The One Where They Talk
"Why, oh why?" Maka wondered out loud to herself, as she proceeded to bang her head against the cold window of the car door. Her warm forehead left soft clouded spots on the window, before it quickly evaporated when she let go.
"Because you lost the bet fair and square?" Soul replied back, ignoring her masochistic actions. He adjusted the rearview mirror so he could get a better glimpse of her, before turning his attention back on the wheel.
"But you- you cheated me!" Maka cried, unzipping the front of her thick parka to let some air in. The car she was currently placed in was overly heated, and she felt that the conversation that was about to ensue would only fuel her body temperature even higher.
"Now, Maka..." Tsubaki tried to calm the angered blonde next to her with her best soothing voice. The raven-haired girl gently patted the top of Maka's hands in hopes of making Maka feel a little bit better, but her antics failed miserably.
"He did!" She continued to protest, although her mind was not actually set on arguing about the fact that he won the bet. It wasn't the fact that the white-haired boy had cheated by switching their bodies purposely to win the bet that bothered her. No, what really got to her- what grinded her gears- was the test paper she got back the corresponding Monday.
She remembered the day clearly, because she marched right up to the amused looking Soul with the crumpled paper in her hand and shoved it in his face.
"A hundred?" She sputtered out, continuing to shove the test paper in his face. She closed his open locker angrily, making sure his full attention was on her. "How the hell did you get a perfect score?"
Soul sighed dramatically, shaking his head softly. "What did I tell you? I'm just a smart guy," he flatly told her, a grin growing on his face.
"But then- why?" She asked in absolute confusion, her sweaty palms still grasping the crumpled paper tightly. "If you could get high grades, why the hell would you forcibly sneeze on purpose to switch bodies with me?"
"Do you enjoy writing your own scenarios?" Soul asked her, shaking his head once again.
"What?" Her emerald eyes glared up at him.
"Who forcibly sneezed on purpose? You're just assuming things," he informed her, implying that he, in fact, did have a brain. She refused to believe him.
"You cheated," she countered, placing her hands on her hips accusingly.
"Is that the only word you know?" He rhetorically asked her, opening his locker to take out his book. "Because every time I do something that impresses you- don't glare at me like that, you know you were impressed- it's 'you cheated'. What if I..." He firmly shut his locker closed, and turned around to face her. His scarlet eyes were dangerously close to her emerald ones. "What if I really was a smart guy? What would you know? What do you know about me?" He asked her the last question in an extremely light voice, just above a whisper.
Maka snorted in an attempt to seem unfazed by his captivating stare, although her hands got sweatier by the minute.
"That you're annoying and gross?" She replied back, angry that it came out sounding so squeaky and vulnerable.
"Gross?" He smiled in a way that showed off his pearly jagged white teeth. "Is that what you really think?"
"Yes." She deadpanned, looking away from his smug face. "You are gross. Take your stupid hundred, and get away from me." She threw the paper in his face and walked away, but he immediately grabbed her wrist.
"Wait," he stopped her. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"What?" She questioned, her mind in a squall of fury and rage.
"The bet," he reminded her, his smile widening. "No matter what you say, I won. So you are obliged to do whatever I tell you to do."
"What?" She shrieked, as her hands immediately flew to her body protectively.
He raised his eyebrows in amusement. "I just wanted you to come snowboarding with me this weekend, what were you thinking about?"
Her face dyed a rosy red, as she slowly lowered her hands in embarrassment. She coughed awkwardly, mumbling, "But I don't know how to snowboard," in hopes of changing the subject.
"I could teach you," he offered, his face filled with mischief.
"I would rather plummet in the snow. And die. From hypothermia." She thought about it, and the rather disturbing mental image burned in her mind. She shuddered. "Forget it Evans, I'm not going."
"You have to, or don't tell me-" he gasped. "You're the cheater?"
"What? How does not going snowboarding with you make me a cheater?" Maka cried out in protest.
"You have to keep your end of the deal, or that's what you would be," he calmly replied.
"How does not going snowboarding to prevent my own death entail me as a cheater?"
"I offered to teach you," he reminded her, rolling his ruby eyes at yet another outrageous scenario she was mentally making up in her head. He sighed at her disappointed face, and amended his invite. "Fine, fine. Because I am such a nice person, I'll let you bring your friend along. NOT symmetry, the other one."
"Who, Tsubaki?" Maka asked, a glimmer of hope for the trip shining through.
"Does it look like I would recognize someone by their name? The tall Japanese one," Soul described, causing an angered reaction on Maka's face.
"You're just rude," Maka shook her head. She walked into the hallway, ignoring a group of girls who were whispering about her and Soul not-so-subtly.
"You have to, it's this Saturday! I will drag you if I have to!" Soul threatened.
