Rain Soaked Tears
And here is the final chapter! Thank you all for staying with me so patiently! Enjoy this epilogue!
Disclaimer: I don't own Soul Eater.
Mr. Blood smirked as he chewed on his cigar and looked over his classy establishment from behind the stage curtain. The Saturday night acts were always a big draw, and tonight was no exception. Again he patted himself on the back for hiring those extra waitresses on Eater's advice.
Especially the skinny blonde girl. She wasn't much of a looker, so Mr. Blood had put her on door duty. Immediately he knew he'd made the right choice. She was polite and charming, did her work quickly and well, didn't make trouble among the patrons, and looked absolutely stunning in that classy hostess dress...
"You're laughing to yourself again, boss."
"Eater," snickered the little man, turning to see his star act slouching against the wall, dressed in his performance outfit. "I hear it's almost a full house out there. Ready to drive them mad?" he asked, chewing his cigar with a huge grin.
Soul rolled his eyes. "Don't you ever give up? The way you're talking, it's like you think I take over their souls or something."
"That's exactly what your music does, my boy." The squat bald man couldn't understand why this talented little weirdo didn't see what he was talking about. Soul was the reason people kept coming back to the Black Room on Saturday nights, why they brought more people to hear his dark, fearfully fascinating music. His tune lured them like a siren's call, went straight through their blood and bones and touched something within their very souls. "And it's only gotten better since you met that blonde."
Mr. Blood nodded. "I used to have to beg, bribe and threaten you to get up here every Saturday, and you'd bolt the instant your set finished. Now you stroll on like you own the stage and play until we close."
"I told you, I gotta make rent. We both do."
"Which is why I said Albarn could work both Saturday shifts. Never said you had to." There was a twinkle in the old man's black eyes as he smirked at Soul. "Something's changed in you, Eater. Don't bother denying it," he said, seeing the boy start to do just that. "Just making an observation."
With another roll of his eyes Soul said, "Whatever. I'm up."
"Knock them dead, kid." Mr. Blood toddled onto the stage and hopped up on the piano stool, raising the microphone to his lips. "Alright everyone, here comes the main attraction you've all come down to see tonight. Give it up for that dark, dashing young master musician, Soul Eater!"
Maka heard the little demon-man (she never called Mr. Blood that aloud) announce Soul and turned around, craning her neck to catch a glimpse. Even after working at the Black Room for several months, she'd never actually seen Soul playing. She always heard his music filtering out into the alcove entrance, but the hostess station was around the corner and didn't allow a clear line of sight. And she couldn't abandon her post either; Saturday nights meant a constant flow of guests, which required her to take reservations and direct people to the bar or the lounge or the coat room or the bathrooms or the -
"Y-You look an-n-noyed, M-Maka."
She gave the stammering youth an apologetic grin. "Sorry, Crona. Did you need something?"
"M-Mother told me th-that I could man the s-station now." Crona's mother, Medusa, was the talented bartender and a silent partner of the Black Room. She gave Maka a creepy feeling because of her strangely snakelike eyes, but she'd managed to have civil conversation with the woman. "You wanna see S-Soul perform, r-right?"
Maka thanked the lanky youth and slipped into the lounge just as the house lights dimmed and Soul appeared on stage. Her breath caught in her throat. He was even more handsome in his pinstriped black suit, the red dress shirt a shock of color between jacket and his black tie, and the darker colors made his white hair stand out. Her hands unconsciously patted her lacy hostess dress free of wrinkles, forgetting that the dim light and her black dress made it almost impossible for Soul to see her.
"Maka!" came a loud whisper from her left. Peering through the gloom, Maka was surprised to see Miss Marie waving at her from where she sat with Dr. Stein. "Maka, come join us!"
She shyly took the offered seat. "I didn't know you came here," she whispered to Marie.
"I wanted to see the house band, and Franken needed to get out of his lab before he went insane." Shooting the smoking doctor a dry look, she amended, "More than usual."
"Don't lie. You wanted to see how Maka was doing as well," remarked Stein. The flash of his glasses told Maka that he had turned to look at her. "But that can wait until later. Soul's about to play."
She looked at the stage and saw that Soul had taken his place on the piano bench. His fingers hovered above the black instrument's ivory keys, and his eyes were already unfocused. Maka knew that look; he'd already retreated deep within himself, seeking the music that was about to come pouring out of his fingertips and stun the entire room.
