love, it only gets in my way
i. when he loses his cool and gets a little too drunk for his liking
The first time that damned word escaped his lips in a fragment of words that involved her to her, he was drunk. Swimming in a courage that had been ignited by whiskey, (thanks to Black Star, who had been plopped beside his best friend on the Asian inspired barstools with multiple downs of beer and much, much, much more) the silver-headed weapon dials the only seven digits he's ever memorized and hears each little ring that he thinks lasts an hour each.
After the second ring, he abruptly hangs up the phone.
He swears he could have just heard that little devil mock something like pussy in his mind. Or maybe it had just been his actual conscience. Because he was pussy-ing out because he was a pussy and he knows he's being so uncool right now, but fuck—
Black Star places a comforting hand on Soul's shoulder after cackling, booze intoxicating the both of them. The blue-haired drunk pivots his body around to wave his free arm for the bartender, obnoxiously demanding, "'Ey get us sum'or liquor, yeah?"
Soul sloppily picks up the transparent glass and plunges the burning liquid down his throat.
"Give it a try, m'friend! Ya gotta do it sometime!"
"How about when'm ready?" Soul deadpans with a glare, and now it's Black Star's turn to tease him with pussy. He heaves a sigh before he finds himself fidgeting as he redials his technician's number.
It rings a good five times before he hears her voicemail being activated with that usual perky, feminine, cheery sound she gave off: "Hi, you've reached Maka Albarn. Sorry I couldn't answer the phone right now, but I'll be sure to give you a call back!"
How is he supposed to do this? Should he go straight to the point? Should he call again until she picks up? Why couldn't he keep his cool when it came to her? God dammit the things he went through because of this girl, and she didn't have a single clue.
And so everything slurs out in a heap, something Black Star couldn't even comprehend as each little word Soul blurts out dances around him and he's just a daze of blue and alcohol.
"Hey, Maka, it's Soul, ya'know, your weapon, and I'm callin' from the bar actually and I know it's two a.m. and you're probably asleep because you're a little prep who sleeps at ten, like who even does that, and I don't really know when you'll listen to this but I'm drunk as fuck and I just wanted to say I kind of might love you."
When he finally pulls up in front of their apartment and shuffles up the stairs and into their home, he spots her phone. It's on the kitchen table, untouched since the dishes had been washed, and he carefully ponders to see if his voice message had been checked. When it hadn't, he swiftly deletes it from her cell phone and heads into his bedroom with relief filling his gut, alcohol still drowsing his brain.
He was beyond uncool.
ii. when he realizes he'll never get tired of lip locking with her
Sometimes she kisses him.
He was surprised when it hadn't been him who initiated their first kiss on that January night sometime in the cold winter. It was definitely a shocker, and he hadn't known how to respond either. Their power had gone out because of the damned storm, and they'd only been sitting on the couch watching some random television show beside each other. The apartment's atmosphere slowly shifted because of the power, meaning the heater had definitely broken out as well.
She had been innocently wearing an old orange shirt of his, which had been evidently been too big for her, ending mid thigh. Below, he actually hadn't known what she was wearing. To be frank, there was a possibility she had not been wearing anything. He thought about it for awhile, the idea first crossing his mind when she gets up silently from the couch once it's dimmed in the living room they're in to find some candles in the cabinets. Once she had bent down in order to open the wooden drawer, Soul found himself tilting his head to the side for a peak. Before he had gotten an answer, he remembered his cool, and sat back up trying to regain his composure.
"You need help?" he called out to her lazily, still on the leather couch.
She walked back over to him using those god-sent legs of hers peeping out of his shirt and—shit he realized he might not be able to contain himself. "Your lighter."
His fingers glided down the side of his jeans to pull it out and ignite the flame in front of her, the fluorescence of the flicker dancing in between them. He lit the candle and behind it he saw Maka in such a soft and warm glow despite the season and the dark exposure the room held, and that's when he knew. She was beautiful.
The blonde gave him a strange look, arching a brow further up at his weird stare. "What?"
"Nothing." He had almost stammered. "Aren't you going to bed?"
"I'm not sleepy," she replied simply as she took a seat beside him, leaving absolutely no space between the two.
After a couple minutes of silence, he abruptly cut the quiet. "You're acting weird. What's up your ass?"
Then she got quiet again and she even fidgeted in her seat, her eyes downcast.
