Head whirling and fists raised, Maka sprang out of bed and nearly halfway across the room. Instantly alert, she quickly accessed all the souls surrounding her own, but upon feeling no soul out of the ordinary, her shoulders slumped and she straightened out her unruly pajama top. Maka, meister of Death's next weapon, had once again succumbed to a silly bump in the night.

Glancing at the clock and seeing the time, she shrugged off her nightshirt and pulled on her academy clothes. She sat down at her desk and opened the nearest book with a smile. It may be four in the morning but her desire to read always peaked in the mornings anyways.

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Soul hated the morning drive to the academy. While driving the motorcycle gave him a dose of adrenalin, the redundancy of the same route to the DWMA everyday left him bored and simply driving through the motions. As he was letting his mind wander aimlessly and zipping down side-streets, he noticed a lanky guy, on the right-hand side, ahead of him. The dark-haired boy seemed to sense them coming because he turned and looked Soul straight in the eyes as he drove by. It took a few seconds for his recollection to kick it but then he recognized the guy as Matsuro the meister? He couldn't remember for sure.

His fingers tightened on his bike as he recalled Black Star talking about him one day. Apparently a few months ago some guys were knocking him around in the courtyard and when one of them stomped down on his chest, the guy managed to reopen a six- inch stab wound that nearly caused Matsuro to bleed out. But the strange thing was he hadn't been on any missions in nearly a third of a year.

He remembered Black Star's eyes bugging out and hands flying around theatrically as he told the story save for abruptly muttering something about Matsuro's parents possibly being behind it. Soul didn't think his best friend was insensitive, just uncomfortable with the subject-matter and he didn't blame him one bit for behaving the way he did.

Supposedly Lord Death tried to intervene and told the bullies that if they continued to harass Matsuro that they'd be expelled, however, the taunting continued, just on more hushed terms. Yet, Soul had no idea why they'd risk expulsion just to beat-up a kid that didn't fight back. He knew that bullying was all about the rush of power that came with picking on someone weaker than one's self, but who could feel power hungry at a school that every day gave students the power to flex their power against kishins? Some people just weren't cool.

Soul felt his meister's fingers apprehensively twitch against his sides as if fighting the urge to tighten her grip around his ribs. He wondered if she'd seen Matsuro as well and was also dwelling on the rumors surround the mysterious boy. As they pulled into a parking space, he felt Maka rest her head against his back and after pulling off his helmet, looked over his shoulder curiously at her.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked to which she sat up and glanced at him with glazed eyes but otherwise didn't respond.

"Maka," he pressed, she was beginning to worry him. Reaching up and tugging off her own safety gear, she gave a big yawn and finally seemed to realize he was talking to her.

"What? Oh, yeah. I'm just tired you know, after last night and everything." Soul opened his mouth to push the matter further, however he completely forgot what he was going to say when a cloud of dust surrounding Black Star, who was pulling Tsubaki, passed by. Laughing softly to himself at the sight, Soul decided to drop the matter with Maka and began walking after them while absentmindedly wondering if he should speak to Tsubaki later in the day.

"Come on Maka. We can't let Black Star of all people beat us to class."

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Tossing her school books aside, Maka shut her apartment door behind herself and began pacing anxiously. Soul had dropped her off outside, after insisting he drive her, on his way to go out to dinner with Tsubaki. She certainly hadn't seen that coming.

Grabbing a bag of almonds out of one of the kitchen cabinets, she settled into her chair at the table and inattentively repeatedly kicked its legs with her heels. Maka had never seen her partner flirt or show any kind of romantic interest in Tsubaki, so then why was he going out with her? She could easily understand her coming over to visit or Soul going over to her and Black Star's apartment, but having dinner at a restaurant?

Finally relaxing a bit more, she shrugged her long sleeve shirt off and immediately pulled it back on. Caught up in her mind before, she hadn't noticed how frigid the air was. Begrudgingly she went to check the thermostat and was alarmed to see that it had been dialed down to a brisk fifty-five degrees. Soul had never turned it down so low before however, she quickly adjusted it to a more comfortable setting and headed back to her after school snack without a second thought.

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Soul picked at the plate of food in front of him, but his gut bothered him too much to eat much of it. Tsubaki had apologetically left a few minutes previously after Black Star had ambushed their meeting and according to Soul it was just as well. It turned out that she was just as clueless about how to help Maka as Soul himself was. She insisted that he try to get her to come out and tell him exactly what her problem was by thoughtful persuasion, but hadn't he already tried that? Maka was so stubborn when it came to asking others for help sometimes and he knew that better than anyone.

He took another half bite of food and set his fork down for good; Maka's cooking was so much better than it anyways. Deciding that sitting there moping around wouldn't do him anymore good, Soul paid for his meal and headed home.

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A loud knocking at the door jolted Maka from her much-needed nap. Upon using her soul perception, she froze: Matsuro was outside her apartment.

"Open up Maka. I know you're in there."

