Plato's Couple

"And if the soul, my dear Alcibiades, is ever to know herself, must she not look at the soul; and especially at that part of the soul in which her virtue resides, and to any other which is like this?" -Socrates, Plato's Alcibiades.

Maka sat in a tall chair at the edge of the stove in her two-bedroom apartment that she shared with her partner Soul. She has a paperback book in her hands about the nature of love by a certain Vladimir that she reads while she waits for her tea to boil. Maka loved to read all types of books, even text books, but romantic novels always struck her a bit differently. She did not know why, either if it had something to do with her being some years well into puberty without ever really experiencing a love like relationship that was commonly depicted in those books, or if it was because of the relationship her parents had was so dysfunctional that she was never able to recognize a healthy relationship. She had her partner soul however, and he appeared trust worthy enough, always there for her and never strayed, but the more famous they became the more eyes there were on him. What would he do when someone better came along? It did not help that the book before her described bodies such as hers as "green fruit". Time had not been as kind to her as it had been to her friends. Even that cat that sat in her lap as she read was as ripe as any fruit that was in season. She always wondered when her season would come but it had become obvious at this point that it never would. She honestly never minded this fact though. Sure, she may not appreciate when this fact gets brought up, but it was more of the implication that came with it when it was her partner that brought it up. It was a hint that he was not as keen of her looks as she was of his, even if he never meant anything in that manner when he brought it up, always a joke and never a real critique, but no one likes to hear someone they admire talk badly about them. Even if it may be jokingly.

At this point she began to get in her head about that matter and said out loud "men do not care about what is important when it comes to women". Soul, who was sitting on the couch quietly playing an acoustic guitar that he was trying to learn, called back "what are you on about now?" Soul had never understood why Maka was constantly upset about the activities of men. He knew her father was never very loyal to her mother, and that she had a strong distaste for him because of that, but what does that have to do with other men? He had always been loyal to her, even if at times he joked about her appearance, he had always made it clear that he would never even entertain the idea of being partners with someone else. It was with Maka that he had become a Death Scythe, and it was with her that he would always be with, as long as she would have him as a partner. It wasn't as bad before he became "famous" for lack of a better word, before Maka had made him a Death Scythe. He was always popular among women for his looks and his cool persona, but now that he had something, they really wanted in being a Death Scythe, he had been getting partner invitations far more often than ever before. Even though he told Maka that she had nothing to worry about, he was unsure about how convinced she was of that fact. "what do men not understand about what is important to women?" "they do not understand that a woman's body is no indication of what they are worth." she replied in a matter-of-fact way. With that her tea kettle began to whistle on the stove, and as she put her book down on the kitchen counter and picked Blaire up and placed her down on the floor off her lap, she stood up and began to poor herself a cup before asking Soul if he wanted any. She didn't want to come off as to upset over the matter and offered him a cup as more of a peace offer than anything else.

Soul excepted a cup of tea from her, though he never drank tea and only said yes to be polite. With that she moved from the kitchen over to the couch with Soul and handed him his cup which he placed on their coffee table, but not before drinking it like a normal drink and burning his tong. "wow that's hot!" he explained, before Maka answered back "of course it is, how else would you drink it?" to which soul replied, "I normally drink my water cold with ice in it, not hot with a bag of who knows what in it." "well if you don't like it you don't have to drink it" Maka said again in a matter-of-fact way. She had brought him some tea in order to avoid a fight, some much for that. Soul, who had only accepted the tea to be nice attempted to save the situation. "do not get me wrong I like it! I am glad you brought me some, I am just not used to drinking tea at all. But what was all that about men before? Do not tell me this is because of another stupid paper back is it?" "No, it's not!" answered Maka, who didn't appreciate Soul's take on her book. "It is because men are always going after the wrong thing, they do not understand that it is the soul that should be placed above a body". With that Soul thought for a minute. He sipped his tea that Maka had given him, slowly this time as to not burn his tongue. He was just happy that Maka was actually sitting beside him and not in her room reading or taking a nap. He always enjoyed her company, and he even felt a little light-headed but in a good way. She smelled much better than anything in his room and he always enjoyed the opportunities he had to be near her. He also knew however that even though she was trying not to show it, something was bothering her, and he figured it was the same thing that had been bothering her for a while. Soul was never the best at talking, normally letting his miester do the talking, but here he knew he had to do something to at the very least, try and help her with whatever it was that had been troubling her for so long.