"Come on, Maka," he nudged her encouragingly as he tousled with the end of her loose braid. He had to—it was right there, on her shoulder. "What's been bothering you?"
She turned to him, her lips in a pout that hadn't been intended and soft, delicate green eyes that shimmered in the candle's light. "I'm seventeen, Soul."
Where was she going with this?
"And you know how I was at Kim's sleepover last week?"
"Mhm," he nodded his eyes averted from her.
"Well… they were talking about the times they've been kissed, and where, like in the rain and in the closet and on the bed," she innocently said, and Soul hoped she hadn't noticed the red creeping up on his face. The light was dim, after all. "And I'm seventeen! I've never been kissed."
If only he had known she'd wanted it earlier, he would have given her tons, he thought. And then she interrupted his thoughts and the words that escaped past her puckered lips made his eyes widen to an extent.
"I want you to be my first kiss."
And before he could exclaim, she interrupted again, prodding with her hands accompanied by an adorable stutter. However, the next few words made his stomach drop.
"Not like that, Soul. It could be feeling-less, like that friends with benefits kind of thing!" she added stupidly, oblivious to his change of expression. "'Cause I mean, it's not like we like each other like that."
When he noticed he had gone wordless, his eyes peered over to her immediately. She was patient.
There it was, the impatience. She was so pushy. He blamed it on her hormones. But he didn't have the heart to say no. "Alright, whatever you want, Maka."
She squeaked girlishly and clasped her palms together before she quickly pecked him on the lips. She had left after, trailing to her room happily. Maka hadn't noticed how his fingers automatically met his lips where hers had been in a total reflex.
And now—well, now, she's kissing him. Again, and again, and again, and again.
Except this time, he's kissing her back. It's rough, their kisses, his hands are gripping her thighs and holding her up against his bedroom wall because it had been her who crept into his room in the middle of the night in the first place, hungry for him. Sometimes he could really love what her hormones did to her.
Her fingers tug at his shirt, pulling it up with a lustful smile on her lips as he makes his way down the curve of her jaw. He can taste the strawberry scent that clung to her milky porcelain skin. Her shirt's off next, dropped to the floor and long forgotten as he nips at her very red bra (when had she even gotten that?) yanking it off with his teeth as he carries her onto his bed.
When his lips are back on her own, his hips straddling hers, he whispers in between teeth and tongue, "Fuck, I love you."
She doesn't hear him though, and he knows she didn't, only taking it for an exhalation of ecstasy as they shrug off their bottoms with an identical smirk on their faces.
iii. when everything he's learnt from the movies she forced him to watch with her is put to use
Out of all the times he's ever gone on dates, he's never done anything like this before.
(as simple as it was)
So he's nervous, nervous out of his mind because this is different and (despite the fact they had been physically blowing stress away together almost constantly) this is a fresh, new thing—something he isn't used to, nor is she. He's taking a huge risk, but—that was cool, right? Men took risks. Or so he told himself.
But it's too late to change what he's about to do because he's standing outside their door and had briskly knocked twice as if he didn't live there already, with a bundle of white and yellow because as weird as she is, of course she would prefer daisies over roses, and a box of peppermint chocolate because he remembered she could not stop inhaling piece by piece during Christmas. They had a bag of fifty mini chocolates and he had only gotten the chance to eat two. Damn, she was a fatass.
When she opens the door and notices her weapon standing there in his usual attire of a white button up and leather jacket and boyish smile, his hands holding a bouquet of flowers and a box of sweets, there's something in her stomach that does wonderful things to her body. Maybe these were butterflies, she thinks. Her emerald eyes shift from the things in his hand to his sharp, yet lazy eyes, before she cracks a smile and giggles a little.
"What's so funny?" he asks smugly with a glare.
"What're you doing, Soul?" she tries her hardest not to smile, biting at her bottom lip as they stare.
She had to admit, she was shocked at his response. He loosened the collar of his shirt with a finger before meeting her curious gaze once more. "Asking you out to dinner properly, the cool way."
It's right then and there when Maka's able to understand how much he's grown as a person. She can't help the rapid pace in her chest. She forgets that moments ago she had felt completely lazy and drab in their apartment, because he's looking at her with his fiery crystalline orbs and she's known she's always loved that about his eyes. She nods at him before throwing her arms around his neck. There's never a time where Maka doesn't take him aback. He smirks at her sudden gesture, following her action by wrapping his arms around her waist.
