A/N: while most of my fics are written in one sitting or are worked on over a short period of time, I worked a couple months on this one. Procrastination was the main culprit, but a mild case of writer's block in the middle of it didn't help either. But finally last night I finished it, and here I present it to you - a strange fic that starts with angst, has a bit of humor in the middle, and ends with a cute fluff moment. And I even gave one of my friend's favorite characters a cameo, hence why this fic is a crossover and not just a pure Soul Eater fanfic.
Disclaimer: I do not own Soul Eater or Shaman King.
OOC/Screwup Warning: Imperfection is something that afflicts all human beings and their work, and for the sake of the crossover/cameo, I did intentionally add a tiny OOC-ish detail that hopefully isn't detrimental to the fic as a whole. In addition, I may have slightly misinterpreted the concept of rigor mortis, so forgive me for such slip-ups.
No response. She still lay in his arms, her body limp and lacking any movement; even the bleeding that stained her clothing just below the chest had stopped. Not even the rising and falling of the chest that accompanies breathing was evident. Her pulse? Barely any, at least last he checked. That was five minutes ago. Likely, it was much weaker now, if there at all. The pulse... he mused. He gently placed a thumb over the soft bump below her palm: …. Nothing. Not even a tiny inkling of a something. Did he check it wrong? He was far from savvy in anything medical, so it was likely – but then how did he get it earlier? Screw it, he mentally declared defeat and pressed his ear to her chest, listening for a heartbeat. Still nothing. While he hoped and prayed that it was just a very low beating, his ear remained there for several minutes to no avail.
"No... no, she can't be -"
Another thought came to mind, one he remembered from reading a murder mystery once: rigor mortis. Supposedly, after death a person’s body freezes up, becomes stiff. Maka was limp, but stiff? Far from it. So there was still hope. A faint glimmer, but it was still there. As her body grew colder, however, he knew they were losing time. She was losing time. Who knew how much longer she would live without any medical interference? He had to find a way to save her, and fast!
But what if he couldn't?
That's NOT AN OPTION! He said to himself over and over again. I’m not gonna lose her, not if I have anything to say about it! Still doubt relentlessly ate away at those determined thoughts. What if there was nothing to be done? Stein was the closest he knew to a doctor, and he wasn’t accessible at that time – no one was. They were halfway across the world from anyone capable of helping them. And he couldn’t even protect her without them working as a team. Just as much as she needed him, he needed her. And if she died… what would he do? He doubted he could simply go and find another partner. He knew it wasn’t that simple, and he hoped it would never come to that. Ever. Yet now he was facing a bigger, far more negative possibility of something “never” happening.
Of never again being able to see her smile, hear her laugh, her voice in general even. Never to be whacked over the head with a book (though that may be something he wouldn’t miss too much), never to chuckle as she resisted her father’s attempts to… well, be a good father. And while she had never actually spoken those three words, the words he himself had wanted to tell her, yet couldn’t because he let his “cool” image get in the way; to never hear those words from her lips, or to see and gauge her response to the words coming from him... Could he even live to bear it?
He realized then that he didn’t just need her in the way most weapons needed a meister or vice versa – he just flat-out needed her.
What the -?! That threw him off for a loop. Her body remained unmoving, lips included, yet he could’ve sworn he’d just heard her call for him. Was he hearing things? Was his mind repeating a mere memory of her call to keep forever should the worst happen? He looked around him – the first time he had taken his eyes off of her in what felt like hours, searching for a possible source of the voice.
Within moments, everything around him shattered.
Soul now found himself staring upwards at a wooden ceiling, blinded for a few moments by the simple light fixture overhead until Maka’s face overshadowed it. There was no sign of physical harm on her face – though her eyes of olive green shone with a look of worry, she was otherwise fine. He inwardly heaved a sigh of relief at the sight. She’s alright after all… guess it was just a bad dream. A really sick, twisted nightmare. No less, he was glad it was over. But then why was he the one hooked up to IVs and a heart-rate monitor in an unfamiliar house? Yes, it must have been a house. He didn’t know much about Germany, but he knew enough to know their hospital rooms did not look quite so homely, or creepy. Other than the medical supplies kept at convenience and the IV poles, it really did seem like an ordinary room in an ordinary house. But that was what gave the place such an eerie aura about it. Where were they, a private practice? And if so… what doctor would keep a guest room specifically for patients?
