Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater.

Poisoned Scarlett

She didn't know where this persistence of his came from.

This was the third time she had turned him down. She could admire his persistence only so much before it began to grate on her nerves. Not grate on her nerves in the usual sense but in the sense that she was quickly losing reason to reject him, which in turn strung her up more than a high-stakes exam could ever hope to achieve. With her friends hounding her about it and his own fanbase acting particularly hostile towards her because of it, Maka Albarn was miserably stuck between a wall and a hard place.

She didn't understand what the big deal was: it was a Valentine's day dance. She understood the significance of prom but a Valentine's day dance? It sounded like another dance to her. In fact, it was just another dance. Maka Albarn liked parties, don't get her wrong. She liked socializing with others and she liked the fun and relaxed atmosphere of social gatherings but, in her opinion, dates tended to... ruin that.

Scratch that: Hiro would ruin that for her.

He was a nice guy, his playboy streak notwithstanding. He was handsome - with soft, tousled, blonde hair and twinkling slate eyes - so her mother would approve of him hands down. His grades were decent, his test scores not so much. He was heavily involved in clubs and after-school activities and he tried out for most of the sports their school offered with successful results; although the only sport he really committed to was basketball.

But he annoyed her. There was just something about him that didn't sit well with Maka. Whether it was his airy laugh or the ridiculous things that come out of his mouth ( which he thought were funny, which made things worse ), she couldn't say, but as she dodged past Hiro in the hall and managed to blend in with the throng of giddy highschoolers, she knew that she needed a good plan to wrench her way out of Hiro's radar. She needed one fast.

Her friends were unsympathetic, so asking for their help was useless. Their argument was: she was seventeen and she was lacking vital teenage experiences. She had never had a real boyfriend before and that was simply unacceptable in their eyes. Even Tsubaki, the most meek and modest one in their group, had gotten more action than Maka had. Take off your chastity belt, Liz had snapped at her once, you're going to be a DOCTOR not a fucking NUN!

But they didn't seem to understand (or they chose not to) that she just didn't know how to handle those types of situations. She had been asked on dates and when she shyly agreed, she ended up disappointed when they pushed their luck and did something stupid. Like try to hug her when she clearly didn't want to ( because it's a date and a date in her eyes was the 'getting to know you' period...which involved no physical contact, if she could help it ) or simply saying the most ridiculous things. Essentially, talking too much. It's a big reason she stopped accepting requests: if they couldn't appreciate thoughtful silence, trying to read beside them would be a painful experience.

But half the time she was unsure about the boys who insisted they liked her. The other half she was doing it more to get Liz and Patty off her back than for her own sake, which, she morosely agreed, she shouldn't do because it was essentially her love life she was crafting. They would have no part in it, ever.

Maka stretched her legs out in front of her and slumped against the bookcase. The spines of tomes pushed into her back uncomfortably. The edge of the bookcase dug into her shoulder in a way that hurt if she shifted. But she could ignore it while she gathered herself for next period. Just a few more classes and she would be able to go home and hopefully ignore her friends giddy phone calls (usually to gush about Hiro and how she should seriously give him a shot).

"Shit, fuck!"

Maka opened her eyes and leaned forward, rolling her eyes when Soul Evans stumbled out of the electrical room; shaking out a finger, cursing under his breath. She watched him stuff a pair of pliers in his pocket and a satisfied smirk mar his handsome face after the pain in his finger calmed.

"What are you up to now, Soul?"

He jumped and swiveled to her, managing to school his shock into something casual. "Oh, hey, Maka. What's up?"

"I'm trying to figure out what you did in there," Maka pursed her lips when Soul approached her, garnet eyes twinkling with their usual mischief. "You're not planning on cutting the power, are you?"

"Pfft, no!" Soul scoffed. "Let's be a little more original here, bookworm. Cutting the power to the library and a couple of classrooms isn't cool..." Soul grinned roguishly when voices rose from the front of the library, thick with anger and surprise. "But cutting the power to the computers in the library... now that's cool!"

"I should report you for this," Maka sighed. Soul shot her a nervous look but it quickly disappeared at her gloomy eyes. She made no move to stand from her spot on the floor, like he expected. "Hopefully they'll be able to fix this mess by the end of the day..."

"I just...loosened some wires, I didn't cut anything important. That's not cool, and if they caught me I'd be in some deep shit," Soul grumped, sliding down the bookcase to sit beside her. "I'll fix it right now. Let's just make 'em sweat a little," He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, a yawn threatening to escape his mouth. She could see him watch her carefully from the corner of her eye, no matter how much he tried to play it off. She wondered if he was thinking she would actually report him to the Headmaster because, after all this time, he really should know her better.

She shared a strange, comfortable, friendship with Soul Evans. The first time she met him had been in the music room, to him tapping a few keys absently and dishing out a catchy, familiar, melody soon after. She had asked him if he knew how to play and he had shrugged, picked up his backpack, and promptly left without so much as a goodbye. The next few encounters had been equally bitter until she demanded to know just what she did to earn his ire. Needless to say, catching him off-guard like that, her lip trembling and her eyes wide and glossy, worked better than she expected. He proceeded to fumble an apology that she accepted warmly. Their friendship had gradually improved from therein until she was comfortable talking to him like she talked to Liz during sleepovers.

