This beat is killing me

Sometimes, he catches her dancing. She'll have her earbuds in, the ones he got her for Christmas because he'd seen her staring at them. They matched those stupid little skull ponytail holders she uses in her hair. He couldn't decide if it was adorable or just dorky. He'd told her, with the appropriate amount of eyerolling, that he'd gotten them so he didn't have to listen to her shitty trance music anymore. Maka had given him a piercing look, and he tensed, waiting for the inevitable chop.

Instead, she had given him a smile, a quick hug, and a peck on the cheek as a thank you, and then immediately started listening to something so horrifically loud that Soul could still kind of hear it through the earbuds. But she also looked pretty ridiculously pleased, so he just scowled a little and pushed her off the couch.

So he catches her dancing sometimes, with little skull earbuds in, sometimes still in her school clothes, sometimes in these little workout shorts that make him want to die. Right now, she's got on a pair of the ugliest, rattiest sweatpants he's ever seen. They look oddly familiar, and it takes him a moment to realize that they used to be his. He'd tossed them at her head one day to get her to shut up about walking around in pants that had holes in them. Her sputtering as he'd stripped down to his boxers had been totally worth losing his favorite pair of broken in sweats. He'd assumed that she'd thrown them away, not that she would have, in any plane of existence, kept them.

Maka hums under her breath, pigtails bouncing. His sweats are tied tight around her hips, but the waistband keeps slipping down and her shirt keeps riding up, and Soul has to stifle a groan, wondering why he didn't just take a nap in his room. Except, he knows exactly why he didn't, and why he hasn't taken a nap in his room in the last several months, even if he would never in a million years, not for all the witch souls in the world, admit it.

Sometimes she dances. She does it more now than she used to, and he has to wonder if it's because of those little earbuds that made her music perfectly portable, or if maybe maybe it's got something to do with him-maybe she's dancing because he keeps napping on the couch rather than in spite of it. Except this is Maka, and that's not how she rolls. He used to pretend to be asleep when she would bounce into the living room from the kitchen-sometimes to pick up a book, sometimes to clean-until he realized that Maka's soul perception was probably good enough these days to be able to tell the difference between awake and asleep, and then started feeling like kind of a creep.

So now, he just naps on the couch, or he reads his magazines, or watches tv as she gyrates through the kitchen. Half the time, her eyes are mostly shut, but he's yet to see her bump into anything, and he doesn't feel quite so awkward keeping an eye on her like that because it's not really staring. He's just making sure she doesn't trip over anything, right? Right.

She's not really a good dancer. At least, not in the way that he was taught good and bad and artistic. Soul still remembers being dragged to ballets and interpretive dance art pieces-sometimes because Wes was the accompaniment, sometimes because he thinks his mother actually enjoyed that kind of thing. When Maka danced, it wasn't good. There was no training, no real skill. He has a hard time looking away, though. He never had that problem before, he thinks.

The difference is honesty, Soul decides, watching her hips twist and the smile that lights up her face, the way that her eyes, half closed, crinkle at the corners. Occasionally, he recognizes something in her motion-it takes him a minute because he's not used to seeing it in person so much as he's used to feeling the motion-it's a wide swing, a slide across tile in socked feet, the delicate shifting of her balance as she fights that translates into dancing and kind of makes his blood boil.

He wonders, laying on the couch, gaze carefully, deliberately neutral, if her particular brand of grace could translate into something else entirely.

She smiles when she dances-just a slight quirk of her lips, completely unselfconscious, and Soul comes to the realization that Maka does understand music. Her smile, her motion-she feels the music the same way that he does. It's just that her definition of music (thudding bass lines and synthetic keyboards and the repetition) has nothing to do with his definition of music (cool jazz and developed harmonies and anything with more substance than electronica, for fuck's sake). But still, it's there. She can feel the music or she wouldn't be dancing, and he wonders what she would do if he slid up behind her and curved his hands over her hips and taught her how to feel his music, too.

He turns the page on his magazine, and Maka flicks her eyes open long enough to catch his gaze. He wonders if she's been doing that this entire time, and despite his observations, if he's just never noticed it before. Her smile is more, wider. There is no hint, just that megawatt grin that makes his chest pound a little harder. Soul thinks about the Black Room, about that smile and pianos and "Hi, my name is Maka," and how maybe she already feels his music.