A/N: What is this? Publishing another story when the other hasn't been updated in months! I am a bad person...I'll make sure to come back to Deb Past though. This story is dedicated to my friend Shinigami Shi/The Bloody Shinigami because it was her birthdday :)
Chapter One – Grasping the Naked Truth
Maka Albarn, 21 years old, university student, a soon-to-be neurobiology and biochemistry major, and an art and art history minor, and a somewhat socially awkward person, packed her stuff sluggishly into her backpack, sighing heavily. The people around her immediately broke into cheery, idle and loud chatter, excitedly talking about their irrelevant experiences during the weekend and bemoaning how difficult classes were.
Maka harrumphed. Well, classes wouldn't be that difficult if they didn't spent their whole weekend partying and getting wasted. Her next class was figure drawing, which she was dreading. Without a word to the person next to her she made her way to class. If she could only make it through that class, she was going to meet up with Soul for lunch. So at least she had something to look forward to. Besides, class couldn't be that awful again.
Soul Evans was a former classmate of hers back in high school. To say they were close friends would be a lie; they had barely interacted with each other and had only a handful of classes together. They had talked so little that it had been an immense and not necessarily unpleasant surprise to stumble upon each other during the first few weeks of university on the campus.
Both not being really prone to make many and deep social connections, they immediately latched onto each other in the figural sense. It was nice to have someone to talk to, Maka thought to herself as her eyes narrowed into a heated glare at the smug smirk that was displayed on his pleasant features, even if that someone was an insufferable, egoistic, rude and arrogant idiot.
"Sooo...you chickened out in class because you couldn't stand the sight of a naked man?" His barely contained chortles only added to her embarrassment and she reached out to lightly slap his arm in a pitiful attempt to regain a bit of footing in this one-sided debate.
She crossed her arms over her chest, pouting and blushing. "I didn't chicken out! It just took me by surprise, that's all."
This time he chuckled. "Sure. Makapedia certainly didn't take her time to read through all the course descriptions before she started classes."
At this her frown only deepened and she didn't have any witty retort. She sighed and let her arms drop to her lap. "I...I just. I think doing art was a mistake. I mean I'm not very artistically inclined anyway. What made me think that I could pull this through."
Her head dropped dejectedly, her fingers fidgeting and clenching against the fabric of her skirt. She couldn't stand this. She hated the thought of failure yet here she was already giving up. This was so unlike her but she failed to see the point of continuing a subject in which she was far from excelling at.
"Hey." Soul's voice had lost its taunting timbre, softened to a soothing tone that calmed her and lifted her mood ever so slightly. "You're Maka Albarn, a future neurobiology and biochemistry major. You have brains. And Life Model classes are about the human anatomy, nothing that needs you to be that artsy fartsy."
"It"s still art, Soul. You still have to be artistically inclined." She frowned.
"Whatever. Don't tell me you're gonna drop it 'cause of some nudity. Come on, Maka. You knew this was eventually gonna happen. I mean, I've always known you're a prude but not this much of a prude."
And the smirk was back again.
"After all, we're all naked under our clothes. You surely must've seen a naked person other than yourself, haven't you?"
At this she looked down, an uncomfortable heat spreading through her body as she intently focused her gaze on the floral pattern of her skirt. She heard him inhale deeply, his fork noisily clattering on the table as he leaned closely over.
"Don't tell me you're still...still a virgin. Not that there's anything wrong with that but-"
"But what?" Her eyes snapped up, glinting furiously at the implications of his rude remark. "Do you take me for-"
"Hey! Don't take me the wrong way. I didn't mean to insult you. I'm just surprised, that's all. That's kinda rare you know. These days."
He broke their eye contact, scratching the back of his head awkwardly.
After a few minutes of tense silence, Maka quietly spoke up: "I'm not."
He perked up, his eyes once again trained on her hunched form. "Huh?"
"I'm not a virgin..."
