Chapter 1: Prologue (Cinder)
“You absolute freak!”
“Can’t you just die?”
“Touch my sister again and I’ll break your arm!”
“So you’re one of those freaks you loved to...? … You are no child of mine.”
Cinder woke with a gasping, hacking scream, shaking as her arm clutched her chest in blind panic. A thump accompanied her fall from the bed before her eye could finally register what was around her. Bed, dark grey walls, barely visible sky, green alarm clock showing the time. 4:27am.
“I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay… I-I-I’m okay…” she rasped out, taking slow stuttered breaths as her body finally began to relax.
A shuddered sigh escaped her lips before finally standing up on weak legs and stumbling to the bathroom door. Carefully stripping down to get into the shower and starting the water, she quietly let herself cry. Only here, with the sound shower and the trailing lukewarm water, would she let herself cry and release the tension of the nightmare. A short while later, Cinder had towelled off and begun settling into her routine.
Changing the bandages on her arm took the most time, having to go slowly to not agitate the still sensitive scar tissue while she worked. Next came placing the cloth covering over the left side of her face, securing it in place to keep from falling while hiding as much of her scarring as possible, small hints peeking through near her nose and forehead. Last came her thin black silk tights, old but well cared for, and unlikely to agitate her leg burn.
With the precautions taken care of, she finally dressed for the day. Dark grey jeans worn away with time, a small black glove over her bandaged hand, and a white undershirt followed by her dark crimson long sleeve with small yellow accents. Briefly her eyes tracked over the ruined leather of her jacket…
“No… not yet… not today.” She managed a breath to calm her quickening heartbeat, grabbing instead a brown button up coat.
Cupboards were opened and closed, dishes grabbed, and toast made. By 6am, Cinder was prepared for her day… and had no idea what to do. Her schedule told her the first class was in Lecture Hall 105, and though arriving early couldn’t hurt, it seemed… ill advised to sit outside a likely locked room for two hours. After some indecision, she slipped on her black dress shoes, grabbed her book bag, and stepped out the door; Heading towards a small cafe on the other side of campus.
The weather was chilly, even in early September Vale tended to always be some version of windy chill during the standard school year. Going as quickly as she could comfortably walk, she passed a couple other early risers and grounds keepers. Keeping her expression blank as possible and not glancing at the eyes that would blink and stare at her half mask and barely visible bandages on her wrist.
“Just have to keep walking, ignore the stares, ignore the damn pity.” She muttered in quiet agitation, hastening her pace just a bit.
Finding the small student run location was a simple enough affair, being somewhat central in Beacon Universities layout with the Library and Student Union joining it to surround the elaborate fountain structure at the school’s center. Finding the door open and the tables all but deserted was a great relief to her. Looking to the hanging menu board it took little time to decide on a simple coffee and cream. Now came the difficult part of actually ordering. A deep breath to settle her resolve, she walked to the counter and addressed the barista reading a book and having a simple black bow atop her head.
“E-excuse me? I would like a large coffee, two ahem, two creams.” Cinder silently cursed her hesitant tone, hating how hoarse and small her voice had become.
The girl blinked a bit in surprise, likely not expecting more than the one student who already sat in the cafe until later, her eyes flicking to the patch on Cinder’s face for a brief moment before showing a surprising bit of restraint and keeping her gaze locked on her uncovered side.
“...Of course,” She quickly replied after a moment, ringing in the order with practiced ease. “That’ll be 400 lien, and for…?”
“Cinder.” She managed clearly, pulling out her student card to swipe before walking to the other side of the cafe.
With little else to do, she watched the barista go about making her coffee, noticing the name tag stating her name to be Blake. A bit on the nose sounding with her mostly black attire, though she wasn’t one to judge in that department considering her own red clothing habits. Noting the fresh pot that was made for her cup, she let out a content sigh as the fresh brewed scent filled the air.
“Coffee for Cinder.” Blake called with a small hint of amusement as she looked to her.
“Thank you… very much.” She replied, managing a barely forced smile as she took her cup and walked to a booth in the back.
Time passed reasonably quickly as Cinder sipped her coffee and basked in the growing alertness and energy she had lacked earlier.
With morning proper beginning, the cafe grew more crowded with those not used to the early rise, noise and talking soon made it hard to relax for Cinder, and with her coffee finished over the last hour, it was time to find the lecture hall. The growing crowds helped her anxiety in a way, with all focussing on finding their respective classes, she got little attention herself with her appearance. The extra time certainly helped her navigate the maze of hallways before finally finding the correct room and walking in to find a few other early arrivals sitting in various tiered sections of desks.
Finding a spot near the back of the room, she unpacked her books while the other students slowly trickled in and the time ticked away. It was with just a few minutes left before they were to meet the professor, when a blur of red burst through the door, panting heavily as they stumbled up the steps to the chuckles of a few others. Cinder raised her eyebrow as the girl dropped into the desk next to her in exhaustion.
“I… made… it…” The girl gasped out while slumping onto the desk, seeming strangely familiar to Cinder but she couldn’t place where she had seen her before.
Before she could dwell on her curious neighbour further, Professor Peach walked in and began setting up at the lectern while the room began to hush. A few moments later she turned to address everyone.
“Hello everyone, I am Professor Peach and will be directing you through Ancient Remnant 101.” Taking a piece of chalk, she wrote it out her name and the class on the board.
“I know you’re all eager to learn, or atleast get this credit over with as quickly as possible,” A warm smile crossed her lips at the wave of chuckles before she continued, “However I do like to atleast take attendance for the first class of the semester so I can get to know you all better should you choose to keep this class or dig further in the future.”
It raised a few eyebrows, but also got a few smiles at the high school feel again. It went alphabetically down the list, everyone calling in response to the roll call. When Cinder’s name came up and she raised her arm with a mostly clear response, the girl in the red hoodie seemed to jump, giving an attempt at a confused discrete look to her. Again that nagging in the back of her mind returned, frustrating her to no end until it all hit her like a bucket of cold water.
“Ruby Rose?” Professor Peach called out, the chill going through Cinder’s spine as the girl next to her stood up.
“Here!” She yelled down, giving an enthusiastic wave to the front of the room, eliciting yet more chuckles from others.
*Ruby. Robe… Ruby… Rose… Ruby Rose... * Holding her face as calm as possible from the years of practice was all that kept her from panicking as the memories flooded her mind, of a short misunderstood kid who she had done so much too years ago, before everything had fallen apart for her when she realized just why she had had so much anger and frustration in her during middle school. Before she had become Cinder...
*I’m so fucked.* The thought overwhelmed her mind with panic and despair.
Chapter 2: A small step back (Ruby)
Innocence, Purity, Endless Joy… so many see these things as signs of Ignorance or false Optimism. And yet, they forget that Optimism is only false when you ignore the chances to Improve and Change. Innocence can remain, a joy and clear outlook to change things for the Better and not abandon anyone to their Pain.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
-Earlier that Day-
It was a familiar beginning for Ruby; New school, new people, and a chance for an even better experience than the last. Graduating a year early at Signal High, she had even managed to turn that into a Scholarship straight to Beacon University. And despite the rude awakening by her sister Yang way to early to make sure she had breakfast and got to her first day on time, it was still exciting to finally be going to Beacon.
“EEEEE!!! YANG!!! I’m here, its so cool!” Her excitement was released in a burst of energy, looking around with glee! ...Until Yang grabbed her by the hood to pull her back to reality.
“O-ow! Hey!” She looked up, indignant, while Yang smirked back.
“Chill Rubbles, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the campus again AFTER you get through your classes, okay?” She let go with a grin, ruffling the girl’s hair.
“Ugh, Fiiinnnneee. I’ll go ‘be responsible’” Sarcasm clear as she did her air quotes. Without warning though, her arms wrapped around Yang as she lept up and hugged her.
“Thanks for the ride Yang, I’ll call you later kay?”
“Kay. Stay safe, meet new people, and have fun okay?” Her grin widens as Ruby begins to head off to the Lecture Hall with a nod. “Not too much fun if you find those new people though!”
The sigh and eye roll was barely worth the effort as she gave one last wave, hiking up her backpack straps to more easily begin jogging into the building. It took a little bit to find the lecture hall, having entered the opposite end of the place. It was a glance at her watch that gave her that last burst of urgency, dashing past surprised passerbys until sliding in front of the door, deep gasping breaths accompanying her entry.
“I… made… it…” She mumbled out a bit louder than intended, blushing in embarrassment at the attention while getting into an empty seat at the back, slumping down to catch her breath.
And not a moment too soon as Professor Peach walked in soon after. Still catching her breath, Ruby barely heard anything before the attendance began, names slipping past before hearing a last name that brought all too familiar memories to bear.
“Heere…” The voice was close, a tiny bit raspy but still quite clear. Startled Ruby tried her best to give discrete glances to the woman she had failed to notice at the desk next to her. It was difficult, but the woman was clearly not Sebastian, and the quick confused stare back at her reminded Ruby of common courtesy, turning away to look back to the front. Responding that she was here was a simple act, mind out of its funk to focus on the task at hand.
“Looks like we’re all here, a first for this class.” Peach gave a smile brimming with anticipation as she went into the syllabus, jotting things down on the chalkboard.
Throughout the class, Ruby took as many notes as she could on what was to be studied and talked in the semester, marking the more interesting subjects to follow up on in her free time for ideas and image references. She wasn’t one to slack on a class, even one outside her planned major, but the research and projects were likely to help bring accuracy to her artwork inspired by Ancient History.
It was near the end of the lecture that Ruby got that little prickling feeling of being watched that you somehow notice. She worked to ignore it, trying to keep focussed on the professor, until it became too much for her curiosity to bear and stretched her arms above her head, taking a slow glance around. And surprisingly she did spot someone. A rabbit faunus on the far side of the room met her eye, leading to a blush and turning back forwards, with a quick repeat of Ruby doing the same.
*Wonder what that was about.* She thought, trying to refocus on the closing few words as Professor Peach finished speaking and dismissed the class.
