Burn This Out

After breaking up with Maka, Soul fell back into his old habits. He hardly went out, found more excuses to drink, and spent most of his time moping around his loft. He didn't want to see her hurt and upset because of him; he was mostly afraid that if he did see her, he'd try to make things right between them. Part of him wanted to make amends, but another part of him knew he couldn't. He had been risking Maka's life every second they were together, and not being in her life was better for both of them. He only wished his heart felt the same way.

A few weeks after their breakup, he grew tired of being in his loft and eating the same meal every night, so he went down to the diner. He should have known better; he was the one who introduced her to the place, and he should have expected she'd still go there. However, the thought never crossed his mind until he stepped through the doors.

His eyes trained on her like a magnet, and his heart stopped. There she was, sitting with Black Star and Tsubaki. Her eyes lit up and sparkled as she laughed at something the man had said, her chuckles sounded like bells as they hit his ears. He wanted to apologize to her as regret boiled up his throat, but he didn't. Instead, he turned away from her and walked to the counter to order his food. He spent his time waiting flipping through the menu or forcing himself to make small talk with the waitress there. None of it felt natural, and he knew Maka would be able to notice if she were watching him, but he didn't care. It was busy work to keep him away from her.

His food came, he paid for it, and turned to leave, but his attention was automatically drawn back to Maka. She was already staring at him as their eyes met. Soul felt like she wanted to tell him something, but saw the hesitation in her body. She was close to getting up and walking over to him which wasn't good. He didn't want to talk to her about anything; they - he - needed to keep his distance from her. So instead of waiting around to see what she would do, Soul left.

He knew the small gesture wounded her, but it was necessary. Being away from Maka was the only way he could protect her from himself.

If Maka said her heart didn't break when Soul left the diner without even a single word to her, she'd be lying.

The door to the diner closed, and she sighed as she turned back to Tsubaki and Black Star. She was partly at fault here too; she hadn't even bothered to get up and talk to him when she saw him walk in. She didn't have to wait for him to talk to her first, they weren't living in the 1800's, and a woman was perfectly capable of doing things before the man. However, she was stunned when he walked in; what was she supposed to say to the man who had broken her heart? She still loved him - that was the worst part - even though he had said so many nasty things to her a few weeks ago, but something told her he didn't mean any of it. Soul loved her that much she knew to be true.

"Maka." Black Star pulled her from her reverie, and she met his pale green eyes. "Don't tell me you're still hung up on that bastard. After what he said to you, I thought you'd have more sense and forget about him. There are a shit ton of better guys out there for you. He's not the only one, you know?"

"Black Star," Tsubaki chastised. "I told you to stay out of this."

He ignored his fiancee and continued. "I've told you, Soul isn't the same guy we knew back at the academy. He's darker and more aggressive than ever. I knew he had a bad side, but I didn't know it was as bad as it is now. You know there's a rumor going around the academy that he-"

"Black Star!" Maka quickly looked over at her friend, and backed away slightly. She had never seen Tsubaki look so angry before. Her normally calm features were scrunched up and she reminded Maka of a ferocious lioness ready to pounce. "You know it isn't your place to say anything! If Soul wanted to tell her, then he would have. You need to let him be the one to tell her the truth.."

Maka's eyes drifted back over to Black Star. He was twirling the clear liquid in his glass, his mouth pouting, and she knew they were on a more serious subject. She had spent most of her time for the last few weeks with the couple - walking around the city and seeing sights she hadn't seen with Soul - and their time together was always more joyful. They joked and teased each other (mostly her and Black Star while Tsubaki watched) and never strayed away from being playful with each other. However, sitting across from him, there was a different atmosphere floating around, and Maka noted that she only felt it when Soul was in the same vicinity as him.

"Yeah, I know that." Star took a swig of his drink, and set the glass back down on the table. "But Soul hasn't grown a pair and told her the truth, has he? And then he goes and breaks her fucking heart, what kind of noble man does that? If he really loved Maka, he would have told her the truth from the beginning; both about his feelings for her and what he did."

"He probably had a good reason not to," Maka said. She didn't like that he had basically told her he didn't love her after he had already kissed her, but she also didn't like how Star talked about their old friend. "It's not like you haven't kept secrets from me since I came back. If you ask me, I'd say it takes one to know one. You've warned me about Soul, but you haven't told me why you find the need to do so. Is that what a noble man does when he's trying to protect his friend?"

