Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater nor the concept idea for Ghost Rider.

chase it down until you fall
by.
Poisoned Scarlett

"I was surprised when I received the summon. It seems I underestimated you, Maka Albarn."

She didn't think this day would come, either, truth be told. As she stood before Lord Asura, clutching four iridescent stones in her hand, feeling the corrupt souls of the dearly departed threaten to rise up her throat, she felt torn between two very different things. It's ultimately her choice, whether she severs the contract or not. She had yet to reach a decision on which to choose, however.

Her skirt fluttered with the sea breeze that swept up from the steep fall of the cliff. The collar of her leather jacket brushed against her cheekbones, a flimsy barrier between the cold and herself. She dug the heel of her boot into the dirt as she held out the stones cut like diamonds, jewels that pulsed ominous colors beneath the full moon. She cast them a troubled look before she looked back to Asura.

"Here are the demon stones, all four of them."

"And the souls?"

"Five hundred like you asked."

"Very good!" He looked at the gems with a smirk, greed in his eyes as his dreams of grandeur became very real. "Very good, Maka, and just in time! Any later and your soul would have been cast to that special place in Hell I reserved just for you," he taunted and she swallowed, knowing how close she had cut it only too well. "Twenty nine years. Quite a short time compared to the other Riders, but you successfully managed to slay four major demons and collect five hundred corrupt human souls—with a day to spare! As we agreed upon twenty nine years ago, you will go back to living your human life as it should have been before your unfortunate...accident."

"Everything will go back to normal?" Maka demanded. "I'll go back to before I was killed? With my friends and family?"

"Everything will be as you remembered it to be," Lord Asura promised, dismissing her concerns with a wave of his hand. "You'll go back to living your mortal life and you'll die just like any other human."

Maka studied him critically, how his pale and angular face was set like stone; blank, save for his intense stare. He seemed sincere enough but she knew better than to let appearances deceive her. She had lived longer than any average human. She was immortal, stuck with the face of a ripe twenty year old woman, but soon she would return to her proper place and continue where she left off. That was the plan—that had always been the plan, since she became a reluctant Ghost Rider twenty nine years ago.

But plans changed. They never went accordingly and, as Maka stood before Lord Asura, this plan had taken a complete three sixty. She shifted her eyes past the demon lord, to the thicket of trees that hid the forest trail that would lead her to her car. She wondered if she would be able to keep the Camaro if she changed the terms of their agreement. She had grown fond of the classic car over the years.

"The stones?" Lord Asura hinted, a shade annoyed. "And souls?" He held his hand out, bony fingers unnaturally still as he waited for her to hand over the load. The bandages that wrapped around his hollowed and caved in body tightened visibly. They unraveled at the ends when she didn't move, slithering over his skin impatiently.

"...Right."

She would have handed the stones and souls to the Hell Lord had she not looked directly at one stone in particular—a dark green one that shimmered with the dim moonlight. He had given it to her as a present, actually, after disappearing for a whole month and a half and worrying her sick. He had dropped it into her hand and told her not to be pissed; he spent weeks hunting the thing down to get her this particular stone. It was his way of making up for all the times he had been a jackass, the times he'd forgotten her birthdays or refused to celebrate holidays with her. It was his way of apologizing for all the times he took her for granted in his own arrogance and pessimism.

"Wait," Maka sighed, dropping her hand back to her side.

"What is it now, Maka? I don't have time to fool around: are you going to give me what is rightfully mine or must I exert force?"

Maka hardened her eyes. "You can keep the demon stones and the souls on one condition!"

"Name it," he demanded.

"Before that," she began, to his utmost irritation, "What are the terms of Soul Evans' contract?"

"Evans?" Asura frowned. "I don't know. He is not bound by me, he's bound by Lord Death."

"But you should know, I know you do. Hell Lords can exchange information, so tell me the terms of his contract!" Maka demanded.

Asura cut her a dark look but obliged when she squeezed the stones in her hand warningly.

He crossed his arms over his chest with an air of cool indifference. "Evans is permanently bound to this life. He broke contract when he tried to deceive Lord Death and, as such, his contract was terminated. He's fated to serve as Lord Death's minion for the rest of his miserable immortality. His servitude is nonnegotiable. There, now your condition…?" He impatiently said, itching to get ahold of those powerful little gems the stupid girl held in her hand.

"I want to stay."

"Pardon?"

