Chapter 1

~*~ Afraid ~*~

Maka's POV

I found it to be unusually quiet in the apartment I shared with Soul. There was no sound coming from the record player we had, nor the television in the living room. Was it because the storm knocked out the power?

As if to answer my question, lightning flashed outside my bedroom window, making me jump. No one knows this, but I have an extreme fear of lightning.

But I couldn't scream, I couldn't hide. Not with Soul down the hall. I wouldn't be able to face him if he saw me hiding from the storm.

So instead, I reached under my blanket for the stuffed bear my partner had won for me when we were at the fair. I brushed my fingers lightly over the bear's brown fur, finding comfort as I thought of the boy that gave it to me.

I got off of my bed and put my arms around the stuffed animal. Slowly, I peeked out into the hall, making sure Soul was still in his room. I sighed, relieved, when I saw his door was closed. Making sure I didn't step on Blair, who was in her cat form fast asleep in the middle of the floor, I made my way to the kitchen to make myself a snack. Maybe some food would keep my mind off the storm outside.

I went into the cabinets above the stove and pulled out a box of crackers, then sat at the table to eat. It still didn't feel right; I needed some sort of background noise other than the rain hitting the window, so I went back down the hall to get my MP3 player from my room.

But as soon as I stepped foot into my room, lightning flashed and the thunder caused the apartment to shake. Before I could stop myself, I screamed and ran to the far corner of my room, as far from the window as I could possibly get. I just sat there, hugging my knees and trying to keep myself from crying.

It was too late; Soul had heard me and rushed into the room.

"Maka! What happened?" Soul looked frantic. He almost couldn't see me in the corner, but when he did, his gaze softened. "What's wrong? Are you alright?"

The lightning flashed again, and I felt my body jump at the sight of it. I felt Soul sit next to me and wrap his arms around my shoulders. Was he trying to comfort me or make fun of me? But when I looked up at him, his red eyes were soft, and he started stroking my hair.

"I promise you that you'll be alright, Maka. I'm here with you now." He pulled me closer to him and I felt his lips gently brush against the top of my head.

"Yes, Soul," I said. "Nothing can scare me when you're with me." I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and let him hold me until the storm calmed down.

After a while, I felt my eyes starting to close and my body started screaming for me to get some sleep. Soul was still there with me, petting me like I was a cat. When he noticed I was starting to fall asleep, he picked me up and carried me to my bed.

"Go ahead and sleep, Maka. I'll see you in the morning." Soul turned around so he could go back to his room. But before he could take his first step, I grabbed his hand.

"Soul? Could you stay with me a little longer?" I felt my face get hot. "I mean, at least until I fall asleep."

He didn't object. Instead, he got in my bed to lay next to me after I made room for him. I closed my eyes and buried my face into Soul's chest while he put his arms around me. There, I found comfort listening to his beating heart and steady breathing.

But there was something else I was feeling… Something that I just couldn't put my finger on.

I mentally shook myself, trying to get the thought out of my head. There was no way I could… Was there?

No. Soul and I are partners. Weapon and meister. There was no way that I could be in love with Soul. Sure, we live together, but still…

I fell asleep with Soul next to me. But before I slipped into unconsciousness, I could have sworn I heard him say my name.

Soul's POV

Soul looked down at Maka, rubbing her back as she was headed into slumber. She looked so peaceful when she lay next to him.

What did that mean? Soul wondered if Maka could possibly love him, just as much as he did her.

That seemed highly unlikely, considering the type of girl Maka was. She's always so serious when it comes to everything, but Soul found her to be a little clueless when it came to relationships.

He sighed. That didn't matter to him, not in the least. She was still his Maka, and no one could change that.

"Maka…" he whispered. The storm was fading, and the clouds were allowing some of the light from the moon to shine through the window. The light was on the sleeping girl, making her sandy hair have an almost angelic glow to it.

Soul ran his fingers through her hair, feeling the silk-like texture of it. He had never realized how long it had gotten, since Maka always wore it in two pigtails, almost like she was ashamed to leave it down.

In her sleep, Soul could feel Maka tense, almost like she was ready for a fight. The white-haired boy looked at his partner with fear for her showing in his blood-red eyes. The sleeping girl had her eyes closed tightly, almost as if she were in pain.

Soul gently pulled her closer to him and put his chin on the top of her head. He gently rubbed her back, whispering her name, hoping that she would hear him and leave whatever nightmare she was having.

Maka's POV

When I fell asleep in Soul's arms, I was happy. But then… Then I was in the middle of the woods. I knew it was close to midnight, but even though the sky was free of clouds, I couldn't see the moon nor the light it gave off, and it was making me uncomfortable.

I started walking, hoping I could find my way to some place that I didn't have a sense of unease. After a while, though, I still had no clue as to where I was.

Out of nowhere, I heard it – the buzzing of a chainsaw. There was no mistaking it; I've heard this particular chainsaw before. The bloodlust in it was clearly audible in the roaring of the engine.

I didn't dare look back. There was no way that I would be able to handle looking at the man's soul again. I didn't know if I would be able to handle the madness and bloodlust that would surely be radiating from it.

