Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater nor the album title to Brad Sucks': a one man band with no fans, as he says.
I Don't Know What I'm Doing
by. Poisoned Scarlett
He's the boy who talks to imaginary people.
She doesn't agree with those rumors because he doesn't look unstable; quite the contrary, he looks very level-headed and critical. However, in her experience, the most normal and quiet ones are the most likely to commit heinous crimes. But despite his odd appearance – the bleach white hair, the frightening fire-red eyes, the perpetual sneer – and all the horrible rumors (he's a serial killer) and stories (he sold his soul to the devil) and gossip (there's a graveyard in his backyard masquerading as a garden) that surrounds him, Maka Albarn doesn't think he's bad at all. She thinks he's actually pretty cool with his monosyllabic replies and cool gaze; pretty interesting and just pretty in general although if she ever told him that all of those rumors and stories and gossip would probably come true and very fast.
But maybe she thinks this way because she's new to Death City and she doesn't understand their idea of 'normal', which tiptoes the line between insanity and boldness as it is. But she does know that Soul Evans isn't the baleful monster everyone makes him out to be.
He can't be.
She stares at a ceiling awash with the shadows of late evening. There's a pounding in her head and she feels the achy feeling of grogginess and exhaustion gnaw at her consciousness the longer she lies on the couch. She's always like this after one of her episodes. If she doesn't make any sudden movements, she will be fine in a few minutes.
"I'm...okay," and she sits up slowly and rubs her eyes out. She regains her bearings and realizes she's inside a toasty warm apartment. The couch she had been deposited on is soft, worn, leather and the smell of take-out is still heavy in the air. There are already dark swaths of color that shade the floors and walls. Just how long had she been out this time? Maka thinks wearily. "What time is it?"
When she looks at him he's cautious but every bit the pretty boy she's come to know. He's sitting opposite to her, ankles crossed, fingers steeped in his knees, dressed in his usual black jeans and black jacket. He looks like he's awaiting the inevitable scramble to the door once reality sets in but when she does nothing more than stare expectantly, he answers: "Four fifty."
"Papa's probably looking for me," she murmurs but doesn't seem too concerned. She seems more concerned with the fact that her button-up shirt is wrinkled from sleep than her fretful father. "Is... this where you live?"
He nods and Maka shifts until her feet touch the floor. "Are your parents home?"
"I live alone," he answers shortly.
This is probably the most she's gotten him to speak since she can't remember when. She doesn't hear him speak at school even though he has such a lovely voice; a husky baritone that trembles in her chest. She rubs her head, rubbing her eyes out again, and reaches into her skirts pockets to pull out a folded up napkin that contains two simple pills. When she looks up at him, she smiles awkwardly. "I forgot to take them this morning!"
He gives the pills a long look before standing and silently heading to the kitchen. She hears the sound of glass chinking followed by running water before he reappears. He hands the full glass of water to her and she takes it gratefully, popping the two pills while Soul quietly composes a reply to her sheepish statement.
"What are they for?"
"They keep my narcolepsy under control," Maka answers honestly, and his eyes widen with surprise. "It's an experimental drug and, so far, as long as I take it once every two days it keeps my episodes under control. It's not completely effective, I still have them, but I haven't had as many as usual. This is the most effective drug they've prescribed to me so far," Maka sighs softly. She has severe narcolepsy; she doesn't like talking about it, really, because it depresses her. She hopes Soul won't pry.
"Narcolepsy, huh?" Soul mutters. "Shouldn't you have someone tailing behind you cuz of this? The principle can assign you someone if you ask."
"I-I know but I hadn't had an episode in three months! I thought I could do it if I just kept up my medication..." Maka petulantly looks away when Soul snorts, obviously convinced she was an idiot. "I'll just ask for someone tomorrow!" Maka insists. "Maybe Tsubaki!"
"She'll flip out and end up calling 911 instead of letting you literally sleep it off," Soul deadpans. Maka purses her lips.
