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24 hours

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They decide to take it slow afterwards.

On the way back to the diner, both shivering from the cold, he’d held her hand and offered her his jacket, but she’d refused the jacket, sheepishly linking her hand with his. They weren’t quiet, but their conversation was hushed, not because they didn’t want others to hear, but rather because it felt more intimate, it drove them closer: to be able to speak so quietly.

It had been a surprise when he’d asked for time, for space, for them to take things slowly, mostly because Maka felt the same, felt like she needed the time to get to know him and trust him, before they moved forward.

And so they kept meeting, every other night, when Maka didn’t have to work because the diner’s new maid would take over her shifts, and when Soul didn’t have something he needed to do. He had always been secretive about where he went and what he did, but since he didn’t push her, she didn’t push back. It was like an unvoiced agreement, to let the other confess, when they were ready to.

It was a Friday night, and winter had hit the town with its full force, snow heavy and fast, covering the streets, and everything, in blinding white. Soul had dropped by earlier, telling her he had to go away for a week, like he usually did, but this was the first time it had happened after they had started going out. She’d tried to tell herself that she wouldn’t miss him, that it’d be just another week like all others, but the prospect of spending a week without seeing him did funny things to her heart. Despite the heaviness in her heart, and in an effort to distract herself, she had called her friend Liz and asked her if she was up for a girls’ night out. Maka wished she could say she had called Liz first innocently, but in reality, she knew the taller blonde rarely refused to go out and have some drinks. So when she had suggested a girls’ night in instead, Maka had almost choked.

“What?” She had managed to cough out, taken aback.

“You can’t be that surprised!” Liz had whined from the other side of the line. “It’s so cold, who would want to go out in this weather?”

Soul would, Maka thought, remembering how the boy had claimed that winter was his favorite season, how it made him feel happier. To Liz she hummed, “Alright, do you girls want to come here?”

The voice on the other side immediately brushed off the idea. “Your old man creeps me out sometimes, how about you come to our house?”

Maka bit her lip, uncertain. It had been a long time since she had visited The Gallows, the last time she’d been there had been Kid’s 8th birthday party. The boy had refused to have any other birthday party since then, and they hadn’t seen each other since high school had ended. “Kid doesn’t mind?” She had asked, cautious.

“Kid isn’t even in town, Maka.” The girl had sighed, and Maka could almost imagine her pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration.

“Okay then.” Maka agreed, a weight lifting off her chest. “See you later?”

“Absolutely.” Liz said, voice pleasant. But before Maka could end the call, she’d heard the blonde’s voice calling out to her.

“What?”

“You know you can’t keep dancing around each other Maka.” Liz admonished, tone serious. “It’s been three years. I know you never really broke it off, but you’ve both moved on by now. You should try to get back to being friends.”

Maka had sighed, silently agreeing with her. Kid had been Maka’s oldest friend, right until they decided to date, in senior year, and everything between them had fallen apart. Maka had blamed it on her trust issues, and he had blamed it on his almost compelling need for everything to be flawless, but the truth was that their friendship had been ruined.

“Promise you’ll talk to him soon?” The girl on the other side of the phone speaker asked, hopeful.

Maka started to nod, before she remembered that she couldn’t see her, and said she’d do it instead. Liz had beamed, Maka had chuckled, and the call had been ended, with plans formed to meet for dinner at the mansion.

So now Maka was standing on the doorway of the enormous house, waiting for either of the two sisters to open the door for her, but her mind was miles away, no longer focused on Soul, but rather on her lost friendship. She was so distracted that when the door opened, she barely looked inside, sure that one of the sisters was there, and instead threw her arms around the person that had opened the door for her. When the person stiffened, and the smell of cologne reached her nostrils, she immediately shrank back, staring at a wide-eyed Kid. Damn you Liz, she thought, taking several steps backwards, sure that her face was red red red.

“Hi.” She said quietly, sheepish. She wasn’t ready, Maka hated to be unprepared, and she had never thought that her first interaction with her ex-(boy)friend would be a hug. Even if they had started talking normally, it was bound to be awkward, but after her mistake, the tension was so thick that the urge to run away without looking back almost overwhelmed her.

