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How It Feels

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       One would think that being in a well lit training room with no obstacles or hiding places would make it easier to see a single girl; but that was so far from the truth that Ruby believed she would be entirely justified calling someone a liar had they told her it did. While she had easily gained the upper hand when the fight had started with the dance-like movements of her precious scythe being too much for Blake to keep up using her weapons combined form. However, after almost a minute of Ruby successfully keeping the agile girl at a distance and landing some solid blows, Blake had removed the katana from its sheath at the perfect moment to parry a strike and throw her off her balance. Ever since that moment, Ruby had been unable to rebuild her momentum due to the relentless attacks the girl was throwing at her.

      This is... ridiculous , Ruby thought to herself as she gave her darling Crescent Rose a quick spin the deflect a pair of strikes from Blake, who had suddenly appeared in front of her. Taking the opportunity of the girl being in sight for once, Ruby halted the spin with the blade hovering above her teammate and tore it backwards, only for Blake’s form to shimmer from existence. As it had the past four attacks, her strike had hit nothing but Blake’s shadow and the all-too-familiar feeling of a blade sliding along her back. Upon feeling it, she let the downwards momentum of her previous swing to position Crescent Rose’s barrel behind her and fired off a shot, the force of it sending her tumbling forward; but not before she heard a distinct hmph that told her the bullet had hit it’s mark.

      Dropping into a shoulder roll to carry her momentum, Ruby pivoted her body as she stood and swung her scythe out in a wide horizontal arc, cutting through yet another shadow clone that Blake had used to propel herself upwards. Unfortunately, Blake had also thrown out the sickle form of her sword during the jump and the ribbon wrapped itself tightly around the Crescent Rose’s shaft. Unable to loosen the grip, Ruby felt a slight tug on her scythe and watched helplessly as Blake pulled herself back down with straightened legs; the girl’s two feet slamming hard into her chest and pushing Ruby further back as her weapon slipped from her hand.

      As her butt slide finally came to a halt, Ruby witnessed Blake land gracefully out of a backflip and point her gun straight at her. Just as she heard the gun go off, Ruby activated her own semblance out of pure desperation and the familiar feeling of loss overcame her as she burst into rose petals. But that didn’t matter, all that mattered was getting to her weapon. Fortunately, she managed to get there and immediately upon reforming she seized it and swung in an upwards diagonal arc to cover as much of an area as possible. However as her eyes looked up to see if she had succeeded, Blake’s form once again faded from existence and she heard a distinct click behind her before something small slammed forcefully into the back of her head and knocked her onto her face.

     BZZZT!

     “Uuugh,” Ruby groaned as the buzzer signalled the end of their fight, lights flashing before her eyes as she attempted to stand up. Despite her aura still being up and holding out against the hit, Blake had shot from so close that the pain of the impact had rushed through her nonetheless and had turned her legs to jelly. 

     “Well done, Miss Belladonna,” she faintly heard Professor Goodwitch say at her side. “You adapted to your opponent well. Maybe you should take the time to learn from your teammates, Miss Rose; instead of raiding the dormitory kitchen for baked goods every night.”

     “Got it,” she sighed, giving up on standing and simply flopping over onto her back to rest for a second.

     Closing her eyes until the flashing stopped, Ruby couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated. While she certainly wasn’t near the bottom of the first year sparring rankings, she had yet to be able to beat any member of her team in the six months she had been there. The person she struggled the most against however, was Blake. Despite have a semblance that give her exceptional speed, she constantly found herself falling behind the ninja to the point where she would hit nothing but her shadows. The shadows seemed to taunt her with every missed strike and even laying there after the fight with her eyes closed, she could see the pale light that broke through her eyelid darken as a shadow passed over her vision.

     “Ruby?” She heard Blake’s concerned voice say from above her and opened her eyes to see the girl stood over her. Almost immediately, Ruby’s eyes connected with the girl’s shining amber ones and she felt a wave of heat rise up to her cheeks. “Are you okay?”

     “Y-Yeah,” Ruby stuttered as sudden nerves caused her to flush a little. Giving Blake the closest thing to a smile she could and moving her gaze away from her eyes, she gratefully accepted the hand that was held out and used it to lift herself to her feet. “J-Just a little dizzy, is all.”

     “Sorry,” Blake replied genuinely and tighten her arm as she helped Ruby up. “You started to move so I had to take the shot I had.”

     “It’s cool,” she replied with a shake of her head, inwardly thanking whatever gods may exist that her legs didn’t collapse again. “Guess I do need to train harder though.”

     “You did quite well actually,” she replied with a small smile and Ruby felt her stomach do a small flip in response. “But we should go change into our uniform before Grimm studies.”

     “Y-Yeah,” Ruby stuttered again and took a step back as she realised just how close they were.  “You uhh… You go ahead. I wanna uhh… Talk to Professor Goodwitch.”

     “Alright…” Blake nodded and turned to leave, the swaying of her hips making Ruby turn around in embarrassment.

      Dammit , Ruby sighed, disappointed in herself at having lied to her teammate. Though it was a far better option to her than turning bright red at seeing Blake undress, as she had only a week prior.

      Fighting against Blake had not been the only issue Ruby had been having with the faunus, there was also the fact that she had been unable to look her in the eye for nearly a month. Ruby didn’t know exactly when it had started, but certainly knew when she had noticed what her developing crush was. She had entered the room one morning after returning from her run and Blake had been sat on her bed reading a book, though it wasn’t the usual novels the studious girl tended to lean towards but one of Ruby’s own manga named Nablueto . However, instead of the usual blank stare that was usually painted the girl’s face as she enjoyed her quiet time, there was a small smile that made her eyes glow slightly as they flitted from side to side taking in the artwork.

     Though Ruby generally didn’t like people touching her manga, as Yang would always make them sticky as a kid, she wasn’t the type of person to ask for it back when Blake’s rare smile clearly indicated she was enjoying it. Instead she simply climbed onto her bed and read her another one of her books while she waited for Blake to finish, or at least tried too. As she waited, her eyes were constantly drawn to the faunus and after a while she simply gave up on reading and watched her teammate from over the top of her book. Even though Ruby generally read through them rather quickly herself, she saw Blake reread each page a couple of times before moving on to the next one. Intrigued by the sight, she watching each little twitch of the raven-haired girl’s lips and with each blink she felt saddened that the golden amber of her iris’ were no longer visible. 

     She had been so transfixed by the sight that she had stopped bothering to look at where Blake was in the book and was therefore surprised when she closed it and turned to look in her direction. It also surprised her that for some reason she had felt incredibly hot for some reason and upon Blake’s eyes meeting hers, she quickly ducked her head back below her book as she suddenly became incredibly nervous. Listening intently and worried Blake could hear her heart beating like she was still running, Ruby was glad when she felt the girl place the book back on her bed before uttering a small thank you and leaving the room.

      It was certainly not the first time she had found herself looking at Blake but she normally just told herself it was the normal occasional glance people often did when they considered someone attractive; however after that moment, it was hard to deny to herself that the attraction may have at some point developed into something more. 

     She had panicked at first of course. Blake was two years older, a member of the team she led, and her sister’s newest best friend; so not wanting to be subjected to the tormenting of her sister, Ruby went to Weiss for help. Not that it had helped much. While Weiss was no longer as stuck up as she used to be, the heiress was still not the best person to turn to when in need of romantic advice. The only thing Weiss had told her was to just tell Blake and see what happens, though admittedly Ruby was interrupting the girl’s studying at the time, so it was likely she was rather annoyed and was trying to get rid of her.

     Having received no advice that she found helpful, as telling Blake was certainly out of the question, Ruby had simply tried her best to continue as though she was not crushing on her friend. A tactic that, if she was honest with herself, was not going very well. Every time she was alone with Blake she either stuttered or just left the room, and she was beginning to worry that the rather attentive girl may begin to notice.

     “Miss Rose?”

     “Huh?” she squeaked as Professor Goodwitch’s voice issue from right behind her and made her jump.

     “You told Miss Belladonna you wished to ask me something?” she explained and crossed her arms impatiently.

     “Oh…I uhh...“ Ruby flustered, trying her best to think of a lie that would get past the strict teacher. Racking her brain as fast as she could, she chose the simplelist, most believable thing she could. “I was… I was wondering if I could book the sparring room for team training on Wednesday.”

     “Hmm,” Glynda scowled at her briefly before looking down at her Scroll and pressing the screen a few times. “I have scheduled your team in at three. Now go and change before you are late for your next class.”

     “Right,” she said with a quick nod, a small amount of sadness that she would have to plan a training exercise and give up her Wednesday afternoon. 

      However, even though she was bummed at that idea, the only real thought that permeated her mind as she turned and walked to the changing rooms was the hope that Blake had already left for their next class.

Chapter Text

    Breathing out a sigh of relief seeing as classes were over for the day, Ruby pushed open the door to her team’s dorm and quickly tossed her unfastened corset and jacket inside. Finally free of her constraints, she walked as far as her legs would carry her before dropping onto the first bed she encountered; which just so happened to have an amused cat faunus in it, who was smirking at her over the top of her book. Finding a new source of strength in the panic that washed over her in the precarious situation she found herself, Ruby immediately leapt back up to her feet and turned a shade of red close to her namesake as she blubbered out an apology, before being cut off by a loud burst of laughter from the bed above. 

    “Bold move there, Sis,” Yang chuckled, her grinning face framed by bright yellow hair as it hung over the side of the bed. “Never knew you were that forward.”

    “I-I D-Didn’t…” Ruby stuttered in return and looked from Yang to Blake, the latter of which was still looking at her. “I-I’m no… S-Shut up, Yang!”

    “Then why are you so r…” Yang began to tease, only it was her turn to be cut off as Blake smoothly pulled away one of the books that held Yang’s bed up from under it’s leg, causing the whole thing to wobble dangerously. “Hey! Watch it. You almost became a Blake sandwich; and trust me, mattresses don’t make good bread. ”

    “And how on Remnant do you know that?” Ruby heard a slightly worried voice say from behind her and turned to see Weiss sat at her desk studying on open textbook. “Please do not tell me you tried to eat a mattress.”

    “Well it wasn’t the mattress I was biting,” Yang countered and flashed a grin at the heiress. “If you get my meaning.”

    “Unfortunately, I believe most of the school does,” Weiss replied with a roll of her eyes and returned to her book. “I know rabbits squeak a lot, but Velvet is a little excessive. And don’t even get me started on Coco.”

    “Hey, I would love to see you say no when you get invited to be the third to a hot pair like that,” Yang argued and popped her head back up onto her bed.

    “Polyamory is not for me,” Weiss huffed and erased whatever she had been working on. “I prefer to only be dating one person at a time.”

    “And I prefer not to hear about my sister’s sex life,” Ruby groaned, using her semblance to launch herself up onto her own bed due to the lack of a ladder.

    “Me too,” Blake agreed and pulled open the new book, her amber eyes quickly skimming the pages in search of something.

    “Purr-lease,” Yang teased as she sat up and pulled one of her gauntlets off of the curtain rail. Extending the weapon to its full form, she removed the shells and pulled out a cloth to begin cleaning it. “Like all of us don’t know what Ninjas of Love is about.”

    Though she didn’t make any attempt to fight Yang’s claim, Blake’s ears did succeed in turning pink from embarrassment as she curled into herself. Seeing the faunus girl’s reaction, Ruby felt her mouth open to defend her before her brain caught up and decided on a different route. “At least her books require her to do more than look at pictures, unlike what dad found under your bed.”

    Upon realizing that she had just admitted to having looked at the books, Ruby flushed a deeper scarlet and copied Blake’s curled up position. Worse still, her attempt at defending the faunus by embarrassing Yang had failed as the blonde did nothing more than shrug the comment off.

    “Pfft!” she exhaled humorously and held up her gauntlet so inspect something closer. “If someone needs more than pictures, then they should get out more. Except you that is, you can stay in this room every night under my supervision. Hey Weiss, chuck me those micro-tools, will you?”

    “Chuck them? I’d rather hand them to you, you brute.” Weiss replied as she stood up from her desk and walked to the bed Yang was sitting on, “ And if you’re going to be screwing around with your gauntlets, shouldn’t you be doing so on a flat surface rather than your bed?”

    “Nah, just cleaning out the rotary gears,” Yang said dismissively and got to work unscrewing a small panel. “Felt it grind a little during class, so probably still some dirt left in them from when Glynda made me run in the rain until I collapsed.”

    “Well you did destroy the entire west wall of the training room,” Weiss replied as she made her way back to the desk.

    “Only because Ruby tripped me.”

    “What?! I did not trip you. You missed your strike and stumbled over your own feet.”

    “Then you tripped full pelt into the wall and Glynda had to fix it,” Blake finished, her eyes not leaving the book she was reading. “Speaking of Glynda. What did you talk to her about, Ruby?”

    “I uhh…” Ruby paused as she remembered exactly why she had made up that excuse. “Just had to ask about booking the sparring room and she scheduled us in on Wednesday, so yeah... We have another team bonding experience to practice our duo moves a bit more since I think that ladybug and freezerburn needs a bit more work.”

    “What!?” Yang and Weiss said together, both turning to face her.

    “I had plans with Velv and Coco on Wednesday, Rubes.”

    “And I had plans with Neptune.”

    “I’m sorry,” Ruby groaned, the idea of her crush-caused mistake affecting her teammates days making her feel a little worse than she already did. “It was all she had left.”

    “Well you can still use that slot, Sis, but don’t expect me to come, if we’re practicing duos and Ice Queen…”

    “Hey!”

    “... And I have plans already, seems like you get some one on one time with Blakey. Maybe you can fall into her lap again.”

    Blushing again as Blake thrust her book upwards into the bottom of Yang’s bed, a sudden loud bang made her jump and she finally tore her eyes away from Blake to see a cloud of red smoke completely covering her sister’s upper half.

    “S-Son of a b-bitch,” Yang coughed from within the smoke and Blake looked up with a small smirk on her face. “Found the blockage. Fucking shell leaked into gears.”

    “Maybe that will teach you to pack the dust into them properly next time,” Weiss sighed and picked up her rapier. Which a quick spin of its revolver, she pointed the tip at Yang and a small funnel of wind blew out of the end, dispersing the cloud in seconds.

    “Yeah sure princess, I’ll be sure to do that as soon as you help Neptune pull the stick out of your ass.”

    “I promise you, there has never been a stick in my rear; though I suspect the same cannot be said for yours.” Weiss reposed back at the blonde

    “Look, Princess, just because you know everything there is to know about du…”

    “Yang!” Ruby interrupted her sister, keen to avoid the somewhat regular fight the two girls seemed to have multiple times a week. “Don’t shout at Weiss because of your mistake. She was only trying to help.”

    “Whatever, I’m going to check it didn’t burn my hair,” Yang groaned, picking up all the screws from her bed before effortlessly swinging to the floor and turning to the bathroom door. After a quick glance at the mirror Ruby knew was by the door, she clearly saw nothing out of place and turned back to the door that led out of the room. “I'm gonna go have some fun with my girlfriends, if they’re up for it; if not, I’ll probably end up in a blanket nest with both of them, so either way see you guys later tonight or tomorrow.” Pulling the door open, she started to step out but stopped to turn back to Weiss. “Oh, and yes. Coco does have some sticks that have gone some places. Maybe you should try it.”

    Weiss tried to retaliate but by the time she got her reply formulated, Yang had already shut the door and the sound of her laughter echoed faintly into the room as she walked down the hallway. Unsure what she could possibly say after that, Ruby simply looked from Blake to Weiss in hopes that one of them would break the silence first. Thankfully, she didn’t have to wait long as Weiss soon let out an annoyed sigh and slammed her textbook shut.

    “Well, since I highly doubt I will be able to focus on my studies after that mental image, I'm going to go and hang out with Neptune and… study,” Weiss lied unconvincingly as she stood up and swung her purse over her shoulder.  “But yes, I will also not be at training on Wednesday. Bye.” With that Weiss also left the room, leaving a red faced rose and a bookworm on a bed.

    “Great,” Ruby groaned and leaned back against the wall, feeling a little dejected that both her sister and partner had abandoned her to an embarrassment filled afternoon of training with the girl she was crushing on. “Don’t suppose you are going to leave to have sex with someone too.”

    It took Ruby almost a full minute to realize she had said the last sentence out loud; but once she did, her entire body lit aflame as awkwardness and embarrassment took hold and turned her a deeper scarlet than she had ever been. While she did her best to not look at Blake and play it off as a simple off-handed comment, she was well aware that the faunus girl’s amber eyes were locked onto her over the book she held in her hand that hid the rest of her face.

    “I’m single, so no,” She chuckled throatily, and through all the nerves and awkwardness that had fallen on her in the last couple of seconds, Ruby knew the slight increase in her heart rate was due to neither.

    “Oh…” She breathed hesitantly, her brows quickly furrowing together in confusion, “Wait what about you and Sun? I thought you two were a thing.”

    “Nope,” She said with a slight smile and turned a page in the book she clearly was not reading. “He’s just a good friend.”

    Struggling to comprehend the new information, as she had believed that Blake and Sun were most certainly a thing, she sat there for a minute and felt a warmth grow in her chest before she beat it back down.

    “Do you have your eye on anyone else?” Ruby cringed at the sentence as soon as it left her mouth and glanced down at Blake to see her head tilted to the side in thought. 

    “There is someone I have my eye on, but I doubt it’ll go anywhere.” 

    “Oh,” she replied, her previous happiness turning to disappointment at the revelation. “Sorry to hear that.”

    “It’s fine,” Blake shrugged and turned another page, though she was clearly still not reading them. “It tends to be a habit of mine. So how about you? Anyone you interested in?”

    Turning red, Ruby tried to brush off the embarrassment long enough to get out pretty much the same statement as Blake did a few moments ago though failed at not stuttering. “ T-there’s someone I-i have my e-eye on too, b-but I doubt i-it’ll go anywhere either.” 

    “Hmm,” Blake hummed, her eyes finally turning back to the pages of her book. “Two lonely souls seeking the one that will make them whole… Sounds like it would make a decent story.”

    Reaching behind her pillow Ruby pulled out the comic she had been reading that morning, along with a bag of cookies from her secret stash. She had taken great care when deciding where to hide them, as Yang often confiscated them, and had finally settled on hanging them from her bedpost that was covered by the sheet she used to have some privacy from her teammates. However, before she settled into her treats, an idea formed in her head and she paused to take a quick glance at Blake before letting herself indulge a little. “Hey Blake, do you want a cookie?”

    “Do you have any plain ones?” The girl replied and after a quick check, Ruby gave a short nod back. “Then sure.”

    Putting her book aside and pulling the cover off of herself, Blake stepped down from her bed. Though Ruby had seen that the girl had cast aside her jacket in favour of the more comfortable crop top she usually wore underneath, as Blake stepped down from the bed she also saw that she had opted out of the long purple leggings she usually wore too. Due to that decision, Ruby had a fantastic view of the girl’s long, smooth legs that seemed to go on for miles, and had to quickly look away as Blake walked with such grace and fluidity that she practically floated over to her bed.

    Once Blake reached the bed, Ruby passed down the cookie and tried her best to not let her eyes slip to her teammates legs, a task that somehow managed to be more challenging than paying attention to Weiss’ lecture on how someone should conduct themselves in public. However, with her brain filled with nothing but legs, Ruby almost forgot that she had a goal in mind, and as Blake took the cookie with a smile and turned to walk back to her bed, she somehow found the courage to follow through with her idea.

    “B-Blake?” She stuttered slightly, letting out a quick cough to cover it. “I uhh… I have the new edition of that Manga that you like, the one with the samurai. You can read it too if you want.”

    Taking a second to look her way, Blake’s eyes glanced over the front cover of the comic Ruby was holding; and with a small smirk she jumped into the air in a perfect backflip, a faint shadow vanishing from sight as she landed lightly on the bed.

    “They’re ninja,” She corrected her, leaning back against the wall next to her and Ruby hoped that she could not see or hear how fast her heart was racing. “But sure, saves me having to borrow it later. Come over here so we can both read it,” She said as she pat the area on the bed next to her. “ I mean how else am I going to get more cookies from you,” Blake said with a slight smirk.

    Cautiously obeying Blake’s request, Ruby carefully shuffled closer until she felt her legs press against her teammates. It took everything she had to not pull away again due to embarrassment, but once she finally adjusted to the feeling of the heat her crushes legs generated, she placed the comic between the two of them and rested the bag of cookies in a nook between their stomachs. Finally in a comfortable position, she settled in to read the story with Blake; knowing with absolute certainty that she would have to reread it again later to understand anything that had happened.

 


 

    Blake wasn’t exactly sure when she had fallen asleep, or how she had allowed herself to when there was a possibility that Yang could return at any moment; but somehow, she had given over to the need to shut her eyes. The newest edition had turned out to be a special edition that was almost triple the length of a regular issue and they had been roughly half way through when Ruby’s head had slumped against her shoulder, the soft breathing of the sleeping redhead tickling her skin and causing goosebumps to erupt all over her body along with a heavy blush that formed on her cheeks. Blake herself had been strangly affected by the redhead as of late, though had tried not to let it affect her friendship with her, but felt that the girl had become somewhat distant as of late, so when Ruby had offered for her to read the new comic with her, she had jumped, quite literally, at the chance. 

    The next thing Blake realized was that the room was dark and her back hurt, a small movement flit across her stomach and woke her from what had been a rather peaceful slumber. Opening her eyes to see what the cause was, she glanced down to see Ruby’s hand resting lightly on her stomach and felt her lips pull into a small smile. Even though she should have been chastising herself for allowing themselves to wind up in such a position, Blake couldn’t help but reach down and rest her own over it, careful not to wake the girl from her rest.

     It had been quite confusing when it the feelings first started, they had been random and unsorted, passing thoughts throughout the day that pulled her focus from whatever she‘d been doing. But as the weeks had passed, she’d found them more frequent and insistent. Instead of thoughts and notions, she was stealing glances whenever the opportunity presented itself, their current position included. Ruby’s corset and jacket had been flung across the room when she first entered the dorm, leaving her in just her usual band-stamped t-shirt; and as the girl slept quietly against her shoulder, it was hard not to notice how tightly the material clung to her.

     She knew she really should have moved already, or should’ve at least woken the girl, but she simply didn’t want to. It was the closest she could ever get, so why shouldn’t she enjoy herself for just a little longer. Settling on allowing herself five more glorious minutes, she leaned her head back against the wall and thought about how this started to develop into this yarn ball of emotions.

     It had been physical at first, as all things were. Though she had never really been one to care about gender, it had surprised her just how attractive she found Ruby. After sharing a room with her for months, it had been hard not to notice just how perfect the girl’s body was. Unlike Yang, who seemed to be made of rippling muscle, or Weiss, who was dainty but powerful, Ruby seemed to have a perfect balance. She was just taller than Weiss despite only having recently turned sixteen, and unlike her sister, the girl’s body was made of lean muscle. There were no bulging biceps or clearly defined abs, though that didn’t mean she didn’t have a belly bump, in fact it was the complete opposite. her frequent training had made every inch of her toned to perfection, including a perfect washboard stomach that could grate cheese.

     However, once she had noticed those things and found herself watching the girl, she had found much more to like in her personality. Unlike the people she had grown up around, Ruby always tried her best to treat everyone with as much decency as she could; even those Blake felt didn’t deserve it. There had been a moment a few weeks prior where their team had been put against team CRDL, the fight had been quick, because while Cardin and his tedious teammates were skilled, they simply couldn’t match them in speed. Once the fight was over however, she, Yang and Weiss had all made to walk away not wanting to waste any more time on them; but Ruby hadn’t, she had stayed behind to help Cardin to his feet. The girl’s action had confused Blake at first, the boy was the school bully, he made life harder for everyone for no reason other than being bored; yet Ruby had still chosen to help him. 

    Something about that moment had stuck with Blake. Everyone she’d known prior to Beacon would have preferred to kick the boy for good measure, not help him up, but she had left the White Fang for that reason. She was tired of the violence, anger, and retribution that they felt was necessary to be treated with respect; so to end up on a team whose leader was as different from those people as someone could possibly be had made her want to be better. 

    Though it wasn’t only that Ruby made her want to improve on herself, there were smaller things she had noticed. Like how whenever someone on the team was feeling down, Ruby would try her best to take their mind off of what was bothering them, even if it was for a couple of minutes. Random pillow fights and trips to downtown Vale were not uncommon with the girl; and despite the former being much more childish than the latter, both often left her smiling more than she could ever remember doing before. 

    Something Blake also noticed about Ruby was her reading habits. While the reaper often borrowed and made attempts to read some of the many novels Blake owned, she would also often let out a sigh of annoyance and put it aside in favour of a comic. However, she would always go back to it. Though Blake could easily understand how someone who didn’t share a room with the girl might think her lazy or unwilling to pay attention, she knew the opposite was the truth. Ruby liked to approach things with everything she had, if something was beginning to become tedious or she felt her interest waning, she would put it aside and pick it back up when she felt she could give it her all again.

    On the other hand she was one year younger, and did not want to take advantage of the girl. Nor did she want to want to ruin the girls innocence with her convoluted mind of perversions. It was always interesting to see Ruby’s reactions to things in the world around her, whether it was a simple case of a child crying because they lost their balloon, or a dropped ice cream cone, she dealt with them as efficiently as a grimm of enormass strength, quickly and with a grin on her face asking if you were okay.

    Another issue was Yang. The boisterous blonde had become a better friend than she ever would have thought; she would even go as far as to say she was her best friend. But she was Ruby’s sister, Ruby’s very very protective sister. Blake had personally witnessed her stare down the first boy that had tried to talk to the girl and though she had never really had enough friends to have learned from experience, she knew that dating your best friends younger sister was a big no go for a lot of people. She didn’t expect Yang to be any different.

    However, all of those issues paled in comparison to the real issue, and that was that Blake had been in the very same position before. With Adam . Just thinking of the red haired goat made her face throb in remembrance of the beatings he would give. While she certainly remembered a time where he had been very genuine, he had eventually fallen into manipulation. Years of bad influence had only encouraged his worst attributes, leaving him to be nothing more than a spiteful cunt who was only out for himself, and anyone he could use as a tool toward that end was used then tossed aside. But Ruby wasn’t him.

    The two had personalities that were different in every way imaginable, there were also some undeniable similarities. Aside from the color scheme that had made Blake a little nervous upon seeing the girl for the first time, they were both leaders; and good ones at that, both being perfectly capable of directing their team and adapting to a situation. They both inspired those that followed them, but again there were clear differences in how they did that. Adam ruled through fear and empty promises, always preaching that what he did that which was justified, that he only did what he did because others had done worse to the faunus. But Ruby inspired through compassion. She preached love and empathy, asking people to only act in ways that helped others.

    What was it about the two that had appealed to her? They were beyond different. Was she simply attracted to those who were born to lead? Those who were born to inspire? If that truly was the case, then she could think of none better than Ruby. She was everything a leader should be and so much more. Every action she took was made solely to improve the lives of every person she came across, but where could Blake fit into that. She had fought against people like her before, she had made the world worse with her actions; even in that moment of them laying on the bed, she was selfishly stealing a few moments for her own happiness when she should have moved long ago.

    Blake let out a deep sigh as she knew she was right. She and Ruby were likely to never be more than friends, and maybe that was for the best. The young reaper was destined for greatness, whereas she was an ex-terrorist. The most she could do was try and help the girl with whatever she needed; so with that in mind, she gently began to pull her hand away from Ruby’s and prepared to move back over to her own bed. However, as she pulled away, Ruby’s fingers parted and Blake felt her own slip between them as they tightened and held her hand firmly in place.

    “...cookie, no. Don’t leave me, I still have to eat you...”

    Despite the words being typical Ruby random nonsense, Blake felt her breath catch and her heart begin to race quickly for fear of the girl having woke from her sleep. Carefully moving her head to the side to check, she found herself able to breath again as she saw that the redhead’s eyes were still closed and her breathing was still gentle. With that the fear passed and she couldn’t help but smile at the idea of such an innocent dream, so not wanting to intrude on it any longer, she teased her fingers free from the girl’s grip and carefully lowered her team leader onto her pillow. 

    However, before she could go any further she was pulled down to the mattress beside her leader with a final proclamation from the cute girl, “... No cookie... you get to stay here beside me... til I get some milk... eat you.”

    Blushing heavily as her face landed only a couple of inches from Ruby’s, Blake felt herself wanting to obey and stay as she was told; but she knew she couldn’t. It was too big a risk and there would be no way to explain such a position to their team should they be caught. So after a quick glance around the bed, she saw a pillow shaped like a dog’s face and reached out to grab it.

    “Sorry, little rose,” She breathed quietly and carefully pushed the pillow into the girl’s arms before reaching up to move a strand of hair out of the pretty girls face. “But Yang would kill me.”

    Getting up from the bed, she heard Ruby whine a little bit as she cuddled into the corgi pillow and winced in sympathy, as there was nothing more she wanted in that moment than to sleep a night in the rose themed girl’s arms. As she dropped sadly to the floor and made her way across the room back to her bed, she saw something that made her heart drop. Since waking up, she had been too fixated on Ruby to take in her surroundings, but sat in the darkness on her bed with a nonsensical frown on her face, was Yang.

    Even through her black and white night-vision, Blake knew the blonde’s eyes were far too black for them to be her usual lilac and though the girl said nothing as she slipped off the bed, she made a clear point of standing in front of and glowering down at her before heading into the bathroom to change into her nightwear. Oh shit, was the only thing that ran through Blake’s head, and she hoped that she had not just screwed up everything between the two of them because of her stupid crush and quickly got ready for bed before Yang got out of the bathroom. 