His hands came crashing down, and when that first series of notes burst from the piano, Maka's breath caught in her throat. Again she was stunned at how dark it was, how it seemed to flood her soul with wonder and intrigue and make her heart pound. Every hair stood up on end as she watched Soul play as if possessed, feeling the electricity in the air as every other soul in the room was lured in by his music.
This was so, so much different than when he practiced at home. He wasn't so engulfed in the music that he lost himself in it. But that was why he played here, she figured. To lose himself completely, and to take as many people down with him into that darkness as he could.
It seemed to be over almost too soon, and he shakily rose to his feet amid the thunderous applause of a standing ovation. Maka clapped the hardest, her eyes shining as she watched Soul stagger backstage. He always looked so exhausted after a performance, and that meant she'd be in charge of breakfast tomorrow.
"So?" Stein asked, taking a sip from his drink. "Are you two doing well?"
Maka tore her eyes from the stage and focused on the question. "We make rent, get groceries every other week. Pretty good, really."
"And your grades?"
"Still in the top ten of my class." She raised an eyebrow at the line of questioning. "Why?"
Stein shook his head with a small smile. "Can't I just inquire after the only child I don't find irritating?" His eyes glanced over at the bar as the house lights came up a little, watching Medusa mixing drinks with easy grace. "Besides, I still have my reservations about your working here."
"Mr. Blood is a good man."
"He's a borderline sociopath."
Instead of pointing out the good doctor's own dubious mental health, Maka merely shrugged. "He pays good money and he's a fair boss." She checked her watch and stood up. "Sorry, but my shift's over now. I gotta get Soul home."
"Maka?" She looked back to see Miss Marie smiling. "Come see us soon, won't you?"
"I'll try, Miss Marie. Good night."
Blair still wasn't home when they entered the apartment, so Maka kicked off her shoes and headed into the kitchen to brew some chamomile tea. "Feed Bu-tan," she called out, hearing the black cat meow somewhere in the apartment.
"Later." She heard Soul drop face-first on the sofa with the elegance of a dumped corpse, groaning as his sore muscles stretched. "Ow. Damn. Ow. OW."
"That's what I should be saying. Unless you've been wearing spike heels all day too?" she teased.
"No, but you try doing that gig after unloading new glassware and supplies all day."
Maka winced. Usually Crona was able to manage inventory with the help of Ragnarok, his burly if abusive best friend, but the man had called in sick that day. "Want the heating pad?"
"God yes. Where is it?"
Another groan echoed through the apartment. "Too much effort."
"Wuss." The teakettle whistled, and she snapped off the gas and poured steaming water into two mugs emblazoned with smiling souls. Dropping a teabag in each cup, she headed back into the living room and placed his mug on the coffee table. "Scoot back, I wanna sit."
Soul obligingly shifted to his side to allow Maka to perch on the sofa in front of his stomach. Half-closed ruby eyes watched her as she blew across her steaming tea to cool it. "Saw Doc Stein and Miss Marie were talking to you after the set," he remarked. "They checking up on you?"
She shrugged. "They worry, sometimes. They like to make sure I'm okay." Sipping her tea, Maka caught him scowling. "What's wrong with you?"
"Just sore." With a surprising fluid motion despite his earlier complaints, Soul sat up and put a leg on either side of Maka, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close. "Ahh, that feels good. You're real warm," he mumbled, his chin resting on her shoulder.
"What have I said about using me as your personal hot water bottle?" Maka asked crossly, but she leaned back against his chest anyway. His hug wasn't constricting or smothering like her papa's, but it also wasn't a complete embrace. Soul held her like he was fully expecting her to break free and wouldn't stop her if she did. "What's really on your mind, Soul?"
"Just thinking..." His neck stretched forward so that his cheek pressed against hers. "You're eighteen now, Maka. Graduation is only a few weeks away, and after that..."
Maka sighed patiently. Ever since the start of senior year, she and Soul had been having this conversation at least once every month. At first it had pissed her off, but now she understood his reason for keeping after the issue. After all, Soul knew her better than anyone. Knew she always looked for an out, an escape plan for every situation, and he was just giving her the out he thought she deserved.
She used to consider it, but a lot had changed in the two years since she emancipated herself from her father. She had carved out a life in this three-bedroom apartment with Blair and Soul, from adopting the spunky black cat that Blair named Bu-tan, to working two jobs to make rent and save up for college, to dealing with the gossip about her and Soul that continued to ripple through Death City High's halls. Not to mention discovering that to her everlasting surprise (or maybe not so much) that she had developed quite an attachment to Soul.
She couldn't consider leaving Soul now. She loved him too much.
