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I'll be here

Chapter Text

 “I love you.”

Soul raised his eyes off the magazine that he had in his hands and he looked at Maka in bewilderment, who was standing in front of him.

“What?” he asked uncertainly.

“I've been in love with you…” she repeated bravely “for a long time.”

They fell silent. She didn't seem affected; in fact she was incredibly calm, something weird considering she was confessing her feelings. However, Soul got paralyzed.

He was surprised and not at the same time. He had realized the feelings of his partner for a long time, but it was an issue that neither of them had ever mentioned and that they would probably have to discuss at some point.

But he didn't expect it to be that sudden, out of nowhere.

“Maka, I…” he looked at her sadly “I don’t feel the same for you.”

She gave him a warm smile. “I know.”

Wasn’t this the moment when girls start to cry and run away? Why was she smiling at him if he was rejecting her?

“I knew you’d say that, I was prepared to listen it,” Maka started to say as she sat at his side. “It was just that I had to tell you, I could not leave this pending for much more.”

“I’m really sorry,” said Soul looking at the ground without knowing what to do.

“You don’t have to apologize, you've done nothing wrong.”

“Make my partner... no, my best friend feel sad is not exactly something cool.” He could feel how Maka's soul wave had shrunk in sorrow. She just sighed.

“I'm serious, Soul. I had accepted that you would never see me that way and I can live with that… if you see me sad it’s for another reason.”

“You are acting weird, what’s going on?”

Maka stood in silence and he felt her shiver. That put him on alert and he got scared. He had a bad feeling.

“Maka, just tell me!”

“We can’t be partners anymore.”

Soul was paralyzed by that horrible surprise. It had to be a joke; Maka would never leave him like this.

"What are you talking about? It’s because I don’t return your feelings?”

“No! if it was because of that, we would have separated a long time ago.”

“Then why?”

“It’s because of our resonance, Soul.” Her voice sounded so fragile and that hurt him too. “You know that it doesn’t exist anymore, it’s gone and will never come back.”

Soul felt horrible at the great truth his friend was saying. They had been a great team since they were eleven, had mastered multiple techniques of great difficulty and were proud of that. But for some time and without knowing why they couldn’t have a stable resonance.  Maka could hardly take him without burning her hands and everything ended in catastrophe when they tried to make the witch hunter.

That's why they hadn’t collected souls in several months and no matter how hard they worked and trained nothing seemed to improve the situation.

“Don't say that, we are just in a slump, you'll see that we will beat this and we will kick kishin's asses again.”

Maka shook her head. “We can't fool ourselves any longer. Lord Death has been patient with us during these months but we’ve had enough.”

“Fuck Lord Death!”

“Soul! Don’t you understand?”

“No, I don’t get it because I’m sure we can get over this.”

“Soul, our duty as students of DWMA is to create a Death Scythe,” said Maka, looking him in the eyes. “How can we do that if we can't fight?? We can't just keep being partners just on a mere whim”

“But Maka…” His voice started trembling.

“And you have an incredible potential to become a Death Scythe. I can’t accept you being stuck because of me.”

“Stop saying nonsense. You are the best scythe meister that DWMA has, no one is more capable than you to turn me into one.”

“Maybe I was, but not anymore…. You have to look for another meister, Soul. You have tons of requests, I’m sure you are going to find someone.”

“No…”

“Please… try to understand.”

“What about you? You’re gonna to tidy up DWMA library or what? I will not leave you alone.”

Her look turned even sadder. “That is not gonna happen but I have to talk with you about that too.”

“Now what?” he asked, afraid.

“You know the situation that Lord Death has in Europe, don’t you?”

Soul nodded, without understanding why that situation had anything to do with them.

“The kishin’s population is uncontrolled there and with that, more weapons and meisters without a guide have been appearing,” she explained. “Not everybody can come over and study here and we can’t keep it like that so Lord Death decided to create a DWMA headquarter in Europe.”

He instantly guessed what she was going to say next and talked before she confirmed his fears.

“You… are leaving?”

“…Yes”

“I get it, you need to stay away from me.” His voice sounded empty.

That made her angry “Of course not, I will kill you for thinking that! Do you really think I would like to leave you and the others?”

“Then… it’s something that you didn’t choose by yourself?”

“No, they transferred me because they need me for a special mission.”

She stayed quiet for a moment knowing that she was going to hurt her partner if she told him about that.

“There are less and less scythes in the world, but one appeared in France…” She took a deep breath. “And they assigned him as my weapon.”

Silence, again.

“A guy?” Soul asked.

“Yes, and for all I know he’s older than us, but his weapon blood awoke recently and he needs an experienced meister to help him to control and learn his powers,” Maka answered. “They chose me saying the same as you, that I’m one of the best scythe meisters from DWMA.”

“They should send Stein; he could train him,” said Soul, bitter.

“I won’t train him; I’m just gonna be his partner. My mother will train us; she agreed to be a teacher at the headquarters in Europe.”

Training with Kami Albarn, that was something that any meister on the DWMA would kill for and without saying it, Soul already knew that it was a unique opportunity.

That disagreeable and painful sensation in his chest got worst. Everything that Maka was telling him was hard to assimilate and even harder to accept.

It wasn’t easy to accept that one of the most important people in his life couldn’t fight by his side anymore. She would go to the other side of the world, and the worst thing is that she had already found another weapon, someone who will replace him, someone she would turn into a Death Scythe instead of him.

“I don’t want you to leave,” said Soul. “Please, do not leave Maka.”

He noticed that his friend's eyes began to tear up before she hugged him. “I don’t want to leave either, but it’s the best for both of us.”

At that moment, as he felt something breaking inside him, he wished he had loved her.

Because, maybe, he might could have convinced her not to leave.

 


 

“We are going to miss you so much, Maka,” said Tsubaki, almost crying.

There was an expression of sadness on Maka's face. “I’m going to miss you guys so much too.”

“You have to tell us when you get there, okay?” asked Kid.

“And send a lot of pictures; we want to see how you do over there.” said Liz.

Patty approached her and gave Maka a little and adorable stuffed giraffe.

“It’s for you, that way you are not going to feel alone in the flight,” she said, smiling.

“Thanks Patty.” Maka smiled back and they hugged each other.

What they didn’t expect was that the next hug was a team brutality from Black Star and Kid, who captured Maka and  squeezed her to death.

“Get off me, you idiots! You are going to break me!”

“That’s because we love you, Maka.” said Black Star.

“And we are going to miss you a lot.” Kid seconded.

That was enough for her to start weeping and her friends freaked out.

“Stop it! You are going to make us cry too, stupid,” said Black Star.

“You guys can be so uncool sometimes.” Soul shrugged and that made Maka laugh. She cleaned her tears and approached her friend. He extended his arms smiling and hugged her without wanting to let her go. Their hug lasted longer than the others and that left a sad sensation on all of them.

“Promise me you are going to try hard in class and that you are going to defeat a lot of kishins,” she asked him.

“I’ll do what I can,” said Soul with a smirk. “Hope you can survive without me, you are too american to understand the scottish accent.”

“Oh, shut up,” she said, laughing and smacking him in the shoulder.

In that moment, the speakers announced Maka’s flight and they knew it was time to separate.

She had a knot in her throat “It’s time…”

They all nodded, and then they gave her a last hug and helped her with the luggage.

“I love you guys so much and you will always be my friends,” she said. “I don’t know when I’m coming back, but I will.”

“And we’re going to play basketball!” said Black Star.

“Yes, of course.” She grinned at him. “Bye guys.”

They saw her walk away and fade into the airport hallways.

Liz turned to Soul and said him, “You should’ve kissed her, Soul. She would’ve stayed that way.”

Soul smiled bitterly. That was something he thought before, but it was something impossible for him.

 


 

 The phone started to ring, distracting Soul from his incredible jazz cd that he bought not too long ago.

It was twelve thirty at night, who would call him at that hour?

It could only be one person… and that made him almost run to answer.

“Hello?”

“Soul!” Maka’s voice filled him with warmth and relief.

“Wow, you do sound excited to hear me. You can’t live without me, can you Albarn?”

“Don’t be stupid,” she laughed. “But I do miss you, it’s been hours since i last gave someone a Maka-chop and I have withdrawl.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, my mother was waiting for me at the airport and brought me to my new house,” she answered. “I’m tired, the flight was awful.”

“And how is Scotland?”

“From what I’ve seen while I was in the car, it’s beautiful. Pretty different too,” she told him. “There’s a lot of green everywhere and it’s very cold.”

“Wow, and here we are with more than seventy-seven degrees”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” Maka agreed. “But you know, I still kinda feel like I’m in home because I can see a graveyard by the window and next to it there is a playground.”

“Just like in Death City,” Soul laughed, amused.

“Typical of Death City.”

“So…any plans today? I’m guessing it’s morning over there…”

“Yes, I think I’m gonna rest a bit and then my mom told me we should go to Shibusen,” she said, referring to the new headquarters of DWMA. “To uh… meet my weapon...”

“Well… that’s awesome, I’m glad everything’s fine over there,” said Soul, faking happiness.

“Yeah, I guess,” she said, with doubt. ”But it’s weird, I don’t know this guy at all and now I have to live with him already and go to intensive train together. I would rather have some time to meet him beforehand.”

“Don’t worry Maka, if he’s a pervert or a psycho, just call me and I’ll go cut his throat personally.”

He heard her laugh.

“Thanks.”

“Thanks for what?”

“For still being my friend.”

He didn't hesitate for a second. “I could never leave you Maka.”

“Of course not, because it’s you who can’t live without me.” He could already imagine her grin. “I have to go, I’m tired and they are gonna drag me around the whole evening.”

“Okay, take care.”

“You too, Soul. I’ll call you when I can, bye.”

He stayed there for a while, with the phone still on his hand. He looked at the apartment and felt incredibly alone and empty.

Yes, he needed Maka.

 


 

After Maka’s call and some messages, they didn’t hear from her for at least two months.

Lord Death calmed them down after telling them that she was training with her new weapon in a place that kept them incommunicado, but he told them she was alright and there was nothing to be worried about.

But Soul just couldn’t stay calm

Even if he refused to accept it, he expected that Maka and her new weapon couldn’t resonate their souls so she would have come to Death City, but apparently he was wrong.

And he wasn’t doing well with finding a new meister. He wasn’t even putting a lot of effort into that. It was Stein who insisted that he get one and even introduced him to some, but none of them had been able to hold him.

They were all in the classroom during their break, sitting and talking in different places when they heard a shriek coming from Tsubaki.

“A message from Maka!” she yelled, looking at her phone.

She was instantly approached, mostly by the girls who were closer to her.

“What does it say, what does it say?” asked Patty, excited.

“It’s for everyone,” she said, smiling and starting to read. “Hi guys…

“I hope you are all okay. I am so sorry for not calling or messaging you for awhile but the lack of signal in the mountains prevented me.

The training was fine, it was pretty hard but we’ve advanced a lot. A lot happened lately, but I'll tell you the details later.