Her confession hung heavily in the air and she felt herself miserably regretting admitting that as she was still regretting that day a few years ago. It had happened during senior year, her friend Liz Thompson had somehow persuaded her to attend this horrible party and despite her adamant mindset of refusing any drop of alcohol in order not to get wasted, Maka had, in the end, succumbed to such stereotypical teenage behaviour that it shamed her. She had drunk and danced and fooled around, giggling and shaky on her feet. And is if this hadn't been enough she had ended up losing her virginity that night, something she was still mourning after, as odd as it sounded.
Her emotions towards that particular experience weren't fueled by some traditional mindset, but rather that she didn't even remember the guy with whom she had done it. She remembered a few glimpses but mostly his husky voice, whispering against her sensitive ear, "Your skin is so soft", and some pain and him still remembering in his equally inebriated mind to roll on a condom before they did the deed. Maka didn't consider herself a romantic; she was far from being one having seen her family fall apart by her father's cheating ways, despite his insistence that he loved her mother a lot. Still, she couldn't help but wish that her first time had been a bit more meaningful than a drunken romp in her childhood friend's room.
She grimaced and shook her head, intent on erasing these memories even though she knew it was next to impossible.
She squeaked and flinched as she saw Soul waving his hand very closely in front of her face. He was frowning, his mouth pressed into a wry line. "I thought I lost you there for a moment. What were you thinking about?"
She inhaled deeply through her nose, rubbing her arms at the unpleasant chill that invaded her body. "I'd rather not talk about it."
He appeared to be about to protest, his lips parting readily but in the end only a swoosh of air escaped between them as his broad shoulders slumped. "Fine."
"But seriously," he began after a small while, "Are you really gonna drop art and art history now?"
She shook her head, a million thoughts coursing through her head. "I really don't want to."
"Then don't do it. I'm sure you'll get used to seeing junk after junk." He snickered crudely before he took a large bite of his pizza.
"Idiot", she muttered not so quietly under her breath, eventually taking a hold of her fork to eat up the remains of her lasagna.
"Maybe you should watch porn to get used to it."
"Shut up, Soul! And don't talk with your full mouth, it's gross."
He noisily gulped the food down, grinning snidely at her, his sharp teeth seeming to glint. "Hey, I'm just trying to help. Do you have a better plan?"
At this her anger drained out of her body, a certain kind of fatigue setting in. "I don't know!"
Maybe she really was blowing things out of proportion. Oh, she certainly was. But she couldn't help it. She wished she could ignore her massive uneasiness the moment the model took of his robe to reveal himself in all his glory. It had angered her that she had seemed to be the only one to be affected like this. All the others had this look of pure concentration as they began to sketch. Maka had insistently not lowered her eyes further down than his navel. However, she hadn't lasted even 15 minutes in the end. She had to overcome this...phobia...of hers. But how? She sighed. Had she any other choice besides steadfastly attending the class and hope to get used to the nudity? Dropping the subject was not an option! Maka Albarn never did things by halves.
Lightly nipping at the fat, striped straw of her coke glass, she looked at her Soul. Maybe she should truly take his advice to heart and watch M-rated material. She bit her bottom lip, her brain already protesting vehemently against this option. She glanced shortly at her notes, seeing formulas, partial drawings of the human nervous system and a lot of numbers. Why couldn't she approach Life Model with the same detached concentration as she did with Neurobiology?
Sighing at the cool sensation of coke sliding down her throat, she took her pen and began to doodle randomly. She only noticed it halfway in that she was drawing Soul. Smiling to herself, she risked glances at him whenever he wasn't looking and joined his idle small-talk not to arouse his suspicion.
"Woah! What's this?"
Damn it. Caught!
Soul swiftly snapped the scrap of paper away from her, holding it out in front of him, his eyebrows raised in something she could only interpret as fascination. His red eyes flitted back to her and Maka could feel her self-consciousness growing.
"This is good!"
She couldn't fight back the grateful smile that spread over her face. "You really think so?"
"Yeah. I don't make empty compliments."
She shyly bit her lip. "Thanks."
"You can't drop art. You can do it, Maka."
"I hope so."
