Disclaimer: I don't own RWBY
Blake Belladonna jumped up into the air, a shadow copy left behind her. The beowolf went straight through the shadow, confused as it missed its prey. It didn't have enough time to correct the mistake though and crashed into a tree. Blake swung around in mid-air, swinging her weapon, Gambol Shroud. It was a variant ballistic chain scythe of her own design and currently it was being swung on a specialized ribbon. It was set in gun mode with the blade of the weapon folded so that it was pointing with the weapon. Gambol Shroud curved through the air and embedded itself in the beowolf. With a quick exertion of aura and a flick of the wrist Gambol Shroud fired into the Beowolf, quickly, efficiently and rather brutally ending its life. Blake didn't dwell on that though, as with another flick of the wrist she returned the weapon to her hand. She could smell burning fur and see smoke rising from the wound on the beowolf. There were more important things to consider though.
Turning around Blake saw her teammates facing off against the rest of the beowolf pack. With a cry Ruby swung her giant scythe with impressive strength for her small size, cutting a charging beowolf in half diagonally. Behind her was Weiss who stabbed her rapier into the ground and caused icicles to come out of the ground and impale another beowolf. On the other side of the forest was Yang, a smile on her face. She punched and the gauntlets that she wore, Ember Celica, fired at a beowolf, slamming it backwards into a tree, collapsing the tree and taking out the monster. She punched with the other fist and hit a beowolf that had made the mistake of getting too close. This beowolf exploded, being torn into two parts by the attack.
With that the beolwolf pack had been defeated, their corpses starting to fade away to nothing like creatures of Grimm always did. Blake watched the two halves of Yang's foe disintegrating and wondered what the Grimm were that they died like they did. She'd been told they were pure evil, and she'd in fact seen the many acts of destruction that had been perpetrated by Grimm.
But she'd also seen the horrible acts done by humans and faunus alike. She had in fact done many such acts herself. Being part of a protest group eventually turned terrorist organization from a young age helped to expose the ugly parts of the world and to initiate its members into it. One such act, the raid of a Schnee Dust Company train and the planned destruction of it had been the final straw.
She'd quit her one time home and family, the White Fang, by severing the link between two train cars. She'd sent her partner, Adam in one direction while she'd ridden the other half, along with its unsuspecting and innocent workers, safely in the other direction. It had been a single act, and it hadn't made up for years of crimes. So she'd joined a school to fight monsters like the Grimm, hoping to improve the world. So far she was still waiting to make a change, annoyed at the inaction she somehow felt she was taking to the world's problems.
Like right now, they were in the forest not to exterminate Grimm but to collect mushrooms that one of the professors wanted for reasons unknown to Blake. Several teams of first year students were wandering around the forest searching, and occasionally killing Grimm. Collecting mushrooms was amusing but it wasn't going to clean her hands. It wasn't going to fix the world or give her redemption. It wouldn't stop her from being a monster.
"You okay Blake?" asked a voice. Blake snapped out of her reverie and looked down at the concerned face of Ruby Rose. Ruby was young, having been allowed to skip a few years to join Beacon Academy. Despite her age, inexperience and occasional naivety Ruby was a competent fighter and had been chosen to be the leader of their team, Team RWBY. She cared about everyone and Blake couldn't help but admire her for her spirit and skill.
Blake shook her head and smiled awkwardly at Ruby. "Yeah. I was just thinking."
"About what?" asked Ruby.
"Nothing important I bet," commented Weiss, walking up to them. Weiss Schnee was the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, the organization that until recently Blake had been fighting so hard against. A company that discriminated against and oppressed faunus just like Blake. Despite their initial prejudices and grievances against each other, Blake and Weiss had come to a mutual understanding and worked together proudly as members of team RWBY. Not that that eliminated all friction between them though. Weiss could be a bit of a brat occasionally.
Before Blake could make a retort though a voice drew her attention. "I found a mushroom!" Blake looked over to see Yang Xiao Long, Ruby's older sister and the last member of their team holding up a large mushroom, a proud smile on her face. Blake couldn't help but smile at the sight. Yang never failed to cheer her up and was often the caring mother of the team. It was both at odds and fit with her personality as an outgoing thrill-seeker in a rather strange but fitting way.
Ruby and Weiss turned to look at Yang. Ruby jumped up into the air in triumph. "We got one!" she yelled excitedly.
Weiss looked disapprovingly at Ruby, obviously holding back an amused smile of her own. "There's no reason to get amused over finding just one."