Shaking her head a bit, Ruby began packing her things up and checking her schedule with a groan at noticing her afternoon class at 1pm. Sighing softly,her books were almost away before her chair was thumped into harshly, eliciting a squeak of surprise from the crimsonette. Glancing up, she saw Cinder wincing, seeming to limp as quickly as possible out of the room. The girl seemed so familiar, and with the last name Fall… Ruby quickly shook her head, frowning and quickly packing her things again.
“No no, bad brain, don’t go back there. Bad brain.” A shudder ran through her before the memories faded, leaving the room and ceasing the muttering under her breath.
The rest of the day seemed to go in a blur, her notebook filling with notes of her other 2 classes and keeping her mind away from darker thoughts. It was a fairly familiar rhythm from her high school days and brought a comfort of routine. With the last ending at 2pm, Ruby began looking at her map of the campus to find a place for a late lunch. Surprisingly, the Student Union building extended to a student run Pub as well, and they were already open. A few minutes later and only asking for directions once, Ruby entered the fairly plain building with a man sitting just inside the door.
“School ID please.” Came the quiet mumble, startling the Crimsonette before she dug it out, showing her age of 18.
“C-can I still go in to eat?” Her voice cracking slightly, getting quite embarrassed by it.
He looked it over once more before nodding, handing the card back and taking her wrist, making the back of her hand with an X in black marker.
“That’ll wash off easy later, don’t cause trouble and enjoy.” Barely sparing her a glance as he went back to his book.
After a bit of stunned standing, Ruby quickly walked past to find a place to sit, easy enough with only one large table near the windows having two guys studying something… though the size of the large man in the green shirt was a bit intimidating. Sitting down a few tables away, she looked through the menu already there. Within a minute the waitress came by and took her order of a burger, fries, and milk. With nothing to do but wait, she slipped her phone out to see the texts gotten during the day.
12:17 - Big Cister: Hey Ruby! Hope you’re paying attention to your classes!
12:17 - Big Cister: And make sure u don’t skip lunch!
12:19 - Big Cister: I’ll b free to pick u up at 4 if u don’t want the busses. Love you Sis! <3
A groan escaped her lips at Yang’s insistence on not typing words in full. She knew she did it on purpose just to get on her nerves. A quick reply back was swiftly typed back.
2:12 - You: Finished my last class a few minutes ago, just getting something to eat now.
2:13 - You: I’ll be at the campus library if you could pick me up still though. Thanks Yang!
With that done, she checked her other messages. A new meme from Penny about bambi, a good luck message from her Dad, and a text from an unknown number… A quick tap to it figured out why, bringing a small smile to her face.
1:38 - Unknown: Hey Ruby, this is Blake. Yang reminded me to send you my new number. I’ve got a room at the dorms on campus if you’d like to meet up sometime.
1:40 - Unknown: Oh! And no pressure if you are having an ‘I’ week from all the new people and classes.
Ruby could barely hold in her excitement! She hadn’t been sure if Blake would be coming to Beacon this year after the summer. And after the long day, it was a nice bit of news to see.
2:19 - You: BLAKE!!! I’m so happy you were able to get in! This week is probably gonna be an ‘I’ week yeah, but I’d love to meet up maybe this weekend?
2:22 - You: We could go get dinner with Yang, ooo! And your roommate! Do you have a roommate? I would love to meet them too if you have one! I’ll let you know how I’m feeling later!
It would be wonderful being able to regularly see Blake again. It had been a bit sad when Blake and Yang had graduated High School before her, and the events with Adam had been distressing for all when it came to a head in the summer… Nope! Not the time for those thoughts!
Ruby was just about to dig her laptop out to act as another distraction when the waitress returned with her food, causing her to jump at the clink of the plate. One embarrassed apology later and she could finally dig into her meal! Everything was nice and hot, just how she liked it. And now eating she glanced around the room again, taking note of a few more people having wandered in, including a familiar rabbit faunus who sat with the two boys from earlier, and a second girl that had joined them dressed in clothes that could have cost more than her textbooks had!
With that done, Ruby focussed entirely on her food, letting out little sounds of joy with finally eating again in the day. When only half her fries remained, her eyes caught the well dressed girl cooly walking towards her, beret and sunglasses creating quite the look. Blinking in confusion at her approach, Ruby quickly swallowed the last of her food to focus as she drew close.
“Hey there short stuff~ I can see why Velvs has been staring at you the last 10 minutes, quite the cutie aren’t ya?” A hand came up to tilt her glasses down, grinning with confidence as the Crimsonette’s face matched her clothing.
“I… um… um… Sh-she was… erm… you think I’m c-cute? Eheheh… heh…” Her hands clapped over her face in embarrassment, not used to the sudden flirting.
The girl stifled her own laugh at the reaction, reaching over to pat her arm a little.
“Hey, no need to be embarrassed there Red, didn’t mean to embarrass ya. You are cute though, I can see why shes been so distracted.”
“Thank… you… S-sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about there Red. Name’s Coco.” She reached a hand out, face softening considerably.
“R-ruby. Nice to meet you.” Hesitantly shaking the offered hand, she glanced over to see that the aforementioned Velvet was blushing even brighter it seemed, hiding her face on the table as the smaller of the two boys laughed hysterically at her reaction.
“Same to you, Ruby. I’ll leave you alone now, didn’t mean to embarrass you that much.” She grinned, sliding her glasses back up as she stood.
“I-its no problem. Um… n-nice meeting you! Again… erm…” A small laugh escaped from the fashionista's lips before nodding back.
“Of course. And hey, if you ever wanna hang out with us over there, feel free to chat next time you see us. Assuming you don’t mind Velvs eventually trying to hug the cuteness outta ya.”
“See ya!” And just like that, Coco walked back with a wave, leaving the blushing and confused Ruby to her thoughts.
An incredibly distracted Ruby eventually finished her food, payed, and made her way to the library, managing not to get lost on her way for once. In the end she sat in a study booth distracted and blushing after the encounter at the SU Pub. Was this what being flirted with was like? They probably thought she was so… so weird! Coco had just surprised her too much with it! Maybe it was just the confidence she seemed to exude… but then… she HAD said Velvet was staring at her again…
Nearly an hour passed of thinking herself into a circle passed before her scroll buzzed incessantly against her leg, showing that Yang was calling her. A little early, but that was nice. Declining the call, Ruby walked outside the library to find Yang waving over to her while seated on Bumblebee.
“Hey Rubes! How was your day?” That ever present grin never seemed to leave Yang’s face, placing her sister’s laptop bag in the compartment on the back of her bike and handing the extra helmet over.
“I-it was okay, took lots of notes! And um… d-did meet a couple people… er… one people, Person! Um…”
“You okay Rubes? You make a friend or… are you okay? Do I need to hurt someone for you, cause you know I’ll do it!” She asked, concern growing quickly.
“Nonononono! Nothing like that at all! I just… um… erm… I g-got flirted with while eating… I think? She called me cute and her friend thinks I’m cute too andIjustwasn’treadyforsomeonetoflirtwithmeahh!”
“Woah, slow down there Rubes. Breathe.” Comforting hands on her shoulders quickly helped diffuse the growing babble.
“Now, you good to go? Not gonna panic on the bike?”
“I-I’m good now, phew, sorry Yang. Can we talk about it later? A-at home?”
“Sure thing Rubbles.” A smile returned once again, helping get the helmet on tight before mounting the bike, revving it up as they got ready to go.
“And hey, when we get back, I can get all the deets on your new girlfriend~ Or Girlfriends should I say, slaying all the hearts on your first day.”
“YYYAAAANNNNNGGGGG!!!” she cried out in protest as they began to leave the campus, the helmet hiding her yet again blushing face.
Well, I hope the follow up is good too, any comments are always appreciated. Had a couple people read this chapter beforehand that gave me confidence in it and the first seemed to be well received. I do hope I captured Ruby and Coco well in this. Although I find Ruby quite easy to write, Coco took a bit of thinking... Anyway, enough musing, I'll see you in the next chapter, feedback is always appreciated!
Chapter 3: A past come to haunt (Cinder)
Anxiety takes many forms. It can dig into you, bring you down to feel every worry and run through everything that could go wrong. It can leave you trapped in your mind with no seeming escape. And sometimes, rare times, it will push you to new heights.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
*Why did she have to be HERE!?*
Cinder had barely paid attention to her other classes, body almost in a state of a constant anxiety attack. It wasn’t a new feeling, but it was a mite more pronounced. On top of the staring at her face, it was becoming an even greater strain on her than she had thought. Why did it have to be her? Of all people!?
By 3pm she had almost gone all the way around, feeling a better sense of calm and focus that unnerved her a great deal. But with that, she managed to sit down and take a moment to finally write out what little she could remember of the days activities. The bench was nice and cool, the soft breeze helping her truly calm down over the next few minutes and get the sparse notes atleast partially completed. A long sigh left her body, the tension of the day at last leaving her.
*She could have gone anywhere, why here!?*
*Is this my punishment, to never be free of my mistakes?*
The answers eluded her, and with nothing left on her schedule, Cinder was left with the decision of what to do for the rest of the day. Almost resigning herself to heading home, her eyes drift up to catch a Pride flag, carefully being string between 2 windows of the Student Union building’s third floor. Looking through the handbook she had received in the mail and flipping to the section on the student union was enlightening to say the least. A rather impressive section discussing the available support for LGBTQ students, including the whole third floor being available to relax in and counsellors available throughout the day. And with the building open until 8pm most days…
The temptation grew too great, and with a long sigh, Cinder stood up and may her way into the Union building. She could already feel the anxiety both growing and leaving in equal amounts, knowing full well that this needed to be a step on her journey. A quick glance around the lobby found an elevator that she took to the third floor, a few steadying breaths and coughs to clear her throat, hoping her rasp would at the very least be minimized a bit by the actions. However false that may be, walking out of the elevator left her a bit struck at the interior.
It was… warm, welcoming. A strange atmosphere as her eyes travelled over the soft brown walls, simple green carpet, and a half dozen large couches and tables. Only a few people were around, but they all seemed content; And for the first time in almost two years Cinder felt like she could be safe here. A few steps in and she was approached by a rather tall older woman who could only be a professor or counsellor, writing briefly on a clipboard as she approached.
