Define "Normal", Epilogue
So Long and Thanks for All the GIRAFFES
The end to something can sometimes come abruptly, sometimes so quickly that you don't realize it's happened until it's over. Often this happens at a time like Christmas; the rush and excitement of the day is amazing, and you don't realize until you go to bed that night that the holiday you've waited all year for has come to a close very quickly. But occasionally, that final moment of a great event can extend itself, continuing to share the emotions produced for a long time. Sometimes, though, it's a relief to finally utter the words "It's over now."
"Crona. Crona. It's over now."
Crona finally allowed his eyes to open. They had been closed tight in an attempt to halt the flow of tears that threatened to spill over his pale cheeks, but had done little to prevent the onslaught.
"It's all right, Crona," Maka rubbed his stiff back. "We all killed her together. She's gone."
Soul limped over as his red eyes settled upon the lifeless body of the witch at their feet. Medusa's once vibrant eyes were dull, and her mouth hung open in a silent scream of fear.
Crona didn't want to look at her any longer. He swiftly pulled Ragnarok out of the broken form of his mother and hugged Maka, crying into her arms. As he did this, Medusa's body split into fading ribbons, as the group had seen so many of their opponents do before. What remained was a small purple flame with what seemed to be a minuscule arrow snaking its way around it.
"Medusa's soul," Maka whispered, holding her sobbing friend. Casting a glance at Soul, she could see the small bit of drool creeping out of his mouth that indicated his desire for the glowing orb. "Don't you dare," The blonde snapped, glaring at her partner. "Crona killed her. He should have it for Ragnarok."
"YES! Feed me!" The Demon Sword spoke up, emerging from Crona's back. His tiny hands reached for the soul as his infrequently-visible mouth opened in a hungry grin. Maka winced.
"On second thought, the last thing that thing needs is to be more powerful."
"Y-yeah..." Crona shook, releasing his hold on Maka. "Thanks Maka... For helping me," He smiled faintly. "She's dead now. I don't have to deal with her anymore."
"That's right," Maka smiled back at him.
"Can I eat it now?" Soul sighed, holding the witch's soul by the tip. Quicker than he thought possible, Maka had snatched the item out of his hands.
"No way," She said with a stern look. "You can't have this yet. We've got twenty-seven more souls to collect before you can have a witch's soul," She stuffed the orb in her pocket, "I'm giving this to Lord Death. He'll save it for you until you're ready."
Soul continued to drool, reaching for the soul. "C'mon, Maka! Don't do this to me!" He cried, moving with his partner in a strange dance of keep-away. He grimaced suddenly, kneeling down and wrapping his arms around his injured stomach. "Darn it... That still smarts..."
"Then don't grab for the thing like that," Huffed Maka, bending down to look her partner in the eye. "Just be patient, okay?"
The silver-haired scythe winced. "Fine," He rolled his eyes, standing up with obvious effort. "Let's just get the heck outta here and back home to bed."
"Done yet? Had enough yet?"
Black*Star shouted as he threw Tsubaki, now in her shuriken form, at Stein. The mad doctor dodged, trying to hit the ninja with his wavelength, but the latter was out of the former's range.
Kid had joined the fight a while ago, and gradually the two meisters were wearing down the man that used to be their professor. The boy reaper fired madly at Stein, hitting his back when Black*Star distracted him, and vice versa.
Black*Star and Kid turned to stare at Maka, who had just shouted to halt. Stein, grinning, took this brief moment of confusion to charge the blonde.
"Maka, look out!" Kid called as his friend simply stood there, Crona and Soul beside her.
With his demented brain unable to resist a still target, Stein was shooting forward towards the girl, his hand sparking with his wavelength. However, he was stopped dead before he reached her by a few simple words uttered from Maka's mouth.
"Medusa is dead."
Stein stared at her, unexpectedly completely still. Suddenly his drive was gone, with his hands just inches from the blonde's face. He tried over and over again to process Maka's words, but he didn't want to believe their meaning and continually searched for another one. However, this effort continued to fail, and he was forced to request clarification.
"Medusa's... Dead?" He mumbled, staring at Maka. Her answer was merely a nod, but it destroyed him. Stein collapsed, shaking frantically. His reason to fight was gone, and it was crushing him. His insane mind had finally found something to stay mad for, and now that it had vanished, he was broken.