"you know I do not believe that" stated Soul firmly yet genteelly, as for others I cannot say one way or the other, but I would like to convince you that even if there are people out there who think that way, we know there wrong." "Oh yeah? Began Maka, surprised at soul's inordinate forwardness on the matter. Normally he would say something like "how the hell should I know?" before affirming his belief of the contrary. She knew Soul did not believe that women were just the sum of their parts, that they held other virtues besides beauty, but she enjoyed talking with him when she got the chance. Normally talking to soul was like talking to a brick wall, receiving nothing more than a one-word answer on any topic without really getting into how he felt about the matter. Even though Soul never said much on any subject, his opinion was something that she really valued. He always tried his best to understand where she was coming from and never forced his opinion on her, but instead always managed to foster a feeling of empathy while affirming what she already knew, that if she believed in herself, she could solve any problem large or small. She still though wanted to hear him say what he thought on the matter in a more drawn out manner than she had gotten before, and it was looking like she just might get her wish. "Well come on then, I want to hear what you have to say about it, why do you believe, contrary to others, that women are more than their looks." Soul was taken a bit aback by this. He did not want to mess this up, he really wanted to show her just how it was that women should be viewed, as fully formed three-dimensional begins who should be treated as such. He was scared that the task was too tall for him, he had not exactly planned on giving a defense on women today, and on top of his normally inability at giving long speeches on subjects, being next to the women he admired so much had a tendency of causing him to lose his ability to think clearly. His commitment to his partner however was unwavering, and God dammit he really wanted to show her that she was perfect both in her looks, but her actions as well.

Soul took another sip of his tea to help calm him down, and began again to Maka "Maka you know I'm not the best at these things, and caring to much about stupid stuff like, looks and whatever is really uncool... however I do really want to show you how it is that you're more than capable in anything you put your mind too, even if you think nature has given you a bad hand in the manner, so if you promise not to tell anyone I might be willing to make myself seem ever-so-slightly less cool, for the moment, if it will make you feel better. You have to promise not to tell anyone though." as Soul said this Maka was left surprised in the way that soul actually seemed committed to something he thought himself worse at, she, however; was not surprised in the in-and-out manner in which he said it. Saying that she would have to promise not to tell anyone about the incident that would occur if he were to answer her question. Suggesting that topics of this nature were "uncool" as this is where he would normally place anything that he felt insufficient at. She was still very much moved by what he said, as it was finally a chance to have a real heart-to-heart with soul about something that had been bothering her since she was a young. "You do not have to worry about me telling anyone." Replied Maka. "Normally your telling me to act cool, so I'd love to see what you look like when you're acting so out of pocket." Maka teased, she could tell Soul was a bit uncomfortable with what she had tasked him with, but she really did want to see what Soul would say on the matter, and thus decided to try and lighting the mood so he wouldn't run away. "promise?" said Soul. "Of course, you know you never really talk to me in any long format, and I wish you would! I would not tell anyone if it meant you would talk with me more often. If its people finding out about you acting in a way you seem to think is uncool, you have nothing to worry about as long as it's with me you're talking to." with that Maka began to blush. She always thought Soul was cool no matter what he was doing, and even though she had been emboldened by her desire to talk more with Soul, she herself was still nervous about saying something that would put him off. Maka really meant it when she said that she wished soul would talk to her more. They may talk everyday given as they live together, but it was always about mundane things like, what they were going to eat for dinner or about the weather. She always wanted to talk to Soul about their feelings towards things, about how they really felt, but doing so with a guy is awkward, and even more so when it is with someone like Soul who does not like to talk normally, let alone about anything deep.

Soul thought for a moment about what the best way to convince Maka that the soul was what should be valued above anything else. He never had really given it much thought himself, but he learned that in situations like these it was better just to go with simple and easy to follow answers over complicated and hard to follow reasons. "well for starters" Soul began, "beauty fades, right? Also, the end goal of any long-term relationship which I take to be the best sort of relationship, is a life-long partnership." "That's true." Replied Maka. "However, do you not know of the lengths some women, and men for that matter, go through in order to look young and beautiful for as long as possible? People today, whether through magic or otherwise, can appear good-looking long after any natural beauty has left them, and even still I do not think these people are wrong in doing their best to look good whether they be young or old." with this any confidence Soul had gained from his first attempt had faded. He did not expect Maka to so easily shoot done his answer, she clearly had put a lot more thought into this than he had. "I do not think there is anything wrong with people who put on makeup, whether they are young or old, but I do think it is worth noting that if this is something they are doing only because they want admiration from others, and not because they want to or they like the way the look, then it may be self-defeating. But in order to try to stay on the topic of what it is that ought to be admired by men in women, whether it's the soul, beauty, or anything else, I think it should be something unique to the person in question." with this Soul thought he was going down the right path but wasn't entirely sure where to take it. After all people are all separate beings, and that's what he loved about Maka. Maka did what she thought was right and even though she took the opinions of the people she respected very seriously; she always came to her own conclusions with her own reasoning. With that Soul realized that if he just talked about things that he found so attractive in Maka he would at least come close to his goal of showing Maka why she was desirable to men at least, and to everyone at best.