    Unfortunately, she had just finished getting dressed when Yang came out with her war face on and grabbed her roughly by her yuka. However, before Yang could say a word, the door to the hallway was pushed open and framed in the light was a wincing Neptune holding up a very drunk Weiss, who was barely able to hold her drink that well at the best of times.

    “Sorry for interrupting... Whatever this is... but could I get her to her bed before she passes out?” Neptune said in a frightened yet exhausted tone of voice.

    Not bothering to reply to the clearly struggling boy, Yang glared daggers at her for another couple of seconds as Weiss giggled happily. Finally though, Yang released her and turned to help the boy, leaving a shell-shocked Blake standing there shaking. As she calmed herself down, she watched Neptune and Yang bring a drunk Weiss to her bed, though the heiress was currently not interested in doing anything except running her hand over her boyfriends exposed abs. Eventually though, Neptune and Yang managed to set Weiss on her bed and the boy kissed her goodnight before giving a nod to Blake on the way out and shut the door behind him. Still standing stock still, Blake waited for Yang to finish tending to Weiss and once she had, the blonde stood up and made her way back over to her. 

    “Since she’s going to get up in a couple of minutes to throw up, I don’t have the time to deal with you right now,” her partner said angrily and reached up to pull the blanket off her bed and throw it over to Weiss’. “But we will be discussing what I just saw later, and you better have some fucking good answers to my questions.”

    Giving her partner a brief nod as the girl made her way back over the drunken snowflake’s bed, Blake turned and let out a small sigh of relief as she climbed onto hers. By the grace of the gods, it seemed her execution had been postponed.

Chapter Text

Letting out a soft groan as she got to her feet, Ruby raised her hand and pressed against her head. While her aura had protected her from the fall, hitting her head on a hard tile floor was never a nice thing; though admittedly, it had been her own fault. Ever since Ruby had fallen asleep while reading the book with Blake, something she had not intended to do at all; but had found the situation far too comfortable to keep her eyes open, things had been a little weird with Blake. Whereas they were usually friendly and exchanged small talk throughout the day, Ruby couldn't help but feel the faunus girl had begun to avoid her a little, and she was beginning to fear she had let something slip while sleeping; Yang had told her she talked in her sleep after all.

Due to that worry, she had been unfocused for the entirety of their training and had messed up more than usual. Every time she and Blake tried their team move on the metal training dummy that was shaped like a manticore grimm, Ruby would either trip and fall, or miss her mark entirely; she had even managed to get her scythe stuck in the dummy at one point. The worst thing was that even though she was spending the entire afternoon with Blake, she couldn't help becoming increasingly annoyed. She was making a fool of herself, something that admittedly tended to be a common occurrence; but never when she was training, never when she had her precious Crescent Rose in hand.

"Are you okay?" Blake asked carefully from the other side of the dummy, her sword hanging at her side.

"Yeah," she sighed in return and brushed the dust off of her skirt. "Just… hate that I can't get this down. I had it last week."

"We're expanding on a move, Ruby," Blake said, the tone of her voice gentle in a clear attempt to trying to console her. "It's going to take some time to set it into muscle memory."

"I know," she replied and leant down to pick up her scythe and preparing to launch herself at the dummy once again. "Lets just keep going."

Though Blake paused for a moment, she quickly gave a short nod and lowered her stance to attack. Holding for a couple of seconds, Ruby refused to looks Blake in the eye and instead settled for watching her at the edge of her periphery and once she knew the girl was ready, she signaled for them to start.

Pressing the trigger on her scythe for the necessary burst of speed, she rushed forward and slashed the blade of her scythe across the legs of the dummy, the sharp edge easily sheering it off as Blake did the same in the opposite direction. Not wasting any time as the real thing wouldn't let them, they made three more passes, each one taking a small chunk of metal with them and after the fourth, they leapt into the air. That first part was easy, having settled on it long ago, but it was the next part that she kept messing up on. Both of them fell down and slashed out with there weapons, taking a horn each and landing in a roll to break their fall.

Here we go, Ruby thought to herself as she activated her semblance the moment she began to rise to her feet and spun in a circle on the spot. As she spun, she saw Blake rise from her roll and perform a twisting jump so that she faced the metal beast; however with everything in her vision a blur, a brilliant streak of amber followed Blake from where she had jumped and for the tiniest of moments, her attention shifted. Though the moment had been negligible, it had been enough, so as she pushed her scythe out and Blake landed gracefully on the blade, Ruby knew her aim was off. But it was too late, the momentum was already carrying her and before she could slow herself, she had launched Blake so far to the left of the target that the girl crashed into the bleachers that spectators would usually watch from.

"BLAKE!"

The crash had looked pretty hard from where she was standing, but as she took a couple of steps forward to run and check on her teammates, the girl simply stood up and dusted off her black overcoat. While Ruby should have felt happy that Blake was okay, the only thing she felt was angry. Angry at herself for being so easily distracted, angry that she was letting her friend down when she was supposed to be the leader, angry that she was trying her best yet she was still behind everyone on her team. Unable to stop the anger from taking hold for a moment, Ruby held up her scythe and span to face the figure that Blake should have cut through.

"ARGH!"

Pushing her anger into the single rage-fueled scream, she threw her scythe as hard as she could at the metal manticore and the blade sunk cleanly into the beasts head. She should have felt fine after that, she had screamed as she usually did when she was upset; but she didn't. If anything, she felt more annoyed at herself for losing control and throwing her darling. Heat prickled over her skin and she felt her cheeks flush bright red, as she struggled to calm herself.

"Ruby," she heard Blake say from right behind her and felt a hand rest on her shoulder. "We should take a break."

Any other time, Ruby would have appreciated the words, would have even loved that Blake had finally stopped being so distant and had touched her; but that time was not then, and in her anger she pulled away and span around to face the raven-haired faunus.

"I don't need a break!" She half-shouted at her and took a step back. "I need to get this down! I need to stop getting distracted and focus!"

"You will get it down," the girl said, completely unfazed by the shouting as she took a step forward, only for Ruby to take another back. "But forcing yourself won't help make it go faster."

"But I need to!" She cried angrily as her back hit the metal of the manticore. "I'm supposed to be the leader but I'm so far behind! I can't keep holding the team back because I lack experience. If I screw up a move on the field then you, Weiss, Yang; any of you could get hurt!"

Breathing heavily and feeling a little weak in the knee's, Ruby slowly slid down the last remaining leg of the manticore into a sitting position and pulled her knees up to her chest and closed her eyes. She hated feeling that way, she hated feeling angry, but more than anything at that moment, she hated that she had just shouted at Blake. It wasn't her fault at all and she had even tried to be calm, yet Ruby had taken her frustration out on the girl nonetheless. Therefore, she wasn't surprised when she heard Blake's footsteps pass her and make their way to the exit. Or at least that was where she assumed Blake was headed.

The sudden sound of rending metal filled her ears and made her cringe slightly, it didn't last long however as the sound stopped and was followed by a loud, metallic thud. Opening her eyes as her ears picked up the distant sound of her precious scythe being collapsed into it more compact form. After a couple of seconds of silence, she felt something press against her upper arm and looked to see that Blake had rested the shining red sniper scythe against her. Letting out a short sniffle as Blake sat down beside her, she lifted her arm slightly to allow the weapon to fall into her lap and quickly pulled it into her chest for comfort.

"Feeling better?"

"No," She pouted, knowing that she sounded like a child but not caring in the slightest. "I just feel like I'm failing as your leader. Yang and Weiss really didn't bother to show up today, I wasted our entire training session messing up the move; and no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to beat any of you in sparring class."

"You are doing fine, Ruby," Blake said solemnly and Ruby looked at her just in time to see the girl laying her sheathed katana on the ground. "You were pushed ahead two years for a reason."

"Maybe Professor Ozpin was wrong," she groaned and looked down at her darling to she if any damage had been had from her being thrown. "Even he said he doesn't know if I will be a good leader. Maybe I'm too inexperienced for Beacon."

"Ruby," Blake sighed, pulling her own knees up and crossing her arms over them. "Someone should never want experience, not in what we have chosen to do. The experience I have was born from horrors no-one should have to face, some were even of my own doing; but you don't need those things to be a good leader."

"You don't lead through experience or combat prowess, though you are much more skilled than many in our year. You're a good leader because you know what it's like to be happy, and you want that happiness for everyone. That's what makes us follow you."

"But what if I lead you all wrong?" Ruby replied quietly, trying her best to suppress a small sniffle.

"Then you will learn from your mistake," Blake said carefully and fiddled with the laces on her shoes. "Do you remember our first week? When Weiss was annoyed at you for not paying attention in class? You stayed up until four in the morning for a whole week to catch up and get the work done."

"I got told off by Yang about staying up that late though."

"I mean, you didn't exactly go about it in the healthiest way, Ruby, " the faunus chuckled lightly. "But you took steps to improve yourself and now you're getting better grades than your sister."

"Studying is hardly the same as combat," Ruby pouted and wiped a small smudge off her scythe. "If I mess up in the field, there are no redos, someone might get hurt, maybe even die, that's not something that can be fixed after it happens."

"True," Blake said with a nod. "But I had many leaders in the White Fang who refused to even try to fix anything, even if it was something as simple as leaky camp stoves, tarps, or guns jamming too often, much less how they ran things, unless it was their hides on the line. And even then, some still preferred to carry on without a care."

Taken aback by the fact that Blake had voluntarily talked about her time in the White Fang, Ruby finally raised her head from her knees and turned to look into the amber eyes of her teammate. It was very rare for Blake to even mention the criminal organisation she had once worked for; however, Ruby was always a little curious, so seeing a chance to learn a little more, she cautiously pressed forward a little more.

"What… What were they like?" she asked carefully, keeping her voice soft to not seem to eager. "Th-The leaders, I mean."

"Some were alright, I guess," Blake sighed and leaned her head back against the manticore. "Most just wanting a better life for the faunus. But others were some of the most sadistic people, even more so than the very people we were fighting to get rights from. They would train us every day until we collapsed from exhaustion, then would send us out on missions not caring if we were still recovering; missions that were dangerous, and very rarely had everyone return. No matter how much dust or Lien we stole, no matter how many people we lost, they would just keep cracking the whip, most often breaking the spirits of the very people they were fighting for."

"I'm sorry," Ruby shivered at the idea of watching people you considered friends die, and even more so at the idea that Blake could have easily been one of those people. "That sounds horrible."

"It was," Blake admitted, the pain of the memories still clear in her voice. "That's why you're the best leader I've ever had. Because I know that even if something happens to me in the field, you would have tried everything you could to prevent it; and if you couldn't, you'd learn from it and make sure that it doesn't happen to anyone else."

Before Ruby could give a response, Blake closed her eyes in concentration and after a couple of seconds, a fuzzy clone of herself began to manifest in a fashion that Ruby had yet to see. Very slowly, the fuzzy shadow pulled away from Blake's true form and before she could comment on the new use of the girl's semblance, the shadow clone wrapped the curled up girl into a hug and comforted her before gradually fading away into nothingness leaving Blake panting slightly. Once she recovered, a small grin worked its way onto Blake's face, with sweat beading down her forehead, she picked up her weapon and rose to her feet before turning to face her.

"So cheer up, okay? One of us has to be optimistic most of the time," She said in a much more gentle tone than Ruby had heard from the girl before. "There are always new things to be learnt. I thought I knew everything my semblance was capable of, but watching Sun showed me there's still more I might be able to do. In time, you'll learn what else you can do too."

Still speechless after what she had just seen, and feeling a little warm around her shoulders where the shadow had touched her, Ruby watched as Blake turned and make her way to the locker room to get cleaned up, leaving her to contemplate what she had said.


I am such an idiot, Blake thought, breathing out deeply as she turned off the shower and grabbed her towel. Placing her head against the cold tile, the memory of what she had just done came back to her. She had never seen Ruby like that, she certainly had her occasional quiet days, but never before had the girl seemed so lost and unsure; and not knowing what to do to comfort her, Blake had simply done what she knew Yang would have done and given the girl a hug.

And you just had to show off while you were at it, didn't you, Blake?

Why couldn't she have just settled for giving the girl some words of advice? She was supposed to be distancing herself so that she could get over her stupid crush, not doing more things that would do nothing but succeed in angering Yang further. The blond had already been glaring daggers at her ever since the altercation, choosing to sit on the other side of the table instead of next to her like she usually did; and if she was honest, it hurt her more than she suspected it would.

So why am I risking that? She thought to herself as she wrapped the towel around herself and made her way back to her locker to grab her clothes. Why am I risking the best friend I've ever had on a stupid crush that will go nowhere?

Shaking her head as she input the code and opened the door, she was quite surprised to find that every piece of clothing she had put in there was missing. Confused as to where they had gone to, she immediately looked around her and felt stupid as realisation dawned on her. She knew she had put them in her locker as clothes didn't walk away on their own, which meant someone had taken them. Closing her eyes and sighing, she slammed the door to the locker shut and began to walk towards the door in search of the culprit when a familiar voice from the next row over caught her attention.

"Two socks, two shoes, a pair of underwear, a skirt, and a t-shirt," the voice said playfully and Blake felt a chill run through her. She had been expecting her partner to corner her in the dorm room or something, not in the locker room while she was half-naked. "What a coincidence. There are seven pieces of clothing here and I have seven questions."

"Yang, plea…"

"No!" Yang's voice echoed around the room and the light, playful tone it possessed seconds ago was nowhere to be found; instead it was hard and unyielding. "We are going to play a game. For each question of mine that you answer honestly, and in a way that I like, you'll get one piece of your clothing back."

Watching as Yang emerged from behind the lockers, Blake saw that the blonde had her clothes gripped tightly in one of her hands. From the stark white skin that stretched over her partner's knuckles, she knew the grip was tight enough that she would never get her clothes back without Yang's permission; so swallowing heavily, she gave Yang a slight nod and prepared herself for the worst.

"Good," the brawler replied, her tone dropping some of its force but remained firm nonetheless. "First question, let's see if your memory is any good. What did I see?"

While Blake knew the answer, the question was tricky. She didn't want to upset the blonde even more, but the idea of putting her feelings into words was tough. She wasn't even entirely sure what they were herself.

"I don't kn…"

"No!" Yang interrupted again, though this time her voice was little more than a growl. "I know when you are lying, Blake. You are my best friend and I love you, but this is my sister. So lie to me again and I will leave."

Seeing Yang's eyes flash red for the briefest of moments was all she needed to know the girl was serious; so feeling her heart race a little faster, she lowered her head and answered honestly.

"You saw me giving in."

Lilac eyes locked onto hers and Blake held her breath as Yang stared her down. Finally though, after a couple of seconds, the sound of rubber hitting tile echoed around the room as Yang extended the finger that was holding one of her shoes and let it drop to the floor.

"Second question. Why did you say I'd kill you?"

"Because I see how protective you are of Ruby," Blake sighed, her arms dropping to her side as she made her way over to the bench and sat down. "You almost ripped the head off the last guy to talk to her."

"That's because we both know exactly what he wanted," Yang replied, another finger extending and dropping the other shoe to the floor. "Do you want what he did?"

"No!" For the first time since Yang had begun to speak, the answer leaped from her before she had time to think.

Yang was right, Blake knew exactly what the boy who had been flirting with Ruby had wanted, and she had wanted to rip his head off herself; but her feelings weren't like that. Though she was still unsure how deeply she felt for the girl, she knew she wanted more than that, far more.

"I… I don't know what I want with Ruby."

"Hmm," Yang hummed contemplatively and dropped a sock on top of the pair of shoes. "Fourth question. Do you like my sister? And don't give me that of course I like your sister bullshit because you know what I mean."

Though Blake tried to think about the question for a second, there was only one answer that pushed its way into her mind; and while she had tried to push it aside as a simple crush, when asked, the answer was obvious.

"I do," Blake said quietly as she slowly nodded and let her gaze drop to her knees. "I'm sorry, Yang. I tried not to, I just…"

Cutting herself off due to having no idea what she was saying, Blake continued to look at her knees as she waited for Yang to rip her to pieces. However, to her surprise, the blonde let out a long sigh as she pushed herself off the locker she was leaning on and sat down on the bench beside her.

"Final question," She said, her softer tone catching her off guard just as much as she skipped questions hard. "Are you gonna tell her?"

"What's the point?" Blake replied with a sigh as Yang handed her the rest of her clothes. "She already likes someone else, probably Jaune or Sun. She was asking about them last night after all."

"Blake," Yang said, the girl's tone weird enough to cause her to look up and see the lilac eyes look at her with a furrowed brow. "Ruby's gay."

"What?"

"You think I would have bothered with all this if you didn't stand a chance?" The blonde chuckled and leaned forward to grab the clothing she had dropped on the floor earlier. Dusting them off before setting them into Blake's lap, and sitting back down beside the raven haired girl.

"I… I guess not," Blake replied slowly as she reeled from the news. "I'm still not even sure if she likes me, or if I even deserve someone like her after everything I've done."

"Well," Yang groaned and stretched her arms above her head, her joints cracking loudly. "I can't speak for Ruby liking you, because I don't even know what she's thinking half the time, but I can definitely say that she doesn't care about what you've done. You're here now and you want to help people, if that's enough to make you worthy in her eyes, then you are."

Not knowing how to reply to the blonde's words, Blake chose to give her a small smile instead to show that they were appreciated. Fortunately, it seemed to be enough as Yang quickly gave her a light punch to the leg and stood up before turning around to face her.

"However, Ruby is my baby sister and comes before anyone else in my life," she said, her eyes suddenly turning from a soft lilac to a deep scarlet. "So if she does return your feelings, you had better treat her right. I understand relationships don't always work out; but if you ever hurt her, then you will be answering to me. Understood?"

Knowing that Yang's threat was sincere, Blake gave the brawler a very terse nod. "Understood."

"Good," She replied, her eyes flicking back to their soft lilac. "Then I will leave you to get dressed. Oh, and tell Sun that next time him and Neptune let Weiss get that drunk, I'm gonna crack some skulls. I really don't like being vomited on."

"Sure thing," Blake replied, a small smile pulling at her lips at the irony of Yang doing the same to herself multiple times since they had started Beacon.

Watching Yang turn and walk away with a wave, Blake let out a sigh at how much better that conversation had gone than she expected it to. However, now she had other problems. She had always assumed Ruby wouldn't be interested because she didn't feel that way about women, but learning that she did had made her question everything. Most importantly, what she should do next and whether or not she should confess to the pretty young reaper. Unfortunately, even if she were to confess, she had no idea how to go about it; so letting out a deep sigh, she stood up and began to get dressed, thinking the whole time on what she should do next.

Chapter Text

     It didn't mean anything, Ruby sighed inwardly as she walked down the hallway after her training with Blake. While the training had been little more than a waste of time, the events that followed were most certainly confusing her; and ever since leaving the room, she had been in a constant argument with herself. She was just being kind.

     But she doesn't hug anyone.

     She hugs Yang.

     Yang hugs her. She just kinda stands there awkwardly.

     Ugh! Shut up, stupid brain.

     Raising her hand to her head in a foolish hope that the pressure would make it stop trying to give her convince her of something that wouldn't happen. As expected, it didn't help in the slightest; so reaching into her bag, she pulled out her favourite pair of headphones and slipped them over her ears, turning her music up to max to block out the thoughts that had been hounding her ever since the talk with the fetching Faunus. Fortunately, the punk rock helped quite a bit as the bass pulsed through her.

     Letting out a small sigh, she pushed open the door to Beacon's courtyard and quickly found her favourite bench and sat down to think on the more important things that had happened during their training; the smell of roses from a nearby bush permeating the air and providing the comfort of the fond memories associated with the smell.

     It was very rare that she lost her temper in such a way, anger being more Yang and their father's thing than hers, but she had certainly felt it brewing for the last couple of weeks. Constantly losing in class and making mistake after mistake had been causing her quite a bit of the doubt of whether being a huntress like her mom really was what she was meant to do, doubts she'd cast aside when Ozpin allowed her into the school early. She still wasn't sure why he had done that though.

     There were plenty of people in her year back at Signal that frequently beat her in fair combat so it couldn't have been due to her skill, everyone there also had the same goal of protecting people so it couldn't have been that either. Was it simply that she was in the right place at the right time? Did Ozpin know something she didn't? He always acted like he did, so it would hardly be a surprise to her.

     Or was Blake right? Did Ozpin think that she was the type of girl to inspire others? But how did she do that? She never did anything that plenty of others didn't do. All she ever did was try and be as good a person as she could. But could that really be all that's needed to inspire someone?

     You inspired Blake.

     Once again, her brain pushed through the music to bring the girl back to the forefront of her memories; though thankfully, it was at least pertinent to what she was thinking about for once.

     Did I? Ruby asked herself as she span around to lay on the bench with her eyes closed. She was already becoming a huntress to help people.

     She said you did.

     But how? Ruby thought and wrapped her cloak over her as the slight wind caused bumps to raise on her arms. It doesn't really help to know that I did it without knowing how."

     Maybe that's the point.

     That doesn't help.

     Sighing at how useless her own mind could be sometimes, she once again let herself fall back into enjoying her music. It wasn't very often that she was able to enjoy her music, as Weiss often scolded her for playing it loud and having the burden of being the team leader meant she was having to pay attention at all times; so the rare five minutes where she was able to relax and listen to her tunes were treasured greatly. However, as it had done the day before, and almost every time she closed her eyes as let her mind drift, the image of Blake floated into the center of her mind.

     It was never an image of anything special, never of the girl fighting or doing something that normal people would get stuck in their head, but simply the image of her reading. While usually it was a book while sitting in her own bed, for the past two days, it had been the image of them sat together on hers enjoying the manga and eating cookies.

     As she had suspected that night, very little of the manga actually registered as the majority of the time was spent sneaking as many glances as she could at the gorgeous girl; not to mention that every time Blake reached into the bag for a cookie, her fingers would graze along her side for the briefest of seconds. Every time it happened, her mind would spin in circles causing her to lose where she was on the page, and not wanting to hold Blake up, she would give a simple nod whenever the girl asked if she was done.

     Maybe she was doing it on purpose.

     That's stupid, she scoffed internally as she put her hands behing her head to aid against the hard metal bench, though even she could admit that Blake had eaten more cookies that night than Ruby had ever seen her eat before. Why would she do that?

     Maybe she likes spending time with you.

     As friends.

     Maybe more?

     That's even more stupid, she sighed at the silly idea her brain had just come up with. She doesn't feel the way I do.

     But what if she did?

     Then she would still be Yang's best friend, Ruby groaned and turned her head to the side and opened her eyes to watch the rest of the students enjoy their free time, her eyes locking onto a couple who were laying on the grass in each others arms. We could never have that.

     Apparently her brain had no response as nothing but music replied, and feeling herself becoming slightly more miserable from watching the couple, she turned back to look at the sky and was met by a pair of lilac eyes gazing down at her and blocking out the darkening sky. Feeling the blonde hair that was dangling from the girl's head tickled her nose, she reached up and batted it away as her sister's mouth moved, the words lost to the music.

     "What's up?" She asked, pulling one side of the headphones off her ears.

     "I asked you what's up?" Yang repeated as her hand came out to tap her legs, indicating for her to move them. Letting out a sigh, she folded her legs and Yang effortlessly vaulted over the bench to sit down, Ruby unfolding her legs to rest them on her sister. "You look sad."

     "Just thinking about things," Ruby replied dismissively with a shrug, reaching up to turn her headphones off and moving them to hang around her neck.

     "Anything your big sis can help with?"

     "I doubt it," Ruby shook her head, feeling Yang gently knead her legs in a soothing massage. "How're Coco and Velvet? I thought you were spending the day together?"

     "They had to go to a meeting with Port about their upcoming mission," Yang replied and Ruby could tell there was at least a little worry in her voice. "They get to spend a week cuddling without me."

     Raising her head a little to look at her sister, the worry she had heard in the girl's voice was written on her face, and Ruby knew it had nothing to do with the cuddling.

     "Coco and Velvet are two of the toughest huntresses we know. They'll come back, and cuddle you into oblivion."

     "I know," Yang said, her face lightening a little. "Guess it's my fault for going against my rule of not dating people in our line of work, huh?"

     "That rule was dumb anyway, we both knew that you wouldnt settle down with someone who couldn't kick your butt."

     "She's right, Yang," Ruby heard from behind the bench and turned to see Weiss standing there holding cups of steaming drinks from the local Black cat cafe. "I've only known you for six months and even I know you need someone who can explore the world with you. Who better than the two best second-year huntresses in Beacon?"

     "I guess," the blonde replied, lifting Ruby up against her will and scooting them both along the bench so that their white-haired teammate could sit down.

     Feeling the bench shift a little as Weiss sat down, she lifted her head up and placed it on her partners lap as she saw the girl pass Yang one of the drinks; Ruby gave the heiress a cheeky grin and received a small roll of the girls eyes in return, though no move was made to alter the new position. After a few moments of silence, where she simply enjoyed the smell of roses that permeated the air, she felt Yang tap her on her side and looked to see her offering her the drink. Opening her mouth, Yang shook her head and gently tipped a little of the chocolatey contents inside.

     "Comfy there?"

     "Very," Ruby grinned at her sister after swallowing the delicious liquid.

     "Well don't get used to it," Weiss interjected with a scowl. "So how was training with Blake? Did you get the move down?"

     "No," she sighed and closed her eyes as a cloud shifted and the low-hanging sun and almost blinded her. "I had other things on my mind and kept messing up."

     "Really?" Yang asked, the surprise in her voice clear as the sun that was still trying its hardest to force its way through Ruby's eyelids. "You're normally super focused in training."

     "I had something on my mind okay? Is that so hard to believe?"

     "Knowing how you are about training, yeah it is."

     "Did you at least work it out?" Weiss' voice asked carefully. "Whatever it was that kept distracting you, I mean."

     "No," she replied and opened her eyes a little to see Weiss and Yang looking away from each other a little too quickly for her liking. "It's not exactly something I can do anything about."

     Ruby felt Yang grab onto her legs and hold on tight, while she heard the telltale sound of Weiss making a glyph below her on the bench. Oh crap. "Yaaaang, stop! I don't wanna talk about it."

     "Tough luck, little sister," the blonde chuckled and Ruby felt the laces of one of her boots being untied until it was loose and was quickly pulled off. "Now you either tell me what was stuck on your mind, or I start tickling."

     "It's noth…"

     "That's bullshit with a capital B and we both know it, so I guess you leave me no choice."

     "No! Don…"

     Ruby's pleading was cut off as Yang's fingers began to move along the sole of her foot and she felt a laugh force its way up from her stomach. Trying to squirm away from the torture, she realised that the glyph underneath her was a gravity one to keep her in place; and with no way to escape, she was unable to stop the laughter that erupted from her. The assault continued for what felt like minutes, but finally Yang's fingers stopped.

     "Ready to talk?"

     "Weiss, help me!"

     "Nope."

     Before Ruby could utter another word, Yangs fingers began to move again and more laughter tore its way out of her. Feeling herself beginning to lose breath, she attempted to pull her legs away again; but even with only one arm, Yang was much too strong. So wanting it to end, she choked out her defeat. "Ok… O-Okay."

     "Me and Blake were reading a comic that she was really excited to read with me, but I ended up falling asleep on her and I don't know if she was okay with me doing so because she's has been really distant ever since. So I thought maybe I said something in my sleep or something that caused her to avoid me, and when she reached for a cookie her hand brushed against my side and a shiver went through my body, and it happened a lot but I don't know if she was doing it on purpose or if she was just hungry, which is something I can relate to as I love cookies and can't get enough of them, but that was the most cookies I've ever seen her eat so-"

     "You're rambling again, Ruby," Yang interrupted her, causing her words to falter as she realised she may have said too much.

     Unfortunately for her, Weiss let out a loud sigh and cleared her throat.

     "You know you could have just said you like Blake, right?"

     "WEISS!"

     "Come on, Weiss. I was having fun."

     "Well I was tired of it and keeping this glyph up for so long while also listening to word spew is giving me a headache."

     A pout formed on the brunettes face as Ruby pieced together what the heiress said; and quickly realizing that it was a subtle insult that was directed against the small leader, she crossed her arms and with a huff. "I'm never telling you anything ever again."

     "Oum I wish that was the truth, but it's not and we both know it."

     Scowling at her partner as she felt her back unglue itself from the bench, Ruby sat up and pulled her legs free from her sister's slackened grip; not daring the look at her due to new information that had just been aired. However, as she picked up her boot that had been dropped to the floor and slipped it back on, she heard Yang chuckle lightly to herself as she pulled out her scroll.

     "Aww, Blakey got you feline all smitten, Kitten ?" Yang cooed as she giggled happily to herself, causing Weiss to let out a loud groan and Ruby to blush a deep scarlet.

     "One day you will realise how terrible your puns are," Weiss said, and Ruby could see the snowy-haired girl shaking her head.

     "Says the girl who's been copying them lately. Anyway I just got a text from Coco that their meeting with Port is done, and Rubes, even if I give you crap about this, understand that I just want you to be happy, so if Blake does that for you, then go for it. But remember, we share a room and my gauntlets are always near my bed."

     With that Yang stood and jogged over to the administrative building where her girlfriends were likely going to be exiting soon, leaving Weiss still formulating an appropriate response to the blonde's statement, However, as Yang quickly left ear shot, Weiss clearly gave up and admitted to herself that Yang was right in a sense.

     "Have I really been that obvious?"

     "The only way you could be more so is if you kissed her, Ruby."

     "Not like that thought hasn't crossed my mind," Ruby admitted and tied her laces, very aware that her face was still beet red. "Do you think Blake has noticed too?"

     "I don't know," Weiss shrugged and leaned back against the back of the bench. "If she hasn't, then she isn't as perceptive as I thought she was. If she has, then she certainly isn't discouraging you."

     "But Blake deserves better than me"

     "Ruby, out of everyone in this school there is no one better than you for her. I realize that you doubt what you're capable of, but now more than ever, I know for a fact that you are just what Blake needs, even if she doesn't know it herself."

