Maka rolled her shoulders a little while they walked down the cobblestone pavement towards the academy. She wished that she had her coat, but there was nothing to do about it at this point.

"So... are you excited?" Maka asked Soul.

Soul looked at her and shrugged. He was a little pumped back at the apartment, but he was starting to get a little anxious. Even if she said he looked cool yesterday, she had barely gotten a glimpse. There was still a chance of rejection.

"Good! Great. Awesome..."

"Sorry. I don't much do small talk."

Maka shook her head. "No, it's fine. I get it. I don't really either."

Soul said nothing in return.

"So, you don't know anything about your weapon form."

Soul nodded.

"I can work with that."

Soon, with a few comments on the weather and some notes about the academy, the pair made it to the clearing that Maka had spoken about in the morning. Luckily, not many people were into going to school on the weekends, so Maka didn't have to bear the embarrassment of not having many friends until the next day. Not that she thought Soul would care, as he proved his dislike of people the day before.

Soul looked around the area Maka brought him to. It was nice, secluded, for the most part. Sure, they were still technically at the academy, and anyone could wander up to this clearing, but it gave the illusion of privacy.

Soul finished looking around then turned to Maka. She was watching him explore the place with his eyes and waiting for his approval or disapproval. When he turned to her, she knew he was okay with it, so she grinned.

"Are you ready to get to work?"

He shrugged and nodded once, feeling the discomfort of his form creeping up on him. It'd be bearable if he could at least stand one of his physical appearances, but neither were accepted.

"Would you mind changing for me?"

"Why are you asking? I'll have to shift anyway."

"I don't think we're much past formalities."

Formalities. Soul fought back a grimace. "Skip it. Asking makes it weird. Just... hold out your hand or something."

She bit back a laugh and smiled at him. "If that works for you..."

"It does."

She adjusted her glove and held her hand out. "Soul."

He let out a breath of humor and gripped her hand. "Maka."

With a brief flash of light, Soul was replaced with a six-foot-long shaft and a four-foot curved red-and-black blade. Maka tightened her grip on his shaft and grabbed him with her other hand, too, to keep him balanced.

'You okay?'

"Yeah, I've got you." Soul was a little surprised he could be heard from this form, even if his voice sounded a little distorted. He assumed he'd lose his voice with his inanimate-ness.

'Good. You better not drop me.'

She laughed. "The chances of that are very slim. You're as light as a feather!"

Soul rose a brow within the large hunk of metal that was a blade. Light as a feather? She had to be kidding. Just looking down at himself, he knew he had to be at least twenty pounds of light metal, or fifty pounds of steel. But then, if he were to look at the way she handled him yesterday, he'd have to believe her statement was somewhat true.

She moved her hands to the center of the shaft and rose the weapon above her head. Since she used to pretend she was a scythe meister when she was little, and often practiced with heavier objects, she knew that she already had one move perfected.

'Maka? What are you doing?'

"Okay, this is going to sound a little mean, but I'm only saying this to ease your nerves. In a fight, the meister leads and fights. The weapon only magnifies. So, I need you not to question my motives if you want me stay focused and you to stay safe."

Soul didn't think that sounded mean at all. All she was saying was that it was only his job to lay back and watch the show. And magnify, whatever the hell that meant.

And then he was spinning.

He wasn't getting dizzy or anything, especially with the weird non-eyesight sight he had through the little eye next to his blade, and a little bit through the blade itself, but he was a little surprised to be spinning so quickly. He grinned and laughed, enjoying the feeling of slicing the air around him and marveling at the girl's strength once again.

She slowed down the spinning a little and let go with one of her hands, managing to bring his blade behind her, facing the other way, and pulling him out to slice the area in front of her. He was impressed, up until the momentum she'd built drew him the complete half circle and she was forced to stumble and trip to catch up to him and keep her promise about not dropping him.

Once she was balanced again, she pulled the blade to her face, grinning wildly. "You laughed!"

Soul rolled his eyes, and she saw him in the reflection of his blade and mimicked him. "You enjoyed it."

'Yeah, sure. That was fun up until you screwed up.'

Her eyes narrowed, but the grin was still on her face. "There's more where that came from, you know."

'As long as you don't cut yourself it half, go ahead. Try me out.'

She snickered and held the weapon out in front of her, placing her hands in the middle of his shaft again, and raising his scythe above her. She continued this move, and continued to fail at it, until Soul got tired of keeping quiet.

'Maka, quit trying to stop me.'

She panted and looked up at his blade. "What?'