“Hi.” He answered, seemingly still in shock. She didn’t blame him.

“Sorry about that.” She managed, voice still barely above a whisper.

“It’s okay.” He answered, looking around as if to avoid her eyes. “You came to see Liz and Patti?”

“Yes.” She almost screamed, desperate to get away. “Liz told me you wouldn’t be here and-“

He held up a hand, as if to stop her from saying anything more. “You don’t have to explain, Maka, you’re welcome here anytime.” He said it so stiffly that for a second Maka doubted the veracity of his words, but when their eyes briefly met, she saw nothing but raw honesty in his gold ones.

“Thank you.” She mumbled, hoping that her voice didn’t show how much she missed being his friend. “I’ll be heading up then.” Taking the chance to extract her from the uncomfortable situation, she started walking towards the staircase.

She heard him move. “Maka, wait.” She looked back at him to find his hand hovering above her arm, as if he wasn’t sure he could touch her and stop her from turning her back on him. He looked disoriented, like he wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing. She could relate to him perfectly.

“Yes?” She asked, trying to make her voice sound as gentle as she could.

He let his hand drop to the side of his body, ducking his head so he was staring at the ground. He He seemed to be struggling, like he couldn’t work out the words that would voice his thoughts. “I miss you.” He said, so quietly that she wouldn’t have heard, hadn’t she been leaning towards him already. Her heart started beating faster, and a chill ran through her body. Please don’t let Kid have feelings for me. “I miss being your friend.” He continued, as if it was a lot easier now that he’d started. “I don’t think I regret our shot at the whole dating thing, but I definitely regret losing your friendship.”

She sighed in relief. “I feel the same.” Maka needed to assure him that she felt the same. “You were my friend, and we should’ve stayed just that.” She continued, only thinking about her words after she’d said them. She had sounded so mean, so heartless, that she quickly tried to apologize, but before the word could leave her mouth, a smile spread through Kid’s face and she paused, confused.

“I was so scared you’d take it the wrong way if I said that.” He confessed, obviously relieved.

“I wasn’t thinking.” She muttered, mad at herself for letting her words run loose.

“You were always the impulsive one.” Kid shrugged, grinning, and although it still lacked the companionship they had shared before, his gaze was sweet and caring. “Remember that time when I told you not to climb the tree, and you…”

“Kid!” She bellowed, hitting him in the arm. The boy knew too many stories about her, and if he ever was to open his mouth, she’d never get her dignity back. But when she threatened him, that if he ever told anyone about her misfortunes, she’d give him hell, he only snickered, sending her away and telling her that the sisters were probably worried about her already.

Worry was the last thing on both the blonde girls’ mind, Liz throwing her arms around Maka enthusiastically, claiming to be a genius while the shorter girl cussed at her, whining about forcing people to do things they wanted to, but weren’t ready to, and Patti being her usually bubbly self, jumping up and down on the bed and celebrating the fact that they were friends again, and Kid could stop being broody about everything.

Maka couldn’t say she was mad at the girls, their plan had worked wonderfully, so she eventually gave in, letting Patti drag her off to her pillow fort, while Liz promised she’d paint her toe nails as a reward for making things right again.

It was so easy to lose herself to the familiarity of her old friends, and when Kid joined them, although shyly at first, Maka really couldn’t help but remember the old times. She had missed them, she realized, halfway through the third movie that evening, as Patti dozed off, leaning on her shoulder, Kid stared at the television, although his eyes were glazed, and Liz pretended she wasn’t texting, surreptitiously glancing at her phone, the dumbest smile on her face. Maka made a mental note to ask the older blonde about her love life whenever she had the chance, and let her own eyes close, heavy with sleep.

And although she hadn’t thought about him all evening, Soul’s face popped up in her mind, and she thanked him, because if it hadn’t been for him and his absence, it would’ve taken her a lot more time to finally settle things with Kid, and to hang out with any of her would friends. Once again she felt terrible for neglecting them, as she had all evening, whenever she saw how much they had actually changed, and how much she didn’t know, just because she hadn’t been around. Maka wasn’t always the most caring person, and she had a hard time showing other people just how much they meant to her.

With a will to change that, and actually try to reconnect and spend more time with her old friends, she fell asleep.