Of course, that might not be so wise in hindsight. He was an unrepentant troublemaker and his grades suffered because of his carelessness. However, his test scores were gorgeous. He was a stark contrast to jocky Hiro and his airy laugh and lame jokes. Soul knew how to tell a joke. He also knew how to laugh, for the matter. And, for all it's worth, shut up when he really needed to. In addition, his fashion sense far exceeded that of Hiro's (Maka still couldn't understand how no one had pointed out that Hiro plus an earring plus leather pants plus a cheap remake of the hard-on-the-eyes red Thriller jacket Michael Jackson wore back in the day was just not right).

"So, what's up?"

"The light fixture."

"It's the roof, stupid, not the light fixture!" Soul snorted at her ridiculous comeback, ignoring her dark look. "No, seriously. What's your deal? You've been gloomier than usual this entire week."

"Than usual?" Maka lifted her eyes to his expectantly.

"Yeah. You're a pretty depressing person to be around, Maka."


"No problem," he replied without missing a beat. He chuckled when she slit her eyes at him. "I'm kidding. C'mon, lighten up a bit. We'll start by taking these things away from you!" Soul grabbed the book sitting on her lap and shoved it carelessly into the bookcase behind him. Maka growled in her throat and reached for it but he intercepted her hand with his, pushing it down to her side again. "Nope. You're leaving it here. You're not checking out any books today!"

"Who are you to tell me what to do? Give it back!"


"Give it, Soul!"

"No way! Back off!"

"Give it back, Soul! It's not even from this library! I bought it!"

"Oh well. This library needs more nerdy books anyway - !" He broke off laughing, pushing her away when she tried to snatch the book from being squeezed to death between two reference books. Her ire quickly melted to laughter when Soul pushed both her hands on her lap, using his shoulder to nudge her away and grinning that ridiculously endearing grin of his.

"Give it!" Maka giggled, stretching across his lap to reach for her book. Once she plucked it out, Soul helped her back to her side, smiling lopsidedly when he noticed the upward curl of her lips. Better than before, at least. "You're so annoying, Soul, Black Star is an awful influence on you."

"What're you talking about? I'm always cool, everyone knows that!" Soul bragged, crossing his legs at the ankle. After a few seconds of silence, he asked:"You going to the dance after school?"

Maka's smile instantly fell and she groaned, holding the book to her chest. "Why did you have to remind me? I was thinking about spending the rest of the day here until Hiro left..."

"Hiro?" Soul frowned. "What about him? Heh, did you ask him out and he reject you?"

"You're out of your mind!" Maka exclaimed, appalled. "I'd never date that moron! A basketball has more sense than him!"

"Ouch. That was low," Soul commented but didn't seem too sympathetic for Hiro. "What he do? Burn a book right before your eyes or something?"

"He asked me to the dance a few days ago. I told him I wasn't going but then he asked me again a few hours later, and again the next morning. He keeps asking me to go with him. I really don't want to go to the dance but I don't want to keep rejecting him like that," Maka confessed miserably. "He's going to ask me again today after school, too."

"What makes you say that?" Soul perked up when Maka reached into her skirts pocket and pulled out a note. She tossed it to Soul and stared ahead grimly while he unfolded it and read its contents. After a minute passed without a smart comment from him, Maka turned to find him fisting the letter and scowling down at his hands. It wasn't something she expected from him (she fully expected him to piss himself laughing) which, thankfully, made her forget her predicament enough to worry over him.

"What's wrong?"

He flicked unreadable eyes to her. "Nothing."

"You're quiet. No smart comments today? No telling me that I should go for it so I could get a social life? So maybe I can have some 'fun' for once?" Maka prompted sarcastically. Soul snorted derisively but remained silent. She watched him uncurl his fist and tear the letter into fourths a second later, stuffing the remains into the pocket of his jacket. "Why did you do that for? I could have wanted it back!"

"Did you?" Soul arched a brow at her. "Too late now. Unless you wanna' tape it back together." He took out a shred of the letter and wagged it in her face. "If so, be my guest."

"I - you jerk!"

"Yeah, yeah, cry me a river," Soul grunted as he hauled himself upright again, fixing his jacket on himself. "I got an idea of how you can avoid prince charming after school."

"You do?" Maka asked, hopefully.

"You doubt me?" Soul smirked. When she gave him a blank stare, Soul grumbled to himself but continued: "Yes, Maka, I have a plan! You're not gonna' like it, though. In fact, you may hit me for even considering it. But it'll work - trust me, it'll break that pansy down better than a hammer can break glass."

Maka rose a brow at the chilling comparison but didn't question him. "Okay, Soul. What's this master plan of yours?"

"You gotta' hear me out first."

