The One with the Picture
The feeling was still there.
It was a whole week since he moved in and yet that unknown and indescribable feeling in his chest persisted. He was convinced that if he moved in with her, he would find out what the irritating feeling was. It crept up to Soul and bothered him, consuming his every thoughts. It felt like he was being constantly smoldered; he felt restricted and caged, like there was a heavy load on top of him. He tried and tried to place a name on the particular emotion, but he failed miserably.
It was a dead end.
"I told you to pick up your clothes after coming home from school!" A nagging voice woke him from his daze. "Get out, get out, get out!"
He lazily flipped open one of his dark ember eyes and looked smugly at her scowling face.
"But I'm so tired, Maka," he whined in protest, closing the opened eye. He was resting on the leather couch, his long legs sprawled out in comfort.
"I don't care!" Maka angrily said, picking up his discarded jeans on the floor. "It was so clean and tidy in here before you moved in. Now it's no better than a pig pen!"
"Aw, don't say that," Soul grinned, talking while his eyes remained closed. "I know you like me here, I keep you in company at night."
A furious blush painted her face a dark red hue and she mumbled, "That sounds so wrong."
Despite her distance from him and the low volume of her voice, he overheard and smirked. "You seem to always interpret my words in a much more naughty way than I initially intend them to be. Are you trying to hint at something?"
Maka responded by tossing yet another textbook his way. He grumbled in pain as the book made contact with his head. How many times had it been that week?
"Sheesh, how many books do you have?" Soul asked painfully, rubbing his sore skull. If he started to get dumber because of a dramatic decrease in brain cells, he knew who to blame.
"A lot," she responded. "And they'll all end up on your head if you keep leaving your things on the floor."
"Calm yourself, Maka." He nervously tried to soothe her, as he slowly stood up from his comfort zone. "Besides, I need a lot of energy to brace myself for tomorrow."
"Brace yourself for what?" Maka asked curiously, picking up the thrown textbook from the ground and neatly placing it back on the shelf.
"Don't tell me you forgot what day it is tomorrow!" Soul slapped his forehead at Maka's confused face.
"What?" She asked, agitated from the way he always beat around the bushes.
"It's Valentine's Day. Also known as the day I drown in screaming girls and die," Soul shook his head from the mere thought, his palms getting sweaty. "I'm going to have to dress in layers and run like the lightening."
"Why don't you just cut school?" Maka suggested, her emerald eyes growing wary with the discussion of the particular holiday. She absolutely hated Valentine's Day. It was completely useless and pointless in her opinion.
"And let my fans down?" Soul joked, watching Maka searching for something under the wooden shelf at the corner of their living room. Her position was quite comical- she was lying on her left side, her face peeping determinedly at the gap between the carpeted floor and wooden shelf.
"Because you care so much about them," Maka sarcastically replied, her attention completely focused on the shelf. There was the Biology textbook she thought she lost! She reached out towards it, but her arms were too short to reach. She blew her bangs out in annoyance and tried to reach for it again.
But the impact of blowing air into the constricted space initiated the merry dance of the dormant dust collected on the floor. She widened her emerald eyes in horror and before she could turn her head away, it happened.
The sheepish, amused, and sadistic grin plastered on her own face brought shivers down her spine. She wanted so desperately to punch herself in the face and the fact that she would be feeling it later that day was the only thing stopping her from doing so. Besides, she reasoned, she didn't particularly want to adorn her face with a black bruise or be called a masochist from a certain white haired boy.
"Remember," Maka heard her own voice instruct, emerald eyes staring up at her. "Reject all dates, keep the conversations brief and minimal. Avoid all the girls to the best of your ability and run. Run."
Maka nodded half-heartedly, wondering if God had something against her. She was always changing bodies with him in the worst situations possible- like the time he was sick. Why couldn't they switch bodies when she needed it? Like the time she got trapped in the dark, scary shack placed in the middle of nowhere surrounded by only trees and snow that time two months ago?
"Why couldn't I just stay home?" Maka whined, Soul's black book-bag strapped tightly on her back.
"I told you," he reminded her. "I already skipped a lot of school this year. If I keep going at it, the college I want to get accepted into will reject me."
