Disclaimer: Soul Eater belongs to Ohkubo Atsushi who is much, much cooler than me. I'm sobbing at the thought that Soul Eater is going to end soon ;-;
A Sunday Kind of Love
"It's just three days," Soul closed his luggage with a snap.
From her place on the couch, Maka pretended that she couldn't care less that he was abandoning her to do work in Alaska for a whole weekend. It was nothing new. He was a Death Scythe. He had to go wherever he was needed. She understood that. But Soul could have at least asked her to come along. Maka would have pretended to mull it over (making him sweat a little, because for all his claims that he was super cool, in reality he could be such a doof), say that she really couldn't be away from the school for too long, but then she would sigh, pat his hand, and give in since he so clearly needed her.
"Whatever," was her only reply. She didn't even look up from her book (Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska) because really— whatever. Maka didn't even care that he was abandoning her. She didn't care that he was super popular and powerful and was always getting called for missions around the world. She didn't care that he had to stake out a place called "Big Jim's Boobie Bungalow" ("I didn't pick that tacky place," Soul protested after getting a Maka Chop to the teeth just for uttering that horrible name in her presence). She most certainly didn't care that he was going to get partnered up with someone else and maybe leave forever because if this certain someone was a sexy thing with DD tits he might never return.
But. Whatever. Who cared, right? It was cool. She was cool. The epitome of cool. Ice cold. Freezing, even.
"Try not to get yourself into too much trouble."
Maka sniffed indignantly. "Don't you have a flight to catch?" She flipped the page. Ah, Alaskan volcanoes. It would be a pity if Soul fell into one of those. Such a shame.
Her weapon's toothy smirk made her want to chuck her book right into his face. He patted her head, as one would a beloved pet. "Bye. Love you."
She swatted at him. "Go already—"
Did he just say-?
But he was already gone.
Very cool, Soul thought to himself, smug with satisfaction. He had been so nonchalant, so awesome, so James Dean as he left the apartment. It was perfect. He loved her, she loved him a ridiculous amount (in his not so humble opinion), that much was obvious. They just hadn't gotten around to saying it. Making a big deal out of something with cheesy words was just not cool.
But now? His casual confession had been perfect. Now he could go on this mission with a clear conscious that everything was going to be fine.
Everything was not fine with Maka. It was exact opposite of fine. She and Soul were clearly not on the same page when it came to what was "fine". Hell, they weren't even in the same book. The same universe.
Maka grabbed her face, rolling on the couch in confusion.
How dare he just drop that bomb on her and flounce like it was no big deal? He just threw the l-word at her all nonchalantly, like one might do at the end of a phone conversation! Like it was perfectly normal! Like it didn't even mean anything!
Maka's first instinct was to get angry. Since Soul was currently unavailable to act as her punching bag, she channeled her fury into something productive: a forty seven point list on why Alaska was stupid.
"I hope he's having a great time with all the rabid muskrats and the high rates of drug trafficking." Maka typed with a vengeance, nearly breaking the space bar right off the keyboard on her laptop. "And the depression rates? HA! Not to mention the weather! I hope he freezes his—his stuff off!"
This was ridiculous. Maka frowned and closed her laptop gently. It wasn't Alaska's fault that Soul was such an idiot. She sent a silent apology to Alaska and got up from her desk. She needed to go out, to clear her mind. The rush of emotions that hit her in the wake of his pseudo-confession sent her down a spiral of self doubt.
"Your father's infidelity wasn't really the reason for the divorce," her mother had told her once. "When you become romantically involved with your partner, things get complicated. Can you really be completely focused when the life of the person you love most hangs in the balance? Suddenly there's so much self doubt and worry that the relationship just… deteriorates."
"Then why do we work in pairs?" Maka asked her empty apartment. "How can you be that close to someone else's soul and not get attached?"
She couldn't sit in the apartment anymore, not with Soul's mug on the counter with stale, cold coffee still in it. Not with a jazz record, abandoned on the kitchen table. Not with his spare toothbrush next to hers on the bathroom sink. It was almost laughable; no matter where she went, no matter where in the world he was, he resonated within her. There was no escaping it.
