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One, Two, Switch!

Chapter Text

So far it had been a pretty cool morning. Maka had made French toast for breakfast, and Blaire hadn’t woken him up by shoving her boobs in his face, meaning he hadn’t been nursing a welt on his head at the kitchen table. The weather was just right as they walked to school: the sun was out but it wasn’t too warm or too cold, and there wasn’t any wind to mess up his hair. Naturally, he assumed the day would continue being just as cool as his morning had been.

 

That hope was crushed when Professor Stein made one of the least cool announcements Soul Eater Evans had heard in his entire life.

 

“Alright, class,” the teacher deadpanned as he rolled to a stop in the center of the classroom, twisting the screw in his head until it clicked, “it’s time for all of you to start on a new class project. It’s going to be a difficult one; I expect most of you to hate it very much, but after it’s done you’ll each understand your partners even better than before.”

 

“Professor,” Ox raised a hand, expression inquisitive, “at this point we’ve all been with our partners for a long time now. It’s safe to say that we know each other very well. Wouldn’t an assignment like this have been better when we were just starting out as partners?”

 

“No. In fact only teams with a strong bond in place have any chance of making it through this. A new weapon-meister team would probably crack under the strain and split up. A seasoned relationship is a prerequisite for this project.”

 

Soul sat up a little straighter in his seat, interest thoroughly piqued. After all, he and Maka had one of the best partnerships ever, so even if Stein was about to through something wild at them there was no way they wouldn’t get through it. Right?

 

“Yeah, yeah teach. Are you going to tell us what this big ‘project’ actually is or not?” Black Star called, his feet kicked up onto the desk in front of him. Stein took a long drag off his cigarette, the smoke emerging from his lips in an acrid cloud as he replied.

 

“It’s simple, really. Everyone is going to switch places with their partners. The meisters will become weapons and the weapons will become meisters.”

 

The room was silent. This had to be a joke, right?

 

Soul leaned towards Maka, “I think the professor has lost it for real.” He muttered, earning a slow nod in response.

 

“Um… professor?” Tsubaki raised a tentative hand, “Isn’t that, um… literally impossible?”

 

“Yeah. Weapons are weapons and meisters are meisters,” Liz agreed, “You can’t just trade!”

 

“Not permanently, no.” Stein conceded, reaching into his lab coat, “But there is a way to temporarily change a meister into a weapon and vice versa.” From his coat pocket he produced a small plastic container with two compartments. One side held a yellow tablet, the other a purple capsule. “Weapons and meisters share certain genetic links dating back to the creation of weapons themselves. Through these genetic links we can temporarily access the other side of things. Each of you will be taking one of these. Weapons will take the yellow pills, meisters will take the purple ones. The effects will kick in after a day or so and will last around two weeks. During that time no one will be going on missions as a safety measure. I will be keeping a close eye on each group and grading you based on your experiences.”

 

“What if we don’t want to do it? This seems pretty extreme, professor, and maybe dangerous!” Someone piped up.

 

“Well this project is thirty percent of your total grade for my class. If you want to have a flat zero for it then that’s your choice I suppose, but I don’t recommend it.”

 

The room was once again filled with crushing silence, and Soul exchanged a glance with Maka, noting the determined look on her face. He couldn't help but smile back at that. Sure this would probably suck, but at least he had the coolest partner ever by his side.

Chapter Text

Soul was almost asleep when it happened. Maka’s shout of surprise from her room next to his startled him to his feet, and he barely had his eyes open before he was outside her bedroom door.

 

“Maka!” His voice came thick through his half asleep throat as he pounded clumsily on her door.

 

“I-I’m fine!” She called back, stumbling over her words just enough that Soul’s worries didn’t dissipate. “Just go back to bed, Soul! Everything’s okay!” Her words were punctuated by a drawn out yell of surprise and the sound of a body hitting the floor. Like Hell he was going to bed after that!

 

He slammed the door open to find Maka sprawled out on her back on her bedroom floor, and the sight stopped him dead in the doorway. For the most part she looked normal, with the only notable difference being that her right arm had been replaced with a curved black scythe blade from the elbow down. The two were silent for a good long while before Soul uttered the first thought his brain managed to formulate.

 

“So… looks like that weird medicine the professor gave us kicked in for ya.”

 

Maka blew a stray bit of hair from her face and pouted at him. “No duh, Soul.” She grumbled, but he could tell she wasn’t actually mad at him. If she was she probably would have put that new blade to use. She huffed as she sat up, inspecting the transformation of her right hand. Soul took the opportunity to look around and see what had caused his partner to fall. He snickered to himself when he saw the deep slit in the wood of Maka’s desk. Wasn’t hard to guess what had happened there.

 

Before Maka could glare at him too hard he stepped closer and offered her a hand. “If you got stuck you could have just called me to help you, stupid.” He teased. Maka rolled her eyes and accepted his hand, and he pulled her easily to her feet.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” She chided back, a small smile touching her lips, “Next time.”

 

“I’ll hold you to it.” Soul replied, slipping his hands into the pockets of his pajamas. “So, that looks like a scythe blade to me. Guess we know what kind of weapon you would be.”

 

“Yeah,” She replied, studying her new blade once more, “I wonder why a scythe of all things. Seems like a pretty big coincidence.”

“Well your old man is a scythe,” Soul observed thoughtfully, “maybe that has something to do with it?”

 

His partner groaned, pulling an annoyed face he knew well. “That would be my luck, wouldn’t it? When he finds out he’s going to be even more obnoxious than usual.”

 

They both shuddered at the thought. Death Scythe was already a spaz; Soul was not looking forward to how uncool he would act about all this.

 

Maka poked and prodded at her blade with a frown. “Not very sharp.” She mumbled, clearly disappointed by it.

 

Soul laughed, “Calm down, it’s just grown in. It’ll get sharper. For now just focus on your hand going back to normal and get some sleep once it changes back. Stein is probably going to work us to the bone tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah,” Maka agreed with a sigh, “Thanks Soul. I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

Nodding, Soul offered her a hand and she grasped it, the squeeze of her fingers around his a familiar comfort. “Night Maka. Try not to break anything else while I’m asleep.”