"Liz or Patty - !" She abruptly cuts herself off at the amused disbelief he shows. She's not all that faithful in the flamboyant and scandalous sisters, either.
Soul shrugs. "Can't say. I don't know him."
"I'll just ask Kid if he wants to then!" Maka brightens. She stands and flattens her wrinkled clothes, looking up at Soul with a warm smile. "Thanks again for helping me!"
"No prob," Soul replies, apathetically. He trails behind her as she walks to the door, rambling on about paying him back and putting more effort in not forgetting her medicine. He only waves as she leaves, insistent she can walk home because she actually only lives down the block from where he does.
He still watches her go from the balcony and, when he can't see her silhouette against the grainy pavement, he walks out to ensure she didn't drop dead somewhere like she had earlier that day before heading back home and watching TV.
She's the girl with a sleep disorder.
Word gets out fast and suddenly she's the most interesting thing this world has to offer. He knows she's uncomfortable with the attention and he knows that Kid doesn't understand her discomfort because he's too busy making sure his hair and suit stay in pristine condition so as to keep his obsessive-compulsion in order.
Soul doesn't show an inclination he knows her even though once she smiled and waved at him. He just ignored her. There's a twang of regret when her smile droops and her wave falters but he's never been one for friends and he doesn't want to start now. This entire school, this entire town, it's toxic; like the slow poisoning of nuclear waste. It corrodes, it sickens, and then it completely mutates you – until you resemble a scrap of what you once were. He doesn't want to live here – if he had the choice he'd live elsewhere, like Miami or maybe Chicago for its jazz culture – but he has to live here because he's underage and his brother is a bastard. He's thankful his parents at least let him move out when he and Wes', his brother, fights began to grow out of hand. That helped a little.
"Have you seen Maka, Kid?" The pretty Asian girl with the oceanic blue eyes asks, worriedly. Tsubaki, he thinks her name is. She gnaws at the end of her pencil. Kid just looks up and thinks for a moment before answering:
"No, I haven't. Not since lunch – I believe she told me she would be in the library."
"Do you think she made it to class?"
"Of course she did. Someone would have sent for me if she hadn't," Kid answers briskly, returning to his work. Tsubaki looks dubious.
Soul is, too, because like he said before, this town is toxic and the people in it are venomous.
What is he doing? He doesn't know as he raises his hand and promptly scares the living souls out of everyone. The teacher doesn't even have it in him to ask what he wants – he only nods and watches Soul stand and drift out of the classroom door wordlessly. He still doesn't know what he's doing as he pokes his head into the library, searching the desolate grounds for anything that resembles the perky pig-tailed girl he's grown to watch from the mass of nameless, faceless, people she's constantly surrounded by nowadays.
She's not there so he backtracks, wracking his brain for any other hint as to where she can be. His eyes dart to the field and he walks to one of the tall windows, searching for a head of ashy blonde through the glaring glass. He finds none and his stomach drops a little more, fear beginning to kick in, panic starting to show itself on his usually blank features.
He still doesn't know why he's doing what he's doing as he jogs down the hall, makes a right, speeds down another hall, takes a left, and arrives at the locker rooms slightly breathless. There's a moment when he thinks he can get in big trouble for this but he's never been one to care for rules and he's never been one to care for such trivialities anyway. So he enters the girls locker room boldly and walks by row and row of lockers. He's almost given up hope on finding her here when he reaches the final row and there, slumped down against the wall of lockers, fallen to the side, is Maka already dressed in her gym clothes.
"Maka?" He shakes her but she doesn't rouse. She's out like a light. "Crap." Her locker door is ajar. He quickly packs up her clothes and her bag and anything else he thinks she might need and crams it all into her bag. He swings that on his shoulder and ignores the fact that it's completely uncool to carry a woman's bag before he bends down and lifts her off the ground.
She's heavy but he already knows that.