“Good afternoon. My name is Glynda Goodwitch, she/her pronouns. May I ask who you are and how you like to be addressed?” She spoke crisply, only now glancing up with a somewhat stern expression, though it struggled to remain as she got a good look at the young woman before her.
“Um… C-cinder. Cinder Fall. She/her...” Her eye was wide, a bit startled by the abruptness of being asked those questions in the first place at all.
“It is a pleasure to meet you miss Fall. I am just here to impress on you that this is a no judgement area, and that you do not have to mention why you are here.” The precise delivery of Glynda’s voice was almost disturbingly similar to her Mother… when she was her mother that was.
“I under, urhmm, understand Ma’am. Thank you.” Glynda’s gaze softened a bit, noticing the tension in the young woman.
“There is no reason to be afraid here. If you need any counselling or help, the lists of availability are on the board, and anyone who causes trouble is not allowed to return. I’ll be around all week today, so please, relax and we’re glad to have you here.”
Cinder’s demeanour notably changed, not quite fully relaxed but… content, as the floor was meant to convey.
“Thank you again, ma’ *cough* Ma’am.” A tiny smile replaced her normal slight frown. And with a shared nod, Cinder walked past to the find a seat on a couch, closing her eye softly and sinking into the cushion that seemed more comfortable than her bed.
People still glanced at her, even somewhere like here it was inevitable, but it was never staring or pity. Just to notice the cover, and nothing more. The only person to meet her eye gave a smile not of pity, but seeming understanding as he stood to walk over while keeping eye contact, apparently seeking to see her comfort in the approach before continuing. In return, Cinder’s gaze couldn’t help but pick out the streak of pink in his otherwise raven black hair.
“May I join you? I do not wish to disturb if you do not.” The boy had a very calm expression, focussing on her single revealed eye without wavering one bit.
“You may.” She states softly, sitting up slowly as he sat down and held out a hand.
“I go by Ren, he/him and they/them.”
“Cinder. She/her.” She couldn’t help the slight amused smirk as she shook his hand. He nodded and then sat, seeming to not really wish to speak more yet, or waiting for her to speak. Deciding on the second, Cinder spoke.
“I appreciate your kept focus, its *cough* its not often anyone is so considerate.”
“I can’t say everyone won’t, but that was part of my reasoning. You seem as though you rarely have the opportunity for a conversation without that attention. I am more practiced at… discretion? No… you will learn when she gets here.” Cinder’s smirk grew a bit more, amused rather than malicious for the first time in a long time.
“Eccentric girlfri… erm... p *cough* partner?”
“One word for her I suppose. She means well, but I apologize in advance when she asks you fifty times to peak under the patch.”
Cinder’s smirk slowly shrunk, going from neutral to worried to almost angry in a way, trying to keep it in, she let out a long breath. It took visible effort to bring down the sudden flare to her temper, looking back up to Ren whose face that had remained passive so far now showed genuine worry.
“I will stop her after the first, you don’t need to worry.” The long sigh that escaped Cinder’s body also seemed to release most of the tension still built in her, nodding gently.
“Thank you.” Was her whispered reply, keeping her emotions down. No crying or yelling, not here.
A nod was all that was given in response, keeping where he was and again letting CInder set the flow of the conversation. And it took a couple minutes before she was ready to speak again.
“I’m… I apologize… I hate being a… a show piece.”
“Your reasons are your own, you don’t have to explain anything.”
“I know… I know… I sh-should be better.”
“We all struggle with...”
“REEEEEENNNNN!!!” The loud exuberant voice easily cut him off, a blur of pink and orange zipped past Cinder, crashing into a somewhat resigned Ren as he fell back on the couch in the hug.
“Oh I missed you!!! How was class, did you eat lunch, can we have pancakes later!? OH! And whose this?” The flurry of words and sudden attention turn to her were a bit overwhelming, sliding back a bit from the couch.
“C-cinder. Please don’t… yell.”
“Ooo, thats a really cool name! Hey, I like your look, can I see under...”
“NORA.” Ren’s voice was the most raised Cinder had heard the entire conversation, a hand covering the redhead’s mouth. “This is a quiet place remember? Goodwitch will kick you out.”
“O-oh, sorry!” Quieting down slightly, Nora was barely containing her energy, but atleast was making the effort.
“And don’t ask those questions. We all have things we don’t talk about on a whim.”
“Okay Renny. Sorry.” And again she hugged him, Cinder finally releasing the breath she had held, Ren sighing back as well.
“I… think I w-will go. It was *cough* nice to meet you… both.” She stood slowly, giving a slightly strained smile though clearly quite uncomfortable now.
“It was a pleasure to speak with you.” Ren stated softly, offering a smile of sympathy and understanding as Nora bounced on the couch next to him.
“Byyyeeee!!!” Was Nora’s response, waving excitedly as Cinder made her way towards the stairs this time, though stopped short at the corkboard next to it, looking over all the posters and ads.
It was no small effort that led her to finally reach up and taking a strip with the contact details from one of the ads, sliding it into her pocket and walking down the stairs two at a time.
The walk across campus was fairly simple for her, but once again the walk into the area just outside Beacon’s influence was not the best. With student housing being almost exclusively 2 bed dorms, a situation Cinder was just not ready for, her apartment was in the next closest and cheapest area. It wasn’t exactly violent crime ridden, but easily unwelcoming, and tended to be where most of the drugs and alcohol (atleast for those underage) would find its way to campus. This had led to a lot of cheap rooms, but it wasn’t exactly a safe neighbourhood.
With this in mind, Cinder kept her pace brisk, avoiding any groups until she could climb the stairs to her apartment. It was getting dark when she finally got in the door, locking the door behind her with no small amount of relief. Slipping out of her shoes and tossing her keys aside, she went about preparing an evening meal. With only a few pieces of sushi for lunch, her stomach ached for a more proper meal. Searching of the cupboards and fridge was brief, settling on what to make by getting a pot of water to a quick boil. Twenty-five minutes later, the spaghetti was boiled, and the canned tomato sauce poured over giving a small bit of flavour to the otherwise bland meal.
“Atleast its not ramen…” She muttered, eating the filling meal while browsing her schedule for tomorrow.
The thumps and bangs somewhere in the complex startled her from the musings, some raised voices and what sounded like a piece of furniture breaking. Doing her best to ignore it while cleaning her dishes was the hardest part. Atleast once a week this had happened, some kind of scuffle in a room below or the streets just as the sun was setting. It would be a rush, but getting home before dark in the winter should be possible… hopefully. It would be a problem to tackle later in the term.
With whatever scuffle at an end, Cinder allowed herself some time to relax fully, sitting down in the old armchair the place had come with and pulling out one of her novels from the box beside it. Few things had been brought from home with her, books and clothes among the most of it, and though they had been read several times each; It remained a way to lower the stress of the day.
With the sun fully set and the hour growing late, Cinder stripped down, wincing slightly at the more focussed pressure against her covered scars. Slipping the bandages off hurt the most, leaving her mentally exhausted from the effort and pain that was caused. With it done, she could finally slip the covering off her face, looking to her mirror at the damaged side of her face with resigned acceptance as she always did. Popping the bottles and taking her pills, her eye inevitably trailed to the one she had left to the side. The painkillers she had been given from the hospital. Turning away as quickly as possible, she finished prepping for the night with a very soft pair of black leggings.
Setting the alarm for 7am and praying to the Maidens she would need it, Cinder slipped under the quilt to drift off to sleep.
*Maybe… this is a way to forgive myself… to let her judge me now and give a way to finally fix what I did. ...Goodnight Cinder, may Sebastian continue to burn in hell.*
Holy crap is Cinder suddenly very hard to write for me. O.O Atleast in terms of dialogue. I know where the character will go, but writing the dialogue before that point is... a difficult balance to strike. Wanting her old hate and prejudice to peak out without it being... at discord with the rest of her personality. We'll have to wait and see. x.x Comments and critiques always appreciated, Sebastian mentioned again and I'm guessing its gonna be a 50/50 split of people knowing who they are. Next chapter we take a step to someone elses perspective, so enjoy that coming. Also! Any comments on the beginning notes? I don't remember why I made the first one but they have... stuck for me. Anyway, ttyl!
Chapter 4: Hiding in plain sight (Blake/Coco)
We all hide things about ourselves. Fetishes, guilty pleasures, relationships; There is always something that you keep from all around you. Sometimes for your safety, sometimes for fear of being judged, and sometimes… you don’t even know why you hide what truly makes you, well, you.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A long sigh of relief left Blake’s mouth as her shift ended. It hadn’t been her first choice to get a part time job on top of her first year course load, but it would help to stay on top of those student loans as early as possible. And with the weekend looking free now, and a certain pair of sisters meeting up with her tomorrow morning to catch up in person, life seemed good for young woman… if it weren’t for her roommate.
With student housing being fairly cheap and only requiring a roommate, it seemed the perfect fit for her. Meet a new friend to help rebuild her support network, be exposed to new ideas, or at the very least she would be able to build up enough trust to forgo her bow, clips, and occasional hat when in her dorm to stretch her ears a bit. But of course the world decided to throw one more curveball Blake’s way, with the name of Weiss Schnee; Heiress to the Schnee Development Company and daughter of Jacques Schnee. Arrogant, a bit stuck up, and potentially racist, Weiss was not at all close to her ideal roommate aside from her tendency to keep to herself.
The slow walk back to the dorm let her continue to think, still unsure if her initial judgments were too harsh. To be fair, Weiss hadn’t been… explicitly derogatory towards the faunus to her knowledge yet. An overly long stare at another Feline faunus with a tail instead of ears had raised her eyebrow, and yet that had been the extent of things. She would need to learn more soon, hiding her ears the whole week was beginning to take its toll when she could only free them for the short time she was in the shower both morning and evening. That and the one time she had worn her bow to bed, easily the least painful way to hide, it had caused a few questions she had needed to deflect though so it wasn’t viable long term.
Another long sigh, perhaps she could convince Yang and Ruby to let her over to their flat so she could relax for the day. But that would be a hope for tomorrow’s Blake. Today, with the sun having just set, she would need to face the reality of hiding herself for the foreseeable future from the resident Ice Queen.
