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 Their Little Monster

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Ace
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PostSubject: Their Little Monster   December 26th 2017, 6:54 am

Ace sat quietly in the courtyard, looking carefully at the intricate pattern of the rock garden, studying it, as though searching for some unheard meaning in its design. He took steady sips from his tea, and stole small bites from the danish prepared by Zealot, like a child trying to make the treat last forever. This quiet peace was something Ace seldom got to cherish, and the only thing that could make it better was the company of Rin and Zealot. However, the former was busy, and the latter on an errand, so today's tea would have to be enjoyed alone. Even so, it was one of the only distractions from his own personal vendetta that the man could afford. That, and scarce meetings with Mabel.

"Hey, you. With the hedge trimmers." Calm or not, there was always a clear growl in Ace's voice, and it terrified the help of the estate. "You also made the rock garden, right?" The servant gave a timid nod in reply. "Take the holiday off. Come in after New Years." His unusual generosity was not to be taken for granted, and the servant was well aware. What could bring about such an anomaly was anyone's guess, but the girl didn't dare question the turn of fate. She immediately put her tools away, and saw herself out of the estate, offering what thanks she felt she could give without changing Ace's mind.

This good mood, however, paled in comparison to the delightful experience soon to follow. Unbeknownst to the heir of the estate, today was one of his routine welfare checkups, which were part of the Academy's plan to keep tabs on his Madness.
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 26th 2017, 9:18 am

Several blocks away, the pair assigned to his particular case were still on their way to the refurbished, revitalised, really, estate. Not much had changed them over the years, merely added length to their legs and strides and expanded upon their builds. Both weapon and meister alike appeared more mature, with Maka more shapely, though still thin, and Soul having more girth to his shoulders. Years of continued work for the Academy and its affiliates had kept them in excellent shape and heightened their general combat performance. Today's schedule was full of far less physically demanding things, however, instead demanding more presence than action. As Ace's unofficial keepers, Maka and Soul had to do periodic, random check-ups with the man to make sure his madness hadn't run utterly rampant. For a long time, it had been a matter of debate whether anyone needed to be specifically assigned to him, but with the events that took place several years ago, now, that had led to the appearance of his pseudo-kishin form, all bets had gone off.

Maka's lips twitched upwards as she took in the sight of the estate from afar. Since Ace's cousin had arrived, it had been no secret that she'd been doing literally anything and everything in her power to set the Death City branch of her family right. As far as appearances went, she'd done a fantastic job, so far. Approaching the gate, she pushed it out of the way and held it as Soul trailed in behind her, looking calmly impressed despite his typically bored expression. She looked around for a moment, debating between the house and the yard until she spotted his unstable, though currently calmed, soul not far off. Without a word, she lead her weapon further, bringing him along with her while she worked her way around the mansion until the Hunter's Axe was in sight.

"It's been a while, Master Ace." She said, a sort of playful tone to her voice as she uttered the title, finding it fitting in light of the wonderful changes the property had undergone. He looked like a proper estate head, now, with his own appearance possessing an update that very much matched the location in question. Really, the biggest thing that needed changed, to the eyes of most people, was his attitude. Maka knew well that his soul instability was the root of many a problem, however.

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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 26th 2017, 11:04 pm

Maka. The man being addressed looked up abruptly, and dropped his tea to the small ornate dish on the table with a clank. He'd noticed the Meister's presence well before she'd announced it. The peaceful pull of her soul was a warmth so similar to a parental bond, yet so different to anything he'd ever felt at the same time. Oh how Ace had regretted not having Maka as his partner during his time at the academy. How he yearned for her to wield him, to use him to carve a path to their own victory. How many hardships he may have been able to forgo simply because of her. At the same time, he was grateful. Nearly every one of Ace's Meisters had met an untimely end at the Academy, and even more at the Institute, if only in quantity, and not percentage. Soul, was not cursed with the same bad luck as Ace, and as such, Maka was very well alive. Which meant she was here now. Oh wait, shit, she's here now.

