"Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Steeein! Happy birthday to you!" the group of friends sang to a now sixteen year old Stein.
Stein looked absolutely bored with some slight agitation accompanying it. Spirit had insisted that he have a party for his birthday; something he didn't want AT ALL. Sure he was sixteen but he saw no reason to celebrate it. Why bother? It was just one year more of aging; one year closer to dying.
"Stein! Open my present first!" Spirit cried with exaggerated enthusiasm.
Stein nonchalantly took the painfully brightly wrapped package from Spirit's hands and lazily removed the paper. Opening the box, Stein groaned in disgust at the sight.
"Come on! Show everyone what you got!" Spirit urged.
Stein wasn't going to argue; not this time; he just wanted to get this party over with as soon as he could so he could be alone and proceed with some unfinished experiments.
Stein began to take out the different items in the box: regular condoms, glow in the dark condoms, tropical flavored condoms, strawberry flavored lubricant, chains and handcuffs, and….female lingerie?
"Spirit!" Kami growled, chopping her boyfriend in the head.
"Hey I'm just preparing him!" Spirit whined.
"Why do I need the lingerie? I'm not going to wear it." Stein said dully.
"For the lady you want to play with." Spirit said winking, which earned him another chop from his ashy-blonde haired girlfriend.
"I see…thanks Spirit." Stein said sarcastically, shoving all the disturbing items back into the box and thrusting it to the side.
"Here." Azusa said simply, handing a plain black gift bag to the silver haired teen.
Stein pulled out a self-help book and stared at it as if it were the stupidest thing he had ever seen.
"Much appreciated." Stein said, plopping it down to the side.
"Come on Stein, I went easy on you and didn't invite that many people!" Spirit complained, obviously disappointed in his friend's behavior.
Stein observed those surrounding him: Spirit, Azusa, Kami, and Marie…those were the only ones invited…..Marie; she seemed…distracted was it? She was smiling but there seemed to be something different than usual behind that golden eye; something hidden.
"Here, Stein." Kami said offering him her present with a smile.
Stein took it, thankful of Kami's more manageable personality, and discovered it to be a new shirt. Kami bought clothes for people a lot of the time. It wasn't because she was a fashion addict; far from it. It was more so because everyone could use some new clothes; nobody was going to get upset about that. She had gotten him something rather basic as well, much to his delight because he didn't like anything elaborate of flashy when it came to apparel.
Finally Marie approached him, smiling brightly as always. Stein had to admit that it was the most beautiful and warming smile he had ever seen, and he normally didn't give out compliments that often and especially of that caliber. She handed him a brightly wrapped package, but unlike Spirit's painfully showy one, this one was at least done with taste. Marie knew him well; knew what he liked and how to make him smile...
Opening it, the room was rewarded with Stein's first smile of the day.
"What is it?" Spirit asked, wondering what could have possibly dragged his friend out of his sour mood.
Stein smirked greatly (and somewhat evilly) as he pulled out an array of experiment and dissection tools. Everyone in the room sweatdropped except for Marie who was still beaming, in fact she was smiling even more than before; happy that Stein was enjoying her gift.
"Thank you, Marie." Stein said looking at her directly, causing her to blush fiercely and look away after a bit.
"Cake time!!!" Spirit shouted; Stein almost covered his ears at the piercing sound of Spirit's voice.
Spirit rushed into the kitchen and returned shortly after with two separate medium sized cakes that were wrapped in tin foil. Spirit winked.
"These cakes are special." Spirit said, in a tone that was all too familiar to the group…the perv tone.
Spirit placed both cakes in front of Stein and ripped away the tin foil, the way a magician would pull a sheet away to reveal something magnificent. All of the girls practically barfed at the sight of the two cakes.
Ah yes they were certainly "special". One was a penis-shaped cake, iced with a cream cheese frosting, and the end frosted with pink strawberry frosting. The balls of the cake had black sprinkles on it for pubic hair….
Then there was the second cake; a nice set of boobs. The cake had the same frostings as the penis cake. The whole of it was frosted with cream cheese and the nipples were the pink strawberry frosting.