I miss you guys a lot, this place is pretty boring without you, but at least I have my weapon Alex. He keeps me company, otherwise I would go insane.

I send you a lot of hugs and Maka-chops (for the ones that deserves them, of course)

With love,

Maka

PD: Alex sends you greetings; I attached a picture so you can see that he’s taking good care of me.”

“Picture?” asked Liz, alarmed.

“Let me see!” exclaimed Kim, taking Tsubaki’s phone. “God! Lucky bastard, why does Maka always get the hot guys?”

Soul raised a brow and she glared at him.

“Don’t get so arrogant Evans; a lot of girls say it.”

He sighed and got close to see the picture when Kim gave back the phone to Tsubaki. Maka appeared with her hair tied in a ponytail and a big smile while holding the camera with one of her hands. At her side was a guy with black hair and brown eyes saluting; he looked about eighteen years old (two more than Maka) and did not look even minimally uncomfortable or shy next to his new partner.

“He seems nice,” commented Tsubaki.

“Not as awesome as me, of course!” said Black Star.

Kid sighed with some relief. “They seem to get along; at least we can be calm knowing he’s not a creep that’s molesting her.”

“I don't like him,” stated Patty, to everyone’s surprise. “If it wasn’t for him Maka would still be here.”

“It’s not his fault Patty,” said Tsubaki, who looked at Soul. “Nor anyone else, ok?”

Soul nodded silently and turned around to go out of the classroom. He knew that Maka would be mad at him if she knew he was skipping classes, but he wasn’t in the mood to stay seated for two hours watching Stein dissecting a poor endangered animal or Marie blowing up a table with a hammer.

The truth was, he doubted that he even wanted to stay at the DWMA.

If Maka hadn’t asked him to be her partner he would’ve never stayed here. She was a fundamental piece in his new life, but she wasn’t there anymore and he felt a little lost without her.

After all, it’s the meister who guides the weapon.

“I’m pathetic,” he mumbled kicking a rock.

But no, he would stay. He promised her he would try. She trusted that he would become a Death Scythe and if he had to fight without a meister to collect souls, he would do it.

That way, when he saw her again, he could look at her in the eyes with pride.

Besides, he had this group of crazy friends. He would always have a home and a place to come back to.

He smiled. They were a present from Maka, too.

He just had to wait now. That way it would be him who would welcome Maka when she returned home.

He knew she would keep her promise too.

Chapter Text

“Watch out!”

Soul didn’t listen to Liz’s advice, but it wasn’t necessary anyway because his senses had become keener and before receiving the hit, he could to bend down and stretch his leg in one quick move, causing BS to lose his balance and receive a kick in his abdomen that threw him a few feet away from him in a rushing way.

“Uh, that was close…” Soul mumbled breathlessly.

“That was so cool!” exclaimed Patty.

Black Star jumped up and started to stamp the ground. “Soul, you asshole! Why did you hit me like that? You're supposed to be my best friend!”

“Did you think I wouldn’t realize that you were going to attack me with your soul wave? Then you really are a great friend!” Soul accused him.

“Of course I am! I’m being generous in giving you the honor of training with a god like me; you should at least let me punch you as payment.”

“You know what you're saying doesn't make sense, right?”

The girls began to laugh as Soul sighed from exhaustion.

During the last months Soul had agreed reluctantly at Stein's insistence on getting a new meister, but the search had been unsuccessful. Even the most skilled ones couldn't synchronize their souls with his and, in the end, he'd run out of potential partners. Actually it wasn't bothering him, he saw it as a opportunity to improve his skills.

But the truth was that unlike the other weapons, he had never taken a training seriously. It was Maka who was in charge of the hand-to-hand combat, of jumping and hitting while he acted as her support.

Now he cursed his laziness. He would probably be much stronger if he had worked on this before.

That's why he had asked his friends to help him to learn new fighting techniques that would be useful in his solo soul-hunting. Of course, the fights with Black Star were the hardest and he had been beaten multiple times by him for months, but now he had finally managed to dodge him and respond to his attack, a feat that filled him with satisfaction.

“You're really excited this morning,” they heard from behind them and they all smiled widely at the newcomer.

“Kid!” exclaimed Patty and she ran up to hug him.

“It's good to see you, dude,” Black Star greeted Kid, giving him a high five.

Kid just smiled. “It's good to be home.”

After a while where everyone was talking to him animatedly, the young shinigami noticed that his friends watched him expectantly.

“You want to know how is Maka, right?” he asked and everyone nodded. “Then let's go in so we can sit and talk.”

They all followed Kid to the terrace and after they sat down he set out to answer the thousands of questions his friends had for him.

Kid had been out of Death City for a week since he had gone on a inspection visit to Shibusen, the new European headquarters of the DWMA and the place where their dear friend had moved about seven and a half months ago. They hadn't seen each other at all during that time, but they talked very often by phone and texted each other almost every day so their friendship hadn't diminished one bit despite the time elapsed and the distance that separated them.

When they found out that one of them could finally to see how she was doing in person, they got really excited and demanded a complete and detailed report.

“And...how is Shibusen?” asked Tsubaki to start.

“It’s an impressive place, very active and intense,” answered Kid and continued with his narration. “Due to the excessive appearance of kishins in Europe, they have missions every day as well as constantly studying and training. I was surprised for how motivated the students are, although most of them are newcomers who are just learning to fight. The only thing they want is to go out on missions, but there are very few who can and I think that's why they admire our friends even more.” Then, with a proud smile, he added, “My father definitely did an excellent job choosing who would represent us there.”

In the end, Maka was not the only one who was transferred to Shibusen. Many other outstanding students had done the same, like his friends, Kilik, Ox and Harvar. Professor Sid, his partner Nygus and Asuza had also gone to support the new teachers.

“That sounds like a paradise! Fighting and training all day... I don’t understand why I’m not there,” Black Star complained.

“You would not be useful to Shibusen,” Kid declared emphatically. “It’s true that they need strong meisters and weapons, but also they have to be patient and willing to help those who are just beginning. That’s essential to them and you are not exactly the most inclined to cooperate with others.”

“Ok, so Black Star is completely ruled out,” said Soul and his friend growled under his breath.

“Anyway, I’ve been told that their missions are not even half as hard as those that the DWMA give to us; it’s just they have far more missions than us and that's why their workload is heavier than ours. In fact, it was actually surprising that I could meet Maka because she has it the hardest out of everyone.”

“What do you mean?” asked Tsubaki, reflecting everyone's concern in her words.

“The duties of every DWMA student are to study and train but also to do missions. Not only the ones they choose or are asked to do, but they also accompany the new students to theirs and have to do fighting demonstrations every week and then they go back to study for their tests.” He paused. “Maka was the only one who had to start from scratch with a new weapon who had just discovered his powers and didn’t know how to fight, so she has had to do all those things and train twice with her partner and by herself as a meister. Her mother is teaching her new techniques and I have to say that what she is accomplishing is incredible. She is becoming very strong.”

They were surprised to hear that and their expressions made Kid laugh.

“Do you want to see?” he asked with a smile while was taking his laptop out of his bag. Everyone nodded again and surround him to watch the video that started playing on the screen. “It’s a video of one of the fight demonstrations that Maka and Kilik did when I was there.”

“No way! It’s really Maka?” asked Black Star.

“She has changed a lot,” Liz agreed.

Soul thought the same, but he wasn’t surprised. He and Maka had exchanged photos frequently during the last months so he had a record of the slight changes that her appearance had suffered. At first he was confused, wondering if she had always been that pretty, but then he realized that he had just not notice it they were always together.

But now it was clear how much she had grown and the fact she wasn’t a little girl anymore.

“Just on the outside,” said Kid, distracting him from his thoughts. “She’s still the same Maka we all know.”

“A short-tempered bookworm who hands out Maka Chops like it's her job?” asked Soul.

“Exactly,” confirmed Kid with a smile, making Soul chuckle. “She -ah, it’s going to start!”

It was in that moment when Soul noticed  that Maka’s weapon was right by her side. The guy didn’t seem very interested in the fight. He was more like that all his attention was focused on his meister and when she ordered him to transform, he did it immediately. His scythe form was different from Soul’s, smaller, with a pretty ornate black handle and a straight blade in blue and black colors. All that gave him a very gothic look, but then Soul noticed something more.

“His blade… is sharpless?”

“Yes, it’s his only weak point,” said Kid with a sigh. “But when Maka and he became partners he wasn’t able to transform at will, not even only his arm like you used to do so I think that is amazing how much he has improved in such little time. It is something that very few have managed to do in the Shibusen.”

Soul looked at him without understanding him and that made Kid sigh again. He knew that Alex's achievements were not going to impress him because when he was eleven and discovered that he was a scythe, his blade was already sharp and he learned to transform quickly so he got to join the EAT class along with Maka, Black Star, and Tsubaki.

As expected, Maka wielded Alex skilfully and dodged Kilik's attacks with astonishing speed, almost as if she was making fun of him, although her opponent was not far behind and he managed to throw her with one punch towards the end of the field. But when he was going to finish her off, Maka made an unexpected movement with the palm of her hand, hitting Kilik directly in his chest.

What happened next was something strange, because they saw how a small light with the form of wings formed over Maka’s hand in a second and a discharge threw Kilik away, defeating him.

“What a hell was that!?” exclaimed Black Star with his mouth open.

“Anti-Demon Wavelength,” said Kid.

“What? How can she use it like that?” asked Soul, as surprised as Black Star. “It’s supposed to be a passive ability, right? Like a barrier against the madness, not to fight hand-to-hand.”

“Not exactly… as far as I know it gives a kind of purifying power to their user,” Kid started to explain again. “That was a new technique she has been developing with her mother. Kami told me that everyone has a little of madness inside and what that attack does is destroy any particle of madness that her opponent may have in a single blow, causing them to collapse.”

“That sounds brutal, I like it,” approved Black Star with a smile.

“What would happen if she used it with Stein? Would he explode?” joked Liz.

“Not a thousand hits could affect his madness,” replied Kid, laughing.   

Soul returned to fix his eyes to the video, looking with affection at the image of his friend. She was becoming very strong and he could not feel more proud of her. But all those feelings vanished suddenly and he could not avoid staying frozen to see what happened next in the recording.

After she was announced as the winner of the match, that boy, Alex, returned to his human form and then had taken her by the waist to make her turn in the air with joy and embrace her at the end. He saw how Maka blushed, embarrassed by her partner's action and when he left her on the ground, she quickly pulled him away from her but in spite of that, he kept smiling.

“Sorry, but… What has just happened?” asked Liz, as impressed as Soul.

“Well… you said that Alex is a bit enthusiastic about physical contact.  He is always trying to hug Maka so he receives an indiscriminate amount of Maka-chops, although he doesn’t give up and rarely separates from her side. You can see how much he adores her and it is not surprising.”

“And why is that?” asked Black Star and everyone except Soul stared at him, like if they were thinking he was even more stupid.

“Don’t you remember when Maka told us his backstory?” said Tsubaki and Blake shook his head “That boy didn’t want to be a weapon and he was extremely aggressive temperamental. That gave her a lot of problems at the beginning.”

