He never meant to let it get this bad.

Soul clutched his chest, air being forced into his lungs with ragged breaths. Flashes of red and black danced across his field of vision while stabs of heat shot through his limbs with every breath.

He never meant to let it get out of hand.

Soul's black blood was acting up more and more. During battle with Maka he would allow its power to flow between them, its madness becoming strength that resonated with their intertwined souls. And it worked. Without any repercussions for dancing with the devil, they would take down their targets and claim victory. Maka's anti-demon wavelength kept the black blood from taking hold within her soul, and that power became Soul's as well when they were in resonance.

Or, that's what he let her believe.

Instead of the madness ebbing away after the fights ended, it flitted through the shadows of Soul's mind, vying for control. It would whisper sweet seductions, promising power, power to protect her, to keep her safe.

He hated having to hide it from her.

When Soul rejected the madness, kicked the damn ogre across the room in his soul, the madness lashed back. It was not just part of his mind, no; it flowed through his blood, and it was well aware of its ability to torture Soul. The ogre would sneer, slumped against the wall in the black room, and ask him why.

"Why are you so stubborn? You want to protect her. Sure, you're doing an okay job now, but you're a goddamn Death Scythe. You'll be sent away soon, and you'll be too far to keep her safe. I could give you the power to keep her safe from any distance."

He hated how goddamn tempting it all was starting to sound.

Even so, he fought the madness. He fought back the burning in his blood, the laughter in his head as the ogre watched him suffer, the flames in his lungs with every breath. He fought against the temptation to make the madness his own.

He fought against the temptation to use it to claim her.

"How cute. You think it's noble that you're holding back on her. You think that her knowing that you suffer for her, that you fight madness for her, would make her wonder why. Why would her dearest weapon put himself through this hell, when he could just not use the black blood as often?"

"Shut up."

"You want her."

"Shut the fuck up!"

"You can't stand the thought of her getting hurt. You're infatuated with your meister, who doesn't even give you a second glance as a man."

The ogre was flung across the room, crashing into the shiny black shape of the piano, a dissonant clang erupting from it as the creature hit the keys.

The demon scoffed. "You're a fool. You can either watch from the background, not making any moves to keep her close, or you can claim the power you deserve and make her yours, keep her safe. You can't do both. You can't walk that line between them, using your power to protect her but not forcing yourself on her. That will kill you."

He hated how right the damned ogre was starting to sound.

Soul sat upright and swung his legs over the side of his bed. Still clutching his chest, feeling the burn with each breath he took, he stumbled out his bedroom door and towards Maka's bedroom. He heard the ogre sigh in frustration then turn and walk out of the black room as her wavelength got closer.

Maka was startled awake as her bed shifted, about to spin around and attack the intruder when Soul reached out to her with his wavelength in the dark, a quiet, "Sorry, it's me," breaking the nighttime silence. She could feel his wavelength prodding hers with apprehension, requesting comforting he could never bring his oh-so-cool self to ask for out loud. Eyes still closed, she let her soul reach out to his, and they ever so softly resonated. She could feel his pain, whatever it was from, fading as their resonance bonded their souls. He could feel her concern and confusion; she knew something was wrong, but she would not ask. He did not want her to ask.

The remaining pain from the madness clawing through his veins dissipated. His body trembled as her soul, bright and beautiful, brushed away the shadows.



"Tell me tomorrow."

He never meant for it to get out of hand. He had just wanted to protect her, his beautiful meister with jade green eyes and soul of an angel. When had it become more than a job? A while ago, he was sure. When did his desire to protect her become so strong that he would give in to madness, suffer through insanity, to make sure not a single new scar marred her porcelain skin?

Soul sighed and pulled Maka closer to him.

"Yeah. Tomorrow, Maka."

Tomorrow he would stop this deception.