The next few days seemed to fly by. Everyone had a wonderful time at the lakehouse. There were so many memories, laughs, and kisses left like one of those beach party music videos. Except for the prank played by the Dynamic Duo, with their weapon doing nothing to stop them, of course. On a long trip such as this, it was bound to happen eventually, and of course, it targeted Black*Star. Iyame called him the loud one and had an odd sense of humor. Where most sane and intelligent people would scold the twins, Iyame would giggle or laugh out loud until her sides hurt. Most supposed it was because she knew the twins exceptionally well, better than anyone including their chosen mates. It was a perk to her ultra-observantness and the fact that she had practically adopted them as her brothers. This made her different than Maka. Where Maka was a bit uptight and a prude, Iyame definitely was not. She was sophisticated when the situation called, but in all other aspects, Iyame was carefree and a bit of an unladylike goofball. It all balanced though when she met Masamune. He looked after her, and she looked after the boys (even though she was glad she had found the best girls to take some of that load off of her shoulders a.k.a. Liz and Patty).
Further into relationship stats, Maka and Soul made sure to keep their feelings in check, being sweet, gentle, and the only physical contact given or received from the other was brief, leaving a tingling sensation in their bodies of want and shyness. In all, it was much like a teenager's first high school romance. Needless to say, it was freaking adorable. The innocence poured through them, enraging the madness and making all the waiting build up to make their consummation in the end all the sweeter. This Maka was sure of.
This doesn't mean that it was easy. No, not in the slightest was it by any means easy. The thought of Soul was enough to drive Maka crazy now that she'd had a taste of what her heart desired. The thing that been driving her off the walls was what he had said to her after their talk that night. "Can you resist me?" It played over and over in her head. What did he even mean by that? Was it a challenge? Does he think that I can't handle it? Maka's thoughts made her furious. She allowed herself an evil grin. Oh no, he isn't going to get to her. No little things he does can make her break. Two could play at that game anyways. Maka chided herself. Thinking that way had gotten them into this mess in the first place. Oh, boy. What to do? Maka exhaled deeply as she stood on the deck, looking out at the water where the boys were being silly, jumping off the dock to make the biggest splash. Her eyes landed on Soul, who was running to leave off the dock. Right before it seemed he would simply run off, he leaped into the air, turning and twisting in some odd form off a flip to go under in a cannonball facing the dock he just leaped from. Maka shook her head. They were all silly. Back to her thoughts, she decided that she could taunt him with his recklessness if not use it against him. No, she would do nothing. She'd let him know that she knew what he was doing, but she would not give in to him. She was Maka Albarn for Death's sake! If anyone could take a little temptation, she could. She defeated the temptation of the madness once, and she could do it again. No, she wouldn't let Soul get to her that easily, and she would revel in his frustration when he could get no response out of her.
As she left the deck, Maka cocked her head to one side in her mind. That word seemed to appear often: easy.
Later, the posse was in front of the house and in the opened garage, packing their things into their respective cars. Everyone was returning in the same car they had come in. Most of them were relieved to go back even though their stay had been rather glorious. It had been away from home and of course, it was one of those things that was only temporary. Given that they live with it, said escape wouldn't be as special.
However, at least one wasn't exactly excited for their return, "WHY MUST A GOD LIKE ME BE TORTURED INTO HAVING TO RETURN TO SOMETHING AS USELESS AS SCHOOL?"
"Ugh, don't remind me, Black*Star. I really don't want to think about that book report I haven't finished yet," commented Ryoku.
Liz gave him a Look, "Ryoku, you told me you had all your work done before we came here. You can't afford another late report if you want to graduate with us."
Ryoku responded by giving her a meek look and shrugged his shoulders innocently. Liz continued grilling a pitiful and deflated Ryoku while Miku was snickering and Tsubaki began her attempt to calmly coax Black*Star into the car. Maka shared a knowing glance with Soul and rolled her eyes. Soul then walked back to his car, closing the trunk, and turned to the rest of the group whilst leaning on the back end of his baby, "I don't know about you guys, but it's so not cool to be spending the last day of Spring Break arguing with a bunch of losers while we could be on the road to the best restaurant in the entire world."
