Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater
-Fighting for the People who Matter-
She couldn't hold it in any longer.
The moment Crona left, that's probably when it happened.
When this feeling of hatred suddenly started to boil forth from somewhere deep within her, a kind of feeling she herself didn't know existed. There was no one there, nothing to stop her from finally looking at that son-of-a-bitch dead in the eyes and doing the unthinkable. It didn't matter to her that General Giriko was number two in Spartoi, nor that he was obviously the less stable of the three. After what she'd gone through with Kidd, maybe her boldness thought that nothing could be worse than taking her hand and slapping the shit out of a Grim. Technically, that was right. Nothing was.
But Giriko was an exception to that rule.
When others had restraint and respect, he had none of those things.
Just as quickly as he'd received it, with a chuckle he dished it right back. Admittedly, Maka's eyes grew huge with shock as the towering man whom she'd just assaulted rebounded with vigor and a sneer. Almost like he'd planned on her doing that, Giriko used that momentum against her. He swung around and with a closed fist, pounded the Eventide Angel once in the jaw. With inhuman delight, he watched her fall towards the floor like a child enthralled. She didn't land on her back like he'd expected, but firmly on her rump. Which might've been a problem for the baby, but the kid was a Grim. He'd live.
For Giriko the confrontation was fun. Maka, on the other hand, suddenly found herself horrified beyond reason. Staying at Gallows Manor, having everyone follow her around without cause, maybe clouded her reason. Now as she sat there on the floor, trying to fix her jaw like a fighter in the ring, reality came crashing back to the forefront. This situation was real; Giriko was not going to take her crap. And though she kept telling herself that she wasn't going to take his either, in the pit of her stomach she knew that really it wasn't up to her, it was up to him.
"Kidd's spoiled the shit out of you," Spartoi's second-in-command sneered. "Thinking you can do whatever you want just because you're the mother of a god."
Maka looked at him before giving a weary sneer herself, then proceeded to spit before saying his name. "Giriko, at least Lord Grim knows never to piss off a lady."
"I don't see a lady. All I see is a bitch." The change in his demeanor was quick; from almost-playful to serious. It caught Maka off guard, and for a moment she flinched.
That in turn gave the Reaper general enough time to waltz over to the downed woman, stick his face in hers and mutter, "Tell me what that book says before I strangle you."
Immediately Maka's eyes grew wide; not because she was surprised or taken aback, but rather due to the fact that now she knew what Giriko wanted from her. And that went hand-in-hand with what was in that book, which was still a mystery to her as well...not that she could tell him that. He'd already proven himself to be more than unstable, not just now but the other time she'd met him on the Runaway Express. If he knew that she couldn't tell him what he wanted, then...she'd rather not think about what he might resort to doing in order to get what he wanted.
"Tell me why you want it!" Maka ordered, with that boldness that knew no end. She couldn't seem weak, or else whatever she had planned wouldn't work.
"I don't have to tell you shit, woman." Baring his razor-sharp teeth, Giriko put on his best intimidating face to date. And it almost worked, too.
But Maka was persistent, "I haven't even read it yet, and I'm the only who can! So tell me what the book is or I tell you nothing!"
The Reaper only continued his menacing glare. But after another minute of waiting, he finally broke. "Goddamn you!"
With his hand, he pushed off her. Maka fell backwards from the force, landing on her back like Giriko originally wanted her to. Thankfully he wasn't sticking around to hover over her like she feared he would. No, he instead jumped up to his feet and marched around like he was trying his very best not to strangle somebody. That in turn gave Maka enough time to recover and likewise stand up, before he changed his mind and used that awkward position against her. She wiggled her jaw and found it creaked a little with each movement. Hopefully nothing was broken.
Giriko made a detour in his erratic march, going straight for the book on the table they had gradually migrated away from a while ago. It trembled in his hands, the excitement and frustration in him clear with every twitch of his muscles. Maka watched him wearily as with his other hand, the Reaper grabbed a table without missing a beat; it was as if the thing were made of paper. Unwittingly displaying his terrifying strength, Giriko dropped the massively heavy piece of furniture onto the ground with a crash. Maka jumped back, dumbstruck as the book plopped onto the table in front of her.