 

She sent him from her room with a huff of feigned indignance, and he smiled as he stepped out. However as soon as he closed her door behind him his smile fell. He looked down at his hand and willed it to change, to become a blade, but nothing happened. He didn’t even get so much as a tingle. Clenching his jaw, Soul curled his fingers into a fist and returned to his room, climbing under the covers in the dark. It wasn’t surprising that the weird meds had kicked in around the same time, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed not being able to turn into his weapon form. It was a most uncool feeling.

 

When he finally managed to get to sleep it was light and fitful, and more than once the dread of not being able to protect his partner conjured nightmares that woke him with a start. Eventually he gave up on sleep all together and just stared up at the ceiling, waiting for his alarm to go off and hoping that Maka was at least resting soundly next door.

Chapter Text

 

“Good morning, class,”  Professor Stein rolled into the center of the room, a sadistic smirk on his face, “How have you all been treated by your new conditions?”

 

Soul, already grouchy from how poorly he'd slept, scowled at the professor’s most uncool attitude, but he wasn’t the only one. Most of the class was glaring daggers at him, and the smug bastard just grinned right back.

 

Just then the doors burst open and a form tumbled in that no one recognized. He was short and comically stocky, mostly kind of top heavy, and his skin was all black. The only color on his body was a huge poof of pink hair on his head and his gloriously, almost absurdly long eyelashes of the same shade.

 

He laid flat on his face where he had fallen, completely still. Then a small figure came popping out of his back, this one far more familiar. A little hand reached down to gently pat the wild pink hair. Soul was taken aback as the recognition hit, a little slower due to his tired state.

 

“Holy shit is that Crona?” He hissed to Maka, who just shook her head in disbelief.

 

“Are you okay, Ragnarok?” The tiny Crona asked the black-skinned being he was attached to. The former weapon whipped his head around with a scowl.

 

“I’m fine, pipsqueak!” He snapped, baring his comically large teeth, “I would have been better if you hadn’t made us late to this stupid class!”

 

“Hey, it’s not my fault you don’t know your way around the school!” Crona replied, swatting away Ragnarok’s swinging hands. “I walk us here every day but you never pay attention! And then you wouldn’t even listen to me when I tried to tell you where to go so it isn’t my fault!”

 

“Of course it is, idiot!” Ragnarok snapped back, “If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be in this situation!”

 

“Shut up! Stop yelling at me right now!” Soul could practically see a vein popping in Crona’s forehead as he delivered a smack to Ragnarok’s head hard enough to knock him all the way back to the ground again. That shut him up.

 

“Ah, Ragnarok and Crona. Thank you for joining us. If you two could take your seat please, we can continue the lesson.”

 

With some grumbling and muttered curses the former Demon Sword hauled himself to his feet and slumped up the rows until he could flop down in his chair. He folded his arms across his chest while Crona laid atop his poofy pink hair.

 

“Alright, now that everyone is here,” Stein resumed the discussion, “we’re going to talk more about your new forms. Have any of you managed any amount of transformation yet?”

 

Soul looked over at Maka, who raised her hand slowly. Other hands went up around the room, but Soul’s attention was called from them to a small commotion a couple rows down. Ox and his partner seemed to be engaged in a quiet argument.

 

“C’mon, Ox, raise your hand!” Harvar hissed to his pouting partner. The brainiac shook his head, folding his arms,

 

“No way! It’s embarrassing!”

 

“But you managed a full transformation last night! That’s a big deal!”

 

“Yeah, and you saw what I turned into! No way.”

 

Soul watched as Stein twisted the screw in his head, waiting for a gap in their argument. Once they had fallen quiet the Professor spoke all too innocently, a sickly sweet smile on his face that still made Soul shiver. “Ox, why don’t you and Harvar come up here and give it a try? There’s no shame if you can’t do it, we’re all learning here.”

 

Ox went visibly pale, but no one was brave enough to disobey Stein. Soul stifled a snicker as Ox, notably hesitant, followed Harvar down to stand in front of the class, frustrated and fidgeting next to his much cooler partner. The professor watched them, chin resting in one hand.

 

“Just give it a go,” the professor coaxed, clearly taunting the brainiac a little, “it doesn’t seem in character for ‘The Lightning Emperor’ to not even try.”

 

Ox sighed, still pouting, but Stein’s words seemed to give him resolve out of sheer frustration if nothing else. A silvery blue glow overtook his body and Harvar held out his right hand. In the familiar sight of weapon transformation the light wrapped around Harvar’s fingers before fracturing off, leaving an ornate set of brass knuckles. They were silver in color with triangular plates pointed backwards on either side of Harvar’s hand, clearly a reference to Ox’s signature hairstyle.

 

Stein nodded, wheeling closer to inspect Ox’s new form, “Not bad at all, Ox.” He says thoughtfully after a few moments of study, “Definitely a bit of an unusual weapon form.”

 

“It’s terrible!” Ox whined, voice metallic, “It’s tiny and practically useless! I’m the Lightning Emperor, I should be something big and spectacular and useful!

 

Harvar cast an apologetic look at Stein, who waved him off. “Alright, alright, go head back to your seats so we can keep this moving.” Once they’d sat down again Stein turned to the class. “So, who wants to go next?”

Chapter Text

Soul could tell Maka was getting upset as Kim and Jackie trotted down the stairs. Sure Ox’s weapon form had been a dinky little set of brass knuckles, but he’d still managed a complete transformation in one night and Maka hadn’t. Of all the people to ‘show her up’ he was the worst. He was the closest thing to a rival she had in this school. Her tension was palpable as Kim and Jackie stood in front of the class, so he reached over and put a hand on her arm.

 

“Take it easy,” he murmured, keeping his voice low to try and soothe her, “you didn’t even try to transform last night and your arm went. I bet Ox spent hours until he finally got it, and I bet he pestered Harvar the whole damn time.” He smiled as Maka looked up at him, “Besides, your weapon form is gonna be way cooler than his, no contest.” He gave her arm a gentle squeeze, earning himself a nod in response as her eyes blazed with new determination.

 

“Yeah, you’re right. I’ll get it soon anyway. Thanks, Soul.” She smiled and turned her attention back to the front of the room, “I wonder what Kim is gonna be.”

 

“Who knows. Ox was a surprise so I’ve got no clue what to expect anymore.”

