A/N: So, it's been over three months since I've updated Staccato. I'm so very sorry! There have been lots of issues with me getting my passport (and consequentially my visa) for my trip to Japan next semester, and that has monopolized a good deal of my free time! Soon I'll need to start thinking about packing too, and then actually go, but I'll try my best to get back into the swing of things!

I'm a bit rusty now, though, so feel free to drop me a few story prompts or ideas in a review or PM. I can't promise I'll get to all of them, but a bit of inspiration could help me get back into the groove of things.

I have a feeling that this is going to be nothing but stream of consciousness word-vomit, so I'm sorry.


Natural

When Maka held Soul in her hands, gripping his shaft tightly as her body spun to slash at the creatures that made up nightmares, it didn't used to feel like it did now. He didn't used to be able to feel her intents, to be able to use that knowledge to make the arc of her swing smoother or to blunt his edge for a solid hit meant to stun rather than cut. He simply had existed, tense and nervous as the world spun around him and the blows resounded within his form, not quite like pain but certainly palpable.

It wasn't as if he didn't care about winning; of course he wanted to win, to go home safely, to make sure Maka got home safely too. But the world of Shibusen was once foreign to him, and he had certainly been out of his element. The dark cobblestone alleyways of Death City were not his home's courtyard where he would spend his free time in silence, and the battles with fiends who had sold their souls for power were certainly more dangerous than a recital, loathe them as he may.

Soul had entered the EAT class as soon as he was able to reliably transform and maintain his weapon form; Maka was pushy, and she demanded that he became mission-ready as soon as possible so that they could begin their hunts, and a NOT student just wasn't going to cut it. In a matter of weeks he was confident in both his weapon form and his ability to shift just an arm or a leg into a blade, and thanks to Maka's good standing in EAT, he was accepted into the higher class with her as his meister.

It wasn't all that easy, though. He and Maka got along alright most of the time, but between studying lessons that could be the difference between life and death, actual life and death situations, and having to wash the dishes and make his own bed, Soul found himself overwhelmed. When Maka wielded him, the most he could do was to not distract her; she had trained for this her whole life, he had not. He could not power up her intended moves, nor could he accurately predict what those moves would be. They could not resonate either; the few attempts they had made led to his weapon form being thrown from her hands when their souls clashed, and trying that in battle would be suicide.

Soon after those failures Soul learned that it was common for meisters to struggle to wield new weapons due to conflicting soul wavelengths. She had never shown any trouble holding him or swinging him around, but they could not resonate, so he decided to try to ease whatever burdens she may have been bearing. That night during battle he focused on simply going with her plans, and he willed his blade to strike where it seemed likely she would swing. There was no noticeable difference to him, but she later asked him if he was feeling better about life at Shibusen since he felt a bit lighter that day. That was the first time that Soul began to feel like maybe he had not made a mistake, dangers be damned. Maybe he did have a chance in this strange partnership in this insane line of work.

Now it was easier. They argued over dishes and vacuuming and what shows to watch when they lounged about on the couch, but that was their dynamic; the arguments weren't truly hostile, and there was an unspoken understanding between them that any conflicts more serious than what to have for dinner warranted an actual discussion. Their differences had long since been reconciled, and they had eventually accepted each others' quirks, like her habit of cooking nothing but kayu around exam time (even if nobody was sick enough to warrant the making of the comfort food) or his secret enjoyment of baths filled with scented sea salts.

And somewhere along the way he had taken protecting Maka to heart. Of course he didn't want to be the weapon that let his meister get killed, but it went beyond that. Perhaps then it had been innocent, simply bonding with the person with whom he spent all of his time. Later it was fueled by a deeper passion, one that he kept locked away as a secret in his soul. But at first it was nothing more than a drive, a need, to keep her safe. He would not fail at this. Soul's escape from his old life would not end abruptly because of a slip-up, and Maka did not deserve to simply be a casualty of a spoiled boy's whim. He would not let her die. Maka would live, and they would kick ass as an amazing pair. He believed that and worked towards that, so it would of course come to pass.

The final slash of Soul's blade rent the fiend's flesh, and it screamed a shrill screech before its corpse fell to the ground, still. Maka smiled up at his blade, and his reflected image smiled back. Her soul thrummed with pleasure, resonance slowly fading, and her grip on his shaft transitioned into a tight hold on his hand when he returned to human form.

This is where they belonged, fighting nightmares on the streets. This was what was natural.