"Cozy? Brought a table and everything, you should be thanking me." Giriko scowled, clearly being an asshole.
The Eventide Angel could be one as well. Unfortunately, she didn't have a filter in situations like these. "What, no chair?"
Immediately, the Reaper general's eyes grew wild. For a moment there, Maka genuinely thought he was going to lose it and strike at her again. But instead, he seemed to pull it together at the last second and keep his cool. Likewise, Giriko humored her. With a scowl still heavy on his face, the man turned around and kicked a chair into the air. Maka watched as it came hurdling down, going straight for the floor. At this point, Giriko kicked it again mid-air and sent it flying towards her. With a yelp, she threw her hands up and prayed that she'd catch it. Luckily for her, she did.
"There, now can we get on with this? I don't have all day!" the Reaper complained, slightly whiny in his tone. He motioned for her to sit.
Reluctantly, Maka placed the chair on the ground and took her seat. Again, the situation seemed turned against her. "Alright, I'm listening, Giriko."
"Good, cuz I'm only saying this once," he grumbled back, taking his seat on the corner of the table. "The book's made by an elder god by the name of Eibon-"
"-An elder god?" Maka interrupted immediately, eyes wider than when he'd decided to punch her; already something new. "Is that somehow different from the Grim?"
Giriko rolled his eyes, "That's just what they call the gods before Kidd. It's not really important, they're all gone now. What is important is that Eibon was the god of knowledge."
Reaching over, he grabbed the book and flipped it over to the back-cover. Tossing it back to Maka, she caught it with both hands and looked for herself. On the page itself was a picture she'd already seen before, the likeness of a bizarre-looking man in funny clothes. His face was hidden by a mask, while strange robes covered his entire body. Where his hands should be were knives, or swords, that slightly imitated the structure of a hand. The image was the first thing she saw when Crona brought her the book, but she couldn't for the life of her understand who it was.
"That's Eibon, the freak." His scowl returning, Giriko practically spat at the god's name. "Him and Shinigami were always together, some crap about death and wisdom going hand-in-hand."
"...So I take it they were close?" She already knew the answer to that question. Her brain was kicking in, already matching the pieces of this puzzle together. She just needed time.
Giriko, ignoring her comment, continued, "Once Shinigami died, Eibon hit the road. So all that left was his book, which he used to write down everything about everything."
Maka's ears perked at the words as they were spoken; everything about everything? Did that mean, well, everything? She looked up at Giriko, who simply stared back with that dull look in his eyes. To him it wasn't all that exciting, meaning what he wanted didn't really lay in the fact that the god of knowledge himself wrote the book. It had more to do with the fact that Shinigami was involved, at least that's what she thought, anyway. Otherwise why else would he mention it? And if it was something he could do without getting into trouble, why not just ask Kidd?
"...You're sneaking around behind The Grim's back." Muttering under her breath, Maka stared hard into the eyes of the beast.
He likewise returned the gesture, tugging at his ear with a grin, "You're smart. If anyone could tell me how to use Hunter, it'd be you."
Suddenly, the excitement returned full force to Giriko's harsh glare. Hunter, whatever that word meant, was the key to turning him back into a giddy, sadistic Reaper. Without taking his eyes off the angel, he stepped backwards. His arms held outward as if to embrace something, he continued his recession until stopping somewhere in the middle of the library. And as soon as his feet planted firmly on the ground, filed-teeth erupted from his mouth in a huge sneer as a whirlwind started to whip forth like before. Maka jumped in her seat; his recklessness knew no bounds.
With a shrill squeal, his blades made their appearance once more. This time however, they seemed much more ominous. "I told you what I wanted, so how about it? Read the damn thing!"
Maka looked the Reaper up and down, not a hint of emotion on her face. "You didn't really tell me anything. First tell me what Hunter is and why you want it so badly. Then I'll read."
"I don't think you're in much of a position to haggle!" Giriko barked back, his sneer quickly devolving into a scowl. "I'll work my blades through your skin. Slowly. Painfully."
Determined to get what he wanted, he madman decided to display his full force. If the Eventide Angel was going to act all high and mighty, then he'd be the one to put the bitch back in her place. With a wild look in his eyes, Giriko let the full extent of his weapon be known. He watched with great pleasure as the woman before him grew numb with fear the moment his blades left his body. Her face contorted into horror when they left their predetermined track along his skin and instead wriggled through the air like snakes. Still glowing bright white, they were now twice as deadly.