"Spiriiiit ALBARN!!!!!" Kami shouted, chopping her boyfriend in the head so hard that one could have sworn that he died.
After finally recovering, Spirit managed to still smirk and further explain the cakes. "That cock cake is cream filled….oh yesss."
Spirit could now be considered either dead or in peril in his current condition as he was now bruised, battered, and unmoving.
"I'm really sorry about Spirit, Stein." Kami sighed.
Stein seemed very zoned out.
"Stein?" Marie questioned.
He didn't look well at all. He had already seemed spacey and irritable all day but now…he just looked exhausted and even more pale than usual.
"Stein, are you ok?" Marie asked, now laying a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm just tired…" Stein said slowly, almost in a groan.
"Would you like to lie down?" Marie asked rubbing his shoulder sweetly.
Kami couldn't help but smile. She could tell her friend was completely in love with Stein. Marie always treated people with kindness but there was a certain air to the smiles she gave him that were ONLY for him…and the way she touched him was different than all her other friends as well.
While Kami smiled at the scene, Azusa shook her head; she honestly didn't understand WHAT Marie saw in him. What was so special about Franken freaking Stein? He was bland, unemotional, and somewhat disturbed. What was there to like about that? He was just…bizarre….
"Stein…." Marie said softly.
"I'll be back; just leave me alone." Stein groaned.
Marie stared after him with a frown before following him. "I'm going to make sure he's alright…." Marie said worriedly.
Kami smiled again and Azusa sighed loudly and shook his head. Spirit finally came to.
"Hey where did Stein go? Is he not gonna eat his cake?! I worked hard on those!...hehe hard on." Spirit chuckled.
Marie followed Stein slowly and quietly and watched as he made a quick turn into the bathroom connected to his room. Why there? Marie stepped outside the door and put an ear to it, to see if she could hear what was going on. She cringed and jumped back a bit however once a familiar and unpleasant sound hit her ears.
She could hear Stein coughing, choking, and retching before hearing the familiar sound of whatever his stomach contents were being disposed of in the toilet. Marie frowned and oddly found herself almost crying; she just hated it when people were sick. It made her feel helpless just watching someone suffer and not being able to do a thing about it…
Finally after about five minutes of purging, the flush of the toilet, and some running sink water, Stein emerged from the bathroom with bloodshot eyes and face drooped in sickliness. When he saw Marie standing before him with a deeply saddened expression, he groaned.
"Stein…why didn't you just say you were sick?" Marie asked with a frown.
"I'm fine." Stein said trying to brush past her, but he never made it past as he ended up returning to the toilet and emptying his stomach once again.
Marie sighed and walked back into the living room and almost fell over at the sight of a bloody Spirit smashed into the floor.
"Well, what's wrong?" Kami asked Marie.
Marie frowned and her golden eye watered with noticeable sadness. "I think you should all go home. Stein is sick; he's throwing up."
Kami frowned and Spirit bolted upright again out of nowhere and Azusa simply closed her eyes in understanding.
"Alright, well tell him to get better soon ok?" Kami said walking out.
"Hey Kami wait up! Let's hang out for the rest of the day!" Spirit called after his girlfriend and running to catch up to her.
"Ugh, if he was sick why didn't he just say something? I have a hard time feeling sorry for him." Azusa said before dismissing herself as well.
Marie stood still…she couldn't leave him. He was sick and all alone…he didn't have anyone to go to….
Marie found tears bubbling from her eye and finally falling over. She caught herself quickly though, shook her head and smacked her face to pull herself together.
"I can't think about last week…" Marie sighed. "Not right now…Stein needs me after all…"
Flashback to the week before:
Everyone who had been by Marie's side earlier was gone…they had left, but Marie stayed. How could she not? She just couldn't bring herself to leave; in fact she didn't know when she'd finally be able to will herself to leave the spot she was collapsed to her knees at.
She was sobbing uncontrollably, her face finally falling from her hands to the dirt below in complete and utter despair. What was she going to do? She had known this was coming….but it was more painful than she had ever imagined it being; she could never have been prepared for this.