Although internally panicking, she quietly retreated to her bedroom, pressed her back up against the door, and slid to the ground. He had never come so close to her home before, however, considering Matsuro had invaded all of her personal spaces at the DWMA, it was only a matter of time until he barged even more into her life. It was like he was backing her further and further into a corner.

Hiding in her room with her legs pressed up to her chest made her feel utterly weak but what else could she do? The banging on the door continued erratically while she lamented on her situation. The weeks of constant following had physically and mentally drained her; then again Maka was far from stupid. She had noticed that Matsuro thrived on her reactions and had tried to cease all contact with him in order to bore him out of harassing her. Occasionally he would leave rather quickly when she didn't respond to him, on the contrary, he would become provoked even more so than before. It was a lose-lose situation that she couldn't seem to find a foothold to climb out of.

Rubbing her face into her knees, Maka prayed that he'd give up before Soul got home. Her chest ached as she considered having to tell her weapon that she'd hid in her room from a guy that had never laid a hand on or had even threatened her.

She dropped her legs and they splayed out in front of her before she began feeling as though her breaths weren't fulfilling. Head spinning as she continued to hear the ever-present thudding on the front door, spots crept into Maka vision and her lungs attempted to go into over drive. Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes as she desperately gasped for air and her head throbbed painfully.

Realization finally dawned on her and survival instincts kicking in, she tucked her head down between her legs. It took several long minutes before she felt her pulse slow and breathing deepen but was more relieved to sense Matsuro withdrawing than anything else.

She was lucky that she broke out of her hysterics before she passed out from lack of air. More annoyed than ever at herself, Maka kicked a nearby book across the room. There had to be a better way to handle Matsuro. She shook her head and through the window she could see the sun was setting. There had to be a better way to handle her stress.

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Soul wasn't surprised that he didn't see Maka when he got home, however, he was caught off-guard by the half eaten bag of almonds resting on the table. Thrilled that she had eaten so many, he almost skipped to her room but stopped quickly reminded himself how uncool that would be. Sighing at himself, he knocked on Maka's door and waited patiently for her to answer.

"Come in," she muttered. When he let himself in, she was sitting cross-legged on her bed and he took a seat beside her.

"How was dinner?" she inquired rather out of the blue. He hadn't expected her to be the one to break the ice; maybe worming an answer out of her wouldn't be as difficult as he originally thought.

"Could've been better, how was yours?" He took in the red splotches on her cheeks as well as sagging shoulders and guessed her answer before it could be said.

"Could've been better."

Soul pushed himself back until he was leaning against the wall and inclined his head to stare at his hands in his lap. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Maka visibly relax. If there was one thing he loved about their partnership, it was that they fed off each other's energy.

Feeling a bout of confidence, he leaned over and grabbed her hand in his own. He toyed with her fingers curiously and she watched him with mild interest until they met each other's eyes.

"Next time, I want to have dinner with you," he said truthfully. Maka's face softened and she shifted so that she could rest her head on his shoulder. She could have the absolute worst day and somehow he could make her forget all about it with a few choice words. Pushing a few stray hairs out of her eyes, she wondered if she had been so stressed lately because she had been pushing her partner away.

It honestly wasn't fair to either of them the way she'd been acting. Not only did she force herself to carry a burden too heavy for her shoulders, but unbeknownst to herself, Soul had gathered his own weight trying to help her. The situation with Matsuro was getting way too out of hand and after her weak moment earlier she knew that she couldn't face it by herself any longer. While she knew telling her weapon would express to him how utterly pathetic she was, now that Matsuro had paid a visit to their door, Soul's own safety was threatened and it wasn't fair for him to be unaware of that fact.

She feels him shift inquisitively after she sighs and lifts her head to take in his guarded expression. This wasn't going to be easy, but she needed to do this for the both of them.

"I'll tell you what's been bothering me if you tell me why tried to freeze me to death," said Maka jokingly, however, Soul didn't look amused at all.

"What are you talking about?" She laughed a bit, thinking that he was playing dumb but was puzzled by his realistic looking frown.

"The thermostat was set to fifty-five degrees! I almost forgot it was August!"

Soul looked at her oddly before replying, "Maka, I didn't adjust the thermostat."

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Alrighty there's chapter five (: I bet most of you expected it sooner and I apologize for that however, I haven't been as immersed in the Soul Eater universe lately so it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. I hope you don't mind the lack of Matsuro in this chapter as well, I suppose I consider him as a constant presence and therefore, don't really feel like forcing him in. If my calculations are correct there should be two or three more chapters to this story and the next one is certainly going to be the climax so get excited for that! Oh and the temperatures discussed are in Fahrenheit. Thank you so much for the thoughtful reviews and for reading, it really does mean a lot to me (:

*Update: Oh my goodness I'm so embarrassed! I opened this story for the first time today and realized that none of my line breaks have been making it into the chapters. I updated all the chapters with the new spaces but I did it in a hurry so I apologize if I messed anything up. So sorry about that :(