The One with the Promise
It was a whole month.
Actually, it was thirty days, twelve hours, and fifty-two minutes to be exact; but who was counting?
She never knew it would be so difficult to avoid him. Everywhere she went, there were traces of him left behind. It was painful to walk through the school hallways now, since every single little thing reminded her of him. It was hard to eat apples, because the rinds were too thick- thicker than she thought they were before she stopped eating them because he was allergic to them. Cake tasted bitter, rice krispies tasted like rocks. Her neck felt empty due to the lack of silver jewelry, which miraculously did not give her any rashes despite her silver allergy. Music had no sound no matter how loudly she boosted the volume up. The picture in her living room was long taken down, but it still lurked in the corner behind her bookshelf. It was still there...he was still there.
She seriously did not think his absence would affect her to this extreme. She figured that she lived perfectly fine without him for years, so how could his measly presence make a big impact on her? She was sure that she could function perfectly fine without him and he wouldn't impact her life at all.
But she was wrong. She was completely, utterly, and totally wrong. He was a huge impact in her life. Actually, that was an understatement. It would have been more accurate to say that he changed her life completely. Nothing would ever be the same.
Before, she was absolutely positive she could live alone in the dark loneliness. She didn't really need anyone besides her, the darkness always welcomed her. But now it was different. Now she was spoiled with the pleasure of basking under the sunlight of company, and the thought of being alone just seemed too cruel now, too scary.
It was tempting. It was way, way too tempting to just go back and tell him not to leave. To tell him that she wants to take back all her words, and to please stay with her. However, she knew that it she would never gain enough courage to actually do it. He had a promising future, and how would she ever be able to forgive herself for ruining it for him? She had no right.
He came to try to talk to her numerous times, but day after day she ignored him. He would stay in front of her apartment door for hours, sometimes spent the whole night just waiting, but she never caved in. She knew that once she had a proper conversation with him, she would break down and then he would never leave. She would spend the rest of her life regretting ruining his bright future.
She did remember, however, that he caught her alone one day walking back home. Tsubaki said she had an appointment, and Kid said he had urgent matters to take care of, so they weren't able to walk home with her. They weren't able to block him from her; although, Maka somehow knew they made those plans on purpose so Soul would be able to talk to her.
He asked her if she really wanted him to leave, if she really did not feel anything towards him: were they really over? He wanted to confirm some facts. She confirmed them all for him by repeated the words "yes" three times over.
After then, he stopped trying. He would avoid her as much as she avoided him, and it killed her. Something inside her cracked, but she ignored it and tried her best to move on. She put on a fake smile and laughed fake laughs. She did her best to forget him.
Her plans didn't really work out that well. Sometimes, she would try to sneeze on purpose, just so she would be forced to talk to him. She would be able to have an excuse to give to herself for communicating with him. She succeeded in forcefully sneezing, but nothing happened. The curse, or whatever it was, expired. The magic was gone. It was really over.
One day, she got a letter of her own in the mail. It told her that she got accepted into one of the most prestigious colleges in the whole country. What should have been a joyous occasion seemed rather lukewarm, at best, to her. But it did serve as a great distraction and something to concentrate on. She spent the rest of her time, energy, and thoughts on her education. Just like that, a whole month passed by and before she knew it, the day came.
She knew the day would come, but she never knew it would come so quickly. She woke up, everything still seeming so unreal, until it finally hit her.
Today was the day he was going to leave.
He was really going to leave. He was really going to leave without her.
What time was he supposed to leave again?
Maka shook the question off her mind, ticked off that the first thing she thought about when she woke up was him. She went to the bathroom to wash up and finish the summer assignments her college required her to do.
"Today is just another day, today is just another day." She chanted to herself, tightly gripping the hem of her shirt. "Don't be wavered, today is just another day."
"Black Star, isn't Soul leaving today?" Tsubaki worriedly asked the blue haired boy, who was slouched comfortably in a beanbag chair.
"Yeah, he is." He confirmed, looking out the window of her room.
"Shouldn't we do something?" Tsubaki lowered her eyes, still vividly remembering the conversation she had with Maka a month ago. Ever since then, Maka was like a walking zombie; she barely ate or spoke. "Maka...Maka still refuses to speak to Soul. I feel so terrible about everything...I feel like it was all my fault."
"It wasn't your fault," Black Star reassured her, looking into her eyes. "If anything, it was my fault. I would have never thought that Maka would break if off with Soul completely. I just thought she would send him off and when he finished his studies, they could get back together. I...I fucked up, didn't I?"