"Hmrph," Maka grunted in reply, her shoulders sagging. It was an unsightly posture, but she figured it would be fine since Soul was always in that position on a regular basis anyway.
"Remember, don't be startled if they start ripping your clothes off- that's why you're wearing three layers." Soul told her, smiling a sweet yet terribly artificial smile. "Ready to go in?"
Maka moaned in reply, pulling her snowy white hair in exhaustion and fear as dark bags circled under her eyes.
What an understatement.
What a total, absolute, complete understatement.
Maka felt as though all her energy was drained down a sink, as she crouched inside the janitor's closet, hidden from the public view. She had scratches all over her body and two layers of the three she had worn were ripped off of her body.
The thought, 'Why the hell doesn't he just become a damned superstar?' ran through her head. The only difference Maka found between Soul and a movie star was the latter actually got paid for bearing with such violent signs of affection, making it somewhat worthwhile to deal with.
What was it with Valentine's Day that made it okay for girls to become chaotic and flip? Even the girls she would have never expected- girls who quietly sat in the back of their English class or girls who dressed maturely and said smart things in social studies- went wild this day. Maka groaned in fatigue, her body aching everywhere. She had lasted a whole four periods and only three more periods remained. As she wondered if she could just cut the next three periods and remain safely in the janitor's closet, the door abruptly opened and she heard the familiar, nauseating squeal of girls drowning her ears.
"What the hell is this?" Soul growled outloud to himself, as he saw a modest pile of letters inside Maka's locker. He took out the envelopes, which totaled around twenty, and quirked his eyebrows up when he realized what they were.
Soul narrowed his eyes at them, a weird feeling stirring up inside the pit of his stomach. Saying that he was feeling angry was a huge understatement and he was bent on throwing them all out that very second when a boy with reddish hair and green eyes nervously came up to him.
"U-Uh...Maka?" The boy asked, a light blush tinting his freckled face.
"What?" Soul asked as angrily as he did rudely, the colorful envelopes clutched tightly in his hands.
"I-I was just wondering if you would accept these," he bashfully asked Soul, handing him a bouquet of red roses.
"What?" Soul asked again, thrown off by the confession. It was one thing that guys had written her letters, but a flat out, live confession?
"I've always had a huge crush on you," the boy admitted, the glare on Maka's face passing by him. The boy drifted his dark green eyes away from who he believed to be Maka, the blush on his face still very evident. "I liked you since Freshman year. I wanted to ask you out so many times Freshman year but I always chickened out. You had a boyfriend Sophomore year, so I couldn't really ask you. Junior year was a mess, with the SATs and all, so I figured you wouldn't want a boyfriend to concentrate on your studies. Now it's our last year here, so I figured..."
"Boyfriend?" Soul asked in murderous intent, his eyes turning more and more dangerous. He flat out ignored the boy's confession, as his attention was diverted wholly to that one word.
"I-I know you were abused that time but I am confident I can treat you right!" He stuttered, only now noticing how grave Maka's expression was.
"Abused?" Soul could feel his wrath boiling, as he clenched his hands even tighter at the envelopes.
"Uh, y-you know what?" The boy decided to withdraw, feeling intimidated. "I-"
"Look." Soul interrupted him, taking the pale boy by the collar. "I'm Soul Eater Evans's and his alone," he dangerously hissed to the startled boy in front of him. "If you dare even so much as look my direction, I swear he'll fucking kill you. You can count on it."
The red haired boy nodded his head rapidly, implying that he understood. Somehow, although it was undoubtedly Maka- the same, cute, innocent and quiet Maka he was attracted to- in front of him, he felt as if Soul had personally threatened him himself.
"And also tell all of your pathetic friends or any other piece of shit that is even remotely interested in me to fuck off." Soul commanded the auburn haired classmate, finally releasing him from his death grip. No one was going to take her away from him, not a single one. The boy hurriedly scrambled away, his heart thumping loudly. He forgot the whole conversation the minute he ran away, unconsciously blocking it out from his memories.
However, the conversation lingered in Soul's head like a nasty aftertaste.
Soul caught Maka desperately trying to camouflage herself behind a trash can. He would have cracked a smile in amusement, but the only thing he could think about was the conversation he had earlier. He needed confirmation. Affirmation that everything he just heard wasn't nonsensical blabber.