 

“Jacqueline and Kim exchanged a look at the front of the room, then nodded and laced their hands together. Kim took a deep breath, then started to glow bright pink. When the light fractured off Jackie was left holding the biggest greataxe Soul had ever seen. The staff was a full head taller than Jackie and the huge curved blade attached took up nearly a third of that length. It was still fairly dull like Maka’s blade had been, but well formed and a striking shade of bubblegum pink. As Jackie spun her partner around with a good bit of flare Soul saw Ox plant his face on his desk with a small groan of despair. Harvar patted his shaking shoulder in an attempt to console him while Soul nudged Maka, snickering, to point it out to her. All her bitterness melted away as she noticed and stifled laughter behind her hands.

 

“Nicely done, you two,” Stein nodded in approval as Kim returned to her human form. The two high fived and returned to their seats. “Alright, next let’s have Maka and Soul Eater. Step down to the front, please.” Soul stood, gently nudging his partner. As they walked down the steps he murmured “Just visualize it like you did last night but in reverse. You got this.” Maka nodded as they stepped down to the floor. Soul could hear her take grounding breaths as they approached the front.

 

“I got this.” She murmured to herself.

 

She’s overthinking it. He worried to himself, She’s gonna choke and I’m never gonna hear the end of it. 

 

He slouched down as he stood in front of the class, looking over at his partner and quietly dreading the explosion that would soon take place. Maka set her stance and visibly focused, scrunching up her mouth in that cute way she did when she was trying really hard at something. Finally her right forearm started to glow and expanded into a black scythe blade, but otherwise she remained unchanged. Honestly it was a small miracle that she managed to recreate an accidental transformation, but he knew she wouldn’t see it that way.

 

“A very nice partial transformation, Maka,” Stein nodded, “we’ll be practicing transformations a lot so I’m sure you’ll have a full transformation in no time.”

 

Maka nodded calmly, “Thank you, professor.” To a casual observer she seemed like her usual bookworm self, but Soul could read his partner like a book, and she was pissed. 

 

He didn’t say anything as they took their seats again; speaking would just make it worse. Instead he simply prayed that someone else would fail in a fashion spectacular enough to cheer her up.

 

“Alright, that’s enough of the boring kids! Time to put on a real show, ya-hoo!”

 

Black Star. This might be just the cheering up Maka needs… Soul folded his fingers together and rested his chin on them as the wannabe ninja launched down the stairs with his far more sensible partner in tow. “Black Star, wait!” She called after him, “I know we practiced a lot last night but you still haven’t figured out-”

 

“Hurry up, Tsubaki! It’s time we show these fools how a real star masters a transformation!’”

 

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Tsubaki hurried down the last of the stairs before coming to stand next to her partner, hands folded in front of her. “Do you mind if we go next, Professor?”

 

“That’s fine. I’m curious to see what Black Star has in store for us.” Soul could swear he heard some sarcasm in that statement.

 

“Ya-hoo! Prepare to be amazed! Your puny transformations won’t even compare to that of a star like me!” In true Black Star fashion he struck a ‘cool’ pose before his body started to glow, then shrink down. Tsubaki grabbed him out of midair, holding an odd, mostly round shape in her hands. When the light dissipated she was holding… Black Star’s head, with a kunai blade sticking out of one side and a handle sticking out the other. The head in question burst out into smug laughter. “See, my transformation is the best! I’m a kunai and everyone can still see my gorgeous face!” More howling laughter followed as Tsubaki cast an apologetic look Stein’s way.

 

Soul was struggling to contain his own laughter with a hand clapped over his mouth, and when he glanced to the side he saw Maka with both hands over the entire lower half of her bright red face to hide her snickering. Leaning over, Soul whispered, “You know, he isn’t wrong. He’s certainly ahead of the rest of the class.” Maka snorted into her hands, and Soul grinned. Someone who can make their partner laugh after being so upset is very cool indeed.

 

A few more groups went and had mostly partial transformations among them, with one exception. Kid was able to assume a full sickle form once he was talked out of his despair over the lack of symmetry. Afterwards he cried quietly at his desk while Liz patted his back and Patti giggled at his expense. The only team who hadn’t managed any amount of weapon transformation was Crona and Ragnarok, but that wasn’t overly surprising since it seemed like they had probably spent the night before nonstop bickering. They were given a one time pass due to outstanding circumstances but were expected to begin practicing immediately to close the gap and prevent themselves from falling behind.

 

As they were dismissed from class Maka marched proudly into the hallway, a determined look on her face. 

 

“Uh oh,” Soul mused in a teasing tone, “I know that look. What are you planning, Maka?”

 

His partner spun around with a grin on her face and fire in her eyes. “I’m planning to get a full transformation tonight, Soul, and you’re going to help me! And we aren’t stopping until I can completely transform!”

 

With that she turned on her heel and marched towards the next class, leaving Soul to follow her with a small smile and a fond shake of the head.

Chapter Text

“Ugh, dammit!”

 

Maka stomped her foot as only her arm transformed for probably the tenth time. Or was it the eleventh? Soul was honestly losing track. The former weapon sighed from his spot on the couch. “Well you’re doing better than you were before.”

 

“Don’t patronise me, Soul!” Maka huffed, her face all scrunched up. “Tell me what I’m doing wrong so I can get it right!” Huffing a little laugh, Soul hauled himself up off the couch, adjusting his headband so it kept his wild hair out of his face. He had been waiting for her to actually ask for help, knowing that if he offered information she would brush it off until she discovered she needed his input, so now was his time to be a cool partner and help her out.

 

Moving over to stand next to her, he slipped his hands into his pockets. “First thing’s first, walk me through your process. You’re obviously doing something right since you keep getting a blade.”

 

Maka looked down at her hands, pursing her lips as she thought. Cute. 

 

“Well, I try to visualize what my weapon form would look like, but it’s hard because I’ve only ever seen the blade. How am I supposed to visualize something I’ve never seen? So then I try to make my body change but all I get is my arm!” She scowled down at her hands as if they were at fault, face scrunched up in a pout, which made Soul chuckle. Oops. “Don’t laugh at me!” Maka snapped. Her frustration was coming to a peak judging by the shade of red her cheeks were turning, so Soul raised his hands in a calming gesture.