"I want to continue serving as your Ghost Rider," Maka stated and stared into his demonic eyes courageously. They sparked with keen interest, his head cocked curiously. "It's been twenty nine years since I've last spoken to you face-to-face and throughout those twenty nine years…I realized something. Although getting the hang of being a Rider had been difficult at first, I…I like it. I like collecting souls, hunting down Kishin's all over the world. This life has so much more to offer me than my old one ever did. So I want to continue being a Rider."

Asura visibly relaxed, his grin sly. "I'm sorry, I think I misheard you…?"

"I want to continue being a Ghost Rider," Maka repeated.

"That's what I thought...but it's too bad you can't!"

"Wh-what?" Maka stammered. He relished the panic in her eyes. "What do you mean I can't? Aren't Hell Lords always searching for Riders? I have never failed you, I collected four demon stones and five hundred souls in half the time any other Rider has!" She argued, fiercely.

"True, but you can't simply expect me to give you this privilege just because you happened to hunt down a few demons for me," Asura drawled nonchalantly. She wanted to strangle him. "There must be a price."

She met his gaze straight on. "What price?"

"How about we lower the years this time—same terms, shorter time?" He suggested innocently.

"What?" Maka shouted, horrified. "No! That's not fair!"

"Those are my terms," he loftily said. "Take it or leave it."

"I'll leave it," Maka sneered.

"Hn, so be it. I'll just be taking what's mine then!" Asura slit his eyes and Maka gasped when one of his bandages shot to life and came straight for her. She barely managed to dodge, eyes wide on the sizable crater it left behind. Maka dodged several more attacks, her boot edging the end of the cliff dangerously. That was when an idea hit her and she held her hand out over the edge, the stones catching moonlight, and screamed: "RECONSIDER OR I DROP THEM!"

Asura stopped dead, livid when he realized what she was plotting. "I'll kill you here if you drop them!"

"But you'll never get them back. Once I drop them into the ocean, they're gone, and you know it!" Maka shouted confidently. "You can kill me but it'll be another thirty years before you can gather these many stones!"

"...Being with that Evans bastard has ruined you," he sneered. "You were such a nice girl before, so willing and kind."

"You mean gullible? Not anymore," Maka lifted her chin defiantly.

His face scrunched in hate. "I should kill you right now and send you to hell myself for disrespecting me like this!" Asura raised a finger to her, the bandages that encased him slithering around his arm like snakes. His eyes glowed like the color of freshly spilled blood, his lips twisted back in a sneer.

"You need them to surpass Lord Death, don't you?"

Asura stayed very still. The slithering bandages stopped. His tone was much more composed than before. "…Now what gave you that idea?"

"It wasn't hard to figure out," Maka stated, matter-of-factly. "Twenty nine years is more than enough time to figure out why you needed me to slay four major demons in the allotted time. With them, combined with the five hundred souls and the ones you already have, you can usurp the current Hell Lord that holds the highest title. You can claim it for your own, which is what you want, right? But it's impossible to collect demon stones on your own: it's forbidden for your kind. That's why you needed a Ghost Rider, me, to do it for you. It's the one way to go around the laws of the underworld and your plans wouldn't be detected by Lord Death, either. But if you don't comply," Maka lifted one finger from her balled fist. Asura stared at the small but powerful stones with growing desperation. "Everything will be ruined."

"Clever," he forced a smile. "I certainly underestimated you, Maka."

"Cut the crap," Maka spat. "Reconsider our agreement."

"This might be hard for you to understand but there are some things that cannot be changed—"

"Don't give me that bull, I know you can change it! You're a Hell Lord, this is your contract! You're just extending it!" Maka shouted, holding the stones further out over the cliff. "Reconsider!"

"Fine!" Asura roared furiously. "Fine. I, Lord Asura, hereby terminate the previous terms of your contract. You will now be bound as my Ghost Rider permanently..." he darkly hissed but Maka didn't lower her hand from over the cliff.

"I get to keep everything as it is?" She demanded.

"You had something to keep at all?"

Maka narrowed her eyes dangerously.

"Yes, everything will stay as it is! Now, the stones! Don't be hasty, if you drop them…"

"I'll give them to you when you make it official. We have to sign another contract, like we did twenty nine years ago," Maka dropped her eyes to the ground at that and buried the resurfacing feelings of fear and uncertainty at the familiar scene between them. There was no regret this time, though. "I'm not the same girl you met twenty nine years ago," she said lowly, raising dark eyes. "I won't be tricked by you again."