     "How do you know that?" She pouted and sat back with her partner after finishing tying her boots.

     "Because you balance each other out in a good way," Weiss explained vaguely and rested a hand comfortingly on Ruby's shoulder

     "But what happens if she doesn't like me like that?"

     "That's just a chance you'll have to take, Ruby"

     Ruby took the words, letting them roll onto her palette, and stopped pouting as her face took on a thoughtful expression; pondering over her feelings and Blake's responses to being near her, along with how the girl acts around her. Lightly tapping a fist over her open palm, she turned to say thank you to Weiss only to see that the heiress was already walking away towards a blue-haired boy standing against the wall smiling at her.

Chapter Text

Cute, Awkward, and Infuriating

Slowly threading her way through the familiar red trees of Forever Fall, Blake looked ahead to the rest of her team, though mainly to one member; the pretty leader that was talking to her sister up front. With the amount of fallen leaves on the ground, the girl's cape blended perfectly into the floor and gave the impression that she was simply floating through the forest. In stark contrast, the shining blonde that was laughing next to her stood out like a Grimm in a teddy bear shop; and Blake watched at the head on blonde hair turned to look at her and wink, her arm moving and the books in her hand quickly blocking of the lower section of their leaders back. Understanding what Yang was implying, she blushed as red as the leaves around her and turned to look away.

"Can you believe Professor Goodwitch is making us do this again?" Weiss said indignantly next to her. "We are supposed to be training to be huntresses, not syrup harvesters."

Not having any reply worth giving to the heiress, Blake simply gave the girl a shrug and took the spile that the girl held out to her. Stopping against one of the trees, she positioned the spike against the bark and slammed the butt of Gambol Shroud into the flat part to drive it in. Not wanting to waste any of the sap as it meant their mission would take longer, she held a jar underneath and watched as thick magenta liquid flowed freely into it.

"Aww, someone's grumpy today," Yang teased, her arms sliding around Weiss' shoulders and capturing her in a hug. "You know, if you and Neptune are arguing, me, Co, and Velvs have plenty of love left for a fourth."

"Ugh," Weiss scoffed disapprovingly and shrugged the laughing girl off of her. "Me and Neptune are fine, this is just not what we are training for."

"We are training to be Huntresses, Weiss," Ruby said happily and copied Blake's actions on a nearby tree. "We might have to protect people who do this for a living; and if we can help while we protect them, then this is good training."

"Maybe your tone would change if you knew how tough it was to get that stuff out of your hair."

Suppressing a smile as one of Yang's hands shot up to her hair and began to check for any traces of sap, she took a chance to capitalize on the blonde being distracted to sneak a glance at her leader. However, a smile broke through onto her face as she caught Ruby dipping her finger into the liquid that poured from the tree and happily sticking it into her mouth, her eyes widening comically as she realised she was being watched; a small grin on her face appearing sheepishly. Unable to do anything but shake her head in amusement at the younger girl, Blake returned to looking at the conversing pair to find that she too was being watched by Weiss.

"W-What?" She stuttered slightly.

"Nothing," Weiss replied loftily and turned to Yang who was still inspecting her hair. "Come on, Yang. Let's go and find other trees so we can get this over with quicker."

With Yang nodding in agreement, they both quickly left to go find more trees, the blonde still fretting over her hair as Weiss tutted at her for being silly as there was no chance that syrup had gotten in her hair yet, but if she kept fretting she might get it there herself.

Blake took a few glances at Ruby as she filled some jars with syrup, and randomly took a taste of another jar that she had beside her; eventually, on one of the glances,

Blake caught Ruby's eyes looking at her and blushed before looking away.

"So…" She said cautiously and shook the spile a little to get the syrup flowing again. "How... How have you been? Since our training session, I mean."

"Oh, I'm doing better now," The reaper replied as she sat down beside the filling jar. "I think the day out with Yang helped." She smiled, only for it to drop a few seconds later as her eyes widened a little. "S-Sorry, your advice did too."

"Glad I could help," Blake replied, knowing that it was likely the fact that three days ago Yang had, not so politely, told her and Weiss to get lost for a day and dragged her sister off someplace. She had no idea what the sisters spent the day doing; but when they returned, Ruby had been back to her usual smiling, happy self.

"What about you?" Ruby asked cautiously and Blake noticed the girl begin to fiddle with her laces, something she only did when she was nervous. "You seemed pretty annoyed yesterday?"

"Huh? Oh right," she sighed as the final drops of sap fell from the tapped tree, leaving the jar underneath only half full. "Just that Neon girl that Sun has started dating. She's not really someone I enjoy spending time with, is all."

Sneaking another look at the leader, Blake saw confusion write itself across the young girl's face; and feeling a little bad for speaking ill of someone in front of a girl who saw the best in everyone, she quickly explained what she meant.

"I didn't mean that she's a bad person or anything. She's just… a lot to deal with."

"Oh, that's fair," Ruby smiled, the small little gesture making Blake's stomach flip. "I think Yang feels the same about her too."

With nothing left to say on the matter, Blake twisted the spile out of the tree and moved over to another to continue her sap farming. As she worked the tap into the thick bark of the new tree, each tap sounded deafening in her ears due to the uncomfortable silence that had stretched between the two of them. Determined to break the silence and maybe actually make something of their time alone together, Blake took a deep breath and tried a new angle of conversation.

"So uhh… Do you... remember that chat we had a while back? About people we're interested in? I learned something recently that made mine a lot more likely," she said, her throat feeling a little dry as she had no idea where she was going with the conversation.

"Oh? What's that?"

"Well… She's into girls, which just so happens to be something that I am as well. Hopefully I can work up the courage to tell her."

Looking up after telling Ruby what had been on her mind for a bit, she noticed a slight smile on the girls lips, and a visibly brighter continence in her gunmetal silver eyes. The new light not too dissimilar from when she finds a cookie at a bag that she had previously thought empty, thinking about cookies, she noticed something over the past week, Ruby didn't have any…

"Do… Do I know her?" Ruby's gentle voice broke through her thoughts and caused her breathing to labor a little.

"Y-You do," Blake stuttered a little as the words tumbled from her mouth. "Quite well, actually."

Once again, silence filled the space between them, the only sound being that of the slow dripping from Ruby's tap that the girl seemed to have forgotten. However, after what felt like five minutes of torture, in which her heart was beating so fast that she wouldn't have been surprised had it burst from her chest, she finally took a deep breath and decided to stop wasting time.

"Rub…"

"Miss Rose!" Glynda's voice interrupted her as the stern woman appeared from behind a tree, clipboard in hand. "Where are Miss Schnee and Miss Xiao Long?"

Turning to face the tree and Glynda walked toward the young leader, Blake tried her best to hide the scarlet blush that had erupted onto her face and set herself on working the last drops of sap from the tree. Once the jar was final fully she pulled the tap free and took a second to compose herself as Ruby stumbled over every other word she said to the huntress.


 

Heaving a deep sigh as she stepped out of the bathroom fully dressed after a relaxing shower, Ruby plopped down on Weiss' freshly made bed earning a raised eyebrow from the heiress that was sorting out some paperwork at her desk. Unfortunately, the girl said nothing and continued with what she was doing, so taking a deep breath, Ruby let out another deep sigh; this time earning an annoyed grumble from her best friends, yet the girl still did not speak. In a final attempt Ruby took one last deep breath and let it out, added a small whine for extra effect.

"I don't care, Ruby."

"But Wei…"

"But nothing!" Weiss said tiredly and tapped the papers on the table to straighten them. "I listened to it all day after we got back from Forever Fall forest and again all last night when she was at dinner, that is why I'm having to rush to sort these out before our first class. If you like Blake so much, then just ask her out already, you know she's into girls now."

"But she already said she likes someone," Ruby pouted and leaning back on the bed, receiving yet another annoyed sigh from Weiss. "And she said she only just found out, and I've never really hid it so I don't think it can be me."

"Or maybe she just never knew until now," the heiress replied shortly, clipping the document into her folder and putting it into her bag.

"I doubt it," Ruby sighed, absentmindedly pulling at a loose bit on string that hung down from the mattress above her. "It's probably Reese, she always winks whenever Blake passes by the skating area."

"Then wait until she goes back to Haven next month, or try and show her why you would be better," Weiss said and stood up to put her bag over her shoulder. "I don't care which you do, just stop pestering me with this."

Letting out a small oof as she felt her own bag land on her stomach, Ruby sat up and looked to see Weiss walking out of the door. Bouncing up from the now slightly dishevelled bed, she quickly ran after her partner.

"But I have no-one else to talk to about this," Ruby pouted, using her semblance to burst in front of the girl and walking backwards. "Yang just teases me when I talk to her."

"You've spent sixteen years around her yet still think she is capable of giving good advice?"

"Sometimes," Ruby hummed thoughtfully, keeping up her backwards walk as she followed Weiss to class. "But your my bestie, so pleeease tell me how you confessed to Neptune?"

Again, Weiss threw her a tired look and Ruby pushed the door of the dormitory open, the crisp air hitting the back of her neck and causing her to shiver a little. Giving her shoulders a shrug to shift her cloak higher, she turned around and walked beside her partner.

"I did not confess anything," Weiss replied, holding her head up high as if such a thing was beyond her. "I told him to meet for lunch, and he did."

"Whaaat?" Ruby cried and let her arms drop to her side. "I can't do that."

"Then I don't know how to help you," Weiss shrugged and picked up her pace towards one of the side buildings that was dedicated to general studies subjects such as maths and science.

"Uuuuugh!"

As she let out a small groan, the feeling of hopelessness began to overtake her again. It had been nearly a week since she had decided to try and ask Blake out, but every attempt that she made ended in her wanting to gently bang her head on the wall in hopes that the small, repeated impacts would remove the embarrassment from her memory. The most progress that had been made was their small conversation during the field trip, unfortunately that had been cut short by Glynda.

Fortunately, the general studies building was not too far from the dormitory so it took less than five minutes to reach it and start walking down the hallway that led to their class. Pushing the door open, she allowed Weiss to walk in first, a decision she immediately regret. Being the last two to arrive, there were only two chairs left for them to sit in, one being a seat next to the walkway, and the other being next to Blake. Without a second of hesitation, Weiss sat down in the chair next to the walkway, leaving the chair next to Blake as the only one Ruby could sit in.

Not sure what to do as her nerves instantly set on fire, Ruby simply stood there like a lost lamb trying to think of a good reason not to take her seat.

"Miss Rose," She heard Professor Peach say from behind her, the voice causing her to jump a little and spin to face the stern looking woman. "You are holding up my class. Take your seat."

"Y-Yes, Ma'am," She stuttered, the fear of being in trouble suppressing her nerves enough to make herself scurry over to her teammate and take her seat.

Trying her best not to look at the raven-haired faunus beside her, due to knowing that her face was likely bright red, Ruby quickly busied herself pulling out her books and getting ready for what would likely be the next couple of hours of boring note taking. However, as she scrambled through her bad, pulling books aside, she was unable to find her pencil case. After a couple of seconds of searching, she let out a small sigh, resigning to having to borrow one from Professor Peach and face the consequences of holding up the class again; but just as she began to raise her hand, she felt a small tap on her right shoulder and turned to see Blake holding out a pen for her.

"You okay?" The beautiful girl asked, a small hint of worry in the glowing amber eyes. "You look a little flushed today?"

"I'm f-fine," Ruby stuttered again, reaching out to take the pen. "Thank y…"

"Talking, Miss Rose!" Professor Peach barked, causing both of them to jump slightly and turn to face the teacher. "Hold up my class again and you will find your lunch break to be shorter than usual. You too Miss Belladonna."

"Sorry, Ma'am," they both chorused in return.

With a stern look at them both, Peach turned back to address the class and Ruby settled in to take notes, the fact that Blake had been watching her close enough to notice she had been flushed making a faint smile pull at her lips.


 

It had been a few days since Weiss had pulled Yang away from the other two during the mission in forever fall, where they had both hid behind nearby trees to listen in on the conversation between their other two teammates. She had learned from Yang a couple of days prior that Blake had taken an interest in the young leader, and since she had learned the fact, she noticed all the little clues that had up till that point had escaped her view. The way Blake would sneak glances, the way her touch would linger on Ruby for just a little longer than normal. It had been cute at first, watching the two girls dance around and work up the courage to say more than two words to each other; however, that was almost a week ago, and after a week, the charm had worn off and annoyance had begun to settle in. So sat in the library with Yang studying yet another book of notes from yet another boastful lecture, Weiss saw an opportunity to talk about the situation without the two overhearing anything, the white-haired girl spoke up.

"Are you as tired of them as I am yet?"

Originally, both Ruby and Blake was supposed to have been studying with them, but after what seemed to be the Faunus' twentieth failed attempt to confess to the brunette, Blake had decided to sulk off somewhere and Ruby was busy doing whatever it was she did instead of sulking. Weiss' guess was stuffing her face with ungodly amount of baked goods.

"Yup," the blonde beside her replied, finally dropping the book she had been feigning interest in since they had sat down. "I swear, at this point I doubt I would even be mad if I walked in on them half naked, I'd just be bloody glad they finally did something other than freak out constantly. You think we should do something about it?"

"What can we do? Other than shove them together in a closet until they confess to one another?"

"You said it, not me," Yang chuckled mischievously and placed her feet on the table. "But that's not a bad idea honestly. Or we send Rubes to go find the sulking kitty cat on the roof."

"Speaking of the sugar devil where is she, I don't want to wander into the kitchen to find a bloated Ruby that ate way too many cookies and can't fit through the door."

"Well, if you don't want to find her like that, we better go stop her from making more cookies," Yang grinned with a little sigh. "Follow me, I have a good idea of where she is."

Giving Yang a suspicious look as the blonde stood up, Weiss took a second to think as to whether it really was their place to intervene. However, as she thought, she also remembered the fact that Ruby had almost bent one of the guards of her precious Myrtensater during a nervous bumbling session and quickly stood up to join the blonde in her plan.

Chapter Text

     Ugh, Ruby thought to herself as she slowly made her way to the roof, her feet dragging as she walked due to the fact she had already made enough of a fool of herself for one day. If Yang knew where she was, why didn't she get her.

     After trying again to say something to Blake that wasn't stupid, mindless babble and compltely failing, she had been enjoying drowning her sorrow in a large glass milk and quite a large pack of cookies she had found in the bag attached to her bed; how those cookies got there she had no idea, since she was out of money and Yang refused to buy her any more. She had been just over halfway through the pack when Yang and Weiss had burst into the room and demanded she go and get Blake from the roof because Glynda wanted to meet with them all. When she had asked why Yang hadn't gone and retrieved their fourth teammate herself, her sister had simply stole the pack of cookies and said she wasn't getting them back until after the meeting; so clearly having no other choice, she had given in and agreed.

     As she trudged up the stairs to the roof, Ruby couldn't help but feel anxious over talking to the black haired girl. The last time they had talked that morning, Blake had been trying to tell her something and while the girl spoke, all Ruby could think about was just blurting it out and getting the rejection over with; but just as she tried to speak up, her feet had somehow become tangled sending her spilling to the floor and almost skewering herself on Weiss' rapier. Before she had even picked herself up, Weiss had come storming out of the bathroom and began to shout at her for being so careless. By the time the heiress had calmed down, Blake had already left the room and all she had succeeded in doing was making a fool of herself.

     So it didn't surprise her that she found her hand stopping as it reached out to pull open the door that led to the roof. She knew that the only thing she was there to do was inform her teammate that they had a meeting with their teacher, but she was nervous nonetheless. So looking at her fingers shake slightly, she took a couple of deep breaths to steel herself; however, they didn't seem to work and she almost let out a scream as she felt a hand rest on her shoulder.

     Turning around to see who had followed her, she saw her sister wearing a grin that sent a shiver down her spine. Just behind her, resting against the wall, was her own partner with the rapier that had almost been in her chest that morning.

     "Do you remember when I taught you to swim?" The blonde asked, the question catching her off guard as she tried to remember why that smile was so familiar.

     "Yeah, you threw me into the deep end."

     "Exactly," Yang nodded with her malicious smile, her other arm reaching out to rip open the door.

     Realising exactly what her sister was about to do, heat and panic immediately rose within her as her face paled. "Wa…!

     "Good luck, Rubles."

     Before she could even attempt to fight, the door was pulled open and she felt herself being pushed with enough force to send her flying onto the roof. Activating her aura as she fell and slid along the ground a little, she quickly turned around to see her sister give her a wink and push the door closed. Picking herself up and running at the door, her hand closed around the handle and instantly felt like it had been plunged into a bucket of ice water.

     "No nonono NUUUUUU," she said frantically and tried to push it with her shoulder, her mind already knowing it was fruitless as Weiss' ice was harder than diamond.

     While trying her hardest to get the door open, she heard her scroll ping as well as one from behind her, and pulling it out desperately, she read the message as she heard it aloud from the girl behind her, "If you want to get off the roof before dinner, Talk!"

     Turning around a little too fast, Ruby slipped and fell back against rapidly cooling metal door and watched as the older girl let out a sigh before shaking her head slightly, her own face turning a little red. Struggling to right herself while hiding the blush she knew was visible on her own cheeks, she quickly realised that the redness of Blake's face had nothing to do with the slightly cold air that blew through the night.

     "T-Talk? T-Talk about wh-what?" Ruby squeaked, hearing her scroll ping again a couple of seconds later.

     "Something that... both of you have been trying and failing to do for the last week and a half but keep being interrupted… c-cute at first but it became infuriating... myself and Yang decided to take extreme measures. There is no meeting with Glynda, now either talk or next time we lock you in a closet."

     Blushing a deeper scarlet the more Blake read, Ruby tried her best to look anywhere but at the girl. As such, she was extremely surprised when the sound of footsteps on gravel slowly made their way towards her. Finding a small amount of courage to look up, though still avoiding the girl's eyes, she saw Blake's arm reach behind her and pull her weapon from her back. Intrigued by what Blake could be doing, she watched as the Faunus slipped what she instantly recognised as a blank bullet into the top of her gun's magazine and switched her sword to its gun form, pressing the barrel against the metal door.

     "We're not going to talk."

     While the words were said near her, Ruby could tell immediately that they weren't for her; and sure enough, another ping issued from their scrolls. The second it did, Blake pulled the trigger and a loud bang issued from the gun, followed by a much louder scream from the other side of the door. Despite her nerves and how uncomfortable she was, Ruby felt a smile pull at her lips as her sister's loud swearing caught her ears, as well as the pattering of feet down stairs.

     "That should take care of them," Blake sighed, her head looking down so that their eyes met for a brief moment.

     Before anything else could be said however, Blake pushed herself away from the door and turned to walk towards the edge of the roof; where Ruby saw her book sat on the ledge. Watching the girl sit down, Ruby tried to think of what to do when the girl's hand came out and gave the open space next to her a quick pat, the intention behind it very clear.

     Though she was still extremely hesitant, Ruby knew there was nothing else she could do. If she didn't go over, then she wouldn't get off of the roof for hours and might even accidentally insult Blake by giving off the impression of not wanting to sit with her; so step by step, she slowly worked her way over to the knee-high wall that the gorgeous girl was seated on.

     Taking a deep breath as she stopped so close to her teammate that she could smell the girl's floral perfume on the wind, Ruby fiddled with the hem of her sleeve and slowly sat herself on the stone wall and turned to face the magnificent view it gave of Beacon's CCT tower in the distance. Not wanting to be the first to speak as she was likely to make a fool of herself, Ruby simply sat quietly and waited for the raven-haired beauty to break the silence.

     "Your sister's a real pain sometimes," the Faunus finally said after five minutes, her tone light and cautious.

     "T-Tell me about it," she replied, so quietly that she was worried the gentle wind might have drowned her out. "So uhh… Wh-What were you doing up here?"

     "Reading," Blake replied, her hand moving to hover over the book that rested beside her. "It's also a great place to think."

     "Oh… A-About what?"

     The girl didn't reply immediately, instead she pulled her a leg up and resting an arm on it, her eyes deep in thought. Another little minute passed in complete silence, until finally, Blake gave out a loud sigh. "Ruby, can I… Can I ask you something?"

     "S-Sure," Ruby replied, a little nervous of the question that was going to come her way. However, though many ideas of what it could be rushed through her head, none of them even came close to what the girl actually asked.

     "Do you think I'm a monster?"

     Taken aback by the question and the self-doubting way in which Blake had said it, Ruby head immediately turned to face the girl and saw her staring pointedly down at her lap.

     "What! How could I ever think that?" She replied quickly, her nerves instantly forgotten in her need to assure the girl.

     "Because of everything I did," the girl said quietly, her amber eyes losing their shine as the sun moved behind some clouds. "Ruby, my time in the White Fang wasn't peaceful. I never killed anyone, but I've hurt people, I've been the reason that Grimm have attacked villages. And despite everything I've told myself over the last year since I left, I did it willingly because I thought it was helping us be respected."

     "Oh," Ruby replied slowly, trying her best to be just as supportive as Blake had when she had during their training session. "B-But you're not that person any more."

     "That doesn't change that I was," Blake countered quickly and rested her forehead on the back of her hand so that her face was hidden from view. "Or what I've done. You saw how Weiss used to treat the Faunus because of the White Fang, and she isn't even the worst; but I contributed to that. In my attempts to earn my rave more respect, I just gave people more reason to hate us."

     Feeling for the Faunus and not wanting to make her even sadder than she already was, Ruby took a moment to think on how to respond as she watched the green orbs of Beacon tower steadily rise and fall in the distance. Finally thinking she at least had a grip on what to say, she slowly tried to cheer up the Faunus.

     "Blake, I don't think you're a monster," she said kindly and fiddled with her sleeve again. "In fact, you're actually the kind of person who inspired me to become a huntress."

     "I told you once that Yang used to read fairy tales to me, well there were a few where the hero wasn't even a hero at the start. There was one story Yang used to read to me a lot about a prince who was cursed to be a beast because he was cold and selfish; and after he was cursed, he cut everyone away from him and isolated himself in his castle, he would act cruel to those who came to it. He even imprisoned a man there, and once his daughter came to save him, the beast only let him go because she promised to stay instead and he needed a girl to fall in love with him for the curse to break."

     "But the longer she stayed, the more he found himself changing. He no longer wanted to do all the bad things he had before, he didn't want her to love his tricks or his lies, he found himself wanting to be someone she could genuinely love instead. And eventually she did and the curse was broken."

     "There were so many stories that Yang told me, and a lot of them had the same thing, the heroes were the heroes and the villains were the villains," Ruby smiled to herself as she fondly remembered those night Yang would read to her. "But it was that story that taught me that isn't always the case. Sometimes people are just lost, but they can change; and as stupid as it probably sounds, you have always been like that prince to me. Someone who was lost, who hurt people, but you eventually realised that was wrong and decided to spend your life helping people. That's the choice that I think matters."

     Falling silent as she finished her speech, Ruby looked to her side to see if she had made a fool of herself yet again and caught Blake looking directly at her, though thankfully the sadness that had been in her eyes from before was much less. Feeling herself heat up a little in embarrassment of saying something so personal to the girl, she quickly looked away.

     "So I remind you of a beast?" She heard Blake say quietly, though her tone was very hard to make out over the blood pumping loudly in Ruby's ears.

     Almost instantly, Ruby's eyes flew open as she realised how bad of an analogy she had made, and out of fear of having insulted the girl, she turned back to her and tried to make things right.

     "No! I didn… That's not what I meant," she blustered and waved her arms in front of her in panic. "I mean, you do have kitty ears but they're really cute and not beastly at all and Yang acts more like a beast than you an…"

     "Ruby?"

     "Wh-What?!" she squeaked, worried that Blake was about to get up and leave due to a misunderstanding.

     "I was joking."

     "Ohhh."

     Pausing as a small smile pulled at Blake's lips and the girl gave her head a short shake, Ruby suddenly realised she had just called the girl she was crushing on cute and knew from the heat rising in her body that her face was likely redder than her cape. Thankfully, she heard the Faunus chuckle slightly at her side.

     "Sorry," Blake said happily when she stopped her chuckling. "You're pretty cute when you're flustered, so I couldn't help myself."

     What! Ruby screamed in her head after Blake's admission. What the… Did she…

     "Y-You think I'm c-cute?" She asked before she could stop herself.

     Looking to her side, she noticed a redness to Blake's cheeks that definitely were not there before and felt her heart begin to beat even faster.

     "Y-Yes," the girl replied with a slight nod after a couple of seconds. "When you're flustered, you are really honest. It's one of the many things I like about you."

     Not knowing how to respond to that, she looked down at her legs in embarrassment and thought of anything she could say that wouldn't be weird; however, before she could think of anything, she heard Blake take a deep breath next to her.

     "Ruby?"

     The voice came out strong but faltered towards the end, and it was that slight faltering that made her stomach spin and caused her to return her gaze to the Faunus beside her. "Y-Yes?"

     "I uhh… I don't want to make things awkward, or have you be uncomfortable if you don't feel the same, but I…" Watching with held breath as Blake paused to take a deep breath, she saw the girl's face turn slightly so that their eyes met causing her heart to flutter from the sincerity behind them. "I really like you… and I don't know if you feel the same... you probably don't… but if you do, I was wondering if you would like to go out sometime? Just the two of us?"

     Minutes must have passed in silence as all kinds of thoughts exploded in her mind, thoughts telling her to reply immediately, some telling her to cry out in happiness, even some telling her to run; but as they all settled down, she knew there was only one reply she needed to give in that moment.

     "I-I would l-like that," she breathed quietly, hoping to Oum that Blake had heard her because she doubted she would be able to say it again.

     Thankfully she heard Blake let out a relieved sigh and felt some of the anxiety over what had just occurred pass as she watched the Faunus put down her book and slide off the wall and onto the roof itself, coming to a stop to sit on the floor with her back against it. Confused by the girl's actions, Ruby didn't realize that Blake patted the ground beside her until she did so a second time, Ruby then got up from her seat and joined her.

     Sitting on the floor next to the girl that she was technically dating at that point, Ruby found that the silence was no longer uncomfortable as the others had been; sure it was still a little awkward, but for the most part it was far more relaxing than the others had been. So feeling peaceful atmosphere work helped her courage work itself up, she carefully shuffled a little closer to the raven-haired beauty that sat beside her.


 

     Leaning back against the cold wall at the bottom of the stairs, Yang stretched her arms out before her until her elbows popped pleasantly and let out a deep sigh. She and Weiss had been sitting there for almost thirty minutes waiting on her sister and her partner to finally get their feelings out in the open, and while she hated having to force them to admit it, she knew neither of them would have talked about it otherwise; even if her ear was still ringing from her partners dirty trick.

     "So?" Weiss sighed as she typed away on her scroll. "You think they had said it yet?"

     "No idea," Yang replied honestly. Knowing her partner and her sister, they could be sitting there for hours. "Are you messaging them?"

     "No, just Neptune to tell him that I might not make it to dinner."

     "Ahh," Yang grinned, looking at the position Weiss was sat in which her arms were resting between her knees, her scroll held just beyond the hem of her skirt. "You know, if you're sending him a pic to make up for it, you may want to move your frills. They're kinda in the way."

     A red blush appeared on the heiresses pale cheeks and she instantly pushed the hem of her skirt down to block anything that may have been in sight and gave her a scowl. "I am not! And why are you looking down there?"

     "Hey, you chose the third step, kinda in my line of sight here," she chuckled as Weiss fixed herself and gave her an indignant look. "So I've never actually asked, but what exactly are you and Neptune? Like, I know you're dating but… Why him? He doesn't really seem like your type."

     "I am many things, Yang," Weiss sighed after a couple of seconds as she put her scroll away. "I am a huntress in training, the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, a celebrated singer; and when I leave Beacon, I will be inundated with all of that. I will be leading my grandfather's company and trying to fix the mess my father has made of it, I will be taking on missions to help whoever I can, and I will even be singing when I feel the urge to; so right now, Beacon is my only chance to… as you would say… kick back and have fun. That's what Neptune is, he's fun. I'm under no disillusion that we are serious, and neither is he, but right now he is what I want because I know I won't get to have this chance again for a very long time once I am done here."

     "I can't say I haven't had those relationships," Yang after a moment, smiling at the idea that Weiss was actually just doing something, or someone, for the fun of it. "Kinda glad they're behind me though."

     "You think you, Coco, and Velvet are forever?"

     Though the tone Weiss had said it was skeptical, Yang knew it was only because of the girl's outlook on things.

     "I dunno," she shrugged, deciding to be honest since Weiss had been honest with her. "I hope so, but things can always happen I guess. At the minute though, I love being part of something more serious."

     "Well, I'm happy for you," Weiss said with a smile, and Yang could tell that the girl was being genuine. "Have you heard from them since they left?"

     Giving Weiss a small nod, a smitten grin pulled at her lips as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her scroll, quickly bringing up the picture they had sent her at three in the morning. As she found it, she let herself take a moment to gaze at Coco hugging Velvet and the caption below that read 'Missing our Dragon 3' before turning her scroll to show Weiss.

     "The group they're escorting passed by a relay tower before settling down," she smiled as Weiss looked at the picture and rolled her eyes. "They should be back sometime next week."

     "I'm guessing you won't be staying in our dorm the night they do then," She said with a chuckle and leaned back against the step.

     "You would be righ…" Cut off by the shaking of the device in her hand, she quickly pulled it back and opened up the message form Blake.

     'We've talked, now open the door."

     "They said they've talked," Yang relayed to Weiss and earned a disbelieving eyebrow raise in return. "Should I ask for proof?"

     Receiving a nod from the snowy-haired heiress, Yang quickly typed out the message and waited for the reply. As nothing came back after almost a minute, she turned back to her friend to continue the conversation; however, just as she did, another message came in.