 

“Easy there, I wasn’t. But I think I know at least some of your problem. You’re trying to force it too much. You need to be more relaxed in your approach. Here.” Stepping around behind her, Soul placed his hands on Maka’s shoulders. “Close your eyes.”

 

Maka’s voice was incredulous, “Soul-”

 

“Shut up and just trust me.”

 

Maka huffed, but obliged. Once her eyes were shut he pressed down gently on her shoulders. They were halfway up to her ears from tension and that needed to change. “Relax your shoulders. Take even, slow breaths. Your body is all tense and that’s making it tougher on you than it needs to be.”

 

It took a few minutes, but Maka’s body gradually relaxed and her shoulders unwound until they sagged in a far more natural way. As they stood in silence Soul started to notice something in the back of his mind, sort of tickling his brain. It was almost like a quiet humming in the back of his skull. He gently honed in his focus on it and was able to note the source of the sensation. It was coming from Maka. What the Hell?

 

When he opened his eyes it was like the brightness had been turned down on the world around him; everything was out of focus and dim, save one spot. Within the silhouette of Maka’s body was a bright, glowing orb that sat roughly in the center of her chest. It flickered in place, all the while exuding a frustrated, nervous energy. Maka’s soul. He was seeing Maka’s soul. Not only was he seeing it, but he could sense it more strongly than he could even when they were resonating in their normal forms. In his shock he blinked himself out of the pseudo-trance he had stumbled into and the world snapped back into full color and focus. He shook himself a little, then cleared his throat, hoping Maka hadn't noticed anything.

 

“You’re doing good. Try to keep your mind clear. Meditation like this is a good way to find your weapon form.”

 

“Find?”

 

“Honestly a better way of putting it is to let it find you. You don’t decide your own weapon form, of course, but if you want to be able to change into it you’ve gotta be able to visualize it. But you can’t visualize it if you’ve never fully changed.”

 

“I know that, Soul,” she grumbled, “that’s why I’m having this problem.”

 

“Shush, I know you know,” he countered, “I’m getting to the point, don’t worry. Since you can’t change into something you’ve never seen, you have to find your weapon form or, more accurately, let your weapon form present itself to you. That’s where the meditation comes in handy. If you can clear your mind of any other thoughts but your weapon form it’ll start to take shape in your mind’s eye. The toughest part here is accepting what comes to you, not trying to change it to something you like better. You are what you are, you just gotta let it be.”

 

Maka turned and looked at him over her shoulder. “Wow. Didn’t expect to have to be so… zen when becoming a literal weapon.” Soul laughed at that.

 

“Yeah, being zen has got to be impossible for an uptight nerd like you.” Soul smirked as she turned around and poked him in the chest, a playful glint in her eye.

 

“As tough for me as having extended conversations is for you! I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk so much!” She was smirking, so he puffed out his chest a little against her pokes.

 

“That’s 'cause you’re usually the one running your mouth.”

 

Maka gasped in false offense, “Are you saying I talk too much!”

 

“I’m not saying you talk too little.” Soul retorted. The two stood in silence for a few moments before bursting into laughter, Maka’s being far more raucous of course. Once he and Maka had gotten the giggles out of their systems the former meister shook her arms and turned around again. Soul smiled as her determined nature returned, thinking a good laugh had been just what she needed to clear away the tension built up in her head.

 

“Alright, let’s do this!” He huffed excitedly, and Soul rested his hands on her shoulders again with a chuckle.

 

“Show me whatcha got, bookworm.”

 

After a few moments of calm quiet, a bright glow overtook the room.

Chapter Text

“I did it! I actually freaking did it! I transformed! Soul I did it!”

 

Maka’s delighted voice rang metallically through the living room as Soul stood holding her new, fully assumed weapon form. The whole thing was pleasantly simple, all sleek black with minimal extraneous detail. The only bits of decoration he could see were a small piece at the foot of the staff that resembled an outstretched wing and a piece of raised metal on either side where the staff and the scythe blade met, these shaped like a folded wing to cover the junction. It was cool. Really cool. A smile crossed Soul’s face as he tested the weight and balance in his hands.

 

“Hell yeah you did. Mind if I swing you around a little?”

 

“You better not drop me, Soul, and don’t break anything either!” He could tell by her tone that she was far more excited than she was actually concerned, but cool guys don’t drop their partners anyway.

 

“Relax,” he assured her, adjusting his grip, “I’m not gonna do anything crazy; I just want to get a feel for it.” Maka was quiet as he swung her around and made test slashes at the air, but he could feel her excitement humming through the metal in his hands. It was a damn good feeling, if he was being honest. “I can see why you like this so much,” he mused as he made a downward slash and narrowly avoided piercing the floor, “I definitely feel like I’m ready to try and kill some stuff now.” Maka laughed as he kept swinging her around and narrowly missing stuff. 

 

“It would certainly be a fun way to die, killed by a kishin because you got cocky.” She teased, causing Soul to chuckle as he stood her up so he could inspect her blade. It seemed sharper than it was before. 

 

“Feels like you’re getting sharper here, Maka,” he noted, drawing his fingertip perpendicular across the blade. It would still have trouble cutting and slashing, but the point of the blade looked like it might have some puncturing power.

 

“C’mon, Soul, we already know I’m the sharpest in the class.” Soul barked out a laugh, pleasantly surprised by the joke, and grinned at Maka’s image as it appeared in the flat of the blade.

 

“Maka the jokemaster, I like it.” He mused, “Seems your mood has improved a little.”

 

“How could it not? I mean look at me! Ox is gonna rip out what little hair he has left when he sees this.”

 

_______


Walking up the steps to the DWMA the next morning was quite interesting to say the least; more interesting than Soul had been expecting, anyway. As he and Maka reached the top of the massive stone staircase they were greeted with quite a rambunctious scene.

 

“If you’re so great then fight me, pussy boy!”

 

Soul and Maka both stopped in their tracks to assess the situation. Ox and Harvar were a few paces away from a smallish gremlin of a girl and a taller guy with a trendy haircut, all standing roughly in the middle of the main courtyard. The girl looked ready to throw the Hell down and the guy was standing calmly next to his partner. Soul had a small idea as to who had instigated this whole thing. 

 

Ox was growing visibly frustrated. “Listen, kid, I’m not gonna fight you!”