"So you won't," Asura sighed impatiently but didn't hesitate any longer, whipping out another contract from thin air. He allowed her to read it over unlike how she had done twenty nine years ago, when he first asked her to sign. This time she took in every word of the document and demanded changes where she saw fit. By the time the contract became binding, her soul chained down to the fiery pits of hell permanently like that Evans boy, he was late for a conference down-below and he was not in a very good mood despite being in possession of the precious demon stones he'd waited ever so patiently for.

"You are lucky I am in great need for these stones," Asura sneered once everything had been established. "You understand that this contract cannot be severed by any force in nature? It's permanent. It's binding. Your soul belongs to me now."

"I understand," Maka answered quietly.

"Good. As my new permanent Ghost Rider, your first assignment will be…" Asura paused and a contemplative look took over his previous boredom. He gave her an inscrutable look before a mad grin stretched his lips. "To earn your powers back!"

"What?" Maka startled. She had not anticipated that. "E-earn them back?"

"That's right," he eagerly said. "You'll have to earn them back! Once you do, everything will return as it had been for the past twenty nine years. How you earn them back," he grinned cruelly, "is solely up to you! But there is only one way to do it!" He snapped his fingers and his bandages whipped out, grabbing her around the waist and yanking her towards him. He pressed his palm against her forehead and she turned her head away from the rancid smell of ash and sulfur that came off his dessicated body. "To experience fear of mortality again will make you appreciate immortality!"

The bandages wrapped around her body tightly and she felt a disturbing sense of claustrophobia when the cloth wrapped around her neck, her mouth, her nose, her eyes. White blinded her, pain bolting through her body like she'd never felt before, and then the bandages unraveled and she was dropped on the ground unceremoniously. Breathing came hard, her blood boiling under her skin, throbbing in her head and ears. Maka coughed and rose watery eyes to Asura, who gazed down at her disdainfully.

"You have one day," he stated. "If you don't earn them back by tomorrow evening, I'll kill you myself. Good luck," he mocked and Asura disappeared just as mysteriously as he'd appeared. The only sign that told her he had been present was the faint trace of sulfur that stained the air. Although that, too, was carried away by the wind soon after. She was left in dead silence again, the roaring tide behind her not doing anything to alleviate the ringing in her ears and shaking of her hands.

"Dammit," Maka coughed and stood up on unsteady feet. When she patted herself down, she was surprised to find herself dressed in comfortably worn gray sweat pants and her t-shirt soft jacket whose sleeves always covered her hands because it had belonged to her father once upon a time. She touched her face, her neck, feeling skin that felt too soft. Damageable. She was back in her old clothes from twenty nine years ago! Which meant she was back to being mortal… like she was twenty nine years ago.

"Shit," Maka cursed, feeling the most vulnerable since that fateful night two decades ago. Maka dug into her pockets for a hair band but found nothing except a few bucks and a really old cell phone that was no longer used in this new era. Maka swore and ran her fingers through her loose blond hair. It had shorter back then: she had let it grow out over the years when he, Soul, commented once that she looked pretty with long hair.

First things first, Maka thought wearily, I have to find Soul. The cliff-side was bare of anyone, the rough tides slamming against the rocks below. There was no use trying to call Asura back, he'd only laugh at her attempts if she did, so she took the forest trail back to her car, the Camaro nearly blending in with the shadows the oaks cast. She'd have to reach Soul and ask him how, exactly, a Ghost Rider could obtain their powers again. Hopefully he'd have an idea or knew someone who did. She pressed her hand to the hood and blinked when nothing happened. She did it again and again and scowled when absolutely nothing happened. That was weird, the car always turned on when she touched it. It obeyed her will. Maka pressed her hand harder on the car and hissed when the metal burned her palm instead.

She stared at the car, baffled. "No way! This can't be happening!" Maka hesitantly touched the car again and groaned when the metal felt hot enough to burn her skin. "Great! How am I supposed to get home now?"

The obvious answer was to walk back except she doubted, being mortal and all, that she could walk all the way back to civilization without breaking a sweat and maybe an ankle. Asura liked secluded places so she'd gone straight for the cliffs, to lonely forest-ground. It would be a long, long walk back down to some semblance of civilization if she decided to take that risk. Then trying to find that idiot Soul? Maka was not eager to go on a hunt for the elusive Rider when she only had until tomorrow...

Better get started now, she could almost hear Asura drawl. Maka sucked it up and reluctantly left her car in the middle of the forest. It was not like anyone would be able to steal it. It'd burn any car jacker to a crisp before they managed to get the slim jim down the window. Once she regained her abilities, she'd just call it back to her.

