The One with the News
Maka grinned foolishly to herself, as she replayed the events of yesterday in her head over and over again.
While they were walking back home, hand in hand, she admitted to him, "I don't think I can ever love you as much as you love me." She told it to him lightly, so lightly that if their bodies weren't at such close proximity, he wouldn't have been able to hear her. She hated herself the instant the words came out of her mouth. "Is...is that okay?" She asked unsurely.
"Doesn't matter, I'll make you love me." He had a cocky grin plastered on his face, backed by an expression of perpetual confidence.
It was a memory with words etched so deep in her mind, it was all she could concentrate on. She was thankful that there was a substitute for math that day. It would have been terribly difficult to catch up to the material on her own if she zoned out.
Yesterday's conversation blurred in with the morning's, when he told her that he wouldn't be in school. Apparently, he had to take care of some extremely urgent business which required him to go back to his home. More than anything, Maka thought it was a huge relief. She didn't know how or if she should face him, and not seeing him gave her time to think rationally about his confession.
"Maka?" A shy voice called out from behind. Maka whipped around to see Crona making shaky eye-contact with her.
"Oh, Crona!" Maka happily greeted her friend. "What's up?"
"N-Nothing, it's just that y-you were smiling to yourself the w-whole time. Did something good h-happen?" Crona asked Maka, lowering her eyes to look away from the blonde.
"N-No, it's just-" Maka stopped herself and thought about it over. Maybe what she needed most right now was a second opinion. "W-Well, Crona, if someone told you that they l-loved you, how would you respond?"
"W-What?" Crona managed to stutter out, her face turning completely red and her hands nervously trembling.
"N-No, I just mean it in a completely hypothetical way! I'm not saying I love someone, or that someone confessed to me! I mean, how does that even make sense, who would like me?" Maka laughed nervously, trying to cover up the awkward and uncomfortable pause.
"I-I like you Maka," Crona softly whispered, before she realized what she said and quickly explained. "I mean as a f-friend! So I-I won't be surprised if someone liked you...is what I'm saying. A-as for the whole l-love thing, if someone c-confessed to me, I would first see what my feelings towards that person was. B-By the end of it, if I'm smiling or extremely happy, it's probable that I like the person back."
"O-Oh..." Maka blushed furiously, thinking about how happy she had been whenever she recalled his confession.
"Maka," Crona called her name, causing the flaxen haired girl to look up at Crona in curiosity. "I...I like it most when you smile."
Maka's eyes softened as quickly as they widened, and she gently smiled a pastel painting smile. "Thank...thank you!"
Maka joyfully walked down the empty school hallway. Her silky golden hair bounced cheerfully on the pristine white of her collar, bright emerald eyes crinkled with amusement and pale white hands clutched her books tightly. The conversation she had with Crona strangely lifted her mood greatly. Class was long over, and her club was about to start soon. She mindlessly walked around the corner to where her locker was, when she saw Ox and...Kim? She quickly hid behind the wall.
"Ox, how much do you have on you?" The pink haired girl haughtily asked the boy in front of her, putting a hand on her hips.
"Uh..." He took out his wallet and looked inside. "I have twenty dollars on me right now."
She paused, calculated something in her head, and replied, "All right. Hand it to me." She arrogantly stuck out her hand.
Much to Maka's surprise, without a second of hesitation, he handed the money to her. The normally stuck-up, tight Ox was tamed? As much as Maka's conscious was telling her to stop eavesdropping, the side of Ox that Maka never saw before was too engaging. Despite being basically robbed of his cash, he looked...he looked extremely happy.
"K-Kim, I-" He started, before he was instantly interrupted by said girl.
"Look Ox, I'm running late. I'll see you later...or not, doesn't really matter to me. Bye!" She ran off, ignoring his small protest.
"Ugh..." Maka heard him sigh, as he sluggishly made his way to their club room.
"Hey," Maka greeted the depressed Ox. He had his head hidden in his arms in gloom, a posture she was way too familiar with.
"Not today, Albarn. Not today," he shook his head, keeping his head facedown.
"...I saw what happened in the hallway just now," Maka hesitantly admitted. Ox immediately look up at her in embarrassment.
"W...What?" He asked Maka in disbelief. "You what?"
"I-I didn't mean to!" Maka argued defensively. "I was just walking to my locker room and you guys were there and I didn't want to interrupt and I-I'm sorry!" She apologized.
Ox glared at her for a few seconds, before retreating back to his original position and responding with a brief, "Ugh."
They stayed in silence for a few minutes, before Maka took the initiative to converse with him. "Ox, don't you feel upset?"
"About what?" He mumbled.
"Well she just stole all your money, for one." Maka frowned, unsure if money wasn't much of a problem for him or if Kim was just that important.
He shrugged. "Those kinds of things don't really matter when it comes to the one you love."
Maka swallowed hard. "D-Do you love her, Ox?"
"What are you, stupid?" He snorted at her ignorance, ignoring her glare. "Isn't it obvious?"
Maka remembered the image of the happy expression Ox had on his face when he was speaking to Kim, and mentally slapped herself for being so dense. How could she not know? She stared hard at Ox and asked, "But how do you know? Like how did you find out?"
