Honest Man in Chains

The nightmare had always started out the same.

The same dark hallway and the same door at the end, so when it occurred that night, he didn't really think anything of it. At least not until the whole situation changed. The demon wasn't in his normal position – standing by the back door – and was instead taunting him from behind as Soul made his way down the hallway. The secret that Oni was telling him had to do with the fact that there was something new hidden behind the door, and that was the moment when he began to panic. The moment when he realized this was more than just a dream.

It was a reality he feared.

He walked down the dark, cramped hallway – the walkway was wide enough that his broad shoulders brushed against the walls – and dark red blood dripped down the walls. It was hot and sticky to the touch as it coated his hands. The bloodcurdling screams emitting from the unmarked rooms around scraped his eardrums and chills washed over his body as he tried to ignore them

Fear rose in his body as he pushed himself further, his heart pounding as the dark red door came into view. While he knew exactly what grotesque image was waiting for him behind it, he found himself unable to turn around even if he wanted to; the desire to escape was strong, but his feet continued to step forward. The hallway shortened with every step he took – trapping him and preventing him from backtracking as it forced him to continue forward.

He was a few feet away from the door when he heard it, the familiar cackling of the little red demon that resided in his nightmares, but he wasn't standing in front of the door like in the past. Soul slowly turned around to find Oni standing directly behind him, wearing the same gaudy black suit as always and the familiar snide smile was plastered on his face. However, something told Soul it was for a whole new reason compared to the past times when had appeared.

"What are laughing at?" he asked.

"Oh, my dear Soul boy, I have a new surprise waiting for you behind the door today. I think you will much prefer this one rather than the other one… or maybe you won't. All depends on how you see it," the demon told him, snapping his fingers to the tune of the screams.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" The scene behind the door hadn't changed in the last six years, or at least not since the accident. The only explanation for it changing now was because of…

"Is it-is it Maka this time?"

His heart chilled over as dread vibrated through his bones, filling every single one of his blood vessels with ice as his body turned numb. If Maka was the one this time, he wasn't sure how to handle it. Everything behind the door spelt out trouble; they were premonitions that came true in the real world. He had predicted his brother's death, but there was nothing for him to do about it at the time. The prediction had been set in stone and it is unpreventable; he had to relive that day each time this particular nightmare occurred and hope for it to change one day.

If it was Maka this time, there was no getting around with ending things between the two of them. He wasn't going to allow her to face the same fate as Wes all because of him.

But the demon only shrugged. "Can't say. You'll only find out if you open the door."

Soul turned around to stare at the door in front of him and tried to work up the courage to open it. He had a small inkling of what might be behind it, but at the same time he wasn't ready to face it. After a few minutes of debating what to do – a battle between his mind and his heart – he reached his hand out to turn the golden knob. However, it only hover over it, prolonging the inevitable as his anxiety started to rise within him.

"Come on now, Soulie boy. Just turn that little knob. You can't escape here unless you do it, you know that," the demon cackled.

Soul wanted to personally strangle the thing to death and all of his suffering then and there, but knew that was impossible due to the countless times he had tried just that.

Instead, he placed his hand on the doorknob, his fingers curling around it, and slowly pried it open. The room was shrouded in darkness preventing him from seeing anything more than a foot in front of him, but he heard what sounded like a woman silently crying inside. He stepped inside and the red tinted lights illuminated the room like normal, but sitting beside Wes this time was Maka as she cradled his brother's head in her lap and hunched over him.

"Maka?" his voice cracked on the last syllable. His fear was apparent with the utterance of the one simple word.

She glanced up, the tips of her blonde hair coated in blood and tear stains streaked down her cheeks. His brother's face was mangled and torn like all the past times he had seen it when it was him alone who appeared in Soul's nightmare. The blood and grime smeared all over was once golden blonde hair sickened him as his stomach dropped and warm vomit worked its way up his throat before he swallowed it down. He rubbed the sweat off his palms on his pant leg before taking a cautious step inside.

"Soul, how could you? He was your brother," she cried out, her voice weak and strained.

"I didn't-I didn't mean to. It was an accident, I swear!" Panic rose in his throat while his breathing became heavier and more rigid by the second. He knew she was going to find out eventually, but this wasn't how he wanted it to happen. He wasn't ready to see what her reaction was going to be, he didn't want to know.

Not now.

