Stein heard the giggles before he opened the door to his lab. He had come home early from the DWMA, having decided to give his students an extra dose of homework so he could. They hadn't been happy about it, but he wanted to see his wife and daughter.
"The month we took off was simply not long enough." He thought to himself as he slipped into the lab, pulling the door shut behind him. He followed the sound of the giggles to his own lab and found Marie standing inside it, Elsa cradled in her arms. Stein stood, listening to Marie hum to their daughter, Elsa's giggles echoing through the lab as Marie danced her through it.
"And this is your daddy's favorite thing." She said, sitting down in his chair. "You'll probably grow up thinking that he's attached to this chair!" Marie's laughter flooded his lab, and Stein smirked. He kept out of sight as his wife walked around the lab, showing Elsa all of his things. He laughed as she tried to pronounce some of the names of the various chemicals that he had, and was almost caught for it.
He slipped into the sitting area as she stepped out of the lab, cooing to Elsa about how smart her daddy was and how much she hoped that she'd grow up to be just like him. Stein slipped out from behind the door, smirking, and wrapped his arms around Marie's waist, and immediately regretted it.
Marie whirled on him; Elsa clutched to her chest, her now free right arm a hammer and aimed directly at his head. He had no chance at dodging. She had no chance to stop, and even as the horror at what she was doing registered in her eyes her hammer transformed arm collided with him. Or rather, she hit the screw. Stein's entire head snapped to the side and it felt like it was ringing as he hit his knees, hands pressed to his temples. The pain was nearly unbearable, and he could feel the blood running down his upper lip and chin from his nose.
Marie gave a strangled gasp and, rather than what he expected, rushed away from him. She returned a few seconds later, and it was obvious that she had placed their giggling daughter into her crib. She had also retrieved ice from the freezer and was holding it awkwardly in her hands. The ringing still hadn't died down in Stein's head and he just stayed on his hands and knees, his world spinning.
"Franken… I'm so sorry…" She whispered, kneeling beside him, tentatively placing the ice pack against the temple the head of the screw protruded from. "I didn't know it was you…"
Stein couldn't help but chuckle, smirking. "Your aim certainly is getting better, Marie." He forced out, his own voice reverberating painfully in his skull, one hand reaching up to try to twist the screw. He gasped out in pain, his vision hazing as he did so. He felt Marie pull his hand away from the screw, and could feel moisture dropping onto it.
"I… I'm so sorry…" She sobbed. Stein reached up and tentatively touched underneath the opposite side, where the screw emerged from his head. He could feel the blood. He rose unsteadily to his feet, and swayed. Marie stood with him, her hand on his shoulder to steady him.
She was trying desperately now not to sob. Stein 's vision blurred as he took a few uncertain steps towards the lab and his knees buckled on him, the ringing and pain in his head too much for even him to bear. He heard Marie scream his name as he toppled forward and the world went black.
Fortunately, he only blacked out for a moment, and came to again when he felt Marie lifting him onto a table. When he did come back to himself, the pain was greatly reduced.
"Marie…" He called out as she started to leave the lab. "Marie, I'll tell you what I need, don't call anyone to come here." He sighed in relief as she came back to his side, sniffling.
"What can I do?" She asked quietly.
"Leave." He sat up unsteadily. "I need you to promise to leave the lab and not come back for a while. Call Azusa; have her go out with you for the evening. Anything, you just can't stay here." His hands grabbed the table, dizziness overwhelming him as his voice echoed in his head.
"Franken… I'm so sorry… I can't leave you like this, what if something else happened? I caused this…" Stein rested his hands on her shoulders as he stood up, and then he pulled her close to his chest. It was too much for Marie and she burst into tears.
"Marie, you do not want to see what I need to do." He whispered. "Let me spare you that, please." His knees trembled, his voice driving daggers into his head. He felt her nod slightly against his chest and he let her go, leaning against the table. She kissed his cheek lightly and he could feel the tears on her cheek as she pressed it against his before leaving the lab.
Stein staggered to his chair, sitting down heavily before leaning his head into his hands. He sat there for what felt like hours before he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Marie, I told you to go." He whispered, the daggers from his voice more like scalpels now.