"What are you talking about?" He curiously peered over the ledge of his arms that covered his eyes and gazed at her.
"About Kim...how did you know you were in love with her?" Maka looked at Ox with wide eyes, ready to absorb any useful information he had on the topic.
Ox shrugged once again, a bit suspicious of Maka's suddenly enlarged and watery eyes. "You just know? For example, when I see her my heart starts racing, I feel extremely hot and...I guess I'm just extremely happy when she's talking to me. If you love someone...you just know."
"W-Well what if someone confessed that they love you?" She asked, recalling Soul's bold confession.
He rose an eyebrow. "Maka, are you trying to confess to me?" He gave a dumbfounded Maka a lopsided grin and replied, "Sorry, I like Kim."
"NO!" Maka yelled, a little too loudly. People around her tossed her strange looks and Maka could feel her cheeks burning. "I mean no as in a I-don't-like-you-no, not a you-like-Kim-no," she clarified her little outburst.
"I was just kidding, sheesh. Leave it to Albarn to overreact to every little thing," he rolled his eyes, shaking his head in disapproval. "Anyways, getting back to what you said. Just know that it took every ounce of courage that person could ever muster to confess, and that you must be really special to that person to receive a confession."
Maka let the words sink in her head and for the first time it hit her how hard it must have been for Soul to confess. He wasn't someone who expressed his true feelings that well to begin with. To think he made such a bold, clear statement of his emotions was...courageous, for lack of a more fitting word.
Maka bit her lip to stop a smile and said, "I guess you aren't as bad as I thought you were, Ox."
He was puzzled, but he decided to just let it go. "All grade competitions aside, you're not so bad yourself, Albarn."
Maka grinned at the somewhat twisted but newfound friendship. Maka replayed the confession from yesterday, slowly remembering each line and how hard it must have been for him to get it out. Then she thought about her own words.
I don't think I can love you as much as you love me.
Maka winced at the words she chose to respond to his confession. To say that it was hurtful was watering it down by many folds.
"Hey, Ox?" Maka uncertainly started. "W...What if Kim never likes you back? What if she...never loves you?"
He smiled sadly- a smile that Maka was positive she would and could not ever see on his usually cocky face- and answered her question. "It's fine. I can wait forever for her to come to me. Besides, I shouldn't be too selfish. I still feel like it's a miracle that she's speaking to me again."
"...Again?" Maka pondered at the word. "What do you mean again?"
Ox looked over at the interested sun-bleached blonde besides him and sighed. "I don't even know why I'm telling you this."
"Come on!" Maka encouraged him to continue, extremely curious to what his story was. "We're friends now, remember?"
"Well..." He scratched the top of his head, not sure how to start. "Kim and I were friends since elementary school. Our parents were friends, so it was inevitable that we grew up together. We were best friends in elementary and middle school. We didn't really have a lot of other friends, but I was perfectly fine and content with it. I thought she was too...but when we came to high school, everything changed."
Ox shrugged nonchalantly. "She found a new group of people, spent more and more time with all her new friends. I got terribly jealous and...well, one day I unintentionally said something horribly mean to her."
"What?" Maka wondered, finding all this new information about Kim fascinating.
"Well, I confronted her and she said I sounded ridiculous. She told me she would always be my friend and that she really loves me, but I know she just meant it as a friend. I was...I don't know, I was particularly ticked off that day and I was so angry and upset - angry and upset that she didn't like me the same way I liked her - so I just told her to piss off."
"You...you what?" Maka widened her eyes in horror. "A girl told you she loves you and you...y-you told her to piss off?"
"She meant it as a brotherly-sisterly way," Ox dismissed Maka's statement, his eyes darkening. "Besides, it gets worse. I told her that she was just like the rest of them, those annoying high school clique girls, and that she's become a total bitch. I told her instead of wasting her time with me, she should go off and get together with someone who matches her, like Soul."
"Wow Ox, that's just messed up."
"I know, okay?" He snapped, tightening his fists. "I didn't mean a word of what I said, I was just...I don't know. I wasn't thinking properly that day."
"So what exactly did she say after you told her those hurtful words?" Maka chose her words carefully.
"Well, for one, I'll never forget the look in her eyes...it was filled with so much hurt and betrayal. I immediately regretted saying everything, but it was too late. The hurt in her eyes lasted for only a split second, before they turned hard and cold. I still remember the exact words she said..."
Fine. If that's how you feel, maybe I just will get with Soul. Never, ever speak to me again or even pretend to know me. Our friendship ends here.
Ox cringed at the memory. He initially planned to keep his past with Kim hidden away for good but something about Maka encouraged him to let everything out - everything he's bottled away since the incident three years ago.
"But you and Kim are now talking again! She was even asking you for money and stuff," Maka pointed out, subtly questioning how they patched things up.
"Well, due to some miracle we got paired up for the flour baby project together, remember? We were forced to talk and well...I guess we just made up that way. We never talked about what happened between us during that time though- it was like we just met. It was then that I realized things will never really be the same. It saddens me to the point of depression, but for now I'm just happy to be in her presence." Maka caught the sad glint in his eye.