This isn't the first time he's carried her.
But it was more impacting the first time it happened, on the street corner.
He deliberates taking her to the nurses office when he remembers her discomfort, how awkward she looks standing amongst everyone in the quad, how utterly misplaced she must feel amongst everyone in the world, and so he carries her to the library instead and doesn't bat an eye when the librarian stares at them. He takes her to the back and gently sits her on floor, against the smooth white wall, and he sits next to her and drops her stuff beside her and waits.
It's the final period of the day – nearly an hour and a half later – when she comes to. She's lost at first, green eyes hazy and dazed, but she regains her bearings quickly and jolts when she realizes she's no longer in the locker room and he's sitting beside her, blear-eyed because he dozed off between waiting for her to wake up and guarding her from the nosy librarian.
"Soul –? Where am I? Why aren't I in the locker room?" Maka asks, bewildered.
"You passed out so I went to get you," is all he says and Maka rubs her head and reaches for the bottle of pills she carries in her bag. "Did you forget again?"
"No, I didn't," she replies, worriedly. "I took it yesterday, like I was supposed to. It's happening more frequently now. I don't know why. It happened to me a few days ago but I was with Kid…and I woke up right after – what time is it right now?"
"School's gonna' end in half an hour."
"HALF AN HOUR?" Maka gasps, appalled. "I missed two classes!"
"Yeah, but at least no one found you in the locker room. They would've called someone to pick you up if they had and you would be the nurses office right now."
"Why…why didn't you take me the nurses office?" Maka asks, curious.
"I didn't think you'd want to."
"Thank you," she whispers and a tiny smile brightens her eyes. He stares for a moment then looks away and towards the librarian whose leaning sideways to look at them; maybe figure out what they're saying. He instantly scowls and a dark look overtakes his eyes. The librarian goes back to pretending to organize check-out cards. "I-I guess I should go change and get ready to go home," Maka says with a sigh. "Where's Kid?"
Soul frowns. "Beats me. He didn't think about checking in with the teacher like he's supposed to when class started. Some spotter you have," he snorts derisively and he stands up. Maka also stands albeit slower and unsteady on her feet. "You alright?" Soul steadies her with a hand, watching her closely. "Maka?"
"Mm," Maka hums, looking a little detached. "I'm fine." She walks and he follows until they're at the locker room. It's when she reaches the door that she seems to snap out of her little daze and stare at the door as if she doesn't know how she got there; as if she doesn't know what happened, what's going on. And she doesn't, he realizes with dread, she doesn't but once she looks at him she relaxes and she smiles tightly and goes inside with a murmur of I'll be right out.
He doesn't know what narcolepsy entails except random sleep episodes.
Soul decides he'll do some research when he gets home just in case—just because he's curious, he tells himself. Not because he's worried and not because his ignorance about her condition makes him uncomfortable.
But for now he waits for her and he walks her home just in case.
They don't mention Kid the entire time.
They're unlikely friends but they make it work.
She doesn't think Kid makes for a good spotter in the long run. He's got his own sets of issues and he doesn't understand her condition enough to take it seriously. He's only there when he can be and not when he should be. She finds herself relying on Soul more and more – to the point where she doesn't call on Kid when she feels weak, when her entire world begins to distort or look funny, or when her dreams start to come alive before her like a pop-up storybook. She finds herself calling on Soul, waiting for him to come and find her like he always does.
Because he always finds her.
She doesn't know how he knows when she's having one of her episodes but he does. He's always there when it happens; always watching her for any signs. He seems to understand her condition better than Kid – better than any of her supposed friends, and they claim to be very concerned about her and very aware of her condition. Soul knows better, though, he knows when to slowly shake her awake and when to buy her something sugary to stimulate her back to wakefulness – even if it's just for a little while, until she can find a place to nap for ten or fifteen minutes.
He doesn't mind.
He doesn't look like he minds, anyway.