Putting down her tea, Maka turned slightly in his arms so that she was looking straight into his eyes. "Soul, I'm not leaving," she said firmly. "I'm really happy here. Hell, I think it's the best home I've ever had, including when Mama and Papa were together. I love living with you and Blair, I really do." She leaned forward until their foreheads were touching. Fearful of his answer, she whispered, "Why would I leave?"
Swallowing hard, he tried to keep his voice level. "You're eighteen now, Maka. Graduation is only a few weeks away, and after that..."
They'd celebrated her birthday a month ago amid cheers and presents and delicious cake, but Soul had to fake his smile through the whole party. For him, it was just another milestone that had marked just how much time he had left with her. After graduation, Maka was free to go wherever she wanted. He knew Maka well, and he knew how she thought. Once she had that diploma in hand, she'd want to go out into the world, do more with her life than stay in Death City. She'd get out. She'd leave.
And because he loved her, he wouldn't stop her.
She twisted in his arms to face her, and Soul let his hands drop to clasp at the base of her waist. "Soul, I'm not leaving. I'm really happy here. Hell, I think it's the best home I've ever had, including when Mama and Papa were together. I love living with you and Blair, I really do," she insisted.
Soul heard her words, heard the truth ringing out with every syllable as clear as a bell, but he still couldn't completely make himself believe it. Maka was a sweet girl, a kind soul, and she never wanted to hurt her friends. She'd soften the blow as much as possible, give them time to prepare for the pain before laying it on them.
He didn't realize she'd leaned forward until their foreheads were touching. "Why would I leave?" she whispered.
He looked into those deep green eyes and sighed softly; a master of reading people's eyes, he could see that she was scared. "If you want to go, I won't stop you."
"Do you want me to go?"
Unconsciously his arms tightened around the girl. Never, his greedy self immediately shouted. "I don't want to keep you here if you don't want to stay," he admitted quietly.
Maka's gaze narrowed slightly, a sign that she was getting angry. Her hands came up and clasped behind his neck. "Stop being so damn self-righteous and just answer me."
"Fine." Before he lost his nerve, Soul put one hand on the back of her neck and pulled her in for a hard, fast kiss. She surprised him by responding in kind, her sweet insistence damn near taking his breath away. Her inexperience was painfully clear, but Soul didn't really care. He was her first, and she was his.
When they pulled apart, Maka's cheeks were flushed pink and she was breathless. Soul pressed another kiss to her lips, softer and lingering, and then whispered, "I don't want you to go, Maka."
"Then listen to me, stupid. I'm not going anywhere. I'm happy here, with all my friends, and with you." She smiled gently and added, "Besides, what just happened wasn't a one-time thing, right?"
Soul's lips tilted upwards. "That's right." He licked his lips nervously and added, "I like you. A lot, actually."
"I like you a lot too." Her blush deepened. "S-So, does this make us a...a couple?"
"If you want." Blushing like a fool himself, Soul felt like the singularly most uncool guy in the world for even thinking his next words. "I just want you to be happy." He met her eyes and let himself be completely honest about his selfish feelings. "But I want you to be mine, Maka."
"What a coincidence," she replied, leaning forward again so that their foreheads were touching. "I want you to be mine, too." Her eyes glanced over to the window, then blinked in surprise. "Look. It's raining."
Sure enough, Soul could see and hear the pattering of raindrops falling on Death City. "It was raining when I first met you," he recalled. "Remember?"
"How could I forget?" Maka snuggled back into his embrace and sighed, turning her head so her forehead rested against his cheek. "You must've thought I was nuts."
"Nah, just lost." Just like I was. His arms moved to envelop her as Soul leaned back on the couch. "That was a long time ago."
"Not so long," she murmured, already starting to doze off. "Soul?"
"Yeah?" he whispered, feeling the call of sleep himself.
"What made you take me home?"
Soul shrugged wearily. "Dunno. Guess you looked too pathetic to leave out there." He gave a soft 'ouch!' when the spine of a hardcover book weakly hit his shoulder. "Abuse much?"
"You're lucky I'm too tired to really make you hurt."
"Sounds kinky." Another smack with the book had Soul chuckling and tightening his embrace around her. "I kid, I kid. Geez."
"You're unbelieveable," Maka huffed.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway."
She muttered something that sounded like, "Cocky bastard," just before her eyes slid shut and her breathing evened out. Knowing she wouldn't be waking up anytime soon, Soul let himself relax and closed his eyes as well.
The rain continued to fall outside, a steady patter that lulled both teens into the peaceful sleep they deserved.
And that concludes this broadcast, folks! Thanks for sticking around all this time!
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