Not here.

Not in a place where he couldn't run away.

"He was your brother!" she cried out again. "Of all people, why did you do this to him? He loved you, Soul. He would have done anything for you. Did you not care about him?"

"I-I did, Maka, I swear I did - still do. It was an accident. He was never meant to..." He took a step closer to her, his hands reaching out to comfort her, make her believe him, but she flinched away and his heart cracked in his chest. "Please, Maka. You have to believe me. I never meant to hurt him."

"But you did, Soul." Her voice was cold and dead. There was no life in it, no kindness.

This wasn't his Maka.

He tried to tell himself that this was all a dream, that she would never do this, but every attempt was countered with denial. Once the real Maka found out about the horrible events of that day six years ago, this was going to be her exact reaction. She was going to leave him like the others had, refusing to look him in the eye ever again, and once again he was going to be alone.

For the second time in his life, he was going to have to depend on himself to get through his own demons.

That was something he wasn't ready for just yet.

"You're a monster, Soul."

"You don't mean that!" he yelled. "This is all a dream! Just another stupid dream."

"Oh, is that what this?" came the smooth, mocking sound of the demon.

Soul turned his head, glaring at the little red monster. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Well, isn't this your mind, Soulie? Isn't this your worst nightmare? The one person you love - the only one who loves you - calling you a monster and leaving you forever… isn't that what you fear the most?"

Soul allowed his words to sink in, the truth behind them washing over him like a ton of bricks. The little demon wasn't lying. Before Maka showed up, the nightmare had featured his brother dying on the cold ground, calling out for Soul by name and begging him for help. However, Soul only stood by as he watched his brother get hacked to death by one of the dream demons. That was his worst fear then – facing the truth of the events – and now his worst fear was that Maka was going to find out from someone who wasn't him. That she wasn't going to forgive him for what he did and walk out of his life forever.

"I meant what I said, Soul. You're a monster and," he braced himself for what was to come, "I never want to see you again. I won't risk my life to be with you, especially if this is what I have waiting for me."

He whipped his head back toward her. "I would never hurt you, Maka!" he yelled. "Please, you need to believe me! I love you and I will never hurt you. Please… just please believe me."

"Liar," she whispered.

Her fierce green eyes pierced through his soul, stabbing every part of his body. He felt her hatred seep through her glare and radiate off her body; the air around him grew hotter as his blood ran cold and his heart froze over. Tears stung the back of his eyes as the familiar tingling spreading across his hands as he wanted to reach out to her – beg her to stay with him. He wanted to show her that he wasn't the monster she believed him to be.

He wanted her to love him like she had down throughout the time she had known him.

Her deserting him wasn't going to happen; he refused to let it happen.

No matter what, he was going to fight for her, make her believe him.

He wasn't going to lose her again, not when she just came back into his life.


"Don't come any closer to me! Don't touch, don't look at me; just leave me alone! Get out of my life!"

Soul woke up in a cold sweat. As he grasped the sheets beneath him, he felt the wetness seeping into them and his clothes clung to his body. He was hot all over, his heart pounding in his chest while his head was throbbing.

Tossing the covers off his body, Soul swung his legs over the bed and propped his elbows on his knees, resting his head in his hands. It was definitely one of his more intense dreams. Forcing him to face his worst fear was never an easy feat, but he also didn't expect it to go exactly like it had. The old familiar nightmare was more welcoming than one that featured Maka alongside his brother's cold dead body. He wasn't ready to lose the woman he loved because of a secret he had been hiding from her since the moment she arrived back in Death City.

He removed his sleep shirt, throwing the sopping material carelessly to the side of his bed before walking to the bathroom. The man in the mirror looked like he hadn't slept in months; the bags under his drooping eyes made him appear even more tired than normal, his hair was a tangled mess as it stuck up in every direction, and he swore there were a few new wrinkles at the corners of his eyes that weren't there before. He looked older than he actually was because of it – the white hair not helping with matters either.

Slipping out of his sleep pajamas, he placed them to the side and turned on the water in the bathtub. He waited a few minutes for the water to warm before stepping underneath it as it cooled his burning skin. He scrubbed away at his body, trying to remove the leftover sweat and heat as well as the fear crawling along his skin from the dream. He tried not to let his thoughts wander too far, afraid they would venture into what had happened in the dream and remember the chilling words Maka had said to him.

