This went by so quickly! I wish my other SoMa fics were this easy... Enjoy!
Each day came with a free-bee. They were usually always questions about his past, a few painful reflections on Wes and his mother and father, but more so about who he was before he reached her. It was strange to dissect pre-Maka Soul, to lay bare all the idiosyncrasies that made him that quiet, prideful boy she met at the piano. She'd even gone so far as to ask about what his motivations for the song had been. That melody was made to wheedle out the people who wouldn't be strong enough to compromise, to fight with him and sometimes against him. He didn't tell her that at the moment their hands met after he played that first time he knew she was the perfect match.
"Ask me a question," Soul murmured from the couch, his eyes half shut. He was almost drifting away, but he'd suddenly remembered they hadn't fulfilled the quota yet today, so he forced his hazy eyes back open.
Maka let her eyes skim the page for a second more before closing the book. "Soul…"
"What is it?"
Her fingers gripped tightly into the book, her nails digging into the spine. "I wanted to ask this one but I'm afraid of the answer."
The sleepiness was yanked out from underneath him and Soul sat up from the couch, trying to force his eyes not to widen. "Then, maybe…" Maybe not today, don't ask it today or ever or - But that was his fear talking, the fear he'd tried to start packing away as this whole trial started. "If I say I'm sorry first, will that make it easier?"
Maka snorted out a laugh. "Pre-apology?"
"Yeah," Soul smiled. "Maka, I'm sorry if what I say hurts."
She studied him, that smile, the way he now was seeming to turn the tables, to find out about her in the same way she was finding out about him. "Soul-"
"Before you ask," he cut her off quickly. "Whatever I say first, let me finish, OK?"
"OK." To let him make up a lie, to twist the truth, said a dark little voice in her heart, that doubt she was slowly learning to beat down. But it wasn't about lying after the fact, it was always clarifying. The truth sometimes needs an explanation, especially since it seemed like the curse applied to the first sentence that strung into his head after the question only. "Soul, do you ever regret becoming my partner?"
"Sometimes," came the rushed reply. His hands came up to his hair, smoothing it back. "Sometimes because it… it's hard for me to be this close to someone. I still get those thoughts like I don't belong like there's no place for me and when you… the way you treat me doesn't vibe with those thoughts and it's hard. Makes me wish you weren't the way you are just so my fucked up thoughts sound right."
The tears were instantaneous, even before the explanation. She rode the feelings through, the painful thought that he wanted a life without her but the joyful realization that the only reason he wanted that reality was to hurt himself. Even then the joy dissipated to a despair so deep at the idea that he felt the only existence for him was a lonely one.
"Maka, don't…" Soul didn't finish his thought, instead, getting up from the couch and moving to her at the armchair. Her breath hitched as he grasped her by the elbows, lifting her from sitting so he could wrap his arms around her shoulders. It wasn't the first time they'd ever hugged, but it was the first one in her life that she could remember him initiating, forcing her to his chest like he needed her to be there. "Sorry."
"You already said that." There was a battle between the ache and a euphoria Maka could only associate with being enveloped in his arms. She should have hesitated but she pressed her face against his shirt, letting her tears stain the fabric as she caught a whiff of laundry detergent and some other soft homey scent that just must have been him. You belong with me. Just feel the way we fit, the way it all works together, not just our powers, our souls, but our bodies and… Where was her courage? "You shouldn't be alone."
He was afraid she'd at the very least hear the way his heart was hammering, his bravery here causing every last nerve to fire. "I'm not." With a healthy dose of uncertainty, his hand rested on the back of her head, fingers sliding into her hair to smooth it. He let the delicate strands tickle at his fingertips before he repeated the motion, feeling her sigh hot and torturous against his chest. As he moved for a third caress the trill of the phone broke his concentration, his hand falling.
"Don't," she begged, her fingers squeezing at his waist. "Not yet. Just… one more second."
"Alright." He brought his hand back up, savoring that last touch before feeling her arms go limp, releasing him from her grip. "I'll get it." Soul made sure to avoid looking at her face, unsure of what he'd find and what guts he had left to do something about it. The phone was still vibrating with a ring as he placed his hands on the receiver, bringing it to his ear. "Hello?"
There was a crackle of static before the voice rang loud and true. "Soul, Clay here. How's it going?"
"Not bad. Find something?" Soul was still half-listening for her movement, finding none.
