Maka strode through Evans Industries, her assistant Tsubaki walking and talking hurriedly beside her. Being CEO before had been busy but now that she had really taken the reins of Evans Industries, it seemed that everything that could go wrong went wrong.

She became aware of Tsubaki calling her name. "Hmm, yes, Tsubaki?"

Tsubaki's calm face had an unusually harried look. "Notice all the badges? Black*Star's a great head of security but the fact remains that personnel complaints have shot up by 300%."

Looking at the people she was passing by, Maka noticed that the badge authorizing their right to be here was prominently displayed unlike before. And they all wore a slightly peeved look on their face, clearly fresh from an encounter from the head of security himself.

She shook her head, half-amused and half-exasperated. Entrusting the job of head of security to the man who called himself a god on a daily basis had been a gamble. At least, it wasn't worse.

Turning to Tsubaki, she gave her a smile. "Thank you, Tsubaki. I'll talk to him." With a nod, Tsubaki hurried off to attend to other duties. As Maka walked to the lobby for her next appointment, she heard a distinct booming voice.

"Badge, badge! Hey I'm talking to you! Don't ignore your god of security!" Black*Star moved from person to person in the lobby, a zealous look in his eyes. Maka allowed herself a small smile before turning serious. Black*Star certainly went over and above job expectations.

"Black*Star!" Maka pulled him away from an accosted looking employee. Black*Star craned his neck around Maka, trying to see that the woman displayed her badge in the appropriate fashion.

Maka caught Black*Star's eyes. "Don't you think that you're going a little overboard on this?"

The zeal in his eyes, if anything, burned brighter. "Overboard? Safety is number one around here!"

Giving a little sigh, Maka gave Black*Star a look. "The fact remains, Black*Star, that ever since you became head of security, personnel complainants have soared over 300%."

Black*Star's eyes widened. "That just proves they have something to hide. Who are they?"

Maka's hand itched for a book-sized object. She should have known he would have missed the point. She pointed to a chair. "I've got to go to my next appointment. Just chill, okay?"

Instead of walking to the chair, he followed her to the conference room's door. "And just who is this guy? He's got a creepy bodyguard in my lobby."

She placed her hand on the door. "Crona Gorgon. Old friend but kind of a dork. He used to hit on me a lot."

Opening the door, her eyes widened as she took in Crona. He looked different. A lot different.

"Maka!" Crona greeted her with a hug. "Long time, no see!"

Finding her voice, Maka stepped back, aware of Black*Star's laser stare. "Crona, you've changed."

Crona gave a wide smile. "Well, surgery does that. You look great."

Lingering in the doorway, Black*Star gave a loud cough. "Bad-,"

With a glare, Maka cut him off. "Thank you, Black*Star. That will be all." And she closed the door.

Mark 42 was good, quite the upgrade from his other suits but it wasn't good enough. Not enough to protect the one he loved. Frustrated, Soul looked at his suits. They needed to be better. He needed to be better. Stronger. So Ne-so that the past wouldn't happen again.

Taking a break, his reverie was interrupted by the shrill ring of the phone. He walked absent-mindedly through the house. It didn't feel like a home without Maka. He answered the phone. "Talk to me."

A close-up of Black*Star's eye greeted him. He tried and failed to speak in a whisper. "Do you know what I'm looking at right now?"

"Well all I'm looking at right now is a very extreme close-up of your eye."

Black*Star pulled the phone from his face, finally coming into view. "You know I'm not good with technology!"

Soul decided he was thirsty. He strolled to the nearest refridgerator. "And the reason you called me?"

Black*Star's face became even more excited. "Pepper's in a meeting!"

"Oh, how riveting. I don't recall asking you to spy on her." The floor felt cold on his feet, just like how it did when he went through the wormhole. Soul gave himself an internal shake. No need to think about that.

"But you'll find this interesting! It's that Crona guy, the one with that silly idea, what was it…"

"AIM." The memory of the New Year Eve's party are a little hazy but Soul remembered Crona and his crazy idea.

"Yeah!" Black*Star agreed. "And he's changed now. He looks nothing like before."

Soul reached the fridge. "As exciting as this all is, how does this concern me? Maka can handle herself."

"Because something is off. And he has this weird guy in my lobby and I don't like it."

With his hand on the door, Soul smirked. "Show me then." He heard the faint pause of buttons and then, "There."

Black*Star's face gazed at him through the phone. "Can you see him now?"

Amused, Soul rolled his eyes. "I'm still staring at your face, dude."

Frustrated, Soul heard Black*Star poking at the screen. "You know I'm hopeless with technology!" Then, Black*Star paused. "Where have you been, man? You're always cooped up in there, tinkering with those suits."

Soul opened the fridge, the phone lax in his hand. "Well hobbies take up time, you know."

Black*Star snorted. "Hobbies, right. I'm still going to keep an eye on this guy. I have a bad feeling about him."

Plucking a drink, he put his phone in the fridge. "I leave the matter in your capable hands."

Leaving the phone and Black*Star's fading voice, he headed back to his workroom. There was one thing he lived for now and he would protect it with his life.