...And so that's how Maka Albarn was dragged into the Evans' fancy sports car and on her way to her impending death.
"Maka, I've gone snowboarding lots of times before. Don't worry, it's not that bad," Tsubaki reassured the pale blonde next to her. As the sight of the mountain got closer, Maka's face froze in fear. This place was a death trap, in the disguise of a "fun" sport.
"YEAH!" An overly excited boy with aqua hair trembled in excitement from the shotgun seat. "Don't worry about it Albarn, if anything, this God-sent boy will-"
"Please...just shut up," Maka moaned, rubbing the temple of her head in pain. It was loud, stuffy, and crammed in the car. "Why did you bring him? As if bringing yourself wasn't bad enough, you had to bring your cronies," Maka complained to the driver, just enough for him and only him to hear her.
"Eh, he begged me. Said he wanted to impress someone," Soul shrugged, his eyes looking straight ahead. Maka looked at him funnily, and he continued on with a smirk, "Rest assured, it's not you. I wouldn't want my wifey to mingle with other guys, friend or not."
Maka made a point of conserving her energy by just not replying back. She had learned this technique when she was babysitting her neighbor's kids- if she ignored them long enough, they eventually shut up. The same would apply to him as well. After all, he had the brain capacity of a six year old.
"WE'RE HERE!" Black Star's voice bounced around in the car, as he looked outside the window. The huge towering mountain came into full view, and Soul drove around, looking for a place to park.
"Is Kid and Chrona here already?" Maka asked, looking out the window. After much pleading(which consisted of a lot of cursing), Soul let Kid come along, but only if he came in his own car with Chrona. Maka raised her eyebrows at his proposal, but agreed to it without arguing. After all, it was always them three; it felt plain wrong if it was just her and Tsubaki.
"Who cares, leave the love birds on their own," Soul cut her off, a little annoyed that the first thing she was looking for was him.
"What are you talking about?" Maka asked ruefully.
"Oh, nothing nothing." Soul refused to answer. Before Maka had the chance to interrogate him more, he parked in the last space and hastily got out of the car. He opened Maka's car door for her and asked, "Then shall we begin our lessons dearest wife?"
"So...uh...what's your name again?" Kid asked awkwardly, brushing raven locks of hair away from his face.
"C-C-Chrona," she answered, her eyes darting away from him. A deep blush grew on her cheeks.
"Oh." Kid briefly replied, unsure how he was going to get out of this terribly uncomfortable mess. They were somehow put in a car together by themselves, and it would have been fine if it was a normal girl. But this one? Firstly, he didn't even know if she was actually a girl or not. It has hard to tell, especially since her voice sounded as though it could be a deep girl's voice or a high male's voice. Secondly, she was just an awkward, uncomfortable person. She barely said anything, or made any eye contact. Thirdly, her hair...
Oh Lord have mercy on her fucking hair.
"I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!" Maka screamed, as she grasped onto Soul's black parka tightly.
"You're not going to fall!" Soul reassured her for what seemed like the hundredth time. He was thoroughly worn out- how was it possible that one could be this bad at snowboarding?
"I will!" She insisted, her clutch on him not loosening.
"You know," Soul yawned. "For someone who's known for her strong academic records, you sure are dumb."
She pinched him.
"Ow!" Soul rubbed the pain in his arm, enviously looking towards Black Star who seemed to be hitting it off great with the ponytail girl. "It's true, you cook terribly and you're also sport-challenged. The only thing you have going for you is your brains."
She pinched him harder this time, her emerald eyes raging in fury.
"Fine!" She snapped, nervously letting go of her grasp on him. "I'll go practice by myself, and learn it by myself. Who said I need your help?" She fell on her bottom, landing softly on the thickly layered snow. She removed the snowboard that was velcro-ed to her thick boots, and when they were off, she stood up. "When I come back, I'll be so pro, your eyes will pop out of your head!"
Soul laughed at the thought of her progressing in what he knew was hopeless, and merrily waved her a goodbye.
"I wish you all the luck in the world!" Soul mockingly laughed. "I'm sure you'll be better than Shaun White!"
"I was so awesome, wasn't I?" The boy with spiky light blue hair begged for compliments.
"Ha, yeah, you were," Tsubaki fed him with the honey drenched words he wanted to hear. She stared down at her hot cup of chocolate, the steam rising up to her face and warming her whole body up. She had to spend the whole day with this overly hyper boy, and although it was pretty fun, he was also very high-maintenance, and she was completely drained by the time they were done snowboarding. All she wanted to do was snowboard with Maka, but Soul had made it clear that she was not invited to be anywhere near the blonde with his menacing blood-red eyes. And Kid? Kid was just missing in action.
