Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater.
by. Poisoned Scarlett
It starts with Halloween.
She's holding a little girls hand, leading her down cobblestone streets plagued with loud, sugar high, children and fond parents. The little girl's name is Tsugumi Harudori. She's this adorable little thing with raven black hair tied back in two spunky pigtails, much like herself, and she's dressed up cute as a fairy princess. Her frilly dress sparkles yellow and orange under the streetlamps and the limp fairy wings on her back wink like the stars that dot the sky. Her pumpkin bucket rattles with candy as she skips, singing a snazzy holiday rhyme to herself.
The sickle moon in the sky has violet clouds rolling past it. With each one, a darkness spreads across the land like tar until moonlight pierces through it. With every roll of darkness, however, the temperature drops even more. And with every temperature drop, another family hikes it back home for the night with their kid swinging a bag of tooth-decaying treats like they're gold.
"Tsugumi, why don't we call it a night?" Maka Albarn suggests, not dressed up as anything particularly interesting. She's in her work skirt, her Oxford button-up hidden under a black blazer, and her black pumps are starting to become unbearable to walk in. Her name tag that reads Hello, my name is Maka Albarn! was still pinned on the lapel of her jacket. "It's getting really late and your parents are probably wondering where you are by now."
"Mommy's out with daddy!" Tsugumi insists, looking up at her with stubborn marble black eyes. "They're gonna' be out for a long time! I don't wanna' be alone at home, Maka!"
"You won't be alone, I'll be there with you until they come back!"
"But I wanna' get more candy…" Tsugumi mumbles, looking into her pumpkin bucket. It's only half full but Maka thinks that's more than enough candy for a nine year old. Tsugumi suddenly snaps her head up, mouth round with an idea. "Maka! Maka, Maka! Let's go to that house! The one over there! Do you see it?"
Of course she does. Who can miss it? Tall, looming, silhouetted against a sky whose darkness has swallowed the stars and breathed out smoky clouds, is the Evans Manor. The walls are crowding with vines, handfuls of it crawling across the grass like snakes. The gates are speared and the metal is thick and heavy, a warning to anyone with the idea of trespassing. The lights are out in every mullioned window, curtains drawn, and the entire property exhaled a certain silence that would make anyone uncomfortable. It appeared abandoned but Maka knows someone lives there.
Someone has to.
"Ah, Tsugumi..." Maka begins with trepidation, "I don't think anyone's home right now!"
"But….but there's no more houses!" Tsugumi hunkers over, sadly.
After a second or two of watching that house remain motionless and more-or-less harmless, Maka sighs and gives their held hands a little swing. "Alright, come on. It can't hurt to try, right? But if no one answers, we're going home. Deal?"
"Okay!" Tsugumi brightens up instantly. "Come on, come on! Before they go to sleep!" She urges, pulling Maka down a winding path fringed with weeds and deadened bushes. The closer they get, the more pressing the darkness around them becomes. It feels like it's hissing at them to get away; to scram because they have no business there. Yet Tsugumi remains oblivious and Maka follows closely behind with a nervous swallow, the howling wind that twists around them warningly making the hairs in the back of her neck rise.
There are rumors that surround that manor by the edge of Death City. Scary rumors, rumors that have been twisted around and chewed up and spat out so many times that one can't be sure what's true or not. But from what she gathered there lived a warlock at Evans Manor, a warlock with fierce red eyes and razor sharp teeth and soullust to boot. They say he's the watcher of their small town; not so much hated as he is begrudgingly accepted, as he'd once sent a pack of witches running the other way when they'd decided to invade for their own selfish desires. But that's all myth, many of the townsfolk insist, practically a legend. It's a story that's been told over and over again and has become something more of a bedtime story for hyperactive children like Tsugumi Harudori.
But there is truth to the tall tales, Maka knows. There's truth in the way no one has seen movement within the house yet it is always well-kept, the way Maka can almost taste the magic shut-up within the house, a tasteless glue that makes it hard to swallow; and in the way shadows shift abnormally around the property, how the wind whispers in their ears warningly if they tread too close. How much truth there is, however, is yet to be revealed.
But Maka has confidence she's read up enough on witches and warlocks and other things that go bump in the night to know they're safe.