“Well, we have to consider that his life was as hard as Liz and Patty’s. I suppose that Maka has been the only one who made him feel he belongs somewhere and stayed there only because of her,” said Kid.

“I'm going home.”

To everyone's surprise, Soul jumped up and walked away without even looking at them. He knew that by doing that he would worry them, but at that moment he did not care and all he needed was to be alone.

There was a chaos in his head. He was happy because Maka was doing well and had made such progress, but at the same time he was terrified. He felt like this might take her away from him. After all, if she got that strong, would she even need him anymore? What reason would she have to come back to the DWMA? For him? For a scythe she couldn't even resonate with?

He shook his head and ruffled his hair in despair. No, Maka would never do that to him. She’d said she loved him and that should be more than enough of a reason for her to return, but he had rejected her… and he sensed that this boy, Alex, was going to complicate things even more because he could understand what he was feeling. Maka had also marked a place on the map for him, a place where he felt welcomed and accepted for the first time. Nobody would let something so valuable get out of hand.

“But you did it,” a voice said in the back of his mind.

Soul held back a groan. “Don’t provoke me, you little bastard. I'm not in the mood today for your stupid mental games.”

“Oh, dear Soul, I was just anticipating your thoughts. I know you think he might he can snatch your dear Maka. Am I wrong?”

“She is not mine.”

“Which makes you look worse, kid. You're possessive and selfish. You want her to come back and be here for you but you don’t want to offer her anything in return, only your friendship, which is something she already has.”

“Yeah, I know I’m the worst, you don’t need to remind me.”

“But that boy is not like you and that tortures you,” taunted the demon. “He treats her in a way that you would never have thought of and you saw that he was closer to her than you have ever been. He could make his feelings change and unlike you he could convince her to stay with him.”

“Are you sure you want me to unbalance? I could throw myself from a building and you would go with me to the grave.”

I just wanted you to open your eyes. It's fucking boring and exasperating to have to stand the adolescent ravings of a boy as cynical as you are. Don’t you think that instead of complaining so pathetically you should do something?

"Something like what...?" Soul asked, frowning, somewhat confused by the demon’s strange behavior.

“You could stop being a slacker and start investigating why you can’t resonate. Who knows? Maybe you'll find the solution.”

He opened his eyes, completely surprised. How come he had not thought about that?

“I can’t believe you're trying to help me,” muttered Soul. “The world must be ending.”

“Don’t get used to it.”

“Got it.”

Then he felt that the little demon had gone, leaving him alone with a feverish motivation that made him run to his apartment quickly.

When he entered, he went directly to Maka's bookshelf. She hadn’t been able to take all her books to Europe and had left him well stocked with texts about souls in which he was never interested in. He knew that she hadn’t managed to return some of them to the library, because she she lamented about not being able to finish reading them and asked him to return them for her, something he had completely forgotten.

He was sure that there should be a level four book lying around here somewhere since Maka had used her father's identification more frequently during the last weeks she spent in Death City, and he was not wrong.

He was going to begin reading when his phone started ringing and he answered without paying much attention.

“Yeah?”

“Hi Soul, it’s Kid.”

“Ah, hi… what’s up?”

“I was calling you because I wanted to know if you were okay. We were worried that you left like that before.”

“Ah, right. I'm sorry. I didn’t feel very well.”

“I can imagine. I suppose that seeing Maka with her new weapon wouldn’t have been very pleasant.”

"Do you mean when he laid his hands on her?" The anger with which he uttered that phrase showed some jealousy that surprised Kid but Soul didn’t notice. “Fuck, of course not! Maka can go out with whoever she wants!”

“I think you're misinterpreting the situation… it's true that Maka loves Alex a lot, but she would never see him that way, not even as a permanent partner. Did you not notice it in the video?”

"Oh no! I did not notice anything!" Soul said sarcastically.

"I’m talking about the fight, you idiot," Kid scolded him. "Didn't you notice that Maka used Alex almost exclusively for defensive maneuvers?”

"And that is important because...?" Soul asked, not understanding.

"That means she was fighting alone, like you've done all these months," said Kid. "She certainly never handled you that way when you fought together, right?"

"No, we would have leaped to attack," said Soul.

“Of course, you worked together as a team,” said Kid. “And I know she still considers you as her weapon for how hard she is working.”

The words of his friend struck a chord in Soul, then he understood. For him, Maka also remained as his meister in spite of everything. His training and that he had not chosen a partner were enough evidence to notice it.

“So do not worry. She will return as soon as she is done with the issues that tie her to Europe.”

“Ok…”

"Now I demand that you come to my house this afternoon.”

“Why?”

"Oh, you'll see," said Kid, in a cheerful voice.

“All right, see you later.”

He hung up and fixed his eyes on the books. He had a lot of work ahead, but he was not going to give up.

 


 

Soul arrived at Kid's house at the agreed time without knowing what was waiting for him, something that intrigued him a bit.

He was surprised to see that all his friends were there too.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

“Kid called us and insisted that we had to come,” answered Black Star.

“Did he not say anything else?”

"No, and I don’t understand it. He always beats around the bush to explain anything.”

“I wonder why he gathered us here,” said Tsubaki.

“If you turned around, you would find out.”

A silence was placed abruptly in the room since their stupefaction was too big to contain.

That voice ... it couldn’t be!

They turned around and all of them exclaimed with joy at the same time when they saw the image reflected on the computer that Kid had placed on the table behind them.

“Maka!”

There she was, smiling at them from the screen.

Soul felt his heart start beating fast like crazy and was the first to get up and reach the computer.

“Oh, Soul,” said Maka when he arrived before the others. Her voice was different; warmer. ”It’s been so long. How are you?”

Maka smiled at him from the other side of the world. He noticed that her hair was loose and longer; he also recognized the shirt she was wearing. It was one that she had stolen from him a few years ago and she used to wear to sleep.

It was silly, but that little detail had made him happy.

"Way better now that I can see you," he said grinning, making her blush slightly as she let out a small laugh.

"Hey, pay attention to us too, Maka," Liz said, amused.

"Sure, hi guys," she said, taking her eyes off Soul's eyes for a moment.

“Maka and I agreed to have a video call. It was a bit complicated because of the time difference but we got it,” said Kid.

"What time is it there?" Tsubaki asked.

"One in the morning," Maka answered, "but don’t worry, it's definitely worth staying up late to talk to you.”

"Yo, Maka!" Black Star exclaimed, caught her attention. "We saw the video of your fight with Kilik. You were amazing, so forget the basketball and let's brawl for real when you get back!”

"Oh, but I was so excited about basketball..." she said with feigned disappointment

Everyone laughed at the small talk between the two meisters, then they started talking and sharing anecdotes.

“Then the bird that Stein was going to dissect knocked off his glasses with his legs and stung his eye,“ snickered Soul. “It was the first time that an animal gave that psycho what he deserved.”

Maka had tears of laughter. “Oh, God, I can’t believe I missed it.”

“And there's more! After that, he…”

But then an unknown voice interrupted him.

“Maka, you're making a lot of noise. What are you doing up so late?”

"Ah," Maka said as she turned around. "Excuse me, did I wake you up?

“Yeah, you did... what are you doing?”

“I'm talking to my friends from the DWMA.”

“Really!?”

Suddenly Alex, Maka's weapon, appeared on the screen and to Soul's surprise, he put his arm around Maka's shoulders in a movement that seemed totally natural and spontaneous.

“Hey everyone, I'm Alex!” he introduced himself, smiling.

Everyone greeted him excitedly, except Soul, who was not very happy to see him, but he hid as much as he could that unpleasant feeling in his stomach.

"Alex, let go of me and go to your room," Maka scolded.

“Huh? Why?” he complained looking her in the eye. “It’s not fair. You’re always talking about them and I wanted to meet them!”

“Well, you saw them, now go away!” she growled, trying to escape from his embrace.

"Not so fast, Albarn. I still have questions about how you are at school," Liz said. "I'm sure Kid hid the juiciest parts.”

“Liz, I don’t think it's a good idea …”

“Oh! I’m sure you know she's great, everyone admires her and envies me for being her weapon!” Alex ignored his meister and started to talk, very excited. “She is in an advanced class along with all the DWMA guys so I don’t know how she is there, but always she always get A’s and is in first place for all exams.”

“Well, that was to be expected,” said Tsubaki.

"And also ..." began Alex, confabulating with Liz. “She has a lot of admirers. Every day I have to hit some perv who wants to approach her with dirty intentions”.

“What? To Maka?" Black Star asked, dying of laughter. "Really? Who would want to harass a flat-chested bookworm like her?”

“And that is important?”

What Alex said left Black Star a bit disconcerted and he didn’t know what to say. They were the only ones who didn’t notice that Maka was really pissed off and wanted to punch their faces.

“Shut up, Alex! First of all, you’re the one who always looks for excuses to fight every time!” Maka released her anger. “And second, you are the one who is always bothering me, ok? Now let me go, you’re suffocating me!”

“Oh, are you going to start with that again?” said Alex, Soul didn’t like the way he was looking at her… at all. "Will I have to kiss you again so you can learn the lesson?"

“WHAT!?” everyone yelled, even Tsubaki.

Soul noticed that Maka had blushed a little, but her expression remained serious.

“Guys, do you really think that if he had kissed me, he would have lived to tell about it?" she said quietly, as if it were obvious. Then she made an unexpected movement, nudging Alex in the stomach and he finally released her, moaning in pain. “And you idiot, HOW MANY TIMES do I have to tell you NOT to say stupid things that confuse others?”

“She’s speaking the truth,” said Blake and Patty at the same time.

“So cold...as always…” Alex managed to say. “It’s not fair, I just wanted Soul to get jealous.” Then he crossed his arms and Soul could not help frowning. “You are always talking about him! ‘Soul this , Soul that…’ You should look at me, you know?”

She was really blushing now and Soul didn’t know what to think about that.

“Of course I look at you… because you always stand in my way! Now go before I kill you with a Maka-chop!”

“Yeah, ok…” he accepted, resigned. “Well guys, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

After everyone said their goodbyes to him, they all returned their attention to Maka, who seemed exhausted.

“Sorry about that,” she said. “I don’t know what happened to him. Alex is always too hyperactive and noisy but he usually doesn’t behave that way.”

“Well, I thought he was very nice,” Liz said cheerfully.

"Of course you did," Maka sighed, annoyed.

“Well, I think it's better if you went to sleep, Maka,” said Soul, surprising her. “You'll have many missions later, right? I don’t want to hear that you collapsed in one of them because you stayed up late to talk to us.”

His concern made her smile kindly.

“I’ll be okay, though I have to accept that I feel a little sleepy.”

“Then, go to bed!” he ordered her while their friends watched them, amused.

"All right, all right," said Maka. "It made me very happy to see you guys.”

“We have to do this again sometime,” said Patty.

"And soon," Maka agreed with her. "I'm leaving now, see you later."

“Goodbye, Maka.”

“Take care!”

And then the communication was cut off.