That was a memory – among others – that he did not want to remember, but he knew that no matter how hard he tried, it always came back. It replayed over and over in his mind to the point where he felt like he might just go completely mad.

After finishing his quick shower, Soul dried off and dressed in fresh pajamas before going back to bed. He wanted to at least attempt to get a good hour or so of rest before the next day, or at least try to forget the dream as he remained awake throughout the rest of the night.

Maka noticed something was off about Soul almost immediately and Black Star's words started swimming around in her head. She wasn't able to shake it no matter how hard she tried. There was truth behind them, and she was witnessing it for the first time right in front of her. Soul wasn't the same person she had known during the academy; he appeared to be darker and there was a sinister stare behind his crimson eyes. Something was wrong, she sensed it in the air around him, and she wanted to know what it was.

That was probably the reason why she continued to stay around him no matter how much he tried to push her away. She was aware of that too. The way he talked to her, spoke her name, and his body movements were all different, like he was withdrawing into himself again. His kisses had changed, along with the way he touched her; it bothered her, but she didn't know how to change any of it. Soul was falling apart right in front of her, yet there was nothing she could do about it except standby and watch.

Using the spare key he had given her weeks ago, Maka opened the door to his loft after gently knocking on it for ten minutes.

"Soul?" she called out into the dark home, quietly closing the door behind her.

Glancing around the open space, she didn't see any sign of the man in question. His home was completely empty except and there was no sign of life except for a couple of empty beer bottles on his dining table and an open leftover container. She walked over to throw away the trash, the bottles echoing against the walls as they hit the bottom of the trash can, and Maka heard the faint rustle of sheets from the bed behind her. Turning around, she saw a small lump on the bed slowly start to stir and a white head peeked out from underneath the blankets.

"Maka?" Soul groaned out as he fully emerged. "What are you doing here?"

"I haven't heard from you in the past few days and I started to worry so I came over to check on you." She walked the distance between them and sat down on the edge of his bed. "You okay? It looks like you haven't slept in weeks."

He let out an irritated snort. "You can say that."

She paused as she watched him rub the heel of his hands on his hands, trying to rid himself of the sleepiness that was no doubt still there, and quickly glanced over his appearance. His hair was a rustled mess more than usual, there were dark circles around his eyes, and faint red marks littered his bare chest like he had been clawing at himself in his sleep. To put it lightly, he looked like hell.

"Are you having nightmares again?" she asked.

Soul blinked a few times before answering her. "You can say that, too."

"If they're screwing with your sleep schedule, you should go see someone about it. Maybe there's some type of medicine you can take that'll at least let you rest the whole night." She paused and sighed. "I'm going to be frank; you look like shit and this isn't how it was the last time. It looks like you've been digging your nails into your skin at night, and from what I remember, that certainly didn't happen when you had the nightmares at the academy."

His red eyes stared down at his chest in question and a low growl emitted from his throat along with a whispered curse. He shook his head as he told her not to worry about it and removed the sheets from off his body before placing his legs over the side of his bed. Heat slowly rose to her cheeks as she noticed that he was wearing boxers rather than sleep pants, and she whipped her head around before he was able to see the blush. Groaning out, she felt the bed relax as he stood up and the soft thuds of his feet as he walked past her.

It proved difficult to keep her gaze off his rear as he made his way to the bathroom and perverted thoughts shot through her mind. She wondered how it would feel in her grasp. Would there be muscle? Would he flex it immediately at her touch?

He did have a very nice body, and for the last few weeks of their relationship she had vaguely wondered what it would feel like as her hands roamed over him. To have them curling around every curve on his body, tweaking his nipples as she elicited a small moan, or allowing a finger to delicately travel down his happy trail to his…

"I'll be fine, Maka," Soul called from the bathroom, drawing her away from her dirty thoughts. She cursed herself for permitting her mind to wander like that; now wasn't the time to be thinking of having sex with the man. He was going through his own personal shit and she needed to control her hormonal urges. "If it's anything like last time, the nightmares should be gone in a few weeks or so… that's when I'll feel better."

"Are you sure?" She stood up from the bed and walked to the middle of the loft where she crossed her arms, waiting for him to reenter the room. "I really think you should see someone about them. There might be some medication you can take that'll-"

"There isn't," he cut in. "The same thing happened after Wes passed away, but the shit I took for them didn't help. I just have to ride it out until they go away on their own."