The gate opens upon Maka's touch, as if it had been expecting her all along. Tsugumi trots inside happily, pulling Maka along as the gate creaks closed behind them. Maka likes to think the wind did it, even if the current breeze is not strong enough to shut a gate that heavy. The path to the front door is long and cracked, as if someone had slammed their fist into the pavement in a rage. But it's relatively clean of any leaves and dirt and the porch was swept and equally neat. There's a single light overhead of them on the front porch, shrouding them in sickly yellow light, and Tsugumi looks up at Maka.
"I can't reach…"
"Here, l'll do it," Maka smiles, reaching for the knocker. She bangs it three times and pulls back, observing the strong wood door before her. The knocker reminds her of a lion with the way its eyes flash dangerously and its nostrils flare with rage; chest puffed, claws out. Intimidating… if Maka hadn't seen at least four others of its kind. Although she admits this one is the most impressive to date.
Suddenly, the door sighs open.
"May I help you?" He's rather tall and dressed down in a fine suit, shined shoes, tie impeccably centered on his chest. The material of his suit is the blackest of black and the inside is no better. Maka knows she's speaking to someone and not a shadow because this man is deathly pale with three streaks of blinding white running horizontally on his neatly trimmed hair. His eyes are a burning golden; like a hot brand dunked in a cauldron of melted gold.
He's not human; Maka knows this instantly. He's not normal, not in the slightest, not with those distinctive golden eyes that flicker with internal fire, but he looks harmless at the moment so Maka doesn't make a break for it. She only holds Tsugumi's hand tighter and pushes her behind her a little, a move that is not missed by the odd man.
"Trick or treat!" Tsugumi cheerfully shouts, holding out her pumpkin bucket eagerly.
Maka offers a smile. "Happy Halloween! I hope we're not intruding on anything…"
The man gives her a blank stare. He looks down at the little girl whose faltered and lowered her bucket. "Wait a moment, please, I'll have to discuss this…development with the master of the house!" He bows and closes the door softly.
"…No candy?" Tsugumi grumbles, scowling. "That guys stingy! I don't like 'em!"
"Tsugumi, not many people come trick or treat here. They're probably not used to this," Maka calms her. It would make sense: no one in their right mind would come within ten feet of the manor gate, much less traverse over forbidden land and knock on the door. They would be the first in who knows how many years. "Who knows? Maybe he'll give you a chocolate cake if you wait patiently!" Maka laughs cheerfully, making Tsugumi's annoyance shift to laughter as well.
They wait only a little longer, Maka squinting at the knocker that's looking stranger by the minute. Its eyes look strange – like someone is looking at them through it. She can't shake the feeling off but she tells herself she's being ridiculous: knockers can't act as peepholes. Right? Then again, this is a warlocks home they were trick or treating at…
The door opens again and, to Maka's shock and Tsugumi's glee, the man hands them two slices of chocolate cake with a slight smile.
"YAY! CAKE! You were right, Maka! You were right!" Tsugumi squeals, taking a slice while Maka takes hers, dumbfounded. "Thank you mister creepy guy! You're so nice!"
"Tsugumi!" Maka chokes out while the 'creepy guy' merely looks behind them silently, scanning the area carefully. "Apologize this instant!"
"But I don't know his name!" Tsugumi whines. At Maka's sharp look, she mumbles. "Sorry…"
"My name is Death the Kid," he responds, done with his survey of the grounds. "And I accept your apology."
"Thank you for the cake, Death the Kid," Maka thanks, successful in not stumbling over his strange name. Just by his name, Maka has a feeling she knows exactly what he is. His frighteningly pale face, hollow golden eyes, black suit – so black it blends in with the shadows. What he is and what he works as, it's not pretty, that's for sure. Maka makes sure to stay in front of Tsugumi at all times. "Not many people would give out cake today! Tell the master of the house to have a great Halloween!"
"You're welcome," Death the Kid nods, cordially. "Today is a very special day, indeed. The night of witches and warlocks! An event to be celebrated greatly amongst those to whom it is dedicated to!"
As Tsugumi happily munches on her cake, ignoring their talk, Maka frowns: "Like him?"
Death the Kid holds her stare. "Yes."
It's silent for a few beats before Maka's expression melts into something more friendly. "Well, then, I hope this day has turned out to his liking. It must be very important for him. We should both get going, it's late. You know what they say about being out so late."
"It's quite dangerous to be out at this time, on this day," Death the Kid agrees, gravely. "A witch may swoop down and take your daughter if you're not careful."
