Disclaimer: I own Soul Eater on DVD. So that kinda counts as owning it, right? No? Drat.

In hindsight, Soul should have realized that trying to tickle a warrior skilled in hand-to-hand combat wasn't going to end well.

But Maka's laugh did something to him. Listening to the gentle peal of her laughter made the corners of his mouth want to ascend to uncool heights all the time. It was music, her laughter; that, Soul was sure of. Though it wasn't only the sound that enticed him; Soul could watch Maka laugh all day. There was this gentle crinkle in her nose when she laughed that he loved. He would find himself staring at that crinkle for far too long, mind going hazy, until her giggles faded into a simple smile, and she would turn to him and tilt her head slightly, asking what he was looking at.

He found himself longing for ways to make Maka laugh. Soul was never great with words, but for her he tried. He found that slipping a snide comment or a sarcastic remark into conversations under his breath would elicit a quiet little chuff from her, where she would grin and release a breath she didn't she didn't seem to notice she'd been holding. It was those small breaths and soft smiles that would make him happiest during his early partnership with Maka, though he would never admit that to anyone. But it also made him greedy. Soul wanted more.

The longer he was partnered with Maka, the more he noticed the little things he did that would sometimes make her giggle. Watching him make dinner was always amusing for Maka. Soul wasn't exactly a great cook, and Maka was simply delighted to watch him as he tried not to destroy their meal. Whether it was his grumbling under his breath as he tried to measure the stupid ingredients for their chicken breading or his yowling when he burnt himself again on that damn panhandle, Maka would spend every other day sitting at the island in their kitchen and giggling away at his antics. Over his shoulder he'd mutter for her to shove off, cooking was harder than it looked, all the while trying to hide the smirk that played across his lips at his meister's cute tittering.

He wondered what it would be like to hear Maka's full laughter. He wanted to hear her laugh until she was gasping for air, until she had to wipe the tears from her eyes and rub her cheeks because they hurt from smiling too long. Soul longed for the day that Maka would laugh like that, and he wanted to be cause of it.

And so, the grand idea of tickling his meister came to be.

Though he briefly considered tickling her stomach, that idea was quickly discarded when it occurred to him that the stomach was located between two very dangerous zones on the female body that he would get in big trouble for touching, even by accident. Plus, as he stood there in the kitchen watching Maka get food out of the fridge for her sandwich, Soul began taking notice of all the weapons they had in their kitchen, from sharp knives and forks, to pans and rolling pins that would surely knock him out with one swing. Fearing that his life might be on the line for attempting to tickle Maka's belly, he decided against it. So he settled for ghosting his fingertips over the soft spot directly under Maka's ribs, prepared to make her laugh loud enough for the entire apartment complex to hear her.

Soul was disappointed when it wasn't Maka's angelic laughter that escaped her lips. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Upon wiggling his fingers under his meister's ribcage as she was turned away from him, preparing her lunch and talking about her day, Maka screeched like a banshee. Even more surprising to Soul was the swift elbow to the face he received, as well as the sudden kick to the right shin. He fell down to the tiled floor with a shout, and Maka turned to face him.

"Shit! Oh gosh, Soul. I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you!" Her hands fluttered uselessly as she kneeled down to look at Soul, who had a hand covering his nose and another rubbing his leg. "Are you alright?" she asked softly, clearly worried.

He lifted his left hand from his nose and grimaced at the crimson smeared across his palm. "It's bleeding," he muttered, for lack of a better response. It wasn't the pain that bothered the boy, but the fact that his plan had failed. She didn't laugh at all; he had made her scream. No, he was not alright.

"What were you doing? Were you trying to tickle me?" Maka asked incredulously as she lifted herself from the floor to get some paper towel for her partner's nose. He stayed silent, embarrassed at his actions. Maka returned to his side once more, tearing a piece away from the roll and placing it in his bloodied hand. He blotted his nose silently.

"Well? What was that all about?"

Soul sighed loudly, feeling his face heat up. "I was trying to make you laugh, okay?"