"It's different with Soul and I. Me as a friend can only tell you so much before you ignore me and go retreating back to him. You wouldn't believe what I told you about him, even if I gave you proof. You'd have to hear it from him, not me. That's why I didn't tell you. Plus, your head's all mushy with love when it comes to him."

Maka pounded her fist on the table, drawing attention to their table from the other patrons. When she spoke, she tried to sound as calm as possible, but her face remained angry. "I am not blinded by love when it comes to Soul. I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions, and I don't need justification to believe something you tell me."

"Ha, could have fooled me with the way you were drooling over him just a while ago."

"That doesn't mean anything," Maka growled.

"If you're going to tell her, then just do it, Black Star! Enough of this beating around the bush business. You've been wanting to tell her for quite some time now, so do it already." Tsubaki's voice and facial expression had calmed down from earlier.

Maka was thankful that her friend finally put what was on her own mind out on the table. She was tired of Black Star dropping hints to what Soul was capable of instead of flat out telling her.

Star scoffed and leaned back in the booth, crossing his arms in front of him. Nodding his head toward Maka he asked, "Is that what you want? You want me to come out and just tell you?"

"I've been telling you to do that since you first told me he was dangerous."

The man smirked and leaned on the table so that he was closer to Maka. "Fine. Since you wanna know so badly, I'll tell." Maka inwardly groaned. Sometimes Star could be a really jackass. "The rumor with the Spartoi members is that he killed Wes."

Maka wasn't sure what she was expecting him to say, but it wasn't that.

Her heart dropped at his words, and she leaned back in the booth in astonishment. She closed her eyes, trying to make sense of the matter, but couldn't. Nothing about Soul killing Wes added up. Her emotions were going haywire; she was angry at Soul for not telling her, felt sorry that he had to live with that, mourned Wes' death even more, and most importantly, she denied it. She didn't want to believe that Soul had done something like that. She knew him; the way he spoke and praised his older brother told her he loved him more than he anything, and would never hurt him - or kill him - unless something else was in the mix.

She lightly shook her head and opened her eyes. "It's not true, though."

Star fell back with a loud thunk and exasperatedly sighed. "See, I tell you the truth, and then you deny it."

"I'm not denying it! You said it yourself; it's only a rumor."

"It doesn't make it any less true."

"Rumors are mostly lies fabricated because people don't know the truth. Has anyone ever asked Soul if it was true? I doubt it since no one's talked to him in six years!"

"There's a reason for that too," Star huffed.

"And what reason would that be?"

It wasn't Black Star who answered her question, but Tsubaki. The dark haired woman side glanced her fiance before looking at Maka. "A couple days after Soul came back from his mission, he had to clean out his locker, and some of the guys were in there. Star thought it would be funny to tease Soul, and he sorta…"

Tsubaki trailed off, looking at Star to finish the rest. "Soul pinned me to the ground and tried to choke me to death. It took both Ox and Kilik about five minutes just to get him off of me." Star rubbed his hand along the side of his neck. "Still feel his hands around me too when he's anywhere near me. You know he even had the decency to tell me he blacked out? Fucking bastard making up excuses for himself. I should kick his ass one of these days, but I'm better than that."

Maka allowed Star to cool down some before asking the next question burning on the tip of her tongue. "And that's why you all ditched him?"

"Well, yeah. What'd you expect us to do? Pretend everything was all hunky dory, and continue on with our lives? He tried to kill me, and he supposedly killed his brother. I've told you, Soul isn't the good guy here."

All throughout the conversation, Maka felt her blood boiling. It shouldn't have mattered what the rumor was or what he had done; Soul was their friend, and they should have forgiven him. They should have realized that the Soul they knew would never do anything to hurt anyone. In all the time that Maka knew Soul, he never once purposefully harmed anyone. There was the small incident during the academy when he was ready to hurt Star, but he had been provoked and was going through mental issues by himself. Soul wasn't in the right frame of mind during any of that - even the events that she hadn't been there personally to witness. Deep down she was positive that he would have a decent story if they had only asked.

She abruptly stood up, dug in her purse for some money, and threw it onto the table.

"Where are you going?" Star asked.