 


 

Maka leaned her elbows on the table and covered her face with her hands.

“So that was Soul.”

She turned and saw Alex, watching her from the hallway entrance with a serious expression.

"What the hell were you trying to do?" she asked him, angry.

“Well, he did not seem very happy to see me so I had to find out …”

“What?”

“Maka, are you sure he’s not in love with you?”

“Yes, I’ve already told you that he rejected me before I left Death City.”

“I don’t think so. He was looking daggers at me and I'm sure he likes you more than he thinks.”

“That's impossible. He's had years to discover if he had feelings for me and it never happened.”

“And you’re supposed to be the smart one here… just trust me, now he is going to rethink the idea,” he said, smiling. “I did you a favor, you will thank me later.”

Maka didn’t understand anything what Alex was saying and when he went back to his room, she stayed there, staring at the computer screen in confusion.

And what was she going to do now?

 


 

She didn’t know, but Alex's words turned out to be prophetic. During the following weeks, Soul was cursing himself for behaving so strangely.

Maka made him behave strangely and he despaired for that.

His friends were trying to not mention “that sad excuse for a weapon ” (how Soul called Alex) because he got really moody and broke whatever he had in his hands. They started to understand what was happening, but even Liz didn’t dare to bother him or ask him about it. They just helped him with his training and his new research.

That was how he had kept busy during that time.

That day he was going up the stairs of the DWMA, a little sleepy. Today he had to fight with Black Star again and he was already preparing himself for the back pain that awaited him.

Halfway there, he realized that a big commotion was forming in the school and he hurried to see what was happening. Upon arriving, he was surprised to see the amount of people running in a chaotic manner, one side to the other, many of whom were in the form of a weapon in the hands of their meisters. Orders were shouted everywhere and alarms sounded on the loudspeakers of the school.

Emergency alarms.

“Soul!”

He saw Kid running desperately towards him and fear quickly invaded him.

“Kid! What is happening?”

"A horde of kishins is attacking Shibusen!" he replied. "They are resisting but they need reinforcements. We must go right now!”

Soul paled suddenly and felt his soul shrink in a sudden and devastating pain.

“Maka ...“ he managed to say “Is Maka ok!?”

“I-I don’t know” Kid answered, terrified. “We lost communication a few minutes ago. I don’t know if she's still…”

"KID!" Soul shouted, enraged.

"I know!" he said. "We have to hurry, there are ships that will take us there, come on.”

Soul didn’t even bother to wait for Kid. He just ran out in the direction he pointed.

"Wait for me Maka, I'm on my way!"

Chapter Text

There was nothing but silence aboard the ship and tension floating in the air, but it was to be expected before the magnitude of the battle that awaited for the meisters and weapons.

They were not facing one of their usual missions to finish off a couple of kishins. No… it was a war against thousands of them. They were attacking their schoolmates, students who were just starting to learn how to fight as they did at some point, and they needed their help.

And they were more than ready for combat, focused and on guard.

But it was also strange because everyone was unusually serious, so much that even Black Star had forgotten to give a speech about his divinity and how he would defeat all the kishins. Even he was worried and feared for his friends.

Soul was the only one who seemed to show some emotion when he frowned and clenched his fists with impotence and fury. Maka was in danger and he was too far away to help her. He felt that the ship was not going fast enough and that only helped to increase his irritation at having remembered the last conversation he’d had with her.

Two days ago, they’d had a small and stupid argument during another video call and the reason was that Maka told him that she had let her hair grow at Alex's suggestion. Soul got very angry because he had told her several times in the past that she would look better with longer hair and she always ignored him, but of course, when some random boy she'd just met told her the same thing, she listened to him.

That could have been the last time he talked to her and he had only told her stupid things to annoy her and unload a frustration that was impossible to understand.

But the reason for his anger couldn’t be any clearer and more evident now.

“We are flying over the camp where the students of Shibusen and the injured are sheltered,” Kid told everyone. ”We will descend and arrive on the ground in five minutes, where you should all be prepared to follow the plan of attack and defense we'd discussed earlier. Be ready.”

Soul clenched his jaw. Five minutes? That was too far away and it had taken them forever to arrive in the first place. He couldn’t wait any longer.

Not even three minutes later, when they were still several meters from the ground, Soul shocked everyone by jumping overboard and ignoring all of Kid's orders.

“Soul!” yelled Kid when he tried to stop him. “He’s such an idiot…!”

“Let’s go, Tsubaki!” shouted Black Star, running to the rail and she fell in his hands in her kusarigama form before he followed Soul.

Soul had acquired more agility thanks to his hard training, and when he fell, he rolled and supported on his knees, ready to run, but he froze when he saw how two students were carrying an injured person, someone who was very familiar...

"Alex!?" he exclaimed, recognizing Maka's scythe.

The boy opened his eyes weakly. He was completely covered in blood and he was barely able to move, but he managed to speak.

“Soul…”

“What the hell happened? Where’s Maka?” he asked him, desperate.

“I-I don’t know,” Alex answered with difficulty. “There was a huge kishin and we jumped to attack it… but when it hit us, we were thrown aside and Maka was forced to let me go…”

Soul began to tremble with fury and fear. “A weapon never leaves their meister!” he yelled at Alex, eager to punch him. “Even if you were injured, you should have gotten up and gone after her!”

“I couldn’t, I fell in my human form and I passed out… Please, go find her, I know you’re the only one who can do it.”

“You didn’t need to ask me that, I was going to do it anyway.”

Soul ran off without looking back, following the trace of a soul he knew very well which was calling out to him. He didn’t have Maka’s ability to see souls, but over the years and thanks to their resonance and the deep bonds that they shared, he had been able to perceive his partner’s soul. It wasn’t very precise, but it worked well enough that he could locate her whenever they were separated, and he could also feel her emotions.

And right now he could feel her. She was weak but alive.

None of the kishins who stood in his way could win against his fierce determination and ended up being exterminated under the edge of his scythe blade. He had lost the fear of death. The only thing that mattered at that moment was to reach her, the owner of that smile he had sworn to protect and his reason to fight and become stronger.

“MAKA!”

She was there, only a few meters away from him, half buried in the rubble, helpless and unable to move. He noticed, totally terrified, that a kishin that was holding two long knives was approaching to her with the intention of cutting her neck.

A murderous fury washed over him and he ran towards the kishin, standing between him and Maka with his scythe blade. He pushed him back with all his strength, making it step back.

"I won’t let you touch her, you piece of shit!" Soul shouted.

The kishin let out a sound that resembled a laugh, but fell silent instantly when Soul took it by surprise, and it barely managed to react when he cut it with his scythe, tearing it in half with a single movement.

The red soul of the kishin appeared floating in front of him, but Soul turned his back and hurried to get to Maka's side. When he did, he couldn’t help but stifle an exclamation of horror at seeing the state which she was in.

She was dusty and half of her face was covered in blood. Her whole body was full of wounds, the one on her left side being the deepest and most serious. He noticed that her gloves were ripped off and her palms were burned with multiple cuts.

He knelt and held her desperately in his arms.

“Maka, wake up please…” he begged, frightened. He felt tremendously relieved when she started to react and opened her eyes to focus on his.

“Soul,” she whispered weakly, “what are you doing here?”

"I came to save you," he said, caressing her cheek softly. "I'm going to get you out of here so I can take you home."

Maka let out a sob and rested her forehead on Soul's chest with an expression that shattered his heart.

"It's not fair. I didn’t want it to be this way," she said, sounding pained.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, confused.

“I wanted to see you again, but not in like this,” she replied. “I wanted to get to the DWMA, wearing a nice dress to surprise you.” A small and fragile laugh escaped from her lips. “I really wanted to see what face you would make when you saw me, even if you made fun of me later.”

"How could I?" he said, equally hurt. "I was dying to see you too, Maka. Being separated from you has been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me-”

“Soul...”

“-and you can still do all that and even more,” he continued. “When we finish this, we will return to Death City, to our apartment, and everything will be perfect. You'll see.”

"I can’t... I can’t do it," Maka sobbed. "You have leave me here.”

“How the hell could you even ask me to do that? Stop talking nonsense and come here. I'll help you get up.”

“I tried before, but my legs don’t work.”

“Then I'll take you in my back.”

Maka shook her head with resignation. “Please do what I’m asking you,” she said, then lifted her hand a little and pointed forward. “The kishins are rising up from the light over there. It’s a witch who is summoning them.” She looked him in the eyes. “You have to kill her and save everyone, Soul.”

"I don’t care what happens to anyone else, I'm not going to abandon you," Soul said stubbornly.

“The rest still have a chance, but my time is running out.”

"What are you saying?" Soul asked, not understanding her words.

“Just look at me…”

He obeyed and immediately froze like ice.

He felt like something was tearing him apart from the inside out, slowly and painfully, as he watched that those green eyes begin to lose the spark that had always characterized them.

It was at that moment when the reality hit him hard enough to feel how Maka's soul was getting smaller and smaller, and the pain was consuming her, taking her to the limit of her consciousness.

But in spite of everything, she was calm.

"You can’t be serious," he said, raising his voice.

”I wish... I wish this was just a joke.” She smiled sadly. “But... it’s not.”

Smiling was difficult, but talking was much worse. Every word she spoke meant a small battle against her own body, and she managed to do it with all her strength.

She barely caught her breath, but she still had so much to say...

"Don’t you dare to say goodbye, Maka!" Soul exclaimed. "You already did it once and I will not let you do it again!"

“In these circumstances... what else can I do?”

“Stay with me,”  he murmured, feeling as his eyes began to tear little by little. “Don’t leave me alone, Maka, I’m begging you.”

”Will you take my hand?”

How could he refuse? That gesture between them was as natural as breathing. Taking her hand would always be the right thing and it could comfort him and give him strength at any time.

But this time it would not be enough.

"No," he said, his eyes lost in hers. "You promised me.”

He squeezed her hand and the cold touch of her skin made him lose control. He couldn’t hold back his tears.

"YOU PROMISED ME YOU WERE GOING TO COME BACK!" Soul burst out, trembling. "I've been waiting for you, Maka!”

Soul's expression hurt her more than any of the injuries she suffered in battle. She wanted to apologize but she couldn’t make a sound and the image of his old partner began to fade. She had reached her limit and everything around her started to extinguish.

Soul felt her body relax, and when she closed her eyes, the panic invaded him strongly.

“Maka? Maka! Open your eyes!”

Her soul was no more than a small flame of a candle that couldn’t stand even the slightest breeze. Soul began to tremble at the anticipation of the inevitable.

"I love you," he whispered, sobbing as he pulled her tighter into his chest. "I love you, Maka, please don’t leave me.”

Suddenly, he felt something like a small electric current between his fingers, so fleeting that he didn’t pay attention to it because of what he feared had just happened.

The flutter of her wings had disappeared in a breath.

A painful scream ripped his throat and crying took hold of him. He entered in a trance in which the desolation caused him to lose control of his mind, and then he felt it ... madness, as it penetrated deep into his soul and gave rise to a beast ready to destroy everything in its path.