Ruby visibly deflated and gave a rather theatrical seeming sigh, her red cloak billowing behind her. "But Weiiiiiiissssssss! Can't you just be happy that we found one? There's bound to be more nearby."
"You don't know that," countered Weiss.
"Are you guys going to come over and help me or not?" called Yang. "There's a whole field of them over here!"
A broad smile appeared on Ruby's face but Weiss held up a finger directly in front of her. "Not. Another. Word."
"Whatever you say Weiss!" grinned Ruby. Blake couldn't help but smile at their antics. It was definitely a nice change from the dreary serious life she'd lived with the White Fang. Ruby and Wiess started to walk towards Yang. Blake followed behind, still caught up in her own thoughts. She wasn't sure whether the moment Ruby and Weiss's hands brushed together was just an accident or on purpose but the light red blushes that came to their faces were clear as day. Conversation's and moments like this made her feel like a normal person living in a happy world. They also made her dread the moment that real life decided to intrude, and bring her back to a bleak existence.
"Hurry up already!" called Yang. The call brought Blake out of her thoughts just in time to see the small black shape twisting its way through the grass at Yang's feet. She barely had time to register the burning red eyes and bone white mask that covered its head before the snake reared up and bit Yang in the leg. The blonde haired girl seized up immediately, shock registering on her face. She collapsed to the ground, not even able to strike back at the Grimm.
"Yang!" yelled Blake as she watched her teammate fall. Her call alerted Ruby who looked away from Weiss and reacted with blinding speed. In an instant she was at Yang's side, catching her gently before she hit the ground. Blake reacted next, leaping over a confused Weiss. While in mid-air she converted Gambol Shroud to its sword mode. She landed and ran across the distance between them, slicing the small Grimm in half. The bottom half wiggled weakly on the ground while the top half was still clamped on Yang's leg. With its death the Grimm started to disintegrate, eventually leaving just two small pinpricks on Yang's leg as a sign it had been there.
Ruby lowered Yang to the ground gently. "Yang?" asked Ruby, her voice worried. The blonde girl didn't respond though. Her eyes were clamped shut, her fists clenched. Every part of her seemed to be tensed. Her skin was pale, all color seeming to have been drained out of it. But it was the expression of fear on her face that disturbed Blake the most. Yang, who was always so strong and fearless, diving into trouble at a moment's notice, the Yang that had cheered her up before the big dance, seemed to have been brought down by a small Grimm.
"What's wrong with her?" asked Weiss, running up to them. She sounded worried and was looking around them, her weapon drawn in case of more trouble.
"I don't know," said Ruby, her voice trembling. "Yang! Can you hear me? Yang?"
"It's no use," commented Blake. "The Grimm did something to her. We need Professor Goodwitch."
Ruby stood up, a determined look on her face. "I'll go get her. I'm the fastest." She turned to Weiss. "You and Blake stay here and protect Yang, got it?"
"We will. Just go," bid Weiss.
Blake couldn't tear her gaze away from the deathly still form of Yang but she felt the gust of wind as Ruby sped away. She reached out a hand to touch Yang's face and felt a shock run through her. She gave a gasp, drawing Weiss's attention to her.
"What's wrong?" asked Weiss, looking around worriedly.
"Her aura," gasped Blake. "It's been infected with something."
"You sure?" asked Weiss.
"Positive," said Blake. "It's throwing off her natural balance. It needs to be corrected or she could die."
"How do you know all that?"
"I read a lot of books about the Grimm in between my missions," replied Blake. "I remember this from an old story."
"No," said Weiss, shaking her head. "How do you know her aura is infected or whatever? Are you an aura expert?"
"No," admitted Blake. "I just know. I could feel it when I touched her."
"Why didn't Ruby say anything when she caught her?"
"I don't know. Maybe it hadn't advanced enough?" guessed Blake. She frowned as she considered Yang's eerily still form. Only the slight rise and fall of her chest indicated any life left in the blonde haired girl. Blake looked at her hand and clenched it into a fist. She could still feel the odd tingle of Yang's aura lingering on her fingers. She'd never interacted with someone else's aura before, although she'd heard it was a skill strong aura users could cultivate. Yang had one of the strongest aura's Blake had ever seen though, allowing her to take hits that could take out anyone else. It was possible that Yang's aura had done the reaching to her. If that was true though then it meant Yang needed and wanted her help. Blake came to a decision at that moment. She looked up at Weiss. "Can you guard us?"
"Aren't I already doing that?" asked Weiss, still looking around them.
Blake shook her head. "No, not just Yang, me too. I'm going to try to connect with her aura and help her from the inside."
"But you don't even know what you're doing!" countered Weiss.
