A/N: I want to thank you guys so much for your wonderful reviews and I hope they will keep coming. Enjoy the new chapter!
Chapter Nine - Orange Bag
Maka couldn't recall a time when she had slept as peacefully as she did last night in Soul's arms. She sighed softly and couldn't resist letting her eyes trace his handsome features, beginning from the tips of his hair that was pushed up and down by even rhythm of his soft breaths, his nose, his defined cheekbones, his firm jawline, his slightly parted lips...
She felt compelled to kiss them. Then again, when didn't she feel the need to do so? She clutched her hand against her chest, knowing if she got any closer to him she might just go ahead and plant a big one on his mouth. She couldn't have that now. Especially not when he was sleeping, prone, and unable to say anything on the matter. Maybe she should just get up to make breakfast and avoid the temptation to...do stuff whilst she was this close to him and while he was still asleep!
Even though she'd rather stay in bed all day and have Soul's arms around her, cocooned in his embrace, she was far too grounded in reality to believe that her fantasies would just happen magically. A frown etched on her face at her gloomy thoughts, and she knew she needed to start on her day, get up and prepare breakfast, but instead she laid her head against his chest, the steady beat of his heart lulling her back into a state of drowsiness.
It wasn't to last however as her stomach gave a gurgle. Sighing heavily, Maka carefully untangled herself from him, pausing a moment to admire his relaxed features again, the way his hair fell on his forehead, the way one particularly long bang tickled his nose and made him grimace in his sleep. Giggling quietly to herself, she reached out to brush the rebellious strand away from his handsome face, her eyes briefly settling onto his lips before she rolled out of her bed.
Throwing the blanket off her body but making sure Soul was still covered, she left her room and made her way to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She was glad Liz had gone grocery shopping for her; otherwise, her fridge would have been empty.
She boiled water for some tea and prepared sausages and eggs. Again, Maka thanked Liz for getting the whole-wheat bread she adored so much, already sliced and ready to be served. After a while Maka realized that she might have raided her entire fridge. Maybe it was a bit too fancy for breakfast but…she wanted Soul to enjoy it. Her cheeks heated up at the thought as she arranged two plates and glasses and the silverware on the small table. Why the hell did it matter if she impressed him now? He had come here to make sure she was doing well, so he wasn't going to pay attention to breakfast as much.
When had she actually dusted her bookshelves? Her windows were also kind of in need of a good cleaning. She shook her head feverishly before she could entertain more ridiculous thoughts like that, but then she nearly slapped herself when she reached into a drawer for some candles.
She squeaked when his gruff voice greeted her. With a speed she didn't know she possessed, she chucked the red candles back into the drawer and turned around with a wry smile on her face.
"Good Morning, Soul!" she said cheerily, her heart hammering against her ribs the moment she saw him with his wrinkled clothes, his bedroom eyes and his tousled hair. He was studying her carefully, head cocked to the side, and she had to fight every urge not to start fidgeting. "I made breakfast," she mumbled meekly at last, just to break the awkwardness.
"I know. I could smell it from your bedroom!" The enthusiasm in his voice made her smile widen and her stomach flutter. "But really, you didn't need to make this much. And that in your condition."
Her head snapped up, eyes alight with annoyance, "Hey! I'm no frail flower. I'm feeling perfectly fine."
He held his hands up defensively, his brows knitted in confusion. "Sorry, I just—" he looked away, appearing to be very uneasy, before he muttered, "I'm just worried about you."
All anger was drained from her body at his words. She rubbed her weary eyes and mentally slapped herself for being so insensitive. "No, it's okay, I'm just overly moody today I guess." She laughed awkwardly and ran her hand through her hair. She really hoped she didn't look too horrible; maybe she should have brushed her hair first and foremost. "So, um, I made breakfast!"
"I'm starving," he said, grinning shakily as she motioned for him to take a seat at the table. The legs of the chair he pulled back squeaked noisily, making them both cringe again when Soul sat down and dragged the chair forward, its legs scraping shrilly against the tiles.