Stupid feelings. Stupid Soul. Stupid Alaska.
Now that Soul wasn't around to chauffeur her around town on his motorcycle, Maka took the opportunity to wander around Death City. She walked and walked, Soul's offhand love you playing over and over in her mind. He was completely screwing up their partnership and he didn't even care! He messed up her life, confused the hell out of her, and then waltzed off to Alaska to snuggle up to some big breasted bimbo Meister at Big Jim's. She hated him (and Alaska) so much.
What were her options? Maka could hit him until he stopped being in love with her, but he had a remarkably thick skull. That masochist would also probably enjoy it. She could pretend that she hadn't heard him at all but Soul always knew when she was lying. Cool guys are good at reading their partners or something.
They had so carefully set boundary lines that the other dared not cross. With his little confession, Soul Eater had effectively not only crossed the line but blew it up. But if she was being honest with herself, she knew that Soul had been in love with her for a while. Maybe since they had first partnered up at the piano and she told him that she liked that weird, twisted part of himself that he usually hid away. He wasn't the type to shout his love from the rooftops or buy her flowers or call her pet names. The most romantic thing that the man had done was go to the grocery store and bring back a year's worth of tampons on the back of his motorcycle.
Soul had never pressured her or made things awkward (until today, nearly five years later). He was just… there. Supporting her patiently. Being at her side. Following her to the ends of the earth. Soul showed her the parts of himself that she wanted to see and buried anything that would upset their delicate balance.
Had she taken advantage of that?
Maka pressed her back against the cool brick of a tall building. Soul had been gone for all of three hours and had managed to completely turn her life upside down. She rubbed the bridge of her nose, inhaling and exhaling slowly. How could she want to simultaneously throw up, jump into traffic and cheer all at once? Only Soul could make her feel this way.
"Are you alright?" a voice asked from her right. Tingling wind chimes brushing against the store's glass door echoed behind him. A soft melody then floated into Maka's ears and she winced. Of course, she had to stop right in front of Death Tower Records, Soul's favorite store in the whole damn city. What was her life?
She straightened, embarrassed at her show of weakness. "I'm fine." It came out a little sharper than she intended. It wasn't this guy's fault that her life was, to quote Black*Star, a "hot fucking mess". "Thank you."
He smiled at her and Maka thought that he was quite handsome. Tall, slender, sharp features, pale skin, long dark hair brushed back into a ponytail—he looked a lot like dude!Tsubaki. Maka had imagined that everyone that worked at a record store wore grungy ironic band t-shirts and had a ton of piercings but this guy—"Kaz", according to his name tag—wore a simple black button down shirt, dark jeans, and had no piercings except for a silver cuff at the top of his left ear. He even wore glasses that Soul would classify as "exceedingly nerdy".
Now that she was closer to the opened door, the music from inside assaulted her without mercy. A beautiful voice, soulful, deep, and velvety reverberated within Maka. It shocked her; music didn't usually have any sort of effect on her. She never understood sappy pop romance songs or depressed country ballads. Even Soul's beloved jazz was a mystery to her. Maka knew words. She loved poetry and even wrote some when she was feeling particularly awful. For example, only two hours ago she composed this haiku: "'Whatever' I say / Soul is the biggest moron / Screw you Alaska".
But music… she had always been a little weary of stepping into that particular part of Soul's world. It was something he both loved and hated, something he ran from and towards. She wanted to know more about music because she wanted to know more about him but she didn't want to get too close. It was so much circular, never ending logic that she had all but given up on trying.
"Are you sure you're okay? You're crying."
But we couldn't see eye to eye so, darling, darling, darling, this is goodbye—
Maka touched her cheeks, surprised when her hands came back damp. She was courageous and headstrong, a three star meister, the woman who had helped to make the most powerful Death Scythe of her generation. How could one little song undo her like this? She didn't understand music. She couldn't. That was against their unspoken rules. Rules were implemented for a reason. Good girls didn't just go around breaking rules.
"I like this song," Maka wiped her eyes with the back of her ungloved hand. "I really like this song."