She walked for a while, occasionally taking out that old cellphone and holding it up high to see if she got reception. She knew Soul's private cellphone number forwards and backwards but the issue wasn't calling him (although she was sure he'd be furious when he figured out what happened) it was trying to get a decent signal with her dinosaur of a phone. She was more than halfway down the mountainside, the moon a bright circle in the bruised blue sky, when she finally got two bars.

"…4566," Maka muttered, punching in the last few numbers. She waited patiently, making sure not to move too much, and perked up when someone answered the phone—a very familiar someone. "Soul? It's me, Maka."

"Maka? Wait, how… you shouldn't remember me!" He sputtered, sounding honestly shocked. Of course, if everything had gone according to plan, she would not remember him. In fact, the memories of her life as a Ghost Rider would have been wiped and her life would go on from the point it stopped twenty nine years ago. "Maka, what happened?"

Maka sighed. "You are not going to like this..."

One thing she had learned from her fifteen or so years of living with Soul Evans was that beating around the bush with him was asking for trouble. There'd been many times where they would withhold information from the other, flat-out lie, or just didn't tell the other what was eating at them, and the repercussions were almost always enough to cause an earth-shaking argument that had them ignoring each other for a good while before Soul or her apologized. In the past, it had been her to apologize first but, as the years went by, Soul became the one who apologized before her—generally four or five hours after their arguments, a record for someone as frosty as Soul Evans.

As of nine years ago, he realized buying her sweets was also a good way to get into her good graces. After all, sweets were cheaper than buying a new book every time he pissed her off.

"So you're stuck in the forest because you're human right now?"

"Exactly. I have to figure out a way to get my abilities back," she sighed, rubbing her arms. It was freezing when she stopped walking. At least when she walked, she could keep the cold at bay. "I don't know where I am anymore. I can't use my car, it doesn't react to me, probably because I'm no longer a Rider…Asura said I had until tomorrow evening figure it out or he'd take me out himself."

"I'll be there," he told her and Maka could hear him walking already. It was rowdy in the bar she knew he was in. Probably having a few drinks, alone, reminiscing and depressing himself again. But she pushed those thoughts away and concentrated on how much better she felt now, knowing that he'd come for her like he promised he always would. "Where are you again?"

"I'm at—!" Maka cut herself off when she heard twigs break. She darted her eyes to the side then slowly looked behind her, where the forest was a black blotch. She held the phone closer to her cheek. She didn't need to be a Rider to know that something ugly had just found her. "I'm in Death Forest..."

"Death forest? Maka, you IDIOT! Don't you know that Death forest is infested with Kishin's? Of all the places to summon Asura—why didn't you listen to me and go to the desert? Dammit, Maka, for a genius you're pretty damn stupid!"

"Shut up! I didn't know! I thought you were kidding around about that! I've never heard of Kishin's infesting Death Forest, I thought that was a rumor! Like when you told me Death City was packed with major demons!" Maka tensed when she heard a heavy exhale. Using the dim shade of moonlight, she could make out the grisly shape of a Kishin. It stepped forward and her eyes fixed on the tusks that protruded from its mouth. One hit from those things and, in her weak human body, she was finished. "…One found me."

"Where is it? Can you sense it?"

"I can see it," Maka flinched when it gave another heavy exhale, its beady black eyes staring at her hungrily. "You know, they're much bigger than I remember them to be..."

"RUN, YOU MORON!" And she bolted through the thick vegetation faster than she thought possible for a mortal. But she had always been nimble on her feet. She shoved through the foliage, cursing when whole trees fell prey to the kishin's strength behind her. Maka dodged behind a tree and avoided being torn in half by razor-sharp claws. It pulled its arm back and she squeaked when branches came crashing down around her, her hand losing its grip on the phone.

"Ah, no—damn!" Maka tried reaching for her phone but jumped back when the Kishin tried to slice her hand off. Instead, the damn thing crushed her cell phone into powder. She glared furiously at it before crawling under an angled log, grunting when the Kishin roared and tried to get at her by digging into said log with its sharp claws. She sought for shelter—anywhere she could hide before the Kishin smartened up—but found nothing as she crawled away. It was only more dense vegetation, more darkness, more dewy undergrowth, more places where it could impale her. She was gong to have to outrun it, somehow.

And without putting much more thought into it, Maka shot forward, running down the steep slope of the mountainside and ignoring the pain in her calf's from sharp branches and prickly bushes. She picked up too much speed and felt as if she would fall multiple times but she still didn't stop. She leaped over obstructions, avoided risen tree roots, and nearly fell when the heel of her foot sunk into a rabbit hole in the ground. She didn't dare look over her shoulder but she knew it was close behind. She could hear the destruction in its wake with every step.