     "Finally!" She cheered victoriously and turned the scroll around so that Weiss could see the close-up picture of Blake's hand resting on top of Ruby's. "About fucking time."

     "Well," Weiss sighed as she stood up and pulled her rapier towards her. "Guess I should go and melt the ice. Are you coming?"

     "You really think I'm gonna miss the looks on their faces when we open that door?" Yang laughed, standing up and following the girl up the stairs.

     Reaching the top of the stairs, she watched as Weiss reached out and touched the tip of her rapier against the tough sheet of ice the girl had created over the door's handle and lock. Pressing the trigger, thin red lines worked their way toward the tip of the blade and the ice slowly began to melt. Getting impatient as it was taking a little too long for her liking, Yang waited until the ice was thin enough and activated her aura as she punched the remaining block, the ice shattering and scattering to the ground.

     "Real elegant, Yang" Weiss said with her iconic scowl.

     "Real effective too," She grinned back and reached out to pull the door open.

     The moment it was open, both of their eyes fell upon their other two teammates, both of them standing a small distance apart and pointedly not looking at each other. From the red blush that tinted both their cheeks, Yang knew that they had definitely discussed what they needed to; and feeling the typical sister urge well within her, she leaned against the wall and flashed them a cocky smile.

     "Sup... Love Birds."

Chapter Text

    Not much had been said about their conversation on roof in the week since it had happened, and while a lot of the awkwardness that permeated every interaction between her and Blake had faded, Ruby still often found herself nervous around the girl. Though she certainly no longer stumbled over herself whenever Blake was in the room, she did find that catching the amber eyes of her teammate still made her blush furiously at the remembrance that they did indeed have an upcoming date at some point in the future. Unfortunately, they had yet to organize a day they could go out, as their classes, which ran from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon, kept them rather busy.

    To add to her embarrassment, Yang had taken to teasing her at every given opportunity. Whenever she entered their room, sly comments would be made as the blonde laid on her bed grinned down at them both; and while she would normally tell her to shut up, Ruby knew her sister was only trying her best to distract herself. It was mostly because of that however, that she was dreading what would meet her as she walked to her dorm, though partly due to an unfortunate incident that had happened at lunch.

    As she’d returned to the table with her plate of food, the usual cheese and ham sandwich with some cookies, and gone to sit down next to Blake as she had done for the past few days, Weiss had activated a white glyph that pushed the Faunus sideways. Unable to stop her descent in time, Ruby had quickly found herself sitting on her teammates lap causing her to turn bright red and leap up. Thankfully her reactions were good enough to make sure she didn’t drop her food, but Yang and Weiss had both burst into a fit of giggles as Blake blushed from the incident too.

    Shaking her head of the still fresh memory, Ruby let out a sigh and continued towards her room that as finally in sight and pushed the door open. The same sight greeted her as it always did, Blake was sat on her bed reading a lengthy novel..

    Looking as beautiful as ever.

    … While Yang was sat at a desk next to the door, a bored look on her face as she studied what she instantly recognized to be one of her own books on mechanics.

    “Hey, sis,” Yang said as Ruby entered the room, picking up her pen and quickly shifting through her papers that were filled with messy handwriting. “What’s the name of the part of your scythe that moves everything?”

    “The actuator?”

    “That’s the one,” She replied and quickly wrote it down. “Your book was useless by the way.”

    “What,” Ruby said indignantly, pulling the book towards her and shaking her head. “There’s an entire half a chapter dedicated to them in here.”

    “No there isn’t,” Yang scowled and pulled the book back. “I swear I looked.”

    “Chapter twenty-five, Motion,” Blake said in a happy voice while not looking up from her book.

    Watching her sister throw Blake a dirty look as she flipped through the pages, Ruby moved to the bathroom and glanced inside to see if her partner was there. Seeing nothing, she moved back into the main room and placed Crescent Rose on the spare desk before starting to take her boots off.

    “What the he…” Yang huffed and threw the book back down on the table, the page turned to the exact thing Blake had said. “Why didn’t you say something, Blake? I’ve been doing this for over an hour now.”

    “Payback.”

    Though the single word was said matter-of-factly with a small shrug, from her position Ruby could see that the girl was giving her a smile from behind the book, and feeling a slight warmth crawl up her cheeks, she gave one back in return. However, once her boots were off and she went to sit down, she had a sudden urge to sit somewhere else; and knowing Yang was eventually going to tease them regardless, she took a small breath and gave in to the urge.

    “So where’s Weiss?” She asked, trying her best to sound calm and collected as she sat down on Blake’s bed despite feeling her heart pick up its pace a little.

    “She said something about training with Pyrrha,” Yang replied, her eyes narrow at them slightly. “She should be back soon though.”

    “Fair enough,” Ruby said, sitting back against the wall but making sure to keep a respectable distance from her teammate.

    “Welp, I robbing you of your headphones so I can focus, Rubes,” Yang sighed and leaned over to pull them from the bag Ruby had left them in before turning back to them with a half-stern glare. “But I am still in the room, so no frickity frack in that sack.”

    “Yang!” 

    Blushing as Yang chuckled to herself while linking her scroll and slipped the headphones on, the bright red standing out oddly against the head of blonde, Ruby let out a frustrated sigh and crossed her legs. With Yang finally no longer looking at them, she shuffled a little closer to Blake and the girl moved her book down so she could see it. Reading a little of the girl’s current page, she saw that it was a rather dry book for her tastes as it revolved around a mafia in a fictional city called New York.

    However, the feel of simply sitting next to the girl was causing heat to flush her cheeks; but wanting to finally push through the awkwardness, she took a deep breath and tried to focus on reading.

    “So how was class?” Blake said quietly, one side of the girl’s cat ears flicking towards Yang and Ruby knew the girl was listening for the music.

    “Not bad,” she replied honestly. Shortly after being announced as the team leader, Ozpin had told her that she could take up some extra classes to catch up with everyone else if she wanted; and while at first she had been reluctant, after a falling out with Weiss, she had decided they would probably be for the best. “Glynda says I shouldn’t need them anymore after this semester.”

    “That’s great…” Blake hummed, and even Ruby could tell there was more the girl wanted to say. “So… You’re going to have some more free time?”

    “I-I guess,” Ruby stuttered back and kept her eyes glued onto the book despite no longer taking in a word.

    Feeling a little tension rise between them, Ruby remained quiet as she could tell Blake had more to ask.

    “I don’t… I don’t suppose you have some of that free time this Saturday, do you?” Finally looking up from the book, Ruby saw Blake biting her lip a little. “If you do, then maybe we could finally go on that date?”

    Despite knowing it would eventually come and even having waited for them to arrange an actual date for almost a week, Ruby still found herself caught off guard at the question. Saturday was only two days away and it wasn’t that she didn’t want to say yes, as she certainly did, but she had never actually been on a date before. While the talk of the roof had floated the idea by her, it didn’t have a date, so didn’t hit her as much as it just had. Apparently however, Blake took her silence to mean something she hadn’t intended.

    “If you’ve changed you mind or do…”

    “N-No!” Ruby interrupted quickly and span around to face the girl, noticing the slight look of uncertainty in her eyes. “It’s not that!”

    Feeling heat rise up within her for fear that she had caused Blake to doubt herself, Ruby shook her head and tried her best to show there had been a mistake the best she could. By gently tapping the tips of her two index fingers together.

    “I just… i’veneverbeenonadatebefore.”

    As it usually did when she was feeling extremely self-conscious, her words came out in one string of incoherent babble; and she wasn’t surprised to receive a raised eyebrow in return.

    “I didn’t cat…”

    “I’ve never been on a date before,” Ruby interrupted, albeit still speaking quietly and very fast.

    Taking a deep breath and looking down at her lap, Ruby waited for Blake to reply; however the one she received only confused her.

    “Honestly, neither have I,” the Faunus replied in a soft voice and Ruby saw the book being placed aside. “Not really anyway.”

    “But you’re so bea…” 

    In her disbelief of the girl’s admission, Ruby had accidentally spoken aloud instead of in her head; and though she had quickly caught herself, she knew Blake could make out what she had said and was suddenly gripped by the desire to completely wrap herself in her cloak and not come back out until she was sure Blake had forgotten she even existed.

    “Th-Thanks,” She heard Blake chuckle nervously. “But I sort of just fell into my last relationship.”

    Despite the embarrassment that still lingered, Ruby felt a little bit of curiosity well within her at those words, however, knowing Blake was notoriously secretive about her past, she decided not to question her. Instead she looked up and gave the girl a small smile. “I guess this will be both our first dates then.”

    “It doesn’t have to be this Saturday,” Blake said slowly and Ruby could tell she was trying to not put pressure on her. “We can wait until you’re comfortable.”

    “N-No,” Ruby shook her head, not wanting to chicken out as she knew that if she did then it would just drag her embarrassment out longer. “This Saturday is fine.”

    “You’re sure?” Blake asked again and Ruby gave her a quick nod. “Okay the…”

    Both of them were cut off as the door slammed open, making all of them jump as a sweaty and rather annoyed looking Weiss stormed into the room, her t-shirt slightly torn and muddy up one side. Muttering to herself something about stupid magnets, she quickly rifled through her drawers to pull out some fresh clothes and a towel and disappeared into the bathroom, the door slamming just as loudly behind her as the other had.

    “Looks like Pyrrha had fun,” Yang grinned at the bathroom, having pulled the headphones off due to the sudden intrusion; however, her eyes quickly turned to them and squinted suspiciously at the fact they were sitting rather close and facing each other. “Hey, thought I said no frickity frack.”

    “First,” Blake sighed and turned to her partner. “I have no idea what that means but I’m pretty sure we were not doing it. Second, we were just talking.”

    “Yeah, Yang,” Ruby replied and stuck out her tongue at her sister. “Butt out.”

    “Fine, I’ll believe you for now,” slipping the headphones back over her ears and turning back to her work. “But I’m watching you both.”

    “What does frickety frack mean?” Blake asked a couple of seconds after Yang had returned to her work.

    “N-Nothing,” Ruby replied, very aware that her cheeks were likely very red as she grabbed the book that had been discarded on the bed and opened it back up to the page they had left off at. “L-Let’s just return to the book.”

    Watching the Faunus’ beautiful eyes slowly work it out, Ruby pulled the book up to cover her face as she knew it really wasn’t that hard to decipher Yang’s meaning. Thankfully, whether Blake figured it out or not she didn’t know, as the girl silently joined her side and gave her a smile as she reached out and took the book. Much to her annoyance however, as Ruby looked at the girl’s lips, certain images came to her mind.

    Stupid Yang , she thought to herself as she settled in to read the book, hoping the images would pass in time.


 

    Blake stared into the mirror as she fiddled with the bow in her hand, trying her best to convince herself she didn’t need it. She hated what it meant, hated that it made her ears itch, hated that people often referred to it as cute; but the thing she hated the most was that it hid who she was. She had originally begun to wear it during her later years in the White Fang as it had helped avoid the looks whenever she was transferred to a new camp, due to the fact that many there looked at her ears as a Belladonna mark and attributed them with a leader who they believed abandoned them, and even she had believed it too.

     For years she had hated her parents, thinking them too weak to do what was necessary, too cowardly to stand up and fight; so in her attempt to leave them behind, she had pulled a ribbon from the hands of a travelling merchant that had refused her service and hid her ears from the world. However, since leaving the White Fang , while it certainly still helped avoid unwanted attention, it was more to remind her of what she did, so that every time she looked in the mirror, she could judge herself; but she didn’t want to judge herself, especially not when the night ahead made her happier than she had any right being.

    Saturday had finally arrived, and with their classes having finished at one, it was almost time for her date with Ruby after four hours of worry. In less than an hour, she would be meeting the young reaper, whom she had not seen since their classes had ended; due to the reaper deciding to get changed in Team CFVY’s room. They had agreed to meet each other near the gate that lead out of the school’s premises, and from there they would be headed to a small food court that was located along the road that led into Beacon from Vale. While the food court was not exactly approved by the school, a number of students tended to flock to it anyway as Beacon’s cafeteria food had a tendency to be rather bland.

    At that thought, she remembered that no-one at Beacon knew that she was a Faunus and let out a deep sigh. Due to her bow, she had managed to avoid Cardin and many others like him, and was not too keen on dealing with them; so feeling her resolve crumble and preparing for the stab of guilt that always came, she looked into the mirror and slowly affixed the fabric over her ears. However, just as she was finishing the knot, she heard the door click open behind her and a light sigh of exasperation, turning to face the door, expecting to see Yang, she was surprised to instead see Weiss standing there shaking her head slightly.

    “Still wearing that stupid thing I see,” the heiress said bluntly with a scowl painted on her face, as she placed her bag onto the desk. “I had hoped today might finally make you see how dumb it is.”

    “It helps avoid unnecessary attention,” Blake sighed back at the girl and finished the knot before giving herself one last check over, purposely keeping her eyes away from the reflection of her head.

    “If you say so,” the girl said dismissively, the tone of her voice making it clear that the shrugging of her shoulders was more in reply to her answer than to remove her jacket. “So where are you two going? Ruby refused to tell me.”

    “Because she knows that you will tell Yang and both of you would spy on us.”

    “Please, I have better things to do with my time than watching my partner blunder her way through a night with the only person who can apparently look past her idiocy.”

    Though she raised an eyebrow in response to the insult, just like Weiss’ words, it was more for show. She knew for a fact that the two girls were much closer than anyone could guess, and that while Weiss still had a tendency to be less than hospitable, she really did care for her partner.

    “Well, I am still not telling you,” Blake said stubbornly, not trusting the girl’s words for a second. “Where is Yang anyway?”

    “With Ruby, though she was paying more attention to Coco’s pillow than her sister when I left.”

    Not surprising , Blake thought to herself, recalling a foggy memory from that morning during which she had been woken up early by Yang talking on the phone to her girlfriends. She knew their check in had originally supposed to have been days ago, but no word had been heard from them, so she could hardly be angry at being woken after hearing the relief in her partner’s voice.

    “Well at least they finally checked in,” she sighed and turned around to finally face the heiress. “So what’re you doing tonight anyway?”

    “Studying.”

    The tone was less than convincing and caused Blake to scowl suspiciously at the girl.

    “Port’s class? Or Oobleck?” Blake asked with a straight face as she knew the girl had studied for all but one class for the last week.

    “Peach’s,” Weiss answered, her voice a little smoother than before as she clearly caught on to Blake’s ploy.

    “Would you mind if I borrow your notes tomorrow then? You know I’m struggling for that class.”

    Knowing that Weiss had no way out of that one, she suppressed a victorious smile as Weiss turned to face her with a defeated look. As strict as the girl was, she never refused to share her work as she considered a bad score for one of the team also reflected badly on her.

    “Fine!” She sighed in frustration and crossed her arms. “If you must know, with you and Ruby gone, and Yang staying in CFVY’s room for the night, I’m having Neptune over. It’s not like I am going to have the room to myself like this again for some time.”

    Though the small heiress was stood resolutely with her arms crossed, Blake could clearly see the red tint on her snow-white skin; for as regal and dignified as the girl acted in public, so much so that Blake often forgot that they were the same age, Weiss still had those moments where the normal, teenage girl she actually was shone through. While she wasn’t exactly sure of what Weiss and Neptune’s relationship was, as she frequently saw the blue-haired boy flirt with other girls while hanging out with Sun, she knew that Weiss could be rather testy when people tried to dig too far into what the two of them got up to in private.  So deciding that it would be best not to press the point, as the last time she remembered Yang doing that Weiss had pressed the point of her rapier to the girl’s chest, Blake simply rolled her eyes at the girl and moved to sit on her bed so she could put her shoes on.

    “Well then,” Blake sighed and slipped her shoes on. “I will try not to screw up so that we can stay out longer.”

    “As if you could screw this up,” Weiss scoffed, searching through her drawers for a second before pulling out a towel. “Ruby hasn’t shut up about you for the past month. Blake this, and Blake that. I’m just glad you felt the same because I think I would rather go back to Atlas than deal with that again.”

    “You don’t mean that,” Blake said, looking down at her shoe to hide the blush she feared was on her cheeks.

    “I suppose not… not entirely at least,” Weiss admitted with a sigh. “But trust me when I say you cannot screw this up.”

    “Thanks.”

    Because Blake was still busy tying her laces, she didn’t hear the heiress approach until it was too late, and by the time she did, there was already a small tugging feeling on top of her head. Before she could react, she felt the ribbon slide along her ears as Weiss pulled it away and out of reach for the grab Blake quickly threw out to reclaim it.

    “Though she would much prefer you to not be wearing this,” she said, holding the fabric beyond Blake’s reach.

    Despite knowing Weiss was right, she still stood up and snatched the ribbon from the girl. Quickly tying it back in place, Blake saw Weiss rolled her eyes and walk away to sit on her bed.

    “You know I can’t,” she said quietly and sat back down to put her other shoe on.

    “Why?”

    Weiss’ voice made it clear the question was less her asking for an answer, and more her demanding one. As usual, she considered lying, just as she had when Weiss had first entered the room, but since she girl had been honest with her about her plans even though it embarrassed her, she decided that she should at least be honest for once too.

    “I’m... “ Taking a deep breath, she shook her head and looked up at the snowy-haired girl. “I’m not ready yet.”

    “You never will be until you take that first step,” Weiss countered immediately. “You know that as well as I do.”

    She knew that was true. While Weiss was just as secretive about her family as Blake was about her past, she had learned enough over the months to know that Weiss’ life was far from what she first assumed it was; and that to even get to Beacon, she had to make a sacrifice. Most obvious of which being the scar that stood out prominently over the girl’s left eye.

    “I know, Weiss,” Blake sighed and stood up, now fully dressed. Checking the clock on the windowsill, she saw there were only fifteen minutes until she had to meet Ruby, so she quickly grabbed her wallet from under her pillow and shoved it into her back pocket before turning back to the heiress who was already sitting on her bed. “And I will take that step one day, just not today.”

    “Your choice,” The girl shrugged, her attention turning to the cabinet and ran a hand through her hair as she flicked her finger through one of the many old, vinyls the team owned. “But the longer you wait, the harder it will be. Inaction breeds doubt...”

    “... Action breeds confidence,” Blake finished, knowing the quote well, though originally having heard it under different circumstances. “I know.”

    “Good,” Weiss nodded, picking out an album that Blake had the girl listen to many times before, the songs on it rather pleasant and soulful. “Then you should take action, and get going for your date.”

    “Yes… That I should,” Blake replied with a small nod. “Have a fun night yourself.”

    “You too.”

    Giving the girl one last look to see she was no longer paying her any attention, Blake turned and made her way to the door. Stopping for a brief moment to collect herself as she knew that once she stepped out of the room, there would be no turning back; she closed her eyes and took a deep breath before reaching out and pulling the door open. Giving it one last thought and seeing nothing but the smiling face of the girl that was likely already waiting for her, she felt a small smile pulling at her lips as she opened her eyes and took her first step out of the room.

Chapter Text

     Ruby considered it unfortunate that Remnant had chosen that night to remember that Vale was nearly a full month into winter; because as she stood at the gate that lead out of Beacon's campus, goosebumps began appearing on the smaller girl's exposed arms at the slight chill in the breeze that permeated the night air. A faint fog had already begun to cover the campus, the orange glow from the surrounding light-posts causing it to take on a more eerie visage that made her happy that she still had Crescent Rose under her cloak.

     She had been waiting for a little over twenty minutes for her date, though admittedly that was because she had arrived much earlier than they had arranged; but with each minute that had gone by, she had found herself shivering more and more. While she knew it was mainly the cold that was causing it, there was a degree of nerves that she just couldn't shake. This was her first date and as she had been getting ready, with Yang's teasing being a little less than usual, it dawned on her that she had absolutely no idea what she was doing.

     She knew fighting, combat with Grimm, she excelled in mechanics, and was apparently even a competent leader; yet a small thing like hanging out with someone she saw everyday was completely baffling to her. What did she say? How did she act? Were there good and bad things to do? She had no idea. Yang had talked about going on dates many times in the past, but Ruby had never listened, never thought she even needed to as her sister always made it feel like it was the most effortless thing in the world. It was only in the face of her first date that she realised that Yang may have, unsurprisingly, not been completely honest.

     I wonder if Blake is feeling the same right now, Ruby thought to herself, rubbing her hand up her arms in an attempt to warm herself up a little. The young Faunus was due to arrive any minute, and Ruby had been checking by peeking down the path that led to the dormitories ever since she had looked at the time on her scroll to see it was only five minutes until Blake should arrive. Pulling out her scroll to check it again, she saw that there were only two mor…

     "Ruby?"

     Caught off guard by the sudden familiar behind her, Ruby couldn't help but let out a squeak of surprise and spun quickly to see her date standing there in a rather beautiful, black dress that cut off around her thighs. What looked like thick tights covered the girl's legs and thing shawl covered her shoulders. Is if she didn't already have enough worries about how good of a date she could be, Ruby suddenly felt under-dressed and questions whether she should have gone for something a little more fancy than the same outfit she had worn to fight Torchwick and his mech; or as she had taken to calling it, Mecha-Torchwick.

     "Ahh," she breathed, her thoughts of not quite knowing what to say coming true almost immediately. "H-Hey, Blake. I didn't see you arrive."

     "Sorry, I took a different way around," the girl replied quietly, the slight hint of nerves in her voice oddly making Ruby feel a little better.

     "Oh, that's fine."

     Ruby knew that the path she had been staring down was by far the quickest way to and from the dorm room, so for the girl to have taken another path showed that she too was clearly just as nervous. So feeling herself relax, just a little bit, she let out a foggy breath and gave Blake a small, albeit nervous smile that was returned in kind.

     "So," the Faunus replied after a couple of seconds, taking a slight step back. "Are you ready to go?"

     Giving the girl a small nod, Ruby joined her side as the Faunus began a gentle stride towards Beacon's gate. With Blake's long legs and how effortlessly she usually walked, Ruby would normally have to quicken her pace a little; but thankfully, the girl seemed to be walking a little slower than she often did. Though even with her slowed pace, Blake still seemed to glide through the night like a ghost, making Ruby feel like she was stomping in comparison.

     "So how was your afternoon?" Blake asked just as they cleared the gate and began their trek down the dark road that led to Vale.

     "It was okay, I sparred with Yang a little," Ruby replied, purposely leaving out that her sister had suggested it to take her mind off the date. "How about you?"

     "I hung out with Sun and Neon a little bit."

     "That's cool," Ruby smiled as she remembered an earlier conversation with Blake about that other cat Faunus. "Are you two getting along now?"

     "Huh?" Blake said in a slightly confused for a second until her eyes widened a little in realisation. "Oh that. It wasn't that we didn't get along, we just see things differently is all."

     "In what way?"

     "Well, have you ever met someone who doesn't acknowledge the severity of a problem because they have never faced it themselves?"

     "Hmm."

     She had in fact. While she had been training to be a huntress for years, she had met a couple of people who had regaled tales of their time and the atrocities they had seen, but she had also met groups of people who didn't believe the danger Grimm presented. Her father told her that the comforts of civilisation had a tendency to make people a little more complacent, and that it wasn't uncommon to find those kinds of people among those who had been raised within the walls of a city. But he had also taught her something else.

     "I have," she replied with a nod. "But isn't that something that should be celebrated? So long as those who do face hardships aren't forgotten, doesn't every person not facing those hardships mean we're taking the right steps forward?"

     "I guess," Blake said after a second of thought, in which they passed a few second year students who gave them a small wave that they both returned. "But for every one that doesn't, a hundred do. It's just kind of frustrating to hear her say Faunus are too miserable."

     "I guess that would be kind of annoying," Ruby hummed with a nod, and glanced into the dark woods that lined one side of the road. "But I don't think you're miserable."

     "Really?" Blake smiled, though Ruby noticed the girl's bow twitch slightly towards the direction they were headed. "Your sister seems to think I'm something called an emo."

     "What? Nah," Ruby scoffed and gave Blake a wave of her hand despite knowing Blake did indeed show many of the same traits a self-proclaimed emo student from Signal academy had. "She calls me a goth all the time, just a thing she says."

     "Fair enough," Blake replied with a small smile, and this time she was certain she did see Blake's bow-covered ear twitch this time as the girl gave a scowl.

     Turning to see what Blake was listening for and reaching back for her scythe, Ruby scanned the horizon for any red eyes or white armor but saw nothing. However, off in the distance she heard a scream of terror that sounded strangely familiar, a couple of seconds passed and the frantic scream echoed through the night again; this time Ruby instantly recalled the memory of Jaune flying through the air on initiation day. Stopping in her tracks, Blake following suit, she listened intently as it got closer, almost as if he was running towards them. Suddenly, both of their heads turned to look at the sky to see a rather unique sight rising into the night sky. While at first Ruby mistook it for one of their rocket lockers, as it drew closer and burning brighter, she saw that it was actually a flaming porta-potty soaring some forty to fifty feet in the air somehow. Enraptured by the sight, she had almost missed the realisation she just had. It's coming straight at us.

     After jumping back and out of range, their attention was yet again pulled to the edge of the woods where Jaune emerged, his face sweaty and panicked as he ran straight for where the toilet was going to land, only to be pulled out of the way at the last second by a blur of red and gold. Exactly where his foot had been about to land, the large, plastic box slammed hard into the winter hardened mud and exploded on impact. While random flying objects were not an uncommon occurrence at Beacon, Ruby could honestly say she had never seen a flying toilet, so was slightly intrigued at how such a thing had happened.

     Fortunately, the pair that she guessed were responsible were sitting on a nearby bench, Pyrrha maintaining a safe distance, as, even from where she stood, Ruby could see that the boy had not fully escaped what had exploded from the port-a-potty. Suppressing a smile at the boy who was holding his hands above his head as if to help not get anymore of him, she gave Blake a look, earning a shrug in return and headed over to see what had happened.

     "Hey Pyrrha," she said happily, still suppressing the chuckle. "Having fun?"

     "We were," the girl replied with a deep sigh. "Just picking up some dust, but Jaune decided to put the fire dust in with the lightning dust."

     "Well how was I supposed to know that would happen?" He asked with a pout and pulled some leaves off the tree to wipe himself down. "Or that the toilet would turn into a missile?"

     "We learned it two weeks ago in Dust Application," Blake said quickly with a raised eyebrow. "The dust thing, not the toilet thing."

     "Oh," he said, stopping his actions as he clearly began to think back. "Well I forgot."

     "I should get him back to the school to clean up," Pyrrha said sadly, Ruby knowing that the girl would have preferred a night with Jaune to end on a different note than what they had just witnessed. "Have a good night."

     Pyrrha stood up and motioned for Jaune to follow her back up the path towards the school, and once they were finally out of sight, both she and Blake finally let out the laughs they had been holding in. Simply stood there laughing, Ruby felt her nerves fade away slightly as she knew that nothing she did could compare to the night Jaune was having.

     "I swear," Blake chuckled after they had finally stopped laughing. "I have no idea how she has so much patience."

     "He's not all bad," Ruby chuckled along side the girl who had slowly turned to continue walking down the path. "He is the one who comes up with the strategies that beat us half the time."

     "Well I guess everyone excels at something," Blake smiled with a shake of her head as they started to walk again.

     "Yup," she said happily and quickly caught up to her date. "He's not the best fighter, but he's a great leader."

     Receiving a short hum in response, Ruby began to see the lights of the food court in the distance. Looking up at the girl walking beside her, she noticed her nose twitching slightly and felt a knowing grin pull at her lips. It was good to know that even through the quickly receding nervousness of the date, Blake's love of seafood had the same reaction it always did.

     "Good to know that I'm not the only one that drools when I smell my favorite food," she joked, trying to get a little revenge for the joke Blake had pulled on the roof.

     "I'm not drooling," Blake replied with a small chuckle and a roll of her amber eyes. "Unlike you, who actually did drool when you last made a batch of cookies."

     "Well they smelled so good," she countered happily as they drew closer to the food court and the smells of various delicious foods caught her nose. "So why do you like fish so much?"

     Watching Blake look up at the dark sky, Ruby saw a small amount of longing float across her eyes as her nose flared again.

     "It reminds me of home," the Faunus girl replied in a soft voice.

     "Menagerie, right?" Ruby asked, remembering hearing Blake say she had been born there. "What's it like there?"

     "Hot, and crowded," Blake said fondly, wrapping the shawl around her shoulders a little more. "But nice and peaceful since everyone there is tired of fighting."

     "Sounds perfect," Ruby said wistfully, looking away from the girl for the first time in minutes to see that they had almost arrived at the food court.

     "It's nice, but it does have it's issues," Blake hummed as they walked into the parking lot. "It's a little cramped since there isn't much space, and crops don't grow very well so we mainly rely on seafood; but my mom makes an amazing seafood paella, so it works out."

     "Ahh, so that's why you like fish so much."

     "Mhm," the girl replied with a short nod as they reached the doors that opened for them, the smell of food increasing and making Ruby's stomach rumble slightly. "So what was it like growing up on Patch?"

     "It was fine," Ruby shrugged, not quite sure what to say about the nondescript island that lay just off the coat of Vale. "It was pretty quiet I guess, our house was in the middle of the forest so we didn't really have any neighbors."

     Walking through the door, Ruby squinted slightly at the bright lights; but once she had adjusted, she took a look around the bustling eatery. The area was actually quite large, easily able to fit half of Beacon's student body in it at the same time, maybe more, with basic chairs and tables littering the centre of the building. Along the walls were numerous different concession stands, each one dedicated to a different type of food from around the world; Mistralian, Atlesian, things from smaller settlements that had gained popularity, whatever someone would want to eat, they could find it at one of the stands.

     "Were Grimm not an issue?"