And what's more, they kept coming. More steel snakes erupted from Giriko's body, as if he himself were made of gears and metal. It didn't seem to bother him, in fact he seemed to be enjoying himself from Maka's point of view. She tried her best to hide it, but knew the Reaper could see her lack of confidence all the same. Still, she tried her best to stand in the face of hundreds of saw blades. Sitting down was no longer an option; it would seem like she was being submissive, defeated. And that was the last thing she needed right now, if anything the time called for more defiance.
"You're forgetting your place, Giriko!" she practically hissed, the mere mention of his name tasting like trash. "If you want to surpass Kidd, then you need to shut up and tell me what I want to know!"
Almost immediately, the shrill squeals of burning metal stopped. In Giriko's eyes the intensity dissipated, if only for a moment. "And what led you that conclusion, mother-to-be?"
Maka leaned over the table and glared back with a sneer, "You're easy. That's all. Whatever this Hunter is, you want it to surpass Kidd. If it was to kill Soul, you'd just ask him."
"...Well, you're a shrewd little cunt, aren't you?" Giriko replied with narrowed eyes, as Maka's did the same right back at him. He stared her down, but it didn't last long.
After another tense moment, things ended unceremoniously. Finally giving into the stubbornness that was Maka Albarn, Giriko grumbled a meager fine before retracting the hundreds of metal chains back into his body. They made clanking noises as they disappeared inside him, causing Maka to think that he really was made of steel on the inside. His coldness would certainly make sense, especially after all was said and done, when he quite casually returned to the table and sat back down where he had been before. With his hands, he motioned for her to do the same.
"I'm fine, thank you," she grumbled with a sarcastic smile. Giriko returned the expression, so very close to punching her in the mouth again.
"Let's get on with this!" Growling, he threw his arms behind his head and looked at the ceiling. "So this Hunter thing, I don't know what it is exactly."
Maka's snark confidence all of a sudden plummeted. "What do you mean, you don't know what it is? All of this bitching for me to tell you and you don't know!"
"They're techniques, alright! Or just one, I don't know for sure. All I know is, to be a Grim, you have to know what they are!" Giriko rubbed his eyes in frustration.
Pulling a complete one-eighty, Maka's excitement jumped once more; up until this point, after reading all the books in Kidd's library, she'd never known of other criteria in order to become a Grim. As far as she and everyone else knew, all you had to be was half Reaper and half Grigori. But with this new little bit of information, some things started to make sense to her. If they were techniques that only a Grim could learn, then maybe they took a long time to master. And if that was the case, then it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it took months or even years.
...Maybe, that was why Kidd was so worried about the Reapers. Slowly it started to make sense to her and the more she thought about it, the more Maka herself grew worried with the realization that, maybe her baby couldn't become a full fledged Grim in time to save everyone. Kidd already said he was going to die, he already expected that, but how long would he be around? Would he teach the baby all these techniques? Were they even teachable? Or would he even accept him at all? Would Kidd let all the Reapers die because he couldn't handle another child taking the throne?
Did...she even want her baby to be a Grim in the first place?
Excitement quickly turned to dejection. Dejection in turn left only bitterness in its wake. The weight of the situation Maka found herself in now finally began sinking in, making her grow cold in this loneliness that she thought she'd overcome weeks ago. Looking down at Giriko, finding those devilish teeth peaking through his lips, it only made her miss Soul all the more. She needed him, plain and simple. Not to save her or beat up Kidd and save the day, no nothing like that. Just to be that person to hold onto and remind her that everything will work out in the end, because it always does.
She needed that so badly right now, but it wouldn't happen. Maka knew that, which is why she sucked it up as best she could. "So these techniques...do you know what they are? What do they do?"
"Channel the powers of death and magic slaying, some shit like that. I dunno, Kidd mentioned it once before during the witch hunts," Giriko shrugged, pretending not to notice the sudden slunk in her posture.
"How are they learned? Do you just read a book and it's like step-by-step instructions or something?" Maka pried, trying to learn everything she could about it before Giriko got wise.