As he handed her small drawing back to her, an encouraging grin on his face, she felt a lot better. Maybe she could do it. Soul certainly believed in her and she had to believe in herself too. They spent their lunch with lighthearted chatter, him cracking silly and dumb jokes and her either teasing or laughing when his jokes went into the category of "so bad it's funny." She was glad she had entrusted her insecurities to him, in spite of how embarrassing and difficult it had been. Soul had an uncanny way of making her feel better without her noticing his attempts.
Maka wasn't sure how she agreed to this. She blamed it on a careless moment in which she lacked a proper sense of judgement. She didn't hesitate however, when he opened the door, greeting her with that grin of his, which spelled a mix of smug and devilish.
"What's up, Bookworm?"
She rolled her eyes with an overly dramatic sigh as she stepped inside, her eyes already scanning her surroundings. She was deeply curious. She had never been to Soul's apartment before. Hanging up her coat and slipping out of her flats, she followed him silently through the hallway. She gasped as she saw his spacious living room with, eyes wide and a mouth that didn't know how to close itself.
"You...you have a freakin' fireplace!"
"How can you afford such a nice place?"
His smug expression fell, his eyebrows furrowed as his mouth curled into a frown. Stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans, he turned away from her, gruffing out a reply she didn't catch in its entirety. Something about his "old man".
Maka decided not to press the matter further in spite of her curiosity. He obviously didn't feel comfortable about the topic and the last thing she wanted was to make him feel more uncomfortable.
"Do you want something to drink?" She could hear him fumble with the cupboards and the clangour of glass.
"I only have coke and beer."
She sighed and craning her neck into the direction of the kitchen she said, "I'll have a coke then."
He was next to her on the couch in a matter of seconds, holding the cold glass of coke right in front of her face. She took it gratefully, taking a small sip from it.
"Sooo..." he began. The awkwardness was almost palpable and she avoided his gaze at all costs, instead she gripped the glass in both of her hands, biting her bottom lip. "Should I...just put it in?"
Not trusting her voice, she merely nodded and watched him from the corner of her eyes. He heaved himself from the couch, making his way to the TV, grabbing a DVD along the way. He turned around, catching her curious gaze. "So you're really okay with this?"
She cleared her throat, took another gulp from the coke. "Yes."
Without further ado the DVD was inserted into the DVD player and Soul seated himself next to her with the remote control in his hand.
This was idiotic. Stupid, moronic and absolutely brain-killing in its entirety but after having "chickened out" during another figure drawing class, she had come to the conclusion that more drastic measures had to be taken to prepare herself.
She had decided to watch porn. With Soul. Because he had porn as he had uneasily admitted "but only one from that idiot Black*Star."
"You know..." he said as she determinedly watched the credits, stifling her giggles at the actors' names and the title. Sexcalibur! Candi Roxxx, Lawrence Cox, Lana Slamm, Ron Jam. "You could've just looked for porn in the Internet."
Of course, it had crossed her mind. The Internet was a grand source for information. And probably the biggest source for pornography. She hadn't been able to go through with it. She couldn't bring herself to taint the Google Search that had always been her loyal and helpful companion during high school and college years.
He sighed. "Couldn't do it, huh?"
She didn't need to say anything. Something that she had noticed about Soul during their shaky friendship in college was that he could read a person really well. And he had apparently categorized her under "readable like a book" and it annoyed her to no end. They remained in silence...until Maka couldn't hold in and released a strained laugh. Amidst all the exaggerated moaning, and big tits and junks and bad acting, Maka lost all apprehension and uneasiness. This was just ridiculous!
"Oh, yes! Faster! Harder! Oh, you sexy beast!"
She dissolved into helpless, squeaky giggles, slapping a hand over her mouth as Soul looked at her, an eyebrow raised questioningly. She shook her head, wiping the moistness that had gathered in her eyes away.
"What is it?"
She took a deep breath, averting her eyes from the screen to avoid any further unintentional hilarity. "It's just...how can you watch this-" she pointed at the screen but kept her eyes on him, "-with a straight face."