"I'm going home. I don't wanna hear any more of your stories. If none of you had the decency to even ask him if he was okay, then I don't want to be around any of you."

Star grabbed her arm before she could get too far. "Maka, wait-"

"No!" She yanked her arm from his grasp and glared down at him. "It's no wonder Soul was always around me when I came back. His friends ditched him and never bothered to make amends. You and everyone else is just as guilty as Soul here."

And with that, she left.

They were all jerks, every last one of them. She was positive that Soul would never do that without an explanation. If he said he blacked out, then she would have believed him. From the moment they met, she knew what he craved the most in life was friends, and he would never do anything to damage that. He had found friendship in not only her but everyone else, and what happened? She was stationed in another division, and Ox, Kilik, Star, Tsubaki, everyone all deserted him after his brother's death. No one should have to go through that alone, and if she had known, she would have flown back as soon as possible.

Her heart ached for Soul and the turmoil he had been through, and somehow she found herself outside of his apartment building. Her mind must have lead her there while she was blinded by anger, but she couldn't go up to see him. The way he looked at her at the diner told her enough she needed to know; he didn't care about her anymore, yet her heart still pined for him. But what hurt the most was the fact that he was up there in his apartment, alone, and probably moping around. She would give anything to join him and comfort him somehow, but she didn't.

Instead, she pulled her jacket closer around her body, and went home.

Only in her dreams would he ever want her again.

Taking one final swig of his drink, Soul tossed the bottle in the trash can nearby, and plopped down on one of the couches. He leaned back on the plush seating, closed his eyes, and waited for the fog in his brain to disappear. Drinking had become a sort of safety net for him throughout the years, and he couldn't really think of any other ways to cure his depression. It was a bad habit to turn to, he knew that, but it was the only way he could get through his issues. After countless sleepless nights following Wes' death, he had to turn to other options when it came to recuperating; he wouldn't let his past mistakes take over his life again.

Heaving a large sigh, he raised his hand to his temples, and tried to rub away the throbbing headache there. Maybe he was an idiot for getting mad at Maka, but he was cutting it close, far too close. The darkness was drawing him back in, and being with Maka was dangerous. What if he had turned on one of their dates? What if he blacked out like he did with Black Star, and tried to choke her? What if she couldn't overpower him and it went too far? Too long?

He couldn't live with himself if he killed her.

"Why are you so afraid of getting close to Maka? I thought you loved her," came a voice beside him.

Soul recognized the voice, but he didn't want to open his eyes to confirm his suspicions. Out of all the times he had to come back, he chose now to? What about all the pastimes Soul had called out for him, and asked him to give him some wisdom during his time of need? Where was he then? Nowhere.

"Are you going to answer my question or keep ignoring me?" the voice asked.

Dropping his hand, and opening his eyes, Soul glanced to the figure next to him. "Why do you come now? Where were you when I needed you?" His voice began to rise and shake with anger; the tears pricking the back of his eyes. Fuck, why did he have to drink? He was always a blubbering mess when he did, he should have known better. "Where were you when you died, Wes? I needed you then, but you never came! Now that Maka's back, all of a sudden you appear? What the fuck? I thought I was your brother!"

Wes closed his eyes, and somberly shook his head. "Little brother, that isn't why I'm here, and you know that. Something else has been bothering you; something that goes farther back than when Maka came back."

Soul's jaw tensed; he knew exactly what Wes was referring to. "That has nothing to do with Maka."

"My point exactly, but unfortunately she does have something to do with it now. What are you not admitting to her?" Wes raised one blonde eyebrow as he questioned his brother.

"The accident isn't any of Maka's business, and you know it," Soul growled.

Sighing Wes said, "but it is. At least when it comes to you it is. You haven't been honest with her. That's why you broke up with her. You need to tell her what happened, Soul. What are you so afraid of?"

He breathed out heavily through his nose, and chewed the inside of his cheek before answering. "You know exactly what I'm afraid of, Wes… or you would had you been there after the accident."

"Then tell me, Soul. It doesn't do good to keep your feelings inside, you should know that."

Soul took a few minutes before speaking again, trying to decide the best way to put his feelings into words. Even now, he found it difficult to lie to his brother; even his dead brother could see how he truly felt, and it disgusted him.