'Follow the flow. If you can't stop me, go with me.'

She grinned, understanding his meaning, and brought him above her head once more. She spun him rapidly, with a renewed energy, and kept her eyes on him the entire time. Then, she slowed the spinning just a bit and let go with her right hand. Quickly, she drew him behind her and slashed out in front of her, this time, moving her whole body instead of just her arm. She ran in a full circle before the momentum died down and she was able to hold him upright, her back facing the air she'd slashed through.

She grinned at Soul, who was grinning back, sharp teeth and all.

'Not bad. What else you got?'

Spirit sighed and wandered through the halls of the academy tiredly. He wished that he didn't have such long hours, especially on the weekends. He wanted more time with his lovely Maka, and his Death Scythe title kind of prevented that.

He sighed sadly. But he wouldn't trade his Death Scythe status for her. She'd already vowed to best him, and he'd give her the chance.

Besides, his status definitely helped with the women. Power was a big thing among the ladies now-a-days.

He wandered outside and looked out to the sun, which was a little past the center of the sky. It was probably a little past lunch, and he wondered what Sandra would say if he told her he missed their lunch because he was battling. Maybe she'd get a little turned on if he said it was a close battle. Maybe she'd be impressed enough to-

Wait. What is that?

Spirit found himself leaning halfway off of the balcony and squinting his eyes to look down at the semi-secluded tree-covered area. Was that?

"AH!" And Spirit was falling. He shifted his arm and dug it into the side of the DWMA, wincing a bit, and felt himself slow a bit. When he came to a complete stop, he was a little breathless and felt his eyes tear up a little when he realized he was stuck. He was far too high to get down safely and he'd probably never be-

He caught a glimpse of his precious Maka walking out of the secluded area. He smiled with joy. She'd be able to save him!

But why was she grime-covered? And why were her clothes so rumpled? And her hair was really crazy!

And then stepped out a boy.

Suddenly, all the alarms in Spirit's mind went off and he felt his face go red with anger. He pushed himself off of the wall of the academy angrily and screamed, "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING TO MY SWEET AND INNOCENT MAKA?!"

Maka held Soul out tiredly, her cheeks hurting from grinning so much. They'd made so much progress, it was incredible. It seemed his weapon blood had already planted him with enough instinct for battle.

Soul shifted, and pulled Maka up from her bent-over position. "That was cool, Maka."

Maka chuckled and let go of his hand to try to adjust her pigtail. She sighed and gave up quickly. "We were both cool. We made a lot of progress today, Soul. Good job."

He felt his chest puff out a bit with pride as he followed Maka out of the clearing. "So when are we gonna eat? I'm kind of starving."

She laughed and looked up at the sun. "I guess we could go back to the buffet if you want."

Soul tensed and looked away.

She looked over at him and nodded. "I assumed as much. It's okay. We can pick up some fast food at a Death Burger and come back here. We're far from done for the day."

Soul hopped out onto the pavement and nodded. "Sure. I'm cool with that."

Maka grinned and opened her mouth to respond, only to be interrupted by a terribly familiar voice.


Maka groaned and Soul looked around for the source of the shout. Suddenly, there was a loud crashing sound a few feet away from him and he saw a red-haired man laying on his back on the concrete.

"Spirit. You do know you're not invincible, right? You can't just jump off of buildings for no reason." Soul looked over at Maka whose face was expressionless as she looked in the opposite direction of the man.

Spirit? Soul looked at the man in thought. This guy couldn't be Maka's dad. He didn't look anything like her!

Spirit sat up, groaning, and looked over at Maka. He smiled briefly then turned and glared daggers at Soul. Spirit shot up from the ground, mouth open to curse, then he froze, groaned, and fell over. "Owww..."

"Let me guess. You broke something didn't you?" Spirit groaned in denial. Maka rolled her eyes. "It's only your fault, Papa. You didn't prep yourself for the landing in the right way."

Soul rose a brow. There was a way to land safely from that height? Jeez, these people were superhuman.

"Come on, Soul. You said you were hungry, right?" She started off back into the academy, pausing only to 'trip' over her dad. Soul stayed silent and walked around her father instead. "I think I'm going to treat myself with a milkshake. What about you?"

"So that was your dad?"

Maka sighed. "Not even. He just thinks he is."

Soul nodded. "But he's your dad, right?"

She shook her head. "I refuse to believe that I came from that man. Did you see him?"

Soul went silent for a bit as they waited for their order. The walk to the Death Burger had consisted mostly of awkward small talk forced on by her, and then silence when Soul wasn't willing to coöperate.