Her face screwed up in confusion. "Make me—what? Why?"

He took the paper towel away from his face and looked at the red splotch that had formed on it. His eyes remained glued to it as he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. "I just wanted to hear your laugh, alright? It was uncool of me. Sorry." He stood up and turned away, prepared to flee to his room and hopefully avoid more questions on the subject, but she grabbed his elbow before he could retreat.

"Tickling me doesn't make me laugh." Her voice wasn't accusatory. She didn't sound mad, just thoughtful. "I don't really like it that much, and normally I'm not really in control of my body when it happens. I have this reflex where I try to hit someone if they tickle me." He looked over his shoulder at her, eyes questioning. She shrugged. "I don't really know why. I guess it's just to get them to stop."

He nodded and tried to continue walking. She didn't like tickling, duly noted. He'd never try that again. In fact, he'd never try anything again because he planned to stay in his room for the rest of his life with his face buried in his pillow.

Maka stopped him again, jogging around him and blocking his path as they entered the living room. She tilted her head in that quizzical way that always made Soul want to scream at her for being so damn cute without trying. "Are you going to tell me why you wanted to hear me laugh?" She pouted, and Soul swore that if his nose wasn't already bleeding, that pout would have done it.

"No." He side-stepped. So did she.

Suddenly her expression changed. Her eyes hardened, and her tiny little hands balled in to fists as she rested them on her hips. "What is the matter with you? Just tell me why you thought it was a good idea to come up behind me and assault me!"

He sputtered. "Assault? Maka, I'M the one with the bloody nose here! You assaulted me! All I did was tickle you! I was just wanted to hear you laughing because I like watching you laugh!" He was definitely blushing now. His entire face felt feverish, and he wanted nothing more than to dig a hole right there in their living room and jump in it.

The apartment seemed much too quiet once his outburst ended. All Soul could hear was his own loud breathing, forced to inhale and exhale through his mouth since his nose had started running again. He looked to Maka, whose eyes were wide.

"Listen, I didn't mean to—"

He stopped midsentence, trying to figure out what Maka was doing. Eyes still wide, her hand covered her mouth and her torso had begun to shake. Soul took a step towards her nervously, unsure of her actions, when a familiar sound came from her mouth. A bubble of laughter escaped, then another, and pretty soon her entire body was shaking with giggles that she tried her hardest to keep contained.

Soul was torn. This was what he wanted, but he was very confused by his meister's sudden giggle fit. "Maka?"

It didn't seem like Maka could stop though. She opened her mouth to try to speak, but all that tumbled out was Maka's laughter. Soon her hands were hugging her sides as she attempted to hold herself together, her chortling shaking her entire frame. Soul stood helplessly as his meister came apart in front of him, cackling until she was rubbing her eyes to brush the tears away.

She finally looked up at him, gasping for breath and still snickering as she spoke. "I'm sorry, Soul, it's just so funny! You came up to me to me and tickled me to try to get me to laugh and instead I elbowed you in the face!" She doubled over again, eyes squeezing shut as she continued to roar. From her bent-over position she continued to speak in between her broken giggles. "And your face was so red when you told me!"

Soul stood there in horror as his meister continued to howl at his discomfort. She muttered apologies in every breath she could manage, feeling bad for laughing at her weapon's expense, but continued to howl nonetheless. When her laughter finally ceased, her eyes returned to Soul's once again.

"I'm sorry for laughing at you." She smiled at him and chuffed once more, air blowing out of her nose. "But thank you for that. I needed a good laugh."

And with that, Maka walked out of the living room as if nothing had happened.

Soul vowed to never try to make Maka laugh on purpose again.

A/N: I wanted to call this fic "How Many Synonyms of the Word 'Laugh' Can Kelly Fit Into One Story," but people might have confused it for the title of an actual Soul Eater episode. Or a Fall Out Boy song.

And apparently the only Soul Eater ideas I come up with are ways to almost-kill Maka or ways to embarrass Soul. I am sensing a theme here, folks.