7. Fifty Shades of Grey and a Beginning (or two)

Then we had this huge complicated argument, and we stopped talking for a while."

"My life really sucked without you."

"Yeah. Mine too."

Life without Soul kind of sucked. Kind of sucked a lot. There wasn't anything to look forward to. She wasn't having much luck in getting any shows- everyone thought that Soul was the talent. Which he was, kinda. That didn't mean she couldn't stand on her own two feet. It did mean however, that he never dropped into the library around eleven-ish to smuggle her in a cup of tea (a little milk, no sugar) if he 'happened to be going this way anyway.'

She didn't get to see his smile and watch him use his sharp teeth to clear paths in crowded areas. She didn't get to nag him for not cleaning the dishes in the break room, and she didn't get to crash in his bed in the warehouse on particularly late nights spent working. But she didn't have to pull away from his arms in the morning either before he realized what he'd done in his sleep to go to work.

Work. Work sucked. Work sucked a lot. Maka had never been bored or resentful of her job at the library before now. Not once in her life had she ever not looked forward to the quiet atmosphere of the library and the musty smell of knowledge that was the most comforting to her, more than anything in the world. Had been the most comforting smell in the world. Now it was a spicy, warm scent, mixed with the smell of leather and fresh cut wood.

Everything sucked. Maka missed Soul. But she also wanted to punch him like a lot. And then kiss him some more. She didn't know what to do, so she didn't do anything.

She wouldn't answer her phone, and she wouldn't reply to his texts. He was getting weird and creepy and desperate and none of these are things that suit anyone. So he sighed and did the most desperate, 'this-is-going-to-get-me-a-restraining-order' move he could.

Soul hadn't really known what to expect when he pressed the buzzer with Maka Albarn and Blair Cahal written in purple ink on it. He knew Maka was still at the library, so he was pretty sure this counted as underhanded, and at the very least an invasion of her privacy.

"Blair speaking! Hi!" her high pitched voice did not improve over the tinny speakers.

"It's, uh, Soul? I-"

"Oh! You're Maka's handsome magician!" She squealed, and Soul cringed away from the speaker grill. "Come right up! She's been so down since you two fought, and she won't even tell me why you broke up with her!"

"What? We weren't-" She wasn't even there anymore.

Soul waited a second before pushing the door open. He knew Maka lived on the top floor, she'd mentioned that when they'd had that last big rain shower her roof had leaked and she and Blair had to put a basin under it and their hydrophilic cat had decided to go for a swim. What he hadn't known, was however, that the elevator was 'out of order' and judging by the dust on the extremely faded sign; it had been for quite a while.

So he took the stairs. All twelve flights of them. No wonder Maka stayed so thin, despite everything she ate. It was down to the power of the staircase and karate. And alphabetizing. She'll Maka Chop his cranium away if-god forbid-he neglected to mention the alphabetizing. He knocked on the door with a peeling paper label in the same style as the one next to the buzzer.

The door flung open, and Soul finally met Maka's elusive and strangely familiar looking room-mate with the long purple hair and the amber eyes framed by eyelashes longer then her stiletto false nails and boobs that were barely contained in her tight leather top.

And all of a sudden he remembered exactly where he'd seen her before and blushed, bright red and mumbled incoherently.

She laughed and ushered him in, before blowing him a kiss and rushing out the door."Listen, tell Maka I'll be home late, I have a meeting with a director! There's food in the fridge if we haven't eaten it all and Maka should've told me you were this handsome! I would've had you over much sooner! Bye cutie!"

Soul sank into the couch like he wanted it to swallow him up like that one episode of The Simpsons.

He wasn't hungry enough to raid their fridge and resolutely ignored the cat rubbing against him. Which, as everyone knows, only causes cats to demand your attention more so she clawed her way up his leg and forcibly wormed her way onto his lap in order to butt her head to his red face.

