Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater
-A Piece of You-
His head snapped up immediately. In the span of a moment his vision became tunneled, the desert around him disappearing when all that mattered stood hundreds of feet in front of him. The bright sun, high over the horizon in her direction, made it near impossible to see her face. But he knew that figure, recognized the ashy blonde hair that hung low and teased her lower back. That voice, he hadn't heard it in months. It was like seeing an angel in the light at the end of a tunnel, the one everyone sees right before they die. The same kind he'd seen hundreds of years before.
He started to sprint. Didn't realize it at first, actually, but then again his head was no longer in control. This kind of burning in his ribs, an aching, is what he wanted to soothe. An instinctual pain drove him, one that only eased with each step closer her took towards her. All the while, her calls to him kept the Reaper running with all his might. Nothing else mattered in the world, not Black Star's attempt to grab him from behind, not Kim's concerned question of why he was even sprinting in the first place. Because apparently they couldn't see her, standing right there on the sand dune.
Did that matter to him? Of course, he wasn't a fool. But they didn't understand that he couldn't turn away, couldn't pry his desperate eyes from the possibility of seeing her face one more time. Because he couldn't remember what she looked like. The smells, the sights, and sounds that all made up Maka, they'd become foreign to him. And the thought of her, with him, had become too much for Soul to bear. He needed this, no matter how painfully obvious it was to him that Maka wasn't there. Just one more time, he thought to himself. Then he'd be done.
And then when he got there, made his trek across the sands and in his frantic scramble, tripped and fell on his knees, the truth became much harder to swallow.
The blonde hair he swore he saw before was gone. Creamy skin was now replaced with red. And instead of a beautiful smile, only a chesire grin of razor blade teeth.
In a daze, Soul looked up at the creature before him. His eyes narrowed softly, with the pain and embarrassment of being duped by him slowly starting to sink in. Meanwhile the not-so-little demon continued to stand over his prey and leer, his never-changing grin much more unnerving than in the past. This scene was one he'd always hoped for; with Soul bowing down to him. It was fitting then that the fire in his eyes was out, those leering red hues much duller since the last time they'd talked. How long ago was that? A few days? Or was it minutes?
In the end it didn't matter, because for months he'd been plaguing his mind. At night when he fell asleep, the demon would taunt him. In the morning when awoke, he'd be standing at the foot of Soul's bed, staring at him with that devilish sneer. Every time, he'd tempt the Reaper with power. The strength to kill Kidd and take back Maka, but not only that. What else could a Grim do with the power of Hell behind him? Take over the world? Destroy the world? Remake it? Not only as a god of death, but as God himself. Soul didn't want any of that, not even the power.
But it was the demon's job to convince him. "You know she's probably fucking him as we speak, right?"
"Shut up." Brows furrowed and teeth bore, the Reaper's comeback didn't have nearly the amount of bite as it used to.
"Of course, my mistake. Maka's much classier than that," the demon conceded, throwing up his hands. "I'm sure she's already long since passed!"
This time, the rumble in the back of Soul's throat was menacing. His eyes flashed crimson and the demon sneered. "Everything you say is bullshit. I won't listen to any of it."
His head cocked to the side, the horned man's taunting gaze only intensified. In response, Soul kept up his killer leer, in the hopes that he wouldn't have to deal with this bastard any longer. But he knew better and in the end, his defiance only made him feel better. Because no sooner had he come to this revelation, that the demon took a knee and brought his face up to Soul's. They matched expressions, both trying to size the other up, before the red-man made it plainly clear that nothing Soul did could throw him off his step.
"I already told you we're one in the same, boy. I'm the darkness in your heart; likewise, you're the darkness in mine." With a knowing smile, the demon made his case.
"There has to be light for there to be darkness, Maka taught me that." Soul countered as he rose to his knees, "What you are is evil. I'm nothing like you."
The demon raised a brow, genuinely surprised. "That's quite a grown up answer. Good show, then! All the more reason why I want your soul!"
As if he were an old friend, the demon grabbed Soul with one hand and patted his back with the other. An almost genuine smirk tugged at the corner of his lips, but the Reaper wasn't buying any of it. He stared his darkness down, not about to humor the demon any longer at his own expense. Despite this, there was nothing he could do to fight it, at least not with brute strength. There were other people there, Black Star and Kim. They couldn't see the demon. In fact, they didn't even know he existed. Soul wasn't about to let them find out any time soon, either.