Maka was not about to let up on Soul however, she wanted Soul to really say what it was that he thought ought to be sought after in a woman. She always knew Soul to be extremely loyal and protective of her, but she never quite understood why. She did not know if it was because he thought she possessed something that he wanted, because he thought she was attractive, or simply because he thought they made a really good partnership. Now was her chance though to try to get Soul to really come out and say what it was that made him so loyal to her, and these opportunities came sparingly, so you better believe she was going to make the most of it. "Well, Maka, talking about things in the nature of beauty, as well as with anything else, is that you have to ask what purpose does it serve. For example, a lot of guys work out not because they want to be strong in order to accomplish something that is a test of strength, but instead because they want to become more popular with women. That is not really a reason to become strong though, if their goal is something like getting a girlfriend then they should try to become a better friend so that they could better develop relationships of that nature. The same would be said about people who want to be beautiful, being beautiful does not serve the purpose of a relationship, but instead is something that only benefits the person who is beautiful. Now sense we do not want to simply say what is not in the service of a relationship, but instead what a good relationship is intrinsically, or for its own sake. For example, normally when talking about why we do things, the reason is either, for its own sake, for the sake of what comes from it, or for both. When we get sick, we take medicine in order to get better, and not because we like the taste of medicine. On the other hand you have something like eating cake, which is pleasurable in the moment but not afterwards. A friendship, however, i believe would be something that is both beneficial in the moment and down the road". Soul thought he had made a good point on the matter of what should be desired in a relationship, or at least it was starting to be narrowed down. He had thought that if he was going to get to the bottom of what ought to be desired, it would have to be something that could not be beat. Friendship, in as far as it was a virtue that guided the lives of those who were engaged in it, would be of the greatest benefit to those engaged in it.

With that Maka was somewhat lost. She did not really understand where Soul was going, but she wanted to find out."Wow soul, I am impressed. I didn't think you had given the subject much thought." said Maka. "I had not really given it that much thought," laughed soul, "but I want to show you how it is". "Than please do", said Maka, "I'm still confused as to where you're going with this. How is it that a friendship, or any partnership of any nature, is always beneficial." "well I am still not sure myself," replied Soul "But it makes sense if you think about it. A friendship is something that governs the interactions and feelings of the people in it, and anything that exists above something is for its benefit." "How's that? Said Maka." "well even here in Death city Lord Death does what he does for our benefit. The school and everything can be uncool at times, but it is for our benefit. I mean it is like that for everything really, in the sense that it is an art. Medicine gives health to the body, which it rules over, and cooking gives flavor to food, and a shepherd is there to benefit his sheep." "But what about all these systems that only benefit the people in charge." began Maka. "A lot of times people claim a system is set up to help the people taking part in it when in reality it only hurts those people who hold it up. Why is it that a friendship would be any different? There are a lot of people that our in one sided relationships, it's not always the best thing to be in one." with that Soul began to feel a bit more confident, he thought he actually has a good response for Maka this time instead of the unconfident responses that he had been giving up to this point he respond confidently when he said "those relationships our not how they ought to be. In fact, any relationship like that isn't beneficial in the short term or the long term. Think about it like this, a cat like Blaire benefits by living with us by helping us cook and get along, even if she is a pain at times we really do benefit from her company." "that's true," said Maka, still unsure where Soul was going with all this. And that because we are good to her and let her stay here and everything that goes with it, but if we were mean to her and fought with her like we did back at the start when we thought she was a witch, we would suffer as a result. With friends, if you are bad to them, and cause them pain and to suffer, than they are far more likely to bring you pain, whether it is because you feel bad that a friend is suffering, or because they are likewise mean to you. But if you benefit your friends, and are good to them, then they will be far more likely to bring you happiness not only because you will witness the success of a friend, but also because they will in turn be good to you. To go back to our previous examples, if your cooking and you fail to produce a good meal, then the food will suffer as a result and so will you as someone who partakes in the food." Soul thought he had a good explanation for why to be good at anything, whether it is towards a friend or any skill or art. He felt that his words had failed him though, even he was convinced by his argument, but it was true, was it not? A friendship that benefited both parties now and later was surely better than one that was only good for one and not the other, or something that was only beneficial in the moment and not in the long-term.

Maka thought she was starting to get an idea of what soul meant, but it didn't seem to her like a partnership that benefited both people were always the best. She certainly wanted a friendship of that nature, like the one she and Soul had, but why would anybody else? She enjoyed her relationship not only because she wanted to become stronger, but because she wanted to protect Soul. She wanted him to benefit just as much as she did. She enjoyed her time with Soul and thought it was worth something in that regarded by itself. Other people however were not going to feel the same, and she knew it. There were many people who only care if they get something out of the relationship, even if it is at the cost of their partner. Why should these people care? Sure you could say it is wrong because there takes advantage of someone, or even because they are hurting the other person, or even simply just waiting there time. But why should they care? What explanation could you give to the selfish person other than it is selfish? Maka couldn't really think of a good reason as to why these people shouldn't do what they other than it doesn't seem right. That is what she wanted Soul to answer. She wanted him to say how to those people that their one-sided relationship would be better for them if the other party got something out of it. "I think I know what you are getting at Soul, but I still do not understand how this type of partnership is better for the person who already gets everything they want." "what do you mean?" Replied Soul. "in what type of partnership does one person get everything?" "You know." Said Maka. "friendships where one friend is always giving to the other, and never receives anything in return. Or even friendships where one person just helps the other, but they do not need any help themselves. How is it that these relationships are worse than ones where both people help each other." Maka thought she had laid out a good reason as to how many types of relationships can be thought of as just as good as any other. She herself did not believe that any of these types of friendships that she had laid out were the best. She wanted Soul to answer, both for himself and for her, why their relationship was better than any of these. She wanted to believe it was better for both people if they both enjoyed and profited from each other, but she just was not confident that it was, at least with regards to the other person. She was scared that if their relationship turned out to be worse than some other form, that it would change, and she really liked the relationship that they had. It really felt to her that their partnership was the best partnership. But what if it was not? What if soul found someone stronger or someone that he just plain liked more? Why should he stay with her? Every other guy seemingly had no problem getting with someone else the second their current relationship got even a little inconvenient, or even just because they just found someone new. Maka relied wanted Soul to tell her why they ought to stay together even if things aren't always as smooth as they would like.