She never hated jackets as much as she did that night.

The kishin grabbed onto her flying hood just as she reached even ground and pulled her back, effectively choking her. Her feet slipped from under her and she slammed hard into the ground. Sharp edges of rock and gravel slit through her sweats and she felt pain—she felt pain even as the monster lifted her off the floor with a snarl of triumph.

She had never had to think about dying because of her wounds until now. Broken bones would heal within hours, cuts would seal shut in seconds. She had nothing to worry about before, when her wounds would heal quickly and not hurt as badly, but now it was different. Now she could be wounded and it wouldn't go away, now she could feel more pain and that made her feel a terror like no other.

She hadn't had to fear death in a long, long time. She was ashamed to admit she had forgotten death was even possible for the likes of her. She saw it happen, of course, she was the cause of it sometimes, but it was all seen objectively—something that happened to them, not her. She never worried about dying. She never worried about herself in general: she worried about others. She worried about Soul, she worried about those mortals she befriended along the way, she had more worry about a dog getting run over, but she had never let the thought of her own death cross her mind.

That was why she and Soul butt heads about these things.

That was why he often said that he wouldn't be able to leave her even if he tried, because she'd get herself killed the instant he did.

Turned out he was right after all.

It was not until she was being crushed between claws, nails digging into her ribcage until they were buried inside her, that she realized she could actually die; death was applicable to her, too. She wasn't an exception anymore and death was hungry for the soul who'd slipped its grasp so many times. It was a slow fear but it was all-consuming and she screamed shrilly when its nails reached places inside of her she never thought possible. She could feel blood rush up her throat, flood her mouth. It was hot, bitter, and rusty. It slid down her chin like paste, ran down her neck and started to pour from the puncture wounds on her sides.

"A-ah," she gasped when she heard something crack. That brought a new definition to pain and added a new layer to the fear that paralyzed her. This time she knew with painful clarity that this was it: she was going to die. She was going to die. "Let—lemme go!" She wheezed and, in a last ditch effort to break free, tried to wiggle out of its death grip. She kicked and lunged and did everything possible to escape but being human meant being vulnerable—she was so absolutely helpless, so absolutely unable to do anything except cry out as bones crunched beneath her skin.

She started to see black when she heard the familiar rattle of chains. Then she saw the glint of them from the corner of her eye before the flaming chains wrapped themselves around the creatures neck and the scythe at the end sunk into its neck like an anchor. The Kishin was harshly yanked back and, in its surprise, let her go. She hit the floor with a dull thump and did black out.

When she came to again, she was staring at a sea of stars and her breaths were wet wheezes as blood gurgled up her throat. She stared at them for awhile, every breath painful and long, before she heard rapid footfalls and caught pieces of Soul's shouts. There was a ringing in her ears. The ringing faded when she felt him lift her up—instead, screaming took its place and she clenched her teeth and shut her eyes when she realized that was actually her.

"Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck!" He cursed, not sure where to touch her. She was pretty broken up. He berated himself for taking so long—why hadn't he drove faster? This could have been avoided. Seeing her like this, her emerald eyes hazy with pain and her body bloody and broken, physically hurt him. He could barely stand to see her hurting emotionally, how could he even begin to handle seeing her hurt physically? "Maka, stay with me! Stay with me, it's gonna' be fine! I'm gonna' take you to a doctor and get you fixed up. Shit, I haven't been in a hospital for decades...and we don't even have insurance!" he pressed her to him when she coughed. "Don't close your eyes! Maka, dammit, you fucking idiot! If you had only listened to me," he pressed a hand to her clammy cheek, shaking her gently to wake her again. "If you listened to me and gone to the desert….you never listen to me. I should have gone with you..."

She wanted to talk. She wanted to tell him to be quiet and take deep breaths because he was panicking again—doing that thing where he didn't drag in enough air so his words came out rushed and weird. He was trembling, his garnet eyes wild, and she could frankly say she hadn't seen Soul Evans ever lose his cool like this. He was always so calm, so collected—to the point of annoyance, where you wanted to smack him just to see something other than absolute boredom on his face. There were instances where panic would consume him but not like this. She didn't think her dying would affect him like this.

She was not going to make it. That infectious, disastrous, fear that had swallowed her up was slowly draining from her just like her life was. She shifted her eyes to the sky again and just wanted it to end. She was hurt, she was tired, she was going to scream herself hoarse at Asura when she saw him again and, most of all, she didn't want to see that absolutely tragic face of her hunting partner—of her occasional lover, of her closest friend, of her best worst enemy.