Breakfast proved to be a mostly silent affair much to her dismay, a far cry from the breakfast they had enjoyed at his place. Where did the heated debates about art go? What happened to their easygoing chatter? What happened to the sense of comfort from last time? Oh right, she had practically demolished all chances of this developing into anything more with a brand new sledgehammer by telling him that they'd keep doing what they had been doing so far. Not that Maka wasn't enjoying their weekly trysts or anything, but...but…
She heaved a heavy sigh, grouchily munching on her pancakes, as her gaze kept drifting back and forth between Soul, who was unabashedly wolfing down everything on his plate, and her own meagre plate. She wasn't hungry anymore. At least, not hungry for food. Biting her lip, she looked up once more, watching him chew and and almost choke before he made a grab for the glass of orange juice. Ah, his Adam's apple looked really great, a wonderful view that even the drizzle of orange juice down the left corner of his mouth couldn't ruin.
Her lips curved into a small smile as she propped her cheek on her fist, not caring at all that she was more busy with observing his table manners (which were horrid!) than her breakfast. It was weird. Back when they had first met in that cafe, his manners had been exquisite. He had drunk his coffee slowly, his pinky finger had even pointed up, but looking at him now, nothing of that highbred man remained. He didn't care to pretend he had manners it seemed. Her smile widened. That, or he really was so hungry that he forgot all about it.
"This was really good," he said earnestly after swallowing the mouthful of pancakes down, patting his stomach. Maka jumped in her seat, blinking fast before his words registered in her brain.
"Ah, I'm glad you like it," she mumbled demurely, bashfully glancing down at her lap as she fiddled with her fingers like a sixteen year old school girl. Hell, she had had the raunchiest of sex with that man! Why the hell was she blushing as if she had a fever just because he complimented her cooking? She had it really bad. Maka let her head drop, fighting back a frustrated groan.
"Really, thanks for breakfast," he said, his voice taking on an uncertain quality. "I guess, I should go now."
Her first impulse was to jump out of her seat and cry No, but, of course, she didn't want the man she desired so much to think she was some needy, clingy little girl, so she repressed that urge and primly wiped her mouth with a napkin, flattening her hands against her lap.
"Alright. I mean, I don't want to hold you back from work," she said as her heart jerked painfully in her chest. Right. Work. Work that included pleasing women sexually; the kind of work that brought them into this situation. That was what this was..or had been, after all. Work. Strictly professional? Did he visit all his clients when they were sick? A hysteric giggle bubbled up in her throat, but she refused to let it out.
Soul calmly stood, but not before he neatly placed his fork, knife, glass and plate into the sink. They awkwardly fumbled around each other when he reached out for his jacket in the hallway as she unlocked the door for him to step out. Pulling on his shoes silently, he kept glancing back at her, not at all discreet, and she loathed how it made her stomach constrict with hope and disdain at the same time. What had she gotten herself into?
"So, uh, I hope you're feeling better already, and if not get better soon," he said in mock-admonishment, yet she could still detect the seriousness in his eyes, pleading with her to take care of herself.
"Thanks, I'm already feeling much better, Soul." She smiled faintly. Maka didn't want him to go.
"Alright." He returned her smile with a wry grin of his, raising his hand in an awkward half-wave.
"See you then."
She didn't want him to go.
"Wait!" she called out, more loudly than necessary, the moment he had his back turned to her and had taken a few steps towards the stairs. Curiously, he stared back at her, first over his shoulder before he turned fully around again. The tips of her ears were burning, yet she pressed on, refusing to back down now. "It was nice...I mean having you here. I-I really appreciate it."
"Oh! Yeah! Same. I mean even if we did end up watching some weird silent film from the 20's-"
"Hey! It's not weird-"
He raised his hand appeasingly, but his grin was smug and infuriating and made her insides melt at the same time. "Yeah, yeah, it was a great piece of art, I know, you dork," he said fondly. "Next time, though, I'll show you the kind of movies I like."
"N-next time?" It was ridiculous how much her heart pounded with hope, how her stomach fluttered and how her head swam at the implication in his words.
His eyes widened, and all haughtiness left his composure as his shoulders sagged when it dawned on him what exactly he had just said. They stared at each other for what felt like hours, the seconds ticking by, as her throat was parched and dry, her breath staggering in her lungs.
He was leaving this to her now, wasn't he? The ball was in her court right now. Her fingers trembled as her mind supplied her with all the reasons why she should not invite him over for a next session of movie watching, but...but she really didn't want him go! She enjoyed his company. Gulping her nervousness down, she defiantly raised her gaze, holding him in place with her forceful stare.