Soul could tell that Maka had really taken to the conversation as something more than just an evening talk. And he really did not want to fuck this up. Soul was pretty good at keeping a cool attitude and persona, but the truth was he had fears. He had doubts and insecurities and even though he was always the person getting invitations to be partners the thought that Maka might fall victim to the same temptations scared him. Soul likes Maka, he really likes Maka, and the truth was Soul didn't see himself as this great partner that anyone would be lucky to get parried with. He was fucked in his way, and had more problems than most people get in their entire lives as far as he was concerned. Maka on the other hand was near flawless. She had the best grades in school, and no one could ever beat her no matter how smart they appeared. Soul could barely get himself to study anything that he did not find fascinating, and the only thing he was really fascinated by was music, but she was amazing at every subject. She was a harder working than anyone he knew, she would study all day and night just to ensure she would be the best. On her mother's side she had an amazing and mysterious mister with techniques of fame, unique only to her. On her father's side she had a death scythe, everyone's dream. Sure they both had their problems but with family like that what is holding you back? Sure he had his privileged family, but he threw that away the second he got the chance. Maka's dad wasn't exactly father of the year or anything, but he did really love her. Maka had all this to offer, and what did soul have? A fake last name and insecurities up to here. And yet he got lucky, he got real lucky with Maka, and all he can think is don't fuck this up. Maka knows how fucked up he is and she's with him still, how many of those partner offers would still be standing if they knew him like she did? He had a real chance here however. If he could convince Maka that their partnership was something worth cherishing than he could but one of his big worries away. And their partnership was really something worth cherishing. There was a reason why he could get a million partnership offers and he would not even acknowledge their existing other than to throw them away before never thinking about them again. Maka knew that soul would never leave her for another partner, but know was his chance to show her why.

"Maka, you know that I think the partnership we have is something real. And I hope, and believe that you think the same, but if I could just give you the slightest idea of why I think that you would understand how much i pity people who behave like your father." soul was getting a little more candid in his speech, and he was really hoping that the moment wasn't coming off as awkward or anything like that, but he wanted to really show Maka exactly why she had nothing to worry about with him, and why hopefully he had nothing to worry about with her. " You think people like my father should be pitied? I think they ought to just be despised." replied Maka. Happy with Soul's determination to convey his thoughts and feelings to her but always a little nervous that she was asking too much of him. After all it is not his fault that her father had done the things he did. She knew she could be a little oppressive on the subject of fidelity, but this was a subject that people make light of. Maka knew Soul was always supportive of her, in his own way, and would never act like him in that regard, but the thought still hurt. It was a real fear of hers, even if she knew it was not based in reality. "You know Maka," Soul began, the same fear of fucking this up pledged him like always, but he knew he had a real opportunity here. "A relationship like we have, where we both enjoy and benefit, both her in our home and outside is places like the academy is something that really helps our souls if you think about it, and are you not always saying that a sound soul dwells in a sound mind, and a sound body?" "well yes." Maka replied confused. "But why do you say that?" Well I am no expert on it, but they say the soul has three parts you know. And that each part is represented by its own virtue." "I have heard that." Replied Maka. "But what does that have to do with anything?" Maka was surprised, was soul actually paying attention in class? "Well I do not know if I have ever told you this, but I actually have a hard time doing the things I know I should do, even if they do not appear so hard." Soul was getting embarrassed. That was a very uncool thing to say, and what was about to come next was not going to get much better. "You have never told me that. What do you mean if you do not mind me asking?" Maka could tell Soul was really feeling something when he talked. Like even thinking of the idea of the problem he was trying to explain was painful. Maka didn't know much about what he was going through, but she knew her partner was going through something, and she would be there to help him through it. "It's hard to explain but sometimes I just get really scared of nothing, i know it sounds stupid but sometimes its really hard to do anything. But seeing you work so hard at your goals, and seeing how brave you are both in combat and out of it, it makes me want to do my best as well. Seeing you and being around you when you are so courageous, I think it helps me a lot more than you know. And that is one of the three parts of the soul, and even being as courageous as you are, I do not even know if that is the part of your soul that takes the lead." It was Maka's turn to feel embarrassed now. Hearing Soul say how much she helped her made her feel strange. She was happy for being able to help someone she cares about so much overcome their problems, but she did not know that Soul felt so strongly about her in this manner, or that he even had such a server problem. She knew Soul had a tendency to be unmotivated, but she had no idea it affected him so greatly, and that made her sad. She hated the idea of Soul struggling, and while she was glad she was somehow helping him with it, if it was something she knew she would have been much more sympathetic towards his lack of motivation. "I had no idea you felt that way. I really am sorry to hear that Soul, you know if you want maybe i can help you in a more direct way. It means a lot to me that you would come out and say something like this however, i know how hard it must be to talk about."