Maka finds herself thinking if she's a burden to him more and more often – the longer they hang out, the longer they bond, the longer they walk home together day to day. She knows she's becoming a burden to her friends because during those times she goes into auto-pilot and she jolts back to consciousness minutes later, she can't remember anything that happened in between therefore she can't follow conversations very well. But that's when she starts to grow very worried and she tells Soul – because she can tell Soul anything, even the dumb stuff that makes him sigh or laugh or snort – and he has a solution. He always does now that she thinks about it.
She has to get her medication adjusted – at least that's what Soul tells her. So she does and the frequent episodes go away after a few days and she's almost back to being a normal girl.
And Soul becomes a distant shadow on the concrete again...
And she misses him - more than she thought she'd miss him. He's been there, constantly, for the past few weeks that now when he's not because he's sure her medication will pull through for another few months, he's gone and it's disconcerting. She only sees him during classes and catches glimpses of him during the school day. But he never lingers for long. He checks and leaves, checks and leaves, and she wants him back. She wants him back beside her, their shadows blending together to form one odd shape. She feels a little lonely without him there to mock her or laugh with her or introduce her to different types of music like Gorillaz or Nightmares on Wax because apparently her own taste sucks.
She doesn't like the bareness, or vulnerability, she's starting to feel with the friends she once trusted when she first enrolled into Shibusen Academy.
"What's it like?" Kim asks one day, extremely curious.
"What's what like?" Maka asks, puzzled.
"Falling asleep like that – randomly!"
"It's a little scary, I guess," Maka laughs. "But I've learned to live with it. As long as I keep to my medication and take naps during the day, I'm fine."
"Wow…" Kim whispers, staring at her. She doesn't like it, how she's staring at her, like she's some sort of weird thing that's spurned out of the darkness of cracks and crevasses for their own entertainment. "So, do you just do it? Do you know when it happens?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes it just happens and the next thing I know Soul's hovering over me to check if I didn't hit my head on the ground too hard!" Maka laughs and she slows to stop when Kim stares at her for other reasons. She looks horrified, perhaps scared – so do those who have eavesdropped, as if Maka has just said she drowned a litter of puppies in boiling water.
"Soul? You mean that guy with the white hair? He's been – oh my god! What if he raped you or tried to? Maka, you have to go to the police—!"
"What?" She chokes, stunned.
"Do you feel weird – weirder than usual?" Liz asks, looking more curious than concerned. "I heard he once punched a girl because she kept asking him out! Has he said anything weird – ?"
"Soul would never do that! He's not that type of person! He's really sweet and nice!" Maka shouts fiercely and Liz shuts up. But she looks dubious, so does Kim for the matter. Before they can open their mouths and infuriate Maka even more, she adds: "If you got to know him, you would know that all of those things people say about him are not true! Soul's no different from you and me – he just has naturally white hair and his eyes aren't usual colors like brown or blue or green! Just because he looks physically different doesn't make him a serial killer or some sort of monster! He's probably a better person than any of you can ever be!" She snarls and realizes she's yelling and people in the cafeteria are dead silent and Soul, whose grabbing lunch, is staring at her with plain shock.
Eyes swing over to him and he ducks his head, grabbing his lunch and silently exiting the lunch area. Maka stares after him with remorse for singling him out like that and quickly picks up her bag and follows him out, ignoring Kim's gawk and Liz's stuttering call of her name. She has to make sure Soul is okay; that she didn't completely ruin her chances at becoming his friend; that she hasn't totally humiliated him in front of everyone.
That she wasn't wrong in placing her utmost trust in him like this.
"Soul!" Maka pants, coming to a halt steps behind him. "I'm sorry."
"What for?" He asks, turning around in confusion. He holds his lunch in his hands, pressed against his stomach so nothing falls out.
"For saying all those things…" Maka drops her eyes. "I probably embarrassed you. I'm sorry."