"I know Maka loves Soul," Tsubaki softly said to herself, avoiding the question she didn't want to answer truthfully. "Black Star, it's too sad if he just leaves like this. I...I really thought they were going to make up...but a whole month passed and they're still not talking. We need to do something. I'll try to speak with Maka so..."
"All right," Black Star agreed, immediately catching on to what Tsubaki said. "I'll try to talk to Soul."
Maka read the same line over for what seemed like the hundredth time. She broke the tip of her pencil and angrily threw it across the room. She couldn't concentrate. She was about to go outside to clear her mind up and breathe in some fresh air when the doorbell rang.
Her heart skipped a beat. Was it...him?
She hurriedly walked over to her door and anxiously opened the door, fully expecting to see the silver haired teenager with striking ruby red eyes standing there to tell her goodbye.
Instead, a very familiar face with curly blonde hair and grassy forest green eyes greeted her with a smile.
"M-Ms. Nablar?" Maka hesitantly asked, wondering if it really was her old teacher- the teacher who was the start of everything- in front of her.
"It's nice to see you again," she nodded, confirming her identity.
"B-But w-what are you doing here?" Maka stuttered in surprise. She had no idea what was going on anymore. In the past, over and over again Maka rehearsed what she would say to her teacher if they happened to meet again, but she never thought the day would actually come. In her head, she had a million questions to ask her teacher who mysteriously disappeared almost a whole year ago, but no words would come out of her mouth.
"I'm...I'm here to try to pay you back for everything I've done to you." She smiled sadly in an apologetic manner, jumbling her fingers together anxiously.
"W-What do you mean?" Maka asked her elaborate. "Why are you even here? Ms. Nablar, I don't -"
"I'm not Ms. Nablar." The blonde teacher shook her head slowly. She struggled with her next words. "Maka, 'Nablar' is just an anagram...of 'Albarn.' I am your mother, Maka."
"So that's just it?" Black Star asked irritably, as he watched his friend absentmindedly packing up his suitcase. "That's just it? It's completely over?"
Soul didn't reply, but continued to pack his bags.
"She's just going to stop contact with you forever? This whole year meant nothing to her?" The blue haired boy continued, despite his friend's lack of response. "And you're just going to take that? You're just going to move to Europe, and-"
"Holy shit, shut the fuck up!" Soul finally responded, interrupting his friend's line of questioning. He stopped packing to look angrily up at Black Star. "Isn't this exactly what you wanted? You kept trying to convince me to go, no matter what I told you. Now that I'm going, you're complaining? What the fuck do you want me to do?"
"It's true I wanted you to go, but not like this." Black Star snarled back, looking just as agitated as Soul did. "You're half dead. There's no point in going away if you're going to act like a zombie there too! I didn't actually think Maka would think of cutting all connections with you!"
"You never think, period." Soul retorted back, holding back the urge to shout. "If I leave, I lose her. If I stay, I lose her. I did everything I can but she won't fucking listen to me! I can't do anything, Black Star! Nothing! We're done."
"So it's really just over." Black Star flatly said, more of a statement than a question. "You leave in five hours while she stays here and you both live your lives like nothing ever happened. Awesome."
"Just fuck off Black Star," Soul growled, as he resumed packing up his bags. "If her mind is set on getting rid of me, then maybe that really is the best. I didn't want to acknowledge it, but I gave her my all and she never returned those feelings...not even half of those feelings. I was rejected, and that's that. Maybe I'll recover one day, maybe I won't. All I know now is that I should get away from here as far and fast as possible."
"W...W...What?" Maka widened her eyes, as she racked her brain to find something to say. She had so much to say, so much to ask, but her mouth went dry of words.
"I know you're surprised, and I'm sorry to just barge in out of nowhere. But...I figured it's finally time to tell you the truth," the woman, who suddenly seemed like a complete stranger to Maka confessed. "Can I come in?"
"I...I..." Maka mentally cursed herself for not being able to finish full sentences anymore. "I-I y-yes! Y-Yes, come in." Maka opened the door for her, her hands shaking on the door knob.
"Thank you," the woman nodded, walking in. She sat down on the sofa and looked up at the sudden silence. She saw Maka frozen in her position at the door and took a deep breath in. "Maka, I know you're in shock, but there's not much time left. Please come here, I really need to speak with you. It's urgent."