 

“Who you callin’ a kid!” To be fair to Ox, her age was shockingly hard to judge from looks.

 

“Wh… you? We’re all kids, kinda?” A brief pause, then she pointed her finger at him,

 

“That’s beside the point! Fight me, pussy boy! You EAT kids ain’t shit now that you got all flip-flopped!”

 

“I think they’re scared, Juny,” Her partner chimed in with a mostly deadpan expression and a vaguely Slavic accent.

 

“Yeah, I think they are!” She quipped back. Ox was practically blowing smoke from his ears at this point.

 

“Even if I wanted to fight you, which I don’t-”

 

“'Cause you’re scared.”

 

Ox looked ready to strangle this girl. To Soul it was honestly hilarious… until he looked over at Maka to share his amusement and saw her also ready to blow a gasket. Uh oh.

 

“Even if I wanted to,”  Ox continued in a loud, tense voice, “There isn’t a faculty member here to oversee the fight, so I couldn’t.”

 

“Blah blah blah excuses, excuses. You’re just scared you’d get your uppity EAT ass kicked by us NOT losers.”

 

It was about that moment Maka reached her limit. Clenching her fists, she strode over towards them and came to stand between Ox and this Juny girl. Soul followed behind at his own pace. Oh boy.

 

“Alright, just who the Hell do you think you are, accosting and harassing another student? He gave you an answer! He said no, so piss off!”

 

As Soul finally got close enough he saw the girl’s eyes flash gleefully as they locked onto a new target.

 

“Who am I? An EAT student deigns to speak to me unprompted? Alright, I’ll tell you who I am.” The shorter girl squared her shoulders and took a step closer to Maka so they were nearly chest to chest, “I’m Juny Bejownes, bitch, and welcome to Jackass.” Scrunching up her nose, the tiny girl spat a thick glob of phlegm right onto the toe of one of Maka’s shoes. Oh shit.

 

Soul swore he could see a vein popping in Maka’s forehead as she grabbed Juny by the lapels of her jacket and the front of her shirt, lifting her clear off the ground. Even as Maka’s face drew close not a shred of fear crossed this girl’s eyes.

 

“You’re gonna regret that, small fry.” Maka growled through gritted teeth. Soul exchanged an inquisitive look with the girl’s partner, who just smirked and shrugged vaguely.

 

“I may be small,” Juny grinned, her eyes glinting with mirth, “but at least I’m not your boobs.”

 

Holy. Fuck.

 

The small crowd that had gathered by this point erupted, blown away by the fact that this tiny gremlin had dared to insult the infamous loose cannon Maka Albarn to her face. Even Soul felt his jaw drop at the nerve of this chick. As Maka brought an arm back to give this girl a shockingly well earned punch to the teeth, a familiar voice rang out over the courtyard.

“Hold it!”

 

The crowd parted like the Red Sea as Professor Stein rolled through, coming to a stop only a pace or two away from where Maka was still holding Juny up off the ground. He surveyed the situation for a moment before speaking again.

 

“Maka, put her down.”

 

Maka was still scarlet in the face and shaking with poorly contained rage, “Wh-! Professor-!”

 

“I know. Put her down.” His voice was uncomfortably calm. With noticeable reluctance Maka put Juny down on her feet and released her. “Good, now take a step back. Both of you.”

 

Smirking with the utmost of smugness, Juny raised her hands up by her shoulders and took a step back to stand next to her partner. Still fuming, Maka stepped back as well, and Soul pointedly resisted the urge to try to calm her down. Stein lit a cigarette.

 

“Alright,” he exhaled a cloud of smoke “If you’re going to do this you’re going to do it properly. Ready your weapons, I’ll be supervising this fight.”

Chapter Text

Maka was chomping at the bit as students cleared ample space for a fight. Grabbing her arm, Soul pulled her aside and ducked his head so only she could hear him.

 

“Maka, you know this is a bad idea, right? We don’t know how to fight the way we are now.”

 

“So?” Maka growled, “She’s from the NOT class, she can’t be that good.”

 

“Maka, we might as well be from the NOT class!” He was trying so hard to reason with her, but he was all too aware that it was most likely a lost cause, “Just because I’m a scythe doesn’t mean I know how to use one!”

Her green eyes flashed and she yanked her arm out of his grasp, “Fine! Then I’ll fight by myself!”

 

Goddammit. “Maka, no! That’s an even worse idea!” He was starting to get a headache now, and a frustrated sigh passed through his clenched teeth as he tried to think of a way out of this. “Fine. Fine! If you can fully transform then we’ll fight, but if you can’t do it then we walk away, deal?” That had to be enough to stop her, right? She had only transformed fully the night before, and only once at that. With how riled up she was her mind would be way too jumbled to manage a transformation, right?

 

As soon as a glow started up next to him, Soul remembered who he had just made a deal with. This was Maka Albarn; he should know better than to underestimate her by now. Another sigh left his lungs as the weight of Maka’s weapon form settled into his hands. This was so classic Maka, it was almost funny. He really didn’t want to fight, but a deal was a deal, and he settled into a stance more fit for combat.

 

“You finally ready, nerds?” Juny’s voice rang out from a few paces away. Her weapon stood next to her, a vaguely smug look on his face. Soul scowled, adjusting his grip on Maka.

 

“Whenever you are, human trash pile.”

 

The girl turned red from anger and held out one hand, “Let’s go, Yuri! It’s ass-kicking time!”

 

“Got it.” Moments later Juny was holding a broadsword nearly as long as her body, the snow-white blade about as wide as her head. She swung it around a bit, generally trying to look intimidating, but Soul decided it would be better to not waste his energy like that. He had a sneaking suspicion he would need every ounce of it against this natural disaster given flesh.

 

“Alright, pipsqueak,” Soul rumbled, “show me whatcha got.”

 

As it turned out, Juny Bejowns was shockingly ruthless. Much like Maka, she was able to swing around a large weapon with ease, and metal sang as Soul blocked her first swing with Maka’s blade. The force of it sent shockwaves up his arms and he slid a foot back to keep his balance while the other weapon slid off the curve of Maka’s scythe blade. Juny’s weapon smacked against the cobblestones with a clang that lingered in Soul’s ears as she swung again, this time from his left. He barely managed to deflect her with Maka’s staff, the quick move knocking him off balance. Not good!