After a few spouts of 'whatever' and claims of betrayal of Soul to his godliness because of the accusation of him being a loser from Black*Star, they were on the road again. The restaurant in question was named Carson's. It was a nice southern-style restaurant much like Cracker Barrel, but a little less open and included a bar. It had darker lighting, with soft lights for each specific table rather than large fluorescents lining the ceiling, giving the atmosphere of privacy and a home-like quality at the same time. Maka had been the first to venture there with Soul whilst out on a mission once. They had sat in one of the many booths lining three sides of the wall in the main room. A large, stone, four-sided fire place sat in the center of the room with tables surrounding it and an electric train chugged on its suspended tracks above the guests' heads. There was a long, covered porch outside the front doors with places for eating outside, and inside, there was a separate dining area designated for smokers as well as a private room which could be for either smokers or non-smokers, depending on who had it reserved.
Maka smiled at the memory of their time at that restaurant that night as she sat in the passenger's seat of Soul's car. The waiters and waitresses were all friendly, and everyone seemed to know Mr. Evans well. Maka had concluded that this must have been the place he had run off to whenever he had left the apartment for the evening by simply saying he was "going out", leaving without further explanation. When stated that everyone knew Mr. Evans well, they most certainly did. He had a "usual" in terms of meals, and it seemed the mysterious Mr. Evans had always come alone, unaccompanied by anyone when the cute little raven-haired waitress appeared shocked at the fact he had brought a girl along with him. The waitress had introduced herself as Mindy, a friend of Soul's. She was his elder by about three years and had an aura about her that was no nonsense, much like Maka, and her eyes told of many known things, as if there were no secrets for her. To Maka, she seemed like someone one could ask any questions, someone trustworthy and full of advice. When Soul introduced Maka, Mindy seemed to have recovered from her initial shock and smiled at Maka, asking what she could get for Soul and his girlfriend.
Maka blushed at the thought. Even then, people had mistaken them for a couple. Maka hastily stammered out that she was not, in fact, his girlfriend, and Mindy, who looked slightly perplexed and amused quickly apologized before taking their orders. Thinking back on it now, Maka realized that Mindy probably knew something. She quirked her brow as she looked to the driver. He was completely focused on the road ahead. Maka began to study him, to really look at him in a way she never had before. It was kind of cute, actually. The way Soul ran his fingers through his hair when stressed (which was a lot around Maka), mussing it up in that attractive way, the way he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the ill-tuned melody*(1) ever-playing through his head, the way he drifted into his own little world whenever he was contemplating something or playing the piano. It was all about him. Soul was a mystery; a beautiful, kind of fucked-up mystery to Maka. And he was all hers. She smiled, yes, the air of fun and mystery and recklessness and sincerity within sarcasm and even a bit of stupidity what all over and all about Soul, and Soul possessed Maka. He was onto and all over her. He was her gravity.
Maka smiled at her conclusion, a small giggle escaping from her lips. The delightful sound seemed to break whatever web of a spell Soul was ensnared in and bring him down to Earth where he was cocking his head to one side, eyebrow raised, and looking questioningly at the girl sitting next to him.
"What is it? Something on my face?" Soul asked facetiously as he proceeded to pretend wiping an unknown substance off his face.
Maka giggled and cut herself short, adding in an amused and just as sarcastic reply, "Yeah. Yeah, there is, actually."
Soul's eyes widened as he seemed to believe her, "What? What is it?" as he reached for the visor mirror. Finding nothing he glared at Maka while she rolled her eyes and smiled, "Guess I gotcha."
Soul responded with a challenging look, biting his lip in contemplation, "Oh, yeah? Okay, start. I'll show you who's got who when we get back home."