Maka immediately paralyzed with fear when she heard that there was not much time left and reluctantly sat across from the older blonde woman.
"The reason I came here was to...explain everything. So listen carefully, Maka. I know you have a lot of questions to ask me, but let me just explain myself before I answer any of your questions. Is that all right with you?"
Maka bobbed her head up and down in response.
"All right, where to start. Well, first of all, my name is Kami and I'm an astronomer. I'm not sure how much your father told you about me, but that's my occupation. I study the stars."
"Dad did tell me that," Maka quietly told her.
"He did?" The blonde half-smiled. "Well, that's just a gist of what I do. One day, while we- my fellow astronomer and I- were out observing the stars around the Northern Lights, a shooting star fell down. It fell down dangerously close to where we are, and we were able to see the fallen meteoroid. It left a golden substance...one that you're probably familiar with."
"So that was what it was!" Maka opened her mouth in surprise. "B-But how? I don't get how a powder made from a meteoroid can make people switch bodies! T-That's so...cool!"
"It's fascinating, isn't it?" Kami grinned at her daughter's excitement. "It's actually a top secret substance right now. They don't want people switching bodies all over the place, you know."
"But how did you find out about what it can do and how to cure it? You even left us that poem, remember?" Maka reminded her.
"We experimented a lot," Kami grinned mischievously. "But that's beside the point. When I left you and your father, I did regret it a lot. To be honest, I really wanted to pursue my career. Your father was always...holding me back. I really did love you two...I really, really did. You have to believe me."
Maka bit her lip, hesitant to reply. "Then...then why did you leave us?"
"Like I said, I really wanted to pursue my career," the blonde woman smiled sadly, her emerald eyes lowering. "I knew what kind of effect it would have on you, growing up without a mother, but I selfishly went for it anyways. I know you can't forgive me now, Maka, but I hope you will eventually."
Maka nodded slowly as she replied, "I'll...I'll try."
"Thanks," Kami said, grateful that her daughter was willing to hear her out. "I did leave you Maka, but I always watched over you from afar. When I left, I swore to myself that I wouldn't come back until I made a huge discovery. I wanted to become someone successful, someone you could look up to. It was tempting- so, so tempting to just come back but I held back. I stopped myself from seeing you numerous times. I never thought the day would come, but it finally did- the day we were going to meet. After the discovery of the golden powder, I decided I would be worthy of seeing you again. I went to your school, where they accepted me as a teacher, and that's when I saw you."
"B-But then you just disappeared," Maka pointed out. "You just...gave us that assignment and then...vanished."
"That wasn't my intention," Kami admitted, biting down her lip. Maka now knew where she got the habit of biting down her lip from. "Truthfully, when I first saw you, you were...dead. You always looked so sad and lonely; you always sat in that desk alone and never spoke to anyone. It was then that I realized I wouldn't be able to come back to you- I wouldn't be able to heal you."
"Did I...did I really act like that?" Maka dulled her eyes, finding it hard to remember the times before him.
"That's why I decided to create the flour baby project. Everything was planned by me," Kami revealed. "It was to help heal you."
"Everything was...planned?" Maka repeated, remembering the whole chain of events that happened that day. "Even the partners...?"
Kami nodded her head.
"Why...?" Maka slowly asked. "Why did you choose...why did you choose Soul?"
"I knew you would ask me that," Kami smiled, eager to tell her daughter the truth about her past. "You probably don't remember and he probably doesn't either, but you guys knew each other when you were young. You guys were very close friends. Did you happen to see the scar on Soul's chest?"
Maka nodded, blushing furiously; now her mom would think she was some kind of pervert.
"Well, he got the scar because he protected you from a huge dog." Kami told Maka, causing Maka to jump up from her seat.
"Wait." Maka stopped her mother from speaking further, the information she was given still digesting. "The little girl that Soul protected and got the scar from...was me?"
"Yes, it was you." The flaxen haired woman confirmed. "I still remember it like yesterday; he was gushing out blood and we had to take him to the hospital because his father wouldn't. After Soul healed, Spirit decided to move away from here because he didn't want accidents like that happening again. You were very young and it was a traumatic incident, so you probably unconsciously blocked it out of your memories."
"Wow..." Maka breathed out, finding it hard to take all of the new information in all at once. "So that was the reason you paired us up together?"
