Chapter Two: A Strange Meeting - Part II

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     "Sweetie," someone called with a sickening melodic tune. "My perfect little angel~~," it sang again, "you're going to be late for the tournament this morning if you don't get up!" Maka's eyes flew open, abruptly. The dream she had been having was strange and frightening. Yet, something about it was almost like déjà-vu, but she couldn't think of why.

     It took a moment for her eyesight to adjust. The daylight pouring in through the bedside window was blinding. Maka raised her fists and rubbed her eyes, brushing away all the crusty, goop-y evidence of sleep. She yawned and stretched out her limbs which felt rigid after that freakish nightmare. It felt so real... Maka thought as she sat up.

     She put her hand up as a makeshift sun-visor, and peered at the man looming over her. He had an over-exaggerated smile that didn't quite fit his thin, elongated face. The paleness of his skin was aged and weathered, covered in deep-set worry lines from stress and time. But his bright red hair still flamed like wildfire in the sunlight. She despised the unnatural color. It reminded her of destruction and death, and of the innate greediness of the world to destroy everything it touched.

     "You remember the rules we established, right?" Maka asked with a stern look. Her eyebrows pressed together. Sleep was still heavy in her voice, making it hard to project the full level of her aggravation. This is such an invasion. Isn't there a rule about giving your teenager privacy? She wondered, distressed. Maka squinted her eyes and pursed her lips like she had eaten a grapefruit without sugar. To her dismay, the man's wide smile wavered but did not wilt. "Don't come into my room unless there's an emergency. This is my private space and I'd like to keep it that way." Maka's voice was serrated.

     "But honey, it is an emergency!" He whined in his usual high pitch. He sounded like a child, and to Maka the connection wasn't that far off. "Today's the day my little pumpkin gets her weapon partner! Oh~~! It's so exciting," he sang. "I can hardly wait to see you in action!" He gushed, profusely.

     Maka rolled her eyes so hard that it hurt. There was honestly no use in telling him to stop. He'd just start up again later if he didn't get it out of his system now. "Right," she murmured. "Can you get out now so I can get dressed?"

     "Oh! I almost forgot. Silly me," he chuckled, shaking his head and lightly tapping the edge of his palm on his forehead. Maka stood up and pushed passed him as she walked over to her dresser. She turned her head just enough to glimpse at his face over her shoulder. "I had to wake you up, Makie-kins."

     "Don't call me that," Maka said harshly. "I haven't been your 'Makie-kins' since --." She didn't finish her sentence. Since mom left us, she thought. Her eyes lowered to look at the folded clothes in the drawer, a slight frown on her face. "For a while," she finished in a hushed tone.

     "Well that's not true," he said softly, raising an eyebrow and smiling at her. It was a lopsided half-smile, and Maka thought it looked more sad than happy. "You'll always be my little Makie-kins." She rolled her eyes again. Spirit had insisted that they were this close-knit family of two for the past year. But she knew better. She knew her fickle father, inside and out, and what they really were: mismatched puzzle pieces. A broken pairing that would never resonate together right.

     Spirit took a quick deep breath through his nose, raising his shoulders as he did so before letting them flop back down. "Well, anyway," he continued on like nothing had been said, "you must have slept through your alarm earlier because it's almost thirty minutes before your match begins. You better get goin' kiddo if you wanna make it in time." He had that too-big grin on his face again. Maka's head immediately whipped around to stare at her windup clock.

     7:58 A.M., it read.

     Her stomach twisted painfully. If she had felt nervous about the day before, she really felt nervous now. Death! I'm going to be so late! She was in a full-on panic mode. Her heart was pounding, her mind was whirring, her palms were sweating and her feet were racing around the house. Everything that could have gone wrong that day, pretty much just had.

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