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Weiss took a deep breath and stepped out of the taxi. It wasn’t the most untraceable form of transportation, but there were enough black cabs in the city that it would take time to find her. Besides, she was one of the most recognizable faces in Atlas; taking public transportation would have been like running back home.

Not that Weiss wasn’t considering going home as she walked alone to the door, the night wind nipping at her calves. She knew quite a lot of people in Atlas, but very few that she could trust not to send her back. These people wouldn’t do that, but she hadn’t been able to tell them she was coming, either—it was entirely possible that she’d be kicked out onto the street, and Weiss had no idea what she would do then.

It was one thing to resist begging for her father’s money back when she had a school, a home, a team. It was entirely different to be alone on a separate continent from everyone who really cared about her.

Stop overthinking, a mental voice reminded her. It sounded a lot like Blake-- and it was right. Weiss squared her shoulders. She was a Huntress, and she could survive anything.

She knocked on the door. There was a pause, and despite herself, Weiss started to panic again. What if they weren’t home? What if someone else answered the door? What if-?

The door opened.

“Schnee?” asked Flynt Coal, disbelieving.

“Weiss,” she said, “Please.” One day, Weiss would clear her family name of the taint her father put in it, but for now she preferred to be addressed with a little less poison.

“Right,” he replied, still sounding incredulous.

Weiss shifted her grip on her suitcase, uncomfortable. “Um… May I come in?”

Flynt blinked, then smirked. “Sure,” he said, stepping aside.

See? said a voice not unlike Yang’s. That wasn’t so bad.

***

Weiss had spoken often with Flynt and Neon, with many of the foreign students, in that interminable period when Yang, Blake, and Ruby had been lying side by side in their hospital beds. (Blake had woken up, had run, before Weiss’s father had arrived, but for all she knew, Yang and Ruby were still lying there. She shook the thought out of her mind: they were Huntresses, and they had each other. They would be fine. They had to be fine.)

Fighting for her life with them, and the comfort of their company in the aftermath, meant that Weiss was willing to put up with Neon’s… energy.

“So you ran away? I can’t believe you got disinherited in favor of your weasel of a brother—no offense—but really, you’re pretty and smart and talented and a Huntress, and he’s just sort of—rodentlike!”

Which wasn’t to say it wasn’t tiring, or a little dizzying. Neon chattered on while Weiss tried to come up with a response.

“Like, aren’t evil corporate executives supposed to be, yanno, intimidating? I don’t think he could take a Beowolf!”

Weiss snorted, amused despite herself. “Whitley? I doubt he could ‘take’ a large cat.”

Neon grinned. “Cats are pretty tough, you know,” she said, swishing her tail.

Recalling Blake, a quiet, deadly presence by her side, Weiss’s throat tightened. “I know.”

Flynt entered the room, handing Weiss a cup of hot coffee, and Neon’s attention immediately jumped to him. “We’re helping her sneak out of Atlas, right, Flynt? She was awesome at Beacon, and her team are reeeeeally cool, and it’ll be fun! Like playing spies.”

Weiss wondered how Flynt stood years of exposure to Neon, then figured she herself had learned to tolerate Ruby. (Or perhaps Ruby had learned to tolerate Weiss? She was the team leader, like Flynt, after all. Weiss was briefly and horrifically fascinated with this concept, before dismissing it on the grounds that in no possible universe was Ruby the sane one in their relationship.)

Flynt crossed his arms, and Neon fell silent. Weiss tried not to look too desperate, even though she was. Getting out of the country without being found was going to be hard even with help, and there’s no way she’d make it before the borders closed without them.

After what seemed like forever, Flynt tilted his head to eye her over his sunglasses. (He wore them inside: clearly he hadn’t actually endured years of Neon unscated. Weiss was among mad people.) “I guess it’s a good chance to stick it to old man Schnee,” he allowed.

“Fantastic!” Neon actually squealed, then grabbed Weiss’s arm. “Come on. Flynt can take care of passports and all that boring stuff, while I give you a makeover. We’ll dye your hair, and do your makeup, and find you some clothes. The all-white thing you had going on before was regal or whatever, but you need some more color!”

***

Weiss stared at herself in the mirror. The black hair looked foreign, especially down and gently curled rather than in her signature ponytail, but it was simultaneously comforting. She wondered if she should get a bow.

She stepped out of the bathroom and looked at the clothes Neon had laid out for her before being dragged from the room by Flynt. They were surprisingly tasteful, though not really Weiss’s style. Which, she reminded herself, was the point.

Finding herself drawn to one, she picked it up. It was a bit longer than the rest of Neon’s combat skirts, something Weiss appreciated. But the real reason she chose it was the color: a golden yellow bodice fading to a dusky orange skirt, like it was made of flame. She hesitated a moment longer, then put it on.

It was followed by tights and no-nonsense black boots without heels: Sensible shoes, commented Weiss’s inner Ruby. It was actually the most pragmatic choice: Weiss had been wearing heels since she was twelve, and if she seemed shorter than usual, it would only reduce the probability that she’d be recognized.

Dressed, she headed back into the bathroom. Weiss was a stage performer and no stranger to makeup; she changed the apparent shape of her eyes, covered her scar, dotted freckles across her nose and cheeks.

Finally, she glanced at her lipstick, then picked up a tube of dark red.

Looking in the mirror now, Weiss could barely recognize herself; hopefully neither would the people watching the airports. Her skin was still as white as the snow her family was named for, but her lips were blood-red like roses, her hair black as ebony or an unlucky cat. She smoothed her hands over the yellow of the dress.

Weiss had never worn armor, but she imagined this, wearing the colors of the first friends she ever made, is what it felt like: heavy, knowing she was turning away from the Schnee name for now, but made worth it by the feeling of safety.

Onwards, cried the Ruby voice. We have a world to save!

Weiss rolled her eyes a little, but couldn’t suppress a smile. In the mirror, a Huntress of team RWBY smiled back at her. She picked up her suitcase, and the passport which she knew read “Blake Rose.” (Weiss doubted they’d mind her borrowing their names.)

To Mistral, then. To Winter, and eventually her team. To her family.

Weiss was going home.