"Me... Med..." He whispered. He saw his students kneeling down around him, asking if he was okay or if he felt sane yet, now that Medusa and her snakes were gone. However, his last shred of madness had one final means to tear at him, as was then apparent in the agonized cry that then burst from Stein's lungs.
Within the following months, things settled down. The staff of the original DWMA returned to the Academy building the next day after Kid's news of Medusa's defeat reached his father. Stein was kept under surveillance at his home until he calmed down, a precaution so he wouldn't hurt anyone. Marie arrived about a week after he was declared stable. Or stable enough.
"Stein?" Marie knocked on the door before letting herself in. "I'm back! And I brought souvenirs!"
"In the kitchen," Came a monotone reply. Marie followed his direction, walked into their kitchen trundling her suitcase behind her. Their kitchen resembled more of a laboratory than a place to prepare food, but Marie had learned to live with it. Besides, Stein's actual lab was much more extensive.
"Hey, Stein!" The woman smiled at him. "How are you?"
The doctor in question took a brief moment to glance up from his sandwich and glance at her. He turned back to his food, taking a large bite before replying jadedly, "Terrible."
"You always say that," Marie giggled, looking at his plate. "Milk and sandwiches... Is this all you've had since I was gone?"
"And cereal," Stein corrected her. "For breakfast. And canned noodles."
Marie sighed. "All the lab work you do, and you don't know how to cook for yourself," She murmured, setting her bag down. "Do you want to see your souvenirs?"
Stein shrugged. "Why not?" He mumbled, causing Marie to beam cheerfully.
"All right, since I don't travel to Oceania much anymore, I decided to get us some gifts! I got myself some dresses, and for you," The blonde set a small bobble-head in front of Stein, "A Nemo bobble-head! I showed you 'Finding Nemo' a while ago, right? You remember it was set in the Great Barrier Reef and off the coast of Sydney? Well, I visited Sydney for a few days, and I thought you might like a figurine from the movie, so I got you a bobble-head!" She seemed very pleased with herself.
Stein picked up the five-inch-tall figure. It was a small clown fish on a purple base shaped like a piece of coral, and the large-eyed head was detached from the body by a spring, causing it to shake back and forth when jostled. The doctor couldn't imagine why Marie thought he'd enjoy something like this, but he set it down and poked the head, causing it to vibrate.
"It's nice," He noted dispassionately.
"I'm glad you like it!" Marie grinned, not letting her partner's melancholy bring her down as we went over to the microwave to heat up coffee for him. Upon opening the door, she nearly dropped the mug in shock. "A-are these human eyeballs in the microwave?" She stuttered, staring at the items before her.
"It was an experiment," Stein muttered nonchalantly, flicking the head of his new bauble.
Marie sighed, closing the microwave and deciding to abandon the prospect of a warm drink for the moment. "So what all happened while I was gone?"
Stein stiffened. He had been trying to take his mind off of what had occurred on that Saturday; however he knew he'd have to admit to it sometime.
"I..." He sighed. "I went mad again."
Marie froze. "W-what?" He stared at the grey-haired man, finding herself gripping the top of the counter.
Stein took a deep breath. "I went mad again. Medusa wasn't dead and drove me mad. I nearly dissected Kid. After she was killed for good by Maka, Soul, and Crona, the madness faded on its own," He explained rather quickly. "But in my madness," He avoided saying, "I found myself in love with Medusa."
Marie was unable to figure out what Stein had refrained from mentioning, but she knew that something was bothering him that he hadn't told her. She walked over to him slowly. "Do you want to talk about it?" She asked quietly.
"Wasn't that what I just did?" Stein replied. Suddenly he found Marie's arms around his shoulders from behind in an embrace.
"You know I'm here for you Stein, right?" She whispered.
The doctor was silent. Slowly, his hand reached up and grasped Marie's.
"I know," He murmured, "And thank you."
Stein then realized there were two sides of him, even more so than he had thought before. There was one side of him, the sane side, which favored Marie's company and warm touch.
But there were also the madness-filled corners of his mind that would forever mourn his love for Medusa.
Soul had waited until barely a week before the actual event to make good on the promise he had sworn to himself while sitting in a closet with Crona.
"Maka? Um... Can we go to the, um... Prom? Together?" He had stuttered. "Quit that. Cool guys don't stutter," He scolded himself.