"Momma….I….what will I do…what will I do?!" Marie sobbed.
She didn't even really know what she was asking to her mother…and why was she even asking someone who could no longer hear her? She didn't even know if she wanted an answer to begin with; perhaps it was more or less just the incoherent mutterings of someone mourning something they could never have back.
For whatever it was worth though, there was some peace in Marie's heart. Her mother had missed her father sorely over the five years he had been gone….so now her mother was able to be with him again. They were buried next to each other….and to some degree, when Marie first arrived at the funeral, it had made her smile to see her parents side by side once again if only in that way…they had been so close….
It was going to be hard though…too hard…harder than she wanted. She was fifteen and both of her parents were gone….now she was alone…in a sense. She wouldn't be going back home for the holidays anymore or celebrating birthdays with them, they would never see her become a death scythe or graduate for the academy. They would never see her have her first boyfriend, get married or have children….never. They would never be able to talk again, play together, cook together; everything was gone!
Marie sobbed even harder at all of those thoughts…
"My life…it's so hopeless….what'll I ever do now…I…I just want to…I want to die so I can be with them again!!!" Marie screamed in her mind. Then her eye widened…..
"I…I have more than them to live for…." Marie breathed.
She paused as the image of a pale skinned boy with silvery-grey hair and olive green eyes materialized before her.
"Stein......" Marie thought. "That's right…it's your birthday next week…I…I'll be there for you! I promised I would! I can't give up now…you wouldn't want me to would you mom? Yes…my life isn't hopeless. That isn't the way I think! That's not the kind of person I am….and I'm going to be there for Stein no matter what…."
"Stein?" Marie said softly as she walked into his room once more.
He was sitting on the edge of his bed hunched over with his hands meshed in his hair.
"I sent everyone away, so you could rest." Marie said gently.
Marie simply smiled and turned on her heel and headed for the medicine cabinet. After fishing around in it for a bit, she found what she was looking for. Giggling a bit she headed back to Stein's room to see him now lying down on top of the covers.
"Hey there." She said cutely.
Stein looked at her with an almost zombie like face. His pale complexion was even more washed out than usual, there were dark circles under his eyes, and there was a slight tint of pink on his cheeks.
Marie reached out a hand gently and pressed in against the skin of Stein's forehead, much to his displeasure as he attempted to flinch away.
"Feels like you have a fever…" Marie said sadly; however a smile soon returned to her face as she held out a small instrument in front of her. "Now Stein, open up and say 'Aaaaaa'" Marie said beaming.
Stein groaned and rolled over away from her. "No." he muttered.
"Come on. Don't be a big baby about it. I need to take your temperature." Marie said placing her hands on her hips.
Realizing he didn't have the strength to argue, Stein rolled over and pushed himself up into a semi-seated position and opened his mouth lazily; lacking of course the "aaaaa" noise.
Marie promptly shoved the thermometer under his tongue and waited for a bit before removing it and frowning upon it, shaking her head. "Stein…how did you make it this far into your party? You have a 102° fever! Stein, you're really sick!" Marie said in shock. "Why didn't you just say something?"
"Because….I told Spirit I was sick and he didn't listen." Stein said dully, lying back down.
"That Spirit is going to hear it from me later! He's in big trouble!" Marie said with her cheeks glowing in frustration. "Stein, I'm going to get you some medicine and a cold towel to put on your head alright?" Marie said kindly.
"I don't need it." Stein said but Marie was already on her way out the door.
In a matter of minutes, Marie was back with some water, medicine, and the cold towel.
"Now…first we need to get you comfortable." Marie said with a soft smile.
"I want to be left alone." Stein growled. Marie ignored his tone and rather tugged off his shirt much to his complete alarm.
Marie had just ripped his shirt off! Stein stared at her as if she had grown a second head; her face was as red as it could be.
"W-well you weren't going to do it so….I had no choice!" Marie said quickly.
Stein closed his eyes and sighed. "Turn around for a moment will you?" he said.