That night she'll be dressed in a pretty little number made of a royal blue shade of velvet, long-sleeved and backless, highlighting the bone structure and arch of her back, as well as emphasizing the curve of her bum. It stops mid thigh, and Soul feels as if he can't move his eyes away from her legs. But then they finally pivot upward, from the gold heels she'd been borrowing from Liz or Patty (what did it matter?), to her extenuating lashes and waves of ash blonde.
And he's in a signature tuxedo, pinstripe and black, making his physique even leaner and more built and Maka tries hard not to fantasize.
They'll enter a fancy, French restaurant that's obviously out of his budget, and take a table for two near the harpist and seated between a candle. He'll tug at his tie countless times and cough as if he needs to announce something, and when he feels he's finally ready, she'll excuse herself to the restroom.
"Maka, I just, I—," he'll begin, voice finally clear.
"I'll be right back!" and her heels are already clicking off in the distance because she really needs to go.
"I'm kind of in love with you," he finishes glumly by himself.
When she comes back, she'll have long forgotten, ready to dig into the expensive food while she places the napkin on her lap without a breath to spare, shooting a soft smile at her partner before doing so. He won't stop her, because this is their first actual date and he wants her to enjoy it. The risk of her choking on her food in surprise and the thought of a possible rejection afterward did not sit well with him.
iv. when they resemble cutlery on a single bed
The two are in her room, sharing a bed without any intimate acts because she's sick and they really shouldn't be sharing a bed in the first place. But Blair's taken over Soul's mattress and he refuses to sleep on the sofa in the living room because it's uncomfortable and he'd rather risk getting a cold then have a sore back. She calls him an idiot for that kind of logic, but doesn't stop him from climbing into her sheets. She demands for him to stay the farthest away from her as he can, but as always, he refuses to listen.
He buries his face into her silky locks of hair and breathes in her vanilla shampoo. Everything about her smells sensationally good, he decides.
Her breathing is light, and he counts the seconds after every breath before he knows she's fast asleep.
He murmurs it, quietly and into her hair, hanging in the atmosphere between them. "I think I love you."
Her body shifts then, into his arms, as her head rests on his chest under the blanket. He isn't worried though. For all she knows, he could have been sleep-talking. He sighs before his eyes shut, inhaling the sweetness that was her scent.
v. when she's making spaghetti in the kitchen during a get-together
"Can you pass me the tomato paste?"
He's still readjusting his tie because he had just gotten back with groceries just a couple minutes ago from traffic, already being greeted by the smiling faces of his friends lounging around in his apartment. He's late.
Soul curses under his breath as he struggles looping the damned silk, oblivious to his meister's words. She impatiently looks over at him, again asking with a force he should be used to, "Can you pass me the…"
Her forest green eyes flicker to him, and the sight makes her smile a little. Maka walks over to him, the uncooked spaghetti off her mind as she grabs his tie and fixes it for him, allowing him to watch her with a lazy smile and relief in his eyes.
And then he blurts it, awkwardly and open and full on clumsy.
"I love you."
And he knows she heard it. It's in the way her fingers tingle as she pulls away from his tie and steps back a bit, an unfamiliar glint in her eyes and her brows up. She squints a bit, as if she thought she could have been hearing things. Her breathing quickens a little, he notes. He needs to save himself.
And as tacky as it is—before Maka could even clarify—he hastily tacks on, "—in that dress."
He gulps and it takes her a stare that he feels could have lasted an hour, before she finally nods and he trails out of the kitchen. She's finally able to finish the spaghetti, as well as the garlic bread accompanied by mashed potatoes, and throughout the meal, Soul pretends he doesn't notice every time she glances at him.
vi. when he writes it all out on a letter he'll never send
It doesn't get any more uncool than this, he thinks, as he settles himself on his chair beside his desk (where he was supposed to do homework, but never actually did anything regarding school—relevant to now) with a pen in his hand and a frown painted on his face. And when he grips the pen just right and between his middle and forefinger and pressed against his thumb, his hand slides across the paper in words that came directly from his soul.
He thinks this is easy, like playing the piano. Why had it been so simple to jot every ounce of feeling onto this one paper? He wishes he had the courage to face her. Three simple words, he thinks. They're the last words of this damned letter—the letter that will most likely be his suicide note. He folds the piece of parchment and scribbles her name on the blank front in his usual sloppy, cursive handwriting.