"D-daughter? Oh, no, she's not mine! I don't have any children of my own!" Maka laughs, embarrassed. Tsugumi finishes her slice and eyes Maka's own slice greedily. "I'm taking care of her since her parents are out having dinner! But I'll keep a sharp eye out for witches who might take this little brat away from me," Maka raises her slice out of her reach, arching a brow down at the little girl. "You've had enough sugar for the night, Tsugumi! Anymore and you won't be able to sleep!"
"No," Maka glares softly and her attention returns to the man at the door.
"Ah, my mistake. Well, then, I bid you goodnight, ma'am..." He looks at Tsugumi and says, dryly: "Child."
"Bye, Kid!" Tsugumi chirps. "My name is Tsugumi! And this is Maka!" She points at her babysitter happily. "Happy Halloween!"
"Death the Kid," Maka corrects.
"Too long!" The little girl wrinkles her nose. "Kid's better! Right, Kid?"
Maka looks up at Kid to find him smiling down at the little girl, more amused than offended by her antics. He doesn't seem to mind the nickname so Maka doesn't comment any further. He's a rather lenient Reaper, Maka thinks, perhaps he has been in the human realm for far too long if he can respond to a child's innocent blabber without trying to cull her soul.
"You should drop by the town square for Thanksgiving, Kid," Maka invites politely. Kid's eyes widen marginally. "You and the warlock!" At this, Kid's eyes widen even more. "I think it'd be fun to have you two around! You guys can meet everyone else! Socialize!"
"Yeah! Yeah!" Tsugumi nods fervently. "There's a lot of food there! Like mashed potatoes and turkey and gravy and ham! You should come, Kid, and the other guy! The one who eats peoples souls – but he can't eat the peoples souls there, okay? Because that's not nice. People are friends not food!" She lectures sternly to Kid's and, unbeknownst to them both, the master of the houses' utter amusement.
"Tsugumi…" Maka sighs, casting Kid an apologetic look. "She runs her mouth a lot. Sorry about that, that's not something you tell a reaper."
"…You are very knowledgeable for a human," Kid observes, not denying anything. "Are you not afraid of him?"
"He hasn't done anything for me to be fearful of. And you're a dealer of death – it's your birth-given job," Maka answers, without any fear or disgust. "If he wanted to destroy this entire town, he would've done it a long time ago. On the contrary, his presence keeps out other nasty things. I'm actually thankful he's around. You and him both."
"Are you now?" Kid murmurs, intrigued. "It is true the masters magic wards away Kishin's and other weak witches. Once more, you're well-read in this. I'm surprised you realized I was a reaper so easily."
"I have to know what's living next door to me, right?" Maka smirks.
Kid hums in intrigue. "I shall discuss your invitation with the master."
"Well, I hope you two can make it!" Maka beams before taking Tsugumi's hand and leading her down the porch steps. "Bye, Kid!" Maka doesn't even hear the door swing shut but she knows he's not there anymore because the air has grown thick again, like that presence that invades this land had fled at the sight of the pale man but returned at his disappearance.
The gate, seemingly locked from the distance, opens easily at the touch of her hand. Maka takes one last look toward the grand manor that houses what Maka now firmly knows is a warlock and a reaper and pauses when she sees a shadow on the third floor, the soft embers of a hearth glowing behind him and illuminating his strong physique. She catches spiked hair, broad shoulders, and she wishes he'd tilt his chin up a little so she could catch sight of his face.
Tsugumi stumbles over a rock and nearly brings Maka down with her. In the panic to save Tsugumi and her slice of cake, Maka does this awkward stumble; cursing her heels to hell and back. But she saves herself, her cake, and Tsugumi from the otherwise nasty fall. When she glances back up to the third floor, the window is dark and the house is silent again.
"Maka?" Tsugumi blinks up at her, curiously. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," Maka smiles down at her. "I just thought I saw someone at the window!"
Tsugumi looks at the windows and shudders. "Scaaaary!"
So they walk back home, hand in hand.
Maka is wary of broomsticks and pointed hats the entire way.
A/N: This is going to be updated on every major holiday. That's my goal, anyway. But who knows, I might just update when I have the chapter ready. I guess it depends on how popular this story is but mostly on my schedule since college never lets me sleep and it doesn't help that I'm so lazy nowadays.