With that soul was not sure how to tell her about all the times he wanted to do something but could not because of some sort of fear. The hardest part of it all was that there was not even anything to be sacred of, or if there was it was never the reason, he was unable to act. How do you explain being afraid of nothing? Being paralyzed and unable to do the things you want to do, not even the things you do not, but things that you know you would benefit from and crave. He knew she had noticed it before. Whether it was sleeping all day or just hanging back from the crowd. The weird part was that it was never consistent. One day he could be playing basketball with Blackstar or watching a movie with Maka, and the next day not even wanting to eat, let alone go outside. He did not even fully understand it, so how was he supposed to explain it? "we have been together long enough now that I am sure you have noticed that at times, I will be even less active than normal. I really do not know how to explain why sometimes I lose all motivation other than it feels like a great dread overcomes me. I am just simply scared." Soul was now in the full of it, but he knew he was already half the way there, and it would be harder to turn around now than to keep going. If he was talking to anyone else, he would have given up already, but he felt safe with Maka. Moreover when it came to Maka he felt confident, and he was going to need all the confidence he could muster in order to tell Maka that. "But that's what I love about you, Maka you have so much courage that it rubs off on me. You make me a better person. And that is what makes a great relationship in my opinion..." With that Soul was starting to realize what he had just said. It sounded more like a confession of love than an argument about what relationships were the best. It was both really, but given how unromantic Soul thought himself to be, he was hoping Maka would take it more as the latter then of the former.

Maka really didn't know what to say. This was a lot for her to process at once. Her partner Soul was sharing with her one of his greatest struggles and she wanted more than anything to comfort him. To let him know that she, despite what he might think of her, was far from perfect and had her problems. That she had fears herself, though she was somehow able to turn her fears into motivation. To her fear was a realization that the thing in question should be taken seriously and not ignored. Maka however could normally identify her fears, Soul on the other hand said he seems to be scared of nothing at times. Now that's scary. She was not sure how to help him and that scared her. She was not sure what to tell him, but she could see he was venerable right now, and even though she was not sure how to help him, she knew she had to do something. "I am so sorry to hear that Soul, I had no idea you struggled so deeply with something of that nature... But you want to know a secret?" now it was Maka's turn to be vulnerable to Soul. "you know a lot of times I get really scared too. When you got hurt back then, I was really, really scared of losing you..." Maka began, still uncertain of how to tell Soul that he was the reason she was always able to act. He was the reason she wanted to get as strong as possible, in order to insure nothing like that ever happened again. As far as she was concerned, he never failed to act. Whenever any danger presented itself, Soul always made sure to put himself in between her and it. Why should she be scared as long as Soul was with her, he always protected her no matter what. Maka was never great at communicating her feelings. Her preferred method of communication to someone she was mad at was either a cold shoulder if you were someone like her father; or if you were unlucky enough to be Soul, then you would find the spine of the large and heavy hard-back book she always had on her. This time however she could not simply hit Soul in the head with a book to get her point across, and she sure enough could not say anything. "but the reason I am always able to act is because of you Soul." Maka continued. "you always give me the strength to act. I mean you've been through so much already and you never lose your cool." with that Maka gave soul a soft smile, one that only someone who really knew you could give, one that showed that even though she might not understand exactly what he's going through, that they'll get to the other end together, like they always do. "Maka..." began Soul. Unsure of whether to laugh or cry. What did Maka mean by that? How does he motivate her? Is it just because she wants to protect him, or was there something more? He thought about why he always wanted to protect her, why he was always able to move if the situation with her was serious. Was it simply because they were just partners or was there something more to it? He was not completely sure himself, but he did not think he would be so quick to act if it was anyone else. Did she feel the same?