"Well, that and because Soul was probably the one who best understood you." Kami explained. "I always saw you with Tsubaki and Kid, but you never looked happy. It was like you were...empty. I realized it must have been because you grew up without motherly and fatherly figures. I know that Soul's mother died when he was born and Soul's father...is hell itself, so you were both under the same situation. I believed that you guys could heal each other's wounds, especially since both of you experienced it and know how it feels."
"...But it's over now." Maka said, tears starting to form in her eyes. "M-Mom, he's leaving today. He's leaving today in an hour and he won't be back for a long, long time. By then, he probably would've forgotten about me and would have moved on...it's all over."
"Maka," Kami gently called out to her daughter, who looked up with tears in eyes. "Do you love him, Maka?"
"I...I don't know," Maka replied, tears streaming down her face.
"Maka, you do know." Kami whispered, softly wiping the tears that fell down her daughter's pale face. "I decided to come here and finally meet you because I knew Soul was leaving. Maka, don't let what we - your father and I - did affect your future. We know we showed you a warped, messed up love, but I wholeheartedly believe that Soul healed you. Just think deep into your heart Maka, and you'll find the answer."
Maka closed her eyes and thought about all the time she spent with him. She could only think of fond memories, happiness and smiles. It was warm. Then she thought about the month she spent without him, how hollow, empty, and bleak it was. She felt a chill shiver down her spine.
"I probably...I probably do l-love him." Maka finally found to courage to admit to herself. Suddenly, as if a hundred pounds were lifted off of her, she felt free. A huge burden disappeared from her heart.
"Of course you do, or why else would the powder's effect disappear?" Kami grinned knowingly.
"What do you mean?" Maka widened her eyes, wiping the last few tears on her face dry.
"You're not switching bodies with him anymore, even if you sneeze, right?" Kami got her answer as Maka nodded her head. "The only way to break the curse of the powder is when the two bodies share a very strong spiritual bond- either very strong love or hate."
"That's so risky!" Maka incredulously said, not willing to believe her mother was a gambler.
"Well, I believed in you two," Kami smiled slyly, to the point that it could have been mistaken for evilly. "But this isn't really the time to stand here, is it? Maka, you have to tell Soul your true feelings before he leaves. He deserves to know."
"It's too late now," Maka shook her head, as she hopelessly looked up at the clock in the living room. "I will never be able to make it to the airport in an hour."
"And that's where we come in!" A voice singsonged from behind. Maka immediately turned around to see herself face to face with her raven haired friend.
"T-Tsubaki?" Maka asked, bewildered. "When did you come here?"
"She came here quite a while ago," Kami answered for the black haired teenager. "We bumped into each other in the hallway. I asked her to wait outside and that I'd give her a signal to come in. Thank you for being so patient, Tsubaki."
"It's no problem Ms. Nabla- I mean Mrs. Albarn!" Tsubaki reassured Kami. "Maka, Kid is waiting for you downstairs with a car, hurry up and go!"
"It's called operation 'SOMA,'" Tsubaki informed her happily and excitedly. "It's an operation in which our two dearest friends get a happily-ever-after ending, so hurry up and-" Tsubaki stopped midsentence to shove Maka out the door. "- go!"
"C-Crona?" Maka asked, talking to her friend's purple tinted hair instead of her face. "What are you doing in Kid's car?"
"I-I'm here to give you this," Crona handed Maka a photograph. Maka took it and widened her eyes.
"Y-Yeah, it's from English class. It's you, Soul and your flour baby. I-I figured you would want to give something to S-Soul to remember you by, s-since he is leaving." Crona refused to meet eye contact with Maka.
"T-Thanks!" Maka grinned, taking the photograph. She was a bit curious as to why Crona had that picture, but she graciously took it. Some things were left better unknown.
The car skidded down the road and whizzed by four cars ahead of them. "G-Geez Kid! You're going way too fast! Slow down a bit!" Maka ordered him, clutching the back of the shotgun seat.
"Sorry, operation 'SOMA' has no slow-down button," Kid bluntly replied, going even faster than before.
Soul glanced at his airplane ticket. Thirty more minutes left. He already said his goodbyes to Black Star and his family, so he didn't really know what he was waiting for.
"I might as well go in," Soul mumbled to himself, as he took his suitcases. He walked towards the airport lane going to England, when he was harshly stopped by a pair of hands.
"Hey!" A voice energetically called out to him, the face belonging to the voice smiling nervously at Soul.
"...You have got to be kidding me." Soul groaned, smacking his face with his hands.
"Maka, it's too complicated to park near here, so you're going to have to get off by yourself," Kid informed her. "Good luck!"