He scoffed and grinned. "I got used to it."
"Don't tell me you find this sexy."
He snorted. "Pfft, no!"
"Why do you have it then?"
"I told you. A present from Black*Star. Said it's his favourite," his grin widened at her horrified face. "Besides, it has sentimental value."
"I'm not lying. There's tons of better and worse stuff on the Internet."
"What? You wanna check some of it out?"
Their little dispute ended with that. They both turned their attention back to the porn, a threesome in its advanced stage greeting her eyes. Soul yawned and stretched his arms, the tips of his fingers lightly grazing the back of her neck, making the fine hairs there rise and her body shiver slightly. For a moment she feared he was actually attempting to put that arm around her shoulders but her fears were assuaged the moment he rested it on the backrest of the comfy couch. She doubted she could have been able to deal with it if Soul did indeed put moves on her. She shuddered.
It only took her another ten minutes and another round of not even half-assed plot, overly enthusiastic moans and groans, humongous, jiggling tits and strained faces to chortle and laugh.
"More! More! I'm still not satisfied!"
Her shoulders shook as she tried to hide her laughter but quickly found out that she didn't have to as Soul merrily joined in.
"So you think you're prepared enough for junks?" Soul asked, leaning heavily against the backrest with a sigh. Maka followed his example as her laughter subsided too and she made herself comfortable, the awkwardness of watching porn with her male friend forgotten and kicked into an imaginary trashcan.
"I...think so. But..." she pursed her lips, her brows furrowing as she thought back to the most recent figure drawing class. In class she had to draw the models and they were just posing. They didn't have loud, nasty, obnoxious and unintentionally funny sex.
"This isn't the same."
"What do you mean?"
She glanced back and forth, from his face to her lap and back to the screen before her eyes found his again. "I mean this is really bad...and funny...and-and..."
"Do you want me to get my laptop?"
He grinned, sharp teeth bared, making her shudder. "To look up more porn, of course."
She giggled and playfully smacked his arm shrieking when he retaliated and lunged at her, knocking her back with his large palm.
"Oof. Soul, stop it!" She squeaked when his hand grazed her very ticklish side. Her arms flailed wildly around to defend herself against his wicked hands and fingers making use of her weakness. Eventually he stopped, though he was still smirking down at her as she tried to regain her nerves. She smoothed down the skirt of her dress that had ridden up her thighs short of exposing her panties during their "fight," much to her mortification.
"I was serious you know," he said, putting a respectable distance between their bodies as if realizing just now that getting into a tickle-fight with her might have been a little awkward of a move. "I could just get my laptop and we could up look more stuff for you."
Maka twisted her fingers in the skirt of her dress uncertainly. "I don't know if that will help me any."
He let out a whoosh of air, running a hand through his white, messy hair. "Who knows? Maybe we could look up some quality porn just for you."
She snorted loudly, raising her chin haughtily at his expectant gaze. "Quality porn? Isn't that an oxymoron?"
He blinked. "Only you would use a word like that together with 'porn'. You're such a nerd." He shook his head in mock-exasperation, his lips twitching into an almost-grin at her fuming face. "Wait. I have a better idea."
Maka knew she wasn't going to like his "better idea" but it wasn't like she could bring him to stop talking. He simply loved to tease her, far too much, if she might add.
"How about...you and I make our own porn."
Her cheeks flared with heat as she mercilessly smacked his head, never once heeding his cries and cackles as his arms were raised defensively in front of him. "You idiot!"
"What? Just tryin' to help you."
"Bullshit!" she snapped, ignoring his amazed whistle. "Stop messing around, Soul! This is important."
"What else do you want me to do? You're being a wuss about this whole thing, you know that?"