He pushed the cat away to examine the bookshelves that lined the walls only allowing a small amount of space for the dusty television set. It became very clear, very quickly that almost, if not all(and in that case Maka had read some strange books that made Soul slightly uncomfortable to read the spines of) the books were the property of one Maka Albarn. There were books on everything from organic chemistry to motorcycle maintenance to those that could not be legitimately considered literature: Fifty Shades of Grey and the ilk(he was relieved to see 'Property of Blair Cahal' written inside the front cover). And of course, the books on magic.

Packed into the shelves, they were all well loved and worn, pages bursting with left behind memories and tangible post-it-notes in a multitude of colours that adorned the pages. Spines were cracked and the cheaper sort of hardbacks were without their covers, naked on the shelves. One book, however caught Soul's eye- an edition he'd had, that he'd battled his way through because quite frankly it was excellent and deserved more recognition then the single printing had received.

Maka's edition, was stuffed with notes and musings unlike his because theoretically you solved each illusion before moving on. Soul had been more interested in learning how the illusions were done, and then figuring out how he would change the trick had he performed it.

He heard the rattle of keys and the telltale signs of a person laden with groceries in the kind of paper bag without handles- that is to say; cursing, rustling, and the clacking sound of tins hitting each other.

Maka pushed open the door with her hip just in time to see Soul stuffing her favourite childhood book back into the shelf and flushed angrily.

"Soul!" She dumped the groceries on the counter-top. "How did you get in here?"

"Uh, Blair let me in."

"Oh. I didn't know she was home."

"She's not, she had like a date or something." Soul explained, and then decided to change the subject. "It's a nice place you got here."

"It's nothing compared to your apartment. And the roof leaks."

"That's a shame." He nodded looking around the room again. "Listen Maka, we really need to talk."

"There isn't anything to talk about. I kept my half of the agreement, and I did the eight shows. I'm not doing anymore."

"But you're the best!"

"Yeah, and I deserve my own act Soul. I'm tired of playing second fiddle to you and everyone else in this business." She started unpacking the groceries. "Look, you'll find someone else, and she'll be great and really pretty and everyone'll love her."

"Yeah, but she won't be you, and I don't want anyone else."

"Now you're being petulant." Maka sighed. "Soul, you just, you have to let me go. It was always going to be temporary."

"Can you just shut the fuck up for a second Maka! Please?"

Maka didn't say anything but she made no promises she would continue to be silent.

"Listen, Maka, I don't care about the dumb shows or anything, I don't want another assistant, or anyone, I just... I like when we hang out and I like that you like how dark and messed up my illusions are and fuck Maka, and really like you and I really, really liked when we kissed. And I'd really like if we could do it again. Even if you don't want to be my assistant and even if you don't want to try date or something, I just, I just really like having you around."

Maka was silent some more, but that was probably, hopefully, stunned silence. As time passed, Soul got less and less hopeful.

"I'm just going to go... seeya Maka,"

"Don't go. I, kinda, like having you around too." Maka swallowed. "I think I'd kinda like it if you were around a lot more."

"I can do that."

She smiled at him, awkward as a teenage girl with her first crush. She looked at her feet and when she looked up again he was an awful lot closer.

"Around where? Here?" Those crimson eyes were most definitely on their way to becoming smouldering bedroom eyes.

"I guess you could be closer."

"Could I? Really?"

"Yeah. You really could."

She grabbed his hand and they laced their fingers together reflexively. His other hand sat on her waist, and she leaned up on her toes, using his shoulder to keep herself supported and then there wasn't really a space between them at all.

It was feather-light and cautionary at first, evolving exponentially the way the best kisses do, from soft and sweet to curious and exploratory to passionate and hot.

Maka fumbled with the knob on her door, and the click made him pull away in shock, an idea falling into his head fully formed.

"We could be like partners or whatever."

"Yeah. Partners sounds perfect."

That be it. I'll hunt out the rough draft of the Ghost and finish that ASAP I promise.