He kept back a smile. "But he's your dad?"

She growled and punched his shoulder. "Fine! Yes. He's my father. Whatever."

Soul laughed a bit and rubbed his shoulder. She glared at him suspiciously. "Why are you laughing?"

Soul shrugged. "It's just that... he looks nothing like you!"

She rolled her eyes. She's been doing a lot more of that lately. "Yeah? So I inherited most of my mom's looks."

"No, no, I mean..."

"Look, he's not my dad, he's not related to me, he's just a delusional, dimwitted, perverted bastard." She didn't look angry at Soul, not even a bit. Her tone implied that this was the story to be given if anyone asked.

He nodded with a smile. "Understood."

She gave him the tiniest of smiles. "Thank you."

"Number 42!"

"That's us." Maka stood, holding out a hand to Soul in a 'stop' motion. "I'm paying this time."

Soul held his hands up in surrender and settled into his chair. "No arguments here."

He watched her go up to the counter and felt a tap on his shoulder when she was paying. He turned and saw a girl, maybe a little older than him, with a face caked with make up and clothes a size too small. She smiled at him, a sultry smile and Soul kept his lips pursed.

"Hey, guy... I was just with my friends over there," she pointed to a group of giggling girls on the other side of the store, "and we realized that we have extra tickets to this concert happening later. We thought maybe you'd be into some rock and roll... so you wanna join us?"

Rock and roll? That was still a thing? Soul resisted the urge to roll his own eyes in exasperation and shook his head to the girl quietly.

She pouted and cocked her head in a way that she probably thought was cute. "Come on! We would really appreciate it if you-"

"Number 39!"

The girl glanced up at her friends who looked on at her with sympathy. She looked back at Soul. "Sorry, I'll be back in just a minute."

Please, take your time. The girl left him and he felt something fall into his lap. He looked down to see a bag of food, then heard a voice behind him. "Grab your food, and let's go."

"So that was pure luck?"

She giggled a little. "Yup! I assumed because she had friends with her, her order was larger, and the people before us were both single people. So, her order would have taken a little longer. Then, I looked them over and saw the type of people they were and decided their order wouldn't be too large, but would lag a bit behind, say, ours."

Soul snickered. "You didn't have to explain your entire thought process. The 'yup' would have sufficed."

She took a bite out of her burger with a shrug and he started on his second. He was glad that she'd gotten extra food, and she'd explained that it was because she'd noticed his hefty appetite at the apartment and the sushi place the night before. He told her it was creepy how attentive she was and got a smack on the arm.

"So do you want to try to work with my soul?"

Soul swallowed the last bit of his second burger and pulled out his fries. "What do you mean?"

Maka laughed. "Jeez, you're like a freaking vacuüm!"

"Shuddup," he muttered. He thought for a moment then asked, "How are we supposed to collect souls? Aren't they intangible?"

"That's the dumbest question you could ask, Soul. Souls are not intangible to people like us. Since our souls are different from normal, human souls, we have the ability to handle them. Even pre-kishins have to have a certain level of energy in their soul to become a pre-kishin."

"Okay, okay! No need to be snippy. Then, when we collect, are we just going to put them into our pockets?" Soul asked, trying to be a little bit of a smart ass.

"'Course not. You're going to eat them." She took a chug of soda while Soul choked on his own drink.

He glared at her as she tried not to smile and growled, "That wasn't funny."

"I know it wasn't. Your reaction was though." She fixed him with a serious stare. "I wasn't kidding. You'll actually eat ninety-nine pre-kishin souls and one witch soul."

Soul wasn't sure if he was in some sort of shock, or if he was suddenly as fucked up in the head as anyone else in this god-forsaken city, but he didn't argue it. "Okay then."

"Don't be sarcastic with me, I'm telling the truth."

"I know. I accept."

Her eyes widened. "What?"

"Well, over the last year of my life, a whole bunch of crazy shit's been raining down on me, and this soul-eating business barely takes the cake. Why shouldn't I just go along with it and save my skepticism for something a little more... insane?"

She stared at him for a moment longer before raising her brows and shaking her head in disbelief. "People from the outside are weird."

"Hey, I'm dealing with all of this the best I can. Give me some credit."

"I'm not demeaning you, don't be so insecure. Now, let's work on the soul magnification."

The two piled up their trash into a small corner, Maka making a mental note so she wouldn't forget it, and mentally prepared themselves for more work.

"Do you need me to shift?"