     "The occasional Ursa or Beowolf," Ruby replied with a small shrug as the two made their way towards the order screens on the left side of the building. "But dad's a Huntsman so they never really gave us too much trouble. Did break down the wall of Yang's room once fighting an Ursa Major though."

     "I bet she wasn't happy about that?" Blake chuckled in reply, her amber eyes twinkling a little from the amusement.

     "Nope, it kinda just appeared and dad didn't have time to warn us so she was still in there and got wood and dirty all over her hair," Ruby laughed, remembering how red Yang's eyes had been. "She was so mad that she even threw small pieces of wood at it as dad fought it."

     "That sounds like Yang," the Faunus girl laughed as they got into the line behind some students. "Has she always been like that?"

     "Hmm," Ruby hummed, thinking back as far as she could, and though vaguely memories of her sister's crying being heard through the walls tickled the surface, the memories of Yang smiling and laughing went back as far as she could remember. "Pretty much, she even knocked out a Beowolf with a rock when we were kids."

     "She told me about that," Blake smiled, her voice carrying a happy tone as if she were recalling a fond memory of her own. "That was the first time you told her that her eyes turned red, right?"

     "Kind of, I remember them getting darker before, but that was the first time I saw them actually change."

     "What was it like?" The girl asked in a curious tone, the two of them moving closer to the screen as the line moved. "I've met a lot of people, but none of them had eye colours that changed."

     "Oh," Ruby replied, not quite knowing how to respond to that question. "Honestly, I've never really liked them when they're red."

     As she had expected, she received a genuinely confused look from her date and was forced to look away.

     "Do you mind if I ask why?"

     "Well," Ruby said thoughtfully, trying her best to think how to word it. "I love when Yang is happy; but even though she never talks about them, I know she has those sad moments too. Her red eyes just always reminds me of how there's a whole other side of her that she doesn't want me to see, a side that she deals with alone."

     Once she had finished explaining herself, a small silence arose between them as Blake mulled over what Ruby had just said. As she waited for the girl to speak, she moved forward ready to order since there was only one person left in front of her.

     "Sorry," she heard Blake say, her cautious voice finally breaking the silence. "I suppose I never thought about it like that. Have you ever talked about it with her?"

     "Yeah, but you know how Yang is," Ruby shrugged, knowing that she would have to wait until Yang was ready before anything progressed in that regard. "I'm guessing she doesn't talk to you either?" As expected, she received a shake of the head. "Well, hopefully she at least talks to Coco and Velvet."

     "So do I, she seems to really like them," Blake said with a small smile as they finally moved to the screen. "So what do you want to eat?"

     "What?" Ruby said in surprise, halfway to pulling out her own scroll as she looked her date. "I can pay!"

     "It's fine," Blake smiled and tapped her scroll against the screen, causing it to buffer for a second before pulling up the selection of different stands that were in the building. "I was the one who asked you out, after all."

     "Well I'm paying for the next one then," she replied with a smile at the fact that Blake had indeed been the one who asked her out.

     "Sounds like a plan to me," Blake grinned in return, causing the blush on Ruby's cheek to deepen slightly. "You can put yours in first."

     With a slight nod to her teammate, Ruby quickly tapped on the screen. Ordering her usual plain cheeseburger and fries from the RemBerger menu, she moved aside and watched as Blake quickly pressed a few buttons to order some sushi from the Kuo-Shi menu. With everything ordered, the total popped up with their Beacon discount and Blake quickly pressed confirm.

     "Thanks," Ruby smiled as her and Blake began to walk over to a spare table, Blake pressing the scroll against a sensor in the centre of it to register it as their and let the stands know where to bring the food. "So do you have any brothers or sisters?"

     While Ruby liked to think she knew quite a lot about her team, Blake had always been a mystery to them all. Not only was she rather secretive about her time in the White Fang, but Ruby had noted she never really talked of family much. Not that she seemed against it, just that while Weiss often spoke of her father, and Yang occasionally spoke of their father, the first mention of the Faunus girl's mother Ruby had heard was earlier that night.

     "Not that I know of," the girl replied slowly, the answer doing nothing but confusing Ruby. "I actually haven't really talked to my parents in some time, so I don't really know what their lives have been like."

     "Oh," Ruby said awkwardly having heard the small hint of sadness that had entered Blake's voice. Not sure how to reply to that information, she tried for the easiest choice that she was certain she knew the answer to. "Do you miss them?"

     "A lot," Blake sighed with a nod, removing her shawl and placing it aside. "Honestly, I doubt they would even pick up if I called."

     "I'm sure they would," Ruby replied, knowing that even Weiss' father picked up when she called, although Weiss did say that wasn't a good thing. "You're their daughter."

     "I dunno," Blake said with a little uncertainty to her voice. "I didn't exactly leave in the best of ways. I said a lot of things to them that I regret."

     "Did you leave because of the White Fang?" The moment Ruby asked the question, Blake closed her eyes and she knew it was a silent indication that the girl didn't want to talk about it. Taking the hint, Ruby quickly backtracked. "Sorry."

     "It's fine," Blake said softly, her eyelids opening to show the shining amber orbs behind them. "It's just not a very pleasant subject, one I don't really want to talk about when I would rather be enjoying myself."

      Stupid Ruby, she thought to herself as she gave the Faunus a small nod of understanding, tapping her fingers together under the table as the thought of anything else they could talk about instead. After a couple minutes of awkward silence, in which Blake gave her a kind smile, she finally managed to find a subject that she considered a little safer.

     "So… umm," she said hesitantly, hoping that it was okay to ask. "After you left the Wh… your old life behind, why did you choose Beacon?"

     "It was the best choice," Blake said simply and moved aside as a waiter put some drinks on their table. Picking up her cola, Ruby quickly took a sip. "I doubt I would fit in very well in Atlas, Vacuo huntsmen and huntresses are treated with… quite a bit of skepticism; but Beacon and Haven are actually rather respected. Since Haven was a little too close to headquarters, Beacon was all I had left."

     "That makes sense," Ruby hummed, taking another sip of her drink before putting it down. "I'm glad you chose Beacon though, I don't think any of us could imagine this team without you."

     "Well I am glad you enjoy having me around," Blake said in reply, both of their cheeks turning slightly red at the implications. "So what about you? I remember you saying you always wanted to be a huntress, that's quite a big dream for a child to have?"

     "Hmm," Ruby hummed again, thinking back to when she had realised it. "I dunno, I think a lot of kids dream about being the hero who saves the day; but for me it never just felt like a dream."

     "Whenever Yang would read me the stories, she would always tell me what our mom would have done to the bad guys, she'd always tell me that she would kick their butts and save everyone there. She knew how much I missed mom so whenever I asked if I could do that one day, she would always tell me I could do whatever I wanted. She would even start to change the stories so that me and mom were saving the day together. When I grew up a little, I realised Yang was trying to make sure I understood what mom thought was worth fighting for. She didn't want me to be mad at her for not being able to be there, but to understand why she couldn't be."

     Taking a small breath, Ruby looked at her date and gave her a wide smile.

     "So it really was never a dream for me," She shrugged. "My entire family help people, even lay down their lives so that people can continue to live theirs. And I'm proud to continue that."

     Seeing Blake staring at her a little wide-eyed as she finished, Ruby felt herself blush a little and quickly picked her drink back up to take a big gulp. As she did, she watched Blake's face break into a small smile as the girl looked down at her lap.

     "Wow," she exclaimed with a soft chuckle and leaned back in her chair slightly. "I knew you were dedicated, but not that much. Wish I was that sure about what I'm doing."

     "Well I just want to keep people safe," Ruby countered easily. "I know how to do that, but what you want is much more difficult to do."

     "I guess," Blake sighed with a shake of her head, though she was still smiling. "Just that some days it feels like I have no idea where to start. How does one person change things after so many years of hate?"

     Thinking for a second on that question, Ruby found herself stumped. She knew how tough the goal Blake had set for herself was, and while she was determined to help in anyway she could, she had never actually thought on how to do that. She could help to save them, but if the fighting between humans and Faunus continue, it would only cause the Grimm to become more prevalent than they were already becoming.

     "I don't know," she finally said, deciding that honesty was the best answer she could give. "But I know you don't have to do it alone. You have a team now, and we have your back."

     "I know."

     As Ruby watched Blake give her a genuine smile that made her blush slightly, the waiter arrived once again to place their food on the table. The smell of cooked meat that she had become adjusted to instantly renewed its assault on her nostrils and Ruby felt her stomach grumble slightly. Reaching out, she pulled her burger and fries towards herself as Blake reached out to take her sushi, albeit more gracefully than she did.


     "She did not!" Blake laughed as she pushed her spoon into the sponge cake that was in front of her.

     Catching her breath, she placed the sponge in her mouth as Ruby talked excitedly. Blake had smiled much more than she thought she would have during the past two hours of listening to tales of the girl's time on patch and at Signal; but the last ten minutes, Ruby had been regaling her with tales of her sister. The whole experience had been very foreign to Blake at first, still not being used to the casual atmosphere of hanging out with someone, but the longer it went on, the more she had found herself at ease.

     There was something about Ruby, a sense of effortlessness that the girl seemed to exude whenever she was lost in her stories, that helped Blake's nerves slide away. As she watched the girl excitedly tell her stories, she had seen the beautiful silver eyes glint in the same way as they had when Ruby found the pack of cookies Blake had snuck into her bag. Every time she saw it, she felt her lips tug into a small smile that only seemed to egg the girl on further, creating a magnificent circle of excitement and smiling that Blake had no interest in stopping.

     "She did!" Ruby replied happily, stirring the remaining ice cream left in her ice cream sundae. "The fire singed her hair so much that she had to have it cut and she looked so weird."

     "You know, I don't think I could imagine Yang with short hair if I tried," Blake chuckled and took a sip of her drink.

     "Well it only came down to her shoulders, but it was still a bad look for her," Ruby giggled, spooning some melted ice cream into her mouth. "But she looked so lost while she waited for it to grow back and refused to go back to the forge until she unlocked her aura."

     "Now that I believe," Blake grinned as she recalled the trouble the team had every morning. "It's been six months but I still can't believe she takes thirty minutes for her hair alone."

     "That's nothing compared to when we were at home," Ruby hummed with a small shrug, the spoon dangling from the side of her mouth. "I lost count of how many times I had to run to school early to use those showers because I'd have ran out of time if I waited."

     "Wow," she grinned and ate the final piece of her cake. "And this whole night you almost convinced me that I was jealous I don't have any siblings."

     "Sorry," Ruby chuckled nervously and stirred the ice cream a little more until all the final lumps turned to liquid. "I guess I talk about Yang a lot."

     "It's fine," Blake said with a shake of her head as Ruby picked up the tall glass and tipped what had to be nothing but sugaring milk at that point into her mouth. "It's nice that you two are so close."

     It was true. Over her entire time at Beacon and being part of Team RWBY, the relationship between Ruby and her sister had been one Blake had paid special attention to. Having never had siblings, she had no idea what would be considered normal sibling behavior; but she was fairly certain that they were much closer than your average family, to the point where Blake often mistook Yang's actions to be more motherly than sisterly.

     It wasn't uncommon for Yang to have to remind her sister to eat, and for the blonde to confiscate cookies and treats until said food was finished. It also wasn't uncommon for Yang to track the younger sister down, whether Ruby was hiding in the kitchen, in the workshop, or even one time when she had been hiding in the back of an unused classroom. It was basic knowledge to the entire team that if Ruby was feeling down, Yang would drop everything to comfort her and do whatever it took to cheer her up. However, for as much as there was a motherly feeling to the relationship, the two were undeniably sisters.

     Through all of the motherly tendencies Yang showed, their was still an unmistakable immaturity to how they often acted towards each other. From minor falling outs that would be resolved within an hour, to the inside jokes and teasing that usually had that laughing to each other while they played their video games; Blake could see very clearly that neither would let anything happen to separate them.

     "Well, she's always been there for me," the red reaper said matter-of-factually after peering into the now empty glass and putting it aside.

     "Now that I do believe," Blake chuckled and pulled her shawl over her shoulders. "Are you ready to go?"

     "Sure," Ruby smiled back, and pushed her chair back before he eyes widened a little. "Actually, I need to grab some cookies from Gooey Chooey, wanna meet me outside?"

     Not one to stand between Ruby and her cookies, Blake gave the girl a small nod and watched as she took off in a slow jog towards the small stand on the furthest side of the building; and after shaking her head to drag her eyes away from her, she gave an inward smile and made her way to the door. Unfortunately, as she watched the door open and the chilling breeze nip at her face, she knew that date was coming to an end; and while she had certainly enjoyed herself, she had purposely left most of the talking to Ruby.

     As painful as it had been to remember them, Blake had been more than happy to answer Ruby's questions about her parents. Despite how she had left Menagerie, she had plenty of happy memories with them and was always happy to relive them, but as the conversation inevitably turned to why she left, Blake knew the conversation would have dragged down the tone of the evening. However, having taken that subject off the table, she had realised just how little she had to talk about.

     Whether she liked it or not, the White Fang was a huge part of her past. She had been born into it, seen it grow and change, changed with it. Like Ruby, who's entire life had been about slaying monsters, the entirety of hers had been about fighting for what she believed was right; but those topics weren't date topics. Conversations about rallies where she held signs for hours wasn't an enthralling tale, and all of the ones that did have some excitement were likely not stories Ruby would want to hear. So letting out a deep sigh that caused mist to obscure her vision, she sat down on a bench and pulled the shawl around herself a little tighter.

     Why couldn't I have just had a normal life? Blake thought to herself a little bitterly. Why did I have to be born fighting?

     It was a question she had asked herself a lot over the last year. She imagined what it would be like to have been simply able to live happily and have fun with friends, to not have been tagging along with her father for rallies; not that he had ever pushed her to join him. No, that choice was hers. Every past choice she'd made was hers. She had chosen to join those rallies, chosen to abandon the hope of friends who didn't understand why they were so important. And when her parents no longer understood, when the time had come for more action to be taken, she had chosen to leave them behind too.

     Sure, her admiration of Adam and her desire to make him happy had been a part of that, and those had been the things he manipulated to make her stay so long, but the choice to initially join him had still been hers. Every time felt there was injustice, she rose to fight it; but in doing so, she often tossed aside what she considered unimportant.

     However, her time at Beacon had changed that. The more she interacted with her team, the more she found herself having that normality she began to crave, the more she realised how important those things she had once unimportant really were. Her parents, her friends, her childhood, she missed all of them more than she had ever thought she would.

     "Blake?"

     So wrapped up in her own thoughts, Bake didn't notice that her team leader had already exited the building and was standing next to the bench looking at her with a slightly concerned look on her face.

     "Are you okay?" The younger girl asked cautiously. "You look sad."

     "No," Blake replied with a small shake of her head, only to realize how that answer might have come across. "I mean, I'm not sad, just got caught up in my own head again."

     "Oh," Ruby sighed, her body visibly relaxing. "Do you wanna talk about it? You listened to me talk all night, sooo…"

     "It's nothing, I'm just lamenting over the fact that talking about my life isn't really date talk, and wishing that I had other things to talk about like you do."

     "Oh, but then you wouldn't be you," Ruby shrugged and sat down on the bench. "I know that your life wasn't exactly pleasant, but I do know you always believed you were fighting for what was right; so not all of your stories can be bad, right?"

     "I suppose," Blake sighed looking at the girl who was sitting beside her and receiving a smile. Knowing the girl was patiently waiting to hear one, Blake quickly racked her brain for one that might work.

     "Well, I had this friend, Ilia, we would hang out quite a lot after I ran away. She was probably one of the toughest people I knew, always the first to prove herself, but she was terrified of snakes. One day we were all sitting around a camp that was actually ran rather well, and a snake slithered over her hand and in seconds she had jumped into a tree; and because she was a chameleon Faunus who could change her colours, she had turned completely pink from embarrassment, even her hair. She hated pink."

     "I remember it was the first time I actually laughed since I left home," Blake said with a smile as she looked down at her lap. "She even refused to come down until it was safe, so I joined her on the branch for the rest of the night."

     "That sounds like you when Zwei first arrived," Ruby chuckled, causing Blake to groan at the memory of pouncing onto Ruby's bed when the small corgi had dropped from the parcel; something that Blake still considered to be an exceptionally odd occurrence. "But it's good to know that even there you had some fun things happen. Uhh..." The last sounds was hummed rather cautiously as Ruby pressed her fingers together a little awkwardly. "... C-Can I ask something about Faunus?"

     Curious as to what the girl could possibly have to ask that made her nervous, Blake gave the reaper a small smile and a short nod.

     "So umm… I haven't really know many Faunus as there weren't too many Patch, but you don't like dogs and really like fish, Sun likes bananas and climbing trees, and you said your friend was a chameleon Faunus that was scared of snakes who are natural predators to chameleons. So is liking and hating things the actual animals like or hate a normal Faunus thing?"

     "Hmm," Blake hummed at the question that was asked with such genuine nervous intrigue that Blake could help but smile a little. "That's kind of a tough one. I wouldn't say it's a normal thing, but definitely not rare. It might be some instinctive remnants from whatever made us evolve differently, but I knew plenty of fish Faunus on Menagerie that hated water, and some wolf Faunus who hated meat."

     "Ahh, okay," Ruby exhaled with a relieved sigh. "Th-That wasn't an insensitive question, right?"

     "It was fine," Blake chuckled and stood up, turning to face the girl and offering her hand out to help Ruby up. "At least you asked, and didn't assume."

     Blushing slightly, the team leader picked up the bag she had placed on the bench next to her and accepted the hand. Helping Ruby to her feet, Blake knew she probably should have let go, but feeling a rare surge of braveness rush through her, she turned to face the road and took a tiny step forward. Her own blush rose to match her date's as the younger girl took a step forward without dropping the joined hands either, though her face was pointedly looking anywhere but her direction.

     A gentle, yet awkward, silence came over them as they both adjusted to the feeling of the new level of intimacy, both occasionally looking at the other only to look away again with their faces a deeper scarlet than they had been. To add to the awkwardness, Blake was pretty sure she could hear a pair of girls a short distance behind them giggling over the blood pumping in her ears; but if Ruby could them, the girl gave no indication. Instead she simply moved her hand slightly so that their hold was a little more comfortable.

     "C-Cookie?" The quiet voice was obviously racked with nerves, the small catching a cracking enough that Blake doubted even a deaf person could mistake it. Turning to the stuttering silver-eyed girl, she saw a bag being offered in her direction. "There's p-plain ones."

     "Sure," Blake replied, trying to keep the awkwardness from her voice.

     Reaching out, she pulled the bag open to look inside and saw a bunch of smaller bags, each holding five cookies, as well as one that looked to be a pack of four small treats covered in pink icing that she knew were for Yang. Pulling a plain cookie from one of the small bags and covering it back up, she felt it try to bend in her hand from how soft the baked good still was. Taking a small bite, the taste of delicious sugar filled her mouth and she let out a soft hum.

     "These are really good."

     "Yeah," Ruby said quietly with a small nod and dug a double chocolate chip one out of the bag. "They are much better when they're warm."

     "Hmm," Blake hummed, a question springing to mind as she noticed the gleeful look that pushed through the nervousness as the little reaper took a large bite out of the cookie. "So what is with the cookie obsession?"

     With a mouthful of biscuit, Ruby turned to look at her before quickly chewing and finishing what was in her mouth.

     "The cookie obsession?" Ruby repeated thoughtfully and looked down it the bag. "My mom used to bake them when she returned from missions, and we would sit and eat them. At least, Yang said we did. I kinda remember Mom making them, but not much else."

     "Oh," Blake replied, remembering a conversation where Yang had said Ruby didn't remember much about their mother. "Do you remember much about else about her?" Knowing it was a very personal question, Blake quickly backtracked a little. "If you're okay talking about it, I mean."

     "I don't mind talking about my mom," Ruby smiled widely, her head turning away from the road they were walking up so that Blake caught the glint of silver as they passed under a street lamp. "But not much really, I know she was amazing. When I really think about her, I mainly remember laughter, Dad smiling as he left the kitchen with her. I know mom was the reason we moved out to Patch because she loved the island. But everything else, it's so faint that I don't even know if its real."

     "I can't imagine how that must feel," Blake said quietly to the girl, genuinely trying and failing to imagine what life would have been like had she known she could never talk to her mother again. "Do you at least have things to remember her by?"

     "Yup," Ruby said with another smile, taking a small bite of the cookie she was still holding and reaching around to the length of red cloth she was rarely seen without. "She made me this cape to grow into, and Dad let me have a couple of boxes full of her old clothes. We look a lot alike so they all suit me, with a couple of my own additions of course."

     "At least that's something then."

     "Mhm," Ruby hummed and she finished the cookie. "Plus Yang, my dad, and my uncle all tell me stories about her, so it's not like I don't know anything about her."

     Not wanting to voice that she suspected that all three of them likely only ever told Ruby the good things, Blake gave the girl a small nod with a smile and turned back to the road. In the conversation, she had completely forgotten that there was a foreign warmth on her hand, but as a shrill pinging sounded from Ruby's direction, Blake was quickly reminded as the girl looked around for somewhere to place the sweet bag to answer the phone. Before Blake could even offer to take it, Ruby extended a pair of fingers from the joined hands and used them to hold the bag's strings so that she could pull the Scroll free and put it on loud speaker. Almost immediately, the joyous voice of their blonde-haired teammates issued from the small device.

     "Hey lovebird," The blonde said gleefully, causing Blake to roll her eyes even though she knew Yang couldn't see her. "Hows things?"

     "None of your business, Yang," Ruby pouted and shook her head. "What do you want?"

     "I got a call from dad and he said he is going on a mission tomorrow afternoon," Yang explained quickly, the sound of music starting up in the background. "It was last minute so he didn't have time to send Zwei over, so we have to go pick him up early tomorrow morning. So don't stay up too late, alright?"

     "Got it. Are you still staying in CVFY's room tonight?"

     "Yeah," Yang replied with a stifled yawn. "But we'll be leaving around seven-ish so we can pick up some breakfast downtown."

     "Alright."

     "Well I'm off," Yang said, however Blake picked up that the blonde's voice had acquired the mischievous tone she often found herself dreading. "Before I go, Rubes. So you have an excuse to do it, give Blake a kiss goodnight for me wil…"

     After a second of stumbling after that request, Ruby hung up the phone; but not before Blake heard the sound of cackling laughter from the other end. Resisting the urge to smile as a blush crept up Ruby's pale cheeks, Blake reached and plucked the bag from their hands while Ruby scanned her scroll against a panel on the side of the gate to Beacon so that it opened for them.

     "She really likes trying to embarrass you, doesn't she?" Blake said cautiously, still trying to suppress the giggles as Ruby gave her a tired look.

     "Unfortunately," Ruby sighed as they walked through the gate and took the small path to the dormitory building. "She's always done it. She says that she has to make up for all the people that aren't allowed to make fun of me because they don't love me enough."

     "That is certainly some Yang logic," she replied, letting out a chuckle and using what Ruby had just told her to mask the real cause.

     "Yup," the little reaper sighed again, though Blake noted that the sighs weren't sad, but more accepting.

     Once again, a small silence settled over them as they made their way towards the dormitory and pushed their way through the doors. Since it had just turned half past eight, Blake could hear the sounds of chitchat flooding from the common area; and determined not to end their night in a crowded, noisy room where they couldn't hear each other, she turned away from it and carried on down the hallway that lead to the elevator. Hoping that Weiss was done with what she needed the room for, Blake pressed the button to call the elevator down.

     Unfortunately, Blake had not thought about her actions enough, so as they stepped into the small space, she became exceedingly aware of how close Ruby was to her. As she noticed it, she also became more aware of how sweaty the hand in her was, and that it was shifting slightly. Curious as to if Ruby wanted to let go, she slackened her grip slightly and was a little surprised as Ruby slipped her fingers between her own, entwining them as she returned the pressure back to what it was. Feeling her stomach do a small flip at the small gesture, Blake happily reapplied the pressure she had eased up on and felt a small smile pull at her lips.

     "B-Blake?" She heard Ruby say quietly as the elevator began to move.

     "Mmm," She hummed in return, unable to do much more.

     "I…" Ruby paused, blushing a bright red as she looked away slightly and continued in a very quiet voice. "I really enjoyed tonight."

     Her eyes widen slightly at Ruby's confession, and in that moment, she felt the fear that her natural withheld nature had made the date boring wash away. Letting out a breath she didn't know she had been holding, she gently applied a little more pressure to the girl's hand and let a smile overtake her face.

     "I did too."

     With her own confession said, the atmosphere in the elevator seemed to ease up a little; and enjoying the silence as they rode the elevator, she felt the side of Ruby's head lightly press against her arm. Unfortunately, the moment could only last so long as the elevator gave a loud beep and the door opened to their floor, but a feeling of loss quickly came over her as Ruby's head moved from her arm and the girl made her way out of the small space. Though she really would have liked to have pulled her back and taken another ride to enjoy it a little longer, Blake followed her out and they made their way back towards their room.

     As they approached the door however, Blake remembered what may be going on behind the wooden slab, and not having any interest in walking in on that, she stopped and reached out her hand and gave a short, sharp knock.

     "You can come in," the familiar voice of the heiress called from inside, as Blake let out a sigh of relief as she pushed open the door.

     The sight of Weiss lying on the bed greeted them, the snowy-haired heiress wrapped in Neptune's arms and a blanket thrown over the both of them, as they watched some movie Blake didn't didn't recognise from the small projector that had been placed on the foot of the girl bed. The moment they entered, Weiss' eyes surveyed them until they finally came to a stop on their hands, that were still holding each other.

     "Well then…" The girl said, slight amusement in her voice as she sank into Neptune. "I guess I don't have to ask how the date went. Looks like its a couples night now."

     Avoiding the girl's knowing eyes, Blake gave Ruby a small smile and both of them finally let go of the other, the feeling of emptiness in her hand almost enough to make Blake correct that decision. However, having never been one for public display of affection, which sat holding your dates hand and watching a movie with a close friend most certainly was, Blake let Ruby go to sort out her stuff. Though, she certainly knew she wasn't going to let too long go by until she next had Ruby's hand in hers.

Chapter Text

     If Ruby had thought the chill which hung in the air during her date with Blake had simply been because of the late hour, then she surely would have been mistaken. The moment she and Yang had stepped out of the dormitory building, the sharp, frosty air stung her throat, similar to what she imagined glass shards scraping her throat would feel like and making her wince with each breath she took; and as warm as she cloak was wrapped around her, there was only so much that could be done. So to arrive at the airship that would take them down to Beacon, to feel the warm air that billowed from its vents, Ruby couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief as she dropped into one of the empty seats, Yang sitting next to her and cracking the window open slightly.

     "Yaaaaang!" she whined as she moved her cloak up a little to stop the sliver of cold air it let in from hitting her neck. "It's cold."

     "For you maybe," Yang groaned, sitting back in her seat and shrugging her jacket off. "But I'm boiling." Despite her words, Yang did push the window closed a little more so that only she could feel the cold air. "So, Rubes, you excited to be going home?"

     "I went home last month," Ruby replied, giving her sister a small shrug. "It will be nice to see Dad again though."

     "Mhm," the bulky blonde hummed and stretched her arms above her head. "Still need to talk to him about stuff."

     Giving her sister a small look, she resisted the frown that tried to pull at her eyebrows. Ruby knew exactly what Yang wanted to talk to their father about, she had known since just after the tournament had ended and Qrow had left, and though it had been nearly a month since then, she wasn't too fond of what her sister was thinking of doing.

     "You still want to do that?"

     "I don't know, Rubes," Yang replied, the cadence of her voice one of genuine uncertainty. "You said you would be okay with it if I did though?"

     "I am," she replied quickly, not wanting Yang to think she was trying to stop her from going. "I mean, I understand why you want to go; I just don't like you going out there alone."

     "I know," the brawler sighed pleasantly as her arms finally gave a loud pop. "But Coco and Velvet have already said they will come with me if I do go."

     "You've talked to them about it?" While Ruby was glad Yang was at least talking to someone, she couldn't help but be a little jealous that is wasn't her.

     "A little," Yang shrugged and rested her arms behind her head to rest on them. "I told them why I wanted to go and they understood; though Velvet really wasn't too happy about the idea of going near Mistral, but she has a good reason for that."

     "Okay." For such a shy and friendly girl, it always felt weird that all of Velvet's friends knew the girl despised Haven and the people that lived there; however, Ruby had never felt the need to ask why as she knew it was likely something extremely personal. "So when are they going to be back anyway?"

     "In a couple of days," Yang replied, the sound of relief obvious in her voice. "I'll just be glad to have them back honestly."

     "Aww," Ruby cooed, never one to miss her chance to return the teasing her older sister gave her when given the opportunity. "You're so sappy."

     "Shut it," Yang scoffed and Ruby felt Yang's leg collide playfully with her own. "You're one to talk. Weiss told me about you and Blake returning to the room holding hands and being all over each other."

     "Wh-What!" Ruby replied, blushing red at the implications. "We were not all over each other."

     "But you were holding hands?"

     Blushing a deeper scarlet as she was unable to deny that point, Ruby turned away from her sister to hide her face. Unfortunately, the action caused Yang to chuckle loudly at what was basically an admission and Ruby watched as multiple heads on the airship turn to look at them.

     "I'm guessing the date went well then?"

     "Mhm," She hummed, pulling her cloak up a little higher and hoping that the redness of her face would help make her blend into it.

     "Aww, you're so cute," Yang chuckled and wiggled her eyebrows as she pulled the cloak back down. "So was there any kissy kissy action?"

     "Yaaang," Ruby whined, earning yet another chuckle from the blonde.

     "I'm taking that as a no," the boisterous blonde grinned and sat back. "Shame, she's a good kisser."

     "What!"