So for the moment he put up with it. That disturbing sense of superiority, it was unnerving to him. The Reaper squirmed his shoulder free of his demon's grasp, as the latter let it happen. He still smiled, but it seemed to Soul that he was taking his sweet time in trying to corrupt him. Instead, something much more devious glistened in the bastard's eye. He had a secret, and if the white-reaper knew of one thing, it was that he wouldn't keep it for long. Sure enough, after a long pause of silence between them, the demon opened his mouth to let the words drip from his poisonous tongue.
"So it looks like you don't have to worry about Maka being dead, my boy~!" he teased, giggling with devilish delight.
Eyes narrowing, Soul bore his teeth. For some reason, it sounded like a threat to him, "What's that supposed to mean? Tell me-!"
"-Gah! So impatient!" the demon shot back out of mock annoyance. "I feel so bad for the girl, having to put up with more than one of you!"
"...Wait, what?" Caught off guard, Soul jerked his head to the side like a confused animal. His associate gave a wild sneer before clearing his throat.
"Congratulations, my boy. It's not every day one gets to become the father of a god, but I imagine that if it had to be anybody, Maka's glad that it was you."
Silence. Save for the desert wind, there was not a sound on that lonely patch of sand. Just Soul and the demon, the latter of whom beamed with child-like enthusiasm, while the former took what seemed like a whole minute to process what'd just been said. He was dumbstruck, unable to close his gaping mouth. Then a moment later, confusion turned violent when all of a sudden his red eyes flashed, and the crack of thunder rumbled through out the desert. The demon, not the least bit concerned, found himself on the dangerous end of a gold fringed scythe.
"Shut your fucking mouth!" the Reaper commanded, his face quickly turning a hue that matched the hellish man's skin.
He blinked innocently, "Wha-? Oh! Of course, you're under the impression that you're an infertile sack of shit who can't father any children, correct?"
"I'm tired of these fucking games, so stop messing with my head! Just leave. Me. ALONE!" Soul desperately screamed back, almost reaching his breaking point.
"Eater, you're a sensitive one," the demon sighed. Not wanting to ruin a precious resource, he relented his assault. "But I am being serious. Maka is pregnant. You're the father."
Still not convinced, the third of Spartoi threw his weapon sideways to strike. Tired of all the stress and sleepless nights, he put all his weight into chopping the demon's head off. But to his shock and dismay, when the scythe went to claim its prey, the demon stopped it with a single hand. Blood, blacker than the city of Death, dripped superficially from his hand as he held blade a safe distance away from him. This time, the hell spawn was stony faced. His mood had grown serious, and as Soul quickly found out, his childlike banter was no more.
He was a far more terrifying creature than any sort of Reaper. "There are many things to say, and very little time left to say them. I expect you to listen."
Part of him still wanting to try another strike, Soul quickly decided it was futile. Instead, he took the calmer approach, "...I'll hear you, but that doesn't mean I'll listen."
"Whatever just pay attention," the demon warned, releasing his hold on the scythe. "Your child, who in six months time will be born, is destined to become the Grim to succeed the last."
Soul scoffed at the notion, but remained silent as he continued to listen. "Needless to say, all of Hell is a quiver about the whole thing. A new Grim is always a big deal, which is why I want to be the boy's sponsor..."
Still, the Reaper was mum. However, just looking at the excitement in his evil-half's face made him question whether or not the bastard was telling anything but lies. Of course, they obviously were; it went without saying that him fathering a child was almost laughable. Almost. But still, maybe this was just the demon trying to sway his judgment by twisting the truth a little bit. Maybe there was somebody else, somebody stronger, who was trying to take the mantle of power away from Kidd. Another Reaper, not born by him, but still very much alive and dangerous.
The only other person stupid enough to try was Giriko.
Immediately it went from Soul worrying about potential fatherhood to instead wanting to rip out his rival's throat single-handedly. That creep. He knew Free was fiercely loyal to Kidd and would never try to usurp him, but Giriko was a different story. He didn't want power, just the vehicle to do whatever he wanted with. He was childish, selfish, pretty much like how he himself used to be a hundred years ago. Except begrudgingly, Soul admitted under shallow breath that Giriko was number two for a reason. His power outmatched his in every single way.