"Now I know that you've been hurt bad." The voice was masculine. Stein turned his head to look and couldn't keep from gasping with the pain.
"What brings you here, Senpai?" He asked with his eyes closed.
"What do you think, Stein? Marie's a wreck. She was convinced that if she left she'd come back to find you dead on the floor. I told her I'd watch over you."
"Spirit, once the pain settles I'm going to have to examine the injury. I don't need anyone here to do that."
"Stein, you're not going to cut into your head again without someone here. You see what happened the last time we left you alone for too long." Spirit chided him.
Stein just smirked, one hand lifting to finger the screw again. It was like his hand was conducting electricity straight through the screw, it was excruciating. He just lowered his head again, his hand falling to his side.
"A normal person would take some aspirin for a headache. You need what, something stronger?" Spirit asked, leaning against the desk.
"I highly doubt that a pain pill is going to make a difference here, Senpai. I have no idea what's happened, and I can't twist the screw to clear my mind, either. I'm… I'm an impasse."
"Did it get knocked out of alignment? Death knows you're the only one who knows how you even got it in in the first place."
"Very carefully." The daggers were back each time he spoke. An idea sparked, almost lost in the pain. "Senpai, I need you to watch me carefully." He stood unsteadily to his feet. "This may put me into cardiac arrest. I'm going to show you how to use the defibrillator before I do."
"Whoa, Stein. What are you doing that's so dangerous?" Spirit grabbed Stein's arm to keep him from falling.
"I'm going to take a shower. If what I think happened… it'll be the quickest way to disperse it."
"Marie's attacks are electricity based, Spirit. She hit my metal screw square on. It feels like I have electric currents running through my entire body, but specifically my head." Stein leaned on Spirit for support, each movement driving the pain level up.
"And you think that taking the shower will relieve it." Spirit looked up the stairs questioningly. "Here." He turned to Stein and knelt. "Degrading, but no one will have to know I carried you piggy back up the stairs. I don't want to have to catch you when you fall."
"I can do it myself, Spirit." Stein took two steps up, and hit his knees, the agony in his head overwhelming him.
"Yeah, you can." Spirit said sarcastically. Reluctantly Stein let himself be carried up the stairs.
"If you hear a crash, come and check on me. Otherwise, don't." Stein braced himself against the door frame and stepped into the small bathroom, closing the door behind.
"Yeah, like I want to see you in the shower, Stein."
'This is going to be painful.' Stein thought, bracing himself as he sat down in the tub before turning on the water.
It hurt worse than he had imagined it would. It felt like electricity was flaring from every cell of his body, and it was all he could do to keep from crying out. Riding the pain, he reached up, twisting the screw and pulling it with all his might. He felt it slip and twist properly. The relief was too much, and with a strangled cry he passed out.
Stein opened his eyes to see a stitched grey ceiling. He was aware of pressure on his right hand, but the throbbing, arching pain in his head and body was gone. He turned to look to his right, blissfully aware of the absence of pain.
"Marie?" He said quietly. She was asleep beside him, both of her hands wrapped around his, her head lying beside his pillow. Moving carefully he stood, never dislodging her hands and picked her up, sliding her into bed and then curling up against her. 'I'm never going to get tired of this. It's a most interesting feeling.' He thought as he wrapped his arms around her.
Marie woke slowly a short time later, aware of arms around her. Opening her eyes she found herself gazing up at Stein, his face smoothed in sleep. There was no trace of pain there, and she found herself tearing up. She fought it, but couldn't keep the sobs from coming. His eyes fluttered open and before she could say anything he pressed his lips against hers. Breaking the kiss he pulled her close, and whispered, "I forgive you, Marie."
She sobbed into his chest. "I thought I had lost you."
"I promised you I'd take care of you." He whispered, rubbing her back slowly. "That means I'll never leave you."
"I love you." They said together, and then both drifted off to sleep.
A/N: Alright… so maybe not so fluffy as I had wanted to start… but… I enjoyed it! I hope that you all enjoy it as well! Love all of you, thanks for the kind reviews and PMs!
I don't own Soul Eater.