 

Thinking fast, he thrust the staff back to catch the foot of it against a cobblestone and pushed hard. A yell that was half shock and half celebration left his throat as he regained his balance and rocked forward with the momentum. When his left foot returned to the ground again he pushed forward, shoving the curved top of Maka’s blade at Juny. She blocked it from hitting her, but her weapon was trapped between her own body and the base of Maka’s blade. Shoving hard, he managed to knock her back a step, then swung with the end of her staff. It caught Juny dead on the shoulder and knocked her sprawling over the ground.

 

“Nice job, Soul!” Maka’s voice cheered him on from the curved blade near his head. The teen smiled through his heavy breathing, gripping her staff tightly as his elbows recovered from deflecting Juny’s first big strike. God, he was shaking. How long had he been shaking? He’d never felt adrenaline like this before, not while he was in his human form, exposed. It was exhilarating; he couldn't help the smile even knowing that he was in a shitty situation. Juny might have been a tiny gremlin, but she was an impressively strong tiny gremlin and he had to respect that. If she landed a good hit he would be in trouble.

 

“Soul?” Maka’s voice chimed out again, “You okay, what’s wrong with you? We’re in a fight!”

 

“I’m fine.” Soul replied, the adrenaline pulling a grin to his face as he spun Maka so her pointy side faced the opponent. I’m gonna have to be until I can make this chick stay down. 

 

By now Juny was on her feet again, her hair somehow even wilder and more in her face than before. There was a scrape on her cheek from her fall and boy did she look pissed about it. “Oh we’re doing that, huh? Okay big shot, no more holding back. Yuri, let’s go: Soul Resonance!”

 

As she gripped her weapon’s hilt a shockwave hit Soul like a kick in the chest and sent him stumbling back to keep his balance. He recognized the sensation like he recognized his own breathing, but why could he feel it ringing all through his skull? He shook his head to try and clear it, but it didn’t help. It felt like his ears needed to pop but wouldn’t; not good. They had to finish this fast. He could barely fight without this incredibly distracting sensation throbbing in his head.

 

“God, this is so uncool…” he grumbled, standing his ground to wait for Juny to make a move. She was so riled up she was bound to make a move sooner rather than later.

 

Sure enough the tiny gremlin let out a massive battle shout and charged, blade held low to swing up at him. It was super obvious, but he wasn’t going to take any chances, bracing with all his might as she swung towards his head. Maka’s staff dug into the ground and his hands set wide so they wouldn’t be in places that were likely to get cut. Resonance or no he had good stance to take the hit, right?

 

BANG

 

Their weapons collided with a sound like a gunshot, and Soul was airborne. He landed with a hard oof as the wind was knocked from him, arms numb from the sheer force of the blow he’d taken head on. Head spinning in a panic, he looked around for Maka and found her laying a few feet away, still in weapon form. Scrambling, he managed to grab her with clumsy, numb fingers. “Maka! Are you okay? Say something!”

 

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Maka groaned, “That girl’s a monster though, holy cow.”

 

“Maybe you shouldn’t have picked a fight with her then.” He chided once he felt an emotion other than fear for his partner.

 

“Shut up.”

 

“We still fighting, pussyfarts?”

 

Soul scowled at Juny where she was standing a few yards away, smug that she’d gotten in a good shot. Despite only being able to partially feel his arms he stood, holding Maka low with limp arms to let his muscles recover. “Only if that wasn’t your best shot, SNOT class.

 

Okay, that sounded way cooler in his head. Snot? So lame. Seemed to do the trick pissing her off though.

 

Juny went bright red in the face, and a new wave of pressure hit Soul as their resonance rate rose. Soul took deep breaths, trying to regain his composure. He only needed one god hit. If he could land one good hit before she did he might be okay.

 

“What, did I make you mad?” He taunted, “Come teach me a lesson, then!” It felt pretty uncool using such underhanded tactics to throw of his opponent’s focus but hey, he couldn’t really afford to lose this fight. “Come on, see if I let you get a good hit in! Maybe I’ll even give you a free shot so you have a fighting chance.”

 

The pressure of their resonance was starting to hurt Soul’s chest, but he could see Juny losing what little grip she had on rational thought as she raised her weapon and started charging towards him. Where was she swinging? His legs? His head? Almost anywhere could have been her target, as she was holding the sword straight out beside her. As she drew close she leaped into the air, easily clearing Soul’s height with her sword raised back to bring it down on his head like an axe. Dodge! His brain screamed, but the soul pressure made it impossible to move fast enough for that. Shit shit shit shit!

 

Mind blank with panic, Soul’s body moved to defend itself. Bracing his legs, he gripped Maka’s staff with all his might and swung her like he was going for a home run, putting everything he had into meeting Juny’s strike.

 

It sounded like a bomb went off. Soul couldn’t really remember anything between that and waking up with pain throbbing through his whole body. At least his head was laying on something soft. He should probably see what it is.

 

Everything was foggy when he first opened his eyes, but soon they cleared up and he could see that the figure looming over him was Maka. He could feel the ground under his body, so his head must have been in her lap. Nice.

 

Maka’s face went bright red. Shit, he said that out loud, didn’t he? Heat rose to his own cheeks as she looked away. “Juny’s down, too.” She murmured.

 

“Wait, what?” His head spun as he sat up, but he had to see for himself. Sure enough, the little gremlin chick was laid out in a small crater across the courtyard, her partner crouched next to her and nudging her head. Soul heard her groan, so she was at least somewhat okay. He rubbed his own aching head and looked around to find himself in his own little dent of cracked cobblestones.

 

Stein rolled into the middle of the space, looking back and forth between the felled students and their partners before exhaling a cloud of smoke, “Yeah, I think it’s fair to call this a tie.”

Chapter Text

Shortly after the fight was over the students dispersed and Soul and Juny were accompanied to the infirmary by their partners. Once his ears stopped ringing Soul was able to walk there holding Maka’s arm, but Juny wasn’t fortunate enough to be so coherent. She was carried by her weapon, slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. By the time she came to, Naigus was almost done looking over and treating Soul’s injuries, a nasty bump on the head being the only thing worth worrying about since the rest were just scrapes and developing bruises. He and Maka looked over as Juny groaned and grumbled from the infirmary bed Soul wasn’t occupying.

