me, just like all the Papas' I've seen do with their little girls. And he and Mama seem to really really like each other like Mamas and Papas do too…" She trailed off, looking down.
Soul reached out with one gloved hand and tilted her head back upwards. "Emma, I can't promise I can do this but I will try," He said sincerely. He saw eager tears well up in her eyes. "As long as you keep being a good little girl, I will see if we can't make your family the way you want it."
"Thank you Santa!" She said, hugging him tightly. He smiled and gave her head a little pat before looking up, half expecting to see a disgruntled member of the Albarn family looking down at him. He was stunned to find none.
"Emma, where is your Mama?" He asked, looking down at her. Fear registered in her eyes as she looked around, her little hand coming up to her mouth.
"I was walking with Papi, but he saw a pretty girl and we got separated in the crowd," She confessed gently. She pointed toward one of the large green signs with the letters of the store written on it. "I remembered this was where Mama works and came here to try and find her."
"Well, let's get you back to her then. She must be worried sick," He said, picking her up and starting off. He knew Maka was going to be behind the register, helping with the lines and gift wrapping.
"What do you mean you lost her?" Twin feminine voices screeched once they were within earshot. Spirit stood on one side of the counter, flailing his arms while Kami shook him and screamed profanities at him in Japanese. Maka had a hand clasped over her mouth, face gone pale, and tears in her eyes. He could tell she was on the verge of a breakdown.
"Ho-Ho-Ho! Did someone ask for a sweet treat this Christmas?" He announced merrily as he walked over. All eyes turned to him and Maka looked ready to faint with relief. He handed her over without question, smiling as he watched the little girl kiss her Mama's cheeks to stop the tears from falling. Soul knew that Maka was always worried about what could happen if Emma got lost in a public place; she wasn't stupid and she wasn't lazy. She knew what sort of terrible things could happen to an adorable, lost child.
"Oh, Emma, I'm so glad you're okay," Maka sniffled, discretely flashing Soul an ever grateful smile. Emma giggled and cuddled into Maka's collarbone, mumbling something too quietly to be heard. "You can't go wandering away from Papi like that, sweetie."
"But I didn't; Papi wandered away from me! He saw a cute girl and went after her while I was riding the lion!" She protested innocently. Soul knew the lion meant the little ride you popped quarters into out by the entrance. Many a day, when he got off early and Spirit and Emma were cruising the mall waiting for Maka, he would give Spirit a break and watch her ride that thing until they were out of silver coins to power it with.
He walked back to where Liz was while Kami resumed shouting at her husband for being such a lecher. The dirty blonde haired woman sniffled and wiped her eye at the sight of him. "What?" He asked with a quirked eyebrow, settling into his seat while the line was being organized.
"It's just… Emma's such a sweetheart!" She gushed, rubbing her eyes even more now as more tears threatened to spill over. No one, not even Brooklyn Divas Elizabeth and Patricia Thompson, could resist Emma's childish charms. The two would offer to baby sit her any time they could and loved getting to coddle her.
He merely chuckled at her and resumed his act as Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Christmas Day, Soul showed up on Maka's doorstep at nine in the morning with a bouquet of roses and three wrapped presents in a messenger bag slung over his shoulder. He was grateful it was Maka that opened the door, staring at him with dazzling and stunned jade orbs. "Soul," She said slowly as the shock faded.
"Hey. These are for you," He said, holding the roses out nervously. She took them, blushing and shifting, before glancing back up at him.
"They're lovely, but why?" As blunt as ever, it seemed. And so, Soul did the only thing he could think to; tell her what Emma had said. She looked flustered and annoyed by this. "Soul, you shouldn't do this out of a feeling of obligation to us. You can't just… Forces pieces together and hope they make the right thing you wanted."
"I'm not doing this out of obli-"
"Emma's a little girl so she doesn't understand but humoring her is totally different th-"
"I'm not humoring her, Maka," He said sternly, cutting her off. She fell silent and glanced up, seeing the almost painful honestly in his eyes. "I'm doing this because this is what I feel. I'm tired of watching you run around and try to carry as much of this weight alone as long as you can. I'm tired of watching you snap at Liz when she harps on you about getting a boyfriend. I'm tired of seeing Emma watch other kids with their parents and wonder why she can't have that. And I'm tired of pretending that you two don't matter to me as much as you do for fear of complicating the situation."
"Soul," She breathed deeply but he shakes his head. They lock eyes again.
"No one will ever love you and Emma nearly as much as I do; some may come close, but no one will be willing to put you two first as much as they need to," He said with such conviction, such raw and powerful emotion that he feared he may of scared Maka away. After all, who was he to just assume these things without any real support? "Just give me a chance, Maka; that's all I'm asking for." And there's an awkward, pregnant pause after this statement. It's when Maka takes his hand that his fears are put to bed.
"Come in; we're getting ready to start opening presents and Emma does not have very much patience," She stated with a warm smile. Soul relaxed at this and followed her in, spending most of the night playing with Emma or helping with everything else going on that evening.
The Albarn family viewed it as the first real family affair ever since Emma was born.
This was a little rushed (and I'm pretty sure it sucks) but I still think it's cute. And I like Emma. She's so cute~! :3
Happy Holidays, ladies and gents~! I shall see you once I have the chance to sleep and write again! :'D