     "Relax, it was during a game of truth or dare just before the tournament started," Yang chuckled and reached into her bag to pull out the small box of pink strawberry cakes Ruby had bought her last night. "The sandpaper tongue did make things a little different though."

     "She does not have a sandpaper tongue," Ruby tutted, trying her best not to smile at her sister's stupid joke.

     "And how would you know that if there was no kissing, Smart Aleck?"

     "I just know," Ruby replied, sticking out her own tongue and quickly snatching one of the small pink cakes from the box.

     "Hmm," Yang hummed suspiciously, biting off the top of the icing first. "I'm starting to think Weiss lied to me about the no kissing."

     "There was no kissing, Yang," Ruby sighed, taking a bite of her own little cake and groaning as the delicious taste of strawberry sugar filled her mouth.

     "You sound disappointed by that?" Yang asked, and while the humorous tone of her voice remained, it shifting slightly to become the more genuine one Ruby had heard so much growing up. "Something bad happen to stop it?"

     "Nothing bad," Ruby clarified, not wanting Yang to think Blake had been a bad date. "I wanted to, but…"

"But?"

     Letting out a sigh as she slumped in her chair, Ruby pushed the rest of the cake into her mouth and chewed while Yang waited patiently for her to answer. Thinking over how she could say what happened without completely embarrassing herself; however, knowing there was no way that was possible, she simply swallowed and resigned to telling her sister the truth.

     "Well," she groaned and threw her wrapper back into Yang's bag. "We were in the elevator, and everything was really awkward and stuff, and to stop it I told her that I really enjoyed the date and she said she did too. After that, things felt a little better and I saw her look at me and I really wanted to kiss her; but it was my first date so I didn't know how to do it properly and I was still really scared it was too soon or that I would mess up."

     Ruby looked up from her lap, where her gaze had naturally fallen to, to look at her sister after finishing her rushed spiel, and saw her sister looking at her in amusement. Rolling her eyes at the look, Ruby turned away and let herself slide down the chair.

     "Sounds like my first date," Yang grinned and gave her arm a short nudge. "Look Rubes, first kisses aren't going to be like those movies you watch. They're gonna be awkward, and maybe even a little bad, but they're supposed to be. I'm sure Blake knows that too, so if the moment feels right and you want to, and she wants to, then go for it. The awkwardness almost always sorts itself out with a kiss or two."

     "That doesn't help with the nerves, Yang."

     "Hmm," The blonde said, her humorous tone dropping completely for a moment and Ruby knew from experience that meant a serious was coming her way. "You really like her, don't you?"

     "I do," Ruby replied truthfully with a small nod of her head. "She's strong, and smart, and though she hides it, she's really kind. I know she worries about her past a lot, but she wants to be a good person and I really like that about her."

     "Well then," Yang grinned, the humor returning immediately. "I guess I should dig out Mom's wedding dress for you."

     "Shut up," she groaned despite the smile that was spreading over her face due to Yang knowing she intended to wear that dress one day without Ruby having told her. "It was one date, I don't even know if Blake wants another one. I mean she said she enjoyed herself but that could mean as friends, or as more than friends..." Slumping back into her chair, Ruby reaching over and pulled another cake from the box. "Why is dating so hard?"

     "It's your first date, Rubes," the amused blonde chuckled and brought a leg up so that her foot was resting against the back of the chair in front of them. "They get easier, sort of. Besides, she would be crazy to not want another date with you."

     Letting out a quiet grumble, Ruby took a bite of the cake and thought about what Yang had said. Blake had said she enjoyed herself, and she certainly didn't try to pull away when she had adjusted her hand; nor when she had rested her head against her arm. Those things were definitely not friend things. But were they strong enough indicators that she wanted to keep going? And what would they even do? What did dating people do on second dates?

     Ugh, she sighed inwardly and stuffed the rest of the cake into her mouth as the airship took off. I should have just kissed her.


 

     As she walked into the loud cafeteria, Blake stifled a small yawn with her hand and sat down next to the heiress. The smell of food filled the room, from cooked meat to hot porridge, and Blake stomach rumbled loudly. If there was one thing she hated about being a huntress-in-training, it was the fact that all the exercises and sparring made her constantly hungry. No matter how much she ate, or how often, a couple of hours after eating she would always feel like her last meal had been weeks ago. It was especially worse in the mornings when her last meal had in fact been almost ten hours ago; so when Weiss pushed a steaming hot omelette over to her, Blake couldn't help but feel an immense wave of gratitude.

     "Thanks," she mumbled, still feeling a little groggy from having just woken up.

     "How was your cat nap?" Weiss grinned, the girl's energy more annoying than the pun itself.

     "Keep it up and I will tell Yang how much you secretly love puns," Blake yawned and cut into the soft egg breakfast. "You'll have her begging you to marry her constantly."

     "Gods, that idea is nightmare fuel," the girl shivered as she wiped off an apple that had been resting on her tray. "She flirts enough as it is."

     "You never tell her to stop though," Blake retorted, placing a large piece of the tuna and cheese omelette into her mouth and letting out a small groan as the wonderful flavor washed over her taste buds.

     "Because I know she doesn't mean anything by it," Weiss replied with a shrug, using a knife to slice through the apple with practiced ease. "It's not like it bothers me anyway."

     Giving the white-hair girl a hum in response as her mouth was full of delicious food, Blake felt an ear twitch under her bow as she picked up her name being said in a whispered tone. Thanks to her training in the White Fang and growing up in the dangerous outskirts of Mistral, her senses were on constant alert; and having heard her name whispered, the prickling hairs on the back of her neck made her very aware of the eyes that were constantly glancing at her. Focusing her hearing in the direction it was coming from, the voices became loud enough that she could just make out what they were saying.

     "... totally sure?" A girl was asking, the tone somewhat disbelieving.

     "Yup," another girl replied without a shadow of doubt in her voice. "All the way back to the dorm."

     "Ooo, you don't think they…"

     Cutting the voices out as the two girls erupted in a fit of giggles, Blake opened up her hearing a little further and heard almost the same discussion going on a couple of tables away.

     "... figured that Ruby girl was, but never would have suspected Blake," A boy was saying to his friend, who gave a short scoff.

     "Same," the girl he was talking to replied with an intrigued voice. "I was sure she dating that Faunus guy from Haven."

     "Nah, he's dating Neon gi…"

     "Finally noticed, huh?" The last voice was spoken from her side, the close proximity making her start a little despite it being said quietly. Turning to look, she saw Weiss gently carving a snowflake pattern into the uncut side of the apple. "I had a girl rush out of the common room to ask me about it this morning."

     "Great," Blake groaned to her teammate and cut a small section of the omelette off to find her appetite had almost completely vanished. Despite the gossip being about something that made her happy, it would undoubtedly draw more attention than she was comfortable with. "What did you tell her?"

     "The same thing I tell most people who get in my way," the girl replied boredly as she traced the initials J.S into the middle and set it aside. "To get out of it."

     Not doubting for a moment that the interaction had gone exactly as the girl said, Blake gave her an appreciative nod in return. Playing with her food for a couple of seconds as she worked up to continue eating, she felt the eyes on her again and instinctively tensed her Faunus ears to keep them as still as she could. Knowing she wouldn't be able to continue her meal, Blake let out a small sigh and pushed her plate away.

     "Do people not know how to mind their business?" She asked as her name once again reaching her from across the room.

     "This is a school, Blake," Weiss sighed, her eyes narrowing on the small fruit so that two small, white glyphs made it hover in mid air and slowly rotate. "Of course they don't."

     Turning to the heiress, who Blake was beginning to notice seemed slightly moodier than usual, she saw another small glyph flickering behind the apple. Flickering Glyph were very unusual for Weiss, with her hours of practise everyday making them almost a precise as her rapier strikes, but Blake knew there was one glyph Weiss had been struggling with ever since her sister's visit. She had been extremely confused the first time she had seen it, having not expected to walk into the bedroom and see disembodied, shining white head sticking out of a glyph on the ground that had quickly faded to mist. After a thorough telling off from Weiss for breaking her focus though, the girl had explained about the ability to summon that all those with Schnee blood had.

     Blake also knew that the girl had set aside an hour everyday to practice her summoning and was at least making enough progress with it that she had actually summoned a small Boarbatusk. However, if the shimmering of the glyph wasn't enough to show Blake that something was bothering the girl, the gleaming white sword that erupted from it when it had finally stabilized was. While it was small, the summoned metal still cleaved the suspended fruit clean in half, the side with the carved into it being caught gently while the other side was left to fall off the table.

     "Everything okay, Weiss?" Blake asked, watching the sword vanish into mist as the remaining piece of apple was set on the tray.

     "Yes," the heiress replied, placing the knife she had used to carve the apple on the table. "Though admittedly, I would be better if the two thousand miles I flew to get away from my father actually had an effect."

     "Ahh," she breathed, knowing that Weiss' father was always a touchy subject. The girl seemed to absolutely hate the man most of the time, but she very rarely badmouthed him. "What did he do this time?"

     "Father has decided that I will be flying back to Atlas during our break to perform at a gala."

     "Oh…" Blake exclaimed, knowing exactly how much Weiss hated being told what to do, especially by people she didn't like. "And I'm guessing you can't get out of it?"

     "Unfortunately not," she sighed, a black glyph appearing behind her as she leaned back against it and crossed her arms. "He has already organised everything, so to cancel now would reflect badly on us. I guess you three will have to do without me."

     "I'm sorry," Blake said in what she knew was a weak attempt to console the girl, and Blake knew that a part of Weiss' anger was that she was being forced into something, she also knew Weiss enough that the last sentence told her that the girl was also annoyed she wouldn't be joining them at Ruby and Yang's house for the week as little reaper had planned.

     "It's not like its your fa..."

     "Well well well," The unfortunately familiar voice of Cardin Winchester cut Weiss off, the sneer audible in the boy's tone. "For someone so quiet, you've caused quite a fuss."

     "Get lost, Cardin," Blake groaned, not in the mood to deal with the Beacon bully.

     "Touchy today, ain't ya, Belladonna?" The boy chuckled, sitting down opposite them on the bench. "Though from what I've been hearing, you're a pretty touchy girl."

     "Yet I would still never touch you," she retorted, never one to let someone get the better of her. "Come to think of it, I don't recall ever seeing you with a girl."

     "Just 'cause you don't see it, doesn't mean it ain't happened," the redheaded boy shrugs with an unconvincing smirk. "Girls love a leader; but then again, I clearly don't need to tell you that."

     "You know, I often forget that you are the leader of your team?" Weiss cut in, her tone still bored but carrying a hint of dangerous annoyance. "But then again, I do tend to forget people who lack the ability to even take out a single combatant with their entire team."

     "Not talking to you, Ice Queen," he spat towards the girl, Weiss' words clearly cutting deep as the memory of Weiss destroying the boy's entire team in under a minute last week likely still stung. "Though I have certainly heard a fair amount about you and that blue-haired dude."

     "Well hearing of things is the closest you will ever get to anything with anyone," Weiss replied with a raised eyebrow as her mouth pulled into a cruel smirk. "So listen away, all that practise might actually help your spatial awareness."

     "I doubt much could help him there," Blake added to the insult with a grin of her own. "All that armor he uses in lieu of actually learning how to defend himself will make sure that never happens."

     "You really wanna see how well I can defend mys…"

     "Sure," Weiss interrupted coldly before he could finish his angry retort.

     Doing little more than flicking her finger, a blazing, white glyph appeared on the boy's large chest and flung him backwards. As he crashed into the opposite table, a flicker of blue pulsed around him to show he had in fact managed to activate his aura in time to nullify any damage. Standing up with a furious look in his eyes, he made to charge at Weiss only for a rainbow blur to streak by and send him tumbling over the table instead.

     "This guy seems like a real bummer, Flynt," Neon said in a tone that matched the dulling of her colours. "Don't invite him."

     "Didn't intend to anyway," a dark-skinned boy Blake recognised as the cat Faunus' partner wearing his usual black vest and bright blue undone tie. "You two however, we promised to party with ya sometime."

     Reaching into one pocket of his pockets, he pulled out a small card and passed it to them. Accepting the card from him, she saw that it was a party invite held at the transfer dormitory on the weekend.

     "Swing by if you wanna have some fun," he smiled, his brown eyes twinkling from the gesture. "Even you, Ice Queen. I'll be playing the music, so maybe you can see some real musical talent."

     "Oh?" Weiss replied, with a scowl at the smirking boy. "Then I think I'll pass. It was barely tolerable during our match, I can't imagine subjecting myself to such torture for any longer than necessary."

     "Suit yourself, Schnee," he shrugged, though his voice didn't lose any of its cheer. "Hope to see you there though, Belladonna."

     "Yeah, it's going to be totally amazing," Neon agreed, somehow sliding up to her partner's side even though she wasn't wearing her rollerblades. "You should bring Ruby and Ya..."

     "Half-breed bit…"

     Cardin's voice was heard behind them, but before he could say anything else Flynt had turned into a blur of colour, his body twisting around and his leg extending forward as he left multi-coloured clones of himself behind. With one swift kick, the boy once again crashed over the table and Flynt's clones collapsed back into him, the only evidence they had ever been there being that his tie was now a bright red.

     "You're right about him being a bummer, Ne," he said coldly as he straightened his vest. "Anyway, we got more invites to hand out, see you two there."

     With a small wave, both Neon and Flynt slowly walked off; as did Cardin, apparently deciding to save what little pride he had left. Once all three had gone, Blake looked down at the card and thought on what Neon had said. She certainly wasn't the partying kind, but it would definitely make a good date that she could take Ruby on, and she was absolutely eager for that second date to be soon.

     "Like I'm going to attend that," Weiss scoffed, the black glyph she had been maintaining for a backrest disappearing as she stood up from her seat and picking up her tray.

     "I doubt you will have much choice when Ruby and Yang find out about it," Blake argued while picking up her own plate and following the bobbing ponytail, knowing that the two sisters would definitely drag the heiress along with them. "They wouldn't even let me skip the dance."

     "Yes well, you were being stupid then," Weiss countered, her honesty as brutal as always. "I simply don't wish to attend when I could better spend my time studying instead."

     "Hmm," she hummed as they deposited their trays and plates onto the return section and made their way to the exit. "I think I might go."

     "Really?"

     "It's not like I have any other ideas for a good date."

     "Well good luck with that," Weiss said loftily once they were at the doorway; though through it, Blake could definitely make out the sincerity that Weiss always hid. "I am going to the library. And you?"

     "Sparring with Sun," she replied and received a short nod from the heiress.

     Watching Weiss walk away, Blake once again looked down at the card Fynt had given her and thought as to whether it really was a good idea. The idea of a party didn't particularly appeal to her, but she knew Ruby would likely have a good time; and since she also knew that Neon's jazz obsessed partner would likely at least play some decent music, she pocketed the card with a small smile. I could at least bring it up to her.


 

     The frost-chilled wind greeted Yang and Ruby as they stepped out of the airship, the brunette whirling her cape around herself to form a cloak, while her sister zipped up her tan jacket. A thick fog had already begun to blanket the city, the mist becoming so dense in the ten minutes it had taken them to reach the Vale landing strip that neither of them were able to see much out of their seat's window; and with the combination of the wind and naturally cold air, Ruby was tempted to use her semblance to dash into a nearby coffee store. However, knowing that they only had twenty minutes to catch their boat to Patch, she settled for pulling her cloak a little tighter and followed behind Yang as she made her way through the crowd.

     Loud noises and the click-clack of wheels on bumpy pavement filled the air as people hurriedly made their way through the large swarm in desperate attempts to get on an airship and escape the cold. Pushing through the horde of busy travelers towards a fleet of waiting taxis, she heard Yang let out a groan as an old woman bumped into her and gave them both a scornful look.

     "I hate the airstrip," Yang growled as the woman took off with a rude hand gesture. "Stupid law, not allowing me to bring Zwei back on Bumblebee when he loves the bike rides."

     It was true, Ruby remembered when Yang first received her bike, how they had exited the house one day to find the little corgi desperately trying, and failing, to get onto the seat. After watching the little corgi try to jump on to the seat for about five minutes, Ruby finally relented and gave him a lift up. However, when Yang had told him to get down, even going so far as to rev the engine, Zwei had refused to budge. Never one to back down from a challenge, even if the challenger was a tiny dog, the blonde had thrown her leg over the then-grey bike and launched it forward a couple of feet; earning nothing but a happy bark from the hound. From that day on, the blonde had given the excitable puppy an occasional spin around the backyard

     "A two minute ride around the garden isn't the same as a two hour ride through the city and up the trail to Beacon in this weather, Yang," Ruby reason to the sullen girl. "Besides, I doubt he would fi…"

     "YANG!"

     The blondes name rang out clear over the tumultuous roar crowd, the voice that shouted it incredibly familiar, making the blonde brawler's face break into a wide grin at the sound. Wasting no time as her sister looked around for the source, Ruby hopped up onto a nearby wall and scanned the crowd. It only took a second for her to spot the responsible party, the group of four people stood against the wall of a convenience store was immediately recognisable by the large rabbit ears that stood proudly on top of one of their heads.

     "Yang," she called to get her sister's attention while pointing in the direction of the group that was now waving at her. "Over there."

     Before she could even finished, Yang was already running in the pointed direction, gently pushing each person that was in her way aside as she sought her confirmation. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to make her way through the crown as easily, Ruby gathered up as much power in her legs as she could and jumped, activating her semblance mid-air to give herself a large burst of forward momentum. Flying over the crowd, she managed to land just before her sister pushed her way into the small clearing, the blonde instantly pulling the two girls of Team CFVY into a bone crushing hug that Ruby knew very well.

     "Any tighter and Yatsu will have to check our aura," Coco smirked as she returned the hug, seemingly unfazed by the vice like hug while Velvet seemed to almost be squashed; though the rabbit Faunus was still smiling.

     "I don't care," Yang said, Ruby barely hearing the words over the crowd.

     Taking a step to the side to let her sister enjoy the reunion in peace, she gave the rest of Coco's team a small look over. The most immediate thing that stood out was Yatsu's left arm was in a sling, although he was using the same hand to hold a small treat that was quickly disappearing, so she knew it couldn't have been too badly injured. To his left was Fox, the blind boy seeming to be perfectly healthy, though Ruby noticed he was looking from side to side a little more frequently than he usually did.

     "Hey guys," she said with a smile, giving Yastu a small wave.

     "Hello," Yatsu replied, his voice low but soft.

     "Hey, Speedy. Good to see you again."

     Though Ruby had known the Fox for quite some time now, the feeling of his humorous voice ringing clearly in her head despite no words being spoken was still unsettling to her.

     "What happened to your arm?"

     "Manticore sting," he replied after swallowing his bite of food. "The wound healed but the damage from the poison is taking some time to go away."

     "Please," Fox's voice chuckled in her head, and from the sideways look the giant gave Fox, she knew he was talking to Yatsu too. "He's just wearing the sling to get some sympathy points from Lily."

     "I don't know what you're talking about."

     "Yeah, yeah," Fox continued to chuckle as he reached out to snatch some of Yatsu's food, his eyebrows scowling for a second when he missed. "If you don't say anything buddy, she will never know you're interested. That girl is blinder than I am."

     Smiling as Yatsu shook his head and Fox's eyes widened to show they were now communicating mentally, Ruby looked back to see Yang finally pulling away from her girlfriends. The look of relief on her face as she gave Coco and Velvet a kiss each made Ruby smile even more at how happy her sister was.

     "I wasn't expecting you back so soon," Yang said breathlessly as she pulled back and looked at them each in turn. "You said it would be a few more days."

     "It was going too," Coco replied smoothly and tossed a drink to Yatsu know passed it to Fox. "But we ran into someone from the Vale Response Team in the inn we were staying at who was getting an early lift back. He offered us a ride."

     "Yeah, we were just waiting for the airships to Beacon to start so we could surprise you," Velvet added, her lovely accent making her voice remarkably soft. "But Yatsu saw your hair, so I guess this works."

     "So what held you guys up?" Ruby asked as Yang pulled the rabbit Faunus into another tight hug, though this time Velvet wasn't too squashed to return it. "Was it Yatsu's injury?"

     "Nah," Coco replied and took a sip of her own drink. "We had a pack of Shriekers on us and their screams kept attracting other Grimm. But they also ruined Fox's sonar assistant so we could only move when his semblance was up."

     "Manticores and Shriekers?" Yang asked in confusion as she pulled back slightly from Velvet. "Aren't they normally only found around northern Anima and the Vacuo forest of Sanus?"

     "Usually they are," Yatsu said with a nod, accepting the drink from Fox and taking a sip for himself. "But the Grimm seem to be migrating. A couple of villages we passed through said they've seen Grimm that weren't native to the area recently."

     "That's concerning," Ruby hummed, a little worried about new Grimm that people weren't used to dealing with beginning to trickle into the area.

     "Well, whatever it is, I'm just glad your back safe."

     "Was there ever any doubt?" Coco asked Yang with a smirk, an eyebrow raising over her sunglasses that she wore no matter the weather.

     "Maybe a little," Yang said sheepishly and scratched the back of her head.

     Looking away as Coco grabbed her sister's jacket pulled her into a kiss, Ruby saw Fox fake a gag and flash a smile in her direction, a smile that she knew was meant for her, but the direction he was facing meant it went a little too far to the right. The small joke earned the dark-skinned joker a tap on the shoulder from Velvet. "You have no idea how weird it is to be in someone's head when they do that."

     "I can guess," Ruby chuckled at the boy, though a fresh breeze of wind made a shiver run through her and remind her of what they were actually supposed to be doing. "Hey, Yang. We're gonna miss our boat."

     While it seemed her intrusion had gone unheard as the kiss continued, a couple of seconds later the two girls pulled away from each other and Velvet took Yang's hand. Another couple of seconds passed with them both clearly making sure to reassure Yang that they were really okay, but eventually she gave a small nod of acceptance.

     "Good," Velvet smiled, the three of them coming to a silent understanding. "So where are you two going?"

     "Home, to pick up Zwei," Yang replied, but hesitated slightly before continuing. "Do you uhh… Do you wanna come? You could meet my dad. You know, if you want to?"

     With them having been dating since shortly after Weiss and Yang took over the preparation for the dance a couple of months ago, Ruby almost worried that the pair would say no. Thankfully she was wrong, and after a shared look, Velvet gave Yang a warm smile and moved over to her side while Coco addressed her other two teammates.

     "Tell Port we'll be back to debrief later," She told Yatsu and Fox, each one giving a nod in return. "But make sure to tell him everything went perfectly. This is the first unsupervised mission they have let us go on since Lower Cairn. And Fox, make sure Yatsu goes to the medical bay before running off to flirt with Lily."

     "How do you know she doesn't assist there?" Yatsu said with a smile as he pushed himself off the wall. "Such an insignificant detail is easy to wipe from your mind."

     "You would never touch us with that, you barely even use it when asked to," Fox cackled in their heads and raised his hand goodbye. "But I'll make sure he gets seen too. Later."

     Once Fox and Yatsu disappeared into the crowd, Yatsu holding out his arm a little so that Fox wasn't jostled by the crowd, the four of them turned back to each other and made their way towards the taxi at a steady pace. As they walked, Coco placed as arms around Velvet's shoulders and when they arrived at the station, Yang purposely led them into one that would easily fit them all in the back.

     "So, Ruby," Coco said, her voice taking on a slight teasing tone as they all packed in, Velvet setting between the two girls. "Yang told me you and Blake are now a thing."

     "Ooo," Velvet cooed, resting her head against Yang's shoulder as the taxi began to move. "Finally."

     Letting out a sigh and pouting at the chuckling trio, Ruby slumped back in her chair, regretting not having gone for a separate taxi. However, she knew Coco and Velvet were much more interested in Yang since they had just returned, so she simply gave a short nod and knowing that before long their focus would return to Yang, Ruby's mind drifted to thoughts of Blake before quietly taking a quick nap on the ride to the ferry.

Chapter Text

     Blake was sure that she could see a teasing satisfaction in the light-grey eyes that were staring back at her. The way they shone as the head they were set in shifted from side to side while she sat on her bed betraying just how much the devil was enjoying himself. Giving the mutt a scowl, she shifted to the side to jump off the bottom of her bed only for him to follow her. A small groan escaped her lips that quickly turned a yawn as she glared at the little corgi.

     "Stupid mutt, was it not enough to keep me awake?" She yawned as she spoke, receiving nothing but a loud, playful bark in return.

     "Zwei," Ruby said firmly, her head popping out of the bathroom door that was near the foot of her bed, just enough to where Blake could see the bare shoulders of the girl she was dating. "Leave Blake alone."

     Though Ruby watched as Zwei obediently bounced across and jump up onto Weiss' bed, Blake eyes had seemingly glued themselves to the girl; vaguely aware of the heat folding its way up her face. While they weren't bulging, the muscles that wound themselves over Ruby's shoulders and upper arms due to her years wielding such a heavy weapon were very well defined and a sight to behold. Unable to help herself, her eyes travelled along them and inevitably landed on Ruby's neck and the small part of her upper chest, where it became obvious that the girl was not fully dressed.

     She was almost lost in the sight, and in her thoughts when she noticed movement, and her eyes darted up to see Ruby now looking at her and then down at her own body. Once she registered everything, the girl's silver eyes widened comically and she quickly vanished into the bathroom; Blake catching the blush that was across Ruby face before it fully disappeared.

     While nothing had actually been seen over the time they had spent as a team, it wasn't uncommon for close calls; albeit Yang was, as always, an exception since the girl really didn't seem to care to cover up beyond her crop top most of the time. But ever since they confessed to one another that they liked each other, Blake had become increasingly aware of Ruby in those brief moments. Not that she hadn't been aware before, the girl was exceptionally beautiful after all; but since that day, the fact that she knew Ruby was paying attention to her as well and likely noticing those glances Blake stole, though she thought she usually hid them well, made everything just that little bit more awkward. However, even through the awkwardness, she couldn't help wonder if Ruby was also sneaking those very same glances.

     Don't be stupid, she thought to her self almost immediately while hopping down from her bed and pulling some clothes free from her desk to get ready for when Ruby was done in the bathroom. She has more decency than I do.


 

     Ruby had no idea why she had spent so long in front of the mirror. She never normally did. Usually she would be done with the bathroom in minutes, a curse of growing up with Yang and not having much time between getting in the shower and leaving for school; but for some reason she had spent almost five minutes playing with her hair because it just felt off. Letting out a soft groan as she held the drying strands of hair up and pushed it to the side, she felt it tickle her nose and realised exactly why she was having trouble. It was too long.

     When did that happen? She thought to herself, trying to think back to when she last had it cut. Was it just before I started Beacon?

     She was sure that it was. But why had she not noticed until then? She normally hated her hair growing any lower than just above her shoulders, and always kept her bangs trimmed to just above her eye-line. But in the months since starting Beacon, she had been so busy just trying to stay afloat with all the work, that something as simple as a haircut had completely eluded her. Her bangs were now touching the tip of her nose, and while her hair was not laying flat on her shoulders, the tips that usually barely grazed them were bent against the skin.

     Though why did she only just now notice? If it had been that way for some time without her realising then she surely had already become used to it. Was it that for the first time in since starting at Beacon that she was actually looking at herself? Because she actually had someone she wanted to look good for? To impress? Was that really all it took to have her take more notice of herself?

     As she inspected her hair and pulled at it, knowing she wouldn't be able to afford a haircut for at least another two weeks, she let out a sigh and heard a bark from the adjacent room. Acting quickly as she knew what it meant, Ruby rushed to the door and tore it open to look into the room.

     "Zwei," she scolded the adorable little corgi that was hanging around the foot of Blake's bed and keeping the girl trapped. "Leave Blake alone."

     Watching the small black, grey, and white dog bounce over to Weiss bed, where he had slept the night before since the heiress had been so enamored with the hound since his first arrival and often refused to let five minutes go by without giving him fusses. Shaking her head at the fact that Zwei refused to leave Blake alone, despite all the attention the team gave him whenever he was there, Ruby turned back to Blake ready to apologise; only to see the raven-haired faunus staring just below her face with narrow amber eyes. Looking down to see what had caught the girl's attention, she suddenly realised that in the pondering of her hair and her rush to save Blake, she had completely forgotten she was naked from the waist up.

     The largest wave of heat she had felt in a while crashed over her and she quickly ducked back into the bathroom and slammed the door, her heart beating like she was in the middle of battle. She was certain Blake hadn't seen everything, she wasn't far enough out for that, but it was definitely a little more than she intended the girl to see so soon in their relationship. Despite that however, she couldn't help but blush a deep scarlet at the fact that Blake had been staring with a blush of her own. Had she actually liked what she'd seen? She certainly seemed like she did. But it wasn't like Blake was alone in the glances and starring.

     Ruby had caught herself staring a lot recently too. She remembered returning from Vale with Zwei the day before to see Blake doing her regular yoga exercises; but where normally the entire team was in the dorm room, Blake was completely alone and playing loud classical music. As such, she had been completely unaware of Ruby entering the room and catching her in one of her stretches. Her jaw almost dropped at the sight of Blake's long legs in the tight yoga pants, the way the muscles had flexed as she transitioned her position to one where her butt went high into the air.

     Ruby vaguely remember thinking she should ask for a lesson some time; but as her eyes began to travel up the girl's legs to places they should not be going, she barely managed to rip them away and leave the room without disturbing the girl.

     Letting out a sigh at the fact she had pretty much just slammed the door in Blake's face and potentially given the impression that she was mad for her staring, Ruby quickly grabbed her clothing from the railing and threw it on haphazardly. Straightening her hair as much as she could and twisting the door handle, she took a deep breath and pulled the door open, prepared to face her…

     Wait… What exactly are me and Blake?


 

     Though normally Blake made sure to pay attention to professor Oobleck when he talked, the combination of knowing most of the events he was detailing, along with Weiss willing to share her notes later meant she was free to let her mind wander a little. Of course there was only one place her mind could wander, and that was to her interaction that morning with the ravishing redhead sat beside her.