Maka could see Soul's mood was starting to brighten from the cold and dark setting it had been in trying to explain the things that have been seriously troubling him for so long. She did not want to stop there though, she wanted to make it clear to Soul how important he was to her, or at least as clear as she could, she was just as bad at confession as Soul was, and talking about her feelings to the person that she cared most about took another kind of strength she was not sure she had. Maka, however wasn't about to start being a coward now. "I cannot let you say how I make you a better person, and centenary not when it comes to something like courage when my source for it is you." damn this was harder than she thought it would be. They make it look so easy in any romance book, but to actually just tell someone the effect they have on you feels way more embarrassing than romantic, but I can't let Soul be the only one saying how he feels, Maka thought to herself. "if I am ever in danger, I know you are right there. And the fear that if I mess up, you will get hurt, it is enough to make anyone do everything in their power to ensure that never happens. With that Maka became very conscious of how close they were on the couch. She reached for the blanket that Soul had been using to stay warm. "mind if we share this? She asked, she was not sure what she was doing, but she had never felt so close to Soul, and even so she wanted to be closer. "y-yeah..." Soul was completely flustered at this point. He was already busy trying to process what Maka had just said about him, and now he had her right next to him. They had shared a blanket before and it was not really an unusual request for either of them to make, but this was different. With that Maka got closer to Soul. "I was just thinking that it is been awhile since we have had some time to ourselves." Said Maka, she didn't really know what she was going for, this wasn't like any of the other times they had causally cuddled up together on the couch, this was far more intimate. Maka had always felt close to Soul, and even with their close proximity she wanted to get closer. Soul was speechless, all he could think was how much he wanted this moment to last, and he did not want to risk ruining the moment by talking. Maka moved her face right next to Soul's, she still had more questions for him, and she had him right where she wanted him. Maka couldn't help herself anymore, if Soul was going through something rough, she knew something that would cheer him up, and with that she placed a kiss right on the corner of his lips, and for a second they were more wholly together than ever before. A rush of pleasure came over both of them, followed by a rush of embarrassment. "Sorry Soul, but I thought you needed that, but I think you still have some questions to answer." Maka commented shyly. She had not meant to be so forward, she just thought Soul could use some reinforcement that she would always be there for him, and she had wanted to do that for too long now. If Soul was lost before he was nowhere to be found now. So many things were going through his head. The first thing was how much he loved Maka right now, the second was how could he even begin to answer her questions, the third was how much he really loved Maka right now.

"C-could you repeat the question?" Soul began, still in a haze. Maka had to think for a moment, she couldn't even really remember what it was she was asking, still high of their kiss. "how is it that it is better to help and be helped then to just simply be selfish and take all the help you can get?" There were a lot of things Soul wanted to do right now, but he thought it would be better to try and not disappoint his partner and answer her questions, especially with everything it had gotten him up to this point. "Well, I think I have shown how it is beneficial to be helped, though I do not think anyone would argue about it. But as for why it is good to help others also, it appears like that would be even better than just to receive help." Soul felt confident now, in fact, he felt like he was on top of the world. If he got a kiss from Maka, what couldn't he do? "How could that be? Does not that appear a little backwards?" Maka was confused by what Soul meant. How could it be better to help others than to be help? The only thing Maka could think of as a rewarded for helping someone would be the good feeling you get for having a positive impact on someone's life. What else could there be? And how could that compare to the benefit of being helped, which also felt good. "well if you help a friend, or even better a partner, then they will be even more able in their ability to help you." Soul began. "if you help someone become better in anyway, then firstly they will be more likely to help you, seeing as they will be grateful for the help; and second they will be more able to do so now that they are stronger than they once were." Soul was proud of himself for that one, and he wasn't done yet. "I mean, think about our own experience, not only does the other become stronger when the other does because there is a team, but even in our own lives, me trying to protect you and fighting for you had made me both better at it, and you more aware of our abilities; but even you have gotten better at fighting because you want to protect me in return. Not only that, but if you have ever been brave or courageous for my sake, whether that be in combat or with something as simple as studying hard, you have not only become stronger as a result, but it is shown me what it even means to be brave." with that Soul had less confidence than when he started. He was starting to come down from Maka's positive reinforcement and wasn't even too sure if he understood what he meant. "I guess that's true." Maka thought, she was surprised with this new found confidence, she might have to kiss him more often if this was the result every time. "I had never thought of it like that." We really do become stronger when the other one does, and with that Maka felt a little selfish of all the times she thought she had to get stronger in order to catch up to Soul. She did not need to become stronger in order to catch up to Soul, she need to get stronger with Soul, and if he was right that both helping people and being helped makes you stronger, then she ought to spend a lot more time with him, if that was even possible. "think about it like this." Soul said quickly, thinking he had a better, more convincing way of putting it. "when you help someone do something, anything really, you get better at it yourself. Because you get more familiar with it and are actively doing it as well. I mean, in order to do something, you have to understand it yourself, and what better way of understanding something than participating in it. That is how people become experts in anything. So, when you help me with something like being courage, which you really do whether you know it or not, it makes you better at it yourself. That is why they say the only way to really learn something is to teach it." Soul thought that was a better, more intuitive way of explaining how he thought helping people also helps you. He did not want to appear cliche like those signs that say "who adopted who" that people get when they get a dog, but people really do get better at things by showing others. Having to explain something to someone else shows you not only what you know about it, but also what you do not know about it. Understanding where you are, and where you need to go appears like the first step to doing anything. You have to know what you know, and most importantly you need to know what you do not in order to learn.

