Maka Albarn stared at the black-furred, amber-eyed creature as she pressed the phone against her ear. The little furball gazed boldly right back at her. The college student was more than a little unnerved. She waited as the phone rang, over and over again. She had just decided to hang up and try again later when there was a click signaling that someone at the other end of the line had picked up.
"Hello? Am I speaking to Blair?" Maka blurted immediately, the tiny mammal's intelligent eyes fraying her nerves. "I'm calling about a cat named…Soul Eater?" She clutched the cat's pet tag tightly in her fist.
"No, you've got it backwards," corrected a deep male voice. "The cat's Blair. I'm Soul Eater."
"Oh…" Maka took a moment to digest this and then shrugged it off. "Okay. Well, your cat is over here at my apartment. Do you want to come pick her up?"
"Yeah. I'll be right over, if that's okay. Where do you live?" Maka quickly gave him the address and some general directions. It was only after hanging up that she realized that telling a stranger—and a man, no less—where she lived went against her usual code of caution, but it was too late to take the information back and offer to drop the animal off. She sighed and blamed her slip on the distracting effects of the cat's strange gaze.
She eyed the creature warily. "I suppose you're somewhat less eerie now that I know your name isn't Soul Eater," she allowed. "But I'd be more reassured if you'd stop looking at me like you're plotting something." The cat mewed with what Maka would have sworn was amusement. Maka wasn't sure why she was reacting so strongly to this cat, but she had the overwhelming feeling that this one was different from normal animals—of which she was not particularly fond in the first place. Sighing, she buckled the purple collar with its funny little pumpkin-shaped pet tag back around the furball's neck.
No more than ten minutes had passed before there was a knock at Maka's door. The college student hurried over and threw it open. She blinked in surprise at the appearance of the person waiting outside. It was a young man no more than a year or two older than she, not nearly as old as he had sounded over the phone. His wild hair, partially tamed with a thin black headband, was so blindingly white that it could only be natural, and his bored eyes glinted red. She'd have thought him albino but for his deeply tanned skin. She blinked once more and asked uncertainly, "Soul Eater?"
"You expecting someone else?" he drawled, slouching, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his black jacket.
Maka frowned. "Blair's inside…" she told the stranger. She hesitated, realizing that it would be rude to leave him standing outside, noting the cold wind and the ominous rain clouds. "Come on in," she invited reluctantly. Soul Eater stepped inside silently, and Maka slowly closed the door behind him. His eyes roved over the small living space as Maka went to retrieve the odd black cat from the windowsill, where she was swatting playfully at the curtains.
"Cozy," he commented. He took the cat from Maka's arms when the girl offered the squirming little bundle to him. The cat began to purr as soon as Soul Eater's hands touched her. "Thanks for picking her up and looking after her," Soul Eater said.
Maka shrugged. "I didn't, really," she told him. "I just passed her in the street after class, and she followed me home. She waltzed right in when I opened the door."
Soul Eater smirked, and Maka noticed with interest that his teeth were sharp and jagged, like a predator's. "Sounds like Blair," he chuckled, affectionately rubbing the cat's ears. The cat's purr increased in volume. "She's not at all shy." Maka found herself smiling, too. She reached out toward the cat and, to her surprise, the little creature pulled away from Soul Eater's stroking fingers to bump Maka's hand with her cold, wet nose.
"Well, I guess that's it then," Maka said. She walked Soul Eater to the door, which she held open for him. "Take care, Soul Eater," she called as he left. He turned to grin at her over his shoulder.
"It's just Soul."
She watched his retreating back for a few moments before shutting the door on the cold autumn air.
"Blair, dinner!" Soul shouted from the kitchen. "Blair?" He waited, a plate of fish in his hands, but his black cat never came. Normally, she appeared out of nowhere the moment he pulled the fish out of the fridge and wound herself around his ankles as he got it ready. "Blair?" Soul called again. He set down the cat's dish and set out to look for her in the many rooms of his large condo. "Hey, stupid cat, where are you?" he growled. A small knot of worry lodged itself in his stomach. That black monstrosity never missed a meal.
Soul was sifting through the clutter of his bedroom, trying to find Blair, when the phone rang. He considered ignoring it, but chose instead to leave off his search to answer it. It took him a minute to find the phone because he never left it in the same place, and he only barely picked it up in time. "Hey," he said shortly.