He was going to kill them all - kishins, witches, technicians, weapons... He didn’t care who they were, all of them were responsible one way or another for his loss. They had taken her away, stolen her life and they would pay for it. He would make them understand the intensity of his pain with endless suffering.

But suddenly, something hard and hot hit his head, causing him to let go of Maka and interrupt his murderous craving.

“Get out of my way!”

Soul's mind went blank but he began to react when he recognized the newcomer.

"Kim...?" he murmured, shocked.

"I fucking told you to let her go!" she yelled, brandishing Jackie in her weapon form and he obeyed her, pulling away from Maka and leaving the little witch to do her job.

Kim knelt, leaving Jackie behind her and proceeded to run her hands over Maka's body, closing her eyes with an expression of extreme concentration. Soul didn’t understand what was happening. What was Kim doing? What was that light that surrounded her hands?

Then he shuddered as he felt Jackie's hand on his shoulder, who looked at him kindly and reassuringly.

“Don't worry, everything will be fine,” she told him.

"Fight, Maka. You have to fight," Kim murmured desperately.

Her words alarmed Soul. What had she said?

He was going to ask her, but he was speechless and open-mouthed when he saw how Maka's wounds closed slowly and her soul... her soul was resurging!

Kim stopped, sighing with exhaustion and wiping her sweaty forehead, then she got up and looked at Soul.

"Thank God... one more minute and it would have been too late," she said.

Soul approached as quickly as he could, almost stumbling as he took Maka in his arms again. She didn’t open her eyes, but she seemed fine as she was breathing normally. An almost painful relief filled him completely.

She was alive. Maka was alive.

"Soul, listen to me," Kim said, her voice stern and he raised his head to look at her. "You must take her quickly to the shelter. Even though I stopped the bleeding and cured most of her wounds, she has already lost too much blood and needs to be treated immediately. Also, it’s necessary to suture that wound.” She pointed to the one on her side. “It’s too deep and I need more time to heal it completely, but I have to help others right now.”

"I thought she was dead. How did you know she was alive?" Soul asked.

“It was really weird, but when we were flying I suddenly feIt something like a lighting bolt and I was able to perceive her vital signs. I don’t know how, maybe it was thanks to my powers,” she answered. “They were incredibly weak, but I knew they were there.”

Soul nodded, then he stood up with Maka in his arms.

“Now I have to go. There are too many wounded,” said Kim. Jackie transformed again and they flew off without saying goodbye.

“Soul!”

He heard shouts in the distance and when he turned around, he saw Black Star running towards him, followed by Kid.

“Damn, I didn’t think you could run that fast, I lost you from sight,” said Black Star, then he noticed her in Soul’s arms. “Maka!”

"Is she okay?" Kid asked as he approached.

"Yes, but I have to take her to the shelter quickly," answered Soul. “Kim saved her just in time.”

His friends sighed with relief and Soul remembered what Maka had told him before.

“Guys, Maka discovered the place where the kishins are coming from.” The two meisters were surprised and then they followed the place that Soul pointed out. “She said that they’re been summoned by a with and she’s in that direction.”

“Leave it to us,” said Kid.

"No witch can win against my greatness!" screamed Black Star, raising his fist. "C’mon Kid!"

They left quickly and Soul prepared to run back. He had to hurry. There was no time to lose.

 


 

The fight was over after a few hours.

After arriving at the shelter and putting Maka in the care of Stein and Nygus, Soul returned to the fight. At first he wanted to stay with her, but Stein asked him to defend the perimeter of the place along with the few students of the DWMA and Shibusen who were there and could still fight.

They were surrounded by kishins, but none could enter and many ended up being annihilated by Soul. His classmates from the DWMA were amazed, because he had never stood out as a good fighter on his own, but now he was helping a lot in defense and had barely suffered a couple of minor injuries.

Everything ended when the kishins vanished suddenly, leaving them confused in the middle of the disaster.

"They're gone?" asked Kilik, who was exhausted.

"I think so," said Soul suspiciously, "but we should separate and check around to make sure it's not a trap.”

The others nodded and went in different directions, but they didn’t anything. The kishins had disappeared without leaving a trace so everyone went back to help in the shelter.

When his friends returned, they found themselves in the middle of a busy show. After observing the place for a moment, they spotted Soul sitting in a corner and they approached to him.

"Ah, hi guys," he greeted them, his voice tired.

"What's going on here?" Liz asked, watching as people who didn’t look like they were from the DWMA walked from one place to another, carrying things and moving people.

"They got reinforcements to take the wounded," Soul replied. "It's the second group they’ve taken to the hospital.”

“What? But they’re so many!" Tsubaki said, surprised.

"Just imagine how we were a few hours ago," sighed Soul. "We didn’t have enough help and I had to carry a lot of people by myself to take them to the transports. I'm exhausted, but now more people have arrived so I can rest a little.”

"And Maka?" Liz asked. "How is she?"

“They could only suture her wound,” he responded, with pain reflected in his face. “She needed an urgent transfusion and they took her from the first ones along with those who are in critical condition.”

They looked at each other in silence, worried about their friend.

"And how did it go with the witch?" Soul asked.

“I've never seen anything like that,” answered Kid. “Maka was right, she was summoning the kishins.”

"Dude, when we saw her, for a moment I thought it was Chrona," Black Star commented.

"Chrona?" Soul asked with a frown, surprised. “But they’re in Australia, on a mission with Marie.”

“We know, it's just that she looked like them, but we weren’t sure because she escaped,” Kid said. “We should go to the hospital to see Maka. She is the only one who can know who that witch is.”

That surprised his friends, who looked at him, questioning, and he sighed. There was no choice. Apparently he couldn’t hide it anymore.

“My father entrusted a secret and dangerous mission to some of the DWMA members who were transferred to Shibusen,” he began to explain. “They had to find out the origin of the kishins and stop them. Maka was an element of great importance because of her soul perception and for being the meister of a weapon that woke up thanks to the arrival of the kishins.”

"Then it was not just because we lost our resonance," said Soul.

“If that had not happened, you would have come with her,” said Kid and sighed again. “I understand that she has contributed the most to the investigation and I suspect that she faced the witch and fought her.”

“What?” everyone exclaimed.

"How did you know it?" Black Star asked.

"Didn’t you notice?" Kid said. "The witch had a lot of burns on her body, like Maka on her hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had punched her like she did with Asura, but she wasn’t able to beat her anyway. Surely the witch took her for dead and left her there.”

"She's a complete idiot," snarled Soul angrily. "I don’t know how she got the idea to fight alone against a witch and without a weapon.”

"That's Maka, stubborn as only she can be," Liz said.

“Let’s go to the hospital. We must inform my father about what we saw and of course, ask Maka what happened,” said Kid, crossing his arms.

Soul couldn’t care less about the whole thing. All he wanted was to see her and make sure she was okay, so he got up and they went to the hospital.

To his surprise, the site was quieter than he expected, considering that it was packed with those who were wounded in battle of great magnitude. They went through the corridors in search of someone they knew who could tell them where Maka was, and although they took a while, they managed to find Stein, who was talking to Nygus near the rooms on the third floor.

"Professor Stein!" they all called at once as they approached to him, almost running.

“Oh guys, how was the fight?” he greeted with one of his weird smiles. “I wanted to go to dissect some kishins but they needed me in the shelter.”

"How’s Maka?" Soul asked.

"That girl is hard to kill," he replied. "She's still unconscious and she will need time to recover, but her condition is stable."

Everyone sighed, completely relieved and let out small smiles for the good news.

“She’s going to be discharged tomorrow,” he added.

"What?" Soul asked, raising his voice in disbelief. "But she's still hurt and had lost too much blood. She should be stay and rest here.”

“Well, she'll have to do it at home. We need beds and we haven’t received all the wounded yet," Stein said.

”Her condition could get worse if she doesn’t stay!”

“Comparing her with those who are sitting in the corridors or the ones who are occupying all the stretchers, she’s fine,” said Stein, annoyed. “She is well enough to receive care at home, but others have little time, so calm yourself, Eater. It could be worse.”

“Well, we'll have to leave Maka to her mother,” said Kid.

“I don’t think that will be possible,” Stein said with a grimace. “Kami is not here. She left with a squadron to chase down whatever brought the kishins.”

“What will we do then?” Tsubaki asked, very worried. “Alex is also injured and her father cannot leave his job as a Death Scythe...”

"I'll stay to take care of her," Soul declared seriously, to everyone's surprise.

“But Soul, we have to go back to Death City…”

“I'll ask permission to Lord Death, but I don’t think there are any problems since I don’t have a partner and I haven’t been assigned to any mission lately,” he said, crossing his arms.

"Well, problem solved," Stein said and noticing their expectant looks, he pointed to a door. "She's in that room. You can go see her if you want, but do it quietly please.”

It was strange, but even Black Star and Patty obeyed and entered the room silently where their friend was resting. Everyone's heart tightened when they saw her, because she looked so small and fragile lying there. Her pale, tired face was so different from the girl's full vitality and energy they had known since they were kids.

Soul came over and sat down beside her to take her hand gently. None of his friends let his sad expression go unnoticed and they understood. It wasn’t the ideal way to meet again with their friend, but the fact that she was alive and fine was more than enough for them to feel relieved.

Now they just had to wait for her to wake up.

 


 

He opened his eyes and saw in front of him a beautiful white door with moldings, and he knew perfectly what was behind it. He opened it and entered a room that, although he had visited it many times in the past, always managed to impress him.

It was a room with a high, vaulted ceiling, the walls covered by tall windows with wooden frames. Those windows offered a unique luminosity and were all opened, covered only by translucent curtains that fluttered in the breeze that filtered through, filling the room with pure air.

A feeling of freedom and incredible relaxation flowed throughout the place.

There was nothing else, and if it weren’t for the figure that was in front of one of the windows, its shadow barely noticed through the curtain, he could have said that it was completely empty.

He headed towards the figure and as he walked, furniture started to appear. All of them in clear and pure tones. He saw shelves full of books appear that along with the vases with flowers that adorned them, gave color to the place. Also some armchairs, pictures, a crystal lamp that hung from the ceiling and a white grand piano… That was new.

He pulled the curtain with his hand and when he lifted it he found a pair of deep green eyes that met his in a look full of affection.

"I finally found you," said Soul, smiling.

"I'm sorry," Maka apologized softly. "I didn’t have the strength to answer you.”

"I know, that's why I came for you," he said, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear that had escaped from her pigtails.

"How long have I been asleep?" she asked.

“Three days, almost four,” Soul replied, then he pouted and that made her smile. “You were making me wait too long so I had to come to wake you up once and for all.”

“Don't lie, I know you wanted to come here. You've always liked my soul.”

“It's relaxing and cool. Besides, you don’t have a little demon hanging around here.”

Maka laughed at which he smiled warmly and then took her hand.

“Maka, when we were in the battle, I told you something very important,” said Soul, looking her in the eyes. “Did you hear me?”

He felt disillusioned when she shook her head. “No, I didn’t hear anything, but I could feel it.”

