"Gross." Maka muttered, looking down at the small towel she held in her hands. She glanced up at the mirror, blood still running from her nose. She wasn't especially prone to nose-bleeds. Even when the air got dry, a lot of people she knew would get them pretty easily but… not her. So it was weird. It was weird that while she was sitting happily in her room reading a book that blood starting running down her face. It was weird, yeah, but what she was looking at now was weirder. Thick and black, the towel was drenched in what she assumed was her blood but…
Why was it still black?
She thought it was just a little side effect from the Soul Perception, but even then it was just from her eyes.
She brought the towel back to her face, the blood still coming in a steady stream. How much longer was it going to go on like this? Her stomach had a sick, anxious feeling that she tried to ignore.
"Maka, hurry up in there! I gotta pee!" Soul knocked on the door loudly, making her jump a little.
"Um… just—just a minute!" She called back, looking down at the state of herself. Smeared black all over her hands and face, her shirt stained from when it happened, before she made it to the bathroom. He knocked again loudly and as she wrung the once white towel in the sink, blood mixing with water as it washed down the drain.
"Come on, you've been in there forever!" he whined. There was no point in hiding this from him… especially when he was being so persistent.
She opened the door slowly, measuring his expression as he looked over, first bored until he took in her appearance.
"Jesus!" he hissed, raising his hands, but unsure where to put them to help, "What happened?"
"I just got a nose bleed but then—" she could feel blood pooling in the back of her throat. She swallowed thickly, nausea rising, "what's happening?" her voice was barely a whisper.
Soul just shook his head, taking her by the shoulders and leaning her over the sink. He took the towel from her hands, tossing it into the bathtub.
"Let it bleed out," he watched as an unending stream of blood flowed from her nose and down the drain. It was bad. She didn't say anything, just would gasp for air every now and then, her frame shaking slightly in what he knew was a combination of fear and anxiety.
In all actuality, he was probably more tense than she was, but there really was no way of knowing that.
She coughed, blood splattering out over the sink,
"Gross." She mumbled, annoyed sounding.
This girl always had the wrong reaction to situations. Despite himself, he chuckled.
"Oh this is funny now, is it?" She roared, still leaning over the sink.
"No!" he tried to sober up, repressing a snicker, "it's definitely not!"
"So then what's the idea, chuckles?!"
"Just—you. You're like, mildly annoyed that this is happening. Most people would be full force panic attack right now." He hummed, putting a hand between her shoulder blades comfortingly.
She didn't say anything for a moment, considering him. The stream of blood was a lot less intense now, no longer flowing down her throat or threatening to suffocate her. Now it was more of a drip. She sighed,
"The reason I'm not 'full force panic attack', Soul, is that I'm fully aware that you know what's going on right now." She didn't say it accusatorily. He was pretty sure she should have been accusing him but she definitely wasn't. She was just being honest about her reaction. She knew that he knew something he wasn't telling her.
Of course she did.
Should he lie about it now? Maybe.
Alright, time for some Evans' charm. Lay it on thick, use that silver tongue of yours to talk your way out of this situation.
He just grunted in response.
She was resting her forearms against the edges of the sink, head dipped slightly. She sighed.
"I don't know why you're not telling me, but I won't freak out or anything." Her voice was quiet.
He hadn't noticed that his hand was gently running up and down her back.
"I don't…" a lump rose in his throat, "really know." He lied.
She turned to look at him; her eyes telling him she knew he wasn't telling her the truth. She knew that he was holding something back from her. She knew everything.
But she didn't, and she couldn't.
He had told her nothing was going to happen to her. As stupid as it was, he'd called himself her 'weapon'. He was going to keep her safe, going to make sure she got out of whatever he had gotten her into alive and well.
He was a fucking liar.
"There's a defense mechanism in Eibon Technology that sometimes causes this."
He said it quickly, like saying it fast would mean he never said it at all. Like telling the truth might kill him.
It was silent between them. Soul waited for Maka to scream and punch and run away forever. He half expected Black Star to appear from the ceiling and snap his neck for probably just losing their greatest asset.
But he didn't, and she didn't.
"Oh," was all she said. She rose slowly from the sink, dizzy. He helped her sit on the lid of the toilet, grabbing a small face cloth and dampening it. He crouched down in front of her, tentatively holding the cloth inches from her face. She closed her eyes, a silent cue for him to continue.
Slowly, carefully, he ran it over her features, wiping away both fresh and dried blood.
"I have uh… another Eibon Technology."
Well, I mean, since he was in the sharing mood anyway, why not tell her something even some of his closest allies didn't know.
"What?" She asked, incredulous.
"Why didn't you mention this sooner?" She pushed his hand away from her face, staring into his eyes intensely.
"Because no one wants to ever use it, and I'm not even sure I ever should." He scratched the back of his head, trying to look nonchalant.
"What is it?" His attitude in no way helped her peaked interest, her excitement about it.
"It's called the Soul Resonance." Even just saying the name sent pangs of painful memories through his mind. He could almost feel his scar ache under his shirt, so he did what he always would do. He ignored it.
"What's it do?" Despite still having a few smears of Black Blood on it, her face was lit up. He was learning that curiosity was one of this girl's greatest driving forces. He couldn't help the small smile on his lips.
"It's… weird. I've never used it but… Supposedly it can project thoughts to the two parties logged on to it. You can communicate in complete silence; you can even make split second decisions that both parties will know."
"Holy shit." She whispered.
"Yeah, and that's not all."
She waited expectantly for him to continue,
"It was created to be integrated with other Eibon devices so—"
"So if I'm using the Soul Perception you can see it too?"