The words Soul had spoken combined with his expression sent a warm tingle spiraling through Maka's body down through her belly. She quickly shook her head and said nothing in reply as she tried desperately to clear the dirty thoughts now clouding her mind.
After a few seconds of silence, Soul smirked and inquired, "So are you going to tell me what you were really thinking about now?"
Maka smiled back at him and responded playfully, "Nope. I don't think so. Maybe later."
Soul grinned at how cute she was and reached over, taking her hand in his and turned back to the road to continue driving with one hand. He glanced over to reply and offered her hand a squeeze, "Okay then. I'll take a rain check on that then." He winked at her, and Maka grinned. They continued the rest of their car ride to the restaurant in a comfortable silence with either of them content to be in the presence of one another.
Needless to say, pulling up to the restaurant in their image-wise loud cars was… Well, loud. People stared and jaws dropped as the six couples stepped out of the gorgeous vehicles and paraded into Carson's. The waitress at the front had auburn hair and had a snooty appeal with her too much make-up. She immediately recognized Soul, smiling sickly sweet. Maka felt an abhorrent, sick feeling in her gut. The girl's name was Courtney. Soul had had a fling with her some time ago. She played him for his looks and his talent. All she wanted was the popularity. Nothing physical had transpired between them, but Soul wanted desperately to believe that she was the right thing for him, and she had him so torn up that Soul would get drunk off his ass and come home so messed up and crying that Maka lost a lot of sleep trying to calm him. Maka's blood started to boil, but she held her tongue, stiffening. Soul reached over to grasp Maka's hand. When she glanced up at him he smiled sympathetically and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. It was his way of saying that it's over and she was all he wanted now. Maka smiled and looked at Courtney who was glaring at Maka like she was the most disgusting thing on the planet.
Iyame caught the fireworks and walked up to Courtney using her best smoker voice, "Hiya, doll face. We gotta rese'vation for a Mr. and Mrs. Soul Evans. Ya see, this young lad and his lovely lady are bein' treated by us tonight. It's pre-empt for their engagement."
Miku and Ryoku were stifling their snickers and scoffs while Masamune simply smiled and shook his head as Iyame laid it on thick. Courtney's face went white and she appeared ready to explode. Her face screwed up like a pug's and she fixed her venomous gaze on Maka who began to shrink back. Courtney seemed about to say something when a familiar, raven-haired witch walked over.
"Hey, Cour-toad. Your crack head of a boyfriend called. He's waiting for you on the line," the girl said. She was about 21 and had a kind of no nonsense aura to her. Her apron had five stars on it, whereas said toad's only had two. Their savior was obviously the superior. She turned to them, "Hi guys, my name is Mindy, and I'll be your server this evening. Now, if you'll excuse the toad and follow me, I will lead you to the room reserved for you."
Mindy winked at Maka, giving Soul a small, knowing smile. She started forward before turning to Courtney who had frozen in her spot, "Hey! Beetle brain. Get to the back before I write you up. I never liked you to begin with, and antagonizing customers is not a very good way to level up in the world when you're going to spend the rest of your life being a waitress. This way, group."
On the way to the private room reserved for them, Maka turned back to see the rather frazzled waitress twitch towards the back. Maka grinned and Liz came up behind her and whispered in her ear. "I like her."
Mindy seemed to know what Liz had said without possibly being able to hear it and turned and grinned, her pixie hair bouncing. Maka decided that she looked and acted something like Alice from Twilight. The thought made her smile.
Once seated, Mindy ordered their drinks, placing the peanuts on the center of the table, and commenting that she assumed that it would be a no smoking zone. Everyone agreed with a small laugh. As Mindy left to get their drinks, Maka looked around observing everyone whilst they ordered, already knowing what she wanted. It may have been a southern style restaurant, but they seemed to have everything, and Maka was a sucker for anything Italian, including the self-proclaimed one; Soul.