The record store worker handed her some tissues. She was infinitely grateful he hadn't asked what was wrong with her. Maka couldn't even begin to explain it. "You have good taste. It's Etta James' Fool That I Am."
She snorted but gratefully took the tissues. "You're the first person in the entire universe to say that I have good taste in music."
"Maybe you just haven't been introduced to the right kind of music," Kaz laughed. Something about his kind, older brother-esque smile looked familiar to her. Everyone knew everyone else in this city at least by glance but this guy…
"Ah! Ah! Hook sword!" she pointed at him quite rudely, her words running away with her thoughts before they could be processed in the switching station between brain and mouth. "Senpai! School!" None of that made any sense but what she had been trying to articulate was that yes, she remembered him, he was a senpai that had graduated four years before her. His weapon form was a hook sword and if she remembered correctly, he came as a pair with his twin brother.
His eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline. "That's right. Don't tell me a good student like you didn't recognize your senpai right away? I mean, your weapon even comes here nearly every week."
Maka look flustered. "Sorry, it's been a long day."
He laughed again. "Not all of us can be as famous as the Albarn/Eater pair."
Augh. She didn't want to think about that idiotic, pointy toothed, jerkface she called her partner. At least her crying had stopped. The music still played on, though, and she was entranced. It was… it was speaking to her and like any good researcher she had to know more. "Are there any books on this Etta James?"
"To really learn about her music, you have to hear it. It's not something you can really read about," Kaz said almost apologetically. Maka looked crestfallen. She had tried that tactic before and failed miserably. Painful memories of hours spent forcing herself to listen to records just to be able to talk to Soul about something other than work threatened to force themselves to the surface. "But I might know a place…"
"I'll go," Maka said at once. It was like a mission. If Soul could go on missions, so could she. That way she wouldn't have to stay at home writing lists and lists about the many ways Soul could meet his demise in Alaska.
Kaz scribbled something on a post-it and stuck it to Maka's hand. It would have been a cute gesture if Maka could actually understand potentially romantic social cues. "Then I'll see you tomorrow night at eight."
Maka stood there dumbly as Kaz waved to her cheerfully, disappearing back into the store before Maka could process what just happened. Whatever. It was fine, right? It was just two people meeting at a—Maka looked down at the cheerful yellow post-it—jazz club. It wasn't like Soul had ever asked her to go to a jazz club with him. There was absolutely nothing wrong with hanging out with another weapon. It wasn't like she was using him in fight. She hung out with Tsubaki and Patty and Liz all the time, right? No. Big. Deal.
Whatever, she thought again as she raced home. At least it wasn't Big Jim's Boobie Bungalow.
7:58 PM. Saturday night. Maka spent three hours researching appropriate jazz club wear. She finally decided on a plain black dress, a pair of black boots, and Soul's leather jacket. It was cool, not too dressy and not too casual, and weather appropriate.
8:03 PM. Kaz waited outside of the club. The singer tonight was a stunning young woman with a head full of beaded braids who loved to sing Etta. He looked nice, too, wearing a dark dress shirt and pants. He took her arm and led her inside.
It was 8:06 PM when Maka came to the realization:
"Oh my God—is this a date?!"
"Well… I was hoping it was."
"I'msosorry!" Maka yelled back to her confused almost-date as she ran home like there was a kishin chasing her because cool meisters don't cheat on their weapons. She has just effectively ended the shortest date in history.
Around 8:23 PM the drinking started, followed by Soul's Etta James records. Maka sung along, even though she has a terrible voice and does not know the words. The phone rang. She drunkenly sobbed the lyrics to I'd Rather Go Blind with a very concerned Tsubaki on the other end of the call.
Six minutes later, at approximately 8:29 PM, Black*Star, Tsubaki, Patty, Liz, and Death came over to "cheer her up"
Then, all hell broke loose.
Soul barely had time to put down his luggage when he was greeted by total and utter chaos.
"I was gone for seventy two hours." he said out loud, even though no one was conscious to hear him. "What the fuck happened?"