"Maka." He flatly greeted, causing her to jump up in surprise.
"Soul!" She hissed, her garnet eyes narrowing into slits. "Do you even know the beginning of the extent of my misery?"
"Maka, I face it every year. For three whole years now." He reminded her, amused at her crouched position.
"All day I've been dodging and running! I'm sore!" She complained, pounding her back in an attempt to sooth it.
"Soul!" A girl called from behind. Both Maka and Soul turned around at the same time to face a girl with two symmetrical braids on each side of her head. She shot the real Soul an angry glare, before diverting her attention to Maka.
"I made you apple pie," the girl blushed. "I thought it would be more original than chocolate because I know you already get a lot of it..."
Maka smiled sweetly at the girl, which caused Soul to mentally face-palm himself.
"I'm sorry," Maka apologized, handing the pie back to her. "I don't think I can accept this. I'm allergic to apples."
The girl widened her hazel eyes in shock and threw the apple pie to the floor, as if it was contaminated with a deadly virus.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" She hastily apologized, bowing her head at Maka.
"No, no! It's okay!" Maka reassured the girl. The girl's worried expression remained the same. "Thank you for the thought regardless! I really appreciate it!"
The girl, after she had her fill of gawking at Soul's face, eventually walked away clutching her heart tightly and smiling in content. Soul looked down at Maka- who was still crouching- with a bemused smile.
"What?" She demanded, slowly standing up. She shook her legs in an attempt to release it from the pain it was in. It fell asleep from being in the same, single position for too long.
"You remembered," he gloated.
"Remembered what?" She asked, fully aware of what he was talking about.
"My allergies." He grinned as he saw a light blush grazing her face. He saw a piece of rose stuck in-between her silver hair and he plucked it out. The rose triggered the memory of the conversation he had before, and he frowned. "You know, Maka. You know so many things about me, but I don't know that much about you."
"What are you talking about?" Maka scoffed, searching for any potential girls that might be headed towards her way.
"I'm saying that-"
"Girl! Girl!" Maka squeaked, running away as fast as she could. Soul barely had time to blink before she was out of his sight. He sighed in annoyance. He wanted to talk to her...about more things than one.
"Here Tsubaki," Kid cheerfully said, as he handed his ebony haired friend a piece of chocolate. She gratefully took it and popped it into her mouth.
"Thank you Kid." Tsubaki smiled. She handed him a small pink pouch of candy tied in a silver ribbon in return and he happily took it.
"Where's Maka?" Kid wondered, his eyes wandering around the cafeteria in search for the blonde. It was their tradition to exchange chocolates as friends every Valentine's Day and this year was no exception.
"I don't know..." Tsubaki admitted. "I saw her in the hallway but she was talking to this guy with red hair. She looked really mad."
Kid quirked his eyebrows at Tsubaki's statement but said nothing.
"Uh...Kid?" Tsubaki initiated a new conversation, not entirely sure if she should bring it up. She took a deep breath...it was now or never.
"Yeah?" He encouraged her to continue. He started to untie the silver bow from Tsubaki's candy bag and examined the candy inside. He smiled- there were exactly eight pieces inside.
"D-Don't take this the wrong way," Tsubaki stammered. Kid peered over her curiously and nodded his head in response. "Do you like Maka?"
"Uh, of course I like Maka?" Kid instantly replied back, carefully unwrapping a piece of candy. "She's my best friend."
"N-No!" Tsubaki shook her head. "Not like that- I mean as a girl."
Kid stopped peeling the silver wrapper and slowly looked up at Tsubaki with his brilliant golden eyes. Her crystal blue eyes stared right back at him, eager for an answer. He sighed.
"I don't know," he admitted, fumbling with the shiny candy wrapper.
"What do you mean?" Tsubaki asked him to elaborate his watery answer.
"Sometimes I think I do. I care about her a lot, you know? But then other times I think it's more of a sisterly feeling," Kid started. Tsubaki nodded her head lightly in acknowledgement, implying that she understood. "Sometimes I'm positive I like her because I get very jealous when other guys are with her. But other times, I really feel nothing more for her than a friend. I can't imagine her being my girlfriend or lover of any of that romantic sort. Also..."