"I'd like that," she whispered thickly, clenching her fists. "I mean...watching another movie...with you."
"Same!" He retraced his steps until he was standing right in front of her again, his hand reaching out to steady himself against the doorframe. He looked decidedly out of breath, his chest heaving. "Is Friday okay? I could come over...Imeanifthat'sokaywithyou?" he said hastily, his words coming out all jumbled and rushed.
"Sure, yeah, just drop by whenever you feel like it. I'm not going to work the following week and I haven't made any plans for Friday either."
"O-okay. If you want, we could just...watch movies all day?"
"Yes!" her voice was brimming with enthusiasm to have this man be with her for a whole day. "I'd love that."
The right corner of his mouth twitched up, and she was on the receiving end of such a shy, boyish little smile that it practically had the effect of making her heart stop beating for a few seconds before it jumped into overdrive and her blood pulsed hotly in her veins as her voice became stuck in her throat.
"Awesome. See you on Friday then," he said happily, letting go of the doorframe as all the tension left his body, his eyes sparking.
"Yeah." Maka clutched her hand close to her chest, unable to grasp what was actually happening. Was this a date? It really seemed to be one.
"So, um-" Soul made a small step towards her, his ungainly arms almost flailing in place before he made his mind up. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her, which she wouldn't have rejected at all, but in retrospect, she was still glad that he loosely wrapped his arms around her small frame and whispered a goodbye against her temple, and maybe even put the barest of pressure on the skin there and left it at that.
As she stared at his retreating back, his steps light and airy, and felt her skin tingle, Maka knew she would have merrily kissed him back, not only that, but she would have pulled him back inside and made sure they both got naked as quickly as possible.
Friday was Soul's second busiest day in the week right after Saturday, so why the hell had he suggested that day for a...meeting? He knew what the sensible course of action would be. He intensely stared at the blank display of his smartphone, his thumb hovering over the smooth surface as his face twisted into a grimace. He should call Maka and calmly explain to her that Friday was not a good day for him and ask if they could perhaps postpone their...meeting. He squinted warily when he unlocked the keypad as he blindly scoured through his countless useless apps before he finally went down his list of contacts.
It felt a little wrong to have Maka still listed as his client, even if, strictly speaking, she still was his client. He needed to cancel their date. Yeah, okay, it definitely was a date. A cozy, stay-at-home and enjoy being a couch-potato date. It had been very thoughtless of him to suggest it, but then again, when it came to Maka Albarn, he generally tended to make decisions he knew he shouldn't, but barely found himself regretting afterwards. That amazing night after her friend's wedding would forever be ingrained in his mind, even if the morning after soured the memory vastly.
He had to cancel. His eyes narrowed into a glare, the innocent letters of her name staring back innocuously.
Soul had ended up cancelling Friday.
Cancelling all his appointments with his clients, that is.
He refused to think about his decision as he merrily looked through the enormous DVD collection he had accumulated over the years. He strayed away from some of the more mindless action flicks, certain that she wouldn't appreciate them as he would. And no, he was not intent on impressing her with the movies he was going to bring with him. He didn't have any of the kind of artsy-fartsy movies she liked, aside from that weird surrealist French one that his aunt had given to him ("to teach you some culture"). After nearly an hour of racking his brain in the most finical search for Movies That Maka Albarn Might Enjoy, he eventually settled on Inception, Un Chien Andalou (it really was the ONLY artsy-fartsy film he had after all), Blade Runner, Amadeus, Pulp Fiction (though he did hesitate for a moment before he decided to put it into his bag), and a good ol' horror flick, The Shining. And no, he did not want to scare her into clinging onto his arm and burying her pretty face against his shoulder because of the creepy scenes (although it would be kind of nice-not her being scared that is, but having her close).
