Author Notes: Maka's thinking song as heard by Soul in this chapter is "Ora" by Ludovico Einaudi. I own none of the characters in Soul Eater, nor do I lay any claim to rights over any of the music mentioned herein.

The resonance felt…different.

She supposed it was silly to expect that the sensation would be the same, but Maka had never really given the subject as much thought as she should have. She had always expected that when her soul came into contact with another, that there would be that same caressing feel that came from connecting with Soul.

Team resonance was another matter entirely. That was all about matching everyone to a common wavelength, bringing them to the cadence and tempo of a unit. There was more compromise, more awkward shuffling and fitting into place. And it had always been directed by the familiar call of Soul's music.

Individual resonance, however, was something that Maka had always associated with a sort of intimacy. When her soul called out for Soul's, his responded in a heady rush, much like protective arms locking themselves within her own…or perhaps more like the fingers of two hands threading together. Resonating with Soul came with a feeling of completion and security.

With Tsubaki, however, it felt more akin to having a warm, supportive presence behind her. Maka felt the pressure to take the lead, to channel that gentle presence into the fierce storm of metal she had so often seen in her friend's hands. A small chuckle ran through Maka, rippling through the link. Tsubaki responded with a nonverbal cue of interest.

It's nothing. I had just now realized how perfectly matched you and Black Star are. Maka's response was more thought than words, but Tsubaki understood nonetheless, which the meister was very thankful for. She and Tsubaki were training (at Maka's request) in a rounded copse of trees, Soul and Black Star both lounging just at the edge of the clearing. Maka did not like the thought of having to stroke the assassin meister's massive ego any more than necessary.

Thank you, came Tsubaki's response, tinged with a sort of blush. Maka grinned a bit and sent a few teasing feelings the weapon's way. Tsubaki tamped down on them quickly. Her reply was calm. I've always known that we were, but it's clearer now that I am resonating with you. With Black Star, I'm always following his lead, giving him the solid foundation necessary to keep him strong. But with you...

Soul and I work in tandem, Maka replied. It's a give and take. Neither of us really take the lead.

Yes, Tsubaki trilled. Through the link, Maka could feel the sensation of warm approval. You're perhaps even better matched than Black Star and I in that way.

It was Maka's turn to blush. I don't really know about that, Tsubaki….

"OI!" A boisterous voice rang out from across the clearing, causing Tsubaki's side of the soul link to vibrate. "Are you gonna do anything, or are you just gonna sit there and whisper to one another? You couldn't live up to the man who will surpass god, of course, but I expected at least some excitement from watching you two resonate." Maka blushed, caught in the midst of what might be construed as girl talk during a training session. "If you need it, the great Black Star will once again resonate with Soul to give you a sparring partner. Now that he is a Deathscythe, he will surely be able to match my greatness!"

"NO!" The response was a chorus, coming from both weapons present and the blushing meister. Soul's was perhaps the most vehement, horror etched in his features as he imagined being gracelessly manhandled by the exuberant ninja. Again.

Maka straightened, her fingers flexing along the handles of Tsubaki's kusarigama form. She was much heavier than Maka had expected her to be, and the dual nature of the weapon form felt off to Maka, who was so accustomed to the long balance of a scythe in her hands. She gave an experimental swing, cleaving the air with her friend's blade. The chain jingled lightly in the air.

Tsubaki felt Maka's frustration and attempted to compensate, gently adding more of her influence through the soul link. Instead of helping, though, this only seemed to make the weapon heavier in Maka's hands.

Err…Tsubaki…maybe the ninjatou would be a better option for me? I don't know how well I'm suited to double blades. Nodding slightly, Tsubaki shifted herself, the hefty weight of her kusarigama transforming into the lighter ninjatou.

Maka struck out lightly once again, rewarded this time with a less-clumsy swishing of the blade against the air. Black Star didn't sound too impressed, however, when he shouted across the clearing. " "Faster! You'll never be a good assassin with moves that slow!"

At this, Maka's composure cracked. Frustration welling in her, she tossed the blade aside and strode towards her friends. Tsubaki transformed in time to land somewhat gracefully, though her knee dug into the earth with more force than was comfortable. She hastened to brush herself off and catch up with the angry scythe meister, emanating waves of consolation as her friends came toe to toe.