Maka nodded, looking up at him from where she sat. He was taller than she remembered him to be or it could be from the way he was purposely towering over her, casting his broad shadow over her. He grinned, revealing straight pointed teeth, and she once more wondered if when he told her they were natural, he was lying. His family must've been one in a billion, Maka thought to herself with wonder.

"Ditch with me."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me: ditch with me. NO, wait, you said you'd hear me out!" Soul exclaimed before she could delve into a spitting rage. "You have him for sixth period, right? My plan is: if you're not there, he can't ask you out. All he can do is look for you but he won't find you. Why? Cuz you'll be with me, outside of school grounds. He'll have to find someone else to go with him, and hopefully she'll distract him enough to forget about you long enough to find a more...permanent solution."

"Outside of school grounds? How do you propose we do that?" Maka asked, skeptically.

"Don't worry about it. I've got it covered - so are you in or out?"

"Out, of course! You're insane! I have never missed a class before, Soul! Ever. You expect me to just ditch my fifth and sixth period because one guy won't leave me alone for more than five minutes?"

Soul stared at her. "Yes."

Maka worked her mouth around a few words before scowling and narrowing her eyes at him. She crossed her arms over her chest defensively and spat: "Soul, there's no way we can get out of school without going through the main office! We can't just waltz right in there and walk out the door! We'll get caught."

"God, you're so naive..." Soul breathed exasperatedly and pointedly ignored her indignant sputters. "Maka. Just trust me when I say we will not get caught. I've done this before!" He added loudly, before she could argue. "I've done it a lot of times and I haven't gotten caught once. Why would I get caught today of all days? Don't answer that. Are you in or are you out?"

"I think I'm blowing this out of proportion!" Maka sighed, troubled. She drew her legs up to her chest and rested her chin on her knees. "I could just say no to him again. He can't force me to go with him..."

"But he can guilt-trip you to."

Maka looked up at him in surprise. Soul smirked and pointed a finger at her, almost accusingly. "You're a sucker for puppy faces, Maka, admit it! One look into those blue wounded eyes of his and you'll be gone before you can get the word out of your mouth," he mocked, nastily. Maka set her teeth at his condescending tone. "But you already knew that, right? I mean, those Thompson sisters you hang out with do it all the time when they want something from you. I bet they'll do it again today after school when you turn him down, and you'll be feeling so bad for rejecting him that you'll call him up and conveniently tell him you're free for the evening after all. Then you know what happens next?"

Maka held his hard gaze.

"You become another name in his little black book," he summed up flatly. "Or you can avoid that mess and come with me, where you'll get yourself a good dinner, some laughs, maybe you'll even hit me once or twice for being a jackass, and then we'll go home happy as can fucking be." He smiled that sarcastic smile of his that always got him in trouble. If he weren't proposing such a tempting offer, she would have wiped it off his face a long time ago. She was unsure of the reasons why he was suddenly acting like this but, for whatever reasons they were, she'd make him pay later. Preferably after the dance and all danger was gone. "Your choice, Maka." He held his hand out to her, holding his breath. "Come with me or go back to class and get yourself waist-deep in that train wreck."

Maka looked at his outstretched hand and took it silently, standing up and dusting her skirt off. She said nothing as he replaced his hand in his pocket, watching her closely. She picked up her backpack and looked up at the clock: ten more minutes before lunch ended and classes resumed. This decision would ruin her attendance record and likely get her a stern talking-to from her mother when she got home but Soul was painfully right. She didn't do well under guilt and she already felt horrible for turning him down so many times, always having to look into crestfallen baby blue eyes. If she did it again today, with Liz and Patty and Tsubaki urging her on in the background, she'd end up making the worst mistake in her life. His little black book, Maka grimly thought, was one place she did not want to be remembered in.


Soul smirked, pleased. "Follow me, then."

"I had no idea the fence was that loose. If I had known, I would've told Kid to get it fixed. It would still be in the budget..." Maka mumbled, taking a bite out of her burger. "It's really convenient, though..." Soul grinned around his own burger at her giggle, looking towards a mother-son pair that were ordering at the front. Then he noticed the abnormal amount of pairs in the restaurant, all giving each other gooey eyes. It almost made him gag; he had forgotten that today was that dreadful holiday. It was a good thing he had escaped with Maka; he could only imagine how many girls would decide to give him cards and chocolate and, worst yet, confessions once classes ended. His locker must be full of letters by now, Soul sourly thought. He reached for his drink as he thought about this, frowning when he tasted raspberry tea instead of his usual.

"The hell...?" He suddenly flashed his eyes to Maka, finding her pleasantly distracted by a couple who were giggling at something. He silently pushed the cup back to her and grabbed his, washing down raspberry with Pepsi. "Uh, anyway. Aside from the fact that we made it out of school without being caught and you just got that good dinner I promised you," he promptly ignored her incredulous look to continue with his gloating, "I believe some 'I told you so's' are in place."

"One word and I'll make sure you're finished."

Soul rolled his eyes at her. "Fine, joy-kill. What else you wanna' do? We still got two hours to kill and we can't sit here eating burgers for two hours. Unless you want another one, which I'm completely cool with except I am not paying for you this time!"