Marie raised a brow but didn't turn around; her face lit up and she gasped when she realized why he had asked, as he began to remove his pants.
Marie whipped around quickly. She had almost seen him….oh my….
"It's fine now." Stein said softly.
Marie turned around to see him covered from the waist up. Gosh…she could still see that silky smooth pale skin…so toned….just begging to be touched. No! She couldn't think like that!
"Now, take your medicine." Marie said, holding out a small cup of disgusting looking red liquid.
Stein grimaced at it momentarily before downing it in one drink; the taste alone almost made him rush back to the bathroom.
"Good job!" Marie said happily. "Now…why don't you lie down?" Marie said gently.
"After you leave…" Stein grumbled; he was NOT happy right now.
Marie finally frowned again. "Stein please…just……..never mind…" she said sadly as she began to move away. Much to her surprise, Stein caught her wrist before she could get too far away.
"Go on." He said.
Marie was shocked. He was going to listen?
"I was just going to say that…I really want to take care of you because…it hurts when you need someone and nobody is there….it's…sad." Marie finished as she managed to hold her tears back.
There was a long pause. Shit. Marie felt so stupid. She found herself fighting back more tears, this time from humiliation.
"I…I can go…" Marie choked.
"Stay." Stein said firmly, despite his illness.
Marie's eye widened.
"I'm fine with it." Stein said.
Marie smiled and once again fought her tears...but this time they were from joy. Sitting carefully on the bed beside Stein, she watched him lay down carefully before brushing his bangs out of his face to place the cool towel on his forehead.
His hair is so soft….
For some reason, Marie found this whole procedure rather natural….she just wanted to take care of him.
"Now close your eyes…" Marie whispered, brushing her finger tips over his slightly hued cheek.
Stein had already felt his eyelids becoming lazy, so obeying Marie's words was not a problem. Just as he began to relax however, he felt his stomach knot up and he crumpled slightly at the feeling. He was shocked at what came next.
A hand…Marie's hand…so soft and gentle, pressed against his stomach softly; almost as light as a feather. It felt so warm and comforting….almost as if it was healing him.
"Shh…" Marie breathed as she began to run her hand back and forth over his smooth, flat stomach. "Just rest…"
Stein couldn't believe it; he actually felt relaxed by Marie's touch; not revolted like he would be with anyone else. Was it just because he was weak from his fever? No…it was more than that…he just liked it…he couldn't believe it; he liked it….
Her smooth palms against his skin…so warm and soothing…and when she stroked his cheek once more, it was like an angel had momentarily graced its wings over his flesh.
Stein wasn't the only one feeling relaxed though. Marie was oddly enjoying it as well. She was so happy that she was able to be there for Stein. He looked so sweet, all relaxed like he was now….and it was because she had been there to take care of him. The feel of his skin was like nothing she had ever laid hands on before. It felt like silk beneath her tender fingers….it felt so soft and smooth as porcelain. Not to mention it looked gorgeous too…but Marie, surprisingly, wasn't even looking at his skin. Her eye was closed; just focusing on taking care of Stein…feeling his gentle breaths and enjoying the feel of his skin.
Finally after some time, Marie's eye opened slowly at the feel of Stein's breathing having changed. He was asleep and the hue on his cheeks had faded significantly. Ever so gently, Marie lifted the towel from Stein's forehead. As she did so, some of his silver locks brushed the top of her hand; god she loved how that felt; she wanted to run her hands through it freely.
After a little while longer, Marie gently leaned forward and placed a sweet kiss on the sleeping Stein's forehead…
"I love you…" she breathed. "so much…" she finished as she pressed her palm against the space over his heart.
Kissing his forehead one last time, she stood up smiling. "I'll wait on the couch until you wake up…I'll come in and check on you later." Marie whispered to the man she loved more than anything.
After she left, Stein rolled over in his sleep; his hand landed right over his heart in the exact place Marie had had it.
"I love you too….Marie…" Stein breathed in his sleep.
And, though just a bit….a small half-smile appeared on Franken Stein's face.