"Oh yeah? Well at least I can resonate with Tsubaki without hurting her. Remember how much Soul bled when you nearly forced your wavelength into him? You're lucky to have a weapon who is so reserved, or else you'd be worthless in a fight!" Maka's voice was less angry than her incendiary words implied, but her fingers were curled in her palm, making Soul sit up a little more straight. He knew her posture and expressions; his meister was prepping for a fight. Black Star continued to grin, face arrogant as he stared Maka down.

"Soul just couldn't handle the godly me. Like I said, if I tried right now-" Black Star reached out in Soul's direction and the weapon flinched away with a scowl.

"Don't even start, you moron. I'm not letting you touch me again." His tone was sullen and his posture relaxed to its normal slouch, but the white-haired weapon had nevertheless pulled himself to his feet. With a couple lazy steps, he aligned himself with his meister, shooting an almost amused glance towards Tsubaki. She flitted about nervously, not certain if stepping into the argument would make it better or worse. Soul coughed out something like a chuckle and clapped Maka on the shoulder. "Tiny-tits here is the only one who can handle me right."

This successfully defused the situation with Black Star, if only because Maka had whirled on Soul, murder in her eyes and a book in her hands.

"Makaaaaaaa CHOP!"

The blow was glancing, and the book bounced half-heartedly off of Soul's head. He let out a sigh and pulled her closer with one arm.

"C'mon. Let's go home… I don't think there's much else to do here and I'm hungry." Fixing a warning gaze at Black Star, he started to push his grumbling meister towards the trees. " 'sides, I don't much like where this moron is taking the conversation." He took a few shuffling steps himself, herding Maka in the proper direction. Behind them, Black Star was snickering about how not even his friends could handle his greatness, and Soul placed a hand on his meister's shoulder to keep her from snapping back a response.

Instead, she fixed her eyes on him with scrutiny and concern. "Is resonating with him really that bad?"

"It's kinda painful. Like having someone hold onto your hand when they're runnin' too fast for you. And having his hands on me…" He abruptly removed his hand from Maka's shoulder, running it through his hair instead before stuffing it back into his pocket. Maka looked at him once again, the concern more evident in her expression. Soul rolled his eyes. "It just doesn't feel right. They're all calloused and his fingers are blunt. I like yours better."

The concern retreated, replaced with a thoughtfulness that Soul recognized. Their walk home was going to be silent, except for the light music that flowed from her soul when she thought a little too hard. The weapon chuffed out another laugh and walked beside her as best as he could as they weaved through the trees and made their way back home.

Maka had gotten into the habit of changing into her bedclothes whenever she knew she was going to spend the rest of her night at home. A year ago, she would have been more awkward about lounging around the house in a flimsy nightshirt and shorts so near to Soul, but years of cohabitation had desensitized her to the awkwardness of it all. Most of the time she didn't even bother wearing a bra, grateful to be free of the restrictive garment. Soul had taken it in stride and had never said anything to her about it.

She stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, frowning at her reflection. Her slim hands plucked at the straps of her tank top, worrying the thinning fabric. Ash-blonde hair hung limply on her shoulders, curling around her collarbones and tickling her back. Absent-mindedly, she noted that she should get a haircut soon. Long hair was impractical for battle.

Soul leaned in on the doorway, his voice drawling. "Oi. You gonna just sit there and st s are all night? I gotta take a shower at some point." It had taken him longer to become comfortable with the less formal state of dress in their apartment, and his coming to dinner in boxers and an undershirt had been a relatively new thing.

The meister sighed in the direction of the mirror, casting Soul a sidelong glance. She maintained eye contact for a little longer than normal, chewing on the edge of her lip slightly. He braced himself for a question he was not going to like hearing.

"Are they really…" Her tone was soft, reluctant. It was unusual for her, and Soul straightened a little as he leaned against the doorframe. He made a conversational noise of encouragement, meeting her eyes as best he could. Maka blushed. "Are they really that unappealing? My…t-tits, I mean."

She was really chewing on her lip now, and she had broken eye contact at the same time as her voice stuttered. Soul noticed that her hands were gripping the counter hard enough that her knuckles were white. Laughing, he stepped into the bathroom. He slipped past Maka and grabbed his toothbrush, grinning as he passed.

"Geez. You're still worrying about that?" His red eyes met hers with a playfulness that she couldn't look away from. The blush on her cheeks reddened with chagrin.

"Well, you say it all the time, so I thought that—"

"You think too much," he said. His voice was unusually matter-of-fact, underlined by the still present grin on his face. "I only say that because I'm teasing you."