Her keys jingled slightly before they entered the lock to her room, opening the door and glancing about. It was barely noticeable, but Weiss who appeared to be studying on her bed looked to have quickly slipped something out of sight at her entrance… Interesting. Playing it off would be better, no amount of directness would get her to open up about it while on guard.
“Sorry if I startled you, busy friday shift at the cafe.” Blake closed the door quietly, shrugging her jacket off to hang off her bedpost.
“Nothing to be concerned about, was just caught up in my business reading.” Came the curt reply, shifting her books aside as a bit of tension left her. “Though to be quite honest I should likely take a break from it, the words were beginning to blur together.”
“Sucks that you got assigned reading in the first week.” Stretching her arms up, Blake let out a long sigh of content as all the stiffness popped and cracked away with the few stretches. Glancing over she noticed the wincing Weiss.
“I don’t know how you do that, it can’t possibly be healthy.”
“Welcome to the pains of working anything customer service related.” A few stretches later ended with a slightly pained look at one movement, but it was nothing she hadn’t dealt with before.
Weiss seemed to want to add something, but bit it off before she did, turning back to her books. And like that their conversation was over. Aside from some initial rule setting on the first day, the twos interactions mainly consisted of the same small questions and inquiries. A year or two ago this would have been the ideal for Blake, a quiet and unobtrusive roommate. Yang had shown her the need for a gentle push out of her comfort zone. Not always, she declined as many outings as she accepted, but it kept her loneliness away with a minimum of anxiety. Now it felt like she had taken a step back…
With only a small assignment on an important event in recent history given to her, Blake contented herself to reading on her bed and letting the thoughts of the day drift away. An hour before their agreed upon lights out time, Weiss checked her phone, face briefly flickering with a hint of… anger? Frustration? Perhaps exasperation… Blake could not see enough of it to take it in as her roommate stood up and headed to the door.
“I have to make a call, I will return just before 11.” That dismissive arrogance creeped into her words, but Blake gave her a strained benefit of the doubt. She obviously had something heavy on her mind to deal with.
“Just knock before you enter please.” Blake’s eyes flicked to the almost closed door, thinking this her opportunity to get a bit of relaxation for her ears.
“Obviously.” Was the only reply with the door closing firmly behind her, a jacket being taken just before.
Immediately Blake undid her ribbon, tension leaving as her feline ears flicked about and stretched. Hands reaching up, her fingers carefully massaged and rubbed the fur and skin, helping relieve the mild pain that had accumulated over the day. Lying back on her pillow with the ears out was heavenly really, and she intended to enjoy every second of it. A quick alarm set for 20 minutes, Blake went about her nightly routine as quickly as possible, her blake robe quite comfy to sleep in. With the changing done, her hands went back to their soft massage. All too soon her alarm went off, not daring to push the time Weiss was away any further, returning the bow to her head as loose as she dared.
A short five minutes later Weiss returned, looking frustrated and drained as she changed quickly into her sleep clothes, and crawled into her bed. The behaviour was… shocking from the normally composed Heiress, a dozen questions bubbled on her mind but she held her tongue. This would not be the moment to push, as much as it pained her curiosity.
“Do you… want me to turn the lights off?” Blake was hesitant to speak, but had to get the question out to atleast say something.
“If you could… please.” Blake nodded and soon did, clicking the lamp off and making her slow way to her bed in the dark despite seeing fairly easy.
The night was a long one for both, and Blake was sure that she had heard some attempts to silently cry by Weiss, but again she felt helpless to really do anything as her own consciousness slipped away to sleep.
The morning came and went for Blake, Weiss having already been gone when she awoke in the morning. A shower and breakfast later, Blake checked her phone again to confirm the time with a smile as she made her way to the center of the campus where she had agreed to meet her favorite pair of sisters. Standing next to a bench, her skinny jeans and windbreaker gave her quite a presence, ears hidden by a warm toque to match the windy weather. It was just a few minutes after the set time when she smiled at a blur of red racing towards her.
“BBBLLLLAAAAKKKKEEEE!!!” Ruby cried out with joy, leaping at her in a big hug that was easily matched in kind.
“Well hello to you too Ruby, its been awhile.”
“Yeah it has! New rule! Atleast one visit a month, no more only hearing about you from Yang.” It was at that moment that said Blonde walked up to the pair, chuckling at her sister’s antics.
“You’re just embarrassed that I keep teasing you about your new girlfriends~” The smirk and wiggle of Yang’s eyebrows brought a barely muffled laugh from Blake as Ruby’s face grew beet red.
“Girlfriends plural huh?~ Its barely been a week Ruby.”
“H-hey! No teaming up on me! I was just… ya know… flirted with and stared at… by a cute girl and a h-hot… girl… gah!” Ruby’s face was as bright as her hoodie, ducking down to hide the burning blush. At which point Blake brought her in for another hug.
“Alright Yang, lets lay off your sister for now okay?” Yang’s answering grin and nod finally brought Ruby out of her embarrassed stupor.
“Now that um… thats done, c-can we go um… what did you wanna do Blake?”
“Ooo, how about that icecream place that sells burgers Blakey? Haven’t gone to that in years.” Blake then gave her an eyeroll with a smirk.
“You’ve just been craving that greasy bacon burger they have. But sure.”
“Yeah, icecream!” Ruby again was off in a blur, heading back to the car Yang had borrowed for the day. Blake smiled softly, following along with Yang.
“She’ll never change, will she?”
“Nope! Now if only I could get her to cut down on the cookies.” Yang’s playful grin back to Blake was returned with a chuckle.
Making their way there was filled with casual chatting, Ruby going on and on about her classes while catching up with Blake after being away most of the summer. Yang kept her teasing of the two to a minimum much to Ruby’s appreciation, and inevitably talk went to Blake living on campus and her roommate, though she deflected a bit on that. The sister’s did notice, but knew they would get the story eventually. And as they pulled into the parking lot, Ruby did ask a question that made Blake pause and Yang burst out laughing.
“Hey Blake? Um… Wh-whats a g-good way to… erm… a-approach a ra… er… lupine faunus… who may l-like you?” Ruby’s cheeks were now bright red, though she fought the instinct to hide her face in her hoodie.
“So only ONE of them is your girlfriend~” Yang’s grin turned into a giggle, even under Blake’s withering gaze before she turned back to Ruby, expression softening.
“I’m guessing you mean how to not be offensive?” Ruby nodded slowly, looking quite a bit more nervous than normal, much to Blake’s amusement.
“Ruby, you are by far, one of the least offensive people I know. If she does like you, and you want to ask her out or get to know her, I’m sure you will do wonderfully.” Blake smiled gently, ruffling the Crimsonette’s hair.
“Just don’t stare at her faunus traits if it makes her uncomfortable and you’ll be just fine.” Ruby slowly nodded back, letting out a long breath as the tension left her shoulders.
“Thank you Blake. Um… l-lets eat now!” And out the car door she went, leaving Yang and Blake chuckling at her antics.
“You’ll keep an eye on her on campus right Blakey? I worry sometimes and I won’t be able to pick her up most days with having to tend the shop.” Yang’s tone was a somber one, realizing how much her little sister was growing up.
“If she ever has a late night on campus for any reason she can stay in my room with me. She might as well be my sister too at this point for all you two have done for me.” Yang closed her door with a smile, giving Blake a short hug before heading off after Ruby.
“You’re always welcome in our little family Blake, no dating required.” The playful wink was met with a light tap to the shoulder from Blake’s fist, grinning.
“Shush you, no incest in this family.”
“Unlike with that smut you read when you think no ones around.” Yang was dashing through the door before Blake had fully comprehended what had been said, suddenly glaring daggers at the blonde’s back.
“Oh she is so gonna get it. Wait till I tell Ruby what lupine heat is like. Then she’ll have to deal with THAT aftermath. That’ll show her.” Her annoyed mutterings met no listening ears as she stalked inside, already planning revenge.
“Hey Cinnabun, I bought some of those veggie-rolls you like for movie… night…” The sight before her was enough to shut her up entirely when she walked into her dorm, closing the door gently and glancing back with a loving smirk.
“I thought you were starting those pills this week Cinnabun.” The blushing grin from Velvet, lying on their large bed in gentle brown lingerie and staring back at her, had been enough to have Coco drooling the first time she had seen her like this.
“Th-they helped b-but um… I-it still builds up at th-the end and um… yeah.” Velvet’s body was flush, watching Coco lock the door and place the plastic bag she had been carrying on the desk, smiling at her calmly.
“And I’m guessing you want this done before class on Monday with a certain gem?~” Velvet’s embarrassed glance away was all she needed in answer, smiling at her partner and reminiscing on their past.
Coco had been with Velvet together for years, meeting up in their high school and after a long year of awkward flirting, Velvet had asked Coco out and the two had only grown closer since. Partners and lovers, Coco had picked up a lot on the various habits of the lupine faunus. Namely, her tendency to get very close to some of their friends before stepping back for weeks at a time, almost as if something had scared her. It took till their first year at Beacon for Velvet to finally admit why she did this. A teary eyed admission that she was finding herself attracted to others. Coco had been… more worried than angry or upset, seeing her partner brought to such anguish over what she thought at the time was simple admiring of others bodies which she herself had done as well.
Long conversations and some internet browsing later, Coco had figured out fully what Velvet meant. She wasn’t well versed in Poly relationships, barely knowing what the term meant until that day, but spent as much time studying it as she did her classes for two weeks straight. More common among the Faunus as a connection result of their instincts, Polyamory was not some strange open relationship that the first day or looking had hinted at.
Two weeks of struggling between the two ended with their bond growing stronger, and Coco’s blessing to expand her relationships. And overtime, while meeting with and occasionally joining with Velvet and the other partners she tried with, Coco found herself becoming part of those relationships together with her partner. This year had seen most of their others graduate, heading home to the corners of the world, but never forgotten. And thus it returned to now, Velvet in one of her frequent (if now more stable) heats. The pills were meant to help lessen the strain on the poor lupine faunus now that there were far less people around to… sate that desire.
“You gonna hang out with her first? Or just ask her out? Cause yeah, cute and adorkable is completely you, but just be careful to not rush things Cinnabun.” Coco smiled warmly as she herself began to undress.