She shook her head. "No, I don't want to risk harming you in that form. I don't want you to associate your gift with pain."

Soul nodded once, not quite sure what she meant with that comment. "So, this could hurt me?"

"Well... have you been wielded by anyone else besides me?" She kind of hoped the answer was 'no', but if he had been, perhaps he'd unknowingly felt someone's intruding soul.

Soul started to shake his head, but then remembered the woman's attempt back home. "Well, this one lady tried to, but it burned."

Maka furrowed her brow. "She was completely unable to hold you?"

Soul nodded. "Is that was your soul might feel like?"

Maka didn't know the answer to that. She felt a little bit honored to be the first meister accepted by his soul, but she'd have thought that he'd be more compatible with his submissive demeanor.

She eyed him a bit. Unless... that was a mask. Or the image was forced upon him.

She shook her head, filing those thoughts away for a later time. Maka moved to stand in front of him and held out her hands. He observed her troubled features for a second, then placed his hands into hers gently. He was a little nervous because he had no idea what was going to happen.

She closed her eyes and focused on herself, trying to summon up her ability. The one that her mother had given her.

"Soul Perception."

Soul looked at her questioningly. "What?"

She looked at him and he almost pulled away. Her pupils were dilated and her green irises were bright. She looked a little unnerving. "It's the ability to see souls. Only meisters have this ability, and I'm one of the few and rare one-star meisters to have clear Soul Perception."

Soul gulped nervously. "So, you can see my soul?"

She looked down at his chest and squinted a little bit. "Yeah. I just see a normal soul though. I don't have the ability to view characteristics yet. In the future, I should be able to at least identify between kinds of souls, like weapon and witch."

"My soul is normal?" Soul didn't know why he was a little surprised. He supposed he was ready for another deformation for people to hate him for, and it kind of relieved him to know there was something mundane about him.

She nodded. "Yup. Your soul looks the same as any other souls I've seen."

"And yours?"

Maka looked down, and he thought he saw a faint blush on her cheeks. "Well... mine's kinda normal. It's... a little smaller than most souls..."

Soul blinked in further surprise. She was the one with the deformation? "Is that a bad thing?"

She looked up, her eyes glaring with indignation. "Not if I can help it. My soul is just as good as yours or anyone else's."

Oh no. He'd hit a button. Crap. "I didn't mean-"

She sighed. "I know. Sorry. Just shut up and tell me if this hurts."

He went silent and pursed his lips with anticipation. Suddenly, he felt some warmth seeping into his chest. He felt something snap, and he pushed her away with a yelp. He was panting, mostly with a little fear. He didn't understand. Was that feeling in him her doing? What did she do?

"I'm sorry! Did I hurt you? Crap, I shouldn't have done that. I should have waited until we'd spoken to Sid. Crap!"

Her frantic voice crushed his frantic thoughts to pieces and he shook his head at her, holding his hands out as if to placate her. "No, no, sorry. That was just... unexpected."

"Shit! I'm sorry, let's not do that again, not until we talk to Sid."

"Maka, it's fine-"

"No it's not. I'm not going about this the right way at all. Let's just... shit."

Why was she freaking out so badly? "Maka, I'm fine. Now calm down. We don't need to try again if you don't want to, but stop wigging out."

"You stop wigging out!" They stared at each other for a bit after that comment, Maka looking a little deranged and Soul looking very confused.

Maka blinked and looked down at her hands. She looked back up at Soul's confused expression and she felt her mind settle itself.

She could've sworn...


She shook her head. "Yeah, no.. sorry. I'm fine. I just... I guess I was a little nervous."

Soul chuckled. "Yeah... a little... right."

She laughed humorlessly and ran a hand over her mouth. "Hey, why don't we go get you those school supplies and then I'll leave you alone till tomorrow?"

Soul wasn't sure what was wrong with her, but figured he was better off following her change of subject. "Sure."

"Great! C'mon, we have a lot to get." Maka made sure to place a skip in her step, but she was extremely troubled. Soul claimed he was fine, but she could've sworn...

She could've sworn she'd felt his soul snap at her.

A/N: Damn... It's been way too long. You all hate me right? It's okay, I get it.

I have the terrible, terrible excuse of writer's block. I'm sure this chapter is good proof of my choppiness, and I hope it isn't too, too bad.

As always, please review with any criticism or ideas!

Thank you Mermain123, way the ball bounces, and Azura (guest) for reviewing! I'm extremely grateful for the positivity and I hope you all like this chapter just as much.

Thank you!