"Also?" Tsubaki asked.
"Also, I feel like..." Kid paused briefly, his face turning a deep dark red. Tsubaki stared amusedly at her friend, who grew brighter by the second. "I-I feel like if you really like someone, then you just know. If you found that special someone, you just know it's them. That's why I feel as though that annoying Soul person is always around her, he somewhat belongs with her. I think he just knows it's her. It pisses me off, but it's obvious he likes her a lot. For me, I'm not sure if it's Maka, which is why I think she's not the one. I'll probably find the real one someday."
"Aw!" Tsubaki cooed, smiling widely at Kid in an adoring fashion. Kid just sunk lower in his seat, turning redder by the minute.
"Where is Maka anyways?" Kid asked once more, trying to change the topic as swiftly and subtly as possible. He soon found out he didn't really have to, as a certain flamboyant blue-haired boy came their way.
"Soul!" Maka ran up to him at his locker. He got startled by her voice and instantly closed the locker.
"Yeah?" He tried to ask as nonchalantly as possible.
"What are you hiding?" Maka slit her eyes at the panicked expression he had on for a split second.
"Nothing." He dismissed, looking curiously at her tattered clothes. She only had a shirt on that had rips at the bottom. He couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her. "What did you want?"
"I forgot I have after-school today..." Maka started, and Soul instantly caught on.
"You want me to attend your boring after school activities? Hell no!" Soul protested.
"Look, I just ran through the whole school, avoiding and ducking girls throwing their bodies at me all day," she hissed. "It's the least you can do for me!"
"Ugh..." Soul groaned, knowing that arguing would get him nowhere- in the end, she always had her way with everything.
"Who the hell takes social justice as a club?" Soul yelled loudly down the hall of their shared apartment.
"It's a fun class!" Maka argued, meeting him halfway down the hallway. She was already home a while ago, adjusting a few new...things.
"It's crap!" Soul retorted back, his hands crammed inside Maka's white trench coat. They walked together to the door and Maka pushed open the door when Soul's cold hands grabbed her wrist and rendered her immobile. She shuddered.
"Wha-" He shut her up, as he filled the gap between her lips and his own.
She would never get used to that feeling- the tingle that happened when they both returned back to their respective bodies. It was like she was shot with a jolt of electricity, it send weird vibes pulsing through the entire course of her body.
"You can't keep doing those kinds of things unexpectedly!" Maka ordered, as they pulled away. Her fierce emerald eyes looked up angrily at him. "Especially not in the hallway of my apartment where everyone can see us!"
"Yeah, yeah," he replied, only half listening to her. She realized he wasn't paying attention and shove her hands angrily inside her pocket. That's when she felt something- a bump. She pulled it out in curiosity and saw that it was a small, cream-colored box.
"You left something inside my coat pocket," Maka told Soul, handing him the box.
"Nope, it's yours." He said, his expression not wavering. His back was on her as he walked into the apartment.
She looked at the box puzzled, positive she never saw the box in her entire life. She opened the box to reveal a silver necklace with its pendant the shape of a single wing.
"It's not mine." Maka told him honestly, not able to tear her eyes away from the jewelry. She really liked it- it was simple and cute.
"I gave it to you, so it's yours." Soul finally said, not believing how dense she was.
"What?" Maka asked, her clear green eyes widening. Her eyes flickered from the necklace to Soul to back to the necklace. "Why are you giving me a necklace?"
Soul sighed in agony, putting his hand on his forehead. He turned around to face a very confused looking Maka. "Because it's Valentine's Day and I want to give it to you, okay?"
"Then I can't take this!" Maka shook her head, as she handed the box back to Soul. His heart was crushed before he could even register in his head that she rejected him.
"Why not?" He asked, suddenly feeling extremely possessive. He clutched the box tightly in his hand. This was the symbol, the physical proof, that proved to others and she was his- that she belonged to him, and him alone. If she rejected it, then how else was he supposed to mark her as his?
"You spent a lot of money on it, didn't you?" Maka concernedly asked, more as a fact than a question. "I can't accept something like that, it's too burdensome."
Soul looked stunned momentarily, before laughing in relief. So she wasn't rejecting him- she was just worried about the cost. Typical Maka.