Maka sputtered, moving aside as her weapon leaned in towards the sink, turning on the water to wash off his toothbrush. It was only a couple weeks old, but already its bristles were looking more than a little worse for wear. Those sharp teeth of his made such quick work out of toothbrushes that Maka finally convinced him that buying in bulk was a smart option. She watched as he went through his routine: wash off the brush, look morosely at its state of destruction, put on toothpaste, stick in mouth and scrub vigorously.

After some thought, she responded: "Well, you always seemed to really like Blair, so I just—"

Soul snorted. He removed the toothbrush and shot her an amused look. "Like Blair? She harasses me practically every morning and she is always coming in late, waking me up in the middle of the night. Yeah. I really like her, Maka." The words were accompanied by one of the most spectacular eyerolls the scythemeister had ever seen. Her blush deepened.

"I didn't mean her, necessarily, I meant her…uh…"

"Breasts?" Soul interjected. Maka nodded in an embarrassed fashion. To this, Soul shrugged. "Well, yeah. Of course I do. But if you want me to be honest with you, Maka…" He set the toothbrush down on the counter, wiping toothpaste from the corner of his mouth. The grin was back. "I like all breasts. Cool guys don't pick and choose."

Maka scowled. That sounded like something her father would say. "But you always get nosebleeds when Blair's around," she accused, refusing to look her weapon in the eyes.

"Yeah. But when Blair's around, she's always either naked or close to it." His expression grew thoughtful. "Either that, or she's crawlin' all over me. It's just bothersome. Not cool at all." Maka was about to retort, but Soul read her expression and spoke before her. "Maka…I can't control my physical reactions. Any more than you can keep yourself from starin' at Kid's ass when he walks by."

He busied himself with the business of washing off his toothbrush while the blonde beside him turned various shades of tomato red. Surprisingly, his expression was somewhat stoic; Maka would have expected him to press the teasing. Instead, the weapon seemed content to reach for the floss and go about the painstaking task of cleaning his gums.

Maka, wanting to avoid getting hit by Soul's elbows as he tried his best not to cut the floss with the sides of his teeth, stepped back a bit. She watched him in the mirror. Soul's minute facial expressions were incredibly difficult for her to read. Her best option was gauging his mood through his voice, and it was hard for her to do so when he had his hands in his mouth. Green eyes scanned the mirror, dancing in and out of contact with the red ones that were looking steadily forward. A wave of awkward washed over her and Maka dropped her gaze to the floor. After a few more moments of relative silence, she slipped out of the bathroom.

She plopped down on the couch, looking at her feet and thinking hard. Years of watching her Papa ogle every female that crossed his path had embittered her, yes, but she had never really thought about how much it affected interactions with her partner, the one boy she actually claimed to trust. No, not a boy, M Maka corrected herself. Soul's definitely a man now. They had lived together for years, and he was on the cusp of turning twenty. And he certainly doesn't look like a boy anymore….

Soul had called her out on staring at their friend, and though it embarrassed her, she was glad that he hadn't drawn attention to all the time she spent staring at him. There were times when she felt guilty… her longer-than-appropriate glances when Soul and Black Star decided to spar, her clear enjoyment of the dinners when he showed up shirtless…it didn't feel right to be so fascinated by someone she had known for so long. By Maka's logic, Soul should have been like a brother to her, but part of her couldn't help but appreciate how attractive her partner had grown up to be.

A sigh huffed from her lips. Soul was not that much older than her. They were closing on their teens and neither of them had ever been in any sort of romantic relationship. Maka could have given the excuse that, being students at Shibusen, they didn't have time for such frivolities, if not for the fact that Ox and Kim had been dating for years. Or that she had been born when her parents were only eighteen. The fact of it struck her hard; she balled herself up, refusing to trust others, and had never even considered reaching out to anyone but Soul. Black Star and Kid were close friends, but aside from the occasional approving glance, she really didn't have much to say about either in a romantic sense. Kid had even more issues than she did. And if Maka had learned anything from her resonance with Tsubaki earlier that day, it was that there was a lot more going on between her and her meister than Maka and Soul had known. Maka could feel an undercurrent of it in Tsubaki's wavelength, that thrumming connection that had hummed whenever Black Star spoke. Even when in resonance with another, Tsubaki's soul still called out to the blue-haired buffoon. It was actually quite amazing to behold.

Maka's brows furrowed in thought. Was that normal for a weapon and meister pair? After all that time together, it made sense. Did she and Soul have that same sort of connection? They were well-known in Shibusen for having an exceptional resonance level, but that didn't necessarily mean that their souls were connected like Tsubaki's and Black Star's. After examining the situation, Maka was almost certain that there were romantic feelings involved in that tie. While she begrudgingly admitted that Soul was attractive, Maka was certain that they didn't have any romantic feelings between them. At least, she couldn't detect any….