"Pfft, don't be sorry, you idiot," Soul scoffs and he smiles crookedly when she looks up hopefully. He beckons her to come closer with his chin and she obliges, falling into step with him as he leads them somewhere away from the eyes that watch them from the cafeteria doors. "That was pretty cool of you, y'know? Not many people would do that for me."
"Why not? You're my friend – right?" Maka adds, hesitantly, but he doesn't reply. He only adds:
"You basically excommunicated yourself from everyone when you claimed you were my friend, you know that, right?"
"No, I didn't!"
"Yeah, you did." He laughs when she puffs her cheeks out and mutters she didn't and that she probably increased his probabilities of having more than one friend. But the mood is light and the atmosphere is playful and she feels a little too overwhelmed with relief and gratefulness. She's getting those fuzzy feelings in her gut and her eyes are hazing over and her limbs growing weak.
"Hey, you want the apple?" He frowns and places his food on the bench when she doesn't respond. "Maka?" He taps her shoulder and she nods absently, green eyes hazy. "Hey, c'mon, snap out of it! Maka!" He snaps his fingers in her face a few times before deciding she'll come out of it on her own – but then she's getting so near, her arms circling his waist and her mouth coming so close to his that he can practically feel her sweet breath on his lips.
But she never quite kisses him – she comes so close and he can feel the barest of touches before her head nods forward and she slumps lifelessly against him in sleep. He only has a split second to catch her and he does this awkward scramble, eventually depositing her on the bench and ignoring his lunch when it falls to the floor in his scramble. His heart pounds with such ferocity he feels like it's about to explode in his chest if he doesn't do something about it right now. She almost kissed him – in her dreamlike state, in her own fictional world, she'd almost taken that leap of faith and kissed him.
He doesn't know how to deal with it; not really. He's sure that she won't remember when she wakes up (because she's done weird things in her dreamy state of mind) but he will. He'll always remember coming so close to having her close the distance between them and he'll always remember that lump in his throat; that shudder of thrill that raced down his spine when her bottom lip skimmed his; that tingle in his fingertips and burning in his cheeks.
"Ngh," Maka squeezes her eyes before blinking them open. She sits up and looks at Soul, whose munching on said apple now and staring ahead. She thinks she grew too excited at the prospect of befriending the most anti-social boy on the face of the planet and overwhelmed herself. He turns to her before she can ask what she missed this time:
"Do you actually want to be my friend?"
Maka blinks a few times, not sure she heard him right, but once she digests the question she nods firmly.
He nods, looking down at the apple's core. He tosses it in a nearby bush. "Alright."
"Yeah," he smiles down at her. "Cool friends." He can do that: be her friend. He thinks he's already been her friend for a long time now, since that day she collapsed in the street corner and he rushed up to check what was wrong. She's wrenched her way into his heart, under his skin, and he doesn't think he can spend another day without at least teasing her once. He knows that these past few days without her presence have been hell. He hates not being able to care for her; he's gotten too comfortable with it. And he thinks, in the end, that's what friends are: having someone to talk to, someone who understands how rotten this town is, someone to be in company with, someone to joke around with and argue with and laugh with, someone to tease and someone to cherish.
He can start off this way. He doesn't know what he's doing again, not entirely, but he can let her in; he thinks he can trust her enough not to take him for granted. He thinks she's proven herself enough already just as he has. Maka beams up at him and her eyes shine with the radiant midday sun. Once more he thinks about what he's doing, just what he's getting himself into, and finds he doesn't care when Maka reaches over and takes his hand and squeezes it gently and smiles at him so kindly – without violence in her scowl or discomfort in her eyes.
He can hold off his burgeoning feelings for her a little while longer.
But just a little.
A/N: This is for Red because he was the one who basically urged me to finish this.
I finished this in a couple of hours and my eyes are scratchy and exhausted. I can promise you all that I won't wake up later today for anything. I just fucked up my sleep cycle for your own story, Red, I hope you're proud of yourself XD