"T-Thank you so, so much Kid! Thank you Crona!" Maka rapidly got off the car and waved back at them gratefully.
She ran into the airport, just to be smothered by tons of people. She couldn't even see where all the lanes were. She desperately searched, but the airport was too big! She could feel hot tears forming- not because she was sad, but because she was angry and irritated. She was so, so close!
"Follow me, Maka!" A pair of warm hands held her own. Maka wiped her eyes clear of any potential tears and saw herself face to face with...
"Ox told me everything," Kim nodded, as she rapidly avoided the numerous people in their way. "I'm sorry about how I treated you. I had no idea how to repay you back, especially since you patched things up between Ox and me. I-I know this won't be enough for you to forgive me, but I hope it will at least bring us on better terms."
"D-Definitely!" Maka smiled, glad to know that Kim was maybe as sweet as Ox made her out to be.
"It's on this floor, it's right there!" Kim pointed. "Look, there's Soul! G-Good luck!"
"Thank you so much, Kim!" Maka waved back at Kim, as she ran towards the white haired boy.
"Why the hell are you bothering me?" Soul growled, as he picked up his suitcase to leave.
"C-Come on! It's been so long!" The blonde boy shook his hands, still remembering the punch that Soul had thrown him. "Let's catch up!"
"I thought we hated each other's guts?" Soul scowled at Hiro. "You're keep blocking me from going in the airport, it's almost like you're...delaying me. Are you trying to get me late?"
"H-He's not delaying you!" Ox interrupted, smiling nervously at the overly suspicious silver haired teenager.
"And why are you here again?" Soul rose one of his eyebrows at Ox. "What is up with you people? You guys are so weird, I swear if someone else calls my name one more time, I'll-"
Soul widened his eyes at the voice and immediately stopped saying whatever he had to say. His body turned stiff, and he didn't even notice Ox and Hiro quietly walking away from him, high-fiving Maka on the way.
"M-Maka?" He stuttered the name, slowly turning his frozen body around to see the blonde haired girl in front of him. She was panting and trying to catch her breath, so he tried to say something instead but no words would come out of his mouth. Was he dreaming or was this really happening?
"I-I love you too, Soul," she finally admitted, tears falling down her face. "And I'll wait for you until you come back. I-I'll always wait for you, no matter how long it takes because...because I love you."
"M-Maka, I-" Soul was clearly flustered, and he struggled to respond in coherent sentences.
"But I meant what I said before: don't message me, don't text me, don't call me, don't visit me, don't write to me. Don't even pretend you know me...don't do any of these things unless you're back- unless you're back for good, and here to stay." Maka ordered firmly.
"But then why -"
"It's because I don't think I'll be able to stand it," Maka smiled reassuringly at him, taking his hands into her own. "If I have a part of you, I'll keep wanting more and more until I'll need your whole self. So just...disappear for now. You have to promise to come back as a successful musician, all right? I'll kill you if you don't! I won't even take you back!" She threatened lightly.
"I promise I'll be the best musician in the world." He grinned cockily, feelings of joy pulsing through his veins. He could feel his heart racing in a rate of what seemed like a thousand miles per second, and the world around him seemed to spin out of control.
"Maka, I've been meaning to tell you this for a long time: everything's yours. My music, my lyrics, my notes- they're all yours," he told her, looking at her straight in the eyes, before he kissed her on the lips.
And there they stood there, doing something Maka had always scorn every couple she met or saw for doing: kissing in public with no shame!
Wait, did she just say couple?
Maka giggled at the thought, causing Soul to look back at her, dumbfounded.
"What?" He wondered, raising an eyebrow.
"N-Nothing!" She reassured him with a great, bright smile. "It's because I'm really happy! Now go before you miss your flight!"
He nodded in agreement, his movement suddenly sluggish. "Maka, do I really have to -"
"Yes!" She instantly replied, pushing him towards the airport lane. She subtly placed the picture she obtained from Crona into his sweater pocket, making sure he didn't notice a thing.
"Ugh...fine." He reluctantly said, slowly going towards the direction of the airport lane. Maka stood there, fondly watching his backside as he went to board his flight. He stopped midway, however, and waved happily at Maka. "Maka!"
She looked quizzically up at him.
"Always remember I love you too! Even if I leave you, even if I'm not by your side, even if we're separated, I will always be the person who loves you most!"
She enthusiastically nodded her head in approval, and with that positive response, he took off to another country with half of her future and all of her heart.