"Maka. Stop."

The girl nearly jumped out of her skin when Soul's gruff voice sounded from behind her. She had managed to take the entire couch, her long legs akimbo. It was something that she did often enough that her weapon didn't even bother to ask her to move any more. With gentle hands, he simply rearranged Maka's body in a way that allowed him to sit on the couch unhindered. He gave no protest when her feet ended up in his lap.

Maka managed to pull herself out of her thoughts enough to pout. Soul rolled his eyes at her.

"Don't start. I can hear you when you're thinkin' too hard. You've already done that enough today." Absentminded hands drifted to her ankles. They felt warm and somewhat soft; Maka was reminded that even though she wore gloves as much as she could while fighting, she still had thickly calloused hands from years of fighting with Soul. He worked just as hard as she, but his hands were still more girly than hers. She giggled a bit at this. Soul smiled at this. "There you go. Relax, Maka, we don't get our new assignment for another couple days."

With a nod, she stretched out more fully, causing those hands to slide up to the middle of her shins as her feet hung off the arm of the couch. Soul watched passively while she flexed her feet, pointing her toes and then relaxing until she heard a popping sound.

"That's better," she sighed, closing her eyes. On a whim, she slipped into the mindset of soul perception, willing Soul's into her mind. She rarely used it on him, since it felt a bit like invading his privacy, but her curiosity got the better of her. It looked no different than it ever had; it was, simply, Soul. No matter how much she looked at it, she couldn't feel anything…different. There was no special tie, no magical connection between his soul and her own. Maka felt slightly embarrassed, knowing that there was no reason for her to expect otherwise.

She cut off the perception abruptly, opening her eyes to find that her weapon was watching her intently. He had been examining her facial expressions, and the meister reminded herself that he was no fool. Soul had earned her trust time and time again, and he was remarkably observant when he cared to be.

"Soul, can I ask you a question?"

"Is it about your tits again?"

Perhaps he wasn't quite as observant as she liked to think he was. Her weapon was obviously a moron.

"No, Soul, it's not. I just thought of something while resonating with Tsubaki today." Soul nodded, ignoring her peeved tone.

"I never asked you about that, did I? Actually, I was kinda curious how it went…" A hand ran through his hair as his face scrunched up. "Knowin' how awful it is to resonate with anyone other than you, I was wonderin' if it felt as weird for you as it does for me."

Maka tilted her head. "I wouldn't say it was awful. At least it's not uncomfortable to resonate with Tsubaki, but it felt like there was something missing in the connection. I just wouldn't be comfortable going into battle with her. But at least I can hold her, even if it feels really weird to have something other than your haft in my hands. Remember that time we were fighting and couldn't even resonate?"

Soul's expression was pained. "I wish I didn't." Maka softly laughed her agreement. She wiggled her legs a little, bouncing her feet experimentally against the arm of the couch. Soul stilled her by laying his other hand against her shins.

"When you say that resonating with anyone else is awful, do you mean—"

"Well, no one is as bad as Black Star," Soul defended. "But I don't care for resonating with either Stein or Shinigami-sama, to be honest." Maka frowned at this, like Soul knew she would. "It's not like I can't. Hell, with both of them, I can come up with a better resonance than most weapons. But it's mostly them. I just kinda let go and let them direct my energy the way they want. When I'm in their hands, I feel like an object. Especially Stein." Soul shuddered at the thought, and Maka could sympathize. Though she respected Stein tremendously, she would never forget how terrifying he could be. She did not like remembering the dissection lines he had drawn on her. It had bordered on dehumanizing. Resonating with Stein had to be incredibly difficult, especially since he struggled with his madness even more than Soul did.

She was pulled from her thoughts when she noticed that Soul was tracing little patterns on her shin with his fingers, light enough to tickle. It wasn't unpleasant and was distraction enough to keep her thoughts off of the horrors that Stein was capable of.

"I guess they figured out how much I disliked it, since they hardly ever give me an assignment with anyone other than you now."

"Maybe we just make a really good team?" Maka suggested, hoping to sound helpful. Soul nodded.

"Well, duh. We're lethal. And cool, too."