"What?" Soul asked, confused.

“It was dark and I lost consciousness quickly,” she said with bitterness in her voice. “Then suddenly, I felt a spark…”

He nodded slowly. He had forgotten it, that little electricity he felt when he took her hand before believing that he had lost her.

“In that moment, we... we resonated our souls.”

Soul felt filled with a huge and powerful emotion that accelerated the beating of his heart by hearing Maka’s words. He moved closer to her, wanting to confirm what he was thinking and that look full of love she gave him gave him the answer he wanted.

“Thanks to that, I knew...” Some small tears started to come out of her eyes. “I knew that you love me too.”

He couldn’t take it anymore and hugged her hard without warning and leaned his forehead against hers.

“I love you,” Soul said and wiped her tears with his hand. “I don’t know how could I be so stupid to not realize it before but I love you, Maka.”

"I love you too," Maka said, feeling completely happy and full joy.

It was her turn to not hold back. She rested her hands on Soul's chest and then she lifted her face and closed the gap between their lips, giving him that desired kiss with which she had dreamed for so long. He didn’t take long to kiss her back and share her happiness.

There they were, discovering a new world that only belonged to the two of them.

Chapter Text

“So… a witch, huh?”

Lord Death seemed thoughtful while he paced up and down, muttering unintelligible things.

Kid, Black Star, Tsubaki and the Thompson sister were in front of him, waiting for the god of death to talk directly about his speculations, but he stayed in his own world and they were starting to lose their patience.

“Father, do you have any idea of who it could be?” asked Kid aloud, distracting him.

“Honestly… no,” he responded doubtfully. “There were some witches that were able to create kishins in the past, but they were such a huge menace and caused so much chaos and destruction that I, together with the eight warriors, looked for them and eliminated them.” He turned to face his students. “Until today, I would have sworn that there were no witches with that power.”

“Maybe one of them escaped,” commented Liz.

“Or it is a new witch that has learned that magic,” suggested Kid.

“The truth is that none of the witches we faced previously fit the description you gave me,” said Lord Death.

"We're running out of options," Kid said, worried, “and even though Kami, Sid and the rest of the detachment came after her, they found nothing either.”

“Well, the only thing we can do now is wait,” his father reassured him. “Luckily they were able to stop the attacks of kishins that happened in other countries in time.”

"It wasn’t a big deal," said Black Star with a bored expression. "They were so weak I couldn't even get excited about them.”

"At least you avoided another massacre," said Lord Death and then he fell silent. The rest did the same.

Although that Shibusen was starting to revive after after the catastrophe, the lives lost in battle weighed on their souls. Most of the deceased were new students who couldn’t defend themselves, but among the victims there were also DWMA teachers and students.

The sound of a call distracted them from their despondency and everyone turned their eyes to the mirror in the Death Room. Lord Death approached to answer and when Maka appeared in front of them, they all went crazy with happiness.

“Maka!” they all exclaimed and that surprised her, but it made her laugh.

“Hi guys!” she said warmly and then she talked to the principal. “Good morning, sir.”

“I’m glad you’re finally up, Maka. How are you feeling?” asked Lord Death, as happy as his students.

“I little bit weak, but fine,” she answered, then she seemed somewhat embarrassed. “I was going to call earlier but I was busy with some things…”

Maka’s apology was interrupted when Soul appeared on the scene and sat next to her.

“Hi, I’m things,” he said, making everyone laugh at his wicked grin.

"Good morning to you too, Soul," said the director, and the scythe smiled again, waving with his hand. "What is the reason for your call?"

“I came to give you the report of my investigation,” said Maka, calling everyone's attention.

"That's what I expected," said Shinigami-sama. "Did you discover the identity of the witch?"

“Yes,” she answered with a firm voice, and everyone listened, interested and a little intrigued. “Her name is Circe…” She paused a moment but then continued with determination, ”Circe Gorgon.”

“The last Gorgon sister,” added Lord Death.

”What!” exclaimed everyone, completely surprised.

“Hundreds of years ago people called her ‘the creator of beasts.’ It was rumored that she was the one who discovered how to create kishines with magic,” he explained, “but she was supposed to have died along with the other witches that we eliminated, since I gave to one of the eight warriors  the mission to do it..." Then he muttered to himself, "What did you do, Vlixes?"

"How did you know it was her?" Kid asked Maka.

“When I started to investigate witches as possible culprits, I got to those who possessed that power,” she replied. “I was surprised that there was so little information about Circe if they said it had been so powerful and it seemed suspicious, almost as if they had something to hide about her.”

“Like that she was alive, nothing important,” commented Soul sarcastically.

“Maka, how long have you known it?” asked the principal. Maka seemed to get a little nervous at his inquisitive tone, as if she had been caught doing something bad.

"Since two months ago," she answered and everyone was surprised again.

"And why didn’t you tell us anything?" said Lord Death, scolding her.

“It was just a guess,” said Maka, feeling guilty. “I read books that mentioned something about her living in an island of the Mediterranean Sea, but its exact location was unknown so I began to investigate until I track her down.” Maka hesitated a moment, but she continued with her story, “Then I went there and I found her…”

"What!?" Soul exclaimed, taking her by the shoulders with force, with an expression of fury on his face. "Did you get alone into the hideout of a witch? What the hell were you thinking!”

"I wasn’t alone, Alex accompanied me," she said, embarrassed, "and I seriously didn’t expect her to be there because it was too far away from the last places where the kishins attacked, but we managed to escape in time.”

“How can that sad excuse for a weapon be so stupid? He should have stopped you!”

“Alex is not like you, Soul,” said Liz. “He would follow Maka anywhere without question and if she ordered him to jump off a bridge, he would not hesitate to do it.”

“That’s why I say he’s completely useless, he is not even able to protect her from herself!" he claimed, still furious and making Maka shrink in her place.

“Calm down, Soul, you can scold Alex later if you want but now we have other issues to attend,” said Lord Death. “The question is, why is Circe creating the kishins? Do you have any idea, Maka?”

“I’m not sure, but I think that it’s something wrong in the Witches’ Realm. Part of the island was totally destroyed and as far as I could tell, it was damage done by magic and was recent because there was smoke.”

“But if it’s a matter of the witches, why did she attack Shibusen? What do meisters and weapons have to do with their conflicts?” asked Kid.

“It was my fault,” said Maka and everyone could see how she trembled and seemed about to cry. “She followed me. If I hadn’t gone to her island and didn’t discover her identity, none of this would have happened.”

She covered her face with her hands and began to sob. Soul put her arms around her and pulled her to his chest, trying to restrain her while the others exchanged worried glances.

“Maka, that’s not true,” said Lord Death, serious. She raised her face to see him with an afflicted expression. “It was a large scale attack, too big to be provoked for something like that. Besides, if that witch would came for you, she would have made sure to kill you in the most painful way possible without leaving you a chance to survive.”

“Yes, you shouldn’t blame yourself for anything,” said Tsubaki softly, trying to calm her down.

“That fucking witch! She is up to something for sure,” muttered Black Star, clenching his fists.

“Well, at least we have some clues. Now we just have to investigate,” said Lord Death. “We need to know what is happening in the Witches’ Realm and we have some allies there, including Kim, so I’ll ask them to spy for us.”

“What about us?” asked Soul.

“You should look for Circe and continue stopping the attacks of her kishins,” the director replied. “But I have something to ask Maka.”

“About what?” she said.

“I want to know how is Alex. I found out that he got seriously injured.”

“That idiot did his best to break almost all his bones,” Soul growled, answering for Maka.

“So he can’t work as a weapon for a while, right?” Maka nodded and the director scratched his head with one of his big hands. “That means you can’t do missions either… This is bad.”

“Lord Death, I can be Maka’s weapon,” Soul interrupted his concern.

“I’ve told you many times that you can’t transfer to Shibusen and try again, Soul.”

“It’s different now,” said Soul firmly, “because Maka and me could resonate when we were on the battlefield.”

That was a big surprise for everyone and their friends smiled, completely happy at the good news. Only Shinigami-sama remained serious and stoic.

"I see ..." he said, "then you can team up with Maka again.”

Soul and Maka looked at each other, radiant, and without anyone noticing, holding hands tightly.

“But…”  That distracted them and their tone of voice didn’t bode well. “Alex will remain as Maka's weapon. You will only replace him until he recovers, and when he does, you will return to the DWMA.”

“Father! That’s not fair!” claimed Kid, indignant.

“Yes, sir, Maka and Soul were one of the best teams in the DWMA and they would help us so much if they become partners again now that they got their resonance back,” Liz seconded.

“I’m very glad for this, really, but truth is that we need Alex for the circumstances in which his weapon blood awoke and he’s not going to accept any meister but Maka,” said Lord Death. “Also, Stein has already found a meister for Soul in the DWMA who will certainly be able to resonate with him.”

Soul froze and Maka felt scared at the possibility of being definitively replaced. Their friends were also upset and in complete disagreement.

“Well, that's all for now,” said the director with a cheerful tone that irritated Soul. “If you get to know anything else, contact us immediately.”

"Okay," Maka said, trying not to show any emotion.

“Bye guys!”

And the communication was cut off.

Maka and Soul remained silent for a while after the conversation with Lord Death, then she squeezed her partner's hand and he looked at her, worried.

"It will not be long, but at least we're back together," Maka said, leaning her head on Soul's shoulder.

"It's an opportunity, maybe if we do it well, I can be your permanent partner again," he said, moving to wrap his arm around her waist.

"Yes..." she sighed, but then she seemed to remember something. “Soul, how many souls did we get before I left?”

"Sixty-four."

“And how many have you collected during this time?”

“Not many, maybe twenty… it was hard doing it alone and I was more focused in training.”

Maka looked at him, smiling. That made him understand what was she thinking and he smiled back, as if they were conspiring together.

“I think it's time to go back to work,” said Soul.

"Yes, let's go!" Maka exclaimed and jumping up, though she felt sudden dizziness and Soul grabbed her just in time before she fell on her back.

"Hey, calm down!" Soul said, leaving her in bed. "You just woke up after losing a lot of blood, you need to rest a little longer.”

“But…!”

“No buts, now lie down and I'll join you.”

"Who knows what you'll do to me if you get in my bed..." she said, squinting at him.

"For God's sake, Maka, who do you think I am?" Soul said with a serious expression that quickly disappeared when he grinned. "Of course I'm going to try something.”

"Idiot," she laughed, a little flushed.

“Anyway, I don’t understand why are you complaining if we have already slept together before,” said Soul.

"It's true ... although it must have been much weirder back then," Maka said, scratching her head with a distracted expression and Soul tensed a bit.

Now that Maka mentioned it, she was right. It was extremely strange how natural it was for them to take a nap together in Soul's room or for him to stay the night in Maka's room when she had nightmares and sometimes they just fell asleep in the couch watching tv, always quiet together and holding hands.

And it was not the only weird thing they had done...

“Well, on those occasions, the only thing I wanted was to sleep, but now,” joked Soul.