"That doesn't matter!" snapped Blake. "We need to do something!"
"We need to wait for Ruby and the Professor!"
"We don't know how long that will take!"
"This is reckless!"
"Would you do any differently if this was Ruby?" countered Blake. Weiss glared at her at that comment. Blake wondered if she'd gone too far when Weiss gave out a sigh.
"Fine," sighed Weiss. She held up her rapier and twisted the dust revolver in it. The ice dust clicked into place and the blade gained a blue glow. Weiss stabbed her weapon into the ground and a large formation of ice grew out of the ground, surrounding them all in a dome of ice. Weiss removed her rapier and smiled tiredly at Blake. "Hurry up already. You don't have all day before Ruby returns."
"Thank you," replied Blake. She looked back down at Yang and once again reached out to gently touch her face. This time she made sure to concentrate her own aura on that spot. When she did she felt resistance from the infection but she also felt Yang's natural aura pulling at her. She concentrated on Yang's aura, synchronizing with that. She felt a satisfied feeling as she did so. There wasn't any time to comment on it though as she felt her mind ripped from her body and pulled through a dark void.
"Blake!?" came the cry from Wiess. Blake only vaguely heard her. Everything became a silent darkness. It was stifling and threatened to overwhelm her but she gritted her nonexistent teeth and concentrated on Yang's aura once more. She found it and using it as a lifeline dragged herself through the dark void.
Progress was slow, or at least that's what it felt like to her. Time had lost all meaning as soon as she'd entered the void. Everything was meaningless in the void. Everything except the desire to get to Yang. I just need to find her, thought Blake, repeating the thought in her mind. It became her mantra and an additional lifeline. I just need to find Yang…
Then suddenly Blake was on solid ground. She tapped her foot and found purchase but she still couldn't see anything but black darkness on all sides. This is so weird, thought Blake. Is this what everyone's aura is like, or is it because of the infection? The aura is said to be an expression of one's soul. I'd expect Yang's aura to be much brighter than this. My aura probably looks like this though. Blake grimaced at her self-depreciative joke. She looked around but still saw nothing. How am I supposed to find the source of the infection in here? There has to be a sign or something…
As if in response to her question the ground started to shake. Blake saw in the distant darkness an uncountable number of glowing red eyes appearing, one pair after the other. The eyes moved closer and closer, more joining their number with each moment. Soon she was able to make out the characteristic bone white masks and bone formations that signified a creature of Grimm.
Blake fell naturally into a fighting stance, her hand going to her back to unlimber Gambol Shroud. So natural was the reaction that she was shocked when she reached into the darkness and found that Gambol Shroud wasn't with her. Right,thought Blake grimly. I'm inside Yang's aura. Gambol Shroud couldn't come along. This is bad. Can I even fight inside of someone's aura like this?
When the first Grimm, a large ursa, appeared right in front of her she jumped over it. In mid-air she was confronted by a flock of small nevermore that suddenly appeared out of the darkness. On instinct Blake activated her semblance. A shadow version of her was left in front of the nevermore as her real body was propelled up and to the right of the nevermore. She landed on the ground and kicked out with an aura enhanced kick at a beowolf that appeared, knocking the creature back into the inky darkness. She looked back, expecting the ursa or nevermore to come after her but was instead surprised to realize that all of the Grimm were running past her, completely ignoring her.
Before Blake had time to contemplate the newest revelation she heard a high pitched scream. Coming from the direction the Grimm were running in. Reacting without thinking she broke into a run, falling into stride next to a beowolf that didn't even pay her any heed. She tapped once more into her aura, realizing it worked in wherever she was. She bolted past the beowlf, jumping over a king taijitu and landing on top of an ursa. This time the ursa did notice her but Blake just used it as a spring board, using her semblance to dodge and get ahead of the beast.
As she ran through the hoard of Grimm Blake caught sight of a familiar red cloak billowing listlessly through the darkness. A large two-legged creep trampled over the cloak and Blake was struck by how the cloak was colored the same shade of red as blood. She ignored the cloak though and continued to run, concentrating only on the search for the source of the scream. A death stinger ran next to her, running into and reducing to splinters and twisted metal a small child's wagon.
The ground suddenly transformed into scraggly grass, trampled under the Grimm. Around her trees sprung up everywhere, clustering closely together. Their trunks were withered and darkened, their tops disappearing into the darkness. The new forest was uninviting and sent a chill down Blake's back. She weaved back and forth through the trees, occasionally jumping over the Grimm that were doing the same. The larger Grimm just charged straight through the trees, reducing them to splinters and adding a horrifying cacophony of destruction to the blood thirsty cries of the other Grimm.