He emerged from the bathroom - wearing sleep pants thankfully - and rubbing a towel through his hair. She hadn't even registered that the water was running.

"Did you shower?"

"Nah." Quirking an eyebrow toward the towel in his hand, she slightly questioned it. "Ah, that's because it was already wet and I wanted to tame my hair somewhat."

"Right." She paused and licked her lips. "Did you want to go somewhere? Maybe out to grab a bite to eat or something?"

Soul chewed on his bottom lip as he thought about his answer. In his crimson eyes, she saw the process as it unraveled before her; there was a slight confusion along with the desire to take up her offer. Deep down, she knew what he was going to say before he said it, but she still hoped that the feeling was wrong. It wasn't healthy for him to stay cooped up in his apartment alone. He needed to go out and see the world; there was no sense in hiding from it - from her.

Finally, he shook his head. "I have plenty to eat here, and I'm not really that hungry."

Her heart broke. She was perfectly aware that he had been trying to avoid spending time with her since they left the fortune teller's business, and she didn't know why. It was a silly little fortune that was lie, it wasn't something either of them should be worried about.

"Are you avoiding me because of what the fortune teller said?" she asked. There was no time to beat around the bush when it came to their situation; she had to be blunt and make rash decisions on the spot. This was an affair she wasn't going to let get between them until it built into something worse.

"Y-yes," he said. She caught the hesitation in his voice which tore her heart even more because it meant the decision to lie to her had crossed his mind.

"Soul, I've told you countless times that what she had told us isn't true. I'm not going to be hurt if we stay together, and I'm certainly not going anywhere."

"You don't know that for sure, though," he whispered.

"Yes, I do." She stepped forward and cupped her hands around his cheeks to lift his face up. "I trust and know you better than anyone else. There's no possible way you would let anything hurt me because it's the same thing I would do for you. You protected me from that cyborg when we were younger, you risked your life for me when you didn't have to. Whoever you think you are, that isn't you. Soul. I know you; you're one of the most loyal and bravest people in Death City."

She paused and licked her lips. The next words she wanted to say were on the tip of her tongue, begging to be exposed, but she wasn't positive if it was the right time. Maybe it was something he needed to hear, but would she want to hear it back? What if he didn't feel the same way about her? How embarrassed would she feel for laying her heart out on the table only to have it ignored? Or crushed? Was she ready for that risk?

Her heart told her she was.

"I love you, Soul."

His eyes bulged and she swore she felt his heart skip a beat as his pulse quickened under her touch.

They were the words he needed to hear.

He didn't say it back, however, but she knew his answer by the way he smiled and kissed her forehead, the way he said her name when he pulled her into a tight embrace. It was all the answer she needed. Maybe he wasn't ready to say the words out loud at the moment, but in time she felt he would. There were things he was guarding - hiding - in his heart that he needed to handle first before he was able to truly open up to her. That was something she was more than positive about.

She only needed to be patient with him.

He didn't know what to say or if he was even able to say anything. It was wrong for him not to say the words back - it was definitely not something cool guys did - but he was aware in the deepest parts of his heart that it was the right thing. What was he supposed to tell the woman who made his heart ache with affection yet his fingers tingle with the desire to wrap them around her neck? Everything was conflicted when it came to her. His body was telling him two different things, and he wasn't sure which one was more accurate on the matter.

Burying his face into her hair, he discretely sniffed her. The faint scent of vanilla conjured memories of the time they spent together in the academy from the confines of his mind, and his heart started to speed up. There was definitely no one else like her in his life; no one else made his palms sweaty, his mind grow fuzzy, and warmth spread up from the tips of his toes to his fingers. Everything about her was intoxicating, and he wanted to protect her at all costs.

Even if that meant from himself.

There was an evil cackle from the direction of the piano, and Soul inwardly cringed as the demon spoke. "Yes, wouldn't want anything to happen to poor little Maka. Too bad nothing can protect her from you, not even yourself. It's gonna end with either her blood on your hands or yours on hers, we all know that."

"How do you feel about ordering takeout instead of going out?" he asked while reluctantly removing himself from her.

She nodded as he noted the small hurt hidden behind her eyes. Even her smile was weak. "Yeah. That sounds good."

"Great." He withdrew his phone from the back pocket of his pants and started to dial the number of the Chinese restaurant he knew she loved. "The usual?"