The man in question was sitting directly across from her; they were at the end of the table. The table was long and rectangular, the perfect size for their group. Crona had sat next to Maka, with Kidd next to her. Next to him were Liz and then Ryoku then Iyame who was directly across from Masamune. The two at the other end of the table were in their own little world. Patty was next to Masamune and Miku was next to her. Tsubaki was next to Miku in a futile attempt to separate the troublesome two from Black*Star who was on her other side and next to Soul. The twins seemed to take turns throwing peanut shells in the blunette's hair to see just how angry they could make him. Maka sighed. Boys would be boys.
Mindy came back later, taking the orders for their entrées, placing their drinks in front of them and yummy rolls in the middle of the table, and then she proceeded to collect the menus from the guests. As she was taking the last menu from Soul, she smiled at him, "Finally decided to ask her to be your girl, huh? It's about time. I was beginning to think that you'd never get up the balls enough to ask her, though…" she flicked the collar of his red button-up shirt, briefly revealing the last remains of a hickey on his collar bone, "…it seems you guys have been just fine." She giggled as she saw Maka's and Soul's faces turn the color of Soul's shirt, "I'm just teasing," she assured, "I just tend to have a good eye for things like that. Call me nosy or just observant. I'll be back with your food soon."
Maka and Soul shared an embarrassed glance and proceeded to remain awkwardly silent for a few moments before Crona graciously engaged Maka in conversation while Soul battled with Black*Star over the last roll. Some things never change. Crona and Maka had been discussing her situation and Maka coolly informed her that Soul and she had decided to wait for a while. Crona had at first seemed uneasy before relenting to Maka, saying that if anyone could hold out that long, it was Soul. Maka was confused, wondering why only Soul could and Crona simply smiled shyly and looked at Maka, "He's had to fight it a lot longer than you have, Maka. I do know how strong you are, and I'm sure you could hold out longer than I did, but you're new at this kind of thing. You'd never been kissed before Soul. The urges are only going to get stronger. I'm just saying that you need to be careful, and don't get too comfortable. Madness is unpredictable. I should know."
Maka calmed. Crona had had it the worst. The most horrible part was that it had been done by her own mother whom she had to kill. This was a rough subject for Crona, but she was putting herself out there for Maka's sake. She only cared that much about her friend's safety, and Maka realized just how thankful she was for friends like Crona. She smiled and hugged her, whispering thanks in her ear. When Maka turned back to the table, she was startled at how uncivilized Soul and Black*Star were being at the moment. Of course the twins were laughing, Iyame and Masamune were oblivious, Liz and Patty were scolding the twins for encouraging such behavior, Crona and Kidd had begun staring with pained expressions. It seemed they were thinking the same thing Maka was, and Tsubaki was trying desperately to stop Black*Star from acting like a child. Soul had the roll up in the air in one hand and set to holding Black*Star back with his other arm. Shaking her head, Maka slowly reached across, grabbing the roll from Soul's hand and took a large bite out of it while glaring impassively at the two boys across from her with their jaws hanging wide open. They looked about to explode when Mindy came in with a cart to save the day once again.
She quickly set two more baskets of rolls in the center of the table which Soul and Black*Star attacked wholeheartedly, and began about refilling drinks and placing the entrées in front of their respective persons. Maka gazed on in awe. No wonder she was the youngest five star waitress in the entire restaurant. She was good. She asked everyone politely if there was anything she could help with. Receiving all replies of "no thanks", she turned to Soul, "So, Shark Bait, are you going to play another piano message for us again today. I can have the piano moved into here if you wish." Soul smiled, shaking his head and whispering something softly in her ear. She smiled back at him, refilling his drink one last time. Then, almost like a shadow or wraith, she was gone.