They sat in silence for a while, Maka's brain pleasantly blank of most anything except for the feeling of Soul's fingers on her leg. He was humming something quietly to himself, eyes closed. The little circles on her leg had turned into gentle, rhythmic tapping, and Maka figured that he was playing music in his mind again. She often lamented that because they didn't have a piano in their apartment, she missed out on the rare occasions when Soul felt like playing. As she lay there on the couch, curled up at Soul's side, she found merit in this alternative.

"Soul?" Her voice was sleepy with contentment.


"What does soul resonance with me feel like?"

Soul's fingers stopped. The silence continued, and Maka was afraid that she had somehow ruined the moment. But after a minute or so, he spoke:

"Like trust." This caused Maka to raise an eyebrow, but Soul didn't seem to notice. He continued: "You don't open yourself to a lotta people. It makes sense, what with your family and all. But with me, when we resonate, it's like you're lettin' me see a part of you that nobody else sees. Sometimes it can be scary, like…what if I lose control? What if I can't protect her the way she needs to be protected?" Maka sat up to look at Soul properly. His brow was furrowed, but when he made eye contact with her, he chuckled. "Guess that's not all that cool of me."

"No…it is, actually." Maka leaned forward, holding out a hand. He took it in confusion, letting her fingers lace through his. Her breath grew steady as her soul reached out for his. He immediately responded, launching into resonance.

And there it was, that same protective caress, the solid and unwavering presence that she associated with Soul. She tried her best to share the sensation over the link, communicating in a semi-coherent stream of emotions and words. From Soul's side, she could read bemusement and curiosity. I figured that the best way to communicate this was by example, she said, somewhat defensive, but Soul was filled with agreement and gratitude. Then he was tugging at the link, trying to communicate with her; she felt how precious he found her to be. It came with the urge to protect her, but also with a great deal of respect.

You're strong. You don't take any crap from anyone. You're brave. The words accompanied his approximation of what her anti-madness wavelength felt like; a soothing rush that gave him strength. She felt how he attempted to entwine his soul with hers, wanting to bolster them both, but not wanting to encroach, knowing the omnipresent danger of his madness. The boosted sensation of your emotions can be overwhelming, though. He could recall times when the vibrations of her anger threatened the integrity of his coolness; Maka was unabashed about them. She knew that even in resonance, there were times when Soul held back. With Tsubaki, her emotions floated freely through the link, but Soul's had the feeling of being carefully channeled. He spent so much time and effort erecting those walls. Maka wondered if it affected their resonance.

You could stand to get a little more angry sometimes. I worried about how apathetic you seemed for a while, but once we started getting the hang of resonance, I realized that you just have a very tight lid on those emotions. Let a few out, sometimes. She leaned her forehead against his gently. Through the link, she could feel Soul's resistance, his urge to brush off her statement with sarcasm. Maka responded with a coaxing hum, trying her best to imitate the song that he had been thinking of earlier. C'mon. I don't bite.

Yes, you do. His response was immediate. Soul's end of the link shimmered with images of a crazed Maka chewing on Crona's head.

That's not fair! She was pouting again. The black blood has made both of us do things we regret.

Yeah. And the black blood is transmitted through my sharing with you too much.

Soul, it's been a very long time since I was affected by the madness in you. Waves of comfort, of reassurance, vibrated through the link. I trust you. There's no need to spend all this time worrying about protecting me; we protect one another. What if this helps our resonance?

Soul's soul grew still for a moment. Then he sighed. Maka. You're ridiculous. Our resonance rate is fine. Didn't you say that we're an awesome team?

Yeah, Maka countered, but we could be an even better one.

Being partners isn't about being the best, Soul scolded. You're sounding like your mom.

Maka felt properly chastised. She knew it was a selfish way to approach the problem, but she thought that the promise of better resonance would help coax Soul out of his fortress. It was something that would have swayed her to do so. A soft laugh sounded in her ear.

You have just as many walls as I do, Maka. Soul's tone wasn't accusing, but Maka could sense the hurt in it. You trust me, but not with everything.

I just thought that there were some things that you didn't need to know….

Can't I feel the same, then? He was looking her in the eyes now, and it was difficult to look away with their faces so close together.

But if we could resonate better, maybe….

Soul sighed inwardly. Back to this.

Frustrated, Maka sent him her earnest feelings through the link. It wasn't about resonating better because she wanted to be the best meister or because she wanted to be stronger in battle. I want better resonance because I know how capable we are of it. And because I want to know you better. And…because…well….