     After Ruby opened the bathroom door, Blake had noticed confusion in the girl's silver eyes, as well as the bright red blush on her cheeks. The moment had been tense and awkward and from the leaders body language, Blake could tell something was on Ruby's mind, but she seemed to be struggling to formulate how to say it. Fearing she may have overstepped a little, Blake had given the girl an apologetic smile and moved aside so she could exit the bathroom, something that Ruby did without looking her in the eye. Annoyed at herself for potentially already upsetting someone she genuinely liked, she had rushed into the bathroom and closed the door behind her without even bothering to look back; hoping that she could try and apologise properly once she was done getting ready.

     Unfortunately, by the time she left the bathroom fully dressed and ready for an uncomfortable conversation, Weiss and Yang had already returned. Deciding that she didn't want to talk about ogling Ruby in front of Yang, she let out a small sigh and sat on her bed to wait for her partner to get ready; vaguely aware of the heiress scolding the blonde for not returning from her night with Coco and Velvet earlier and making them late. During the walk to their classes, Blake was worried she had allowed the awkwardness to continue a little too long; but thankfully when they arrived, Ruby sat next to her just as she had done for all of the last week.

     Taking a glance to her side towards the redheaded reaper, she saw that Ruby was also not really paying attention to Oobleck's speech on the Vacuo accords compromised during the Great War. Instead she was doodling on her notebook, the sketch of their teacher holding a wrench and getting sprayed by a toilet rather terrible, but still enough to make Blake smile. Knowing that the girl would likely beat herself later for not paying attention, Blake decided she could at least talk to the girl and attempt to make her inattentiveness mean something.

     "Hey," she whispered, turning her head slightly so that she was blocking them both from Yang's sight. With intrigue in her eyes, Ruby looked up from her drawing and gave a nervous smile. "You look bored."

     "He talks so fast," Ruby whispered in return, the chuckle in her voice lifting Blake spirits and making her think that she might not have messed up as badly as she thought. "I couldn't keep up."

     "Considering your semblance, that's saying a lot" Blake smiled, head head coming down to rest on her arm and gaze into the shining silver orbs.

     "It doesn't work like that," the girl grinned and absentmindedly coloured in the cap that her drawn Oobleck was wearing. "I'll just take Weiss' notes later."

     "We could study them together," Blake said slowly, holding up her own empty notepad. "If you're okay with that, I mean?"

     "Why wouldn't I be?"

     "Well…" She whispered hesitantly, looking to check they weren't being eavesdropping on by Yang or Weiss. Thankfully they were both concentrated on taking notes, albeit Weiss more than Yang. "I uhh… I kinda thought I may have annoyed you this morning. Because I didn't look away when you were… You know."

     "What? No," Ruby replied, her whisper losing its mirth and gaining a hint of worry. "I know you didn't mean to stare. I actually thought I'd annoyed you by slamming the door on you."

     "Oh!"

     Feeling exceptionally stupid at not having realised at the time that Ruby was simply embarrassed, Blake cursed just how blind she had become around the girl. She normally considered herself a rather good judge of character, someone who could easily tell the intentions and thoughts of others. Weiss was usually obsessed with her image, maintaining it to perfection with perfect grades and fighting prowess, while Yang was usually either worrying about Ruby or looking for the next things that could offer her some excitement; but with Ruby it wasn't that simple.

     The girl clouded her mind in a way that no-one had done since she first met Adam. However, unlike Adam, it wasn't the girl's words or speeches that distracted her, though Ruby certainly had plenty of speeches, but the innocuous little actions of day to day life. The way her eyes gleamed when she smiled, the way she would hum along to fast-paced rock songs as she studied, and many other things that simply wiped Blake mind free of all she was thinking and simply made her stare at the girl and lose track of time. It was those fog inducing aspects that had caused Blake to berate herself for not having realised that her feelings were not one-sided for so long.

     "You didn't," She shook her head and gave the best smile she could muster. "I know it was just because you were embarrassed. But I still should have looked away."

     "It's fine," Ruby said with a nervous smile of her own as he cheeks flushed a little. "I'm still not sure I'm why you think I'm worth staring at though."

     Seeing Ruby flustered was so exceptionally cute that Blake couldn't help but feel the need to be a little flirty with the younger girl. So recalling a line from one of her favourite books, she gave Ruby a small grin and reached out to place her hand over the reaper's under the table.

     "Because staring at you makes me happy," she recited sincerely, though adding a very slight seductive tone to her voice. "Even when you're clothed."

     The effect was immediate and the pink dusting that covered Ruby's cheek quickly deepened to a bright scarlett as she looked down at her lap. Suppressing a chuckle at the reaction that she found adorable beyond belief, she went to pull her hand away but was surprised when Ruby's fingers tightened around her own, holding them in place as their fingers entwined. Looking back up from her lap and still a bright, blazing red that would have lit up the classroom had it been night with the lights off, Ruby gave her one of those smiles that wiped her mind and Blake happily returned it.

     "L-Looking at you makes me happy too."

     It was Blake's turn to blush a little at Ruby's words and the implication they held; but she suddenly felt incredibly happy at the girls admission and squeezed Ruby's hand under the table while she gave her a smile. However, while she returned to her notebook so that she could pretend to be taking notes as Professor Oobleck began to make his way in their general direction, Blake knew there would be no way she could ever focus on the teacher's words with the feel of Ruby's hand in hers.


 

     A loud groan of satisfaction pushed its way from Ruby's throat as she stretched her arms high above her head, the small amount of fatigue that had built up since her afternoon Grimm studies class quickly leaving them. Though the class usually followed the same basic formula, studying certain Grimm type and how best to handle them, followed by an over-the-top story from Professor Port's past before engaging in a live demonstration with some small Grimm that Huntsman had managed to cage; that days class had been much different. The portly, an adjective that Ruby found oddly fitting, man seemed to have been in a rather bad mood as opposed to his usual jovial self; so there was no studying or bombastic story, just a group of very large Ursai that each team was supposed to fight. While her team managed to take their Ursa Major apart, the fight had been a rather tough one that had left all four of them out of breath.

     "I never thought I would miss Port's stories," she groaned and let her tired limbs drop onto the table, her head quickly falling on top of them. "Why was he is such a bad mood today?"

     "Someone put a mouse in his desk drawer," Yang replied, happily munching off a plate of strawberries as Velvet tried in vain to steal some. "Me and Blake had to get rid of it for him before he destroyed the classroom trying to kill the poor thing with his axe."

     "So that's what Fox was doing with it," Velvet sighed and shook her head, though a smile appeared on her face as Yang passed her one of the berries and blew her a kiss. "It was a pretty lively one though. How long were you chasing it?"

     "Almost a minute, I think," Blake shrugged, taking a bite of her tuna sandwich. "Did give us a good run around though."

     "Like a game of cat and mouse," Yatsu chuckled to himself, only to receive a hard punch to the arm and a pointed glare from his Faunus partner. Immediately, his chuckle subsided and his face became quite sorrowful. "Bad thing?" Velvet gave him a short nod which caused him to turn his head to Blake and bow slightly. "My apologies, Blake."

     "It's fine, Yatsu."

     Though normally Blake would scowl and be very snarky to someone who made derogatory statements towards the Faunus, almost everyone who knew Yatsu also knew that he never meant to say a bad thing. Growing up in Mistral had caused certain remarks to stick with him, but it was always clear that he regretted his occasional ignorance. It was also helpful that Velvet would always let him know if he ever slipped up and said something that he wasn't supposed to say.

     As Velvet comforted her exceedingly large partner, Ruby turned to look at Blake to check she was okay and received a smile from the raven-haired Faunus; who still looked exceptionally beautiful despite the faint black bags under her eyes. Returning it happily, she heard a loud giggle from behind her and turned to see a small group of girls sat at the next table quickly looking away from them. Though she was confused at what it was about, Blake quickly cleared it up for her.

     "All they do is giggle," she said with a small amount of annoyance, her voice loud enough to make it clear she wanted them to hear her. "And I thought my social skills sucked."

     "They do," Yang replied and stuck out a tongue that had a few seeds stuck to it. "But we all love you regardless."

     "Blake's are better than yours," Ruby interjected to defend her… Dammit, what are we?

     "What? People love me!"

     "She's kinda right, babe," Velvet chuckled and took Yang's hand, despite her words earning a raised eyebrow from the blonde. "You make a lot of inappropriate jokes to people you don't know, even Coco's brother."

     "That was one time," she pouted and bit into another strawberry. "And Toma started it."

     Watching Yang fall in a relaxed conversation with her girlfriend about the time she met Coco's brothers, Ruby turned back to Blake to see one side of her bow turned towards the table behind them. Knowing that Blake had never been one to like being the center of attention, she quickly felt bad that rumors were now circulating and drawing a lot of eyes towards her. Unfortunately, while the little chuckles and giggles were annoying, what happened next was enough to make both Ruby and Blake groan from embarrassment.

     "There! They! Are!" Nora's loud voice echoed through the cafeteria; and while the girl was her friend, Ruby couldn't help but hope Nora was looking for someone else. "What's this I hear about you two going on a date without even telling your best friend Nora?"

     "Oooo, someone's in trouble," Yang chuckled at the ginger approached, the fact that even more heads had turned towards them making Ruby's cheeks warm up immeasurably.

     "Nora, I am sure they don't want their pers…"

     "Soooo, how'd it happen?" Nora's singsong voice cut off Ren's as they both sat down at the table. "I want every. Little. Detail."

     Letting out another groan at what they had avoided during class finally having come to pass, Ruby looked behind her to the girls who had been chuckling before to see that they were not looking their way; though the lack of talking on their part made it clear they were listening for the story too. However, knowing that Nora wouldn't take no for an answer, she gave Blake a glance and received a resigned shrug before telling Nora what happened. If they had only been a rumor to the students before, Ruby knew that they would certainly be no denying it from then on.


 

 

     Ruby was incredibly happy that every room in Beacon academy had its own heating system, as the idea of having to spend the night shivering from the cold was an idea that filled her with dread. There was also the issue that if the room didn't have heating, then she would require her blanket thrown over her at all times; and considering that she was sitting next to Blake studying Weiss' notes meaning they would both have to be underneath the blanket, that was yet another embarrassing situation she didn't know if she was ready to face. There had already been far too many embarrassing situations that day alone. From the incident in the morning, to Nora shouting about their relationship to the entire cafeteria, which in turn caused the girls eavesdropping to the following conversation to run off and likely tell people every word that had been said; Ruby knew she could go another month without a single embarrassing moment and be perfectly happy. Though I do wish they just wouldn't happen, she thought to herself.

     Though while she hated the embarrassing moments, none of that meant she didn't enjoy being with Blake. She still remembered their Remnant History class, the small discussion that had left her filled with relief, followed by the feel of Blake's hand slipping into hers. And that was how they stayed until the bell rang. Just like when they had walked back from their date, the physical affection had been a little awkward at first, but she had quickly adjusted to it and was disappointed when she eventually had to release it. That disappointment had partially been what made her retake Blake's hand when they sat down to study. Thankfully Qrow's training also stressed the importance of being ambidextrous, so it wasn't too difficult to continue taking her own notes with her left hand; But that didn't mean the soft, floral smell of Blake's perfume wasn't still incredibly distracting.

     "Ruby?"

     "Huh?" Looking to her side, she saw Blake's amber eye gazing into hers with a raised eyebrow. Realising she had zoned out and missed something Blake had pointed out on her notes. "Oh, sorry."

     "It's fine," Blake replied with a stifled yawn. "Just saying you got that wrong. It was General O'Shen, not General Corel."

     "Oh right, Atlesian names are really weird."

     "Hey!"

     "Sorry, Weiss," Ruby said quickly to her partner who had quickly looked over from her desk where Zwei was lying at her feet. "Yours is really pretty."

     The apology did little more than cause the snowy-haired girl to give her a scowl and turn back to her work, while Ruby heard a soft chuckle both from her side and the bed above. Turning back to the Faunus girl beside her, she saw a smirk on Blake's face and let one pull at her own as they both turned back to their notes. Correcting her mistake, she turned the page of Weiss notes; knowing that Blake had likely finished with it long ago. As she turned it, Blake let out another yawn and Ruby turned to look at her.

     "You okay?" she asked curiously. It was unusual for Blake to be so tired that she would yawn so frequently, but Ruby had also noted throughout the day that the girl seemed more sluggish than usual.

     "Yeah, just tired is all," She replied with a short nod. "I didn't sleep very well."

     "Because of Zwei?" Ruby asked, knowing that the girl struggled to adjust the last time they'd been charged with looking after the little corgi.

     Before replying, Blake wrote out something on her notepad, but Ruby could tell from the way the pen was slowly scratching across the paper that she was using the time to think out her answer. However, after the sentence was finished she gave a very small jut of her head.

     "A little."

     "Sorry," Ruby said sullenly, hating that she was putting Blake in that position.

     "It's not your fault," Blake shook her head, her voice taking on a more reassuring tone. "It's just that…" Blake paused again and let out a sigh. "It's stupid, but he growls in his sleep and it makes the hair on my neck stand up."

     "Oh," Ruby hummed, biting the inside of her lip a little. "That's dad's fault. Zwei would go with him when fighting Grimm so he's kinda always on defence mode now. But I can keep him with me tonight to stop him."

     "Thanks," Blake smiled tiredly and returned to her work.

     A couple more minutes passed in near silence, both of them simply reading the Weiss' papers and taking notes while quietly discussing certain points. As time went on, she felt the hand in hers slip slightly as Blake's eyes slowly closed and glancing at the girl beside her, she saw her start awake before repeating the process moments later. Ruby knew she should have called the study session to an end and allow Blake to get some rest, but the sight was just too intriguing that she allowed it to continue until the Faunus' head came to a gentle rest against her shoulder and Blake's breathing slowed.

     It was rare for Ruby to see Blake relaxed, the girl more often than not constantly looking over her shoulder or watching everyone like a… Would it be offensive to say cat? But looking at her now as the slow breathing shifted the threads of annoyingly long hair on her shoulder, it was hard to believe that such a girl was a trained warrior, let alone that she could ever have such a horrible past.

     The usually sharp features looked exceptionally soft as she slept, the high cheekbones muted a little as the cheek muscles relaxed and filled out the face into a slightly rounder shape, the way her perfectly sized nose flared with every breath and her lips parted slightly. Every single inch of Blake's face was perfect, something Ruby could easily see on the cover of one of the fashion magazines that had never really interested her; but how on Remnant did she manage to get such a gorgeous person to even look in her direction.

     Ruby thought of herself as rather average at the best of times, but she generally liked what Yang had always referred to as her goth-tomboy hybrid charm. She had never been one for dresses or fancy shoes, and the most she ever wore that could be considered remotely girlish was her combat dresses; but even then she often wore both her hood and a pair of boots. She knew that if Blake ever did grace the front of a magazine, then to stand beside her would make everyone question what such a beautiful person was doing with a plain girl like herself.

     But despite all those doubts, she knew that none of them really mattered for who they were. They were huntresses. Whilst huntsmen and huntresses were usually in exceptional physical condition due to their training, it didn't matter what they looked like. The Grimm certainly didn't care, the media rarely attempted to distract them due to knowing they were often busy; so maybe that was Blake's thoughts. Maybe it was because of those things that Blake didn't care that Ruby was so plain; after all, it wasn't like Ruby cared that Blake was gorgeous. Sure she liked it, and certainly appreciated it, but it was more who Blake was that she liked so much. The goodhearted woman fighting to do good despite her past was everything Ruby wanted, and whatever body that came in was irrelevant to her.

     Vaguely aware of shifting above her, Ruby reached out and removed the notepad that had fallen to Blake lap at the same time her head had fallen to her shoulder; nimbly placing the cap of the pen back into place with one hand as even thought the girl was asleep, Ruby still didn't want to let go of the warm hand in hers. Tossing her own aside to be finished in the morning, Ruby leaned back against the wall and let her head fall gently against Blake's as Yang's head appeared dangling from the top bunk.

     "Hey, Sis," the blonde whispered with a smirk, her eyebrow wiggling suggestively. "What's happening down here, huh?"

     "Shh!" Ruby hushed her loudmouthed sister, who's attempts at whispering were still almost as loud as the average person's normal talking voice. "Blake's asleep."

     "About time. I thought she was gonna pass out after Port's class," she sighed, her voice actually dropping but still loud enough to make Blake's ears flick a little at the sound. "Dad's mission should only be a couple of days so Zwei won't be here long, delivery missions are rather simple."

     Though Yang's voice was steady, Ruby knew she was just as worried about their father as she was when Coco and Velvet were away. No matter how simple a mission was, things could always go awry.

     "I know," she said with a nod, the small movement causing Blake to let out a soft hum that almost sounded like a purr, not that Ruby would ever dare bring up to her. Thankfully, the breath that escaped her the girl's lips was enough to one again disturb the much too long hair and remind her of a question she had for her sister. "Hey, Coco does her own hair, right?"

     "Yeah?"

     "Do you think she could do mine sometime? It's getting a little long and we don't really have time to go to Vale until our break next week."

     "I was about to say," Yang chuckled gently. "It hasn't been that long since you were twelve. I'll ask but I doubt she will say no. Anyway, I'm going to sleep since we had that morning practise session. Don't stay up too late."

     "Night," Ruby replied, shaking her head lightly as Yang gave her a wink.

     "Night, Snow Queen."

     Watching Weiss raise a hand in return to Yang's words, Ruby relax back into Blake and the wall and let out a small breath. Tomorrow's training session was much earlier than usual as it was the only time they could get the training room, so knew knew Yang was right in saying she couldn't stay up too late; but looking to her side, she couldn't help but want to stay where she was for a little longer. Tossing it over in her mind for a minute or two as she watched Blake sleep, she finally landed on a decision.

     Five more minutes won't hurt.

Chapter Text

     "Alright, Teeeeam RRRWBY!"

     Everybody in the room let out a low groan, even Blake herself. Though Ruby was apparently quickly recovering from her post-awakening grogginess, the rest of the team were far from catching up to the young reaper; even Yang, who was normally quite capable of receiving a random burst of energy from nowhere. While Blake had slept rather well the night before, it was very clear that Weiss had not. From what Blake could tell having found the girl splayed out on her work desk, the heiress had been up until the early hours of the morning getting ahead on some work for reasons Blake didn't know, but the resultant lack of sleep had left her in a more bitter mood than usual.

     "Keep shouting and I will glyph your mouth shut," the girl scowled venomously while stifling a yawn.

     "You should have slept earlier," Ruby replied, though her voice was definitely quieter than before as they all knew what Weiss was capable of in her current mood. "That homework is supposed to last us over break, it doesn't all need to be done now."

     "Whatever," the snowy-haired girl said dismissively and adjusted her ponytail, which was just as immaculate as always, even with the lack of sleep.

     "Sorry Rubes, but I'm with Weiss on this one," Yang groaned and stretched her arms above her head. "Just because you have unlimited energy after spending the night cuddled in bed with Blake, doesn't mean we're all eager for a five in the morning training session."

     Blushing slightly as she recalled falling asleep while studying, Blake averted her gaze away from the group and placed the book that she had brought along for the downtime on the bench, stifling a yawn of her own. While she had indeed slept rather well, she had been strangely disappointed by waking up alone. She wasn't a fool and didn't expect things with Ruby to progress as fast as things did with Adam, but the closeness was still sorely missed.

     "Well you try getting the room at a more reasonable time so close to break!" Ruby snapped at her sister and let out a low sigh, a sigh that Blake could easily tell was full of just as much tiredness as their earlier groans were. "It's not as easy as you think."

     "Alright," Blake interrupted, seeing that Yang was about retort and not wanting to see a fight between the two so early in the morning. "Why don't we take out our frustrations on the equipment instead of each other?"

     "Blake's right," Weiss scolded the two and crossed her arms. "If you two want to fight then I am going back to the room to sleep."

     "We're not…" Ruby groaned, but cut herself off as Yang moved over to one of the numerous different training equipment scattered around the room, a punching bag that hung from a rail on the ceiling. "Well I guess we are doing that today."

     The groan that escaped the redhead was also shared among the rest of the remaining girls as they all knew exactly how the next ten minutes would pass. The equipment was rather simple, but played brilliantly to Yang's strength as all that was required was to punch the bag back and forth between each person that stood on the four squares labelled out on the corners of the rail. The exercise itself however was rather popular among the students of Beacon, to the point where they had turned it into a game that involved knocking everyone out of their area until only one remained. Needless to say, Yang had quickly taken to the game and become one of the best in their year.

     Watching Weiss slump, a rare sight indeed, towards the blonde, Blake sidled up to their team leader and nudged her slightly. Seeing the silver orbs turn to her, Blake gave the girl a small smile in an attempt to cheer her up.

     "She's just tired," Blake reasoned, knowing that with a full night of sleep Yang would have backed Ruby on anything.

     "I know," Ruby sighed and looking back at the two girls, her earlier attempt at excitement abandoned and she began to make her way over to them; Blake following along. "At least they actually showed up this time though."

     The tone in which the final statement was said made Blake's ears perk up a little, though the demoralized sound made her heart go out to the girl. She knew it couldn't be easy trying to rein in a sister who was so free spirited and a partner who liked to take control of every situation she was in, but she knew that Ruby was trying her best. So taking a mental note to maybe talk to Yang about it later, Blake shook her head and joined her team; taking her place in one of the square sections.

     The game itself was rather simple. While the main goal was to knock the person from their area, there were certain rules… well, only three that really mattered.

     The first rule was easy enough. Should a person place one foot out of their area, they were out. And easy rule to understand but one that still caused a few arguments from time to time.

     The second was also a simple one, but an important one nonetheless as it kept things fair. No semblances. Aura channeling was fine, but under no circumstance were you allowed to use a semblance as those with strength based ones were at a natural advantage. That rule was one that Yang's had always said was dumb.

     The third rule however was the one that made things a little trickier. Whenever someone hit the bag to someone else, they had to call out one of two words. Block, or deflect. Should they call out for a block, the person on the receiving end would have to stop the bag completely. If deflect was called out, then the receiver would have to force it to another opponent while maintaining as much of the punchings bags momentum as possible.

     Everything else however, was fair game. People could hit the bag as hard as they wanted, and to whoever they wanted; and naturally since Beacon was a combat school, the game became rather competitive despite its simplicity.

     "Everyone ready?"

     "Let's just get this over with so we can move onto something that isn't a huge waste of time," Weiss replied to the blonde bitterly, having never really taken to the game very well.

     "You just hate it because you can't dodge it like you do everything else," Yang shrugged and prepped to start. "But unfortunately, Princess; some things just have to be blocked."

     With very little warning, Yang thrust her fist forward and sent the sandbag careening towards Weiss. Contrary to popular belief however, Weiss was rather good at blocking. With her aura constantly being trained due to her semblance playing such a huge role in her fighting style, she had almost as high a welspring as Yang herself. And though like both Ruby and Blake she preferred to dodge and deflect, the heiress wasn't afraid to spend a little to take a blow head on. So with a slight shimmer of pale blue to show her aura activating, her arms came out with her forearms crossed to stop the bag dead; a slight puff of dust billowing from the leather.

     "I don't need lessons on how to defend from someone who is always getting hit." Weiss sneered, despite having just used a block that Yang had taught her. "Deflect," rearing her hand back, Weiss used a flat-palm strike to send the bag towards Ruby.

     "By choice!"

     "Guys, enough. Deflect," Ruby groaned as she twisted her body and slammed both of her hands into the side of the leather to send it towards Yang, the move one that Blake could have sworn she had seen in on of the leader's manga.

     "It's all in good fun, Sis. Deflect," Yang replied and twisted her body similarly to Ruby, but delivered an uppercut to the bad that increased its speed notably as it zoomed towards Blake.

     "Until one of you takes it too far and the other gets annoyed. Deflect," Blake countered Yang's claim while reaching out with one hand to slow the bag enough to elbow it with her other to Weiss, having seen one of them get annoyed at the other's ribbing more times than she could count.

     "Block."

     Weiss' hands slamming into the bag and emitted a brief flash to show she had channeled some aura into the hit, something she had likely learned from Ren as the two studious students had struck up an unsurprising friendship. However, while the bag was little more than a blur as it streaked past Blake towards Yang, the blonde was practically unfazed and simply stopped it with a single hand; though the force behind it still made the wild mane of hair billow out behind her

     "Gunna take more than that, Prin…"

     "Yang!" Both Ruby and Blake said quickly, but they were too late.

     "Stop calling me that!" Weiss snapped almost immediately, her eyes flashing dangerously. "Do you always have to be so condescending?"

     The nickname was one that Weiss hated more than any other and everyone knew it. And while the team was allowed a certain leniency, just like how Blake allowed the occasion animal pun from Yang as she knew it was only playful; that leniency always came to an end when Weiss felt it was said in any way other than friendly.

     "Case in point," Blake groaned as the usual having happened yet again.

     Clearly though, even through the tiredness, Yang knew she had messed up and her face fell a little.

     "Sor…"

     "Whatever," Weiss interrupted, her tone one of indifference to show the apology was not accepted and that she was done talking.

"Will you two just stop?" Ruby cried in her own annoyance, her arms tensed at her side. "Can we just have one training session without a fight or an argument?"

"Sorry, Rubes," Yang replied with disappointment tinging her tone, though Weiss remained silent. Pulling her arm back, she punched the bag again towards the younger redhead. "Deflect."

     Beyond the rattle of chains as the bag drifted towards the girl, Blake picked up on a small sigh from Ruby's direction and changed her earlier note to definitely talk to Yang about it later. However there was unfortunately nothing she could do about it until then, so preparing to intercept the bag as it came her way, Blake resigned to simply getting the training session over in peace, something that was far more possible with Weiss refusing to talk.


     Stretching her back as she looked up from her weapon, Blake glanced over to the partners on the other side of the room. Weiss had refused to even talk to Yang since the training session, let alone sit next to her for their classes; so if only to ease the tension a little until they inevitably made up, Ruby had decided that the two should stay separate for a while so that Weiss could cool off. Much like when Blake had awoken that morning, it felt weird not having Ruby next to her for class as the girl had chosen the seat next to her everyday since their conversation on the roof, but it had produced plenty of opportunities to speak to Yang privately.

     Though she had not taken them as their first and second classes had been with Professor Goodwitch and Professor Greene, two professors who would not hesitate to give out detentions for talking in their class. However with them being surrounded by the loud noises of weapon maintenance in Professor Mulberry's class, Blake knew she couldn't ask for a better time to have a quiet conversation with her partner.

     "You know she hates that name," Blake said while cleaning the recoil spring of her for Gambol Shroud's gun, not bothering to beat around the bush as it was clear that Yang's mind was still on it by the fact she had been cleaning the same gear for almost three minutes with the occasional glance of their teammates.

     "I wasn't trying to be condescending," Yang replied with a sad sigh, finally dropping the gear to the desk and picking up another. "I was just messing around."

     "When she was tired?"

     "Yes, yes. Stupid idea, I know," Yang breathed and begun to clean the new piece of metal in her hand. "But it usually blows over by now."

     "She's under a lot of pressure at the minute," Blake said simply and slotted the freshly oiled spring back into its place. "I told you about her father."

     "And I get that she's pissed about not being able to stay over the break, but she's been so moody about everything lately," Yang replied with a shake of her head. "Hell she practically bit off yours and Ruby's head last night when you asked to borrow her notes."

     "I'm not excusing her behavior," Blake countered truthfully as it had annoyed Blake the night before too. "I'm just saying that you acting like you did this morning when you know she's in a bad mood certainly doesn't help."

     Taking a deep sigh, Blake pushed ahead on what she really wanted to talk about.

     "And it's affecting Ruby too."

     While Yang's focus had remained on her gauntlets and Weiss for their conversation, that quickly changed at the mention of her sister. Her eyes quickly glanced over to Blake and all thought of the gear in her hand was forgotten.

     "What do you mean?"

     "I mean she's having enough trouble seeing herself as a good leader as it is," Blake explained while fiddling with her weapon. "You and Weiss fighting every week and not showing up for training just makes that feeling worse."

     "Has she said something?" Yang asked, the concern in her voice evident.

     "Not lately," Blake replied, though she was disappointed that she couldn't make her tone a reassuring one. "But I saw it again this morning when she snapped at you, and I'm guessing you did too. She feels like our lives are in her hands, and she's terrified she'll make the wrong call. And honestly, if you two continue like that and keep not showing up, our teamwork slips and the odds of her fears happening increases. I've seen it happen in the past."

     "Oh."

     Yang's reply was simple, but the way she looked down in shame was more than enough for Blake to know her words had hit their mark. She loved Yang and hated making her partner feel that way, but sometimes things required a firm hand and even she had grown increasingly frustrated at the temperamental friendship Weiss and Yang shared. Occasional fighting had a way of either wearing at a relationship or strengthening it; but even though Blake knew that the two girls cared for each other, she wasn't sure which one of those things would happen if the fighting continued.

     "Guess I've been a pretty shit teammate lately, huh?"

     "Self-deprecation is my thing," Blake joked softly to ease the girl's worries a little before letting the seriousness return to her tone. "You've been fine, Yang; but these fights with Weiss need to stop. I don't need to tell you what will happen if one occurs while we are on a mission. And talk to Ruby. She could use some reassurance from her big sister who I can say without a doubt she looks up to more than anyone."

     Yang dropped the clean gear to the table and let out a sigh, the sounds getting lost in the loud noises of the classroom; but still audible to Blake. Looking up from her lap, the blonde glanced over to the pair and Blake followed her gaze to see Weiss looking pointedly away from them to clean her dust cylinder. Hearing a small groan from her side, she leaned back in her chair and shook her head.