"I don't want Maka to see me as a monster… I don't want her to look at me the same way Spirit and Lord Death did when I told them what happened. I don't want to disappoint her."

"That's not the only reason, is it?"

Soul licked his lips. No, that wasn't the whole truth. Her viewing him as a monster wasn't the only reason he had ended things.

"I can't be with Maka because I can't protect her from myself." It came out quieter than he had intended. His heart pounded in his chest; he wasn't sure if it was because of the alcohol or the fact that he was admitting the truth. "If I lose control, she'll die."

His voice caught on the last two words, and he had to close his eyes to prevent the tears from falling. They sat in silence, and Soul knew he had failed in keeping the tears at bay when he felt the moisture slide down his cheeks. He cursed himself for being weak, and pathetic. This wasn't the type of person he was, nor was it the type of person he had wanted to become, but the truth hurt. Maka was the most important person in his life, and he wanted her to admire and love him. He wanted her to be in his life, healthy and alive, instead of cold and dead. If he killed her, he wouldn't be able to live with that.

He steadied his breathing for a couple minutes, before turning back to his brother. Wes remained stoic; waiting for his younger brother's inner monsters to surface.

After a few more minutes, Wes spoke again. "You need to tell her." He paused. "You need to tell her the truth, and trust that she'll still accept you. Maka isn't like her father, nor is she like Lord Death, and you would never do anything to hurt her. You know that." Wes gently placed his hand over Soul's heart. "You know what I'm saying is true. You can feel it in here, and you know what the right thing to do is. That's why you've been having so much trouble lately. Not only do you need to accept what you did, but you also need to be honest with Maka. Once you do that, I think you'll find it easier to forgive yourself."

Wes was dead, that was a given fact. He saw his brother die; he killed his brother. Wes' blood was on his hands. So what exactly was this new entity? Was he dreaming or was he really that out of it?

He stared at the hallucination; that was the only explanation for it right now.

However, none of that mattered because the things Wes had just told him were true. Soul knew it deep down in his soul. He needed to come clean with Maka; it was the only way they could be together.

"You're right," he heard himself say. "I need to tell her. She deserves to know."

Glancing over at the spot where his brother was before, he found it empty once again; his suspicions of Wes being a hallucination confirmed. He didn't expect the realization that his brother wasn't really there to hurt so much. Wes' death had a much bigger impact on him than he was willing to admit, but it was a fact he needed to face.

Sighing, he grabbed his phone, searched for Maka's number, and called her.

It felt like it took her hours to pick up, and when she did, he asked if she could come over so they could talk things out. He didn't want to explain everything in the phone call so he had to be as vague as possible; he also secretly hoped that she would say no so he would have an excuse to avoid his problems. Unfortunately, Maka's response was the complete opposite. When they hung up, he only had about twenty minutes to sober up some, and make his place appear at least half decent.

Pushing himself off the couch, he looked at all the discarded beer bottles that littered his floor from the weeks he spent moping around; even the air, which smelled like bubbly piss, made him feel nauseas. He walked over to his refrigerator to drink a few of the bottles of water he had stashed in there, hoping that would subdue the foggy buzz running around in his head. Afterwards, he started to clear out the beer bottles by throwing them in the trash, and tried to remove the stench with a couple candles he had bought a while back.

He didn't have to wait too long for Maka because as soon as he finished lighting the second candle, he heard a soft knock on the door. Placing the candle back down on the end table, he walked over and answered it. His heart stopped upon seeing Maka, and he had to catch his breath and restrain himself from pulling her into a hug. Soul hadn't realized until then how much he missed her. Her hair wasn't pulled back in a half ponytail like usual; instead it was all down, framing her face beautifully that made his heart go wild. Five weeks was far too long for him to be away from her.

"Hey," he breathed out.

"Hey," she smiled. She bit her bottom lip, and looked down causing her bangs to drape over her eyes to make her even more alluring. After a while of standing in silence, she looked up, and asked, "may I come in?"

He nodded, and stepped aside to allow her to enter. Closing the door, he watched as she stood in the middle of his loft, glancing around at all his familiar belongings she had seen countless times before, until finally turning back around to him. His heart stopped as he marveled at how gorgeous she looked. Besides the candles and the light from the city below them, there were no other lights on in the loft, giving her an eerie attractiveness. He had seen her in the same outfit countless times before, but tonight he wanted nothing more to have her completely.