Maka raised an eyebrow. "Uh... Sure...?" She answered, but was slightly confused. Despite this, she quickly buried her face back in her book to hide her blush, and Soul had retreated back to his room just as hastily to hide a similar redness in his face.
The silver-haired scythe had been listening to his recently re-acquired iPod - they had busted apart a few black market chains during the attempts to get the device back - while trying to wait patiently for his date on the night of the event. He didn't have much patience.
"Come on, Maka! We're gonna be late!" Soul groaned, leaning against his partner's door. Crona was out with Liz, Patty, Tsubaki and Black*Star, as they decided to have a small celebration of their own since everyone else was out. Soul was personally surprised Kid had managed to find a date. Some girl named Hope, evidently.
"I'm fixing my hair!" Maka replied hotly as she attempted to somehow get the blue bow into the ash blonde locks that hung down over her shoulders. The young Albarn didn't often care about her appearance, but when she did she was just like any other girl; obsessing over their looks for far longer than their dates preferred.
"Maka, you look fine," Soul muttered. "You're wearing the dress from the closet, right? The blue one with the sequins? If you are, then we match. Isn't that all that matters?" The silver-haired scythe had dressed up in a black suit with a blue tie and shoes that perfectly complimented his partner's dress. He didn't realize what else needed to be done. He wasn't expecting the blonde to open the door he was leaning against so swiftly, and her rushed actions caused her partner to stumble and nearly fall over. He whipped around; prepared to glare at her and ask her why in heck she just did that, when he stopped dead.
Maka Albarn had suddenly transformed from a battle-hungry scythe to an elegant young woman, and Soul Evans found himself in awe of it.
She was wearing the blue dress that had been hanging in the hall closet, which had remained Crona's room much to the enthusiasm of the male residents of the apartment. Strands of ash-blonde hair fell equally over her shoulders, while even more of it cascaded down to her mid-back. The dress fit her perfectly, coming down to slightly above her knees and accenting her petite figure.
Soul's mouth hung open for a moment, staring with a dazed expression before he finally spoke. "Wow. You look..." He was about to say something along the lines of "wonderful", "dazzling", or "stunning", but he regained his composure and resumed leaning against the door frame. "Cool," He finished. "You look cool."
Maka rolled her eyes. "After all that work I went through, I just look 'cool'?" She growled, irritated at her partner's seemingly nonchalant attitude. Whipping out a comb, she began dragging it through Soul's silver-white hair. "Well if I look 'cool', then you look 'uncool'! Your hair looks like it needs weed killer!"
"Ow! Hey! Maka, quit that! I swear I didn't have this many knots until you tried to 'fix it'! OW!" The scythe's protests were futile as he was subjected to a severe combing. This night hadn't begun as he has hoped, but he tried to think positive as he told himself it would get better.
Despite Soul's attempts to stay optimistic, faults in his dream evening continued to occur. Maka refused to ride her partner's bike and get both of their hair ruined after all the work she did on them, so they had to walk. However, Maka had insisted on wearing heels, and after declaring that "her feet hurt like heck", Soul was forced to carry her on his back. This was much to the embarrassment of both parties, and the near exhaustion of Soul's. Maybe he enjoyed the fact that he had his arms around Maka's legs, but he would take the secret of that sensation his grave, and his fatigue far outweighed this small satisfaction. As a result of all this, they reached the Academy barely an hour before midnight. Lord Death had decided to hold Shibusen's prom upon New Year's Eve that year.
"Can you... Walk on... Your own now?" Soul panted, having just walked hills and large flights of stairs to reach the ballroom, all while carrying his irritable partner.
"Yeah," Mumbled Maka, sliding off of Soul's back. "Thanks."
"No problem," Soul tried to regain his breath. "That was... A lot of walking."
Maka set her hand on his shoulder, trying to be gentle towards her date for the evening. "And I said thank you," She smiled a little. "I'm really grateful. So can we get to the party now?"
The silver-haired scythe smirked at her, thinking he was pulling his night back on track. "Sure," He replied.
At least one small fragment of Soul's daydream was realized; he and Maka easily outshone all of the other dancers in the room. However, while he had noticed the grand piano in the corner of the room, Maka hadn't requested his playing, so he decided to prompt her.
"Hey, Maka," He smirked as he swayed in time with his partner and the music, "Want me to play for us?" He motioned with his head to the piano. Maka's reaction wasn't what he expected.