Ace realized he'd merely sat there, staring forward for quite a while, likely earning a chiming 'Helllllooooooo' from Maka. He sat up abruptly and turned around to greet the two, giving a mild bow. "Maka, Soul. I-I didn't know we had a visit scheduled for today. And... how did you know I'd be here? I've been with the Institute for pretty much the entire year. Also... how are you two? Please, sit down." While calm, the Axe was almost frantic, as though he were trying to make the most out of this moment before it was gone. The usual growl in his voice, however, had disappeared for the time being, coming off as much more formal than Ace typically sounded. This formality was overshadowed by the hand Ace raised past Maka's shoulder, expecting a high five from Soul. The servants had never seen their Master's guard lowered in such a way.
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 27th 2017, 8:10 am

Soul high-fived the hand that was offered without hesitation, smiling crooked with his shark-like teeth. As always, he seemed at perfect ease with the world, walking around the concerned Maka to take a seat at the outdoor table. Maka, meanwhile, had noticed his hesitation in reacting and was curious as to the cause, her brows knitted but her smile wide and friendly nonetheless. Being polite, she returned the bow before taking a seat for herself, smiling as she looked around. She didn't ask him about the hesitation, the way he'd spaced out before ever looking at them, assuming they'd simply caught him off guard. At any rate, his soul was giving any signs of deception.

Admiring the place for a stolen moment longer, she addressed him once more, smiling even wider now, "I see there have been some changes around the estate." She said, the words obvious but digging deeper for an explanation, in his own words, as to how it'd happened.

Soul seemed content to observe the outdoors, not understanding the point of the rock and zen gardens but not having enough interest to question them.

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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 27th 2017, 8:03 pm

"There have." Ace took a seat and waved at a servant to deliver some tea to his guests. "My cousin, Rin, from the Washington branch, arrived at the beginning of the year to help return the estate to its former glory. So far, it's been going very well. But you didn't answer any of my questions." He proposed. Maka and Soul always did seem to be a bit reserved during their visits, almost as though they were choosing their words carefully, so not to startle the suspicious soul entrusted to them. Of course, Ace wasn't fond of others being secretive with him, but he was thoroughly convinced that the two had his best interest in mind, always. "And... to answer your question before you ask it, no I haven't found a stable partner yet. The issues are the same as they've always been. The school doesn't have people like you and Black Star anymore." Ace looked away towards the cherry blossom tree in the courtyard and rested a chin on his hand.
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 28th 2017, 7:58 am

She beamed at him happily, glad to have the development of his cousin's presence revealed and even happier to find that she'd been working to help piece Ace's life together. There was no simple or easy solution to any of the problems in the Toromaki's life, but not being alone was certainly a stupendous start. "We've been fine," Maka answered for the both of them, as Soul was still distracting himself by looking around. She assumed, probably correctly, that he'd take the first easy opportunity to lightly explore. "To finish answering you: you know that none of our visits are ever scheduled. Not really, anyway. Lord Death decides that we've not been around in a while and sends us on our way. That should... almost explain why we knew you were here." Her tone took on a slightly sheepish nature, as she didn't particularly enjoy the thought of invading his privacy just to... well, invade his privacy, actually.

"Eibon let him know when your... what'd he call it, Maka? Left?" His brow furrowed as Soul tried to remember what would he was trying to pull forward for his chime-in. "Leave? I guess. Sounds right. Or something." He shrugged, looking at Ace dead-on with a lazy, droopy-eyed grin. "He let Shinigami-sama know when your break paperwork was filed. It said you were staying in town, so..." The Death Scythe pulled his hand from his pocket to wave at the manor itself, "here we are."

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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 28th 2017, 10:56 pm

"I'm assuming then," Ace continued his questioning, hoping that Maka and Soul could help him see the missing piece of the puzzle. "that you're aware of the second school beneath the DWMA. The one that harbors and trains Witches for some kind of army for Eibon?" Before the others had a chance to reply, a servant had brought a cup of tea to each of the guests. Ace waited patiently for a response, and for the two to try their drinks.
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   December 29th 2017, 7:37 am

Maka smiled warmly at the staff member that had brought her drink, dismissing them with a nod before trying the tea and humming in appreciation. Soul, not nearly as interested, leaned forward nonetheless to start drinking his, more careful of the cup itself than the drink. After Maka had her fill, for the moment, of the tea, she finally spoke back up.