“W-why do you think I’m h-hoping this e-ends my heat!? I don’t want to… y-you know… j-jump her.” Velvet’s expression was a slightly worried one at the thought, but Coco took her focus away, now just as undressed as the delectable woman before her.
“I know Cinnabun, and yeah, I think we could probably share her too with how much she reacted to my ‘flirting’.~ For now though, I think its time to treat you before movie night.~” The growl Coco let out had Velvet’s ears stand on end, letting out a squeak of surprise as Coco pushed her lips against the blushing girl’s own.
I hope this step away from Cinder and Ruby perspectives is taken well. We get an introduction to both Weiss and Blake proper! And a bit more Blake's past with the sisters. Also, the start of my teasing of lewd scenes, because I'm evil like that! :P Also doing the dual focus chapter, atleast a tiny bit. I was originally having the Coco/Velvet scene in the next chapter but realized the info I wanted to convey wasn't that long. Anyway! Comments and criticism welcome! Prepare for feels next chapter.
Chapter 5: Confessions? (Ruby/Cinder)
Friendships, relationships, these all are things that take trust. You trust a friend to have your back and not talk poorly behind your back. You trust a partner to take care of you as you do for them, each with your own niches. All are unique, and watching a budding relationship blossom before you as a rose, can truly be beautiful.
CW: Emotional Breakdown, Past Abuse/Bullying, Vague Allusions to Uncooperative Anatomy
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
CW: Emotional Breakdown, Past Abuse/Bullying, Vague Allusions to Uncooperative Anatomy
The morning came with new excitement for Ruby. Her plan was set! She would (try) to talk to Velvet and see if she could become friends with her! It would be perfect! Nothing could go wrong! ...Unless her anxiety took hold too much. She was also curious about Cinder. Despite only sharing the one class with their schedules from what she could tell from the first week, the last name still stuck with her. Fall. A shudder passed through her at the thoughts, deciding that perhaps it would be best to ask to speak with Velvet at the same time she had seen her before, instead of trying to juggle her excitement and worried curiosity.
Regardless she had a skip in her step after Yang had dropped her off, despite all the teasing about wearing her good skinny jeans, actually arriving early this time and glancing around the lecture hall as she stepped inside. There weren’t many there yet, but a smile grew as she noticed a certain set of long ears, quickly heading over to her with a bit of anxiousness now. A deep breath to calm her nerves, and she stepped over to sit next to her.
“H-hey Velvet!” The cracking of her voice brought embarrassment to Ruby’s cheeks, cursing in her head.
“O-oh! Hi there Ruby! Its um… a pleasure t-to meet you… pr-properly, ya know?” Velvet held out a hand slowly, blushing a tiny bit at the cute bubbly girl.
“Y-yeah, nice to meet you!” And so she shook the offered hand, and then kept shaking… and shaking… until they both pulled their hands back nervously.
“Th-that was um… very awkward w-wasn’t it?” Velvet’s question brought a very quick set of nods from Ruby.
“W-we’re both not that good at this, h-huh?”
“I… I should be better about it… b-but its been… A good while s-since um… I t-talked to new people.” Velvet’s hand reached up to one of her ears, rubbing it nervously while the Crimsonette’s eyes struggled not to stare.
“Heh heh, yeah, I uh… I know those feels. Um… Wh-what I wanted to ask is uh... if you wanted t-to maybe meet up at the student pub again t-to chat? G-get to know one another ya know?” A gulp of anxiety was all the left Ruby.
*This wasn’t like a date date… maybe? Was this how you asked someone out? HAD SHE JUST ASKED SOMEONE OUT!?*
“Y-yeah, I would love to Ruby.” A loud squeak left the small girl as Velvet suddenly hugged her, feeling her cheek press into her chest, flustering her to no end as she was released just as quickly.
“S-sorry! Um… I d-didn’t mean to… um…”
“M-meet you there s-same time as last week.” And in a blur Ruby was back up to her original seat, leaving both embarrassed messes at the awkwardness. Luckily only a handful of others were there to bear witness to it, more beginning to trickle in as Ruby fidgeted and struggled to calm down in her seat. And soon her second target for likely awkward conversations arrived, dressed much the same way as last though a black top this time.
Cinder looked quite tired climbing the steps, only entering with bare minutes to spare. Watching her as she walked up, Ruby’s eyes inevitably caught a better look at her face this time, feeling some kind of familiarity yet again. She could not jump to conclusions though, and looked away before she was spotted, deciding on the plan to talk to her after… and cursing her decision for the skinny jeans.
*Dumb annoying body!*
Peach arrived soon and with an annoyed sigh Ruby turned her focus to the prof. Her thoughts kept going back to the rather close hug though, leading to a minor if consistent distraction. Thirty minutes into the class and things were reaching a bit of a balance when a note was slipped onto her desk. Blinking in surprise and shock, her eyes flitted over to Cinder, whose hand was already returned to her desk. The one eye looked to her, gave a slight nod and glance back to the note before turning forward. Curiosity plagued the Crimsonette as she quickly enfolded the small note.
Feel free to take my water bottle and hold it between your legs. Its half frozen and that has… helped in my experience when things act up.
A fresh blush formed on Ruby’s face, glancing over to her neighbour who appeared to be calmly taking notes. Looking down a bit she could see the water bottle set on the floor between them. It was a moment of indecision before she took the bottle, doing as instructed before turning forward again. Surprisingly, it helped quite a bit, regardless of where her brain decided to go. By the time the lecture was over, Ruby had gently placed the bottle back between the two, disappearing at her next look over. And then the clock ticked over and Peach dismissed everyone. Packing her things, Ruby looked over to Cinder slowly, finally deciding on how to respond to her apparent sister in gender.
“U-um...Thank you for the help… I uh… yeah.” Her hand slipped up to her hair as she spoke, ending in a mumble. Cinder looked over, giving a slightly strained smile.
“Like I s-said in the note. I am fa *cough* familiar with that… well, happening.” Cinder’s voice was… surprising to her, not at all what she expected.
“Well… Thanks, again, but… er… c-could I ask how…?” The question was left unasked, Ruby’s face showing quite a bit of concern.
“How I knew?” A nod was received and Cinder let out a long sigh.
“C-can we talk... outside? I… don’t want to *cough* be overheard…”
Ruby nodded slowly, growing a bit more worried as they both finished getting their things and walked out together, heading to a quiet bench a little ways from the building. Hey both sat down and Cinder took a long deep breath.
“I know you R-ruby… because of… of Signal, m-middle school…” Ruby’s eyes grew wide, gripping her bag tightly as she stared in terror, already thinking the worst. And in that moment, Cinder made her choice.
“S-sebastion… Sebastian was my brother!” The quick yell was followed by a fit of coughing, the raising of her voice a much greater strain than expected as Ruby’s impending panic attack wavered slightly.
“Y-your brother?” The quiet reply came from the Crimsonette, struggling to take the information as Cinder’s coughing fit abated.
“M-my… my son of a bitch brother... H-he…he… what he h-had done to you… I…” Her breath shuddered and then hitched as Ruby gently held her arms out and held Cinder’s right side, calming her enough to keep talking.
“H-he w-w-was an idiot and… just took so much joy i-in it…” Her breath hitched again, but she pressed forward with a few deep breaths.
“I… I never expected… t-to see you a-a-again. You d-didn’t know me b-but… I heard… a-and saw you t-taken by *coughcough* By the paramedics…” Her breathing was still erratic, but Ruby could feel her pulse lowering from the little contact she had on her body.
“Y-you made me question… my entire being r-really… I-it wasn’t until high school that I… finally was tr-true to myself… A-and then there you were again. You walked into the lecture hall and said your name… I just… I didn’t know wh-what to do and panicked…”
Ruby’s heart hurt in her chest, seeing how hard they were working to keep themselves together while confessing all of this. She… didn’t know what her expectations had been, she hadn’t even known Sebastian had a sibling in the first place! Though considering the state she was in… she could understand them not wanting to associate. Something said was still bubbling in her mind though about how this had started. It took her by surprise when she began to move, shifting a bit to look at Ruby directly with a face full of pain and guilt.
“I… I’m s-s-sorry for… dumping all of that on you…”
“I-its okay Cinder… um… I-I’m sorry if this is… not something you want to address… y-you said he WAS your brother?” The choked coughing laugh was not the reaction she expected, nor the answer.
“W-well, when h-he’s dead and… and you’re disowned… n-n-not really your family anymore. Right?” Her expression was looking rather… manic before it fixed again, letting out a few more long breaths as Ruby frowned, the answer saddenning her further at what the girl before her must have gone through after she herself had been hospitalized.
“Y-you can let go now… I’ll be fine…” Clearly she was lying, there was no way she could be okay… but Ruby did let her go, not wanting to cause any more emotional discomfort.
“W-will you be good the rest of your classes? T-today I mean.”
“Y-yes… I will be okay… I hope I didn’t keep you… o-or… yeah.”
“I-its okay! Really! I um… thank you. F-for telling me um… if you want to maybe… hang out later? Maybe help eachother heal a bit more from… that.” Cinder seemed to stiffen a bit at that request curiously, but gently nodded, carefully slipping out a rather battered and damage phone from her front pocket.
“E-exchange numbers? S-so we can *cough* can chat… m-more?” Ruby’s returning smile seemed to help relax Cinder, body finally loosening its tension a bit. A quick search of her pockets brought her own phone out, opening it up and holding it above Cinder’s until there was the short little chime.
“Cool! Um… I d-do need to get to class but… are you gonna be okay? Actually okay?”
“I… I will be today. I’ll message you... tonight?” A tiny smile graced Cinder’s lips as Ruby nodded back, both standing up slowly. Ruby however, had one last thing, holding her arms out once more.
“Hug before you go?”
“I… o-okay. Thank you.” Cinder slowly stretching her arms out. The hug was a gentle one, Ruby very aware that what little she could see on Cinder’s face was probably just as bad everywhere else. A few seconds later they broke apart and Ruby’s grin was mostly genuine again.
“Talk to you tonight!” With those last few words, a blur she became again, rushing off to her next class as Cinder’s expression turned dark, sitting back down with heavy thoughts for a time before going to find an early lunch.