She gritted her teeth so hard she feared they might be about to crack but this guy was so infuriating even if he was right. His words surely hit a sore spot. She wanted to bash his skull but the only thing that was available for that were her hands, her sketchbook or the glass she had emptied of its coke during the porn. Deciding that her hands would only end up hurting, her sketchbook being too valuable, and that she would do more harm than she intended with the glass, she settled on glowering at him. She would have loved to throw something witty at him but Maka had never been able to articulate her thoughts very well when she was agitated. Then again, he really was trying to help her and she was being irrationally jumpy and angry with him...and everything. Maybe she should-
"Do you want me to strip for you instead?"
She knew just from his tone that he wasn't being serious about what he had said. But the seed had already been planted...and it grew into a humongous plant of craziness. If he really were to...
Her narrowed eyes widened. Wait...she needed to get used to drawing naked people and she ended up freaking out during class. If he were to really-
"Wait! You aren't really thinking about it, right?"
She cleared her throat uneasily. "Um...maybe I am." She hated it how squeaky her voice ended up being whenever she was nervous but she couldn't dwell on that for long. If...if Soul was really up to it...maybe she could use - she grimaced - him to get used to drawing real, nude people and...and...
"Soul, would you...uh..."
His voice was something between incredulous and aghast and inwardly a small part of her relished in making him lose his cool like that. "You want me to strip for you?"
"No! I mean...I mean, not like that. Can I...just draw you?"
"And you want me naked?"
God, this was so embarrassing!
"Um...if you don't mind then...yes." She shut her eyes, her voice must had broken a new record of most high pitched voice ever because she feared it was enough to break glass. "You could also just...t-take your shirt off. I mean, if you're ready to do it...or feel uncomfortable and if it's okay with you-"
Soul stood up, taking both of their glasses wordlessly with him without sparing her a glance. That was it. Her heart clenched at the thought of Soul being angry with her. She didn't like the prospect of being on bad terms with him. Even though he was snarky and sarcastic beyond belief she still appreciated having him as a friend.
"Well-" his gruff voice startled her out of her panicky thoughts. She looked up and promptly gasped as he hauled his shirt over his head, revealing toned, fine - very, very fine- abs to her wondrous eyes. "-what do you want me to do?"
She swallowed hard, unable to bring out a coherent word because damn, he was fit! Maka was not one of those girls who got all giggly and wide-eyed at seeing a fine male specimen in front of them. Soul's ...nice physique shouldn't come to her as that much of a surprise. She had seen him plenty of times in t-shirts that exposed his arms perfectly, so she should have caught a glimpse of flexing muscles and-
Only she hadn't. She had never bothered to look at Soul in that way. She had, however, noticed that a lot of girls seemed to flock around him, despite his blatant, to the point of rude, indifference to them. Staring at him now and taking in his gorgeous body, Maka could share the sentiment of some of those girls. But Maka Albarn was not someone to judge a person by their bodies - nice or not. Even though he did look very tantalizing-
She had to focus, damn it! She shook her head, feeling dizzy and light-headed as she kept her eyes fixed never below his neck...though now that she came to think of it, his Adam's apple was kind of distracting as well and-
Change of plan then. She wouldn't look further down than his chin...but wait! She had to draw him. Wasn't he doing this because of that in the first place?
She flinched. "Yes?" Wide, green eyes met slanted, red ones. How could he look so blasé about it? And she realized this was one of those moments Soul was at his coolest even though/because he didn't try to be cool in the first place.
He grinned deviously and once again she was at a loss of what to do. "You wanna help me take these off? They say hands on experience is the best way to learn."
Her face had to rival tomato ...and what had he just said? He chuckled crudely as he unbuttoned his pants, making her suck in a deep breath and what felt like more blood than it could be physically possible rush to her head. "Wait!" she practically yelled, stretching her arm out in front of her as if it could grow and stop him from discarding his pants. "L-leave your pants on!"
His fingers froze at the zip and she elaborated, "I mean...let's start with you shirtless first...and then maybe, perhaps, you could take off more." She ducked her head, hoping he would hold his tongue and not tease her about her very obvious embarrassment and uneasiness.
She didn't dare to look up and kept her eyes adamantly on her lap. "You, you don't have to do this if you don't want to."
"Nah, it's okay. You need help."