But there was still some baggage he needed to get rid of before that could happen.

She cleared her throat, drawing his attention back to her face. "What exactly did you want to talk about?"

Instinctively, he raised his hand to rub behind his neck; it was his tell that he was nervous, and she had known him long enough that it was shared knowledge between them. "I think you-we should sit down for this."

He gestured to the couch, and she followed his lead as they both sat down. Rubbing his sweaty palms on his pant legs, Soul could feel the familiar static rising in his body as his anxiety started to kick in. He knew this would be hard, but was it really going to be this hard? He needed to get his anxiety in order before starting anything, so he began doing the breathing exercises his therapist had taught him. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

He continued doing this for a couple minutes, hoping Maka wouldn't notice, before he felt any sort of affect. It wasn't much, but his heart had slowed down a beat and the anxiety wasn't growing as rapidly as before. Maybe he could do this. All he had to do was imagine that she wasn't in the room; that he was alone, practicing what he was going to tell her. Now that he thought about it, he should have practiced before she came over.

"So," she drawled, finally breaking the silence. "What did you want to talk about?"

He turned to look at her, and came face to face with wide green eyes immediately. His heart jumped, not expecting her to be watching and waiting for him to speak.

Soul turned away again before speaking. "Right, the thing I need to talk to you about." His back began to ache as the words in his brain left him, and he could feel his heart starting to race again. How was he going to explain what happened to Wes to her? He couldn't do this. What had he even been thinking earlier? Why did he even call her? Maka didn't need to know about this? It was silly; it was entirely unnecessary and he-

Maka must have been able to read the anxiety radiating off his body because she placed one hand delicately on his knee, and squeezed. When he looked back at her; his eyes creating a path from her small hand up her arm until they met green again. Maka's eyebrows were cinched together, the worry line more prominent than ever, and the corners of her mouth were pulled down.

"Soul, what is it? You can tell me anything," she whispered.

Her voice was so sincere, and every last syllable that hit his ears was filled with love, and warmth it made something inside of him break. He could hear the faint shattering sound somewhere deep in his body as something broke through the darkness. He didn't know what it was exactly, but it felt like it was something good; it had to be something good. His anxiety slowly started to float away as the warmth and love took its place, and Soul finally felt free to tell Maka the truth.

"Maka, when I told you about Wes' death, I wasn't completely honest with you," he began.

Her face went from worried to confused instantly. "What do you mean you weren't honest with me? You said there was an accident, and that was it. What more is there?"

He shook his head. "No, that was only partially true. There was an accident, but… but it was my fault."

"Soul, it wasn't your fault. I know it's perfectly normal to blame yourself but-"

He placed a hand on her shoulder to quiet her. "Let me finish, okay?" She closed her mouth, and nodded. Taking a deep breath, he continued.

Soul and Wes enter the ruins, the exact same ones that Soul had visited with Maka only a few months prior. He felt uncomfortable and out of place as they walk into the ruins; they were meant to search them and gather evidence for something only Wes knew about. Soul knows he should have asked Lord Death what they were searching for, but his brother had prevented him from doing so by ushering him out the office as quickly as possible.

The stench from before wafts up his nose, but something's different this time around. His body slowly starts to get tingly, and the confines of his mind get darker as his vision clouds over. There's a faint roaring in his ears, and he can't sense anything that's around him. He sees himself dropping the lantern in his hand and Wes rushing forward as Soul drops to his knees, but there's no sound. It feels like someone is taking over his body, pushing him out; suddenly, Soul isn't in his body anymore. He's floating in the ruins, watching as Wes tries to figure out what's wrong with him.

"Soul." Wes slaps his brother's face; his eyes are closed, but he's still breathing which is always good. "Soul, can you hear me? Are you alright?"

Wes gently lays Soul's body on the ground, and stands up to comb his hands through his hair. "Shit, this isn't good. I need to find that monster before any other citizens get hurt. Fuck."

While Wes worries about finishing the mission, Soul watches his body slowly start to stir; his fingers begin to twitch, and moans fall from his mouth as he flips himself onto his stomach to hack up black blood. His body pushes itself up, and Soul notices the haunting eyes; they aren't crimson, they're pitch black. The devilish grin his body throws at him, makes the fear rise, and Soul doesn't know how to tell his brother to watch out as his body bends down to pick up a rock. He knows what's about to happen before it does, but he can't avert his eyes even if he tries.