Soul's going to send this to her. He plans on it. It lists everything he loves about her—everything about her that ranges from making his spine tingle or thirst for her or how she makes him utterly crazy without even knowing. His plan is going spectacular so far.
Except he doesn't know where to put it, mentally debating with himself where the best place to leave a (he cringes at the pair of words) love letter is. Maybe the mail, he briefly thinks, or in the kitchen, a magnet holding it on the fridge; possibly under her pillow—but that might leave it all crinkled and left unnoticed; or plastered on the mirror, which he knows is guaranteed she'll see in the morning. Or perhaps he could leave it in her trench coat pocket, as sneaky as it was. There were too many possibilities, and he had no idea how to decide.
And because he's Soul, he becomes frustrated with himself rolling his eyes and gritting his shark-like teeth when he drops the letter in the open trash in their kitchen, conveniently facing upward.
Maybe she'll find it, read it, and wonder if he meant every single word.
vii. when she's bandaged in a hospital
Her hands burn, and she drops the scythe from her hands, just as the time they were unable to work hand in hand as children. She's informed their wavelengths have become incompatible during this battle with Crona, and Black Star suggests he'll fight by himself, considering he can fight without a weapon. This goes well until his stubborn-as-a-prick partner's pride eventually gets caught up to her as she volunteers to go against Crona as well, without using Soul.
He's angered at this because in all honesty, for a total bookworm, how could she be so stupid?
And when he musters out his protectiveness in all honesty, she fires him a condescending glare and says she can handle it. Typical Maka Albarn, he's thinking. Pride over everything.
Soul curses irritatingly under his breath as he watches his technician throw her life out on the line drastically. Maka plunges herself upward in attempt to attack Crona in a pounding kick, but they all know it's not enough, and she's almost instantly being plummeted back into the cement. He hates this, seeing her get beat up like this. He can't handle it and won't tolerate it.
"Maka, get out of there!"
She wipes a trickle of blood that drips from her forehead, ignoring her partner's irrelevant screams.
"Don't be fucking deranged! Get back!"
Maka's hit again, but her reflexes are quick enough to prevent her from being smacked against the stonewall, instead stepping off with the top of her foot and landing back on the cement to shoot Soul another hollow look. "Shut up, Soul!"
That's when it happens, and they're both late on their feet when he screams in more desperation then the first while he sprints toward her to push her out of the way. "Watch out!"
But once her attention pivots back to the battle, three large, loose, black tentacles whip around her neck and her wrists. They pull in opposing directions, twisting and tightening. Not only had she been being choked to death, her skin was being burned and it had slowly been tearing at her arms. The deadly, intoxicating scent of hot flesh and blood thrusts into their lungs and Maka can't breathe. She can't even sputter a name, and Soul's trying—trying so hard to cut these damn ligaments off his technician, but he's slow and it's useless.
When Black Star is finally able to loosen Crona's hold by nailing her core, Soul's finally able to free Maka from the grip. Her eyes are strained, and her face is purple. There are severe cuts around the rim of her neck, and he tears a part of her dirty white trench coat to wrap and prevent any more blood from being spilt. Her wrists are another story, twisted and broken—her hands, bloody. Tsubaki assists him, wrapping every single tear of her skin. There's a lot of screaming, a lot of panting, and a shit load of blood, and Maka isn't sure when her vision finally blurs and blinds away.
She doesn't know Soul will sleep at her side, his hand intertwined in hers for exactly six days; and that he'll demand answers from Stein about her condition, and before he falls asleep he'll actually shed tears and even pray a little bit, even when generally he believed religion wasn't necessary. Stein won't know that on his way out, he'll hear his student talk to her.
"You have to make it, Maka. You have to. I-I'm not ready for you to leave. Not yet. I mean, it's your turn to cook dinner. It was your turn today. And it is tomorrow, too, and the later you wake up the more you'll have to make up for those meals. I just—how could you be so—how could I be so... stupid? God, I'm an idiot in love, so you better wake up. For me. Wake up for me."
From the shadows, he watches and hears and listens. Didn't mean to, just happened. He had never seen Soul this way before, and he doubts no one else had either—except that very girl lying in front of him. Love really did bring out the best in people, Stein lastly thinks.
viii. when he's absolutely positive
This thing had always been a touchy subject for her. Her parents had definitely set up a great anti-trust concoction delved into that huge brain she always had. And this—this thing—what he's been trying to do for several months now; it's hard. It's not only difficult for him, but it is for her, too—and that itself makes it even harder for him because he needs to be careful when he does it. It has to be right, the words, the atmosphere, the staccato pace of their hearts, everything.
