I don't know how it started. Maybe I put my feet up on the table again. Maybe I forgot to make dinner. Maybe I flunked another quiz. I should probably remember. It was probably the most important careless mistake I'll ever make. Whatever it was, she was quick to scold. And I was quick to dismiss. And then it escalated, just like it always did. Soon we both were shouting and screaming, she screeching

"WHY DON'T YOU TRY HARDER? I PUT IN YEARS OF EFFORT SO YOU CAN BE THE BEST SCYTHE IN THE WORLD AND YOU DON'T EVEN CARE! YOU DON'T APPRECIATE ME AND YOU DON'T CARE! YOU DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ME! YOU DON'T! YOU JUST SIT AND ACT COOL AND YOU NEVER EVEN ASK ME HOW MY DAY WENT OR WHAT I WOULD LIKE FOR DINNER OR WHETHER OR NOT I'M HAPPY!"

and me spitting

"YOU WOULD BE HAPPY IF YOU PULLED THE STICK OUT OF YOUR ASS AND STOPPED BEING SUCH A NAG! MAYBE IF YOU RELAXED A LITTLE YOU WOULD ENJOY LIFE A LITTLE MORE! BOTH OF US COULD DIE AT ANY MOMENT AND YOUR LAST WORDS ARE GOING TO BE SOMETHING ABOUT SOMEONE ELSES FUCKING MISTAKES! MAYBE THAT'S OKAY WITH YOU BUT I DON'T WANT MY LAST MOMENTS TO BE YOU SHOUTING AT ME FOR FUCKING UP!"

On and on and round and round we went. That was normal. But this time it didn't stop. Both of us were shaking with anger, Blaire was sobbing on the couch, and still it continued, the insults becoming more and more poisonous until

"GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"

"WITH PLEASURE!"

And I was packing my bags and shouting still all the way to the

"FUCK YOU!"

"FUCK YOU TOO!"

on the front stoop. The silence of it all filled my ears. The sun was bright and hot overhead, even though it was mid-January, and the city was dead, it being noon on a Sunday. The quiet wormed its way into my mind like a parasite, leaving an unscratchible itch deep inside my brain. I had left most of my furniture and whatnot inside "her" house and only had a couple sets of clothes and some CDs. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and started my walk of shame to the family estate.

Wes was the only one staying there at the moment, thank Death. No questions asked, just

"Hey Soul. Your room's on the right."

and that was all. So the old mansion became my new house.

Monday was bizarre. I arrived in the limo, as my bike was in the shop. As soon as I pulled up the gang sans Maka was there to greet me. Everyone looked at me for a second. BlackStar had the first word.

"Nice job, Soul! You tell that bitch!"

It was the only time I'd ever seen Tsu lose her temper, and I know the only time she'd ever lost it with BlackStar. I watched her try to kick his ribs in as he moaned on the ground and Liz and Patty struggled to hold her back in horror. He was in the hospital for three weeks. As Kidd half dragged, half carried BlackStar away she turned her fury on me.

"Maybe you feel like you're tired of her shit. Maybe you think you don't need to put up with it. I was surprised it took you this long to figure out how popular you are and how little you need her, but then I figured it out. You're a scum sucking asshole but I know you care about her and now you've broken her. You break everything you care about, don't you, Soul Eater?! Your family, your music, your friends, and now you've broken the only thing that kept you from losing your soul. You can't keep anything whole, you fucking dumbass. You'll never find happiness because on the inside, you're more destructive than BlackStar. But you can't break her because she's MY BEST FRIEND! MAKA IS LIKE MY SISTER AND SHE HAS SAVED ME AND WON VENGANCE FOR ME MORE TIMES THAN I CAN COUNT AND UNLESS YOU FIX THIS I WILL RETURN THE FAVOR!"

I thought she was going to crush me right then and there. I've never seen Tsu act like that before, and I highly doubt anyone ever will again. But the bell rang and she stormed off, Patty skipping off after her. Liz looked at me and sighed, shaking her head. Then she too was gone, and that was that.

In the months that followed, everyone warmed up to me but Tsu. I continued to live with Wes. Maka never hung out with us, or if she did, only when I didn't. I rarely saw her except in Stein's class. She must have given him a note or something, because we never worked together anymore. I didn't even know if we could still resonate.