At this point however, he was getting close. "Eibon's the one who invented them for Shinigami. The only way to learn is by reading his book, or learning from a Grim who already knows them."
Covering her face with her hands in frustration, Maka reared back and let out a desperate growl. "You're not telling me what I want to know! Is the baby going to be able to learn in time or not-?"
"...I don't think I'm going to tell you that." Giriko's demeanor quickly changed back to his threatening stance, his patience finally at its limit. "I'm done with this bullshit, Eventide Angel."
Confidence betrayed the young woman; she thought for sure that things would go her way as it had the entire conversation. Every time Giriko had exploded, she'd managed to wrangle him back down long enough to milk him for information. This time however, Maka quickly found that such a trick wouldn't work any longer. When Giriko calmly got up from the table and locked eyes with her, the psychotic playfulness completely gone from his stare, she immediately took a step back. And that was her first mistake, to show weakness like that. Giriko was a monster, one who could smell fear.
"-S-Sit back down!" Maka commanded. She cursed herself for stuttering, but the way that Reaper looked at her, it would've turned anyone's blood ice cold.
It was her second and abruptly last mistake. In no time, the power had shifted to Giriko, who menaced over her with a quiet sort of anger. The table between them was no barrier, it never had been. Maka tried to find safety behind it, but was reminded quickly that Spartoi's second had no problem pushing the thing aside like a throw pillow. With one arm he slid it across the floor, causing a horrible screeching sound that echoed throughout the library. And just like that it was the two of them again, with nothing stopping Giriko from get what he wanted.
She was cornered. "Alright, I'll read the damn book! You win, okay? Just go sit down over there or something and I'll get to work...!"
It didn't work. No response came from the man, his only reply being the slight twinge of anger that pulled at his brow. Maka hesitated, realizing now that it wasn't about reading a book anymore. Something she'd said had made him furious, only this wasn't how she'd expect him to act. Contrary to his normal behavior, Giriko was calm; boiling on the inside, but methodically quiet otherwise. She didn't know how to handle this new side of him and quite frankly it scared her. She didn't know what he was going to do, nor how to respond.
Sweat started to bead on her forehead when he started walking towards her. Instinctively she stepped backwards to avoid him, but his stride was far greater than hers. Before she knew it, Giriko was in her personal space. His lips were spread to reveal a tightly clenched jaw, teeth bright, white, and intimidating. She shrunk underneath his wide-eyed glare, his expression making him look like he was seeing right through her. God was he quiet. It wouldn't have been so bad if he was loud, but she couldn't handle the silence. It was unnerving. What was he planning on doing...?
"...You really think..." he whispered gruffly, putting his face into hers. "...That bastard son is gonna become Grim?"
Her eyes grew wide. Wider than any time before. Wider than anything else on earth could make them, because nothing mattered to her more than her baby. The little child she'd neglected this whole time, the baby she'd made with Soul that she swore to Crona that nothing bad would happen to her. She was a terrible mother. She didn't react when Giriko raised his fist behind him, didn't so much as blink when he brought it up to her stomach and with all the force he had, uppercut her right where the baby was. There wasn't even a bump there. How could he have known where the baby was?
She was a terrible mother.
It's all Maka could think when she hit the floor. Falling on her side, flopping like a fish out of water, she didn't make a sound. It didn't hurt when her head hit the floor, nothing could have made her hurt anymore than what she felt in her stomach. It was a pain that transcended the body and went straight to her heart. Tears quickly began to flow like water from an open pipe, her eyes stuck open as if unable to close. She curled up and immediately clutched the point of impact, unable to think or say anything. It was all just a primal need at this point. She needed her baby.
"No part of Eater will ever become Grim, you got that!" Giriko boomed, pointing his finger at the downed woman. "Kidd's pet! That's all he ever was! A fucking lowlife! He never worked for anything!"
No amount of screaming on the Reaper's part could break her out of the shell Maka had made for herself. In that moment, she was in her own little world; quiet, secluded, dark. An empty black room where she could hide away from the world and contemplate how horrible everything was. Her child, oh god her child. She sobbed and choked, trying to breathe in long enough for her to think. Was the baby okay? That's all that mattered. Maka didn't care how much that punch hurt, because like fucking hell it did. He was Spartoi's number two. He could have killed them both.
