There are four stages when it comes to bath time.
Right now, as Soul observes his nearly two year old dog running around the living room, barking excitedly, they are in the panic stage.
It amazes Soul that Cerberus can go from resembling his three-headed namesake (in spirit obviously) to scared mouse in the second it took for Maka to turn on the water.
Seeing the trouble they had with Cerberus and bath time before, Soul and Maka had thought ahead this time, planning for Soul to capture Cerberus while Maka ran the bath.
The problem was that their dog seemed to have a radar for sneaky masters, for as soon as Maka had left the living room, he'd anxiously paced the room, uncharacteristically not letting Soul come near him.
The inner beast had unleashed itself when he heard the water turn on and Cerberus was now a whirlwind of fur and flying slobber.
Soul curses loudly as he hits his shin on the corner of the coffee table, failing in attempt number five thousand and three to catch his dog. "Cerberus, you dork!" he howls. "It's bath time-it's not like you're going to the vet!"
Cerberus goes into pouncing position by the couch, his butt in the air as his tail wags excitedly. He lets out a little whine as he stares at Soul.
Soul refuses to let the puppy eyes get to him. He approaches Cerberus slowly, speaking soothingly to him.
"That's it, that's a good dog, stay right there," Soul says in a cooing voice. He doesn't even want to imagine how uncool he looks, practically begging his dog to stay still.
Maka was usually the one to deal with bath time, seeing as she had practically a telepathic connection with Cerberus that made bath time somewhat easier but she was otherwise indisposed right now, meaning the job had fallen to Soul.
He tenses up as he reaches touching distance of Cerberus. He continues to speak in the same soothing voice to Cerberus. "You're a good boy, I'm not going to hurt…you!" Soul makes his move at the last word, successfully wrapping his arms around Cerberus' torso.
He grunts as he picks up Cerberus. He's certainly not the puppy he was when Soul and Maka bought him a year and a half ago.
They now enter stage two. Betrayal. It's the only way Soul can describe the look on Cerberus' face, head hanging mournfully low as they enter the bathroom.
Maka's hand rests on her full belly as she leans against the tub. "Thought you were destroying half the apartment, from all the noise I heard out there," she says lightly.
"Don't go out into the living room yet," Soul darkly warns. "You know he acts like bath time is the end of the world."
Maka gives her "baby" a little rub on the head as he struggles in Soul's arms. "He doesn't like water, is all." She gives Soul a look. "You have to be patient, Soul."
"Says the person who chops me into a coma every other day," Soul quips. He relents at the narrowing of her eyes, always a dangerous sign. "I'm patient! Who's the one who takes him out for an hour every day at five am?"
Maka accedes the point with a nod but she still frowns worriedly. "This is the first time you're taking him a bath on your own though, so be careful."
"Yeah, yeah," Soul says, rolling his eyes. "Don't be such a worrywart. It's not brain surgery."
Maka opens her mouth to argue but then she closes it, a grin replacing her anxious look. "Whatever you say." She moves to lean against the sink.
As it turns out as Cerberus contorts his body in nearly impossible ways, brain surgery might be easier. It quickly turns into a struggle of who's going into the water as Cerberus flips the tables on Soul and tries to force Soul into the water in an effort not to get wet.
Soul's face blazes as he hears Maka repress a snicker. "You're still here?" he snaps as Cerberus manages the impossible and balances on all four paws on both sides of the tub.
He can hear the smug smile in her voice. "The view's quite good from here."
"You can probably only see my butt."
He's about to call her on her inner pervert, like she's done to him all these years, when one of Cerberus' paws slips into the water.
He can smell victory.
"C'mon, Cerberus," he grunts, trying to gently push his paws off the tub. "The water's not gonna hurt you, don't act like a fraidy cat-act like a-" Cerberus finally crashes into the water with a splash, spraying water in Soul's face.
"Bear," Soul says as he takes in Cerberus' shaggy fur, which, when soaking wet, resembles bear fur.
Maka lets out a snort. "Bear?"
"He kind of looks like one," Soul says defensively.
Cerberus re-gains his spot as the center of attention as he attempts to leap out of the tub but Soul catches him, pushing him down.
Soul grabs the bucket they use to rinse Cerberus, pouring water all over him. They now enter stage three. Resignation.
It's at this point when Cerberus gives up the battle and sits in defeat. Soul sighs in relief and squirts shampoo onto Cerberus.
This is his favorite part, actually because Cerberus finally returns somewhat to his normal self, sitting quietly as Soul scrubs and rinses him down.
It doesn't last long though. Because as soon as Soul pulls the plug on the water, they enter phase four-anticipation at impending freedom. And then the countdown to the Shake begins. Soul grabs the towel hanging off the tub and begins to dry Cerberus as quickly as possible.
He hears Maka laugh behind him. "Clock's ticking, Soul."
The first sign is the revival of Cerberus' tail, wagging slowly at first and then faster and faster.
The draining water barely covers Cerberus' paws and Soul can feel the second sign, Cerberus trembling in excitement beneath the towel. "Don't you even, Bear," Soul warns.
Maka laughs even louder. "You finally found a nickname for him! You really do love him!"
Soul ignores her, intent on not getting sprayed by Cerberus, which is akin to being caught in a heavy storm.
He finishes rubbing down Cerberus' back and focuses on his neck and legs. He doesn't have much time left, he knows this by the excited bark Cerberus gives.
Or no time at all.
Cerberus shakes once, twice and thrice, showering Soul. It could have been worse, Soul figures as he guides Cerberus out of the tub. On the other hand, as he feels water dripping from every inch of him, it couldn't have been much worse.
Cerberus runs up to Maka, who positively gushes over him, patting him as much as her rounded stomach allows her to bend.
Soul cleans up the area around the tub while Maka opens the bathroom door.
Cerberus takes his chance for freedom and bolts out.
"Not bad," Maka says turning to him, crossing her arms. She takes in Soul's sopping wet appearance. "You have a little water everywhere, though."
"You're hilarious," Soul rolls his eyes.
Maka draws closer to him. "You look very cute, really."
"I mean it," Maka says. "And your nickname for Cerberus is adorable."
"Ha," Soul rolls his eyes.
She surprises him by planting him with a kiss. Then she sweeps from the room.
Soul figures being in charge of Cerberus' bath time might not be so bad.