It was bizarrely calm without her. I despised it. Nothing changed. Nothing ever even happened. I expected it to feel incredibly painful, but it was just numb. I kept expecting her to be there, and that was the worst of it. I'd turn around to tell a joke or give her a mischievous grin, and then I'd remember and turn back and keep walking. I ate whatever I wanted. I put my feet up on the table. I flunked a couple quizzes.

I got a job in March, at Deathbucks. I needed the extra cash for clothes and food and such. I didn't make any money collecting souls with her anymore.

Finals crept up in April. I studied for once. I can show her that I don't need her, that maybe she was the problem after all, I thought. The final insult to injury. The test was far easier than I'd expected.

Scores came in the week after. That's when it all fell apart.

I had done fairly well. I was content, and proceeded about my day as such. As I walked to work, a black Honda Pilot pulled up alongside me and the window rolled down. I grinned at Kidd.

"Need some help finding a lost puppy, sir?" I snickered out.

"Get in."

I frowned. Kidd was normally pretty serious, but I'd never seen Blaire like that. Matter of fact, I didn't even know Kidd and Blaire talked to each other. I hopped in the car to find myself sitting next to Tsu, with Liz, Patty, and BlackStar in the back. Patty was crying silently.

Tsu gave me a glare that could curdle milk.

"Where, exactly, are we going?" I asked. This was looking less and less promising. I seriously doubted I would be working today.

"Your house." Liz responded quietly.

"Well, that's in the other directi-"

"No." Blaire cut me off. "Not your house. Your home."

"There's something broken you need to fix. Now, before it gets any worse." Tsu fixed me with that steely glare again.

I stared at her in horror.

"She doesn't need me to fix her! She's not broken! What the hell, you guys! She kicked ME out, not vice versa! She's fine, and it will only get worse if I come back!" I reached frantically for the door but Liz cut me off.

"When's the last time you saw her? February?" Tsu accused. "She's a mess, and she has too much pride to admit it. She's done this a couple other times, and normally one of us can snap her out of it, but she's gone this time, and I don't know what to do and I'm so scared that this might be it." Her fury was gone at this point, replaced with tearful shaking. "I didn't even want to leave her alone but Blaire's got a warning spell up just in case and none of us wanted to stay there…" and she trailed off, sobbing quietly in her seat as BlackStar wrapped his arms around her from the back.

"What's she doing? Where's she gone?" Fear seized me as I blurted out the questions, and that's when I realized. I was numb because it wasn't real to me. I'd lived with her, taken care of her, and worked with her for so long that I hadn't ever believed that I'd stopped. It was like she'd gone on a trip instead of kicked me out, and I kept thinking that she'd come back and she hadn't yet. Now I was feeling emotion again and it was all because of her. So Tsu was right, and I had to fix everything I'd broken.

"When things go poorly she checks out, Soul. She just dissolves. Sometimes she cries for hours and hours. Sometimes she flies into a rage, and we had to take all of the sharp things out of the house at one point because we though she was going to hurt someone. Sometimes she just sits, and no matter what we do she doesn't respond to anything. Normally she's fine, and she functions pretty well, but every once in a while she just…..it happened more back in the earlier PS days." Liz looked at me pointedly.

"PS?" I questioned.

"Um….Post Soul. No one says your name because it's a trigger for her. We had some days where we thought about calling you but we thought it might make it worse. I haven't seen her this bad in a long time. This is a last ditch effort, by the way. If she gets worse we'll take her to Stein and Marie. I don't think we can handle this anymore."

And then we were at the house. It was cloudy outside, and as far as I could see, no one was home. All the lights were off. I stepped up onto the doorstep to find that the door was locked.

I pulled the key out of my pocket and heard someone giggle tearfully.

I turned around to find Patty standing there. All the others must have driven off.

"I knew you didn't stop caring about her." She was wearing a grin that could clear the sky, full of radiant joy.

"What?" I asked.

"You kept her key in your pocket. Through it all. Because you care."

I grinned at her. Patty, with the tears still streaming down her face and yet smiling like the luckiest girl in the world, with the maniacal attitude of a mental patient, with a freakish obsession with giraffes, could see what normal people couldn't. And I knew she was right.

"Of course I care."

She turned to leave and skipped down the street. I realized I'd forgotten to ask her something.

"Hey PATTY!" I shouted.

"WHAT?" Her voice carried from down the street.