"Hey, you guys were already in here?" A rough voice called out, interrupting her thoughts. The silver haired boy walked in, his usual pale cheeks a rosy pink from the cold. Little pieces of snow fell on different parts of his black jacket.
"Yeah, what took you so long?" Black Star wondered, raising his eyebrows.
"Well, it's been a long time since I've gone snowboarding," Soul flatly stated. "I just stayed out and had fun until they kicked everyone out."
"Oh," Black Star nodded. "Where's your lover?" Tsubaki nearly choked on her hot chocolate.
"What do you mean?" Soul asked in confusion. "You mean she didn't come back in the lounge yet?"
"Uh...no? I thought she was with you. We knocked on her door, she's not there." Black Star's crystal blue eyes widened when he saw his friends' widen. Tsubaki's mouth dropped.
"Then where the hell is she?" Soul's voice was clearly trying to contain his worry. "The mountain's closed now- they completely shut it down, and everyone's gone home. She-" Soul's eyes widened in horror as he remembered the conversation they had that afternoon. "Fuck!"
"What?" Tsubaki worriedly asked, her hands trembling. "What's wrong? Is something wrong with Maka?"
"Shit!" Soul continued to curse to himself, drowning out all the other voices around him. He dropped his snowboard and grabbed his cellphone and keys. "I'm going to go search for her, I'll call you when I find her."
"Wait, I'll go too!" Tsubaki offered, getting up from her seat.
"No, you stay here and call me if she comes here. Black Star will stay with you, since it's dangerous to be alone in this secluded place." Tsubaki nodded, as Soul rushed out, slamming the door behind him.
"Please be okay Maka..." Tsubaki whispered, tears starting to form at the rim of her eyes.
The white flecks of snow were clear against the night sky, each flake creating its own unique path as it floated to the ground. The moon shone brightly above, casting off a silvery glow, smearing the darkness around it. A bitter wind billowed around corners, causing everything in its path to shiver as a result of its coldness, howling as it passed through the surrounding forest. White leaves, hardened by the frost they were caked in, trailed behind the mighty wind, following its every move, mimicking its directions and changes of pace. The air was thick with moisture, hanging heavily, noticeable even through its transparency.
"Maka!" A single voice pierced out into the darkness. The dark figure treaded through the snow, wandering around hopelessly in search for the petite blonde.
"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!" The teenage boy angrily whispered to himself, running his thick hair through his blistered hands. It wasn't supposed to go this way; all he wanted to do was have a fun winter break. If he had known it was going to turn out this way, that she was stubborn to this extent, he would have never made the bet with her and forced her to come on this trip.
"Maka!" Soul yelled out even louder, walking up the mountain in desperation, ignoring the yellow caution tapes around the entrance. How long had it been? Two, three hours? His hands were completely numb. Soul continued to hike up, when an arrow leading to a hidden shack caught his eye. He walked down the path, and sure enough, there was a tiny wooden refuge center. It was hidden amongst the huge, encompassing tress nearby and nearly impossible to catch, but Soul's red eyes were keen, especially in the nighttime.
Soul walked up the shack, and noticed it was completely dark inside. He was about to retreat, when he heard soft noises escaping through the empty spaces. His heart leaped, and he softly called out, "Maka?"
The stifled noises stopped abruptly, and a familiar voice shakily replied, "S-Soul?"
Soul roughly forced the lockless door open and found the frail blonde girl huddled up in the corner. It was dark, but the moon gave just enough light for Soul to see that her eyes were red from crying, and although he always thought she was a rather fragile-looking person, she looked like a porcelain doll the way she was at the moment. Just one touch, and he felt as though she might break apart.
"Maka, what the hell?" Soul angrily asked, his voice trying to keep it at a low level. He knew she was shaken up, but he was angry as hell. She had terrified him to his breaking point. He had no idea why, but when he thought that maybe she was hurt, or possibly even fucking killed, he found it hard to breathe properly. Now he knew that she was safe, he had to vent out all those overwhelming emotions somewhere. "What the fuck is your problem? Do you know how terrified we all were? We got fucking helicopters and policemen searching all over for you, we-"
Soul stopped his talking and basked in the completely unexpected action Maka had initiated. Before he could fully complete his sentence, Maka had thrown herself on him and hugged him tightly, as though she might never let go.
"I was so scared Soul," she whined, tears falling down her face. "I was so scared, I was alone, and it was dark, and I got lost and I had no idea where to go, and it was dark and I was so, so scared," Maka jumbled up her sentences in hurry, as she grabbed onto him tighter.
Soul felt as though a jar of emotions opened up and were flying out of his body, but he stopped the more intense ones and returned her hug.
"You're so fucking stupid, you know that?" He softly told her, brushing her blonde locks of hair through his hands.