Soon all her classes were over with and Ruby could make a beeline for the student pub to meet with Velvet. Her conversation with Cinder still nagged at the back of her mind, knowing full well that she had not taken the best notes all day, while feeling a large sense of empathy for her potentially new friend. Regardless of her thoughts there, she’d be able to talk with Yang about it later, she was growing more excited with every step until she finally arrived at the pub again. Bringing her ID out, the same seemingly bored man checked it and put the X on her hand again. A few more people were spread around the place this time around, including once again the stunning fashionista Coco with those sunglasses on her. What surprised her most was the wave over Coco was giving her, but with Velvet not yet here she didn’t see the harm.
“Hey there little Red! Looking cute as ever~” Ruby’s cheeks again tinted with red, figuring she’d likely get used to Coco’s… friendliness with her flirting. Maybe?
“U-um, hi! Coco! Erm… y-you look n-nice… too?” Coco’s gentle laugh had the girl again looking embarrassed, worried she had done something wrong.
“Mmm, yeah, you and Velvet will get along well I think. You two chat before this much or just this planned meeting right now?” Her expression softened a bit, taking on a… rather different look. She couldn’t quite place it, but Ruby felt a good bit calmer now when she looked back, almost like when Yang would reassure her on those early bad days.
“W-well uh, we chatted a bit b-before morning class. A-and um… sh-she did hug me like you said sh-she would... wh-which was nice! B-but uh…” A sudden flush to her cheeks gave Coco all the answer she needed as she let out a long sigh.
“Gotta be more careful there Cinnabun.” Just barely audible to Ruby, her head tilted a bit at the comment… that sounded like a name you called a partner, right? Then Coco was speaking more directly.
“Yeah, Velvet tends to be a very touch focussed person. Hugs, holding hands, cuddling. If it was a bit much you can just ask, but that tends to be her way of being friends… or showing she likes someone~ Correct Cinnabun?” Coco’s smirk returned, glancing to the side as Velvet rushed over to the table, giving Coco a look.
“C-coco, be nice to her!” The lupine faunus try to give a look of annoyance, that was more a cute pout as she sat between the two, both letting out smiles at how cute the expression was.
“I-its okay Velvet! Um… w-we were just talking. Er… a-are you two, ya know, t-together?” The question left her before it could be stopped, having Coco give a gentle reassuring smile as she leaned over and kissed Velvet’s cheek, nodding softly.
“Yep, have been since high school actually.”
“O-okay… but… y-you said Velvet w-was… staring at me and uh…” Velvet’s groan as she set her head on the table got another much louder laugh from the fashionista, softly patting her partner’s back.
“Well yeah, kinda hard not to. Love the tips by the by, definitely fit your whole aesthetic.” And again that adorable blush. “No need to be bashful about it cute stuff~”
“C-coco! W-we should… explain, b-before she melts into the floor.” The answering eyeroll and smile caused Velvet to huff, glancing to the confused blushy mess that was Ruby.
“Alright Cinnabun, I’ll stop my ‘flirting’, you know I haven’t even started yet though. Now! To answer your questions Ruby; Yes, we are together. And yes, Velvet finds you cute and a good bit attractive, so do I really if you hadn’t guessed~”
“S-so… wait… a-are you two just looking f-f-f-for a threeway!?” The loud cracking squeak of her voice, along with the question had Velvet’s ears standing on end as they both turned a bright red colour. Coco quickly took things back, though couldn’t help the chuckle bubbling up inside her.
“Don’t know why you’re so embarrassed by THAT of all questions Velvs. And only if you wanted to Ruby, but I should correct some things. Velvet and I are Polyamorous. We both have or have had partners that weren’t with both of us, though more often than not we do both take the same partners. However, thats always up to you. If you would prefer to be with just Velvet, or just be friends, that is completely acceptable to us.” The small speech done, Velvet and Coco both watched Ruby’s expression shift and change as the information was processed. Eventually it settled on a look of… curiosity and wonder, mixed with a hint of apprehension as things started to come together.
“W-wait so… Um… wh-what would happen if uh… if I was j-just with Velvet? B-between you two? I-i-if we did want to er… g-go out?”
“W-well, I would still be partners with Coco, a-and uh, do… things with her, we’d just um… have our t-time too together without hiding a-anything from anyone. C-communication is… is the key to this stuff.” Velvet looked quite nervous now, always anxious when she would first tell someone of this.
“Jealousy can be felt at times, and its a real problem that can occur. But no one is any less loved or cherished in these by the individuals. And of course, if you find someone else, you are free to date and be with them too. Also something to understand is that Velvs and I are very open to working around what you need. If you want to start a relationship that you aren’t sure if they would be open to this kind of thing, by all means you can end things off with us. But we always work to keep our relationships as friends when that happens, and we’ll be here to help and support you if the new relationship doesn’t work out.”
“C-coco is right, we don’t… abandon anyone wh-who doesn’t want this or changes. We’ll always care for people i-i-if things, ya know, don’t go a-as planned.” The two stopped talking now to wait, seeing Ruby’s thinking expression with eyes closed. It was a few minutes before they opened again, silver flashing with conviction.
“O-okay. I think I get it. And… Okay. I am flattered and um… th-think this is really nice. But I uh… I should think about it a lot more before deciding anything.”
“A good idea little Red.”
“Th-thank you for th-thinking about it, Ruby.”
“H-however! I would um… love to be friends until I decide. Hang out, get to know o-one another and uh… I can let you know how I feel on things later?” Ruby looked up, smiling a bit despite her slight anxiety with the situation.
“Thats what I was recommending earlier really, but someone” Coco’s eyes flicked to Velvet pointedly. “Has been very hormonal and impulsive lately, despite best efforts.”
“C-Coco!” A playful slap against her shoulder was the reward for that particular exchange, bringing a giggle to Ruby’s lips, atleast partially understanding the struggle today as well as the dynamic between the two.
They stayed at the table for almost another hour, getting some food for their late lunches and getting to know eachother proper. Through this, Ruby learned that Velvet was working on becoming a history teacher, it having been a dream of hers since she was ten and was well on her way there. Coco was going into Interior Design to much surprise, figuring the very well dressed woman was more likely to go for fashion or something in that vein. In response was a simple shrug, pointing out she already killed with fashion and wanted something a bit different in that regard. Ruby nervously admitted her current status as undeclared, unsure of if she wanted to go into Creative Writing or Art and Design, both her greatest passions.
“Is the history course a mandatory thing for you then to fill a credit space? Cause that seems a bit at odds with both.” Coco inquired, finishing off the last of the fries she had shared with Velvet who continued to eat her modest garden salad.
“Actually its uh, to help with both of my passions! I love the look of old things. Weapons, armor, clothing, the architecture even. It helps me write more accurately, and to draw people and objects in a more realistic fashion.” Ruby, again having gotten a burger, finished off her final bite with a satisfied hum.
“Huh, thats quite the dedication. I hope it helps.”
“I-its still nice th-that you took it. Means w-we can help eachother out with assignments.” Velvet smiled warmly, Coco doing the same as they saw the enthusiasm of the young girl.
A ding on her phone distracted Ruby, pulling it out to check her messages while Coco leaned over to Velvet and whispered something, bringing out a big smile between the two and a nod when Ruby looked back up.
“Sorry, I kinda gotta head out, I asked a friend if I could meet her roommate and was just told they are both at their dorm.”
“Its all good little Red, can we exchange numbers real quick so we can keep in contact? Invite you to hang out with us and the like?”
“Sure!” And again a quick flipping out of their phones and getting eachother’s numbers in. Ruby got up to go, but stopped when the pair stood as well for a moment.
“W-would it be okay t-to um… hug you before you go? I f-feel bad f-for not asking the last time.”
“Its okay Velvet, I loved the hug when it happened. And I would love another hug now, from both of you..” Spreading out her arms, Coco and Velvet then shared a look, confusing Ruby as they both walked over before squeaking in surprise as they both hugged her at the same time, squishing her between the two!
“B-both it is!”
“See ya little Red~” The wicked grin on Coco’s face as they let her free was the last thing she saw, squeaking out a quick goodbye before sprinting away, body flush with embarrassment.
Cinder burst into her apartment, slamming the door behind her and locking it quickly, tossing her bag and keys to the side before letting out a frustrated scream, throwing her arms up while stalking around the whole apartment.
“Why did I say that!? Why!? You idiot, just HAD to open your mouth like that! Still can’t be honest for once in your life!” The ranting continued along the same vein until she broke out into a hacking wave of coughing, collapsing to her bathroom floor and gasping as she hit left side first, biting off a very real scream of pain while lying there, panting and coughing for what felt like hours until her body calmed and the pain grew to a dull throbbing. Some effort was used to stand, struggling and staring into the mirror. What stared back haunted her, a demon she thought long buried and gone, her patch having fallen off and unable to face what else she noticed in her full appearance. With a roar of rage she grabbed the ceramic cup she kept her toothbrush in and threw it into the glass, cracking it in a mass spiderweb.
Small pieces of glass began to tinkle and fall slightly to the countertop, matching the tears streaming down her face. Her arms pulled around her knees, sitting on the floor and rocking back and forth for nearly a half hour straight before the tears were gone, body no longer shuddering with the pain and guilt she felt. Slipping her arms into her her coat, her thoughts going to just showering now and passing out for the night when they felt a small slip of paper. Pulling it out brought a tiny spark of hope back, a way to just maybe fix this… atleast in the long term. Pulling her phone out and breathing as much as she could to calm her heartbeat, she typed in the number and hit call.
“Hello, this is Goodwitch’s office at Beacon University, how may I help you?” Came the answer, silently thanking the Maidens before speaking, voice weak and frail again.
“I… I’d like t-t-to make an a-appointment… S-sooner the b-better.”
“Of course, just breathe as much as you can, are you a student?” The receptionist spoke gently, almost coaxing the words from her.
“Y-yes… C-c-inder Fall... “
“Okay, I’m pulling your schedule up now. Is there anything I can offer you right now Miss Fall?”
“J-just… just need this… soon…” She could hear the clicking of keys, the sounds giving her a focus.
“It will be done as soon as possible. You will have an email by tomorrow an appointment to confirm. Let us know if it would conflict with outside class activities or otherwise and we can reschedule.”