 

Her partner, who had introduced himself by the name Yuri Yuri upon entering the infirmary, patted her hand. “Slowly, medveshonok, ” he said softly, voice rumbling through an accent Soul decided was most likely Russian, “you were hit very hard. No sitting up yet.”

 

Juny groaned again, trying to sit up until Yuri forced her back down with a hand on her shoulder. Once she gave up trying to move she turned her head to look at her partner, groggy.

 

“...Yuri?”

 

“Yes, medveshonok?

 

“Did we… did we win?”

 

Soul stifled laughter, a hand over his mouth as he exchanged a look with an equally bewildered but less amused Maka. When he looked back at the other pair Yuri was staring blankly into space, bracing himself. Soul knew that look well.

 

Finally Yuri looked down at her again, “Sure, sure.” Soul could see the exhaustion on the poor weapon’s face. Poor guy looked like he just wanted a nap.

 

Juny was silent for several long moments, then deadpanned, “You’re lying to me.” She started trying to get up again and had to be forcefully restrained by her partner once more. Soul snorted despite the headache thumping in his skull.

 

“Just rest, you psycho. Winning isn’t everything. You proved you’re tough, now chill.” He said it through light laughter, which earned him a glare from Juny, but she didn’t try to get up again. Maka scowled back in seething silence, and Soul put a hand on her shoulder to draw her attention away. He smiled at her, but the smile she returned didn’t reach her eyes.

 

_______



Soul sighed in discomfort as he finally walked out of the infirmary, holding an ice pack to the substantial welt on the back of his head. “God, what is with that girl?” He half chuckled, honestly more amused than angry. Now that it was over, the whole situation was pretty funny. He knew he would be sore later, and that was definitely uncool, but it wasn’t the first time he knew he would be sore after a fight and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last.

 

Maka scowled from next to him as they walked to class. “She’s crazy. I hate her.”

 

Soul cast his eyes sideways at his partner, wary of her tone. She was practically vibrating as she reached her limit containing her agitation. Her fists opened and closed by her sides. “She could have hurt you really badly! What right did she have to harass people like that in the first place!”

 

“What right did you have to pick a fight with her?” Soul countered. Maybe it was the headache, but her words irked him. “Yeah the whole situation was garbage to begin with, she shouldn’t have been bugging Ox like that, but you shouldn’t have stuck your nose in and picked a fight with her.”

 

Maka stopped, and Soul stopped a few steps beyond her, turning to look at her and finding her shoulders up to her rage-red cheeks.

 

“Someone had to stop her!” She snapped, her shrill voice vibrating painfully in his ears. Oh boy. Lifting his free hand, Soul tried to appease her enough that she didn’t start yelling and disturb nearby classes. After the way the fight had gone Soul didn’t want any more attention.

 

“Listen, I agree that she shouldn’t have acted that way,” he soothed, but his patience was worn thin by the situation, “but it isn’t your job to stop her. We’re lucky we didn’t get in trouble ourselves.” He could see Maka was fuming, but he couldn’t really be bothered to care anymore. He didn’t want to lose his cool, but he had been insulted, smacked around and could have been hurt pretty badly because Maka, as usual, hadn’t listened to him trying to talk her down. “You know you went too far this time,” he continued before she got the chance to snap back again, “yeah, she could have hurt me really badly, but I wouldn’t have gotten hurt at all if you hadn’t picked a fight with her! Not only that, but you overestimated both yourself and my ability to fight! I guess it feels easy to get confrontational when you’ve got a tough metal weapon form to hide inside of, huh? I’m used to you not listening when I try to talk you down but this time you went too far and you know it. I know you know it. She might be crazy, but your actions were straight up arrogant.”

 

Several moments followed where all Soul could hear were his own heartbeat and breathing, and he watched the gears turn in Maka’s head. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, upper lip twitching. Honestly, once his mind cleared enough to fully comprehend what he’d done he got kind of nervous, not for his own safety of course but about how Maka would react. He didn’t want to get into a screaming match with his partner, even if he felt justified in his anger. Why wouldn’t he be pissed? He wouldn’t have wanted to bother with the fight even if he could have taken on his weapon form. Maka had straight up put his body on the line just to defend her own pride, and that was the definition of uncool.

 

When she finally moved Soul felt his shoulders tense, preparing for a tantrum, but she just walked past him. “We’re late to class,” she murmured, “we should go.”

 

As they walked, more space between their shoulders now, Soul’s headache grew steadily worse and a twisting, semi-sick feeling settled in his guts. He assumed it was from his injuries and the shitty feelings that always followed a confrontation, so he decided not to dwell on it too much and just try to make it through the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

By the time they got back home Soul felt like he was going to be sick. His head was swimming and his stomach, while technically not any worse, had still been giving him trouble through the remaining hours of the school day. Whatever the most extreme opposite of cool was, that was what Soul felt. On top of feeling like he was coming down with the flu, Maka hadn’t spoken a single word to him that wasn’t a bare bones necessary response to a question he asked her specifically.

 

He didn’t so much walk into their apartment as he slumped into it, miserable. Hearing the door, Blaire rounded the corner with her usual chipper smile and bounced over in a short dress that her boobs almost fell out of with every step. “Welcome home, you two!” She chirped, pulling Soul into a hug that squished his head into her cleavage. Honestly it was sort of welcome; they were like warm pillows. Far too out of it to even have his usual nosebleed reaction to Blaire’s fantastic breasts, Soul just closed his eyes and leaned into the first comfortable surface he’d felt in hours.

 

An inquisitive noise sounded from above his head, and when Blaire spoke again her voice was soft and genuine, “Soul? What’s wrong?” He just grumbled, so Blaire turned the question onto Maka.

 

“We got into a fight with another student,” Maka replied, her voice tense and short, “He got roughed up in the process, so he’s probably just tired.”

 

Blaire made an unconvinced noise, one of her bare feet tapping on the floor. “I don’t know if that’s really all of it, Maka.” She replied, her voice growing a bit louder as Maka presumably walked into another room. When Maka didn’t reply, Blaire very gently peeled Soul’s head from her chest and made sure he was conscious enough to stay upright. Then she placed a hand gently atop his head in a comforting gesture before trotting off to follow Maka. Sighing, Soul forced his heavy legs to carry him towards the kitchen, where the two ladies in his life were starting to get heated despite Blaire's initial civility.