When Maka had settled down (which meant she realized she had hugged him and quickly pulled away in embarrassment), they sat down next to each other in the corner of the wooden shack in silence. It was way too dark to go back, and there was a growing snowstorm outside, so they were trapped in for the time being.
"I'm usually not that wimpy," Maka felt a need to say, as she tapped her foot back and forth. She was sitting hunched up, with her face resting on her knees. "The dark just...really gets to me."
"Why?" Soul asked in genuine curiosity. He sat with his legs sprawled out, having a staring contest with the wall opposite to them.
Maka shrugged. "I guess it just reminds me about my childhood. When I was five years old, my dad used to always leave me alone at night, while he went out with his slut-of-the-week. It would be dark, and I would always be alone..." Maka was more than surprised to find herself telling her childhood story this willingly to another person. She never told anyone about it besides her two closest friends, and even that took her a few years, but somehow it just felt right to tell Soul. "He promised me he would come back. He told me to just close my eyes and he'll be there, but whenever I opened them, he wasn't there. It was dark and lonely, no one was there to protect me. I waited and I waited, but no one ever came."
Soul hardened his red eyes at the thought of such a tiny girl having to face the darkness by herself. He had not expected her to tell him such a heavy story, and somehow he felt grateful that she had.
"So I never sleep with the lights off, ever. Or sometimes I just don't sleep. I moved out of the house as soon as I was thirteen to escape from him. If I'm not expecting him, I wouldn't stay up waiting for him, right?" Maka continued. "In all honesty, I hate studying. It's boring and I despise the concept of it. But I do it so I don't get as lonely; if I immerse myself in it, I'll forget about my loneliness. Do you find it silly?"
"No...not at all." Soul truthfully told her, his thoughts now wandering about his own past. He knew what she meant; being occupied with other things to escape from being reminded of bad memories. His medium was the piano and music, hers was the light and studying. "How about your mom?"
Maka stayed silent for a few minutes, before she grimly replied, "I don't know. My mom left both of us when I was two. I don't remember anything about her at all. For all I know, I could have met her and not known it was her."
"If it makes you feel any better, my mom's dead." Soul said, his voice ambivalent and neutral about the death. He had never told anyone but Black Star about his parents, but he felt a need to tell her.
"I would actually prefer that," Maka admitted shamefully. "It kills me to know that she's out there, enjoying her life, not even once thinking about her daughter to send even a tiny postcard." The way she said "postcard," let Soul detect that she was crying, and he pulled her close to him.
"Don't cry. I hate it when girls cry," Soul ordered her. He draped his arms around her shoulder, trying to keep her warm from the freezing temperature of the shack. "I'm sorry I brought you here against your will, and caused you to trigger all your bad memories. I was being selfish. You didn't want to come, and I should have respected that," Soul apologized.
"...It's okay," Maka assured him, her eyes slowly closing from the drowsiness of all the crying. "It's okay, it really is. I'm...I'm actually really glad you took me here. I've never been to anything like this before. I saw it on television, and I secretly wanted to come here at least once in my life. Thanks for inviting me."
Soul wondered if she was being sarcastic, but her tone of voice told him otherwise.
"Did you know that today was the first time you actually called me by my name?" Maka asked him, secretly smiling in the darkness. "It's always pigtails or that dreaded 'w' word, but today you actually called out my name. It was nice."
Soul felt his body warm up, as her words slowly sank in.
"I get annoyed with you and your concept of 'cool' sometimes, but I don't find you a bad person at all," Maka confessed, her eyes completely closed now. "You asked me a few days ago what I knew about you. Truthfully, I barely know anything, but I do know this: it's that you're a pretty good person. You don't care if I'm a loser that might lower your popularity status, you still want to hang out with me. You could have easily failed my math test, but you gave me a perfect score...and even now, you came here searching for me in the middle of the freezing night. Thank you, Soul, you're a pretty amazing person."
After fifteen minutes or so from her brief speech, Maka started to breathe in rhythmic tempos and she was sound asleep. The white-haired boy, however, stayed wide awake with his intense scarlet eyes staring down at the girl. She had fallen asleep in an awkward position, so he rearranged their positions so her head was lying on his lap. He took off his black jacket, and put it on top of her, in hopes of keeping her warmer. Her words lingered in his head, and a mental war started raging in his head. No one had said such sugarcoated words to him before, besides those "fans" of his that had no substance to their words. Compliments that actually meant something were foreign to him, and as he thought about Maka's, strange feelings bubbled up inside of him.
"Idiot, you shouldn't have said that..." He softly said out loud into the darkness. Her face remained peacefully asleep, while his worry-filled voice echoed across the room. "What will I do if I really fall in love with you?"