Once his obnoxiously gaudy, orange bag was fully packed, the nagging doubts about this particular encounter with Maka that he was looking very forward to and which made him a fidgety and nervous mess as if he was back in high school again came crawling back to the surface, shattering the thick layer of denial and ignorance around his commonsense. What the hell was he thinking?! He was breaking the number one rule of his job. This was definitely a date, a date he really really wanted to happen, yet...yet the very nature of his job could be a problem. But she had agreed to it...without mentioning it. Maybe she did not view this as a date? He frowned. Being more upfront would have spared him this dilemma. Then again, the idea had just spontaneously burst out of him before he could think better of it. Heaving a sigh, Soul plopped back onto his couch, the leather cold, making him hiss as he squirmed before he found a comfortable position and mutely turned the TV on only to absentmindedly notice that his favorite sitcom was airing.
Friday couldn't come fast enough. Maka had been fretting over that throughout the last two days, her nerves fizzling at the mere thought that she had actually invited him over. They had eventually agreed on 10 am, and true to his word, her bell rang at 10 sharp. She practically ripped the door open from its hinges when she greeted him with a bright smile on her face.
"Hey," she said breathlessly, watching his face brighten considerably. She was giddy (and relieved!) to note that he had dressed nicely for today, too. She had been afraid that she had overdone it with her bright blue skirt that was comfortable enough to be worn at home yet classy at the same time.
"Yo." Juggling his small backpack on one shoulder, he raised his hand stiffly as he stepped inside and toed his shoes off. The blood in her veins reached a scalding temperature as it made her skin boil, her mouth dry and parched as she silently lead him to the living room. Everything was spotless, not a speck of dust, no stains on her spotless window, the bright green carpet vacuumed and clean. She didn't know what to expect of this day and the days leading up to Friday she had spent as if she were wandering through a dreamy haze.
There were countless ways this day could go, and about 98 percent of them ended with them being naked and giving into their desire to varying degrees of shy, passionate, and rough. Her tongue darted out from between her lips to moisten them; as much she would like to be fucked senseless by that man, she also wanted to get him know a little bit better.
"Hah, nice bag," she said, smiling teasingly, and giggled when he told her to shut up and spread the DVDs on the coffee table. "Soooo," he trailed off, ignoring her light jab, "Which one would you like to watch first?" He tilted his head up, watching her inquisitively from beneath his unruly fringe.
"Um-" she let her gaze sweep over the movies, tapping her chin with a finger, and made a thoughtful hum. "Oh!" Her eyes widened and glimmered when she caught the DVD case with a manically smiling Jack Nicholson on the cover. She smiled. "The Shining! One of my favorites!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands together only for her glee to falter when she saw his flabbergasted expression.
"The first thing you pick is The Shining?" he muttered incredulously, the left corner of his mouth twitching. She pursed her lips, tapped her chin with a finger again as she pondered her decision.
"You're right," she conceded after a minute. "We should watch it when it's dark." She smiled cheekily when he chortled, almost choking on his spit as he motioned for the other DVDs on the table instead. They eventually decided to watch Inception first, after she teased him about bringing Un Chien Andalou, too.
The day was spent leisurely on the couch for the most part, mostly in silence, except for the few instances when she would cut through the quietness and give a few details about a movie in particular. They ate popcorn and drank lots of coke until she alternated to green tea. She'd scold him for putting his feet on top the table and for spilling a lot of the popcorn onto the floor. He'd bitch back at her for being a neat freak and to fucking enjoy the dumb movie already, affronted that she seemed to be that disinterested in the movie that she kept being distracted by such trivialities instead. Maka puffed her cheeks out, crossed her arms over her chest ready to admonish him, but he only cracked a grin and ruffled her hair again.
"You look like a squirrel," he whispered fondly, his face close, too close, so close that she could feel his breath on her skin. Close enough to make sparks dance along her nerve-endings and to make the temperature of her blood rise to scalding levels. His hand fell upon her cheek, the humour in his eyes gone, as she desperately clutched the sleeve of his shirt. She wanted to kiss him.
Licking her lips as her heart glided none too gently into her throat, she quickly stood up, her face red as a ripe tomato, and excused herself into the kitchen before she went ahead and did something impulsive and stupid. She placed her hand on top of her heart, willing it to calm down. Hell, she hadn't been this jumpy even when she had drank an entire can of coffee on the day of an important exam. She splashed a bit of cold water on her face, hoping that it'd be enough to have her body temperature return to normal.