What is all of this? wondered Blake. This darkness was worse than anything else she'd ever experienced or felt before. No one could survive this for long. I need to find Yang before it devours her…
The Grimm slowed down suddenly and Blake finally got ahead of the seemingly endless tide. She briefly saw a ramshackle wooden shack that looked like it hadn't been tended to in years. Another scream reached her, the cat ears on her head twitching in response to it. She focused in on the sound, turning to see a large group of Grimm in a circle around something. They were snarling and snapping, fighting with each other to get to whatever was in the center of the circle. Larger ones were crushing smaller ones underfoot but the numbers were getting refreshed, and even increased, by the hoard of Grimm that Blake had followed there.
Without any hesitation Blake ran towards the Grimm. At the edge of the circle she leapt up into the air and landed with practiced grace in a crouch in the center of the circle. Coming up from the crouch she kicked at a beowolf, knocking the creature backwards to be torn apart by two ursa that were trying to climb over a creep. Yang heard a sound behind her and turned to see a small girl, blonde hair in twin pigtails, huddled with her knees against her chest and sobbing.
Blake knelt down in front of the girl, who didn't seem to realize she was there. "Are you hurt?" asked Blake.
The girl didn't even look up at Blake as she answered. "I messed up," answered the girl, ignoring Blake's question.
"What're you talking about?" asked Blake. There was something familiar about the girl but Blake couldn't place it. In fact, she wasn't even sure where she was or why she was in the center of a group of Grimm. All she knew was that there was someone who needed her help. Was it this girl?
"I messed up," repeated the girl dejectedly. "I was supposed to protect her but I put her into danger instead!"
"Who are you talking about?"
"My sister. I failed her…"
"That's not true," said Blake, with a certainty she didn't know the source of. "You didn't fail her."
"Yes I did."
"No you didn't," insisted Blake.
"How do you know?" asked the girl, still not looking at her, her head buried behind her knees.
"I just do," said Blake. She held out her hand to the girl. "Come with me and I'll prove it to you. If your sister is in trouble then we'll save her."
"Really?" asked the girl.
"Really," said Blake with a smile.
"Even if I'm a monster?" asked the little girl.
Blake shook her head, even though the girl couldn't see the action. "I know monsters. You're not a monster."
The girl gave an eerie laugh. "I wish that was true." She looked up and Blake was surprised to see the bone white mask of a creature of Grimm, purple eyes staring at her from the sockets. The girl stood up and her body started to change. The torso enlarged and her limbs started to stretch, taking on proportions that weren't natural. Everything darkened, being covered in fur. Her hair was suddenly covered in fire, the bands holding it in the pigtails turned to ash. When the changes were done and the fire burned out Blake was face to face with a creature more horrifying than any she'd seen before, pitch black hair waving behind her. When the masked being spoke again it was still in the sobbing voice of the little girl. "I'm a monster, through and through."
The monster swung at her with a long, spindly arm. The attack was quick but Blake managed to leap over it. The second arm tried to strike her in midair but she used her semblance to dodge, landing on the ground just short of the snarling and snapping ring of Grimm. They'd stopped advancing and seemed content to watch but Blake doubted that would continue if she fell into their midst. She looked up into the sad purple eyes of the Grimm and knew without a doubt that what she fighting wasn't like the Grimm. This girl wasn't a monster, she was who Blake needed to save.
"We don't need to fight!" insisted Blake. "Come with me, I'll take you out of here! I'll prove to you your sister is doing fine!"
"Lies!" sobbed the girl. It reached for her again but Blake rolled to the side. A kick lashed out at her but she used her semblance again, getting to safety behind the girl. Blake panted, suddenly tired and feeling like she'd been running a marathon.
"Just trust me!" yelled Blake in desperation.
"I can't!" yelled the girl, turning around quickly to swipe at Blake.
Blake tried to use her semblance to dodge but was surprised as the arm struck her, hard. The breath was knocked out of her and she went flying. Straight into the ring of Grimm. She couldn't even cry out as the Grimm converged on her in an instant. Snarling, hungry cries filled her with a mind numbing cacophony. She felt teeth and claws tearing into her, ribbing her clothes and body to shreds. This is it, thought Blake weakly. I'm going to die…
"I'm so sorry," sobbed the girl at the edge of Blakes hearing. "It's all my fault…I'm a monster…"
Blake felt anger rising in her suddenly. Anger at her senseless death but even more than that she felt angry at the girl. Angry at her foolishness. Blake knew deep inside that the girl wasn't a monster. She was the opposite. She was a protector, a healer, a friend and deep inside, Blake knew she was much, much more to her on a personal level. The anger filled Blake and she used it, channeling it into her aura. She started to kick and flail in the grip of the Grimm. She kicked a beowolf backwards and knocked the teeth out of a creep. Her fist punched through a boarbatusk's mask. Her other hand grabbed a large tuft of fur and yanked, pulling the ursa on top of her. Instead of being torn apart, she tore the Grimm apart, drenching herself in the darkness that made them up. She felt her body changing, shifting into something else. She didn't care though, she needed to get free and help the little girl.