But he never knew how to make it perfect—how to make sure it would be something she'd always remember. He struggled and actually put thought into this one stupid thing for the longest time. And he hated admitting it, but he was actually able to lose sleep because of this. He dreamed of her and her different reactions. Nightmares, some were. They held tangible bits of heartbreak and flukes of him in anxiety. Soul Evans was still human. He still had fears, despite how much that tarnished his cool, laid back, somewhat feeling-less disposition.
(well hey, a man's fake reputation was all he had, right?)
Soul Evans had no more than one weakness, and that was Maka Albarn.
He had several fears. One being losing her and another being rejected by her.
But there comes a time when he wakes up in the morning without a sweat of worry or a dream that could taunt him throughout the day. It's one of those sunny days, the comforting light seeping through just the right places of the empty blinds of his window, dulling his eyes and warming the revealing skin that lay out of his blankets. He thinks the sun works wonders because the feeling of relief that fills his gut in this very moment is similar to the ecstatic and joyous exploitation of when that test one hadn't studied anything on is coincidentally postponed, or even cancelled.
And that's when he knows. He feels it in an adrenaline rush, coursing through his veins, igniting his gut. Today is the day.
After a hot shower to wake the rest of his body up and he stretches until he hears cracks, he pulls on a simple button down and black jeans before trails to the kitchen finding his partner in her signature Spartoi outfit making coffee.
"Morning!" she calls out between her teeth, which were uneasily gripping her hair tie as she soothed out the loose ends of her last pigtail. He takes a seat at the table, spreading his legs comfortably on the chair as the aroma of bacon strips and eggs smother him.
"Yo," he greets, grabbing a slice of pork and allowing the meat to seethe in his mouth. "Shit, that's hot."
"Should've waited!" she scolds him, handing him his coffee mug before she takes a sip from her orange juice and takes a seat.
They eat at their breakfast, having normal small talk between bites about how he failed Stein's last test and how she was chosen as Shibusen's valedictorian.
"Congrats, Einstein," he grins lopsidedly, teeth jagged and at its finest white.
Her scowl barely lasts twenty seconds before her expression softens as she finishes her toast and prods. "Any plans today?"
He smiles to himself. "Not really. And you?"
"Hmm," she thinks, spoon in her mouth, lips pouted in thought. She always was cute. "I don't think so—or actually, I might head over to Tsubaki's, she asked me to get a manicu—"
"I love you." It's quick. The words roll easily on his tongue. There's no sign of distress or hint of frustration as he says it and stares into those innocently shaded leafy orbs of hers. It's as easy as the gulp of coffee he had taken right before his voice murmurs it into the air, husky and lazy, yet filled with truth and the compassion hidden beneath his exterior. He watches as her eyes flicker from the ceiling when she had been in thought, making their way to his piercing ruby gaze.
"What?" It isn't as if she didn't hear it. She just wanted to hear it again, that's all.
He looks at her smugly, but repeats without a dose of shame. "I love you."
She notes it. She notes the date, the time, what she's wearing and what he's wearing and what they were doing right beforehand without him knowing—unless he wanted to intrude her thoughts, but she really hoped he wouldn't do that. She trusts him enough to not invade her privacy. But she notes everything, like how he had not stuttered and how he did not flinch as he said it or how his eyes remained on her the entire time and the how he had not stumbled with words such as 'I think' or 'I might'. It's clear, his voice.
And while her breath is temporarily taken away, as if just been knocked out of her, he's secretly praying she'll respond with four words that will fill his soul and make his heart race even faster than it is. He hadn't known she's been waiting for this moment, imagining it, fantasizing about it; and yet, every time, words had always been caught in her throat and she wouldn't know how to respond. But this moment is different. They both feel it.
"I love you, too."
a/n: used "8 Ways To Say I Love You" by R. McKinley as the initial prompt (look it up! its adorable), and inspired by the song "In The Open" by Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and that's where the title of this fic comes from.
I hope you liked this! i certainly liked the idea when i found what prompted me, but as time went by my inspiration dropped.
please review, though! i would love to hear what you think.