"Look at me when I kill you girl!" the Giriko screamed at me. "I wanna see the light fade from those damned eyes of yours!" He grinned, not trying to hide the hatred he felt toward me. "I'm going to make sure it's a slow, painful death for you. And no one's around to stop me, not even that damned scythe you call a partner!"

I knew I shouldn't look back; if I did, he would kill me. But when I turned, against my will, to look at the red-haired main who wanted to kill me, I was shocked to see how close he was. Within seconds, he would be able to slice through my body with ease.

Even with this knowledge, I couldn't bring myself to run anymore; the overwhelming fear I felt made me fall to my knees, and no matter how much my mind screamed for me to run, I couldn't bring get up. I closed my eyes, preparing myself for the pain that I know would surely come from my enemy's attack, preparing myself for my inevitable death. The roar of then enemy's attack came closer, and I was sure this was the end.

"Soul…" I could feel tears coming to my eyes. "I'm sorry…"

"Idiot. What are you apologizing for?"

My eyes flew open and I looked up to see the person that I wanted to see more than anything else in the world. Soul was standing there, wearing his signature black suit and red tie. He held out a hand to me to help me get up on my feet; I grabbed it, thankful that my partner was there for me.

As soon as I was on my feet, I put my arms around Soul's neck. I could tell this surprised him, because I could feel him jump when I hugged him. After a minute, though, I felt his arms closing around me to pull me closer to him.

I felt tears in my eyes. "Soul… I thought… I thought I wouldn't see you again… I was so scared…"

He used one of his hands to rub my back while he held me to him with the other. "It's alright now, Maka. You're safe here."

I nodded, not caring about the tears that were making their way down my cheeks. Soul put his hands on my shoulders and gently pushed me off of him so he could look at me. His gaze softened as he took his thumb to wipe a tear from my eye.

"Oi, Maka. Listen to me. You're ok. There's no reason for you to cry now." When I didn't respond to him, he put his hand on my cheek and made me look into his crimson eyes.

When I looked at him again, I couldn't speak, I couldn't even nod to acknowledge that I heard what he said; he looked so different now than when he was lying next to me not too long ago. There was something about him that made me want to stand closer to him again. Was it because he was trying to comfort me?

After another minute of silence, he sighed. Looking behind me, he yelled, "Hey, little demon guy! Can you start up the record player? All this quiet is bothering me."

I turned around to look at who he was talking to, and sure enough, the red ogre-like demon was sitting in a chair that was next to a record player. He shrugged and moved the needle so it sat upon the black disk that was spinning on the antique. The music started playing from the tuba-like attachment on it, and I noticed almost right away that it was jazz. Soul took my hands in his and placed them on his shoulders, then put his hands around my waist.

I could start to feel my face turn a slight shade of pink. "Soul…?"

He laughed. "Come on now, Maka. Don't tell me you don't wanna dance."

"No, it's not that!" I said, shaking my head. "It's just… I didn't expect this. Not too long ago, I was about to be killed out of revenge, and now you're asking me to dance." I sighed and closed my eyes. "I don't know whether I should be grateful that I'm still alive or worried that I'm losing my mind."

Soul didn't laugh; he didn't make any kind of joke toward me like Black Star would have. Instead, he pulled me to him and tightened his arms around my back.

"Maka, there's no way that you, of all people, would be losing your mind." I could feel him put his lips on the top of my head, just as he did when he was holding me during the storm. This touch, this simple gesture, made my stomach tighten and I could feel myself leaning into him.

Soul put his head down so he could whisper in my ear. "I will always be by your side, Maka. I will always protect you."

My hands gripped the back of his black jacket. "Why do you keep saying that? You're always telling me that you'd be willing to die for me, but you've never given me a reason."

He chuckled. "You really want to know why?" He moved so he was looking directly at me, his face only inches from mine. I felt my face getting hot. "Maka, it's because I -"

The clock that I keep on my nightstand sounded its alarm and my eyes flew open. Soul was still in my bed next to me, almost looking as if he was trying to stay asleep. I had to reach over him to reach my clock and turn off the alarm, and I sighed. I carefully leaned over him and pushed the button on the digital clock, thankful that the annoying beeping had finally ended.

Almost right after I hit the button to shut up my alarm, I felt something – no, someone – put their hand on my thigh. Surprised, I looked down at Soul; his eyes were still closed, but his hand started moving up my leg a little more. I grabbed the book I keep on my nightstand and brought the binding of the hard-cover down on his head, leaving a noticeable dent in his snow-white hair. His hand retreated immediately to hold the back of his head, as if it would keep the pain away.

"What the hell, Maka?" he yelled at me. The words were somewhat muffled because he hid his face in the pillow he was using. "Why did you pull out the damn book on me? I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Oh, you didn't, did you? Well, I would think that rubbing a girl's leg is something that can be considered 'wrong'! Not to mention that you were making your way to my butt! Not cool, Soul!" I was moving to get up from the bed, but I was so infuriated with the boy next to me that I fell off the edge.

Soul laughed. "That's what you get for hitting me, Tiny Tits! That'll teach you to Maka Chop-" I hit him again with my trusty book. "Got it… I'll shut up…"

My face was red from embarrassment. "Good! Now get out so I can get ready for school!"