"No one asked you to pay for me in the first place!"

"You got any cash on you?"

"Well, no..."

"Exactly. Now, do you want another one or not?"

"No! I don't think I'm even going to finish this one! It's so big!"

"Haha! That's what she sai - OUCH!" He sucked in his curses while she stuffed her back into her bag, ignoring him to take another lofty bite out of her burger. "You even got to hit me once for being a jackass..." Soul muttered moodily, furiously rubbing out the pain in his skull. "One more and I owe you nothing."

"Want it now or later?"

"LATER!" Soul slammed back in his seat, warily watching her. But she only stifled a giggle into her burger, taking another bite. After a few moments of watching her, and being assured she wouldn't pull a fast one on him, Soul relaxed and rested his elbows on the table again. "Where'd you get that habit from, anyway?"

"What habit?"

"Hittin' people on the head with books. It's weird. I wouldn't think about hitting someone with a book when they pissed me off: I'd give him a good shiner so they could remember not to fuck with me," Soul smirked, crumpling his burgers wrapper and tossing it on his tray.

"It's just something my mama used to do to my papa," Maka answered, sheepishly. "She would always be carrying around her agenda book, so one day papa made her so angry that she started to hit him with it. I guess it just stuck because whenever he got her mad, she would use it, or a regular book if she had one on her."

"And like mommy, you took up that habit like a champ," Soul sighed, not too surprised by the tale. "Hitting people with books can't be healthy. Not for me, anyway, you'll break something in there one day and then you'll be crying."

"Why would I worry about breaking something?" Maka innocently said, smiling wickedly when he tossed her a questioning look. "Everything important is already broken!"

His grin was vicious. "Oh, you wanna' play like that, huh? You're just one book-chop away from becoming a serial killer, Maka. Take a chill pill...and a life, for the matter." He laughed at her pink-cheeked glare, shielding his head with his arm when she brought out her book again. "You're already on your way!" He cackled, grabbing her wrist and trying to wiggle the book from her grasp. But Maka tossed it at his forehead instead, a giggle rising up her throat unbidden at his stunned expression.

"You got your second hit for being a jackass!" Maka beamed brightly at him. "And we got some laughs out of this, too!"

"All in under an hour," Soul murmured, letting her hand go after a few seconds. His lip quirked upward at the corner. "I'm good."

"Shut up," Maka laughed, leaning away from him. She knelt to pick up her book and she dusted off the cover, craning her neck to get a better look at his face. Her smile faltered at what she saw. She couldn't describe it, the conflicting emotions that ultimately made him look frustrated, but she hoped that by smiling it would erase it so she did. It worked a little: the expression softened to something more receptive. "I was thinking we should go to the mall. There's a video game store there, you can... check out while I go to the bookstore," Maka offered, hesitantly.

He looked surprised. "You'd let me do that?"

"You don't look like the type to read, Soul, you'd only get in the way," she dryly replied.

"You're right, but you just struck me as the type to drag me around everywhere without letting me have a say in it."

"You want me to? You can carry my books home for me, too!" Maka threatened.

"Whoa, hey, you said you didn't have any money on you!"

"I have a credit card, genius!" Maka scoffed.

His jaw slacked. "You liar! You did have money on you! And you still made me pay for you!"

"You looked like you were going to pay for it with or without my consent," Maka stated, matter-of-factly. She smiled sweetly at him. "Thanks, by the way." She proceeded to toss out her own tray of food in the trash can behind her, overlooking the broody expression her current companion bore at the sight of that disarming smile. Once she stood up, stretching out a bit and sighing out in satisfaction when her back cracked pleasantly, did she look at Soul again to find him gazing out the window. He did that a lot, especially during class. Those times she would catch herself looking at him, he would always be gazing out the window. She always wondered what he was thinking about when he did that, what he was looking at while he pondered.

"Soul?" Maka asked, curiously.


"Are you okay?" She cocked her head at him, narrowing her eyes a fraction when he was drawn out of his reverie seconds later.

"I'm fine," Soul drawled, standing up himself. "C'mon, we've still got an hour to kill. Well, technically six hours."

"Six?" Maka squeaked. "Six hours? For what?"

"The dance, genius," Soul rolled his eyes. "You can always go home, though. I don't have a problem with that. I got you out of that mess like I promised I would, you don't have to stay any longer than necessary." He started for the door, Maka at his side immediately.

"You're not going?"

"I hate parties," Soul answered but did not explain.

"So you're going home after this?" Maka continued.

"Yeah, maybe."


"I was thinking about hitting Black Star's pad and borrowing his PS3 for a bit. He's going to the dance with some girl so it's not like he'll be using it tonight," Soul elaborated, nudging her forward with his shoulder when the light changed and she didn't move. He followed a step behind her, as he had taken to walking whenever he was around her. She figured it was an instinctual reaction: he always looked like he was hovering, as if expecting someone to suddenly walk right up to her and harass her. "You? No, wait, let me guess: you're gonna' go home and read?"