"Really, Soul? You know most of these other students wouldn't appreciate your playing, not that I don't think it's amazing. Besides, Papa's told me that they haven't had a piano tuner in here in about a decade."
Soul winced, both at her reaction to his request and the thought of playing a piano that hadn't been tuned in that long. "I see your point," He sighed.
Maka noticed the air between them was getting tense and Soul seemed to be tiring of dancing, so she stopped moving for a minute. "How about we go out to the balcony? Where there aren't as many people," She suggested, to which Soul nodded. He slowly and awkwardly took her hand, thinking that was what dates did during their prom. However, even though they had already been dancing for a while, a certain Death Scythe who happened to be staffing the event took this gawky act as a last straw. He also still hadn't gotten over the mall jail incident either, as was apparent in his random cries of "MY JAILED MAKA".
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY MAKA, YOU FILTHY-!"
Soul's crimson eyes stared at the rushed scene before him, trying to process what had just happened.
"Right... Spirit came rushing in like a man possessed, and then Maka hit him..." He glanced over at his partner, who was holding a rather think book in midair over her father's rather thick skull. The latter was unconscious, a mere heap upon the ground that Maka haughtily stepped on while walking to the balcony. Soul took one last glance at the comatose redhead before he followed his date.
Maka glanced over at her partner when he joined her outside. She sighed, running a hand through her hair.
"So..." Soul mumbled, trying to start up a conversation as he leaned against the balcony. He struggled to search for anything in his head that might be a conversation starter, and hit upon the first thing that came to mind. "So how about Medusa, huh? Whatever she said right before Crona stabbed her... Mephiles, was it? Probably nonsense." He wanted to slap himself. That had happened over a month ago, and here he was, bringing up the subject just so he could converse with his date. So uncool.
Maka raised an eyebrow, slightly confused as to why he'd bring up that matter now, but played along. "Yeah... I guess. I thought I heard Papa say that I had an Uncle named Mephiles, but that he was killed by a witch when I was little," She said. "Do you think Medusa might have killed him?"
Soul shrugged. "Maybe. But why would she say his name on her deathbed?"
It was Maka's turn to shrug. "Maybe Crona reminded her of my uncle?" She suggested, resting her arms on the balcony railing and gazing over the city. "Those photos... I think I get what you meant by leaving them."
The silver-haired scythe raised an eyebrow. "What photos?" He asked, surprised at her sudden question.
"The photos of you and I that you didn't take when you left that Saturday," The blonde replied. "It was symbolic, wasn't it? About how you were leaving behind the memories of me and moving on."
Soul held Maka's gaze for a moment, and then found himself chuckling. "You read too much into things, bookworm," He smirked. "I left behind the photos because I didn't have enough room for all of them in my case."
Maka's face grew beet red with embarrassment, so she swiftly turned her face away from him. "Oh," She huffed. Despite her humiliation, she was slightly irritated at the fact that her partner wouldn't even think to be even slightly sentimental on that occasion. She decided to bring up a related subject to see if she could press him into emotion.
"Are you... Glad we're partners again?"
The crimson-eyed teen glanced sideways at her for a moment, and then turned back to the scenery. "Yeah. It's cool," He mumbled nonchalantly.
Emerald eyes grew perturbed. "Why can't you show emotion, Soul?" The girl snapped. This statement caught Soul off guard. He stared at her with slight surprise in his eyes, but his gaze quickly hardened.
"I can show emotion!" He growled. "I just don't want to because getting all expressive isn't cool!"
"Well, of course you won't if it 'isn't cool'!" The blonde retorted. "Is that all you care about?"
"No!" Soul shot back. Before he could stop himself, his next words spilled from his mouth. "I care about YOU!" He was somewhat startled at himself for saying such things, but evidently the girl before him was unfazed by his statement and continued to hurl accusations at him.
"Well, you do a good job of showing it! I don't think you even HAVE emotions!"
That did it. Soul's calloused hands clenched into fists. "I have emotions!" He shouted.
"Well prove it!" Maka yelled, equally loud and angered.
"I will!" Soul declared. He'd show her. He'd show her every ounce of emotion he kept pent up within him. He didn't care if he looked 'uncool' at that moment; he was going to show her exactly what he felt about her.
"FINE-!" Maka's word was nearly cut off as Soul grabbed her shoulders and jerked her towards him before slamming his lips upon hers.
