It was a fact that Soul curses again and again.

Maka really wasn't big on birthdays.

She always made a face whenever Spirit would show up at their apartment, hoping for a little "father-daughter" bonding time. And her mother sent cards which made her smile but the fact remained that she wasn't there.

That was probably what soured her birthday for her the most, Soul suspects. Her smiles for her friends as they gave her their gifts was always a bit too cheery, her teeth mashed shut as if holding back a cry.

He just wants to see her smile reach her eyes.

He grumbles as he ambles through Death City. Though that was going to be somewhat difficult seeing as he was forbidden to even think of getting her a gift.

"I don't want anything, Soul," Maka had flatly stated as she fixed her hair into two neat pigtails at the kitchen table.

Soul, who'd been standing at the stove, making pancakes, had thrown down the spatula in protest. "But you always accepted my gifts before!"

Maka had turned, with a hesitating look on her face. "I…I don't want you feeling obligated or whatever to get me something cute just because we're together now."

Scowling, Soul had crossed his arms. "That's the most idiotic reason I ever heard."

The stare that Maka had fixed him with would have been enough to send Kishins running in the other direction. Fortunately for him, she had decided to spare his cranium a Maka chop and gone back to fixing her hair. "Besides, you know how I feel about my birthday."

Soul had decided to push his luck. "Isn't that supposed to wait till you hit a certain age much later in life?"

The Maka chop that had earned nearly gave him a concussion. Nursing his head, he had dazedly asked, "And what if I already got you something?"

Maka had laughed. "You haven't."

And he hadn't even been able to argue with her there.

That had been yesterday morning, or the day before Maka's birthday. This morning, Soul had woken early, sneaking out of his room. Leaving a note saying he was going out to buy her breakfast at the very least, he had roamed the city for an hour now, no breakfast in hand.

He couldn't even kid himself. He was dead-set on getting Maka something, even if it meant being buried in Maka chops. But that led him to his second problem.

He had no idea what to get Maka.

Running through a mental list, he quickly nixes every idea that pops in his head. Books? She probably owns all the books in Death City, judging from the size of her collection. Clothes? She wasn't really too into clothes, save whenever they got worn out from missions. Music? He wouldn't touch the CD's she classified as music with a ten foot pole.

Running a hand over his face, Soul stops walking. He closes his eyes, frustrated. Why did his meister have to be so stubborn and difficult to buy for?

She wouldn't be Maka any other way, he thought. Opening his eyes, he examines the stores lining the street like he had been for the past hour. In front of him was a shop called "Death City Weapon Wear."

He knows Maka's boots are wearing thin and her feet always seemed to be the first thing that got hurt in any battle they had.

It's only after he's walked out of the store with his gift that he realized that steel-toed boots are probably not the thing that will make Maka glow with happiness. Resisting smashing his head into the nearest wall, he curses his overprotective weapon instinct.

Glancing at the time, it's been nearly two hours since he left home. If Maka wasn't already suspicious, she was probably starting to now.

Nearly out of willpower to continue, Soul decides to take the long way home. Hopefully he would pass a shop that had something Maka might remotely like.

A nervous feeling starts gnawing at his belly when he realizes that he only has about five more minutes till he arrives home. A tiny thrift shop he never noticed before catches his eye. Shrugging he decided to give it a shot.

As soon as he sees it, he's sure she'll like it. Eager to get home now, he hastily buys it and then dashes home.

Before he opens the door, he realizes that the gifts are still unwrapped. It's too late for him to care but he tucks them behind his back and awkwardly opens the door with his elbow.

Maka's sitting in the living room, reading a book. Looking up, she brightens. "There you are! Did you get lost or something? Where's breakfast?"

Grinning, Soul takes a spot by her on the couch and pulls out the gifts from behind him. "Happy birthday!"

Scowling, Maka closes the book with a snap. "I thought we discussed this already."

Soul smirks. "You said I couldn't get you a gift. I got you gifts."

The scowl on her face is still there but he thinks it has eased slightly. The fact that she has a perfect weapon and hasn't used it yet is another good sign.

Eagerly, he places the bigger box in front of her. "Open it!"

Rolling her eyes, Maka sighs but she puts the book down. Taking the box in her lap, she lifts the lid and pulls out a boot. "Are these," she examines it, hefting the boot in her hand, "steel-toed?"

"Well when you're not stepping on my foot, it seems like others are stepping on yours during battle." She definitely has an amused look on her face as she puts the boot back and puts on the lid. "Thank you, Soul." Maka looks at the smaller box in his hand. "And the other one?"

"Getting greedy, are we?"

With another roll of her eyes, she snatches the box from his outstretched hand and opens it. She just looks at it, an impassive look on her face.

Soul starts to get nervous. "I know it's kinda morbid and all but I thought it was more your style than all that rhinestone jewelry that girls usually get stuffed down their throat."

Maka holds up the necklace. Hanging on the silver chain was a heart made in the shape of bones and engraved in the bones was a delicate design of an artist's interpretation of souls. She rubs her thumb over it, still not speaking.

Giving up, Soul speaks quickly. "If you don't like it, then I can take it back. It's not big de-,"

Speaking quietly, Maka found her voice. "I don't like it."

Soul feels his heart deflate.

She raises her eyes. "I love it."

A smile breaking out on his face, he grabs her hand. "I love you too."

Soul freezes. He means every word but he had been waiting for another time to say it. His face burns as he looked up at Maka for her reaction.

Throwing her arms around him, she whispered in his ear, "I love you."

Pulling back her face to kiss him, Soul sees the smile in her eyes.