Concentrating, she carefully sent Soul one of her guarded feelings: Had her papa really made it so that she couldn't trust people? She had always thought she trusted Soul, but even then, she was scared to let him know things, even silly stuff like how much she liked to watch him when he was shirtless and—

Her mind had rambled on, following the natural course of her thoughts, and when she realized what she had just confessed, she closed off the connection abruptly. Blushing cheeks betrayed her. Soul, however, said nothing. His side of the link had stilled, and his expression was steady, but his hands clutched at hers a little harder than normal.

And then she felt the possessiveness. Soul had allowed it to leak through the link, at first a in a trickle so as to not be overwhelming, but it was straining against the floodgates. Maka was struck by the depth of it; she understood why he was hesitant to share it with her. When they entered soul resonance, his soul reached out to hers, caressing, never wanting to let go. The strong presence of his soul was reinforced by his overwhelming possessiveness. Maka shrank back a little, struck by the strength of it all, but Soul gripped at her tighter.

She saw, in Soul's mind, all the loneliness he felt. His isolation from his family and from others made his soul yearn for another. And now that he had hers…she felt his distaste for resonating with anyone else, the distance he felt between himself and them. What he craved was this resonance and this one alone. He wanted this. He wanted her. Not just because he found her attractive- no matter how often he teased her- but because her soul called out to his in a way that nothing else did. My meister. Mine.

"I didn't wanna tell you this for a reason." Though they were still in resonance, he spoke aloud. There was gruffness to his voice. "It's not cool to be so needy."

His hands still gripped tightly at hers—she could see how the tips of his fingers were reddened from the pressure. She flexed her fingers experimentally, sending a shimmer of discomfort through the link. Soul looked immediately chastened and loosened his grip. Maka could feel his fear that she would remove her hands from his grasp, but she merely wiggled them to restore the blood flow a bit. Her eyes drifted shut and through Soul, she could perceive faint notes of a song.

Is that you? The music sounded distantly familiar, though it wasn't the kind of song he normally played. Soul chuckled.

No, Maka, that's you. An image of Maka standing at the mirror in the bathroom flashed through their resonance. It's the music I hear when you're thinkin' too much. You're pickin' up on it through me.

Maka's eyes opened and she leaned back, disconnecting her forehead from her partner's so that she could look at him in confusion. "This is the music that I think of?"

Soul flashed his grin at her. "Naw. It's mine. I read music in you." He relaxed his arms and their hands fell into the tangle of their legs. Ashen hair fell across her face as she tilted her head to the side. She blew her bangs out of the way and the music swelled more loudly through their collective link.

"Only me?" The question was innocent, but she said it in the same tone she had when she asked highly theoretical questions in class. Her eyebrows started to furrow in thought.

"No. I hear yours most through resonance, of course, and yours is the only one that I can hear outside of it."

Maka looked surprised. "Outside of resonance?"

He nodded. "Yeah, it's kinda weird. Sorry."

Maka raised an eyebrow at this. "Nothing to be sorry about, Soul. It's just…interesting. And weird. But I'm glad I know, at least." She smiled at him, the curve of her lips a little shy. The music stilled, only faintly evident through their link. They sat in their companionable resonance for a moment.

Maka's stomach made a noise. She laughed a little at the interruption, but her sudden realization of just how hungry she was flooded their resonance, drowning out the last of the tinkling piano notes. Soul released her hands and stood, pulling at his side of the resonance. "I'll go get somethin' from the kitchen. It's my turn to cook."

Maka carefully tugged back, keeping Soul in the link. She sent him feelings of sincerity as she stood beside him.

"I need you too, Soul." Her face colored slightly as she looked him in the eye. "I'm glad you're my partner."

Soul gave one of his rare toothless smiles. "Yeah," he laughed. "So am I." He detached from the resonance gently and headed for the kitchen. Maka stretched out her neck, soothing the soreness from both sitting bent on the couch and from the training with Tsubaki. She hadn't realized just how exhausted she felt—her anger with Black Star had distracted her from realizing just how drained she was. Tsubaki was an incredible weapon, but she was exhausting to wield. Maka felt a renewed admiration for Black Star's abilities; she couldn't imagine how draining it would be to wield her in Enchanted Sword mode. A wave of fondness for her weapon washed over Maka. Soul was delightfully uncomplicated, never pulling too much of her wavelength, never giving too little. As a weapon, he was delightfully conscientious.

"Oi, Maka!" He called from the kitchen, amidst the sounds of pots and pans being shuffled around. "Should I take off my shirt when I come to dinner?"

Maka hunted down the nearest book, hoping to give her 'conscientious' weapon a reminder in why his meister was not one to be taken lightly.