"Mhm." She leaned up to gently kiss his cheek, and Soul felt the corners of his mouth tug up. "I'll pay, though."

Chuckling to himself as she made her way to the small kitchen, he said, "of course. Can't let me do everything, now can you?"

"You know me so well," she teased.

About twenty minutes later, their food arrived at the front step of the loft, and as promised, Maka paid for it. They ate their dinner on his couch, downing it with glasses of water that she had filled for them, and watched lame sitcoms on the television sitting in front of it. When they were done, they remained sitting on the couch and Maka snuggled her way against him, his arm lazily draped on the back of the couch.

It felt nice having her that close to him. Her arm was wrapped around his waist - pulling either her closer to him or him closer to her, he wasn't sure - and her side pressed against him brought along warm feelings in the pit of his stomach. They fell into a comfortable silence as they sat on the couch, and Soul felt at peace with her. After a while, Maka's small snores drifted up to his ears and glancing down at her, he saw her chest slowly rising and falling indicating that she had fallen asleep. Smiling to himself, he softly moved back a few strands from her bangs and his heart beat wildly as he watched her.

He did love Maka; he had loved her when they were at the academy and he loved her now after all this time. She made him feel alive. For the first time in the last six years Soul had found the happiness he so desperately craved, but in the back of his mind he knew it was fleeting. The darkness was creeping its way back into his life, and it was only a matter of time before things changed between them.

There were still things he needed to take care of before they could really be together.

"Why do you even care?" came the cackling voice of Oni.

Soul wasn't sure the logistics of his situation, but somehow the little demon that had resided in his head for so many years was now manifesting outside of it. It was mostly around the apartment, but he was still there, reminding Soul of the dangerous, murderous things he was capable of. He hated it; the thought that happiness was not for him - would never be for him - was complete torture and he hated it.

"I care because I love her. We've already gone over this," Soul whispered so as not to wake Maka up.

"We have, yet here we are and she's still here." Oni snickered behind him prompting Soul to glance at the little demon perched on top of his kitchen counter.

"What's your problem?"

"Oh nothing, Soul boy. Just find it funny how you keep her around even though you know exactly how this all ends." He paused and sneered at him. "Would you like me to show you?"

Soul glared at the demon and turned around. "Fuck that. You've shown me it enough. I think I'm good."

Prying himself out of her arms, he placed her head on top of the pillows that rested on the couch and walked over toward the piano bench to sit down. It had been a few nights since he last played the piano. None of the sounds that had escaped it pleased his inner musician or conformed to the teachings he had learned as a child. They were far too eerie and dark for any person who had the right set of ears when it came to the musical earnings of a piano to enjoy. He was more than well acquainted with this small fact.

Pressing down on one of the keys, he tried to play something happier - something that reflected the emotions the woman behind him brought about him. He wanted to recreate the sound of her heart beating steadily against his chest as she laid on top of him, the way her breathing matched his when they were both at peace, and the sound of her voice as it rang in his ears. There were also the emotions he found in himself when she was around; the way his heart skipped several beats upon seeing her for the first time in years, the fire she created in the pit of his stomach by solely being around him, and the way his blood burned beneath his skin with the desire to be with her.

That was what he wanted to perform when he played her song, but instead it was the opposite.

The sound that came out of it sounded distorted and displaced, nothing like the music he had grown up with. When he thought back to the music he played as a child, it was always cheery and uplifting, music that was played in concert halls for the wealthy to listen to. However, now it didn't sound anything like that as it hit his eardrums. It reminded him of the music his father had specifically not to play, the tunes he released when he was feeling down. It was horrible even to him, not at all suited for the woman behind him.

"This is complete shit," he whispered to himself as he pounded down on the keys with his elbows.

Resting his head in his hands, he combed his fingers through his hair and let out a frustrated groan. It was a useless game - he knew that - but he continued to strive for perfection. She deserved that much.

So he tried again. Closing his eyes, he tried to call upon the emotions he felt when Maka was with him, the ones that reminded him everything was perfect when she was around. His fingers flew across the ivory keys, playing the music that flowed through his soul and body. There was still a melancholy undertone, but he also heard the soft, loving tune that mingled with it. They formed a song that was comforting and inviting, one that warmed his insides and brought a smile on his face.