"Think we got your girl," the smirk played in Clay's voice. "Wait until you see her."
He couldn't create even a speck of care about what she looked like, just an overwhelming urge for this to be over with. "Where?"
"We brought her in. Kid's with her now, but, well, you'll see." An amused laugh escaped from Clay's mouth before he continued. "Just get yourself here ASAP."
"Received." Soul was quick to hang up the phone and walk back to the living room. Again, the thought struck him that he wouldn't be able to take the look on her face even without necessarily knowing what he'd find there.
Maka had pulled herself together into a smile. She was entirely sure it wasn't convincing, her lips feeling too tight and her eyes still raw from the tears. "Who was it?"
"Clay. They're back." Soul stopped a few steps away from her, keeping the want to grab her at bay. "They found something and they want us to come in."
"Something or her?" The answer to that question didn't matter since no matter what, there was a chance that all of this would go away, that they would revert.
"Clay thinks they found her."
Every ounce of strength was thrown into that smile, to keep it even remotely bright. "Then we should go." But we shouldn't. I don't want this to end. It's selfish, it's terrible of me but I don't.
"Yeah." Maka felt like he was reading her, the way his eyes focused on her as if he were reading the unsaid words. "Maka, whatever happens… Look, I don't…"
"Let's talk about this later," it was the chipper tone in her voice that threw him off. It was almost as if he hadn't seen the panic in her eyes only moments before.
"Soul, please," and all of it faltered, every last inch of her mask. The tears threatened again and she could only pray he'd let it be.
"Alright, let's go." This tenuous grip on the strange happiness from the past couple of days was slipping from him and it made his heart ache.
Tsubaki and Black Star were nowhere to be found, having gone off on some wild goose chase even with Akane's and Clay's correct information. Leave it to Black Star to get lost with a clear map. Instead, it had been the two older EATs agents who had inadvertently stumbled upon their subject. The young witch hadn't put up a fight and almost came willingly, albeit after some kind attention from Clay.
As Soul entered Kid's office he could instantly tell why. The witch was barely a teenage girl with long purple hair, a pert little smile on her mouth, probably barely ready for high school. She's fallen for Clay's good looks, let herself be talked into coming out of hiding with very little effort on the demon weapon's part. Maka also spent a few minutes blinking back at the inquisitive yellow eyes of the young girl, stunned by the way her recollection hadn't included the child-like face.
"That's her!" The little witch excitedly pointed at Maka. "Tell them, tell them all I did was answer your wish!"
"My wish?" Maka glanced at all the others in the room before coming back to the girl.
"Slow down," Clay laughed. "Maka, Soul, this is Clara."
Kid grimaced, a sigh pressed through his teeth, "There's no need for introductions. While her explanation of her motives might be true, she injured Soul."
"Spells take blood," Clara said with a shrug. "And he wasn't hurt too bad."
Soul put a gentle hand on Maka's shoulder as soon as the squeak of dissension crossed her lips. "Nah, I wasn't." He smiled in the face of Maka's grimace, turning his attention back to Clara. "You said you were just answering a wish?"
"I was trying to help," she rolled her eyes. "I answer wishes, that's what I do and she wanted you to be truthful. That's what she said, right?"
"I did," Maka muttered. "But I never wanted you to hurt him."
Soul looked back at her, shaking his head softly. "Look, she's a kid. She thought she was doing the right thing. And she… Maka, this helped us. It's hard to admit but it did."
"She hurt you!" Maka threw her hands up in frustration, trying to get a handle on the situation that no longer seemed to make sense. "That wound-"
"I know, Maka, I know." He closed the space between them, taking her hands from the air and holding them in his only long enough to transmit some calm her. "But I'm sure if she reverses it, that wound will go back to normal. Won't it, Clara?"
"Sure! It's super easy to get rid of the curse. You need to tell her the one truth that she wants above all else," Clara chirped. "If you don't know what it is, I'm going to guess the girl does."
Soul sighed, sliding his hands into his pockets before turning to Kid. "I think you should hand her over to Blair. Give her a chance to grow up a little and maybe really help."
"You're sure?" Kid raised an eyebrow. "What about the curse?"
"She said it, I know what I have to do," Soul shrugged. "She's just a kid."
"If you say so," Kid sighed. "Clay, take Clara to the witch counsel. They can decide how to go about training her correctly."
"Sure thing," Clay wave Clara forward but she stopped, eyeing Soul for a second.