First, the blatantly obvious: their furniture had been moved and remnants of a party (beer cans, chip bags, plastic cups, etc.) had been stacked into two neat pyramids on opposite ends of the living room. Hypothesis: Maka had a few friends over because she was lonely and Kid got carried away redecorating. Evidence: Maka was face down on the couch with a sugary white hand print on her ass (?) and there was a note taped on the wall from Liz apologizing for her meister's behavior ("I'm so sorry, I told him this wasn't his house but you know Kid. Also, you should be aware that he folded all your boxers into squares. I am soooo sorry."). Oddly enough he also found another piece of paper by the coffee table entitled Eight Reasons Maka Albarn Hates Alaska (Because Eight Is a Much Better Number Than Forty Seven) Edited by Death The Kid.
Conclusion: Maka had a house party while he was gone, what the ever loving fuck.
His partner was still breathing from her position on the couch, snoring heavily into the cushions, so Soul moved on to see if there was any damage in the bathroom. Maka wasn't a drinker, so he hoped against all hope that if she had thrown up someone responsible like Tsubaki had taken care of her.
Clear of bodily fluids of any kind. Soul sighed with relief. Liz had also apparently gotten Kid out of the apartment before he called in plumbers and interior designers so everything was just as normally asymmetrical as always. The only thing out of place came from behind the shower curtain in the form of pink, sickly sweet smelling liquid that was sloshing out of his bathtub with Black*Star floating in it.
Soul rubbed his throbbing temples. Out of some weird sense of obligation to his idiotic best friend, he kneeled down by the tub. Still breathing. Good. Great. Fucking a. His body was submerged in what Soul hypothesized was twenty cans of Four Loko. Fine. Weird and disgusting but not totally out of the ordinary. Soul crept out so as not to wake his sleeping friend; it was much too early to hear him screaming about Four Loko being the nectar of the gods and blah blah blah.
He walked back to the living room and dropped his coat and shoes by the door before circling back to the couch. There his partner was, snoring very unattractively in all her drunken glory. Seriously. Even Maka's parties were overachievers. What was he going to do with her? Soul shook her shoulder slightly. "Oi. Wake up, Sleeping Beauty. It's morning."
Maka moaned something intelligible into the couch. Soul shook her again. "No, Kid, stop trying to pluck my eyebrows," she groaned.
"Seriously. Seriously. What happened last night."
She finally opened her eyes, visibly relieved that it wasn't Kid brandishing tweezers or Black*Star trying to make handprints on her butt with powdered sugar. "Soul?" Maka looked confused. "Are we in Alaska?"
Soul snorted. "I wish. At least my bathtub there didn't reek of booze and ninja. Looks like you've been busy this weekend."
Maka tried to sit up and flailed weakly. It was so pitiful that Soul had to intervene and prop her up before she fell face first into the coffee table. "It's all your fault—and Alaska's—but on the bright side, I discovered Miss Etta James. She gets me. She understands my soul."
"What did Alaska ever do to you?" he mused. "And when did you start liking jazz?"
"Alaska is dumb and so are you," Maka turned away from him, trying to melt back into the couch. It was so light in here and she sounded too loud even in her own head. "But Etta James is not. Anything to Say You're Mine—"
"—is a good song," Soul agreed at the same time Maka declared it the best song ever written in history. "But what is this all about? Is it 'cuz I went on a mission without you?"
"Oh yeah, how WAS Big Jim's Boobie Bungalow?" Maka had sort of forgotten that little tidbit in her drunken haze and depression. "Was your meister one of the girls there or did you just get discount lap dances for your services?"
He started chuckling and Maka wished she had the strength and coordination to Maka Chop his crotch. "Stein was my partner. Big Jim wasn't really interested in hiring him, though. Said he wasn't really Big Jim's material."
Maka tried to blend in with the cushions, unable to face Soul. Good thing Black*Star distracted them both by shouting, "MAKA HAD AN AFFAIR WHILE YOU WERE GONE, DUDE!" from the bathroom. "WITH THE GUY FROM THE RECORD STORE! HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?"
Soul's eyebrows nearly shot off his forehead. "What the—"
"I've returned," Kid called magnanimously from the doorway. He was carrying two very large bags of groceries. Liz was behind him, hands clasped in front of her in apology. "Don't mind me, I'll just be redecorating a bit."