“Th-thank you… thank you…”
“Its no trouble Miss Fall. I can stay on the line for a few more minutes if that would help you?”
“N-n-no… I… I’ll be… f-fine until… whenever.”
“If you are SURE Miss Fall.”
“I a-am. Thank you.”
“Of course. Please respond to the email as soon as you can when it arrives. If that is all… know it will be okay. This is a step to feeling better.”
“Th-thats all… goodbye.” And with a click she cut off any further response, breathing a long heavy sigh.
“Maybe… m-maybe I can… can b-b-be someone finally who… who…” With a shake of her head Cinder began to strip away her clothing to step into the shower, sitting down as cool water slipped down her, fresh tears coming again as she wondered if she could ever be forgiven. She had to try though, she had to try. And a little notification sound on her phone, showing again that name. Ruby Rose.
A tiny smile touched her face, that little spark of hope not yet extinguished.
I am... Okay, I rewrote about 1/3 of this chapter in various parts multiple times, had it beta'd by a couple close friends who signed off on it being good, but I am still It doesn't feel right to me. I've added information, taken away information, ...I am not the most pleased with this chapter, and I think it again is just a difficultly in trying to keep Cinder consistent... and that could be due to my own experiences trying to bleed into her which is... good and bad. I'll just have to see how this is taken and perhaps do another edit to it before chapter 6 is up. As always, comments and critiques are always welcome, help me become a better writer!
CWs will be added to both the beginning chapter notes AND the start of the chapter for those who skip notes to try and be as transparent as I can be. I am hiding parts of the plot that aren't in the tags specifically, (relationships by the end of the story being one I have been open about) but all will be warned of in chapter CWs beforehand like so even if its in the tags. Had a bad experience today with a story forgoing those and doing a 180 shock fest. Please do let me know if there are any tags you think are missing and if the CWs helped.
Anyway, I digress, hope the chapter was good! See you friday or saturday!
Chapter 6: Family (Blake/Yang)
Family is not those you are related to by Blood. Family are those you grow close to and love, regardless of who or what they are. They accept you, they help build you up, and they can be relied on in your darkest moments. Blood will drown you if you put too much stock in it, friends turned Family will build eachother up together.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
3:35 - You: Hey Ruby! My roommate and I are both in my dorm if you would like to meet her and chat for awhile with me.
3:36 - You: I haven’t told her yet, so nothing about my heritage for this visit okay?
3:38 - Ruby <3: Hi Blake! I would love to meet your roommate and talk about stuff! I could also use some advice on… stuff. I’ll tell you in person, see you soon!
3:38 - You: See you soon Rubes.
Blake clicked her phone off, glancing over to Weiss who was again studying it seemed, though what she couldn’t fathom. Considering how far she was in that textbook though, she could just be reading ahead to get a leg up…
“Hey Weiss? Just a heads up that a friend of mine is coming by the dorm to hang out. She also wanted to meet you so expect that.” Weiss looked over, letting out a sigh before sliding her books closed and to the side while taking note of the bowler had Blake wore, raising an eyebrow.
“I will endeavour to be polite then. May I ask why a bowler hat of all things? Seems at odds with your other choices.” Blake gives a small shrug in response, giving it a light tap.
“Wore it at a costume party once and liked the feel of it.”
“...Of course you did. Alright then, when will she be here?”
“Knowing Ruby… I give her either two seconds or twenty minutes. Depends on if she gets lost.”
“What…” A loud knocking was heard at the door, bringing a smirk to Blake’s lips at the dumbfounded Heiress’ expression as she walked over and opened the door, getting wrapped in a tight hug.
“Blake! Hi!” Ruby grinned as Blake rolled her eyes with a smile and gave her head a small pet.
“Hey there Ruby. Try to keep it down okay? Lot of people around here.”
“O-okay! Um… h-hello!” Releasing the hug, Ruby then noticed the standing woman in white, seeming rather… regal in the way she stood.
“Good afternoon, Ruby I presume? My name is Weiss Schnee, a pleasure to meet you.” Her head tilted down in a small nod to Ruby, who blinked quickly in response as she felt a bit of nervousness take hold.
“E-erm… hello! Its a pleasure to be uh… invited to your… abode…?” The awkward attempt brought a ghost of a smile to Weiss lips, surprising Blake a bit.
“Of course. It is nice to see Blake has friends, though she has not mentioned you before.”
“Eheh uh… y-yeah, Blake has been kinda a uh… a second sister to me.”
“Mmm, and all the teasing that comes with that, isn’t that right ‘little Red’” The grin Blake showed was quite the stark contrast to Ruby’s now flushed face.
“H-hey! No mocking of that! Come on Blakey, please?” And there came the puppy eyes, hurting her heart and soul to try and resist much to Weiss’ amusement at the look in the Crimsonette’s eyes.
“Those are certainly weaponized. I shall leave the two of you to your conversations then and will study in the library for a time.” She gathered up her books as Blake finally managed to escape Ruby’s eyes, stepping back as Ruby turned to pouting.
“You don’t have to Weiss, this is your room too.”
“It is no trouble, part of being a good host in this manner I suspect. Good day to both of you, I will return in a few hours.” With that done, she seemed to glide past the pair, stepping out the door, the lock clicking a short moment later.
“...She locks the door when you’re still here?”
“I think it makes her feel better in a way, coming from Atlas and all.” Blake sat down with a long sigh, flipping her bowler hat off with a happy sigh, ears flicking free to Ruby’s amusement.
“So thats why you’re still hiding in here.” The bed whoophfed a bit as Ruby sat down next to Blake, smiling warm and inviting.
“Its been a week Ruby, no need for me to rush things just yet.”
“Speaking of uh… rushing things… You know what Polyamory is right?” Stiffening at the question, Blake carefully turned to Ruby slowly, the younger girl a bit startled by the reaction to her question.
“I do… Why are you asking?” It almost looked like Blake was scared to answer, which startled Ruby all the more.
“W-w-well… um y-you see…” What followed was a very rambly explanation of her afternoon before coming by, everything from the arrangement Coco and Velvet had, to the first offer, and then the deal they had agreed to of hanging out and seeing if things grew. Eventually Ruby’s explanation devolved into rambling on about the couple’s looks and when they hugged her together… At which point Blake had finally figured out what to say, gripping Ruby’s arms gently as she let out a long sigh.
“Well, that explains why you smell like Heat and sex.” She muttered before turning her full focus to the girl before she could fully register the quiet comment.
“Take a deep breath Ruby, okay? Good. Now, I have some questions, but I am not passing judgement here, okay?” Ruby nodded quickly, helping calm her before she began again.
“Why did you think I would know about polyamory?”
“W-well um… Y-yang talked about all those books you read wh-when she was drunk once…” Which prompted a muttered ‘Maidens dammit’ from the faunus, sighing again in exasperation.
“Of course she did. Ruby, do you know the reason Yang and I never got together in the first place?”
“W-well… I thought you just didn’t feel for her that way, right?”
“That was… part of it. I did want to try, but Yang learned I was, AM poly. And she couldn’t… well, she thought it would be too much for her if it ever came up that I was considering another partner with her.”
“She is a little possessive…”
“Thats a bit of it, yes. I don’t think less of her, polyamory is not for everyone, but it is definitely something to keep in mind okay?” Another nod, Blake releasing the girl with a long breath, looking back seriously again.
“Alright, now, I get the understanding that you are taking things slow and wanting to figure out if this would work for you at first. Still, I have to ask; How do you feel right now about potentially being not only with two women in a relationship that could potentially turn sexual, and that they may and could already have other partners? Casual and otherwise?”
The way Ruby stopped herself from immediately responding was a good sign, it showed that she was actually considering all the ramifications instead of running headlong into things.
“Take your time, I’ll get us a snack.” Ruby nodded slowly, lying back on the bed to give a more thorough think, away from Coco and Velvet to accidently distract.
Blake reached under her bed and pulled out a couple packages of gummy candies, an old vice of hers, the tiny stash she kept on hand for those rare days like this when it would be useful to have the comfort. Once retrieved, she lay back on the bed next to the Crimsonette. Five minutes later and a few shared candies had Ruby coming to a decision.
“Like I told them, again, I still think I would like to get to know them first… but I am not against it. It will take getting used to but… well, thats the same for any kind of relationship right? We didn’t immediately get to the sisterly point for years. So yes, I would like to try and see what being poly is like. Maybe I’ll only end up being comfortable with Velvet but am good with them being together and with others, maybe I’ll… erm… enjoy time with both or more. Until I know more though, I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t. And um… a first relationship like this would be kinda neat too.”
That last admission brought a wave of sympathy to Blake, hugging the determined and anxious little sister she had grown to love.
“Thats very mature of you Ruby. And for what its worth, I am proud of you making this decision to try something clearly different to what you were aware of. Just like when you earned your way into Beacon and were so very nervous when the letter first arrived but stuck with it, okay?” The smiling nod in response was joined by the pair hugging yet again.
“Thanks Blake, this um… helped a lot.”
“Anytime Ruby, and I get that its hard to talk to Yang about this stuff with her joking attitude, but do talk to her about this later okay? You can wait until you’re sure if you want to be romantic or friendly in the end, but you’ll need to eventually.”
“Yeah I know… Its just! ...She still sees me as a little kid! Its frustrating at times.”
“Thats what the big sisters of the world do I imagine. I can be the weird cousin-like sister that keeps the two of you out of trouble though.”
“Psh, you’re just as likely to get us into trouble.” The stuck out tongue brought a wicked grin to Blakes face, pushing the girl over to tickle her sides mercilessly.
“AH! NO!!!! BLAKEY!!! AHAHAHAHA!!!! WHY THE, AHAH! BETRAYAL!!!” The one-sided battle lasted barely a minute before Blake acquiesced, stopping her fingers to let the Crimsonette catch her breath.
“Hah… yeesh, is it always tickles with you two!”
“Too cute, always too cute for your own good.” Again that ruffling of Ruby’s hair, giggling at the pout just a bit more before growing concerned at the sudden burst of anxiety on her face.
“Whats wrong Ruby?”
“Um… n-nothing really… j-just um… C-can you help me buy something? Before I uh… head home on the bus?”