Her head snapped up abruptly. She was acting in a very silly way. Her friend was ready to strip down for her and she still couldn't get over herself. She was 21, damn it! She needed to get a hold of herself and get shit done.
She shook her head as she fetched her sketchbook, a fire rekindled inside of her, the zeal to finally get out of her slump and accomplish something figuratively hitting her in the face, making her jump back into action. She could do this...no, she was going to do this.
"So what do you want me to do?"
She pursed her lips together, eyebrows furrowing as she thoughtfully tapped her chin. "I think you should just...make some random poses at first."
He looked uncertain, his head tilted slightly to the side. "You know, I've never done this before."
She nodded, giving him a reassuring smile. "I know. Just give it a try."
He still didn't look convinced but didn't press the matter further for which she was very grateful. She sat stiffly on the couch as he stood awkwardly in the centre of the room, looking a bit lost. She bit her lip, readying her charcoals and her drawing block, trying to busy herself as she waited for Soul to get ready.
Awkward was an understatement, yet when he gave her his cue that he was ready, she tried to get rid of the uneasiness that seemed to be clawing at her neck and made her palms moist with sweat. She couldn't have that; it would ruin the papers of her block.
Pretty soon into their odd drawing session Maka realized that letting Soul randomly pose had not been a good idea. Not because he wasn't good at it; no, it was quite the opposite, he seemed to be made for modelling. But...when he stretched and turned...and his muscles flexed. She gulped. This was bad! Okay, Soul had a nice body but she couldn't get distracted.
They had eventually settled on a simple pose. He was currently half-leaning, half-sitting on the window sill, looking out of the window to God knows where. He had forgotten to button his pants back but leaving it open at the front with his silky boxers peaking out, just gave the whole image something she couldn't properly define. Maybe a certain sensuality to it, leaving the maybe racy activities of the previous night more implied than anything.
Coupled with his tousled hair and his droopy eyes, it made the image of "just got out of bed" perfect.
She prided herself for the calm she managed to keep, despite the way her heart raced as she traced the curve of his neck and began to outline the shape of his shoulders. He wasn't exactly buff but he was endowed with lean, wiry muscles that had to have made more than a few women swoon. Maka briefly wondered what his muscles would feel like if she ran a hand over them but quickly squashed that thought like a puny, dirty fly that had continuously been annoying her until she got fed up with it.
She was done with it in about an hour. It wasn't her best work by any means but it was decent. She liked to draw with as many details as possible, liked to capture every blemish and imperfection to create a work of beauty that didn't dwell on the illusion of perfection. This drawing was rather quickly drawn and she pursed her lips because she could have done so much better.
"Hey, you're really good at this."
His voice so close to her ear surprised her so much that she jumped away from him. He was still shirtless. He grinned rakishly at her as he slowly buttoned his trousers. She didn't know if it was simply her overactive imagination or if he indeed seemed to be intent on holding her gaze throughout the short process of zipping his pants and buckling his belt. He took the drawing carefully from her loose grasp and examined it closely. She fidgeted, feeling very self-conscious.
"It's not that good."
"I see. You're nothing if falsely humbled."
"That's not true! I really could have done better." Her eyes were blazing as she felt her discomfort ebb away only to be replaced by irritation.
"Whatever you say, bookworm." He handed her the drawing back and walked over where he had haphazardly discarded his shirt earlier, pulling it over his head the moment he grasped it. Inwardly, a deeply hidden part of her bemoaned his now fully shirted self as he was so nice to look at but her inner prude was way stronger and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Do you think you'll be able to handle your class now?" he asked as he closely watched her, leaning casually against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. She busied herself with collecting her stuff together neatly and tried not to stare at his very distracting biceps because even on their slightly contracted form like now they were very eye-catching. She cautiously packed her drawing block into her bag, being extra careful with the edges.
"We'll see," she said as he silently accompanied her to the door, holding it open for her as she put on her flats. She hastily stepped over the doorstep, turned around to bid him a quick goodbye and made her way down the stairs, her ears faintly registering his spluttered "Bye".