"I can imagine it," Maka said, "but I feel sleepy now, so if you excuse me..." She turned her back to him and got into bed again. “Good night.”

“Hey, leave me space!” he complained and Maka looked at him, pretending to be annoyed, but she ended up smiling at him and scooted over so that Soul would lie down beside her.

He got into bed too and quickly settled down, hugging Maka, bringing her closer to him and both relaxed before contact with each other, forgetting their worries.

“Soul…” muttered Maka, resting her forehead on his shoulder.

“Yes?” said Soul, fighting to not fall asleep.

“Can we go to see Alex?”

That made him to open his eyes suddenly.

Ok, he didn’t expect that question at a time like this and that unpleasant and disturbing sensation that the other boy gave him from the first moment he heard about him appeared with force. He couldn’t help being irritated, but he tried to keep calm. It was completely normal for Maka to worry about her friend and want to go see him even if she needed to rest. That was so her.

“Alright, but tomorrow. It’s too late to go out.”

Maka nodded softly and they fell silent again. Soul tried to sleep, but he was still upset and fell into dark thoughts that he almost got frightened when he felt the soft touch of Maka's lips against his, making him forget everything but her.

"I love you, you know?" she said, taking his face in her hands. "So stop thinking about nonsense, you have nothing to worry about.”

That appeased Soul noticeably and he lowered his face to kiss her again.

"Somehow or other, you always make me feel lucky," he said softly, she just smiled.

They didn’t need to say anything anymore.

 


 

Cold.

Soul stirred, a little uncomfortable on the bed, and opened his eyes slowly to realize he was completely uncovered.

The climate of Scotland was terrible for someone from Death City. After all, it was in the middle of the desert. Soul had already become accustomed to its high temperatures so the cold weather of that place was a terror for him and apparently for Maka too, because her bed had a considerable amount of blankets that were now pushed aside by her leg. Maybe sleeping with him was too hot and that was why she had unintentionally uncovered them while she slept, but now it seemed that she was cold again.

Soul sighed. That girl was really something.

He was going to take the blankets to cover himself again when he noticed that Maka had her shirt up slightly above her waist, letting him see something that was going to torment him immediately.

A scar.

Maka had received a lot of wounds in battle, but that in particular had been the worst, the one that had almost taken her to death and had turned out to be serious enough and deep enough for make Kim to come twice to heal her completely. But despite her efforts, she had not been able to do it without leaving a mark.

It was at that moment that Soul understood what Maka had felt during all those years every time she saw the scar that Chrona had given him. For Soul it was not a big deal and he didn’t care, it was only a slight consequence for having done his duty as a weapon and it bothered him that even if he told her again and again that it was not her fault he got injured, she would continue making a sad expression and apologizing.

He got it now. He knew that that scar, which she would carry for the rest of her life, would be a permanent reminder that he had not been able to save her, that he could have lost her forever.

And that hurt. It scared him and broke his heart.

"Shit," he said softly, rubbing his eyes to wipe some unexpected tears.

He covered the scar with her shirt and took some of the blankets to cover them, then hugged her again.

Tomorrow was going to be another hard day.

 


 

While Maka asked a nurse about Alex's room, Soul stayed a little behind looking at the hospital panorama. During those days, it had been emptying since many of the injured were moved but it was still a bit chaotic. 

“He is on the fourth floor,” said Maka and he nodded, as if by inertia.

She stared at him, worried, when they were walking. It was pretty obvious that the last thing Soul wanted was to visit Alex, but she needed to do it and Soul certainly wasn’t going to leave her alone.

“Soul,” Maka called him and he focused his eyes on her. “I know you’re mad at Alex, but don’t be too harsh to him.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t want to spend too much energy pointing out all the stupid things he did,” said Soul like it wasn’t a big deal and that worried Maka even more.

She felt a little more calm when she opened the door and found Alex, who smiled, radiant at the sight of her.

“Maka!" He moved abruptly on the bed and let out a moan of pain. Maka hurried to help him sit down.

"Idiot, you need to be be more careful," she said.

“I got too excited, sorry,” he said, laughing uncomfortably. “It’s just that I was dying to see you, and I was very worried because the days passed and they told me that you were still unconscious.”

“Yes, I was already scolded for taking too long,” Maka said, pointing at Soul.

"Oh, hi Soul," Alex said, a little nervous at Soul's stern look. It was expected since they really didn’t know each other and already had some crashes despite having met twice.

“Hey,” he saluted the weapon, somewhat serious and despondent. “How about your fractures?”

“I think they’re ok, at least I can get out of here walking. Thanks for worrying.”

"I'm not worried, I just wanted to know if it would take you a long time to heal," Soul said, shrugging. "If you hurry too much, you're going to get in the way so you stay in bed as much as you can.”

“Soul!” exclaimed Maka furious, but he didn’t seem affected by her reproval.

“Get in the… way? What are you talking about?” asked Alex in confusion.

“I’m Maka’s weapon again,” Soul answered, scrutinizing Alex. He noticed that the boy got very upset although he tried to hide it, but the sudden pallor that took his face didn’t go unnoticed by Soul.

"What?" Alex said weakly and then turned to see Maka. “That means you are…”

Maka and Alex stared at each other without saying anything but seemed to understand each other very well. Soul look at them somewhat angry for being excluded in a kind of silent private conversation. He opened his mouth to ask what the hell was going on when Maka interrupted him.

“Soul, I need to talk with Alex for a moment… alone. Could you come back later?”

No, he didn’t want to leave, but the tension in the room made him realize he had to do it, so he left the room, closing the door behind him.

Soul wasn’t a very patient person so he decided to walk away through the corridors, knowing that if he stayed longer there he would explode and storm into the room to demand explanations and earn a good Maka-chop for interrupting anything that couldn’t be discussed in his presence.

He went to the hospital courtyard and sat on one of the benches to growl for a while. He decided to listen music to distract himself but before he put on his headphones, someone spoke to him.

“Are you Soul Evans?”

That surprised him and he looked up to realize that there was a woman at his side he had never seen but knew who he was immediately.

"Yes, it's me," he replied, a bit puzzled.

"Nice to meet you Soul, I'm Kami Albarn, Maka's mother," the woman said, smiling as she held out her hand and Soul shook it as a greeting. "Can I sit down?"

“Yeah… sure, why not.”

She sat next to him and Soul took the opportunity to quickly check out Maka's mother.

He was grateful to have a detailed report of what Maka would look like when she was older, because Kami was a very beautiful woman and they were both very similar. The only differences were the hair and the eyes, since Kami had short hair and her eyes were gray.

"I arrived today in the morning after chasing the witch and went immediately to the apartment but I didn’t find you," Kami said.

“Maka wanted to come see Alex. I would have preferred that she stay a little longer though but …” Soul sighed, interlacing his fingers with his hair.

"She's too stubborn, I know," she said, completing the sentence. "It's one of the things I would have preferred she wouldn’t have inherited from me.”

Soul agreed, but he didn’t say anything as self-preservation. What if Maka’s violent character was also an inheritance from her mother and she would hit him with a Kami-chop or something like that?

“I talked to Lord Death and he told me you’re a team again. That’s a great relief for me,” said Kami.

“Why?”

“Maka and Alex don’t work really well as partners.” Her answer was unexpected. “Both of them are skilful, they stand out in battle and have a good resonance, but they are opposed in a way that they can’t complement each other and that limits their performance.” She sighed, tired. “I've told that boy so many times that he could sharpen his blade if he looked for a more compatible meister, but he is too attached to Maka and doesn’t want to understand that he can’t be her partner just on a mere whim.”

Maka had told him the same thing when they had to separate and he was reminded how hard it was for him to accept it.

“And I’ve wanted to try other techniques based on Maka’s Anti-Demon Wavelength, but it’s going to be impossible if she wields Alex, so this change made me happy. I’m sure she can achieve it if it is with you.”

“How do you know?” Soul asked, a little bewildered for everything he had heard.

“Because your souls have a bond strong enough to make the Demon Hunt, " she replied. That surprised Soul, but instantly made a guilty expression.

“I hate to saying this but I’m not that sure,” Soul said after Kami's impassive gaze. “After all, we lost our resonance for almost a year and it is not the first time that happened to us.”

“I know, Maka told me everything about the investigation she did before she came to Shibusen,” said Kami and then frowned. "But to make that happen, there must be a strong break between the meister and their weapon, so the fact that you two fought the first time justified what had happened.”

Soul stared at the floor while Kami meditated.

“However that can’t be applied to this case since after the battle against Asura, your bond got stronger.” She kept talking without paying any attention to the boy, who was getting more and more nervous. “That's why Maka was very worried about the possibility there was another way to break a resonance.”

“I did my own investigation and I came to the conclusion that there is no other way," Soul said, interrupting her musings.

"Really?" Kami asked and Soul nodded without looking at her. "How is it possible that you discovered it and not Maka?”

“Because there is something she doesn’t know.”

“What’s that?”

Soul was silent for a few seconds, but he raised his head and looked Kami straight in the eyes with a seriousness that baffled her.

And then he said it.

“I was the one who broke our resonance.”

That left Kami speechless in surprise as Soul clenched her fists helplessly.

“It was all my fault.”

 


 

After talking with Kami, Soul decided to go for Maka so he went to Alex’s room. The talk had been quite bitter and all he wanted was to go back to the apartment, sleep and not think about anything.

When he arrived he forgot to knock and he found an unexpected scene that left him static when he opened the door.

Maka and Alex were holding each other, he was hiding his face on Maka's shoulder while she gently caressed his back, as if she was comforting him. They were in their world and had not even noticed his presence.

Then he noticed that Alex's hands were clutching Maka's jacket with a grip full of despair. That alerted him, because he had acted in a similar way recently, then he realized what was happening.

Alex was in love with Maka.

It wasn’t a surprise; he already suspected it for a long time. All his flirting and jokes that anyone would have described as simple games were as discrete signals as fireworks for Soul, but he prefered to ignore them because he didn’t want to face the situation.

Now he had a lot of doubts that were eating him alive. Did Maka know? Or worse... had something happened between them during that time they were separated? After all, they lived together and according to Kid, it was rare to see them separated.

"Exactly like two of us," he thought.

Why did he have to be so fucking insecure? He hated that part of him.

“Are you going to be fine?” asked Alex to Maka.

“Why shouldn’t I?” she asked as an answer.

“Yeah, you’re right,” he said, laughing softly.

Soul knocked on the open door with his knuckles and they parted as they turned to look at him.

“Maka, it's getting late and we must leave to rest a little more before tomorrow's training,” said Soul, looking at her fixedly.

"All right," she agreed, still smiling, then turned to Alex. "I'll come see you soon, ok?"

“Ok,” he smiled back. “Thanks for coming too, Soul.”

Soul didn’t utter a word. He only said goodbye with a nod and left the room followed by his meister.

Maka was humming and skipping as they walked back to the apartment. Usually Soul would smile at seeing her so happy but now he was worried and looked at her with a withdrawn expression.

“You’re thinking too much again, are you ok?” she said, stopping to stand in front of him.