When she returned to the living room, her hands empty because she didn't have presence of mind to remember her excuse of wanting to refill her tea, Soul was stiffly sitting on the couch, the movie paused as he juggled the remote control from one hand to the other. She plopped down next to him feeling none the calmer, but fortunately he didn't mention her obvious fidgeting, nor her red face or the fact that she had left her mug in the kitchen.
As the day progressed and the sun set, drenching her room in darkness, they eventually put in The Shining. Maka smiled giddily; it had been a long time since she had watched this movie.
"So this is really one of your favourites?" Soul asked, looking vaguely nervous, his eyes flitting from the TV back to her beaming smile. Giving a nod, she scooted closer to him, the move natural.
"Yes! It's such a good horror movie!" she replied. "I read the book, too─"
"─what a surprise."
She glowered darkly at him, indiscreetly digging the remote into his ribs. "But yeah, there's lots of stuff different in the book. So I just try to appreciate both separately for telling the same tale in different mediums."
"I never read the book," he said casually, folding his arms at the back of his head, looking so fricking relaxed at the prospect of not being familiar with the source material of the movie they were watching!
"You should give it a chance. It's really good." And with that she refused to press the matter any further. For one, she didn't want to argue with Soul, and for another, she actually wanted to enjoy the movie.
At first she didn't realize it, only when he let out a loud sneeze and pulled his hands in front of his face, did she notice that his arm had been wrapped around her shoulders. When had he done it? Her eyes narrowed, but not in anger, as his arm took its place around her frame once more, the weight oddly comfortable as if it had always belonged there. Now she was just being obnoxiously cheesy. What was she doing? Enjoying such a nice evening with this man as if they were going the traditional route of dating. There was the big issue of his job, but she didn't feel entirely at ease with addressing that now; they weren't a couple, she had no room to talk about it, or to tell him to stop practising his job.
He hadn't made any attempts to talk about it either, but then again, she hadn't expected him to. Perhaps this would all settle down by itself without needless drama, without heartbreak and tears. She sighed. It wouldn't. They eventually had to talk about it, and Maka Albarn was no coward. She'd confront the problem, but not right now. Not when he was so warm like this, gazing at her with such affection that her stomach was bursting with butterflies. She would enjoy this day with him. Soon, though. Soon they'd talk about it.
He wanted to be with her.
It was a scary yet not particularly startling revelation. Looking back at all the months that had passed, it was painfully obvious that their interactions, his unorthodox interest in her that went beyond his interest in any other client he had ever had, her well-intentioned yet obnoxious meddling with his private life, had built up to this.
But he also needed money and he'd lose a lot of his well-paying clients if he kept cancelling on them. He rubbed the heel of his hand against his eyes, his skin crawling with revulsion as he waited for his customer. The lavish hotel room was a pain to be in, his stomach churning disgustingly as the seconds ticked by agonizingly slowly.
He needed money. And...strictly speaking he didn't owe it to Maka to stop doing this. Another quieter part of him suggested that she might be okay with this, since she hadn't made even the tiniest attempt of speaking to him about his job. He quickly shoved that idea away, certain enough that Maka would so not be okay with him sleeping with other women, regardless of how emotionally detached he was from them. But they were not together. Hell, how could just one day together make him fantasize about wanting to spend his whole life with her? They weren't officially a couple, so he could do this right? Right. No.
Soul shook his head feverishly. It felt a lot like cheating even if technically wasn't. And even if Maka was okay with this, which she never would be, he...he didn't want her to be okay with it. His eyes widened as he stood from his chair so suddenly that the back of his legs hit it forcefully. It tipped backwards, shattering the stark silence in the room. He didn't want this! Yet...what should he do? What possibilities were there? He had never acquired his degree...but he still had the credits he'd earned back then. Maybe-maybe he could continue where he left off.
His shoulders sagged, his enthusiasm deflating. Would he be able to do it this time? And when he had his degree, what then? Would anyone hire him? Should he major in music? Was he good enough? For school? For her? Could he leave this life behind in the first place? Could he just walk away from a life of quick money, good money and go back to being a pathetic student struggling with grades and exams and classes? He had it good where he was right now. Not much to complain about.
What was this all about? What was it that he wanted? To be a pianist? Was this all for Maka? Was he really about to make such an important decision based on a misguided crush on a person that was his client? He let out a groan and clutched his head.