"I'll fucking kill you, the baby, that fucking lowlife! Then Kidd's ass is mine, and after that I'll fucking kill Free too!" Giriko ranted. He continued on, but Maka didn't hear the rest.
She didn't care enough to listen. The only thing she heard was Giriko wanted to kill the baby. He said it out loud. The bastard was going to finish what he started, right here and now. Maka's tears continued to fall, but the sobbing abruptly ended. There wasn't any time for it, not when there was a maniac leering over her ready to kill both her and the baby. But that was the thing, what Giriko had said; he was going to kill the baby, meaning he hadn't already done so yet. Even after that insanely strong punch, both she and her child were okay. And immediately, it clicked.
Her son was a Grim. A god of death.
Kidd had a hole in his chest and still lived. A punch like that, she now realized, wouldn't be nearly enough to kill a Grim. And it also dawned on her that the pain she'd first felt after getting punched was now gone, as if suddenly her constitution was much higher now. Just as quickly as the sobs had stopped, so too did the tears when she came to the conclusion that maybe being the mother of a god had more perks than she'd realized. It wasn't just a title. She felt better now, almost more so than before, as if coming close to death for that split second had made her better because of it.
Giriko kept bellowing, but it was all just background noise to Maka. He must have commented on her sitting up, though the only thing Maka could hear was the sound of her own heartbeat. Call it a mother's intuition, but somehow she knew it was beating for two. What's more, this burning feeling in the pit of her stomach was different, completely different from the pain of Giriko's punch. It was a fire that tried to tell her something; maybe her own conscious, maybe the stubbornness of an Eater/Albarn child who'd yet to be born. In the end it didn't matter what it was, because the message was all the same anyway;
Get on your feet.
Wiping away the snot and tears from her face, that defeated look in Maka's stare was no more. The fire in her stomach now burned in her eyes and she stumbled to her feet in obedience. That same feeling told her not to be afraid of Giriko, that somehow everything would be fine. And part of Maka, the small portion that really did believe it was the baby supporting her, gave herself up to the voice. She put her all into believing that things would work out. It allowed her emotions to run wild inside her once-empty body, all of them coming out at the same time, struggling to burst.
She was happy the baby was okay. She was sad that Soul was gone. She was worried what Giriko might do to everyone. But above all else, she was angry. Livid. Infuriated, even. That Giriko would have the balls to willingly put the life of her family in danger, it was unforgivable. To threaten Soul, herself, and most of all the baby, it was the final nail in the coffin for him. Something had to be done and in that library, she was the only one who could. It had to stop here, she wouldn't let anything happen to Soul and the baby. For once, it was her turn to do something. She had to.
"You got up just like that? You know what happens next, right?" Giriko threatened her, getting in her personal space once more. "This time it'll be my foot in your-!"
"-I'm not taking your crap, Giriko!" Maka roared back with twice the force of him. "If you want a damsel in distress to kick around, you came to the wrong fricken library!"
Giriko seemed to stop completely. His eyes grew wide as she stared him down. But just as he quickly he rebounded, before grabbing her by the collar of her dress. "YOU FUCKING WHORE!"
He raised his arm for the second time. As they both looked at each other for what Giriko assumed was the last time, he took no pleasure in putting his fist in her stomach a second time. It wasn't about pleasure anymore; he just wanted her, everyone, to just die. Kidd, Eater, all the other Reapers, all the humans, all the Grigories, in his world, they'd all be dead. This was one giant step towards that. Admittedly he would take joy in hearing her sputter and fall to the ground again, but for the moment it was all business. Her skin was soft, accepting of a closed fist. She'd die so quickly...
...But she didn't. Giriko snapped out of it just long enough to focus his attention on Maka, who certainly wasn't sputtering. She wasn't falling to the ground either, even though he was still hanging onto her collar. No, she was standing up straight, staring up at him as if nothing had happened. Just what the fuck was going on! He hit her almost as hard as he could, even a Reaper would be miserable after that. A Grigori would be dead. She should be dead! It angered him even more than he already was, and seeing that determined look she kept giving him only made matters worse.