Her final exhale was coupled by a peaceful silence. His shouts faded, touch faded, the cold wind disappeared. There was black and then there was nothing at all—not from the outside world, not from anywhere. There was only darkness and, for a split second, she wondered if all that talk about hell and fire was make-believe.

"Ah, you died."

Maka gasped and turned, facing one amused Asura. "YOU!" She snarled, storming up to him. "YOU WENT AGAINST OUR CONTRACT! I was not supposed to die!"

"Now, Maka, relax!" Asura chided, poking her back when she stepped too close to him. He wiped his finger on his bandages. "How do you think you were going to return to your previous state? By drinking some fancy elixir? I thought we were beyond petty potions. You needed to die in order to activate the contract, exactly like twenty nine years ago. Considering a Ghost Rider is immortal, well, trying to kill you would be more me playing with my food, so I had to return you human for a bit."

Maka stared at him. "You mean to say…"

"You need to die in order to come back as a Rider, you fool!" Asura snorted at her incredulous stare. "I meant no malice but it was rather entertaining to watch you two go through the grief of death. You never learn..." he mused. "Fear is inherent. You fear even when you have nothing to fear. It's natural…" before he could go off on a tangent, Asura let his gaze fall back on Maka. "Wake up. Evans is making a fool of himself."

"Wha—?"

Maka's eyes opened and she darted them into equally wide although terribly confused garnet eyes. She managed a wobbly smile and chirped, "Hi, Soul!"

"What the...how the hell are you still alive? Are you a zombie or something?"

"No, I'm not!" She snapped, annoyed with him now. She shifted and grimace, limbs sore. But she didn't hurt anymore; in fact, she felt rejuvenated. "You wouldn't have any brains for me to eat, anyway!"

"Yep, it's you," he deadpanned, glaring at her veiled insult. Maka wrinkled her nose at him irately. "So...how are you alive again?"

"Well, according to Asura, in order to activate my new contract, I needed to die," Maka grunted as she sat up in his lap. She was pleased to find her wounds had healed already and, when she touched her face, there were no cuts. It was smooth skin, strong and resilient like she remembered it to be. She noticed she was still in her old torn up night-wear and sighed. She honestly didn't want to know what Asura had done with her old clothes but that leather jacket belonged to Soul once upon a time. When he remembered, he would be so mad at her for losing it. "Since I renewed my contract, I needed to die again just like I did two decades ago. So he made me human for a bit and probably figured a Kishin would sniff me out and finish me for him."

"You renewed your contract?" Soul repeated, blankly.

Maka tensed. "I…I have a good reason for it! It's even better now that I experienced those few hours of mortality," she looked down at her lap. "I really didn't want to go back to that life. I thought I did because it was torn away from me so abruptly but when it came down to it…I was actually happier living as a hell-lords servant than I ever was being alive. There were always so many problems when I was alive. I was always so…miserable," Maka dropped her voice, her brows creasing with old pain. "I didn't want to go back to that. So I renewed my contract with Asura."

"For how long?"

Maka looked at him guiltily.

His eyes flashed fiercely. "Maka!"

"Forever—!" Maka squeaked when Soul flatly let her drop to the floor. He stood up and dusted himself off, ignoring her cries of outrage at his manhandling. He stormed back to his motorcycle and picked it up from the floor. He'd let it drop carelessly when he heard her scream. His new paint job was probably ruined because of it. Another reason to be pissed at Maka, he sighed.

"Soul!"

He ignored her.

"Wait, Soul!" Maka ran up to him and grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to her. "What's your problem? I knew you'd be mad but there's no reason to be rude—!"

"Mad? Mad doesn't even begin to cover it, Maka!" He growled, jabbing a finger into her chest. He gripped her wrist and pushed it back to her. "I'm fucking pissed."

Maka sighed. "I know that you wanted me to go back to being human but I knew that if I told you, you'd act like this! You'd get mad!"

Soul stared flatly at her. "I'm not mad because you decided to stay a Ghost Rider, Maka."

She blinked. That threw her off. "Y-you're not?"

"No."

"Then why are you mad?"

He wrinkled his nose furiously. He turned back and wrapped his hell chain around his chest with careful precision, ignoring her in favor of controlling the absolute relief he felt inside. It was a selfish relief; a selfish desire that felt sated for now. He wanted her to stay—he had always wanted her to stay with him, forever. But he understood selfish desires should be kept to oneself so he never breathed a word of it. Letting her go to meet with Asura, after such a passion filled night, after so many shaky words exchanged when they were as humanly close as possible, rather killed him inside. He hadn't wanted to let her go to Asura to sever her contract.