“Maka,” he started, turning his gaze to his meister, “Where are we?”
“You seriously don’t remember?” She asked in almost a monotone, a blunt look adorning her features to hide her previous anxiety. Yet the tears from her eyes, still in the form of tiny beads of water protruding from the green orbs, betrayed her.
“Remember what? I thought you were done for, you idiot!” He exclaimed and attempted to sit up in the bed before a sharp pain shot through his chest and nearly confined him back to a lying position had he not held firm to the bed railing. Not long after, a flurry of memories hit him all at once like a two-ton hammer.
The recent battle, the ambush… Just as he had in their first encounter with Crona, Soul had gone back into human form to protect her himself, to prevent the events of that nightmare from actually happening. Yet instead, Maka was put in his position. A pang of guilt burned inside him, knowing full well what pain he must have put her through – again. It was true she tended to make too much of it and blame herself, but that made it even worse.
“Oh… right. Still, last I checked Mainz had a regular hospital. Why’d you bring me to a private practice?”
“It was closer, and I couldn’t afford to waste any time. Besides, the doctor’s a friend of Dr. Stein and was willing to take care of you for free,” she crossed her arms matter-of-factly. The tears had taken their course, but were quickly beginning to dry up. “I couldn’t have gotten that at the hospital.”
"Dr. Stein has friends?"
"Oh, you're awake. That'll make things all the easier!"
Soul turned his head in the direction of the doorway to see a tall, thin blond man with sunken grey eyes and… purple lipstick? A henna tattoo around his neck? To make things even stranger, the man wore no shirt beneath his white lab coat, exposing a bare chest with stitching surrounding a blue patch of flesh. Soul now could easily make the connection to Stein: already he could see the two being the best of friends, mercilessly cutting away at an innocent pig fetus in a college anatomy class and laughing all the way.
“What things?” Soul couldn’t help but ask.
“Draw blood for the blood test, of course!” The blond doctor replied cheerily, his purple-clad lips curved upward in a smile. “Dr. Stein told me about the ‘black blood;’ I’m curious about it so I’m gonna draw some of your blood for tests.”
“But Dr. Faust,” Maka started, “How would Soul being conscious make it easier…?”
“The reason’s rather simple,” the doctor answered as he took out a syringe, a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab from one of the cabinets in the room. “With something that behaves so unpredictably as the Black Blood supposedly does, it could be potentially catastrophic if I tried to draw it while the subject was unconscious. Don’t worry; this shouldn’t hurt a bit.” The doctor began to approach the bed before realizing that the bottle of rubbing alcohol was a bit too light. “Eh?” He thought aloud, placing the bottle to his ear and shaking it. The doctor cursed under his breath in German and walked out of the room. “Eliza, do we have any spare rubbing alcohol? My office supply has run out,” he called out the door along the way, for some reason neglecting to take advantage of the language barrier.
“Well that was convenient,” Soul thought aloud. “And who’s Eliza?”
“His wife,” Maka replied simply. Soul could only gawk in disbelief.
“That guy… is married?”
“According to what he says, he wasn’t always the way he is now. Considering what he’s been through – what in some ways they’ve both been through, he has all the right to seem a bit crazy.”
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
“It’s not my story to tell,” Maka finished and quickly changed the subject. “But you know, about what you said before… what did you mean by that? When you said you thought I was done for?"
“Oh, that…” Soul replied. “It was just a bad dream, that’s all. Everyone has those every now and again, even cool guys like me.”
“Can you drop the cool act for once?”
“It’s not fooling anyone,” she replied with a light chuckle. Tears were beginning to form again, yet at the same time she was laughing; not a laugh of insult or because something was funny, but rather just a form of understanding or relief. Soul hated to admit it, but he found himself laughing along with her. “Just next time we’re in a situation like that, try to find a way other than almost getting yourself killed, alright?”
"I'm not sure if I can promise -"
“Look, I know about the whole ‘I’d die for you if I had to’ thing. That doesn’t mean I’d want you to.” With this, she pulled Soul into a somewhat awkward hug; awkward because Soul was still sitting in the “hospital” bed. Being careful not to entangle the both of them in the IV cables linked to his arm, he returned the embrace.
“Heck, I’d hope you wouldn’t. But you’d have to promise me to be more careful.”
“Well,” she replied, “I guess there’s no harm in trying. But you have to at least try on your end too.” Soul rolled his eyes and sighed before answering.