His body turns, walking toward Wes who's still oblivious to what's going on, and raises the rock high in the air. Soul shouts out to his brother, but his words go unheard. They don't echo in the ruins, and Soul is forced to watch as the rock hits upside Wes' head, knocking him to the ground.

But his body doesn't stop there.

It bends down, releasing a horrific scream before bringing the rock back down on Wes' face; his body continuously bashes the rock against his brother, not caring that he died seconds ago. Dark blood splatters against the ruins walls, staining the gold material, until his brother's face is no longer recognizable. He doesn't have much time to take in the scene before him, as his body falls limp, and Soul finds himself back in it.

At first he feels dazed, but then the memory of what he say comes back and he starts panicking as he pushes himself off Wes' cold body. He doesn't want to believe it at first, but the fact that Wes is no longer moving changes that. Soul feels the hot tears pricking his eyes as he looks away from his brother's mangled face, and bile crawls up his throat.

His brother is dead, and he's the one who did it.

His brother is dead, and it's his fault.

His brother is dead.

He paused, offering a side glance to her, and noted how stunned she looked. Soul let out a shaky breath, and leaned back on the couch. "I think that's all I need to say about that. You get the gist of it, I'm sure."

Keeping his eyes on Maka, he watched as she turned away from him, letting his words sink in and allowing her mind to sort through their meaning. It shouldn't be hard to figure out; he had told her as much as she needed to know. He didn't need to go in full detail on the matter, nor did she need to know anymore. It was enough to suffice, and her imagination was broad enough that she could fill in the blanks herself. Maka stood up, bringing her hands up to her stomach, and clutching them there. His questions burned on the tip of his tongue as he waited for to say something - he needed her to say something. Did she think of him as a monster? Would she leave him? What was going through that thick skull of hers?

"So you were the one who killed Wes?" she asked after a few minutes.

Leaning his body forward, Soul rested his elbows on his knees, and ran his hands through his hair. This was it; this was the moment she would make her final verdict about him. "Yes. I killed Wes."

"But why? I know you, Soul, and that's not who you are. You loved Wes, I know you did. The way you spoke about him, even though you would never admit it, you worshipped him. Why-why would you kill him?"

Soul knew why, but he didn't want to tell Maka that. Hearing her shift her feet, Soul glanced up, and met her eyes. He saw the concern and worry etched in them, and he knew he had to tell her. If he was going to be completely honest with her and have a real relationship with her, he had to do it.

"It was the darkness."

Maka cocked her head to the side. "What do you mean?"

"Remember the ruins?" She nodded. "When that cyborg slashed me across the chest, it woke up a monster that hadn't been present in my life for some time. It's been inside me ever since, but it was nowhere near as bad as it was when I was around Wes. After graduation, it only became worse to the point where I couldn't control it anymore. I guess you could say my last mission was the breaking point, and I lost control."

He watched Maka's facial expression for reassurance of what she would do next. Her eyes were unfocused as she concentrated on something beyond him. She was trying to figure the meaning behind his words as she rolled her bottom lip between her teeth. Soul could see the cogs turning in her brain as she tried to come to a reasonable conclusion for his story.

The fear and anxiety slowly crept its ugly face around the corner as the thought of her leaving him crossed his mind. As soon as his words sunk in, there was no doubt in his mind that she was going to think he was a monster and leave him exactly like everyone else had. He started to regret telling her the truth of what he had done; what was the use in telling her the truth if she was only going to leave him? The thought broke his heart, and Soul braced himself for the worst.

"So what does that have to do with you and me?"

He blinked and looked up at her. "What do you mean?"

"What does the darkness, and Wes have to do with you and me? Is this why you broke up with me?"

"Yeah, but I had a good reason for that."

"And what reason would that be? Because you killed your brother?"

"Yes!" Soul stood up from the couch so that he was towering over her. "Maka did you not hear what I just told you? I killed Wes, with my bare hands. What if I did the same thing to you? What then? I'd have another dead body on my conscious, and another person haunting my dreams. I can't live with that. I needed to end things with you before the darkness took over, and I did something I'd regret."