"Oh, right. Homework. How could I have forgotten that?"

"No, actually. I finish my homework at school!"

"You're a real bad girl, Maka: homework is for home. Says so in the name," he grinned mischievously when she snorted. "Alright, I'll bite. What're you gonna' do when you get home?"

"Cook dinner. Then I'll watch TV!" Maka proudly stated. Soul snorted a laugh. He couldn't help it: she looked so satisfied that he hadn't guessed right, it was practically adorable.

"You're gonna' eat again? Fatass."

"Not for me, stupid, for my mom!" Maka snapped. "She comes home at five so I usually have something ready for her to eat!"

"You don't wanna' just buy out? We could drop by a burger place somewhere before I drop you off," Soul offered. Maka shook her head.

"Mama doesn't like junk food."

"It has to be homemade?"

"No, she just thinks fast-food is really unhealthy. This is my first burger in a couple of months, actually," Maka confessed, sheepishly.

"Picky, huh?" he mumbled, not for her ears but she caught it anyway.

"She's not picky...just very selective."

"Yeah. Picky."

"But it's for a good reason!"

"She's a health-freak."

"She is not!"

"Yes, she is. Maka, she sounds like a total health-freak. And controlling. I bet she wouldn't let you go to this dance even if you begged!"

"For you information, she did let me go!"

"What time were you supposed to be back by?" He challenged. Maka instantly deflated.


"Pfft, eight? Maka, the dance starts at eight!"

"I wasn't going to go anyway so I didn't press it!" Maka defended and flushed red when Soul's laughter only worsened. She eventually brought out her trusty book, smacking him over the head and effectively choking off his laughter. That would be the third hit today. She was getting more than she bargained for, she dryly thought.

"That was uncalled for," he groaned. "A simple 'shut up' would have worked."

"I highly doubt it," Maka answered, distastefully. "I know that mama can be a little controlling about these sorts of things," she firmly ignored his mutter of a little? to continue, "but she means well. She doesn't want me to stay out too late because it's dangerous and eating junk food can have negative effects in the long-run."

"Yeah, in the long-run. You can't seriously say you didn't enjoy that heart-attack in a bun, Maka." At her grudging face, he smugly drawled: "It's fine to break a couple of rules sometimes. Healthy, even."

"How is that ever healthy?"

"It gives you experience, I guess. Y'know, you only live once. You can't live your entire life holed up in this safe little bubble your mom keeps you in. You won't know how to... interact with others when you have to. You won't know how to handle certain situations. So going out sometimes, eating greasy food and all that, it's adds up and you can...apply it to other things or situations. It's normal," Soul explained and he frowned a bit at her wondrous look. "What?"

"You're... that was actually very impressive."

"...Why do you sound so surprised..."

"No, no reason..."

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her blatant lie. "Whatever. Just remember that you can't listen to your mom all the time. Go out and have some fun. For gods sake, if you do then you'll have something cool to talk about when you actually decide to date somebody! Seriously, I can't imagine a duller conversation than one about a book or something equally uncool!"

"We're having a conversation right now!" Maka pointed out. "And it's not boring, is it?"

"...But we're not dating," he cleared his throat. At his statement, Maka instantly pinked. "Unless you wanna' give it a shot," he winked down at her, taking a daring step closer to her. He was close enough that he caught the involuntary swallow of hers at his proximity. He figured that was a good reaction as he purred: "You'll have a lotta' stories to tell your friends about if you do, promise - OUCH!"

"That's four, just in case you didn't know!"


She didn't know how she ended up here with Soul four hours later. After she arrived home to fix her mother something to eat, Soul hanging around the living room while she finished, Maka had left a post-it to warn her mother that she would be back by eight because she was going with Tsubaki somewhere. They ended up heading over to the mall after all and soon afterwards they both ended up wandering the city, taking in the brilliant reds and pinks that decorated the streetlamps and businesses in commemoration to St. Valentines Day. That was how they ended up at the bus bench at seven sharp, waiting for the bus that would take Maka back home and conveniently drop Soul off near his own home.

She ended up spending the entire day with him and she still felt as if the hours had gone by too fast.

"What about that one over there?" Soul gestured to the billboard that stood atop of a towering apartment building. "Bet you've never even heard of that band til now."

"Yes, I have! I just...haven't listened to any of their songs," Maka mumbled the last bit and pinked when Soul scoffed. "But I've heard of them!"

"Just like I've heard of Tiesto, doesn't mean I'll listen to that shit."

"If you would just give electronic a try - !"

"I'd be in the hospital for days because my ears wouldn't stop bleeding," Soul flatly said. He stretched out on the bus bench, bracing his hands behind his head and yawning a wide yawn that revealed his teeth to her once more. He looked tired, sitting there waiting for the bus with her. She wondered if he got any sleep last night. Then again, he always looked as if he could use more sleep. It was only one of his many allures; she always found girls chattering about his sexily lazy eyes or cocky, lopsided, grin. "Only cool jazz for me, Maka. That's probably the only genre I'll ever listen to without criticizing."