Somehow he had written a song that was perfectly them wound up together within it. Maybe if they weren't meant to be, their love could live on in the song. No matter what happened to either of them - no matter how their destinies ended - maybe the love they felt for each was able to live on in a song. When others played it in concert halls, the audience might feel the affections that were intertwined within it and wonder about their tragic love story.

Soul felt his answer to their relationship was hidden within the notes that emitted from the piano, and his throat tightened as he fought back the tears.

There was only one solution to his problem.

She didn't know she had fallen asleep until the soft sounds of music and a television woke her up. Squeezing the pillow that her arms were wrapped around tighter to her chest, Maka stretched out on the couch and rolled over onto her back so that she was staring up at the ceiling. Hours had passed since she came over to Soul's apartment as the city lights shone above her. The various colors that projected off the stained glass window danced above her and she smiled.

It was calming and beautiful as they moved to the sound of a piano playing. They reminded her of the recitals she used to attend with her father; how the ballerinas danced on stage to the rhythm of a concert band. Closing her eyes, she listened to the sound, her ears picking up on certain key tones like when the tempo picked up just the slightest or the small breaths that escaped from the pianist's mouth.

Her eyes snapped open as realization struck.

It wasn't a dream she was having, she was listening to someone actually playing, and that the person behind it was in fact her boyfriend. Pushing herself up from the couch, she pressed her palms into the cushion and observed him. His back muscles moved with each pound of the key like small ripples in the water, and sweat glistened on his neck allowing her to come to the conclusion that he had been at it for a while.

She swung her legs over the couch and shortened the distance between them, standing behind him as he continued playing. He must have really been in the zone because he didn't even side glance her when she sat down. Watching his fingers glide across the keys, she marveled at how easy playing came to him; the way the music escaped him seemed natural, like a sixth sense. There had only been one other time when she had seen him like that: when they flew Grigori for the first time. Exactly like flying, the music he played came from deep within his heart.

Soul finished his song, and his slowly pried open, staring out at the city beyond the windows. The lights from below glittered in his burgundy eyes, reminding her of the stars that shone down in the sky above them. He was beautiful as he sat beside her, and she almost didn't want to disturb him.


Cautiously, she reached out her hand to gently lay it on top of his, and Soul's attention snapped to her, wide red eyes staring at her in disbelief.

"You're awake." It wasn't a question.

"Your playing woke me up."

"Right, sorry about that. It sorta just happened. Didn't mean to wake you."

She shook her head. "No, it's okay. I thought your song was beautiful. It was really soothing and nice."

He let out a strangled laugh as he turned back toward the window. "Says the person who doesn't know the first thing about music." His tongue flicked out to wet his lips. "That was soothing or nice or beautiful; it was complete shit. It's the type of song that would make my dad yell at me and call me a disgrace of a fucking son."

"Then he's the one who doesn't know a thing about music."

"Maka, he's been playing music since he was three, he was the youngest violinist to get accepted into a symphony, and he's now a conductor for one of the most prestigious symphonies in the world. I'm pretty sure he knows everything about music."

"Why do you even care what your father thinks about your music? You should only care about what you feel when you play, and you shouldn't try to set your up to someone else's standards or accomplishments." She squeezed his hand and smiled at him when he looked at her. "You're a good pianist no matter what your father thinks, and I'm sure there are other musicians out there who would agree with me."

"Why do you have to be so optimistic about everything?"

"Because if I'm not, then you certainly won't be." Releasing his hand, she snuggles up to him and wrapped her arm around his waist to pull him closer to her. "You're one of the best pianists I know."

"You must not know very many."

"Soul," she growled. She loosened her hold on him and glared. "For once in your life take a damn compliment."

His smile was small and weak, but the loving glint in his eyes told a different story. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Hesitantly for the briefest of moments, she leaned up and gently pressed her lips to his in a chaste kiss before drawing away.

He didn't want to kiss her nor did he want the compliment for his playing; it wasn't the right time or the right place. His mind had been focused on other things, trying to listen to her while the devil sat beside him on the other side whispering to him. The urge to slice her throat open had been strong as she sat beside him, his fingers had even twitched when she hugged herself to him. It was proving to be more dangerous the longer he remained with her, and he wasn't sure what he should do.

His heart was hiding secrets from her – secrets that were originally meant to protect her but were now putting her life in the line of danger.