 

“Butt out, Blaire!” Maka snapped, slamming a cabinet closed after she pulled a mug down from it. Soul jumped, stifling a wince at the loud, sudden noise. “I told you, Soul will be fine, he just needs to rest! Nobody asked you to be here in the first place so screw off!”

 

Folding her arms, Blaire stood her ground, “And I’m telling you that’s not the whole story,” she replied sternly, but mostly calm as she ignored Maka’s little jab, “Your energies are off. Something’s not right. What else happened today?”

 

Soul was leaned up in the kitchen doorway at this point. His eyes had drifted to the floor as he lost the mental energy to to watch the two bicker as well as listen to it. Honestly he wanted to just go lay down, but he knew that if he wasn’t present to break things up there might end up being an all-out brawl in the kitchen.

 

“Our energies are ‘ off’ because we switched!” Maka snapped. Blaire knew about the lame ‘project’ Professor Stein was subjecting them to, and Soul was glad he didn’t have to explain it now. The magic cat huffed.

 

“No, that’s not it! This is a different sensation, can’t you feel it!” Blaire stomped a foot, sending frustrated purple sparks across the tiles, “You’re supposed to be good at sensing soul connections, aren’t you? How can you say that you don’t sense something’s off!”

 

Soul didn’t really hear much after that. His head was pounding; it felt like a balloon was inflating inside his skull, and what had been a pain in his stomach was now an uncomfortable tightness in his chest. He tried to take slow, steady breaths, but they came weak and shaky despite his best efforts.

 

Maka and Blaire’s voices hit him distantly, calling out to him, but he didn’t have the mental capacity to respond. He closed his eyes for a moment as the room started spinning. When he opened them again he briefly caught sight of the tile pattern before his face hit the kitchen floor and two voices reached his ears.

 

“Soul!”

 

Fuck , that hurt. His entire existence was throbbing as Maka and Blaire rolled him onto his back and propped his head up. Someone was wiping at his face while Blaire spoke again, actually angry now.

 

“See, I told you something was wrong! Your soul wavelengths are all out of wack, even I can sense it! How can you not feel it!” The hands at his face stopped. Maka didn’t reply, so Blaire kept going, “Are you going to tell me you haven’t felt anything wrong while your partner is obviously in discomfort? What happened today? Tell me everything.

 

Soul distantly heard Maka talking about the fight they’d been in, Soul’s injuries, and then their argument after the fact. Soul had been fading in and out during the story, but towards the end he managed to tune back in pretty thoroughly.

 

“I’ve been feeling a little sick since the fight, and I’ve had a headache since our argument, but I thought it was just because I was heated and upset. I didn’t think it would affect our wavelengths that much...” Hands started to mess with his face, namely his very sore, throbbing nose, and he opened his eyes. Maka was sitting over him on his side, her face as white as a sheet and eyes wide. He could see the regret there; the shock and horror at the results of her actions.

 

Soul wanted to say something, but a slightly frantic Maka cut him off. “Soul, oh my God Soul I’m so sorry. You were right. You were right the whole time and I was so pissed that you called me out on being arrogant and stubborn because you were right. ” Soul didn’t catch everything she said, but he caught the gist and nodded along.

 

“It’s… it’s okay, Maka,” he rasped, coughing around some phlegm and blood that had dripped down into his throat. “I know you’re a hard head. I lost my cool a little too, cuz I felt shitty.” Raising a hand, he wrapped his fingers gently around her wrist and gave it a squeeze. “Let’s talk about it later, okay? I think we both need some rest.” He knew he sure as Hell did; he was still pretty far out of it, but he could feel things settling down in his mind and by extent his chest and stomach. Maka nodded, taking his hand in her own bloody fingers.

 

“Yeah…” her voice was thick; he could tell she was close to tears, “yeah, okay. You’re right. Again.” She chuckled a little, and Soul managed to crack a smile, squeezing fingers slick with his own blood. “Let’s get you to bed.”

 

“Please,” Soul groaned, “I’ve been craving my bed since I woke up.”

 

Maka laughed again, this time seeming a little more like her usual self, and with some help from Blaire they got Soul up on his feet and helped him stumble to his bedroom, Soul pinching his nose so they didn’t track blood from his probably-broken nose everywhere. Once he was laid in bed, head propped up on pillows with a cool, damp cloth pinched over his nose with a clothespin, Blaire left  to go tidy up and Maka sat on the bed next to him. He could tell by her posture that the guilt was eating her up, and reached out to take her hand. She accepted it without hesitation, squeezing his rougher fingers. They were silent for a while before she spoke.

 

“The professor said this project would be difficult,” Maka murmured, “I didn’t know it would test us this way.”

 

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” Soul agreed, voice slightly nasal from having his nose pinched, “though I think I picked up some of your crazy soul-sensing stuff on like… mega sensitivity. While you were trying to change into your weapon form I saw your soul for a second. It was freaky.”

 

Maka looked at him, surprised, but she didn’t seem to dwell on it long, “That kind of makes sense. I guess mine got weaker. I never even stopped to think about it. Didn’t notice.” She squeezed his hand a little harder, “I’m sorry about this. I should have listened to you about the fight… and I should have been paying more attention. I was being a bad partner.”

 

“Nah, you weren’t,” Soul reassured her, “ we’re both learning. You can’t really be bad at things you don’t have experience with, you can only be learning.”

 

Maka smiled, her eyes a little misty. “Yeah… thanks Soul. Rest up, okay? Who knows what other NOT crazies might try to come after us.”

 

Soul chuckled as she stood up and made her way to the door, a fond smile on his face. “Yeah, you rest up, too, stupid.”

 

Just before she closed the door, Maka turned and looked back at him. “Hey Soul… are we cool?”

 

Soul watched her for a moment. He could see the regret in her eyes; so much so it honestly hurt him a little. “Yeah,” he murmured with a softer smile, “ of course we’re cool, Maka. Now go get some sleep.”

 

Once the door closed, leaving him in darkness, Soul laid back with the image of Maka’s last little smile in his mind’s eye.