"Even rock?"

"Nickelback ain't that hot."

"They're my favorite band!"

Soul burst out laughing. "Jeez, your taste isn't just bad: it's horrible!"

"It's just fine! It's a good band, Soul, you just don't like them!" Maka grumbled, shoving her shoulder into his. Soul looked her and pushed back and she pushed back until they were both clashing: evening themselves out in their own efforts to shove each other off the bus bench. Maka eventually grabbed him by the arm and tried pushing him off but only ended up sliding back from her own force. He wouldn't budge an inch and he made sure she knew it by grinning down at her wickedly.

"NO!" Maka squeaked, clinging onto his arm when he successfully pushed her to the edge of the bench. He'd hardly moved at all, which only added oil to the fire that burned her jewel eyes brighter. "Ack! Soul, no, I'll kill you if you let me fall!"

"Relax, I won't let you fall. Not much, anyway," he taunted her by letting her fall back a bit more. He grinned at her withering look and pulled her towards him again, leaning away from her once she was a safe distance from the edge. He managed to, thankfully, only wince when she punched him in the shoulder. "Ow..." He rubbed the tender spot. "By the end of the day, I'm gonna' have more bruises than I would have in an entire year."



"What was that?" She held up a brand new novel; hardcover.

Soul could be considered a shameless slacker, perhaps stupidly reckless when combined with someone who really was an idiot (ie, Black Star, Kilik), but not enough to purposely screw himself like that. "I didn't say anything," he nervously coughed.

Then they fell into a comfortable silence after that. This was one of the many things she liked about Soul: he knew when to shut up. Often times, it would seem like he just didn't know when to keep his mouth closed but, when it counted, he managed to tone it down and appreciate the comfortable silence. He didn't feel the need to explain himself more than he needed to, he didn't feel the need to fill the gap between them when they lapsed into silence. He also gave more sound advice than Liz could ever give her, for sure.

"You know he'll just ask you out to another dance, right?"

"What?" Maka looked up at him. "You mean Hiro?"

"Yeah," Soul tapped his foot on the pavement to an imaginary beat, watching the movement faithfully. "He didn't take you to this one but that won't stop him from asking you to another one."

"Then I'll just... say no to him those times, too!" Maka decided, confidently. "I can always avoid him like I did today, too!"

A faint smile tugged his lips at her naivete. "I heard you were going to prom."

"Oh. Yeah, I already bought my ticket," Maka admitted. They were cheaper now than a few weeks before said dance. Maka and the others had already bought their ticket to the popular social event although their dates were a totally different matter. Maka had a sneaking suspicion that Liz and Tsubaki already had someone to take. She and Patty, however, were another story. Maka was sure Patty could easily find someone to take her but her? Maka had the sinking feeling she would end up going alone to the dance after all. It was one of the many reasons she regretted buying the ticket afterwards. "Liz and Patty convinced me to buy it when it first started selling."

"Who you going with?"

Maka shrugged. "I don't know. I was thinking about just going with a group."

Soul chuckled. "Would it kill you to ask someone out?" The smile was quickly wiped after the words left his throat and he shifted his eyes to watch her face. But she didn't seem adverse to the idea nor offended. She merely played with the hem of her shirt. "He's gonna' ask you."

"He's not."

"Is so."

"Is not."

"Maka, he's so gonna' ask you to prom. If he doesn't ask you to the other dances, he'll definitely ask you to that one. Unless you do something about it."

"About it how?"

"Fix it."


"Ask someone out!" Soul finally snapped

Maka gave him an incredulous look. "You want me to ask someone...to prom? As in, ask them to be my date?" That was prove to be incredibly hard. If she couldn't get the sentence out of her throat that is - or, more realistically, if she could find someone she tolerated enough to be with for the majority of the event.

"No, just out! Dammit, Maka, use that big brain of yours: if you get a boyfriend, then you won't ever have to deal with that idiot again. And you'd automatically have a date to all the dances, and you could probably sucker your way out of them, too," Soul rubbed his eyes out broodily while Maka contemplated his suggestion.

"E...even if I did," Maka began, carefully, "I wouldn't know who to ask. I don't like anyone right now."

"Someone who has potential?" Soul shrugged, finally looking at her. Maka stared back at him for a second and then dropped her eyes between them the next. She turned back forward and contemplated his question quietly, hoping her face wasn't becoming too hot with every second that passed. That person who immediately came to mind when he said that...Maka wished he hadn't brought up the topic so she could avoid thinking about him in that light so soon.

"...No one. There's no one."

"Yes, there is."

"No, there isn't!" Maka quickly said.

He curled his lip up in a knowing smirk. "You took way too long to answer that. There's someone. Who is it?"

"No one!"

"C'mon, maybe I can help you hook up with him," Soul mocked, elbowing her suggestively. She swatted his arm away, stubbornly ignoring him. "I won't tell anyone," he offered. She didn't budge. "Fine. But you're thinking about it, right?"