He wanted her to stay. With him. Like this. Like it had been for the past fifteen years: with him, arguing, laughing, slaying demons, waking him up at the ungodly hour of nine in the morning with the lure of bacon and eggs and orange juice. He wanted to wake up with a blanket tossed over him, wanted to wake up next to her some nights, to be able to marvel how creamy the skin of her thighs was and how peaceful she looked when she was asleep. He wanted it all and, by some miracle, she had chosen to stay in this life after all.

The reason he was beyond furious was because

"FINE!" Maka shouted, turning around and stomping back to her car. "When you're done being a child, you can come find me! I'll be in Hawaii!"

He came to an abrupt stop. "Hawaii?"

"Yes, Hawaii! You got a problem with it?" She glared over her shoulder. "I'll be in Hilo. It's April, there's going to be a festival and I've always wanted to go. So when you decide to stop being an uncool jerk, you know where to find me! I'll be in the nearest Holiday Inn!"

"Me being uncool?" He exclaimed, facing her. "I wasn't the one who went god-knows-how-many-years playing along with the plan of getting your humanity back!"

"Is that what you're mad about?"

"NO!"

"Then what is?"

"It's—!" He ground his teeth and darkened his stare. Maka stopped walking, sensing his distress. It was odd for him to be unable to tell her his thoughts. He stopped being so secretive with her years ago, what could he be hiding that she couldn't know?

"Soul?" Maka said, softening her tone considerably. "What is it?"

"It was when you died," Soul finally admitted. "I never thought…you'd be able to really die."

Maka's eyes softened.

"You were out for half an hour," Soul quietly continued. Maka listened, patiently. He exhaled noisily and ran a hand down his tired face. "I just…didn't know how to deal with it." That was when she noticed the dirt tracks he had down his cheeks. Maka approached him slowly and touched his face when she was close enough, realizing that those tracks were actually dried tear tracks. She now understood what Asura meant about Soul making a fool out of himself.

"You were cry—"

"Don't say it," Soul grimaced, dropping his eyes.

She smiled warmly and rubbed them away with her fingertips. She held his face between her hands, making sure not to leave any trace of his tears behind. "It's okay, Soul. I won't tell anyone. I would have, too," she comforted. He rose downcast eyes to her. "I probably wouldn't have stopped, though. Not for a long, long time."

He pressed his hand over hers and breathed with more ease. Maka always made him feel relaxed. There was no discomfort around her—there was only relief and a soothing ease that never failed to drop his guard. He pressed his lips against hers without preamble, savoring the way her mouth slanted against his and the way her lips felt when they moved with his.

"You were starting to sound like Chrona for a second," Maka giggled against his mouth. She laughed when he rolled his eyes at the comparison.

"Chrona, really? That's seriously uncool. Y'know what? If you tell anyone about this or even bring it up again within the next ten years, I'm going to show everyone those pictures of you in Dora the Explorer underwear!"

"You said you got rid of those!" Maka gasped, horrified.

Soul grinned sadistically. "Got a backup in a place you'll never look!"

"Is it in the seat of your motorcycle?"

"…I was just testing you!" Soul coughed. She rose a brow. "My real hiding place is somewhere else!"

"You better hope I don't get near your bike anytime soon because those pictures are going to burn! You know I had to wear them because there was nothing else around! I needed underwear—I wear skirts, you jerk!" She glared. There was a legitimate reason for her wearing kiddy underwear that day over six years ago. She'd always been conservative but she had never been that innocent! Nor would she ever wear kiddy underwear at the (technically eternal) age of twenty two!

"I told you I didn't mind!"

"Oh, so you'd let anyone see your partners privates, huh?"

"What? No! Uh, wait, Maka!" Soul scrambled to get a hold of her hand again when she pushed off him furiously. That had come out really wrong. "Maka, I didn't mean it like that! You know I didn't! Makaaaaa!"

"MAKA CHOP!"

"OW! DAMNMaka!"

"When you're ready to act like an adult, find me in Hawaii!"

"Are you still going to Hawaii? I thought you were kidding about that!" He complained, following behind her like he always did. "Of all the years, this year?"

"Yes, we're close and every other time I bring it up," Maka shot him an irked look, "you say no and figure out a way to keep me away! I actually want to go!"