The next moment she was. All of the Grimm around them were gone, only an empty field of darkness with herself and the little girl. The girl stared at her with wide, purple eyes, sorrow on her face. "I've corrupted you too…I'm so sorry…"
"Shut up!" yelled Blake, her voice feral. For a moment she saw outside of herself and saw a large, savage feline made of flowing darkness. On her face was a large Grimm mask; burning, golden eyes staring out from it. She was on all fours, ready to pounce on the enemy. Ready to take it by the throat and prove her victory.
Then the next moment Blake was back inside herself and on the attack. She leapt up at the little girl. The girl let out a shriek, trying to use her long arms to keep Blake away. Blake just twisted in the grip, biting straight through the arms. She glared at the little girl. "You think you're a monster? Look at the face of a true monster!"
"I corrupted you!" screamed the girl.
"You did nothing!" yelled Blake. "I chose to become this! I'll show you what a monster is! I'll rip out the good from you and bring it back with me! I know it's in there and I will have it!"
"Why!?" yelled the girl, collapsing to the ground, Blake on top of her. Blake bit down into the girl's head, ripping the Grimm mask to shreds. When she was done the light was out of the corpse's eyes, the body disintegrating like any other Grimm. Blake could feel the pure light of the girl inside of her, disintegrating her own darkness from the inside out.
"Because I love you Yang," said Blake simply. "And because you did the same for me."
"Yang! Blake!" came the indistinct cry. Blake knew the voice was familiar but couldn't place it.
A second voice joined the first, just as familiar and undecipherable. "Yang! Blake!"
Blake turned around and saw a bright light shining in the distance. She could feel warmth from the light and knew that that was the way out. Blake ran with blinding speed on all fours towards the light. As she approached the light started to burn off the darkness from the outside of her just as Yang's heart burned away the darkness inside of her. She increased her pace, determined to reach her destination. Soon she found herself running on just two legs, scrambling against fatigue to make it to the end. She reached out her hand towards the light, not sure she could make it. Suddenly, two hands, one red and one white reached out and gripped her own, pulling her through the portal.
Blake woke up suddenly, her eyes flying open as she sat up quickly. Doing so had been a mistake as her head collided with something hard. The impact sent her back down onto her back, now with a headache.
"She's awake!" cried the familiar voice of Ruby.
"And apparently causing trouble as soon as she is," commented Weiss dryly, although Blake thought she could hear a layer of affection in the girl's voice.
"Pretty sure that one's my bad," winced another voice. Blake opened her eyes again and stared into the familiar purple eyes of Yang. A broad smile spread on her face and she sat up suddenly again, this time embracing a confused Yang.
"I'm so glad you're okay," said Blake, tears coming out of her eyes onto Yang's shoulder.
"Not when Professor Goodwitch is done with you two," commented Weiss. "She's furious at your recklessness!"
"Didn't you allow her to do that though?" asked Ruby.
Yang returned Blake's embrace, holding her tightly to her. Blake felt her shift slightly and felt Yang's breathe on her cat ear. Her voice came out in a conspiratorial whisper. "I love you too, by the way."
"Blake?" asked Ruby, looking at her in concern. "Are you okay? Your face is bright red! Should I go get a nurse?!"
"No!" cried Blake. Yang just laughed, such a heartfelt sound that she couldn't help but feel her own heart soar. Things were going to be okay.
Author's Notes: This was actually completed in one sitting a few days before Volume 3 started airing. Due to reasons it hasn't been published until now. I really enjoyed writing this fic. I know it's more common to portray Blake as the emo character but it was fun to explore the less happy parts of Yang's mind and her guiltier feelings.
This fic was inspired by a RWBY AMV that features the song "Monster" by Imagine Dragons. It's probably also a good example of what happens when a writer for the Neon Genesis Evangelion fandom attempts to write something for RWBY. Although now RWBY Volume 3 has gotten dark and things just keep getting worse and worse for the cast, so maybe none of this was really a stretch after all.