"...So I have a proposition for you, if you're done thinking about Giriko," the demon chimed in, almost on cue as Soul started to go off on a tangent.
The white Reaper's head snapped to attention. Every move he made or thought about, it seemed like Hell was ten steps ahead of him. "W-What? What'd you say?"
"A deal, you thick-headed moron." Scowling, the demon took a few steps backwards. "For every third of your soul you relinquish to me, I will grant you power befitting a Grim."
"Why three? What are you, some kind of genie?" Raising a brow, Soul unwittingly added some levity to the conversation. The demon laughed, and for once it sounded actually genuine.
"Good things come in three. I want to change that. I want three to be a terrifying number, one that the desert won't forget for another thousand years. So how about it?"
With his trademark apathetic look, Soul grinned and in true fashion stated firmly, "You'd have better luck asking me once I'm dead and buried. And even then, I'll spit in your face."
The demon waved a finger in front of him, giving a 'tsk tsk' that annoyed Soul immensely. With his other hand, he grabbed the white Reaper by the arm and pulled him in close. Biting his tongue, Soul waited for his associate to say something even remotely annoying before punching him in the face. But instead of sarcasm or malice, the only thing carried on the demon's tongue was a crisp, chilled warning as he whispered into the man's ear. His breath burned Soul's skin like hell fire, reinforcing the words as they were etched painfully into the side of his skull.
"When Maka needs you the most. When the baby is just seconds from the precipice of death. I'll be here like I always am, ready to offer the solution to all your problems."
A cackling. A flash of chesire once more. Then nothing. The demon was gone, just like that, leaving Soul to stand in the sand dune by his lonesome and wonder exactly what was truth and what wasn't. He was being duped, that was true no matter what. Something, however, was going on that had the horned bastard very excited. It confounded him exactly as to what, but Soul figured all of that would come in due time. For now, he had other things to worry about. Maka was his main concern, meaning the top priority on his list was getting back to the Sun Grigori and...
...Kim and Black star.
He'd forgotten about both of them.
In an instant, all the color drained from the Reaper's face when something told him to look behind him. Slowly he turned, and sure enough to his horror they were both there, wide-eyed and extremely confused. How long had they been there! To Soul's utter dismay, it was obvious that they'd seen something. As to what that something was, he was still nervous to find out. Could other people see the demon, or did all they see was him talking to open air for something like ten minutes? Either way he was screwed, because now came the questions...
"...Soul?" Black Star asked quietly, utterly dumbfounded. "Who have you been talking to this whole time?"
Great. They thought he was crazy. "Yeah, uh, about that...Reapers are very lonely creatures. We talk to ourselves...a lot."
Kim seemed horrified by that answer. Maybe that wasn't the best choice. "So you randomly summon your scythe and scream at things?"
Definitely not the best choice. Unfortunately his friends weren't stupid, yet for some reason in his own stupid mind he thought lying to them would actually work. Instead, they looked at him like some kind of freak. Which wasn't untrue, he considered himself strange anyway. It's just that, in these past few months living with other people for a change, it was nice to feel like they could rely on him. He wanted to do the same, but nobody could do that when one of the party was running around the desert, throwing blade weapons around like grinning at no one in particular...
Holy shit, he really did sound crazy. And they seriously stuck with him for this long?
Soul took a long, hard look at his traveling companions. They did the same, though with a tad bit more wariness than they used to. And in that moment, the white Reaper came to revelation. That if he was going to change and really become a different person than before, then he needed to start acting like it. No more sneaking around, no more secrets, no more thinking only of himself. He could see it in their eyes; they were scared, not of him, but for him. They wanted what was best for him, so likewise Soul wanted to give them the same. They needed to know the truth.
So, very bluntly, he gave it to them. "Basically, a demon has been following me around for three months. He wants my soul. Every time I fall asleep he's there, saying things to me. When I wake up he's at the foot of my bed, grinning. Just now, he tricked me into thinking Maka was standing right here, even though I know she wasn't. He's fucking with me and honestly, it's slowly eating me up. I can't take it anymore."