"I guess..." Maka ran her finger over the hem of her shirt again, thoughtfully. "Although, at least I know that if I don't muster up the guts to do it, I can always go with Hiro. Liz and Patty would probably make me go with him, anyway, unless I managed to get a crush overnight." She frowned down at her hands, her cheeks darkening. "Which is impossible..."

"Don't say that, you never know." Soul looked down the street. No bus yet. Hopefully it would be delayed this evening: he needed a few more minutes with Maka. She was a tough nut to crack but it was nothing he didn't expect. "You might find the love of your life sitting in a stinky bus seat right now."

"Very funny, Soul."

"I should try out for stand-up. I'd make a killing," he muttered absently, running his fingers through his unruly hair. This was taking far longer than he liked, to be frank. He glanced at her again. She was still looking down at her twisting hands, troubled. He figured he'd weasel it out of her if he pushed enough. "Do I know him?"


"This guy who has potential."

"I - no!"

"Okay, I do," Soul immediately said and, to his amusement, she flushed a darker pink and glared at him. "That narrows it down a lot. It isn't Star, is it? Cuz that'd be really awkward."

"NO! It's not that moron! How can you even - ? Ugh, no!"

Soul chuckled at her wrinkled nose. He certainly knew that - Maka and Black Star bumped heads more than two bulls could in a day. Another prospective suitor came to mind and this one made his smile disappear because he actually held potential. He held a lot of potential, actually. Soul straightened, needing to observe her reaction for this one. She would deny it every single time but he always had a facility in reading people's expressions and reactions.

"What about Kid?"

"Kid?" Maka echoed, wondrous. "No. No, I wouldn't be able to handle his OCD!" She laughed at the thought and his shoulders relaxed at the sound. "Liz and Patty can barely manage it on their own! I would only be able to handle him for so long before I did something I regret!"

"Like accidentally make him run into your knife seven times?" He slyly said.

Maka giggled at that. "Something like that."

"Hnnn," Soul leaned back into the bench. He tossed out a few more names, coming out negative every single time. He could see the bus approaching down the avenue by the time he reached the last name on his mental list of suitors for her. "What about me?" He smirked, looking at her. She stared at him for a moment, letting that sink in, before she flat-out denied it and shook her head furiously. She looked back forward as she laughed tightly but he had already caught her sudden hot cheeks, the spark of panic in her eyes that meant he'd hit bulls-eye. "Liar," he taunted, leaning over to catch her expression. She shot him a dirty look, scooting away from him. "It's me, isn't it?"

"No, it's not, Soul! It really isn't."

"That's real cute," he drawled, snickering when she slit her eyes dangerously at him. The steady hue of red that began to tint her cheeks, however, said otherwise. Soul stood up when the bus was close, not bothering to fight down his own lopsided smile. "I'm expensive, though. You're gonna' have to loosen up your wallet if you want me, Maka," Soul innocently said, smirking at her slack-jaw reply. He nudged her inside the bus after she recovered enough, digging into his wallet for his bus pass while she ran hers.

"You're an idiot, Soul," Maka muttered acerbically as she took a seat towards the back of the bus.

"Hey, it's looking pretty good for you! You buy me dinner and I'm all yours!" He grinned coquettishly at her. Maka rolled her eyes at him. That idiot, taking everything as a joke. She could sympathize with the teachers who needed to deal with him on a daily basis. His sarcasm would get him into some real big trouble one day. Maka felt her heart calm at his usual teasing. For a second there, she thought he had been serious! That would have been terribly embarrassing for her because she actually had a good-standing relationship with him. To ruin that because he guessed right, well, she wouldn't know what to do with herself. For one, trying to be his friend had been a challenge in itself. Trying to be something more? It would take a lot of effort, she was sure of this.

"Technically we already ate," Maka joked.

"I paid, though."

"But we already ate. We even went back to my house!" She laughed at his flat look.

"No, it doesn't work that way, pigtails. How about we start over? Repeat after me: Soul."

"Soul," Maka repeated, amused.

"Will you have dinner with me because you're an insanely cool and hot piece of ass - !"

"I am not saying that!"

"Say it and it's a done deal!"

"No way! I will never say that! You're not even 'insanely cool'!"

"You're not denying the last part," he cunningly pointed out.

Maka flushed a terrible red and spat: "Don't kid yourself, Soul, you're not, um, 'insanely hot' either..."

"Obviously you don't read the school newspaper..."

"I'm a member," Maka reminded, smugly. The heat in her cheeks receded somewhat. "I, of all people, would know."

Soul glared. "Alright, fine, we'll keep it simple: will you have dinner with me?"

Maka sighed at his persistence but played along for the sake of things. "Soul, will you have dinner with me?" Maka droned. She shook her head right afterwards, only too amused by this on-running joke. However, Soul smirked smugly and draped his arm over her shoulders, catching her off-guard. He wrapped his arm across her chest, pulling her closer to him. She automatically tensed, thinking this joke was going too far, and felt her face heat to unimaginable levels when he drawled into her ear:

"Sure, what took you so long?"