Soul waved him off absently. If Kid got off making origami with their underwear, so be it. He had more pressing matters to attend to. Maka was burrowing into the space between the cushions and the couch and Black*Star was shouting, "Over eighty percent of women have affairs! I know these things! I watch Oprah!" from his alcoholic bath.
He left for all of seventy-two hours and everything had gone to shit.
Thankfully Tsubaki came shuffling in moments later, apologizing profusely on behalf of her meister. She made a beeline straight for the bathroom. "Black*Star, this isn't our house…" she said gently, attempting to coax him out of the bath.
"BUT THEY'RE EITHER GOING TO MAKE OUT OR KILL EACH OTHER. EITHER WAY, IT'S GONNA BE AWESOME HAHAHA!"
"Please get out of the tub!"
"It was an accidental date," Maka moaned. "I didn't know! I was in it for Etta!"
"Liz, hold up the measuring tape properly. I have to make sure it's perfect."
"Kid, seriously, this isn't our house…"
"Alright, everyone out," Soul picked up Maka before she could commit ritual suicide with a fork she found inside the couch. Liz had successfully distracted Kid by mentioning a painting that might have been two inches skewed to the right back at their house. Tsubaki was still pleading with Black*Star to stop swimming in Four Loko. "I have to deal with my cheating meister now."
"It was an accident!" Maka protested. Soul lowered her down onto his bed, sitting on the edge. Despite his accusations of her "cheating" he didn't look terribly upset or jealous or any of the things Maka had been feeling for three days.
Soul leaned against the headboard. "You've totally lost it. I'm not going to find a 'Meisters Gone Wild' video online, am I?"
She rolled away from him, burying her face in his pillows. "Shut up, Mr. 'Chitty Chitty Gang Bang.'"
He laughed and ran his fingers over the back of her neck, rubbing gently. How dare he try to distract her with a very much needed massage? That was playing dirty. "What's with the hand print on your ass?" It was a perfect segue; Maka didn't need to know about his porn habits.
"Black*Star, powdered donuts, way too much Four Loko, and you weren't there to stop him."
Soul snorted. "Enough said."
"Did you mean what you said?" Maka asked her pillow suddenly. "Before you left."
Soul brushed the knots out of her hair with his fingers gently. Touching her had become second nature to him. Loving her had also become second nature. Like music. Like breathing. "Cool guys always mean what they say."
Maka rolled over to look at him. Her blush had traveled down her cheeks to her neck and ears. "You know what I mean! About… aboutthelovething," she said quickly, her eyes darting away.
"The love thing". Very mature. A pause. "Yeah."
She finally sat up and crawled over to him like a child seeking comfort. Soul gathered her between his legs so they could be face to face. "It's just…" Maka mumbled something, her face buried in her hands.
"I SAID, it's just that, you know—I'mstillanA-Cup."
Soul chuckled. "I know."
"And I still wear white underwear."
"And I didn't mean to go on that date! I swear."
"I know," Soul pried her hands away from her face. "You're the most loyal person I know. Besides, it would kind of make you hypocrite for all the shit you give your dad."
Maka's eyes darted to the side, squirming and tempted to dart out of the room and never come back. "So what now?"
"Stop freaking out. Nothing is going to change. We're just leveling up."
Leveling up, huh? That didn't sound so bad. "Like going from two star to three?"
Soul pulled her down on the bed. He was exhausted, she was hung over, they were together-together (since she hadn't argued again his "leveling up" logic)—it was the perfect storm for a beautiful nap. The heavy, emotional crap could be dealt with later. All that mattered was that he was back and she was here (even if she smelled like wine and powdered donuts). He reached over to put on the record player in his room. Since Maka was so obsessed with Etta James, he might as well indulge her.
"ARE THEY FUCKING YET?" Black*Star shrieked from the tub, over the dulcet sounds of You Can Leave Your Hat On. "I DON'T HEAR FUCKING!"
"Black*star, please." Tsubaki's voice was laced with desperation. "This isn't our house."
"We have got to move out," Maka murmured into his chest before leaning up and initiating their first kiss as a real couple. "And get new friends."