"You know exactly what you have to do, don't you?" Oni whispered in his ear. "Either kill her now when it's only the two of you or wait for a later time when other people around. It's your choice really. Although, we both know which is better, now don't we?"

Soul stood up from the bench, not wanting to listen to the little demon anymore and walked to the middle of the apartment. He chewed on his nails as he faintly heard Maka trying to talk to him from he had left her, but Oni's words were louder. They grated his nerves and ran across his skin like fire; he physically felt himself starting to change, the darkness from within opening up to swallow his heart. His vision started to cloud over as all he saw was red, but he tried to fight it.

He tried to remember the man he was – the man he had always been – but it was no use.

"Soul, are you okay?" He felt Maka place her hand on the small of his back, and he whirled around to snarl at her.

"What the fuck are you still doing here?"

She stared up at him confused. "What are you talking about?"

"Why can't you see that I'm dangerous for you?!" He stormed across the room to where a large mirror was situated on the wall and looked at his reflection. His eyes were pitch black, his teeth actually looked like fangs, and his nails had grown into razor sharp claws.

"Look at me, Maka!" He gestured to his body before continuing. "Can't you see that I'm a fucking monster? Everyone else can, so why can't you?! I'm dangerous for you! I've told you and I'm sure every other goddamn person in this town has too."

"Soul, what are you talking about? You aren't a monster! Seriously, where is everyone getting this idea from? And why haven't you told me anything since I came here? You've been keeping a secret from me and it's been eating at you, I can tell it has. So why don't you just spare the dramatics and tell me already?"

Confused, he glanced at himself in the mirror one last time and then back at her. It didn't make any sense, why the hell was she still in his loft? Any sane person would have run out of there like a bat out of hell, yet she stayed. That was something he was going to stand for, so he braced himself and finally did what he should have done weeks ago.

"For fuck's sake, Maka, stop being a stupid ass little girl and leave me alone already! If everyone and their mother has told you that I'm dangerous, then you should fucking listen to them! Why do you stay around? Is it because you think I love? Because I don't, Maka!" He swallowed the lump in his throat and ignored the ache in his heart. "The kiss was a fucking mistake and it never should have happened. I shouldn't have even met you when you came to Death City. Our entire relationship was a mistake."

His words didn't seem to reach her, however, as she remained standing there gaping at him. "What are you saying?"

"I'm breaking up with you! That's what I'm saying! I don't love you, and I wish you would leave me the fuck alone already! I was perfectly fine before you ever came into my life!"

She opened her mouth to say more, but closed right away. He watched as she swallowed her pride and simply nodded. "If that's how you really feel, then I'll leave. Goodbye, Soul."

Not sparing him a second glance, she walked toward the door and left the loft.

Looking back in the mirror, he saw that his features were back to normal, and the little demon cackled at his stunned expression. "You fucking son of a bitch!" he snarled. "You made me believe that I was actually turning, didn't you?!"

"It worked, though, right? I was able to finally get rid of that little bitch."

"You fucking—"

Soul stepped toward him as if to strangle him, but dropped his hands as the reality of his situation hit him. He didn't mean to say those things to Maka; none of them were true. He loved her more than any other person in the world and wanted to be with her for the rest of his life. They weren't a mistake, nothing that had happened between them had been a mistake.

He turned around and walked toward the door, his hand grasping the doorknob to throw it open and rush after her, but nothing happened. What was he supposed to tell the girl whose heart he had just broken? What decent woman was going to take back someone who told her he never loved her? Maka was the type of person who saw the good in everyone, but she wasn't the type of person to easily forgive him for the things he had said to her.

"What have I done?" he whispered.

Maka slammed the door behind her and leaned against the wood as she tried to process what had just happened. It didn't make sense to her. One minute Soul was fine and the next he was acting like a madman. The whole ordeal had been confusing to her. She didn't understand what he meant when he said he was monster and then he had gestured to himself like he was one…

It didn't make sense.

The only thing that did seem logical to her was the fact that he didn't love her anymore.

Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat, Maka pushed herself off the door and left the apartment building forever. If Soul didn't want to see her ever again, then she was going to abide by his wishes. It didn't make sense to continue loving someone who obviously didn't give two shits about her and how she felt. No matter how much it hurt her, she was going to have to move on from Soul and settle with someone who wasn't as great as the man who truly held her heart.

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