Maka looked annoyed at Soul's strange outburst and demanded, "What?"
Soul genuinely smiled at Maka- not a smirk or cocky grin, but a real smile- which made her heart flutter and skip a beat.
"You don't have to worry about the cost, I won it as a prize in this contest," he lied, handing the box back to her.
Maka, the dense girl she was, fell for his act. She happily took the necklace and examined it further. She noticed that on the back of the necklace were the initials "M.E."
"M.E.?" Maka wondered out-loud to herself. "What's M.E.?"
Maka wasn't able see the mischievous grin grow on Soul's face, since his back was turned completely to her.
"Your future initials," he whispered to himself, making sure she didn't hear him. He smirked at the thought of Maka Albarn becoming Maka Evans. When he finally turned around to face Maka, who had grown strangely quiet, the first thing he noticed was that she wasn't wearing the necklace.
"How come you're not wearing it?" Soul demanded, in an audible voice this time. He looked offended.
"I...I'm allergic to silver." Maka admitted shamefully, turning bright red.
Soul looked at her for a few second and then at the necklace, before he burst out laughing. It was one of those rare, full blow-out laughter, and he had to clutch his aching sides from laughing too hard.
"What!" Maka irritatedly asked, glaring at her white-haired roommate who was currently gasping for air.
"Only you, pigtails!" He shook his head, before he broke into peels of laughter again. "Only you."
He then proceeded to reach over her, gently pulling the velvet box away from her. He took out the necklace from where it rested safely in the box and clasped it around her neck.
"You're not allergic to my silver," he decided, throwing all common sense out the window.
Maka rolled her eyes, but she felt a warm feeling spread through her entire being as she saw the necklace dangling from her neck.
Soul turned on the lights to their living room, more than ready to plop into the couch and sleep, when a huge picture on top of the television caught his attention.
It was the picture they took a week ago during English class, kind of like a souvenir for the flour baby project. Soul was wearing his usual cocky grin, Maka had a pretty yet forced smile, and they were both holding the flour baby together.
It was their family photo.
Maka noticed Soul staring intensely at the picture and felt the need to explain.
"I-uh...well, I saw the picture of Wes at your house but I didn't see a picture of you," she awkwardly stated, quickly feeling like a stalker. "So I figured since this is your house now too, it would be nice if there was a picture of all of us. I got the picture today during English and while you went to my after-school club, I got it enlarged." She shrugged, blushing rapidly. "It's nothing, really. Don't mind it."
Soul remained silent and Maka stood there not knowing how to take his unresponsiveness. She could hear the tick-tocking of the clock, and felt stupider by each growing the minute. His back was faced on her so she couldn't even see his expression.
"You know what? I could just take it down," Maka finally said, breaking the weird silence that fell upon them. She went to put it down, when Soul grabbed her wrists tightly. Before she could even comprehend what was going on, or the fire in his scarlet eyes, he held her face and pulled her into a kiss.
It wasn't like those short kisses they exchanged when they were trying to switch bodies and it wasn't messy like the ones in those chick-flick films when there was a dramatic love scene wiggling its way through. It was light, sweet, short, but had so much meaning and passion for the both of them. Right after he let go of her lips, he held her in a crushing embrace, not willing to let go any time soon.
"You have to stop doing that," he said, his voice husky in a way she never heard it go before. She couldn't help but be extremely attracted to it. It was drenched in honey, and his voice was as sweet as it was seductive. Her mind was still hazy from processing the meaning of the kiss. It was the reason why she didn't fully understand his words when he said, "You have to stop doing things that make me go crazy, Maka. I already lost a big part of myself to you, how much more do you want to take? I swear, if you keep doing these kinds of things, I won't be able to control myself."
He trembled at the thought and she didn't know what to say or how to react.
"You're welcome, Soul," Maka finally decided on, stiffly returning the embrace. She hated the way her heart was swaying to his words, pulling her down in a state of euphoria she wasn't sure she wanted to be in.
Her gentle voice scooped up what little pieces of heart he had left to call his own.
And that's when it hit him, all at once: the rush of emotions, the intense jealousy, the dangerous possessiveness, the pounding in chest. The huge burden that was weighing him down was finally lifted as he came to terms with his feelings.
He loved her. The feeling was love.