“Of course Ruby. What did you need?” Reassuring smile in place, Blake gently patted the girl’s back, reaching with the other arm to get a drink from her water bottle.
“U-um… c-can you help me um… b-buy… y-y-you know… um… j-just in case… s-some condoms?” Ruby’s face immediately went beet red at the question, hiding her face deep inside her hoodie as Blake started and began choking on the water she had been drinking, further embarrassing Ruby while her own cheeks tinted just a bit as well.
*Dammit Ruby, why did you drop that on me!?* She groaned mentally, wondering exactly how awkward her offer to help would make her.
Sliding out from under the truck she had been working on and grabbing a clean rag to wipe a bit of the grease and oil off her hands, Yang glanced over at the clock. Just enough time to write up where she had found the oil leak and the various other problems that would need addressing, the shotty brake line top of the list. Finishing up the report and signing off an estimate of costs was all that was left when her boss walked in. Although Nelson could be a bit of a hard ass, he was always fair when it came to pay and benefits.
“Xiao Long, you done with that hunk of junk yet?” His gruff voice was almost a bit abrasive, but kept on the professional end. A rough day then.
“Yeah Boss, found the leak and a half dozen other internal problems. Only things still solid on that machine are the chassis, the AC, and the engine.”
“Hmm, we’ll have to give the option for a partial fix if they don’t want the full repair.”
“I’ll write up two estimates. The oil leak, the brakes, and a rework of the electrical would have to be the partial. Otherwise we risk serious harm, don’t know how the hell it hasn’t caught fire before now when I looked under there.”
“I’ll give the estimate a look over with your report to be sure, still, good work Xiao Long. Get out of here soon, no overtime until the holiday season.” Yang gave a quick nod, spending another five minutes writing up the numbers. The first couple months of having the Boss check her work had been a practice in not strangling him, but once she learned a bit more of the reasons behind each number, she could atleast accept that it wasn’t a scam. Her signature on the pieces of paper finished up her last bit of work just as the clock turned to 5:30. One last glance made her confident in the math and she carefully slipped the reports into the ‘in-progress’ folder, getting as cleaned up as she could at the shop before hopping onto Bumblebee.
The feel of the wind rushing through her hair and across her skin never failed to bring a smile to her face under the helmet, weaving through traffic on her bike with practiced ease. Although the small car she also owned was useful, nothing beat the joy she felt on her custom built machine. Forty minutes later she arrived at the apartment complex she called home, slipping into the underground garage and locking everything up tight, humming on her way to the elevator. Arriving at the door, she pulled her keys out and tried the door, feeling it open easily brought a smile to her face as she stepped in, locking behind her.
“Rubes I’m home!”
“I’m in the kitchen!” Came the answering yell, kicking her boots off and walking down the hall, turning into the kitchen/dining room and taking in a long breath through the nose, smiling at the wonderful scents.
“Mmm, Triple-Spiced Chili? Whats the occasion?” Her hand reached out with a spare spoon towards the open pot before having it swatted from her hand with a disapproving frown by her sister.
“Thought I could use up the rest of the ground beef and red beans, no stealing any till its done Yang.” Who held up her hands in defeat.
“I give I give, yeesh, always protective of the chili.” Ruby’s stuck out tongue was met by the same response in Yang before the two giggled and shared a gentle hug.
“How was work?” Yang watched Ruby go back to tending the Chili, smiling as she added the spices based on the old recipe they had kept for years.
“Went pretty well, Boss wasn’t in that bad a mood and only one oil trouble situation this time.”
“You still need to shower though, I can smell it.”
“Yeah yeah, I’ll go take one now assuming the chili is gonna be another twenty, thirty minutes?”
“Easily yeah, I’m gonna let it simmer soon.”
“Alright, just don’t set the kitchen on fire!” Yang turned to leave, ducking quick as experience had taught her, the thrown spoon falling to the floor down the hallway.
“It was one time!” She huffed back.
“Nice try sis! But this Cis remains herself!” She chuckled to herself as she walked into the bathroom, already hearing the groan of the implied verbal pun.
Once her routine began, Yang could go on auto-pilot, letting her thoughts float about. It had been awhile since she had gotten a call from their father, an oddity in and of itself. Normally he made atleast one call a week to try and get them to come back, and always drunk to near incoherency. The custody battle when Ruby was still fifteen had been a nightmare, but it was well and done with. They were past that though, Ruby was in university on scholarship, Yang’s job was enough to build up a good little nest egg; They were doing well now. No use dwelling on that past.
Slipping out to dry off was a little harder tonight, the warm water having been a joy on her muscles more than she had expected. The promise of the spicy hot chili tipped the scales in her mind however, and the fluffy towels did their drying well. Slipping into a simple tank orange tank top and cargo pants, her mind was no longer clouded by the upsetting thoughts, that smell of chili practically having her drooling while she walked back to the kitchen to see a plate of sliced bread with the butter out already.
“Chili will be done in a couple minutes! Set the table?” Ruby called from the fridge, digging around for something.
“You got it Rubbles!” And so she went about the task, getting the placemats set and utensils, sitting down with a happy noise of relief as she watched Ruby bring in two large bowls shortly afterwards, grinning ear to ear.
“Mmm, thank you for dinner Ruby, this looks amazing.”
“Just dig in already, I can see the drool.” The two laughed again before finally eating, mostly silent save for Yang talking a bit more of the last truck she had worked on, shuddering at the thought of potentially leaving it with a partial fix. Ruby added a bit of her classes of the day, mentioning a project to do either a landscape of somewhere seen from home, or a portrait of a close family or friend.
“You need me to pose for ya then?”
“If you could later so I can take a good photo that would be good, lets me keep it as a reference.”
“Sure thing Ruby.” A smile crept to her face as she watched Ruby eat, so proud of how far her sister had gotten in life already.
Soon the food was finished and it was time to clean up. Ruby took the now cooled pot to the kitchen table to portion out for a couple later dinners while Yang washed the dishes quickly in the sink, humming a little tune she heard at work on the old radio. Some scrubbing and a light rinse was all she needed for the bowls and bread plate, setting them in the rack to dry before taking the now empty pot from her sister and spending a few minutes getting every bit of food clean from it, another long rinse finishing the job. With the chores done, the two retired to the living room, watching the couple episodes of shows on Netflix that they allowed before Ruby had to head off to work on other studies. A simple plan to make sure that one kept to her studies and the other didn’t neglect the apartment.
Gathering the laundry and setting a reminder to toss things into the shared machines in the basement, done. Little flower pots on the window sill, watered. Checking the fridge and cupboards… easily enough for the week. A quick cleaning of the bathroom and dining room took the last of her set aside chore time. Keeping them spread throughout the month prevented any one problem from building up while avoiding a day of pure exhaustion. With all that done and time to spare before she’d need to sleep, it was time to check on Ruby. A knock on her bedroom door was followed by a “Come in!” And so she entered.
“Hows the work going?
“Nothing too difficult yet. Oh! I got to chat with Blake for a bit today! Forgot to mention.”
“Oh? What about?” Yang’s smile grew as she sat in a free chair, Ruby turning to face her.
“Well, I got to meet her roommate. Just like what she told us, a bit… regal and overly formal. Anti-social too, left basically as soon as I got there… was a little weird.”
“Well, I’m sure she’ll warm up eventually. Can’t be an Ice Queen forever at University.”
“We’ll see. I also... talked to Velvet and Coco again and uh…”
“Yyyyeeeeesssss?~” She couldn’t help the curiosity, knowing how flustered those two had apparently gotten her little sister.
“W-well um… th-they wanted to h-hang out sometime! And be friends! They’ve been dating since high school too.”
“OOO I’m so proud of you!” Suddenly the Crimsonette was wrapped in a crushing hug.
“Hurk! Yang, breathe.” And was quickly released, gasping for breath as Yang grinned at her.
“I’m so happy that you got to make some new friends! I’m glad, truly.”
“Thanks Yang, a-and yeah! They said they we could meet up to see a movie maybe or help eachother study like with Velvet and I’s class.”
“Hehe, just keep me informed if you’ll be out late alright?~ Especially if you get invited to some University parties~”
“Ugh, no thanks. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that mess. I can’t even drink legally till October!”
“Well then, I can take you out on the town for your first! Maybe get Blakey and your new friends too.”
“Hrm… o-okay, that doesn’t sound too bad.”
“Sweet! I’ll go get the weekend off so we can enjoy the halloween parties, adult ones this time!”
“Ugh, fine! Just don’t take me to a strip club like you did to Blakey a couple years ago.”
“No promises!~ I’ll leave ya alone now to study. I’ll be turning in early tonight I think, could use the extra sleep.” Ruby’s protests were cut quickly at that last comment, suddenly leaping up to hug Yang close again.
“Thank you Yang… I know its a bit hard to still take care of me, but I appreciate it okay? And I can look into part time jobs maybe to help with the bills...”
“Nah, I got this, I promise. You just worry about graduating. You have a good night sis.”
Yang was hoping her smile was enough for Ruby, which it seemed to be as they hugged one last time before she left. The long exhausted sigh that left her as she entered her own room, practically collapsing onto her bed, was a great relief to her. Sure they weren’t in any real financial trouble, but she did wish she could cut down on her hours a little bit. Still, she wasn’t going to have Ruby trying to help with the bills just yet. Maybe during the summer, but right now… she deserved all the happiness she could get. The sigh turned into one more content as she curled up into her bed, glad for the investment in a very good mattress. As sleep finally took her, all her thoughts focussed on Ruby, smiling at the thought that she could succeed in life where she wouldn’t.
This chapter was very nice and soothing to write for me. Get a bit more Blake, another bit of Weiss seeming to avoid being social at all costs, and we see more into Yang and Ruby's home life! Will I ever stop foreshadowing however!? ...Eh, maybe. A quick note that this month I am going to be a good bit busier, covering a lot of shifts at work which is honestly quite nice for me financially, so chapters may slow down. On the plus side, they have gotten fairly consistently longer overtime, so that should be good for those worried. Next chapter is all about Cinder!
Questions, comments, and critique is all welcome! Loving the speculation in the comments on plot points. :D