She crossed her arms, and glared at him. "So you think I'm weak? Soul, I can handle myself when it comes to you. I can read you like a book, you know that. I would be able to tell when you changed."

"No. No you wouldn't have, Maka." He ran his hands through his hair and heavily breathed out. "You don't know how the darkness takes over me. I'm not the same person when it happens. I get more aggressive, and I can't control myself. I fucking choked Star once because I couldn't control it! It took both Kilik and Ox to remove me from him! It took two grown ass men to pry me away from Star, and you think you can handle me yourself? Maka, you're not that strong!"

"What does it matter, Soul? I know you - that's what matters - and you would never hurt me! You love me, I know you do! All the time we spent together, you never once raised your hand to me! You never once tried to hurt me or anything. Star warned me to be careful, but you never gave me a reason to do so."

"But Maka-"

"No, stop!" She took a step forward and placed her hand over his heart. "I know, okay? The person in here," she pounded her palm against his chest, "is who you are. I know who you truly are, and I'm not afraid of being with you. I love you, I love you so much, and I would do anything for you."

It was her last words that completely shattered him from the inside out. He felt it vibrate through every fiber in his body, and he finally saw the light shining at the end of the tunnel. Something had broken through the darkness that was boiling up inside of him, and he had a good feeling of what it could be as the warmth from Maka's hand seeped in through his shirt. His heart constricted, and he almost forgot how to breathe as he stared down into her soothing green eyes. Soul saw everything in there; he saw her love, the way she saw him, how she would always be by him no matter what, and so much more.

It was exactly what he needed, and his next actions couldn't be controlled even if he tried.

He cupped her face between his hands and leaned down to gently lay his lips on hers. Maka squeaked in surprised, but didn't take long to react. Slanting her head a bit and snaking her arms around his neck, she took his bottom lip between hers and lightly sucked on it. She tugged him closer to her. Their bodies molded together as she pressed up against him and deepening the kiss while Soul's hands found their way to her hips. Having her that close made his pants feel a little tighter.

It was one of their best kisses to date as the rush of heat and electricity rushed from the pit of his stomach throughout the rest of his body. Her lips felt like fire as they moved against his, and her tongue was forceful as it slid against his, his groan vibrating around it as his grip tightened around her. Her hands gently tugged on his hair when she pulled him away to breathe before going back; her heavy lidded eyes gazed into his, allowing him to feel the lust emitting from them. It was completely exhilarating, and all he needed in life; it was all uniquely Maka, and he needed more of it.

They broke apart, their cheeks flushed and their breathing mixed together. Soul rested his forehead on her's and smiled.

"That was-"


He didn't need to explain what that kiss was like; it was different from their other ones. He wasn't holding back anymore since he had laid all his cards out on the table, and Maka hadn't deserted him. There was nothing holding him back from being with her anymore.

"I love you," he whispered.

He heard her inhale sharply, startled by his sudden admission. "I love you, too." He felt the smile playing around her voice, and the flame in his stomach burned with more intensity.

Soul gently placed kisses down her face, making Maka giggle in the process, and maneuvered them over to his bed. They fell on his bed and spent most of their night getting reacquainted with the other.

He marveled at the contrast of their skin as he moved above her; the way his hands stood out as they rested over her stomach, blocking some of her skin from view. Her kisses felt like fire as she peppered them along his skin, branding him as hers for the world to see. Her touch was like a bundle of electric shocks as her hands roamed his body, memorizing it as if he were a constellation in the sky.

It was new and exciting. There was no one else in the world he wanted.

The way his name left her lips when he touched a sensitive spot on her body sent shivers down his spine. Her nails scraped his back and left red secrets along his skin, leaving crescent moons as they dug into him. Moans mingled together before evaporating into the silent night. They were two different people coming together to make something that was uniquely their own, something the rest of the world would never be able to replicate. Her body shook as she came around him, whispering his name like a promise. His own release wasn't far behind as the tips of his ears tingled and his toes curled before falling unceremoniously on top of her.

They made love twice that night before sleep took them both. The moon was bright and full as it shone down on the rest of Death City, and the stars twinkled in their places along the skyline. The world continued to move, not realizing that a couple had become one. However, that was how they liked it. Neither Soul nor Maka needed to shout out into the abyss that they were back together or about their actions that night. It was a silent secret between them.

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