"To an extent," she answered him, stirring the tea idly while watching him, gauging his reaction as she spoke, "And it's not more Eibon's army than the Academy is Lord Death's." Experience and simply knowing him told her that this would not be enough to sway him, would only cause him to argue the case on the grounds that, yes, the Academy was also a military force in training in its own right. Still, she had to see how far he would push the limit, especially in the presence of not just authority, but someone with an Anti-Madness wavelength that could curb his temper. Her own 'reports' back to the Shinigami would be partially determined by his response to these words, alone.

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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   January 6th 2018, 2:20 am

"Lord Death..." Ace bit his lip, glancing from Maka to Soul in a moment of distaste and hesitation--anti-madness can only go so far, after all--and took a slow, careful drink of his tea, letting it creep down his throat like the all too familiar madness once did. "Lord Death isn't training an army, he's babysitting children. And when those children forget that that's all that they are, they blindly go to their deaths. Black Star fought with a purpose, an energy that drove him. You were upholding a family tradition, and honoring your mother. You guys fought with your own motivation, and teachers like Stein drove you. There's been an increase in EAT students, yet no drive or motivation among them, and the acting staff of the academy is less than useful." Silver bangs fell over the typically clear amber eyes, who's owner despised them so much. "What Eibon has is his own personal collection of monsters. How is this any different from Lord Death lying about the Kishin that used to call what's now Salem, his home. It's even the same painting, just a different frame."
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   January 6th 2018, 10:00 am

"Same frame, I'd say," Soul corrected, not understanding why he'd say that it was all taking place in the same location but then say that the frame was what was different. Still, he didn't make a comment, himself, on how wrong or right he thought the younger man to be.

Make shot a glare to him before shaking her head and addressing Ace once more, "You're going to have foolhardy people no matter what. They're still kids. And for all his strength and reasoning, Black*Star was foolish, growing up, too. We all were." She waved at herself and her partner before gesturing to the Axe, "We were in over our heads. That's why it took as long as it did to take the Kishin down, but we were also exceptional." She looked towards the Academy for a brief second, barely a flash, before they rested on him once more. "Most Academy students aren't like that. Most Institute students aren't like that. That's why the mortality rate is so high. There are too many kids with too much ambition and not enough self-preservation. That goes for both sides of the school." Her words, she felt, were falling on deaf ears, or worse, would only spark a fight from their charge. Still, she felt the need to make them known, felt confident enough to deal with the consequences as they came, "There is another Kishin, Ace. There's Kishin Eggs and Dark Weapons all over, to say nothing of the threat of the monsters that came out of hiding. Maybe it's not the best solution, but an army, if that's what it is, wouldn't be the worst." The meister stretched a hand across the table, looking to place it overtop of his own, "And you've spent years fighting to get stronger. Look where you've landed as a result. Shy of specifically.... breeding people with wavelengths like mine, there's only so much that can be done to keep everyone's madness in check."

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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   January 11th 2018, 3:09 am

Ace bit his lip when their skin touched. He knew Maka wasn't wrong, about his own situation, but it didn't change anything about his own self-pity, and it would be naive to assume that such assurance could alleviate Ace's disgust for the Academy. It did, however, give him something of an idea. "If the Academy won't provide the resources to enable a properly motivated and educated student body, then maybe someone else should." The man stood from his chair and brushed a strand of hair from his face. "I'm going to start a boot camp for the holiday season with Lord Death's permission. I would be honored if you, or others of your esteem could assist me." There was an odd pause in his vocalizing, and his eyes fixed much more on Maka than they did Soul, fully aware that she would make a far better teacher than he.

"But... that can be discussed later. We should find something less stressful to do with the day. This is a welfare visit, after all. I'm sure it would make your job easier." He added.
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PostSubject: Re: Their Little Monster   January 11th 2018, 8:24 am

She seemed surprised when he stood, and even more surprised at his declaration. It wasn't an idea she was exactly opposed to, but due to his reputation and past... issues --- including the well-known, repeated sparring sessions with a former student --- she wasn't positive that the idea would necessarily be allowed. Then again, Lord Death never seemed terribly... well, he'd probably allow it. Smiling, she glided over the discussion to instead respond to the last few statements. Standing as well, she nodded, accepting his proposal. "What do you have in mind?"

Soul hadn't moved a whole lot, instead still seeming cool, collected, and fairly bored. It was his usual appearance, with most of his actual focus being the younger man's body language. He didn't stand with the others.

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