A knock on his door startled him out of his thoughts, his heart taking a dive to somewhere down to where his knees were. Right. He had saved up some, but he still needed money. His client was waiting for him, and...and...
He opened the door before he could think better of it, the sultry smile of his customer greeting him. She was a beautiful woman, tall, curvaceous, sophisticated and sexy. He didn't speak at all when he shut the door with an air of finality.
"I-I'm so sorry," he muttered, his face stricken, as he was unable to look at the woman.
"No worries, Mr. Evans," she said gently, awkwardly pulling her jacket on. She threw him a glance over her shoulder, looking at him with something akin to pity that made his hands tremble even more, mortification sitting deep in his bones. This had never happened before. "Just call me if you're...okay again." She waved at him and without further ado she hastily left.
All colour had drained from his face, cold sweat beading at his brow as he stared at his palms incredulously. This was THE worst case scenario and he it hadn't been a nightmare either. His client had been there, had commiserately patted his arm after his hundredth failed attempt of...of─Soul gulped, a sour taste in his mouth, of trying to have a boner.
He slapped his hand against his forehead, despairingly glaring down at his flaccid dick. Never. Never had this happened to him before. He groaned loudly, burying his face in his palms. What was he supposed to do now? He couldn't possibly even dare to hope that he could please his clients when he couldn't get it up. No no no no no no no no! Oh God, he was about to burst into tears. He was fucked, fucked in the most unfunnily figurative sense ever. He had to do something about this, and he was not going to take viagra at his age. He wasn't old enough for that kind of bullshit and his dick had never failed him before.
Urging back another piteous groan, Soul shakily dropped against the backrest of his chair, close to resigning himself to the fact that there was something wrong with his penis.
He was decidedly shaken up the next time Maka greeted him with one of her absurdly bright smiles, which, however, faltered the moment she set her eyes on his pitifully hunched figure, the miserable grimace on his face.
"Soul?" she began tentatively, tapping him on the shoulder. "Is something wrong."
"No, I'm fine," he replied gruffly, a sour knot of despondency lodged firmly in the middle of his throat. But hell would freeze over before he told the girl of his dreams that he had a problem in getting his cock up. It was such a pity really. Maka wasn't wearing anything else but a long t-shirt that covered her up to her mid-thigh, revealing a nice amount of leg, at which he would have been drooling during any other time.
She bit her lip with a frown, and opened her mouth ready to interrogate him further only to sigh before she could say anything further than his name. She sighed and forced on a smile. "If you say so, but really, if there's something bothering you, just tell me okay?"
It took him everything not to squeal like a little girl at how cute she was being. He just ruffled her hair instead, smiling down at her, grateful for her offer.
The rest of the evening passed like their last time together. Today they had decided on watching only horror movies, and much to his delight, he and Maka were pretty much cuddling by the end of the first movie. She let out a little mewl as she snuggled more comfortably against his chest, making him grin and his grip around her shoulders tighten. He could almost forget about his….little-no, not little, predicament. He really hoped that it was only a one time thing and that he didn't need to go to a doctor for that.
He chanced a glance down at Maka, who was wringing her hands together, her toes digging into the carpet below. Soul had been so distracted by his own woes that he had barely noticed Maka being unusually fidgety today. Was he making her nervous? Was it his own negativity influencing her? Or did she have something else on her mind. Her eyes didn't even seem to be particularly focused on the TV; it was as if she was staring right through it.
"Hey, everything okay?" he asked, his voice gruffer than he'd intended as his fingers dug softly against her side, making her jump. She squeaked, her head almost colliding with his chin. He pulled away in the last moment, grinning sheepishly at her glower. "You seemed really out of it, like you were in deep thought about something," he said hastily.
Her shoulders sagged and her fingers toyed with the fabric of her shirt, looking at him from beneath her eyelashes. "You could say that. I have been thinking about...stuff."
"Oh?" He sat up straighter, curious and kind of anxious.
The green of her eyes darkened a few shades, her teeth burying in her plump bottom lip. "I've been thinking about you, about us naked on my bed and your head between my legs."
There was a second of silence before their eyes locked, his skin overheating, as she crawled into his lap, and Soul made a discovery that calmed him.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with his dick since he was sporting the mother of all boners right now.