"WHY CALL ME?"

"BECAUSE YOU KEPT HER KEY IN YOUR POCKET!" And she was gone.

I took in a deep breath, inserted the key, turned it, and pushed open the door.

The lights were off, and the clouds made the whole house even darker. But even in the low light, I could still see how much of a mess it was. Just in front of the door was a shattered ceramic plate. I stared at it as I remembered how much I had hated those plates. They were circular, I had complained daily. Square plates were way cooler. And Maka had rolled her eyes and told me to shut up and eat.

I stepped into the house. It really was a wreck. Shattered picture frames, plates, glasses, and bowls were everywhere. Blankets and clothes were flung randomly throughout the living room and kitchen. Paintings had been pulled off the walls and torn to shreds. Chairs lay on their sides, and a side table was flipped. It looked like a natural disaster had blown through. I stood in the living room and just stared.

And then I heard the noise.

It sounded like a whimper, or maybe a moan. It made my gut twist. It sounded like the noise of pain that she made whenever she had been kicked down, hard, or thrown into a wall. The noise she made that made me want to kill myself for not preventing it and grab her to make sure she was okay and kill the person who did this all at the same time. The noise I swore to try to eliminate from her vocal range, but this time it was my fault

I immediately tried to run to the bedrooms, but was stopped by the treachery of the front rooms. Glass and ceramic got in my way, and as I slowly picked my way through the minefield of our home, I realized I had no idea what to say.

Our home. My home. As I made it to the bedrooms I realized that I knew exactly what to say.

The noise again. I wanted to claw my heart out to stop it from hurting. To my surprise it came from my bedroom. I opened the door, no longer hesitant.

She was curled up on the floor, sobbing in a way I had never seen her before. Maka wasn't a sobber. You could slice up her insides and she'd scream bloody murder and groan and cry in pain but she wouldn't sob. Sobbing was not a thing that she did. She just didn't. Which is something I was glad for, because her sobbing was killing me. I could feel parts of myself dying with each of her breaths.

I looked closer to see that she was curled around my old headband.

"Maka." I said softly, "I'm home."

"No. I don't need you…I don't….tell Tsu I'm fine….I'm sorry for scaring her…" She sobbed harder between breaths, and curled even tighter.

I took two quick steps and lay down next to her, my knees and my nose touching hers.

"Maka…." I whispered, reaching out and brushing some tears away with my thumb.

She closed her eyes as her breath hitched again and more tears poured out.

"Go to hell, Soul…I don't miss you! I don't! Really….goddammit all, Sou-"

And that's when I leaned forward and kissed her.

You know those stupid ass romance novels, where they say that a kiss lasts only a moment, but also a lifetime? I hate myself for saying it was like that. It was so perfect for me, but I was pretty sure I'd only made her life that much harder.

I pulled back after forever and looked into her eyes. They were like the smashed dinner plates, pre-smashing: huge and round. But they were also the prettiest green I'd ever seen, and I just wanted to look for a while. I couldn't believe I'd never seen them like this. Or maybe I had and I'd forgotten over the time.

"I'm sorry.." I whispered as she stared. "I'll go….you should call Tsu. She's a wonderful friend."

And Maka buried her face in my chest and began to cry again. But it was better this time. It wasn't the painful broken crying. It was the healing, worst day ever but getting better crying. So I wrapped my arms around her and picked her up, carrying her bridal style to the living room couch. As I slowly picked my way around the glass I said quietly,

"Good God, Maka, what set you off?"

Through her tears she told me,

"I failed my final in Stein's class.."

"Oh." I frowned and sat down on the couch with her in my lap. "I'll talk to him. Maybe we can trade grades, or something. It would make more sense, huh?"

She giggled through her tears and nodded a little, then scooched off my lap a little. I started to stand up.

"No. Don't go." She grabbed my arm.

"I was just going to get a blanket, it's okay." I grabbed one off the floor and returned to my spot on the couch. I stretched out across it and motioned for her to lay down on top of me. "Here. It's fine." She laid her head on my chest and looked up at me with her beautiful, tearstained face. I draped the blanket over the two of us as she closed her eyes and began to breathe softer and softer until she was asleep.

And that's where Tsubaki and the rest found us four hours later, asleep on the couch, the calm eye of the hurricane that struck the Eater-Albarn household.