"Maybe you're better off with the curse," Clara smiled.
Soul let a laugh tumble from his lips. "If it came without the wound in my gut, maybe."
Clara let Clay tug on her arm and planted her feet against it. "Do you know what you're going to say?"
"Yeah, sure I do." That seemed to be enough and Clara turned back to Clay, following him out of the office. "I, uh, well, I'd like to go home."
Kid shook his head, moving to grasp Soul's arm. "I think we'd be better equipped to treat you if something went wrong with this supposed cure."
"I get that," Soul tugged at his arm, trying to free himself. "But I'm still going home."
Kid added one more tug before relinquishing his hold. "At least let Mira-"
"No," Soul laughed.
"Yes," Maka interjected, taking the arm that Kid had just freed. "Let Mira come, if she has to she can wait outside but please, Soul."
"Alright, but she waits in the hallway." Soul couldn't stop the uncharacteristic giddiness from rising in his chest. Mira would have to wait outside because he was going to tell her and something in him was finally sure that it was going to go well. It wasn't going to crash and burn into catastrophe.
Mira was scowling when they left her outside the door, Maka leaving it unlocked just in case. There was no surety in Maka's mind, even as he held onto her hand which had been clasped in hers since they left Kid's office. She tried to assure herself that the silence was not coming back, that the moment they got home there would be a torrent again, or at least another free-bee before she had to give up all of it.
As the entered the apartment he pulled her deeper, towards the bedrooms and away from the possibility that ears other than hers would be in the audience. "Soul, please," she started but had to stop, his body turning towards her as his free hand came softly to her mouth.
It was the strangest position because there was never a time he'd done this, never pressed so close to her that she could see her own reflection in his eyes. "Maka, don't ask me anything, OK?" His hand hesitantly slipped from her mouth and all she could muster was a nod. "I wasn't lying. It may sound crazy but what happened, it helped us. At least it helped me."
"But you have to break the curse," she murmured, still mostly dumbfounded by his hand sliding across her cheek.
"Doesn't mean I'm done being truthful. I want to talk again, Maka." Soul let his fingers fall from her face, the nerves finally catching up to him as he took a step away from her so his back could meet the wall. "And I… Maka, that night you were mad at me because I was pulling away. Had been for a while. And I don't blame you for being mad, you were right to be."
"Then-" But Maka cut herself off, remember his wish for no questions. No matter how much she wanted to speed things up she had to respect it.
"And the question you asked - I love holding your hand," he punctuated with a short, pained laugh. "I love when you lean on me on the couch. Every time we touch I'm happy, but I'm also afraid. I'm scared that… well, that shitty part of me doesn't want you to love me. I don't deserve it, you're too good for that, and even if you did I would just find a way to ruin it."
Maka's lips trembled over the sound, "Soul…"
His hand came back to her mouth, this time only touching a soft finger to her lips. "But what I really have to tell you, what you really want to know, is that even with that stupid voice in my head, even with all the walls I put up… I can't deny that I'm in love with you." The finger moved from her lips to her chin, tilting it so that the angle was just right. The kiss was slow, unsure, so feather-light that Maka almost screamed for more as soon as he pulled away. "Ask me something."
She couldn't stop a stutter of breath from her throat as the tears hotly prickled at the corner of her eyes. "What color is your hair?"
"Blue," he laughed. The fact that the spell had been broken without any fanfare amused him, but it was impossible for his grin to get any wider. He'd said it, he'd kissed her, and she wasn't running or hitting or screaming but just trembling tearfully. "Why was that the one truth you wanted?"
"That's a stupid question." Her fingers smoothed up his shirt to his neck, finally coming to cup his cheeks. There was Maka's courage, found as soon as she pressed her lips against his, feeling the urgency like a spark as they met. She parted from him almost unwillingly, needing to gasp for air as a sob somewhere between relief and happiness caught her throat. "Of course I love you."
Soul moved to wrap his arms around her waist, shying his lips away from hers in favor of burying his face in the crook of her neck. "I'm sorry," he murmured against her skin. "I'm so sorry because I should have just known, it shouldn't have taken this, I should have just-"
Maka hushed him, letting her hand run through his hair and rest at the back of his neck, pressing him to her. "I'm sorry, too. We just… we can be better now, right? No more secrets?"
He laughed against her skin, "Only the truth from now on." Thankfully, it didn't take any other curses to fulfill that promise.