Piano Message, Maka thought. Maka's mind immediately flew back to the last time they were at Carson's. Some of the waitresses had shyly come up to Soul to ask if he would play for them. After asking for requested songs, he said he would play one that had been on his mind lately. He proceeded to walk to the piano on a small platform in the corner of the room and begin to play. Maka could still see him, and occasionally he would peek up and smile at her. Piano Message. The song Soul had chosen was "A Drop In the Ocean" by Ron Pope. Maka's mind began to whirl. Piano Message. But that would mean – he had tried to tell her then. A gasp escaped unbidden from Maka's lips as she realized. She quickly looked at Soul who was staring back at her, grinning coyly.
"And she's figured it out," he said softly, continuing to hold her gaze while taking a sip of his drink.
Maka blushed and gulped. He really does care about me. Even then.
The rest of the meal went by in a get-together manner. After it was over, the guys insisted on letting them treat Maka and Soul. The pair reluctantly agreed only after Soul insisted that he'd give the tip. Everyone acquiesced after a slight dispute. The last to leave the table, Maka watched as Soul pulled out his wallet, placing a $100 dollar bill on the table for Mindy. Maka's eyes widened and Soul grinned, "I can afford it. Trust me."
Maka shook her head. It seemed there was just a bit of information she really didn't know about her knight in shining armor. Luckily for her, they had an eternity to figure it out. If only she knew.
After an hour more of a tiresome car ride, Maka and Soul found themselves back at their house. Home. Maka had fallen asleep grasping Soul's hand, and he carried her inside, laying her gently on the couch. She woke to an empty room, and for a moment she didn't know where she was. "Soul!" she called out.
She was answered by his silhouette in the doorway, holding the last of their bags. He had only just set them down behind the sofa before he found her in his arms. "What is it?" he asked her, his voice hinting concern.
Maka replied only by nuzzling her face against his chest, softly whispering, "I love you."
Soul smiled, holding her chin to look in her eyes, and whispered back, "I love you, too."
He kissed her forehead and continued holding her while she stood with her head against his chest. He was content to stay like that forever as long as she'd let him. He had just begun to drift off when he felt her tighten her arms around him and begin to shake, "Maka. Maka, what is it?" he implored, holding her at arm's length to get a better look at her face.
Tears trailed down her cheeks and she sniffed, "I just – these past two weeks have been amazing, and I'm afraid that after tonight it won't be the same. Tomorrow we have to return to reality again and who is to say that we won't drift apart with our relationship and lead different lives now? Who is to say that you won't leave when you find someone who won't be distracted by books and school all the time and be able to give you everything you want so you could have moments like back at the lakehouse all the time?"
Soul couldn't help the small chuckle that escaped his throat. He pulled Maka to him who seemed so small in his strong arms while she looked up at him appearing so vulnerable, "Maka, you are my life now. You always have been. There's no way I could leave. I adore your bookworm habits and that's part of the you I fell in love with. So what if we don't get special moments like at the lakehouse 24/7? No one ever said that relationships were easy, but that's what makes it special. Because I know, every time I look at you, that you are my reality, the only thing that keeps me sane. There will never be anyone else."
Maka stared as she let what he said sink in. She saw the truth and vulnerability in his eyes and she'd heard the sincerity in his words. Easy, she thought. There was that word again. Somehow she felt that it just might bare significance in the future, but she was too distracted at the moment to dwell on it. Maka bit her lip as she contemplated the words to say, but for once, none found her, and she did the only thing she could. She kissed him, sweetly, slowly. Passionately. And of all the things she knew wouldn't be, this was definitely easy.
Surprise! I updated early. I just thought you guys might like that. It took me four days because I've been working on it bit by bit in between breaks from homework. I hope you liked it. I'm proud of it. it's a bit of an extra long chappie because I thought it might be time to round up the Lakehouse parts because the story shall come to an end soon. and it might be a while before I can get to my computer again, so yeah. I hope you liked.
And the *(1) was referencing the term 'ill-tuned melody' that I used to describe Soul's musical thoughts. It isn't original. I stole it from an author I adore (JustAnotherNumber) in her story "Sigh". I just loved it so much. (I hope you don't mind...)
Laters, guys. :)