“No,” he confessed. His voice sounded hoarse and she moved even closer to him.

“What is wrong, Soul?” Now his partner was concerned and he hated himself for that.  

“You would never lie to me, right?” he asked her, looking straight into her eyes.

“What?” she asked in return and her expression of disbelief showed that he had offended her. “Excuse me but what did you just say?”

“I realized something when we were in the hospital but it is… complicated.”

“We have been together for years and you know me better than anyone so you must know that I would never lie to you,” she said, flicking his chest softly. “If there is something bothering you just tell me.”

“Okay...“ Soul sighed and clenched his fists, trying to give himself some courage. “Did you have anything with Alex the last months?”

“What, me? With Alex?” Maka asked. Her evident bewilderment reassured him. “Of course not, where did you get that absurd idea?”

“For how he treats you and because you two were hugging when I went to look for you," Soul replied.

"Alex and I love each other but only as friends," she said, then she started to think about it. “Well, I understand that it bothers you because Alex is too effusive and exaggerated when he shows his emotions so it's easy to confuse his stupid jokes with something more serious, but you don’t have to pay attention when he acts like that.”

She doesn’t know ,” Soul thought.

“Anyway, I could never see him that way," Maka finished. "He was my partner and nothing else.”

Soul nodded, but was still somewhat bitter as he looked at the ground. “I couldn’t blame you or be mad if you had something with another guy. After all, there was nothing between us and I rejected you before you came here.”

“Well, nothing happened and you know why?” she said, grabbing him by the jacket to force him to look at her. “It’s because there was someone I’ve liked for many years and I wasn’t going to forget him easily.”

“I'm sorry,” he apologized, caressing her cheek. “It's just that I don’t know about these things and I thought…”

"No, I understand you perfectly," Maka said. "When we were in the DWMA, something similar happened to me whenever I saw you surrounded by girls or someone called you to confess or…”

Soul remembered those moments and felt the same anguish that filled him when he noticed Maka’s sad look when a girl was too close to him. This always got worse when he saw her turn around and disappear quickly through the corridors before he could do anything.

“I always told you that I wasn’t interested and that I wouldn’t change you for anyone.”

“Well, I'm telling you the same. I've never replaced you and never will,” Maka declared. “Are you calmer now?"

“Of course, yes,” he answered and he kissed her on her forehead. “Let’s go home?”

Maka smiled at him and took his hand, interlacing their fingers tightly. “Yeah, let’s go.”

 


 

“There comes the last one! Lower your head, Maka!”

Before giving the kishin the opportunity to attack her from behind, the scythe meister followed Soul's instructions and crouched nimbly, resting his left knee on the ground, causing the kishin to go past. She took that brief second to get up on her other knee and turned on herself, raising her weapon to finally be the one who sliced its neck by the back.

The physical body of the kishin disappeared in a mix of lights and shadows leaving only its soul, which joined to the other three, belonging to the kishins they had already defeated.

Soul returned to his human form and Maka sat on the floor. Her agitated breathing alerted her partner immediately.

“What’s going on? Are you feeling bad?” he asked, crouching down to look at her better.

“I’m fine, just tired,” she muttered.

“Maybe we should wait more after taking missions…”

“Soul, if you made me stay in bed for one more second, I was going to go crazy so stop acting so hysterical,” Maka complained and then she sighed. “It's just that those kishins put up a fight and had very hard skin, it was too difficult to cut them.”

“Well, you did it in a very symmetrical way. Kid would be proud of you.”

They both laughed and Soul got up to take the souls but what happened next was a total surprise for him, because when he touched one, it generated a small explosion, causing it to vanish in the air.

“What the…?” he said without being able to believe it and his surprise was bigger when two of the other souls also exploded almost as if it were a chain reaction leaving only one in the place.

He turned to look at Maka, who looked rather disgusted.

“How lucky, of course we had to find three test kishins in our first mission,” she said, grunting.

“Test kishins?” Soul asked. The term was totally unknown for him.

“Kishins that Circe created with her magic. We had the theory that they were experiments since they were weak and their souls didn’t last for long. All that was confirmed when they started to change.”

“How was that change?”

“Their souls were increasingly stable.” Then she pointed to the one that remained. "Take that one, examine it well and tell me how different it is from the ones we collected in Death City.”

Soul obeyed and noticed some things. It still had the typical red color that characterized that type of soul, but it was of a darker shade and also had a symbol engraved that appeared to be a "C" with an arrow.

“The differences are not very big,” he commented. “If it weren’t for the color and this mark, I would say that it is like that any kishin’s.”

“That’s because they are more complete now, but also Circe gives them something extra with her powers and they’re getting stronger.”

Soul muttered some insults and brought the soul to his lips.

“Well, it's a pain that it took us so much time and effort to kill those monsters to get only one soul. So uncool," he said and then proceeded to eat the loot. When he finished swallowing after a few seconds, he looked at his partner. “I thought it was weird that you didn’t make many advances during these months considering the plague that you had here.”

“Our missions in Shibusen have been exactly like this one. If it weren’t because the eighty percent of these kishins were experiments, I could have made Alex into a Death Scythe twice.”

"Well, we'd better get going, I have to heal those wounds," said Soul, pointing to the cuts in her legs, "and I have to say it will be a pleasure."

“Don't you ever get tired of saying pervy things?”

“I would say that never,” he replied smiling and Maka smiled back, then he extended his hand to help her get up. “By the way, how the hell will we return home? It’s not like I know much about Scotland but I think we're a bit far from Shibusen.”

“Not a bit, it would take us five to six hours to get there if we leave right now.” Then she stared at the sky. “And it’s getting late.”

“So… what do we do now?”

“I think that there is a town about an hour from here. Once I stayed at an inn there with Alex.”

“Oh, let me guess, there were only double rooms?” Soul asked, arching an eyebrow and Maka nodded. “That's a classic.”

“But he slept on the floor and I had my scythe blades out just in case he dared to get close to me,” she said with a sweet and innocent voice that made Soul laugh.

“That’s my girl,” said her weapon while he ruffled her hair. “Let's go then and see if we're lucky to catch one.”

And they left quickly so that no one would take their room.

 


 

One hour and a half later they were installed in the inn that Maka had mentioned before.

After a shower, healing the wounds on Maka's legs, a couple of pervert comments from Soul while doing that and the corresponding Maka-chops, they were finally able to go to sleep. 

Well, at least one of them got it.

Maka stirred, uncomfortable, in the bed and finally stared at the ceiling.

For a couple of days, she couldn’t sleep well because there were many things that were disturbing her and the night gave her too much time to think about them.

Her biggest concern was Soul, because she knew that something was happening to him.

He had always been a rather reserved and calm boy who gave the impression of not having major complications in life, but over the years Maka had been gaining his trust and he had shown her the darkest side of himself and also the more vulnerable.

She felt special for having achieved that.

And she liked that lately he was more open to her, that he didn’t hesitate to express his doubts and tell her clearly what bothered him instead of commenting something sarcastic. But for the same reason, she had noticed that he was hiding something. He would only do that if that scared him.

It must be something important.

She sighed in exasperation without knowing what to do and got up slowly from the bed. It would be better to go for a walk and see if that calmed her down a bit to made her sleepy.

But her plan was quickly thwarted when Soul grabbed her arm and yanked her back to the bed.

“Where are you going?” he asked her, as sleepy as she wanted to bet.

“I just wanted to take a walk…” She tried to release herself from his grip, but Soul didn’t give in.

“Maka, it's two in the morning and it's very cold outside.” Even half asleep, he was scolding her, “Go back to bed.”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Why?”

And she simply couldn’t take it anymore. “It’s your fault! You, idiot!”

Soul woke up completely when he noticed that Maka had taken the book she had left on the night table.

"I don’t know what I did but I'm sorry!" he said quickly and closed his eyes when she raised her arm, but the blow never came.

"It’s for what you have not done," Maka said, lowering her arm. "You have something to tell me, but you're keeping it quiet, right?"

Soul swallowed. How had she found out ...?

“I...uh…”

“If you don’t tell me now I'll leave!” Yes, she was pissed.

Soul hesitated a little. It's not that he wanted to hide it from her, but he didn’t know when or how to tell her.

“Ok, but promise me that you won’t get mad at me.”

“What the hell did you do, Soul?” she asked, getting scared of the chances of a disaster caused by him.

But what he said wasn’t one of the odds that went through her mind.

“Our resonance broke because of me.”

She stared at him, completely surprised and unable to move.

“That’s impossible,” she said finally after a moment and he raised his face, looking at her with a guilty expression. “You would never want to that happen and didn’t do anything to do it.”

"I did it unconsciously," said Soul.

"But...! How?" He could almost hear the chaos in her head.

“Maka, I never told you this but I already knew you liked me before you confessed," he said earnestly.

“R-really?” she asked, fully blushing.

“Yes, but you hid it very well and I only found it by chance,” he said. “It was a big surprise but instead of making me happy, I got horribly scarred and wanted to run away.”

Now, his fear was to hurt her and make her hate him, that would be as much as possible.

“I didn’t know how to deal with that so I just tried to ignore it, but it was becoming harder and harder and before I knew it, our resonance started to fail until it ceased to exist.”

“That’s… it wasn’t your fault that my feelings confused you. I was just your best friend and you didn’t see me that way,” said Maka.

“I did see you that way ... I didn’t know but I did,” Soul interrupted. “I didn’t know that I was really in love with you.”

She didn’t understand. Why was he saying that as if it was something bad?

“Maka, the problem wasn’t loving you… it was that I didn’t want to do it.”

Soul wanted to be beaten to death when he saw that she started to cry and wasn’t able to say a word at what he had told her.

“I didn’t want to because... I wasn’t good enough for you, you deserved something better than what a cowardly idiot like me could give you,” he said, looking down. “I hoped that one day you would forget me and find someone who could love you in the right way, but as soon as someone else appeared and tried to get close to you, I couldn’t stand it.”

Someone else… ?” thought Maka and then she remembered his questions when they went to the hospital.

“I think the same, you’re a cowardly idiot,” said Maka and Soul shuddered. Now it was she who was throwing daggers.

Soul didn’t dare to look at her.

“I never told you anything. I gave up without a fight and when I decided to confess, I immediately took my bags and went to the other side of the world.”

He didn’t expect it, nor that she would take his face in her hands and make him look her in the eyes.

“But you were able to train with the brute of Black Star to make you stronger and you read level four books that even for me was very hard to understand so you could figure out how to solve this problem.” Maka's voice trembled and Soul looked at her, hypnotized. “Also, when I was in danger, you didn’t hesitate to come and save me and even if it was you who broke our resonance, you were the one who recovered it so… how can you say you couldn’t love me in the right way? You're really an idiot, Soul!”

Soul couldn’t stop trembling, his heart was racing and he thought there were no words that could express what he felt at that moment.

But he didn’t really need them, because only one kiss was enough to make Maka understand him. A kiss that started a madness when he took her in his arms and laid her on the bed.

They had the whole night ahead to show how much they loved each other.