Maka thought Soul's answer was pretty insightful. When did he learn that she wondered? Perhaps he was paying more attention in class than she gave him credit for. "wow Soul I am impressed. When did you give the subject so much thought?" Maka asked. "I cannot take all the credit I am afraid. That is just something my tutor used to say to me and my brother in music. That if we can help each other understand music, well understand it better ourselves. "As much as I hate to admit it, I did learn a thing or two back then. But really, I have you to thank for showing me how it is. Watching you be amazing, whether it is watching you face your fears or see how you never give up on a goal, no matter how high it is. You are really inspiring." Soul was getting embarrassed again. Maka was still right next to him, and he was getting warm, from a combination of embarrassment at confessing how he admires Maka, and from there shared raised body tempters. Soul wondered how someone so strong could feel so soft. He never really noticed how nice she felt right next to him, but he felt so nice sitting next to her he would not move even if he was on fire. "you know for someone who is normally mean your acting really nice today." Maka teased Soul. "you know I really admire you too, and not just me, but you appear to have every girl's adoration." Maka, who was always confident that Soul would never try to find another partner, liked to tease him about it nonetheless. She couldn't help be a little jealous, and she liked to hear him say as much. Soul, who hated the fact that he was constantly getting partner request, partly because he knew he would never need another one, and partly because he knew it was slightly upsetting to Maka given her past with her father, just said. "do I? I did not notice." Maka liked that.

"Tell me though" Maka began. "Do you think something like courage can be taught?" "well I'm not sure" began Soul. but it seems like we know what it is, and we have to have learned it at some point." "Who was it that taught you what courage was then?" Asked Maka. Soul wanted to reply to you, but he knew that was not what she meant. She meant when did he first think that he knew what courage was. "We will not know if anyone taught it to me in particular, but it appears like something we all come to know at a young age." "What makes you think we learn it when we are young?" "I am not so sure if we really learn what it is when we are young, or even when we are older for that matter, but we get an idea of it, and that is why we say "This person is a coward." or "This person is a hero" if we had no idea what courage was we would not be able to say these things, as they stem from our knowledge of courage." Soul had to stop himself for a moment and try to think of when it was that he learned what courage was. He always had an idea of what it was, standing up for yourself, not letting your fear stop you from acting, but he never really had anyone teach him this like he did mathematics or anything else. Maka really was the source of his courage. He acted for her in spite of any harm that may fall upon him. And that is courageous right? Or was it selfish because he of how if he got hurt it would hurt the people that carried about him? He thought he knew well what courage was, but now something that he thought he was sure of appearing far away. No, he knew what courage was. Not because of what anyone had said to him, but because he had seen it himself. He had seen it in Maka whenever she acted in spite of her fears, not only for herself, but for him, to turn him into a Death Scythe, and for everyone. "How could we know something we were never taught? It is like we are looking for something we have never seen. How are we supposed to recognize it when we find it?" Asked Maka. "We couldn't." Answered Soul. Then how can we find courage, or any virtue for that matter." Asked Maka. "Well if we do have any knowledge of virtue, and I believe we do, it would have to be something present inside of us from the start." Answered Soul. so do you think virtue can be taught?" Asked Maka. "I am still not sure, but since I believe we can be virtuous, and therefore have knowledge of virtue, if what you said earlier about the nature of knowledge and virtue is true, then maybe we do not learn virtue, or that is to say that virtue is not taught to us, but discovered, or found." Answered Soul. "If virtue is found, then it must be from inside ourselves. Then question then becomes how do we get it out. And when can we say that we have gotten a hold of it and that we are our virtues?" Asked Soul. "Well if virtue is a state of being, and its present in all of us from the start, then maybe everyone is wholly virtuous." Replied Maka. "I have met a lot of people who are far from courageous though." "That's true. In fact I think I only know one person who is courageous." Said Soul. "than if virtue is a state of being, it does not appear like something that is present in all people. They have to come to know it at some point however. Unless it's not possible to come into contact with it, but you say you know someone who is virtues. "I do. I really believe there our people who our virtues. I have seen it for myself." "Than maybe virtue is not a solid state of being, as in you either our or our not, but maybe virtue is an activate." Said Maka.