"Wha—yeah actually. How did you—"
"I'm figuring this shit out," Her nose was in the air, pride rolling off of her. It was fucking cute. "And no one's used it because…? What, Black Blood?" She was so lost in thought, trying to piece things together faster than she could even get information.
"No." He sighed, "Besides it being completely intrusive. Our identities are the most important thing we have… our anonymity is what gives us freedom, you know that."
"So? Thoughts don't necessarily translate into identity. You can control your thoughts." She pursed her lips,
"You're right, you can, but that's not how the tech works. To calibrate it sends you through the other users past. You experience major events in their lives, you feel their memories and you know it all. It's…" He paused, trying to find the right word, "Intimidating." He settled on, "To say the least."
"Huh. So no one's ever even tried it?"
"Not on our end. I'm sure the developers did."
"You never considered doing it at all?" She asked quietly. When he shrugged she pressed on, "Not even with Black Star?"
He gaped at her for a moment before shaking his head furiously,
"Not even with Black Star?! More like ESPECIALLY not with Black Star!"
She snorted a laugh, hitting him playfully. He smiled at her for a second, before he realized something,
"This uh, doesn't mean—well, what I'm saying is I don't think we should—"
"We don't have to use it," she smiled sweetly, big green eyes earnest despite clearly being tired.
"Alright," was all he said as he offered his hand to her, helping her up and walking her to her bedroom. She crawled into bed quickly, laying down and closing her eyes almost right away.
"Sleep it off, doofus." he said quietly. She hummed at him in return and he walked out, stopping for only a second at her door to look back at her.
"What it comes down to, is that it's wrong." Liz said evenly, trying to keep her anger contained, even if just a little. No one ever listened to her, a point made stronger when Black Star laughed loudly,
"Are you kidding me?" He was being harsh, "as far as I heard it, it was your 'sissy' who suggested we use her till she croaks."
Soul had called a group chat once he knew Maka was out cold. He had almost instantly regretted it.
"Yeah but I was just being stupid!" Patti laughed too, as per usual, "Lizzie will tell you that I do it all the time!"
"Which is probably why Death hasn't wanted to meet you as of yet." It was Ox who finally chimed in. Bored, rude, the usual. The bald man didn't have wildly coloured hair like the rest, instead opting for a strange and definitive appearance of two spikes of hair on either side of his head, highlighting his screen name. He also seemed to deviate from them in the mask he wore, or rather didn't wear. He insisted that his thick glasses hid his identity adequately.
Liz growled, gritting her teeth.
Soul remained wordless, listening to them argue, trying to ignore this nagging tug, telling him to just shut off his computer, pack up his bags, and get he and Maka the fuck out of here.
"I hate to say it, but Ox is right." Kim waved her hand dismissively, "to be honest, I don't even know why we're still talking about this."
Even with a distorted image, Ox's grin was obvious.
"Kim! I knew you'd agree with me, I just knew it!" his demeanor changed in an instant, almost everyone else groaning in unison, "Marry me my looove!"
"Get rich first, asshole." Kim muttered, crossing her arms.
"Why do you think I'm here, my darling?"
"You're here," Soul finally roared, "because we have a job to fucking do!"
They were silent for a moment,
"Alright dude. Relax." Black Star laughed again, "You've been so fired up lately. It's freaking me out."
"Yeah, same here," Kim sighed, "I knew this would happen."
"You knew what would happen?" Soul replied, anger still thick in his words. Kim just shrugged, not fazed at all.
"I knew you wouldn't want to use the girl, despite what you said to us. You got attached. I knew it from the first day you brought her back to your apartment."
"Dude, is that true?" Black Star said quietly.
Soul didn't say anything, just sat in the darkness of his room, seething.
"You're all acting like this is the end of the fucking world," Liz interjected, "I'm saying we shouldn't kill an innocent girl who actually wants to help us, it's not right." Patti nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
"And I'm saying that it's kinda fuckin' weird you're suddenly having a moral crisis over this." Black Star was getting increasingly more annoyed as the conversation veered out of his control,
"Liz, Patti, if you feel so down and out about it, maybe it's time you stopped working with us. Besides, I'm with Black Star on this one: inconsistency worries me. Actually, to be blunt, it pisses me off." Kim had an eerie ability to remain stoic, even when the world was falling apart around her.
Liz felt her throat burn, angry, upset, blowing her cover hard. She shook her head,
"I just don't want to get in shit for this." she muttered, shooting Patti a look before leaning back. Patti gave her a 'well I'm out of ideas' shrug.
"Being scared of that pisses me off too."
"Soul," Ox said softly, "If you truly do care for the girl, I'm sure we can find another way."
What was he even supposed to say? Everyone was staring at him from their little screens on his monitor, angry, confused, sympathetic—why did it even matter?
"Even if we find another way…" Kim said slowly, "It's not going to be in time."
"In time for what?" Ox asked,
"Arachne is making a move on the Asura gang." she said quietly. Everyone's mouths seemed to fall open in unison, apart from Black Star.
"And not an aggressive one," he said, clearly having talked to Kim earlier, "they're going to team up."
"That's… how are they planning to do that?" Ox was all business again,
"We don't know, but Arachne and Asura are meeting up in a few days." Kim shook her head for moment, "Soul. We need Maka."
He just swallowed thickly, looking away from his camera definitively.
"Soul. Dude. Bros before hoes, yeah?" Black Star had a talent for saying the absolute wrong thing at the completely wrong time.
Soul quickly slapped his laptop shut, exiting the conversation without another word.
"Fuck." Kim sighed, "Nice going, idiot."
Cool, just realized that I accidentally switch from Patti to Patty and vice versa. WOOOOWWW I'm sorry! Maybe just… um… ignore it? Yes? Great. Love you all passionately.
And thanks for reading you lovelies! It makes me happy as haleeee :D