"I...what?" She strangled out, casting him a wide-eyed look. She expected him to laugh at her, to teasingly say that he got her good this time. But instead, his smile widened a little more and the arm that snaked behind her neck wrapped around her to pull her closer to him. She could intimately smell the provocative fragrance of his body wash, leaving its print on her clothing. There would be no sleep tonight with his accursed scent clinging to her. "Wait, Soul, what are you doing?"

"You better shell out ten bucks, Maka, I'm in the mood for some Chinese," Soul grinned when she struggled against him, growling threats under her breath. He caught her saying something that made him frown and he decided, all jokes aside, the last thing he needed was her leaving this bus thinking he had been messing with her this entire time. "I'm not kidding."

"I'm not going to buy you Chinese, Soul, we don't even have time for that! It's almost eight!"

"No, I mean, I'm not kidding," Soul repeated, seriously She looked at him with surprise. "I'm not." He let those two words sink in. She dropped her wide eyes once they did and swallowed, very conscious of the way it felt to be wrapped in his arms. He was, naturally, much bigger than her: he almost enveloped her perfectly and a dangerous thought flit her mind. What if she said yes, what if she just got rid of her current problem by making him her new problem? She would be able to deal with this new problem; probably better than she was dealing with the Hiro-issue because she happened to like this so-called problem better than most.

"What does that mean?" Maka asked, quietly. "If you're not kidding..."

"I guess that means I like you," Soul stated, matter-of-factly. His jaw clenched and unclenched; a nervous habit of his while she took a deep breath. He certainly hadn't expected to be the one to come out with it first but his plans usually never went accordingly anyway. He could only hope that they wouldn't completely burn up into flames because of his carelessness.

Once she figured he was being as honest as he could be, Maka dared to look up at him. He flicked her eyes to her instantly, waiting silently. She couldn't read anything more than apathy but the longer she searched his eyes, the better she became at identifying those small flickers of unease and intensity.

"Do you, really?"


"For how long?"

"A while," he shrugged when she cast him a curious look. "Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months..."

Maka opened her mouth but closed it instead, deciding her commentary would only make things more awkward. Soul exhaled a breath and nodded silently to himself for admitting such a lame thing to her, swaying with the bus' turbulent movements. Maka lost herself in her thoughts, leaning against his chest comfortably. It was when they were two stops away from her destination that Maka looked back up to him again and smiled, coming to a decision.

"If I say yes... does that mean Hiro will leave me alone?"

"You're doing it just to get rid of him? Yeah, go ahead, use me. I don't care," he sarcastically said and she giggled. His lips threatened to twitch into a grin but he fought the urge down admirably. "He'll forget he even thought he had a chance," Soul promised her. "But you have to give me a shot first."

"You won't drag me to dances?" Maka asked playfully, laughing when he pulled her in closer to him and buried his nose in her hair. Relief made a sigh escape his lips and Maka nuzzled her nose into his chest, deciding this wasn't going to be as bad as she thought it would be. Not if they continued to get along as they always did: arguments and book-chops to the head and all. She was willing to put in the extra effort to make this relationship work.

"Not even if you begged me to."

"What if I wanted to go?"

"In your dreams," he snorted. "Dances are for chumps."

"What about prom?"

"I'll give you a freebie. But only one, so choose wisely."

Her arms suddenly wrapped around his waist and Soul felt triumph stretch his lips into a smirking grin as she cheered: "Then prom it is!"

"No take-backs," he mumbled. He shifted to hold her better and let his lips press against her shoulder. He suddenly couldn't wait to go to school the next day; a first for him. Hiro would be in the for the shock of his life, Soul would make sure of it. That bastard had taunted him about Maka for the past few weeks, Soul was only too willing deliver his just deserts. As the bus came to a slow stop at the light, Maka wiggled her way out of his arms and started to stand.

"This is my stop."

"Great. Just when I get you engage, you have to leave! It's gonna' be a pain in the ass to do this again at school tomorrow," he said, surly.

Maka glared defensively. "I-I'm not used to this type of stuff! Deal with it!"

He scoffed softly but didn't comment. Maka pursed her lips at his broody reply and held onto the pole as the bus came a full stop. Before she could make a move, Soul spoke up: "Hey, wait up a sec." Maka looked at him curiously and her cheeks darkened a terrible red when, his name dying on her lips, he stood and kissed the corner of her mouth. "Happy Valentines day, Maka," he whispered, lingering for longer than he should have.

"A-ah, happy Valentines day, Soul!" The fact that he made it dangerously close to her mouth making her knees week, Maka garbled out a meek goodnight and hurriedly made her way out of the bus before the doors could shut on her. Soul watched her make her way down the sidewalk, braced against the wind, and waved when she looked up as the bus passed.

If she got all flustered by a measly kiss on the cheek then Soul had his work cut out for him after all. But he figured it was fine; he was willing to put in the effort to make it work between them.

A/N: I think I'm losing my touch. Sorry if this sucked bullocks, guys, I hate disappointing ._.

I need... more Soul Eater D:

Ohkubo, why can't you update weekly, dammit, why?