Virtue as an activity? That was a thought. But how would that work? It appeared that virtue was a consequence of knowledge. How could you do something you did not know? It did not appear to her that you could, not on purpose. "Do you think you could do something you do not know?" Asked Maka."No I do not. I agree with what you said before when you said we could not, but maybe virtue is not a consequence of knowledge, perhaps it is one of actions. That is what they say of happiness. They say that happiness is an activity. That is happy in the moment but you cannot just be happy as a state of being." Replied Soul. "It is not only happiness that they say is like this, but all things, even you and me." With that Maka was more confused than ever. How could something be a consequence of action. How could something not just be? Surly something either was or was not. "I'm curious Soul, now more than ever, at what you mean, and more to the point where you place being. How can it be separate from the knowledge that governs it? How can someone or something exist outside of its essence?" Asked Maka. "I do not know that it does to be honest, but maybe it is like this. So if we had a pen that was out of ink, and therefore unable to write, it is not much of a pen is it? Not but the definition of a pen being a writing utensil. It's about its function. When something is performing its function, then and only then could it be said to be. Another good example that people often give of this is of an oak tree. If you take an acorn, you cannot really say it is an oak tree. It has the potential to be an oak tree, but in the moment an acorn is pure potentiality, and nothing else. When the acorn becomes a sapling, it is closer to fulfilling its potential and reaching actualization, but it is sort of in limbo, and not really an oak tree. Now when an oak tree fully matures and is producing acorns, it can be said to have been fully actualized and is now finally fulfilling its purpose of producing acorns. When the oak tree falls or is no longer able to produce acorns, it is past its potential and is a sort of ghost of itself. This is maybe how we could come to understand virtue. As a sort of potential intrinsic to the human condition, if we take virtue to be human excellence, but to even say that making a lot of assumptions on the matter. Seeing as we are in the dark on the matter, it is something we will have to take on faith." Once again Maka found herself shocked with what Soul had said to her. It made sense to her though given his character. Soul was more of an actor then and planer. Soul really was an agent of his will, something he had fondly attributed to her. "I really am impressed Soul. You never cease to amaze me." With that Soul was blushing again. He was just repeating what he heard from a tutor of his. At the time he didn't think it so astounding, but it made sense to him, and if it impressed Maka than it was worth paying attention too. "But where does that leave humans than?" Asked Maka. it seemed like a weird question to Soul. Humans were not pens or pianos. Humans do not come with instructions that tell you what they are for, and they could do so many different things it did not appear like they had one goal that could be summed up as a function. "Well i do not know where that leaves humans. Where do you think they are? In this system?" Asked Soul. "I think humans would be left as almost nothing." Replied Maka. "What do you mean by that?" "Well if something is only that thing when it is being actualized, then humans most of the time are nothing." "How so?" "Think about it. If virtue is human excellence, and you said that we will have to take it on faith that it is, than humans, whenever they are not participating in the activity of virtue, are not humans." Soul never thought about it like that. But if being was an activity, and the activity of humans was virtue, then it would follow that most of the time humans could not be counted among the things that just simply "are".

"That appears a little cold though do you not think?" Asked Soul. "It just appears flat out not true to me." Replied Maka. "humans have to be counted among "being" they cannot be "non being" that appears plan as day." Said Maka. "I think we need to go back to what we said before about human excellence being virtue. I spoke too quickly when i said we should just take it on faith. This is something important and we should not leave such a large factor up to chance on its validity." Said Soul. "I agree, but what can be said on that matter? How can we discover what virtue is? That has in part has been our goal all along, and I am afraid it does not look like we are any closer than when we began." Said Maka a bit defeated. "I think we are much closer than when we began, so I would not get down about it so quickly. We might have had it right the first time when we talked about virtue being a possession of the Soul or even the psyche." Said Soul with newfound determination. "I thought that you were right to say that virtue is a consequence of knowledge before, and I still think it's true now. The knowledge of virtue has to be intrinsic to us from the start as well. I say this because there are so few virtues people, that it is very unlikely they had a teacher for it, and therefore must have learned it on their own. If we take the Soul to be the thing that makes humans unique, or at the very least to be the thing that connects us to the things that we have knowledge of but did not learn." with that Soul was starting to lose some of that determination he had found just a moment ago. He did not understand how the soul could be described as something as practical as he was trying to make it out to be. "I think I understand what you mean." Replied Maka. "You do? I am starting to lose myself." StatedSoul. "This is how it appears to me. The soul is not really like some sort of box that holds all of the things inside of ourselves, it is more of a window that shows on the other end how things are. This then gives us knowledge of how to make judgments of the things around us." stated Maka. Soul was now the one amazed with Maka. the soul a window to a reality of terms. "How would that work?" Asked Soul. "Well I am not sure myself, but this is how it appears to me. Let us take a human virtue of love. When you first fall in love you do not really know it at first. You have no reference point. That is where your soul comes into play. You look inside yourself and recognize that these feelings, these experiences are more than the sum of their parts. In looking through the windows of our soul and seeing virtue on the other side, the glass of our windows become stained. We see the other person that caused these feelings and emotions to resonate in a way that strikes chords with both newfound understanding of virtue, and the actions that caused them. The knowledge and the act become entangled. That is why they say people always subconsciously look for things that they find attractive in their first partner when it comes to love. Because they stained the glass of the window we look through when we look inwards toward ourselves and find virtue."

With that Soul and Maka had thought they had answered their question of what it was that men and women alike found attractive about each other. It was the reflection of virtue that they aw in each other that gave themselves the knowledge of virtue in the first place. That is why they call the pupil of the eye pupil, because in the reflection of a close partner you see a smaller version of yourself. By helping them and doing what is best for them you do what is best for yourself. It's through Maka and Soul's relationship that they found what ought to be desired in men and women. It is how they learned what courage was and everything else that should be valued in both themselves and others. Virtue could not be taught, but it could be found in the loving embrace of another.