"There are people I care about, Giriko..." With one arm, she grabbed a hold of the fist clenched around her collar. "...It's about time I start fighting for them."
That thing inside her suddenly broke free. A feeling she'd felt once before suddenly returned to the forefront of her mind, the same rush she'd had back when Soul was struck down by Kidd back in the theater. Only this time it was sort of different; this wasn't an overwhelming need to care for someone. She needed to fight and that voice inside her was there to help. From behind her, a familiar sight erupted from her shoulder blades, a million little rays of light that resembled feathers. Every one of them detailed and shining, just as brilliant as that time so many months ago.
But these feathers weren't white. They weren't the calling card of an angel ready to heal the sick. A fighter is what she must be.
An angel of death and the calling card of such; black feathers, as ebony and glossed as the night sky over Death.
It was in that moment that both she and Giriko agreed on at least one thing together; they both knew why the Reapers called her the Eventide Angel. It wasn't just a title. It wasn't just because she had a Grim inside her, merely being the vessel for a new generation of Grim. No, even deeper than that still was the potential for both life and death. She wasn't just a healer, she could protect the people she cared about as well. And in that moment, Maka was going to do just that. For her child and Soul, maybe even Kidd, Free, and everyone else too. It would be over quickly.
So quick that Giriko didn't know how to respond. He just stood there, enthralled by the giant black wings that veiled the entire library. He didn't resist as Maka clutched his arm and held on tight, nor did he notice when some of the feathers turned ethereal and slithered up her arm onto his. Giriko couldn't have known that the mist burrowed into his skin, since they didn't leave a twinge of pain as it made its descent into his flesh. It was only once the feathers finished their journey that Giriko finally did notice, but by then it was already too late for him to repent to the Eventide Angel.
Pain. Unimaginable, unbearable, indescribable pain. Immediately Giriko let go of her and reeled back, clutching his arm with all his might as if holding back a cobra's poison from spreading in his veins. He threw his head to the ceiling and screamed bloody murder before falling to his knees, the sound of his blood curdling call making even Maka's hair stand on the back of her head. She watched in bitterness as the flesh slowly started to melt off his arm, exposing muscle, tissues, and eventually the bone itself. For a half-second, she thought she saw a gleam of metal, but then it was gone.
The rest of the scene could speak for itself. Giriko continued to scream. His arm continued to rot away until there was nothing left to decay. The entire time, Maka stood over him and stared with the slightest hint of sadness for him. The Reaper's agony finally ended when the hiss of water from his skin stopped and the pain ended just as quickly; with no flesh to hurt, the torture had ended. When all was finished, he simply collapsed to the floor face first. Still very much alive, only with one less arm to his name. He wouldn't be using it to hurt anyone ever again.
Maka stood before the fallen man. With a surprising softness, she muttered, "I didn't want to kill you."
Just like before, the wings on her back disappeared. Doomed never to stay, they at least vanished slower this time; each feather started to fall off, fading into nothingness after a second or two upon separating from her. Like dead rose petals, they were coarse compared to the white wings she'd had before. It fit the ominous feeling in the air; tragic beauty, obtainable only after death. All the trauma that'd happened in the library, it was strange to have something that could be called beautiful happen like that. But it only lasted for a moment. Just as quickly as the wings had come, they went.
Leaving behind a woman with questions and a man without an arm, whom she'd have trouble with later on, she was sure of it. Giriko would never forgive her for this, and it really only made things worse for her in the long run. She didn't get the answers she was looking for, and quite frankly Maka wasn't sure if she ever would. Now there was a definite enemy to worry about, another Grim on the way, crazy powers that she had possibly learned to figure out, and Kidd who knew of almost none of this. Standing there, slightly exhausted, Maka was more than overwhelmed.
But at least, for now, she could breathe a sigh of relief. And maybe, just maybe, pretend that her baby had been the one helping her all along.
So, uhm, I realize it's been quite a while since my last update. I sincerely apologize. I have a tendency to get into funks, but four months is just ridiculous. I'll try my very best in the future NOT to take that long to post a chapter again, especially now that things are picking up(?) in the story. As for people who are following this story, thank you for the favorites and sticking with this story, please feel free to comment or check out my tumblr page to possibly meet some other great authors who I hang out with frequently. Until the next update guys!