"Soul?" asked a familiar voice. "Your cat's over here again." Soul blinked. It was that girl that Blair had followed home a couple of weeks ago, the one with the apartment that looked like it could fit in someone's closet. Wait…how had that cat gotten out of the house? He was sure that he hadn't let her out. The little monster was an escape artist.
"Be there in a few minutes," Soul sighed. He was pretty sure he remembered how to get there. It was a fairly short walk away from his own place. He hung up the phone, grabbed his jacket, and strode out, pausing only to lock the door behind him. As Soul pulled the jacket over his orange t-shirt, it occurred to him that he didn't even know the name of the girl who had his cat. He hadn't bothered to ask before. Maybe he would, this time.
Several minutes and a few blocks later, Soul arrived at the girl's apartment complex. Hers was at the end of the row on the ground floor. Soul rapped his knuckles just below the brass number 42 on the weathered brown door. She didn't keep him waiting long. Almost immediately the door flew open, and there the girl was, wearing the exact same school uniform, ashy blond hair still in pigtails. This time, she already had the black cat in her arms.
"Hey," the girl greeted him, a tad awkwardly. "Here's your cat."
"Thanks…" Soul said, twisting the end of the word up into a question.
"Maka. Maka Albarn," the girl told him. He nodded and reached out to take Blair from Maka's arms. Immediately, the cat began to struggle, and she quickly squirmed out of the surprised Maka's grasp. Before Soul or Maka could react, the cat dove back into Maka's apartment. "Hey, wait!" Maka yelped, chasing after Blair. She left the door open, so Soul followed her in.
It took them twenty minutes to catch the renegade Blair. The cat evaded their attempts to grab her, dodging their hands and slipping between their legs. She jumped on Maka's table and bookshelves, ducked behind curtains and chairs, and dashed in circles around the couch. In the end, Soul and Maka worked together to trap the cat in the corner of Maka's cramped kitchen area. With a growl, Soul snatched the mischievous little creature. The instant he had her firmly in his hands, Blair calmed down and began to purr. Soul and Maka stared at her, torn between amusement and irritation.
"You are a pain," Soul informed his troublesome pet. He caught sight of Maka's smile and grinned back. "Thanks again, Maka," he said.
"No problem," replied the girl. Once again, she held the door for him as he left. He glanced back at Number 42 as he walked home. Maka was standing in her doorway, watching him go. Seeing him turn to look at her, she lifted her hand to wave good-bye. He smirked, turned away, and lifted his own hand in farewell.
By the sixth time it happened, Maka didn't even need to look at the phone number on the pet tag. Soul answered on the fourth ring and, without waiting for her to speak, said, "Hey, Maka. Blair again?"
"You got it," Maka laughed.
"See you in a few."
It was raining, so Maka invited Soul inside. Noticing how he shivered slightly and dripped water on her floor, she offered him a towel and a hot drink. Soul accepted both gratefully. They sat down at Maka's tiny kitchen table and watched Blair play with the loose threads dangling from Maka's worn couch.
"I don't know how she got in," Maka confessed, sipping her tea. "All my doors and windows were closed—I checked. And I thought I would have noticed her coming in with me. I swear that cat has magical powers." Soul chuckled and sipped his hot chocolate. A startled expression crossed his face and he made a noise of pleasure in the back of his throat.
"This is good," he commented, staring at his drink. "What's in this?"
"Oh, this and that," Maka answered mysteriously.
"Mmmmmmmmmm," Soul hummed, downing more of his hot chocolate. "I'm coming back for this again." Maka laughed, and, as usual, Soul found himself grinning in response. They finished their drinks in companionable silence, and Soul gathered Blair before taking his leave. Maka offered him an umbrella, which Soul declined, citing full arms. As Soul walked home, Blair mewled pitifully, complaining about the damp. "Hush, you," Soul grumbled. "Why'd you run away on a rainy day if you don't like being wet?"
Amber eyes gazed into crimson ones cheekily, reading, Isn't it obvious? Soul blinked and shook his head.
"You are a strange little beast."
The thirteenth occurrence was on a Friday evening. Shaking her head at the black cat, Maka dialed 3# into her phone. "Hey, Soul. Blair decided to come over for another visit."