"You really love her a lot, don't you?" Maka smiled at his deep feelings.
"Yeah, yeah I do." He confidentially said. "Maybe I'm overanalyzing, but I feel that the way she's acting right now- whether it's chasing after Soul or acting like a spoiled brat in front her little group of friends- is because of me. She wasn't like that before, even when she was hanging out with a new crowd. She was seriously the sweetest person anyone could ever hope to meet. Her dream was to become a nurse to heal people who are sick, she wouldn't hurt an ant. Please don't think badly of her, despite her frequently rash and rude actions." Ox begged Maka.
Maka nodded, signifying that she understood. All her high school life, Maka was positive Kim was just a baseless, tasteless and senseless girl, but after the conversation with Ox she was seriously starting to form completely new opinions.
The bell rang at that moment, officially ending the club period. Maka grabbed her books and started to head out the door but stopped and turned back. Something needed to be done.
"Ox - everything you told me." Maka had a determined look in her clear emerald orbs. He looked at Maka to see the determination in her eyes, and became bewildered. "Everything you told me just now- how you regret everything that happened, how you feel about her, how you didn't mean anything you said- tell it to her. Tell her those exact words and apologize! Apologize like there's no tomorrow."
"Unless you want to live the rest of your life in regret, go apologize." Maka repeated. "It's already late, but if she's half as sweet as the girl you described to me, she'll understand and she'll forgive you. So...so go apologize and explain everything to her."
"B-But Maka, I-"
"Just go." Maka pushed him out the door in encouragement. "Now! Forget the past, screw the future, disregard everything but the present. Anything can be yours. You can do anything, as long as you strive hard enough for it, so go! I'm sure she's been waiting for you as long as you have been for her."
"B-But." He hesitated, not used to executing such rash actions.
"Just go, Ox. She's waiting," Maka smiled brightly and it was such a serene and pure smile, his heart skipped a beat.
"O...Okay," he finally agreed, somehow energized by Maka's words to take action. "Oh, but before I go - what are you waiting for? Soul's confessed to you, didn't he? It's blatantly obvious you like him too, so why aren't you going for it?"
"W-What?" Maka sputtered, as her face and ears reddened. "W-Who told you that?...And no I don't!"
"Nobody, I could easily tell by the conversation we had just now- when you kept asking about confessions and love- that Soul confessed to you. Try to be a little more subtle next time, yeah?" Ox shook his head. "And yeah you do, you idiot."
"What? !" Maka slit her eyes in anger. "I take back everything I said! You are just as bad as I thought you were...and I don't!"
"Denial's always the first stage, Albarn!" Ox carelessly brushed past her angered remarks, and walked towards the door. "Anyways, thanks for the prep talk! Hopefully the next time we see each other, you'll have more sense in that tiny head of yours."
"Ugh...what would that stupid Ox know anyways?" Maka grumbled to herself, as she walked down the street to her apartment. It was around the evening now and the blazing sun set fire to the clouds, causing the whole sky to turn a smoothly blended hue of orange, yellow and red. As she walked past the quaint neighborhood stores and rowdy cars driving down the street, she thought more and more about everyone's words.
What Ox had said wasn't completely unreasonable.
Maka pursed her lips at the thought, and tightened the grip she had on her books. Weird and foreign feelings started to take over her.
She didn't like it. She didn't like it at all.
"Yo, Maka!" She heard a familiar voice call out to her. She promptly turned around to see an overly hyper blue haired boy walk towards her. He had a lollipop stuck in his mouth and he was energetically waving his hands at her.
"Black Star?" She broadened her eyes at his unexpected appearance. "What are you doing here? You don't live anywhere near this neighborhood."
"Yeah, I had to take care of something." He ominously stated, looking far off to the side. "Anyways, how are you doing? Everything's a bit saddening, huh?"
"What is?" Maka asked, perplexed by his words.
"About Soul." Black Star bluntly replied, not noticing her confusion.
"O-Oh." Maka flushed, positive he was talking about the confession. "It's more surprising than anything, really."
"Yeah, I guess. You're surprisingly taking it well," Black Star shrugged. "I have to admit, thinking I'd barely see that bastard again after three weeks isn't the greatest feeling."
"Wait, what?" Maka asked him, her face crumpling in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about his move," Black Star stared at Maka in confusion at her confusion.
"W-What move? Black Star, what the hell are you talking about?" Maka asked, fear rising up her chest.
"I thought you knew? Tsubaki didn't tell you?" Maka shook her head slowly, unsure if she wanted him to continue. "Soul got accepted to some prestigious music college or another overseas. He got his acceptance letter a while back, like a month ago. I heard he went home today to arrange the final details, didn't you know?"
Maka shook her head once more, her mouth dry of words. She felt her legs go weak and somehow she felt detached from the world.
"Maka, Soul's moving to Europe in three weeks." She dropped the books that were once clutched tightly in her hands. "Soul's leaving," Black Star straightforwardly said, hammering in the final detail she didn't want to hear.