Of course there was Maka's initial surprise, but both sides of the partnership soon knew that Soul needn't say any more; all his emotion was poured into that kiss.
"I'm sorry. Don't be mad. You're the best partner ever. You're all I need."
"I love you."
Soul pulled away slowly, his crimson gaze staring into pools of emerald as he allowed himself to drown in them.
"See?" He whispered after a moment, a light smirk playing on his lips. "Emotion."
Maka permitted herself to slowly smile up back at him. Then the two were nearly blinded by the abrupt and bright flash produced by the camera. The pair was dazed by the light for a minute as they tried to find the source of their confusion.
"Great shot, guys! But can you make out this time? That was kinda boring!"
Soul and Maka whipped around to glare over the balcony at the scene before them. Liz had just spoken from the terrace below them, and around her stood Patty, Black*Star, Tsubaki and Crona. The first three were grinning with a slightly-evil look on their faces.
"What the heck did you just do?!" Soul exclaimed, his face enraged and red with the humiliation that his previous actions hadn't been private.
"Well, we managed to train your bird thing to use the camera," Liz explained. Sokka the hyacinth macaw was perched on her shoulder while the brunette held the device. The parrot chirped happily.
"Stupid Soul Eater!" He squawked his favorite phrase.
"We went him up there to snap a picture of you two getting all lovey," Liz swooned dramatically, "And the flash distracted you long enough for him to come back."
Black*Star cackled like a madman. "Now we can blackmail ya!"
Maka's gaze turned deadly. "You're ALL getting chopped into the NEXT STATE!" She threatened.
The eyes of her friends grew wide with slight apprehension as they noticed the reality of the blonde's threat. Patty grabbed Crona's shoulders and shoved him before the group.
"It's all Crona's fault!" She declared, trying to pass the blame.
"W-what?!" Crona's face grew even paler than it was before. "I don't know how to deal with getting blamed for this!
Soul rolled his eyes, turning around and sliding down against the railing until he sat upon the floor of the balcony, while their friends babbled and laughed on. Maka joined him after a minute.
"I'm going to kill them all," The blonde muttered darkly, her tone causing Soul to chuckle a little.
"Hey, try and kill them gently. They are our friends," He joked. The silver-haired scythe turned his face up, gazing at the eerie yellow crescent that was the moon laughing down on them. A thought suddenly occurred to him, and he spoke of it before he could dismiss it. "Why can't we have any ordinary days?"
Maka glanced over at him. His question had caught her off-guard. "What was that?" She asked, confused.
"I said 'why can't we have any ordinary days'?" Soul repeated. "Something weird's always going on, and if it's not our friends acting like five-year-olds while getting stuck in closets and playing matchmaker, then we're getting attacked by some witch or other," He sighed. "It would be nice if things were occasionally more normal."
The blonde pondered her partner's question for a minute, before she began to giggle softly and she reached over to clutch Soul's strong hand in her own. Soul relaxed at the contact, a content smile showing on his face.
"Define 'normal'," Maka laughed. "Dopey friends, fighting manic witches? That kind of stuff happens to us all the time."
*I disclaim* I don't own Finding Nemo, or the works of Douglas Adams that I reference in the title, nor the Sherlock quote I use.
When Kid's "girlfriend named Hope" is mentioned, it refers to a future oneshot of mine that's a birthday gift to my friend ~Adlez~.
Well, there it is. Chapter 18: The final chapter. It's been amazing, and I love this fic. I hope you've loved it as well. :) I'm thinking of making a sequel…
I'd like to send out special shout-outs to some very special people who have helped this story greatly. Firstly I want to thank a few very special humans: koryandrs, DarkLover62199, DerpyKanshii, and The Symmetricallist for your continual support! Thanks as well to all my reviewers. You encourage me to continue writing and your feedback boosts my confidence level immensely. And I'd like to send my sincere gratitude towards my partners in crime, er, friends, that have helped me through blocks and for just being there when I need to rant about what in the name of sanity I'm doing. LOL Thank you ~Adlez~, JacketBuddy, and my younger sister NamineBear. :) Thanks as well to all the people who faved, followed, or even stuck around put up with my writing through the final chapter. All of you mean a lot to me. :D
Until next time, mortals!
A sound Soul... Dwells within a sound Mind, and a sound Body.