"Ugh. Fine. I guess, since you just came back from the dead and all," he smiled, wearily.

Her anger subsided and she offered him a happier smile.

"As long as I can come," he added.

"Only if you pay for my room," she smartly replied and he snorted, starting to make his way towards her.

"I always pay," he dryly said and she giggled. Maka set her hand set on her hip and frowned when she felt the way her sweats were torn under her fingers. Her shirt was pretty torn, too, smeared with blood and dirt. She was a mess, Maka realized, she should hit up the nearest retail store and buy herself something decent.

"Heh..." she heard Soul snicker and before she had a chance to ask what was so funny, she heard a very loud tear and saw Soul grin up at her with his infamous shit-eating grin. He waggled her torn sweats in her face mockingly, tucking his switch blade back in his pocket, that little shit!

Maka shrieked when she realized her sweat pants literally came off while Soul laughed hysterically at the priceless look. "GODDAMMIT! SOUL EATER I'M SENDING YOU TO HELL RIGHT NOW!" Maka roared, pulling her jacket down to cover herself. She remembered back then she wore plain cotton underwear, not the daring lace and boyshorts she wore now. Perhaps being with Soul for such a long time had done its damage after all.

"Payback," he chuckled to himself, tossing her ruined sweats away. He shrugged off his current jacket, tossing it to her and watching her scramble to cover herself with mild amusement. "What're you so shy about? I've seen everything already," he smirked leeringly. She slit her eyes. "Quit being such a little girl, you need new clothes, anyway. These are literally falling apart. C'mon, let's go!"

"Go where?" Maka pouted, zipping the jacket up. Thankfully, his jacket was big enough to cover everything necessary. Soul held out his hand out to her and led her to where he could sense her car was. "Hilo?" She said, hopefully.

He smiled faintly. "Yeah, let's go party in Hawaii. You better let me drink or else I'll be mad since we could be doing something more productive, like saving people from Kishin attacks."

"There's kishins in Hawaii!" Maka innocently said.

He chuckled. "I doubt we'll be looking for kishins, though."

"But if we come across one," Maka hummed with a suggestive smile, her hand running up his stomach. "We'll do what we always do when we find one..." His muscles tightened under her tough, swallowing convulsively when her hand slithered underneath his shirt, her palm hot against his skin, her fingers rubbing their way up the muscle she felt there. "We'll kill it!" She smiled, letting her hand come back down from its exploration. "And there's my car," Maka sang, watching her car break through the forest foliage. There was debris on the window shield, a few branches and leaves stuck here and there, but it looked no worse for wear. "So I'll see you in Hilo, Soul! First Holiday Inn we see!"

"Same room?"

"34 and if that's taken, you know what to do," Maka smiled at his nod. "Where are you going?"

"To get my stuff from the other hotel," he frowned. "And your stuff, too."

"You mean you didn't throw it out?"

Soul gave her a dour look. Had she really expected him to throw away her belongings, just like that? The wounds had still been too fresh! And he had never had the intention of giving away what little things she owned, anyway...

Maka giggled. "Alright, you know where I'll be. Don't take long," Maka added with a tiny smile, making her way to her car.

"No goodbye, Maka?"

"I'm not leaving you any time soon," she told him, clasping her hands behind her back. Her smile was coy and her eyes twinkled knowingly. He loved this woman more than he thought he could. "There's no need for goodbye. I'll see you soon is more like it."

"See you soon, huh?" He hummed, watching her slip inside her car without another word. Maka waved at him before the car shot forward, tracks of hot-red flames left behind from the heat of her hell fire. When he could no longer see her, he took a step towards his own motorcycle but paused when he saw something sticking out of the ground where he had last held her. He crouched, brushing away dirt from the leather? He tugged and pulled hard, a leather jacket coming out of the ground. His, actually, the beloved old one he had loaned her so many times it had practically become hers. When he dug deeper, he realized her mini skirt was there, too, along with those thick and heavy white-buckled boots she fell in love with in New York a couple of years back. The clothes she slipped into that morning before she left to meet Asura, they were all there...

"Huh," he murmured, shaking the clothes of dirt and stuffing them into the seat compartment in his motorcycle. "Weird."


A/N: First and foremost, this was an idea I got a while back while watching Ghost Rider. The motorcycle was what did it for me, eheh.

Secondly, I tried to make this a chaptered story but I didn't get very far so this is the next best thing lol I hope you guys like it anyway! I'm not very happy with it but, then again, I always find something to ding myself on. The curse of an author, I guess.

Scarlett.