Maybe that was more blunt than necessary, but it was like lifting the flood gates of a river. Once he opened up, it felt like he needed to get everything off his chest. He kept his cool though, even though his stomach was turning to knots under the stares of who he hoped were still his friends. They still looked at him funny and for a split second, he felt like he'd lost their support with that stupid little rant. But slowly, one of the two approached him. Immediately Soul became sick at the sight of him; the look on Black Star's face, it couldn't be put into words. Concerned. Hurt. Relieved?
He put his hand on Soul's shoulder. Looking him dead in the eyes, he muttered, "You can't be scaring us like that, buddy. Don't leave us in the fucking dark."
"I'm scared too," the Reaper admitted aloud. He surprised both himself and Black Star, but continued anyway, "There's half of me that wants to give it to him. I can't trust myself, Black Star. I want the power to kill Kidd."
"Yeah well, you're not going to!" Kim threw her comment in, marching up to them with a puffed up face of confidence. "Black Star and I will have your ass otherwise, right?"
The man nodded, not once breaking the stare with his friend, who likewise didn't want to look away. Quickly, the feeling of Kim's hand on his other shoulder gave Soul something that he hadn't felt in a long time, not since he and Maka had been together; comfort. It was like all this weight had dispersed between the three of them. None of it had disappeared completely. There was still an army of Reapers to worry about. Maka needed rescuing. A death god wanted them dead. But instead of keeping it all to himself like had intended to do, Soul finally discovered that maybe sharing in some of the hardship wasn't such a bad idea after all. He wanted to shelter them, though that was stupid considering what hardships they'd already been through.
"I'm surprised you guys believe me," Soul mused, almost chuckling to himself. "I mean, demons are hard things to swallow even for Reapers."
Black Star released his grip in order scratch the back of his head. "Well, between you, Kidd, and all the shit me and Kim have seen, it's not so hard to believe."
"Actually, I think both of you are insane." Kim deadpanned, drawing both their attention before smiling, "But it's my job to guide you two, so I guess I'll have to suck it up for now."
Soul and Black Star looked at each other before turning dual sarcastic looks at the pink-haired Grigori. She, however, was already turning around, chiming aloud how they'd already lost a lot of time. Not paying either man anymore attention, she marched off down the sand dune towards their destination. Ire-filled and with a slight bit of annoyance, the pair took off after her, though at a much slower pace. They figured it would be a while before she realized they were far behind, whereas she would stop to yell at them while they trotted along merrily to catch up. It would pass the time.
"Between you and me," Soul threw out there, almost casually as they walked. "The demon told me something else."
"Yeah, and what would that be?" Black Star shot back. He didn't seem too interested, seeing as how all demons were liars.
Soul, on the other hand, couldn't shake it out of his mind. "Apparently there's another Grim...and he said that I'm the kid's father."
Promptly, Black Star stopped his descent. Soul came to a halt right after him and immediately turned around to gauge the man's reaction. It wasn't the look he was excepting, then again, he wasn't sure what to expect. A sort of annoyance pulled at the muscles in his face, but there wasn't any anger to it at all. It's the look a disappointed father gives his child when they've done something bad. It was an ironic expression for an already tender subject, but Soul didn't call him out on it. Instead he waited for his friend to give the response he desperately wanted to hear.
"You honestly buy that? We both know you can't have kids."
That was it. Just like that, Black Star continued down the hill, passing his friend by in order to catch up with Kim. If it was anyone else, Soul might have been slightly hurt by just how blunt that comment was. But it was harsh for a reason. That was Black Star telling him to stop thinking about stupid shit and get on with the mission. There was no time to consider things that absolutely weren't true, and every second wasted was another moment without Maka. So shaking it off, Soul nodded and took off after his friend. They had a lot of ground to cover before nightfall.
The rest of the trip would be uneventful. The three of them would keep walking till the sun went down, then rest before completing their journey to the mountains the following day. Nobody would mention demons. For all intents and purposes, their whole conversation earlier in the day would be buried beneath exhaustion. Really, only Soul would have any thoughts as to what'd transpired and even then it had nothing to do with giving up his soul or defeating The Grim. It just had to do with that little part about possibly contributing something more to the world than just bloodshed. Maybe, there was a tiny chance that being a messenger of death wasn't what ended up defining him, when the day finally came when he was put six feet under once more.
He went to bed that night, for once without the demon's whispers.