"Damn," Soul swore. He sounded harried. "Bad timing—I've gotta be ready to go in half an hour. Hey, Maka, will you do me a favor? Bring Blair here?"
"Sure," Maka agreed. If Soul was asking her to do it, he must be really busy—every other time, he had come to retrieve the black cat right away. "How do I get to your house?" Soul relayed the instructions, and Maka left him to continue getting ready for whatever he was going to do. As Blair watched with wide, innocent eyes, Maka yanked on her black trench coat and buckled up her heavy, steel-toed boots. "You're a pest," Maka told Blair as she picked the cat up. The cat purred and crawled up Maka's chest to drape herself over the girl's shoulders. Maka couldn't resist a smile as the cat's purr rumbled against her. "A cute pest," she amended.
Sometimes, the layout of the city confused Maka. After only a few turns, she left her somewhat shabby area behind and found herself walking through a neighborhood that was obviously inhabited by the wealthy. "You and Soul live here?" Maka murmured to Blair, staring at the fancy houses, a bit intimidated. She felt out of place here in her no-nonsense plaid skirt, white blouse, and yellow sweater-vest—like she was threadbare and uncouth, despite the care she took to keep her clothes neat and clean.
Soul lived in a condo that wasn't quite as grand as the others surrounding it, but was still a far cry from the tiny apartment Maka struggled to pay rent on. Hesitantly, Maka knocked on the door of Number 564 and let herself in, as Soul had instructed. Wide-eyed, she took in the scene. Soul's place was much bigger than hers, and everything in it was newer and of much better quality. But the place was a mess. Magazines and discarded food wrappers littered the couch, armchair, and floor. Jackets, shoes, and socks sat crumpled wherever they had been cast off. Videogames, controllers, and a forest of wires lay sprawled around a giant TV screen. Maka felt her hands twitching to clean the place up, but she forced herself to keep still. "Uh, Soul?" she called. "Are you here?"
"Maka!" Maka turned away from the mess in the living room to see Soul striding toward her from a hallway that led further into his house. She stared at him. Gone was his usual casual outfit of brightly colored t-shirt and grey jeans. In its stead, Soul wore a formal pinstriped suit with highly polished dress shoes. His silk shirt matched his astonishing scarlet eyes, and a black tie encircled his neck. He had abandoned his headband, opting to let his spiky white hair fall over his face unchecked. Somehow, it all fit with his lopsided, shark-toothed grin.
Maka's heart fluttered uncharacteristically for a moment before settling back into its normal rhythm. "Wow, you look great," she complimented sincerely.
"Hmm?" Soul looked down at himself. "Oh. Thanks." He looked back up at Maka and spotted Blair perched on the girl's shoulder. He smirked. "Here, I'll take that," he said, plucking the black cat off Maka. Blair made a noise of complaint but didn't struggle. "Thanks, Maka," Soul repeated, rubbing the back of his head. "I owe you."
Maka shrugged. "I don't mind," she assured Soul. "It really isn't that far." She looked over Soul's attire curiously and inquired, "So, where are you going?"
Soul appeared uncomfortable. "A concert," he answered briefly.
"Sounds fun," Maka commented. Soul made a noncommittal noise, and Maka decided not to press any further. She smiled and said, "I guess I'll see you later, Soul." Soul walked her to the door, Blair still curled in his arms. Neither Soul nor Maka made note of the assumption that they would be seeing more of one another in Maka's parting words, but Blair did. The cat purred contentedly and watched Maka disappear into the evening shadows with smug golden eyes.
They lost count of the times Blair showed up in Maka's apartment around number twenty-three or so. At least three times a week, Soul or Maka would bang at the other's door so that Blair could be returned to her proper owner. Sometimes, they spent a few minutes chatting, mostly about trivial things like the weather or whether Blair would ever have kittens. They didn't really know anything about one another, but each secretly enjoyed the short escapes from reality that their acquaintance allowed. Soul stopped looking for ways to keep Blair from escaping after just two weeks, and Maka made sure there was always a bit of cream or fish in fridge.
The black cat watched them, amber eyes crafty.
Note: I may or may not continue this. But I think it works as a one shot, so I'm posting.