     "I'll talk to Ruby tonight," Yang said and picked up another gear. "But I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to fix that one."

     "Probably," Blake agreed, knowing that Weiss would likely remain stubborn for the rest of the day given her lack of sleep. "You really had to call her that, didn't you?"

     "I didn't mean too," Yang said in a low voice and held up the gear to remove a small speck of red that covered the silver metal. "It just slipped out. You know I just say dumb shit sometimes."

     "Something else you should probably work on," Blake replied with a raised eyebrow.

     "I know," Yang said, the lack of a witty counter surprising to Blake. "But I guess that's still how her life seems to me. With all the stories I read to Ruby as a kid and how perfectly Weiss appears to fit the princesses from them, it keeps slipping my mind that her life wasn't like that at all."

     "I get that," Blake hummed in admittance, understanding how Yang could have that problem. "There are still days when I see her as more of a Schnee than as just Weiss, and I'm sure she still has her days where she sees me as White Fang. It honestly makes me wonder if Professor Ozpin could had made a more dysfunctional team if he tried."

     "It wouldn't surprise me if he knew what would happen before we even entered the forest," Yang countered as she started to reconstruct her gauntlet. "That guy gives me the creeps."

     "Another thing I can understand," Blake agreed and slipped the latch back onto her swords upper hinge.

     Professor Ozpin had caused her to be suspicious numerous times since she started Beacon. The man had a certain air about him, an air of knowing that bordered on clairvoyance. She remembered the meeting she had with him after her confrontation at the dock, that every answer she gave felt like a lie because he already knew more than she did; and not just about the incident, but about her herself. Despite her not mentioning it on her application, he knew she was a Faunus and from the way he talked, also knew about her past. However, while he had made no comment about it and even seemed like someone who genuinely didn't care about her heritage, there had been a quality about him that she just couldn't trust.

     "Thanks, by the way," Yang said while slipping the hammer into place. "For telling me about Ruby. She has it in her head that she has to be just as amazing as she thinks our mom was, though that's probably my fault too since I only ever told her about the good things."

     "It's fine," Blake hummed, remembering having thought during the date that Yang and everyone had left out certain details when talking about Summer. "I kinda have my reasons for not wanting her to be depressed."

     "Yes I know. You want her happy so you can be all kissy kissy together."

     "I doubt we will be getting that far until she's ready."

     "Because of Him?"

     "I know it's not the same," Blake said with a nod. "I just know what it's like to feel pressured by someone older, and I don't want that with Ruby."

     "I can say that she's definitely not feeling pressured," Yang replied, a certain cadence to her voice that implied she knew something. "So what's this thing you want her happy for anyway?"

     "Well…" Despite it being in three days, she had still not talked to Ruby or Yang about the party; and since Weiss was still refusing to go, Blake felt safe in believing the heiress had not said anything either. "Neon…"

     "Ugh."

     "... and Flynt are throwing a party in the transfer dorms, and I was thinking it might be a good second date."

     Receiving a raised eyebrow from the blonde, Blake looked away to save herself from Yang potentially seeing the blush that may have been painted on her face.

     "Ok well putting aside the fact you have known about a party and not told me about it," she said with mock scolding in her voice. "Are you of all people really considering going to a party of your own free will?"

     "I'm not completely against group interaction, Yang," Blake chuckled, casting her partner a sideways glance. "Weiss on the other hand is refusing to go."

     "Yeah, no," Yang said immediately, holding her her reconstructed gauntlet and extending it to check everything. "We may be in the middle of a falling out, but she is definitely going."

     "Figured as much," Blake replied and finished reconstructing her own weapon. "But yes, I'm pretty confident now that she won't say no, but I'd still really like her to be happy for the date."

     "Then I will make sure she is," Yang said firmly, the certainty in her voice telling Blake that there would be nothing more important to the blonde in the coming days than to make Ruby happy.

     "Thanks."

     Giving her partner and appreciative smile and earning a nod in reply, she turned to look at the younger sister across the room so see her watching them. Unlike most, the reaper's weapon was resting at her side as it had likely been finished long ago. Catching the beautiful silver orbs that were eyeing her and Yang with intrigue, she raised her hand slightly and saw a soft smile break out on the girl's face; one that she happily returned.

     With lunch being next and having not talked with Ruby much that day, Blake hoped that she would be able to enjoy her leaders company for a little while; just in case the other two members of their team needed to be separate a little longer.

Chapter Text

     Ruby took in a deep breath as she entered the workshop, the smell of Dust, metal, and smoke filling her senses and creating a sensation many would find weird given her current location. Comfort. While the loud noises, hints of sweat caused by the heat, and potential risk for random mini-explosions caused most people to be annoyed and eager to leave, the workshop was one of Ruby's favourite places in the world.

     Unlike the workshop back at Signal Academy that was little more than two rooms, the one at Beacon was huge and comprised almost an entire building. In the central room was the forge itself, the massive metal contraption constantly spewing enough heat to crack lips should someone stay close for longer than a couple of minutes. While most of the main room was stone floored, the stone partially cracked around the furnace itself, there was also an area that was tiled where numerous tables were placed so that people could sit and work on their weapons. Along the four walls were also normal looking doors, each one leading to a more private room where people could work in peace. Between each door were rows and rows of tools of all kinds, and the furthest wall was mostly a screen door that had a few fans drawing the heat out and was always drawn aside to stop the heat getting too much.

     The whole place was like heaven to her, not only because she could take care of her precious Crescent Rose, but because everyone's weapon was on full display for her to drool over with impunity. The reason she knew that wasn't exactly normal behavior however, was that her partner beside her was sighing, just as she always did when they visited the workshop. Turning to her side to watch the heiress, she saw that Weiss' nose was upturned and her eyes were staring scornfully around the room.

     "With all the money Beacon has, can they not afford a retractable roof so that it doesn't smell like the sweat has never been cleaned from the floor?" Weiss said, annoyance tingeing her tone as they made their way towards an open table.

     "It's not that bad," Ruby replied and pulled her partner to the table she favoured, mostly due to the fact that a previous student has scratched little plans into the wood, one of which was a scythe. "We're only here to do our ammo anyway so we won't be staying long."

     "I still find it incredible that you sound so sad when saying that."

     "You know I can do your dust for you if you don't want to be here?" Ruby said, knowing what the reply would be so was completely unsurprised by the fact that Weiss' scowl turned on her instead of the room.

     "You know how I feel about us all doing our own dust," the heiress replied as she sat down and placed her rapier on the table.

     "Riiight," Ruby chuckled nervously, tucking her shirt further over the three black handgun magazines stuffed into her belt before playfully reciting Weiss' words. "We all need to acquaint ourselves on the proper ways to handle dust, and know how to craft it into bullets with as little effort as snapping our fingers."

     "Don't be a pest," Weiss tutted while removing the chamber from her weapon.

     Sticking her tongue out at her partner, Ruby placed her sniper scythe on the table along with a stack of her own magazines next to it. "I'll get the dust."

     "I'm low on fire and air could you grab me some while you get yours?"

     "No problem, I got you."

     Leaving her partner behind, Ruby made her way towards one side of the room and pulled open one of the doors; a small cloud of red mist falling from the hinges. Gazing at the cupboard contents, she saw boxes upon boxes of various Dust types. The boxes themselves were made of a special material that was airtight to stop potential leaks that would result in random explosions; though enough of them tended to happen in the workshop anyway. Leaning down to pick up a basket, she filled it up with all the vials, tubes, and crystal she needed and left the room, jotting her name and what she took on the clipboard that hung on the wall.

     While most of the common forms of Dust were free for students to use, every student was required to log what they used. There were also rarer forms of Dust that weren't free. Gravity Dust was one such thing, as it was one of the rarest natural Dust types and was only found on Anima. Another was Lighting, that while could be formed with Fire and Air, the process was rather delicate, so stocks could be taken if need be.

     "So, Bestie," She said and sat down, placing the basket on the table between them. Fortunately, Weiss had already retrieved the tools they needed for the casings so she could get started on her work. "How's your day been?"

     "I spent my day with you, Ruby."

     "Yeah you did," Ruby grinned happily at the white-haired girl who rolled her eyes in response. "So it had to be amazing, right?"

     "It was what I have come to expect from a day with you," Weiss shrugged noncommittally while pulling a couple of boxes from the basket. "A muddy dress, less standing trees in the forest, and cafeteria being out of cookies after our visit."

     "So what I'm hearing is that it was super awesome," Ruby cheered as Weiss shook her head, though the scowl that had marred her features earlier was definitely gone.

     So leaving her conversation with Weiss behind as her partner had already begun the complicated process of getting the fire and air dust to bond without blowing up the table, Ruby set about making her ammunition. Pulling a few trays of casings and hollow point bullets towards her, along with some tools, Ruby gently went about crumbling the dust into smaller sections. It was tricky work as she had to be careful not to ignite it, but she made quick work of it before putting them into one of the many mortar and pestles she brought over to work with; grinding the dust into smaller and smaller parts until it was a fine powder. Once that was done, she picked up one of the rounds before putting it back down, noticing a small deflection that would cause a small issue in accuracy, picking her way between the trays she found just enough bullets for her to make about two large magazines of dust augmented rounds.

     Setting aside the hollow points that she was going to use, she picked back up the dust she grabbed and decided to do something different with one of the mags drawing inspiration from the mag that Weiss handed to Blake before the train incident. She also sneakily grabbed a tray of 9mm bullets and started grinding up a few different types of dust to make a few mixed mags of dust for the Faunus, curious as to what would be the response from the quiet girl.

     Following her inspiration, Ruby started a mag rotation of making two earth dust then one air dust and marking each with the appropriate pattern, earth to make heavy ammo and air to have knock back. It would make for an interesting combo against an opponent that relied on movement, she mused to herself. When she was finished, she started another mag of standard ice augmented rounds, well as standard .50 caliber hollowpoint sniper rounds could be, which were normally reserved for hunts that went against more heavily armored targets than she faced.

     While the work itself wasn't the most interesting, Ruby had become rather proficient at the task. Putting the dust into the tip of the hollow point and sealing everything had become such a second nature during the years that she could at least let her mind wander a little. And just like every time she had allowed it to wander lately, her thoughts turned to Blake.

     The fetching Faunus surprised her that morning by asking her to stay back in the room and talk before they left for breakfast, and she had happily obliged. To her surprise, Blake had asked her to a party of all things. Never did she think that Blake would be willing to go into a crowded room by choice, but for them to be so public when Ruby knew Blake was already struggling with the extra attention made her hesitate with her answer slightly. Fortunately Blake had been quick to assuage her caution and ensured her that she was okay with it since the whole school already knew, so her hesitancy only lasted a couple of seconds before she gladly accepted the invite. Having a second date with Blake lined up had put Ruby in such a good mood that she had dragged Weiss off to the forest to hunt Grimm and brag about the upcoming party.

     "So," Ruby said slowly, placing her crystals aside as she saw Weiss set down two yellow crystals on the table and wipe her hands clean on a towel. "Are you really thinking about not going to the party?"

     During her bragging session, Weiss had reveal her foolish intentions of not wanting to go to the event; however as her bestie, Ruby decided that it was her job to make sure her partner had some fun. Fortunately she knew that you had to take things slowly to convince Weiss of something she wasn't keen on.

     "There is no thinking, Ruby," Weiss replied and picked up a fire crystal and air crystal. "I am simply not going."

     Ruby had always found the process interesting, so watched intently as Weiss held the two crystals close to each other and began to gently channel her aura between them. She knew from experience just how volatile the process could be, so to watch Weiss delicately balance the red and white streams that were flowing into each crystal. After a couple of minutes under the heiress' care, both crystals began to change colour, the white darkening and the red lightening until they were both a striking yellow. As was normal, a few small chips had crumbled away from each crystal as it had ungone is transformation and Weiss quickly placed the new lighting crystals on the table before cleaning her hands again.

     "But why?" Ruby asked while continuing to sort out her bullets. "You can be my wingwoman."

     "Do you even know what that word means?"

     "Uhh…" Admittedly she didn't. It was a word she'd heard Yang use from time to time when talking about going on dates and had always thought it sounded cool. "Someone who stops me from embarrassing myself?"

     "Close, but no cigar, Petals," a voice said from the table in front of them, and she looked up to see Flynt standing up from the workbench to sit at theirs. "A wingwoman gets you a date, which I don't think you need."

     "Oooohhhh."

     "See, so there's no reason for me to go," Weiss said smugly and returned to her work, not even bothering to acknowledge Flynt. "Besides, even if it did mean what you thought, an entire team of wingwomen would be needed to prevent that."

     "I dunno, Schnee," Flynt chuckled amusedly and pulled his weapon from behind his back, a rather ordinary looking trumpet that Ruby knew fired Wind dust everything he blew on it. "From what I hear, you have a concert coming up. Listening to me bring the house down might give ya some inspiration."

     Watching Weiss roll her eyes as Flynt gave his trumpet a spin before placing it on the table, Ruby eyed the weapon greedily as she was extremely interested in how it worked. However, she had unfortunately learned the hard way not to touch the weapons of people who were not her friends after a third year had scolded her for getting too close to her twin chainsaw shields.

     "You are simply contributing to the reasons for me not to go," Weiss replied stubbornly, though her eyebrow raised as she gave Flynt a sassy glare. "But do you follow all of my actions, or just the ones that you can use in attempts to get me to attend a party?"

     "Please, a rare Weiss Schnee performance? All the headlines are calling it the event of the year."

     "I already performed this year," Weiss shrugged and picked up some water and wind crystals to fuse them, the process of making ice being much easier than making lightning dust. "If I could give you my spot, I would."

     Though Ruby could hear the sincerity of that statement behind the dismissive tone, Flynt clearly didn't and gave the girl a small scoff as he picked up a lightning crystal and inspected it.

     "Sure you would," he said dismissively, placing the crystal down before picking up a fire and air crystal with one hand and turning back to Ruby. "So are you and Blake definitely coming?"

     "Yang and Weiss will be there too," She replied, her eyes immediately darting to the boys hands as she noticed he had begun to transform the crystals.

     "I will not," Weiss replied with the stubbornness returning to her voice, her eyes also noticing what Flynt was doing. "What do you think you are doing? Be careful."

     "Simmer down, Schnee," he said with a shrug, not stopping the aura flow for a second. "Neon should be glad to hear Yang is coming, she ain't stopped going on about partying with her since our fight."

     "Yang loves parties," Ruby said while carefully watching the transfer, worried that he might mess up the delicate process. "She just needs to be asked."

     "Weird," Flynt hummed absentmindedly to himself. "Neon said she invited her to a couple. Oh well, the girl is zooming around so much that she probably forgot to give your sister details."

     While Ruby knew that likely wasn't the case, she decided not to mention it and instead returned to slowly making her bullets while keeping one eye on Flynt.

     "Anyway, be sure to tell her this is a school sanctioned event so there won't be any al…"

     "For Oum's sake, will you pay attention to what you are doing?" Weiss blurted out angrily, interrupting the boy's words and causing both of them to look at her.

     Contrary to Ruby's suspicions however, Flynt let out a soft chuckle and placed his hand on the table, removing it to show two perfect lighting crystals that had even less chipping than Weiss' did. The irate girl's face immediately formed into a scowl as she picked up one of the crystals to inspect it, but even Ruby could tell it was practically flawless.

     "I've been making those since I was eight," Flynt shrugged, though Ruby could definitely see it was a subtle jab at Weiss that didn't go unnoticed by the heiress. "Guess it's easy when ya got the soul for it." Picking up his trumpet and giving it a spin, Flynt stood from the table. "Anyways, I best be off, still plenty to organize. See ya both there."

     "Still not going," Weiss replied, the anger in her voice growing as she began to look much closer at the crystal.

     Giving the boy a wave as he walked away with a tip of his hat, Ruby turned to face Weiss but saw she was clearly in no mood to talk; so instead she returned to the bullets. She couldn't blame Weiss for being mad because she had seen first hand just how much effort and how many sleepless nights the heiress put into learning everything she could about Dust. So to have someone effortlessly do something that took her an immense amount of concentration had to be a massive blow to her ego. That would be like me meeting someone who can put a weapon together faster than I can, Ruby thought to herself.

     "Ruby," the annoyed voice come from her side and Ruby immediately felt a sense of dread washed over her as she realised exactly what had caused it. "Why are you making nine millimeter rounds?"

     Uh oh, was the only thought that went through her head.

Chapter Text

     "Out."

     "What?" Ruby whined at the direct order from her sister as one hand firmly held her shoulder while another held Blake's. "Why?"

     "Me and Weiss need to talk."

     "No we don't."

     "You talked two days ago," Ruby countered as Yang's strength succeeded in getting both her and the quiet girl with her out of the room. Once they were out, she turned on her sister and gave her a serious look. "Are you two fighting again?"

     "No, but you want her to go to the party, right?"

     "Y-Yeah?"

     "Great," Yang replied with a smile. "So give me an hour to do my big sister thing and I promise I will get her to go. While I'm at it, you two can go have an impromptu date and cuddle in the corner of the library or something."

     "Yaan…"

     Before Ruby could reply and say they should at least try and convince Weiss together, the door was closed in their faces and the sound of the chain sliding into place told her that it wouldn't open again until the battle inside was won.

     "The library did get a new supply of books today," Blake said from behind her, Ruby's attention quickly switching back and forth between helping Yang and the fact that Blake was actually talking about doing what Yang had suggested.

     "But what about those two?" Ruby said feebly, struggling to decide which of the two things she wanted to do more.

     "They sorted out their issue the other day, and Yang knows she messed up," Blake replied with a small shrug. "Do you really think Yang will fail to get her to go?"

     "I… Well, no," Ruby admitted, awkwardly pressing her fingers together. "But she's my partner, shouldn't I be the one convincing her to have a good time? Like Yang did with you."

     "Maybe," Blake said thoughtfully and leaned back against the wall. "But as her friend, you should also know when someone else can reach her in a way you can't. Getting her to agree to go will be an argument, one Yang is willing to have. Are you willing to fight with her over something that is, for all intents and purposes, not that important to her?"

     Thinking over the question for a second, Ruby also leaned back against the door while Blake waited patiently. It was true that the party really didn't mean much to Weiss, and it was more that Ruby and Yang wanted her to take some time off from the work she had been so invested in lately, but Ruby did feel strongly about her taking a break. However, she also knew she had a habit of caving to Weiss' annoyance and dropping things. When the girl had become frustrated with Flynt in the workshop, Ruby had completely abandoned her efforts to convince the heiress to attend the party.

     "If you want to go back in there and help Yang, then I'll join you," Blake said softly, her amber eyes glinting kindly to match her tone. "But it doesn't make you a bad friend, partner, or leader to let Yang handle this."

     A deep sigh escaped Ruby as she pushed herself off the door. Though Yang had locked the door, her Scroll could easily unlock it; but Blake was right, Yang had it handled. To go in and gang up on her was likely to make Weiss fight against it harder; so resigning to let her sister handle things, Ruby took a step away from the door to indicate she was willing to go to the library. Receiving a smile from the Faunus that only made the decision easier, she watched Blake join her side and begun the short walk to the library.

     It wasn't particularly late, but the nighttime chill still hung in the air as they stepped outside causing Ruby to quickly stuff her hands into her pockets before her fingers froze off. Silence filled the darkening courtyard, a silence Ruby wasn't particularly fond of as she thought they should be over them already. So racking her brain for a topic, she easily found what seemed to be an obvious one considering what was happening soon.

     "Sooo…" She said slowly and turned to look at Blake beside her, the only clue that the raven-haired beauty wasn't gliding being her hips that were gently swaying with each step she took. "This party. Is there a dress code? Or is it just whatever we want?"

     "It's Neon's party, so I doubt it," Blake replied while putting her own hands into her pants, that were in turn tucked into what Ruby considered to be a very hot pair of thigh-high boots that only accentuated the girl's long legs.

     "Gotcha," she smiled, dragging her eyes away from the boots and focusing on the building ahead of them that they were making their way towards.

     "Are you nervous?" Blake asked carefully, Ruby spotting the amber eyes flicking over to her.

     "About the date?" Ruby hummed despite knowing exactly what Blake was referring to, but receiving a nod nonetheless. "A little. I mean… I am looking forward to it, but I know you don't like crowds. I'm fine with a movie, you know?"

     "I know," Blake smiled, the action bringing a smile to Ruby's own face. "But like I said this morning; I might not like the extra attention from people, but I like having fun with all of you. Especially you."

     Even though she had heard it that morning, the admission still filled Ruby with a gentle warmth. Feeling a rush of braveness filled her at the words, she slipped a hand from her pocket and let it hang at her side as she silently let herself close the distance between her and Blake. Fortunately Blake saw the hints, and it only took a couple of seconds for Ruby to feel the girl's long fingers slip between her own. With happiness joining her bravery, Ruby let herself sidle a little closer until her forearm grazed against Blake's.

     While Ruby still had the urges to go a little further with the girl, she had been keeping them in check. Something that had proved very difficult in the past few days. The day before, she had received a totally unjust lunch-time detention that had mostly been Yang's fault for making her laugh; but when it had finished, she'd exited the classroom to find Blake standing there with lunch for her. The two of them had then proceeded to eat together in the corner of the empty classroom for their next class. Ruby had actually really enjoyed the lighthearted conversation, and only realised how close the two had begun to sit near each other when other students began to pile in. Needless to say they had quickly rectified that, but Ruby couldn't help lament the fact that she had missed out on what felt like a golden opportunity.

     "Me too," she mumbled, letting the heat radiating from Blake hand wash over her a little. "With you, I mean."

     "Good to know that I haven't bored you yet," Blake chuckled in response as the two of them pushed their way into the library, the warmth of the room immediately enveloping them and pushing away the icy chill that had clung to their skin.

     "You're not boring," Ruby grinned at the girl as they quickly made their way to the New section near the counter. "A little mysterious, but I like it."

     "I thought you didn't like mystery novels?" Blake joked with a smile, her shoulder bumping into Ruby's as she moved aside so that another student could get past.

     "But you're not a book," Ruby laughed.

     "All people are books, Ruby," Blake teased as they entered the shelves that held the new collection and began to leaf through them. "We all hold stories that someone can only learn by progressing further into who we are; and as with books, there are many times where we must read between the lines to find a meaning."

     "But books don't change, people do," Ruby countered, feeling smug for having something to counter Blake for once.

     "Or have they just not yet finished being written?" Blake retorted quickly, pulling a thick novel from the shelf and giving it a brief glance before putting it back. As Ruby struggled for a comeback to that one, Blake face split into a grin and Ruby realised Blake had been messing with her.

     "Pfft," Ruby breathed humorously and pulled a weapon manual off the shelf one she had already read, but it never hurts to have a refresher. Fortunately the time she took to retrieve it gave her enough time to think up the perfect comeback. "I should have known you would never compare people to books. You like books."

     The amazing sound of Blake's laughter filled her ears as she stuck out her tongue at the beautiful girl. With the sound, a glint of gold passed over Blake's amber eyes as she seemingly spotted a book high up on the shelf which she reached out to grab and hide behind her back before Ruby could even see the cover. Though admittedly that was mostly because Blake had stretched to retrieve it and Ruby had quickly become distracted.

     "I like some people," Blake chuckled turning around as Ruby dragged her eyes away from Blake's form for the second time that day. "So, you got a book?"

     "Yup," she replied, holding up the book slightly higher than necessary to hide the slight blush. "What about you?"

     A slight mischievous grin formed on Blake's face as she slowly moved the book she had retrieved into view for Ruby to see. She recognised it immediately. The large man covered in brown fur wearing a blue waistcoat and the smaller girl in a yellow dress were forever imprinted on in her memory, and the only acknowledgement she could give that Blake would be willing to read a book she had mentioned was a brief nod of her head. Thankfully it was enough and Blake gently began to pull her along to a spare table, where Ruby knew she likely would be unable to focus on her own book.


     The gentle sound of metal sliding against metal rang through the tiled bathroom as Ruby sat in her chair, a towel wrapped around her shoulders to protect her from falling locks of freshly dyed, red hair. While her usual hairdresser normally cut it first and then dyed it, Coco insisted on doing the opposite so that she knew where she was cutting to make her hair look the best. The process had actually been a long one, with most of it spent in the bathroom, and Ruby had been half worried that she would make her team late for the party; but thankfully her sister's girlfriend had assured her that she was almost finished.

     Looking into the small mirror that Coco placed in front of her earlier, Ruby inspected the work so far and had to admit to herself that she really liked it so far. Though she'd told the older girl to simply trim it so that the annoyingly long hair was no longer in her face, Coco was quickly to silence her with a wave of her hand and plonk her into the seat. The result so far was that many parts of her hair were shorter than usual, but not to a weird degree. While her fringe stopped higher than she usually liked it, her fellow team leader compensated by leaving the right side a little longer and making it gradually shorter as she moved over to the left side, which fell just below her ear. Many places were cut at what Ruby had considered odd angles at first, but the longer Coco worked, the more sense it seemed to make.

     A couple of minutes ago, Coco paused what she was doing to ruffle her hair slightly. And along with a small shower of stray hairs, it showed Ruby exactly what the woman was going for. With less than a little effort, the hair had immediately looked windswept; like she'd ran a mile using her semblance. It was an effect that Ruby really liked, and made her really glad Coco had agreed to help her.

     "So, Red," Coco said teasingly and gently snipped away another small lock of hair. "Almost done. You excited to show it to your date?"

     "Yep," Ruby said truthfully; however her tone quickly faltered as while she really was excited, there was still something bugging her from the last date. "Coco, can I ask you something?"

     "Sure," The girl replied, holding up another piece of hair and carefully snipping the ends a few times. "What's up?"

     "Well… Umm," Ruby paused. What she wanted to say had the potential to come off in a way she didn't mean and imply something she wasn't ready for yet; so after taking a second to think, she finally found the words she needed.

     "Well, when you and Velvet first started dating, How did you… How did you handle going back to a shared room after a date? I mean… wasn't it awkward when you got back and wanted to do… more, but couldn't?"

     "And what exactly is it that you want to do?" Coco replied carefully and dropped the cut pieces of hair to the floor.

     "Not that," Ruby quickly rectified, stunned at her own ability to mess something up even after having thought it out. "I just mean… I want to maybe go a little further than hand holding…"

     "Like kissing?"

     "Yes," Ruby sighed. "But when we got back, it still felt like we were on the date and if we kissed then things might be misunderstood because we are on the beds in the room and Weiss was there and it just felt very weird because I didn't know what to do."

     "So you wanna know how you can tell if the date is over or not when you are back in the room?" Ruby gave a small nod. "Well then, first off, both of us know Blake isn't expecting anything from you that you're not ready for."

     "As for knowing when the date is over, me and Velvs are hardly a good reference. That girl looks innocent, but she's… Well I'll spare you the details," A small giggle escaped Ruby at Coco's words as the older brunette continued to work her hair. "But honestly, I think the right answer is never. You two aren't going on dates, you're dating. That means every second you have together is practically a date because you're trying to get to know each other more and enjoy yourselves. That doesn't end with the closing of a door, or leaving a restaurant. So no matter what the moment is, whether you have just had a romantic meal, an average conversation, or even a sweaty dance in a room filled with classmates; If the moments feels right for you to progress further, take it. And if the room is filled with people, all that means is they get to witness one of your happiest moments."

     "Doesn't stop it being embarrassing though," Ruby sighed, though Coco's words had helped some.

     "I guess not for the first time," Coco laughed, giving the scissors in her hand one last flourish along Ruby hair before spinning them on her finger and tapping her shoulder. "But with time you will learn not to care who sees."

     "So long as they don't see too much," Ruby jabbed at the older woman, who had once walked out of their bathroom in nothing more than a pair of shorts.

     "Ahh, I see Yang inherited all the adventurous genes," the woman teased back and pulled the towel away, holding up a mirror to the back of Ruby's hair to show the amazing job she had done back there too. "Alrighty, all done, Red. Give it a quick rinse to get rid of the stray hairs and then you can go show off to your girlfriend."

     "Thank you for doing this for me."

     "No problem. Now I'm gunna go say hi to my girlfriends, and maybe catch a sneak peak of them getting dressed."

     Letting out a laugh at Coco's joke while the woman gave her a wink and slid on her sunglasses, Ruby watched her go to leave the room and quickly put her hand out to stop her.

     "Coco," though the dark shades now blocked her eyes, Ruby could tell an eyebrow was raised as she turned to look at her questioningly. "Umm… I'm glad Yang found you and Velvet. She seems really happy."

     Coco looked at her for a couple of seconds, the shades blocking any reading Ruby could do of the woman's face; but finally a smaller, more coy smirk that Ruby had never seen Coco wear before overcame her face.

     "She makes us happy too, Rubes. She was there for us after everything that happened at Lower Cairn, and I don't think either of us can let her go now."

     Nothing more needed to be said, so the two girls exchanged a simple smile before Coco finally left the room. Letting out a sigh of relief at how much lighter her head felt with the excess hair removed, Ruby looked in the mirror and mimicked Coco's earlier action of ruffling her new haircut. A few more strands of hair fell away, but the result was the same windswept look from earlier and a wide grin spread across Ruby's face as she turned the shower on and prepared to wash it.

     Ten minutes later, Ruby slipped her belt strap through the double-pronged buckle to fix her skirt into place before looking in the mirror. The outfit she had chosen was one of her favourites for colder weather as the material was deceptively warm. A warm grey blouse covered her upper half, her black cincher worn over top to push up her bosom a little, and on her bottom half was a bright red skirt that hid the pair of connected shorts beneath. A pair of tights dark fussy tights covered her legs and was tucked into one of her favourite black, steel-toed, thigh-high boots. As usual, her cape was affixed to her back. A brief glance in the mirror showed her that the look worked well on her; so running her hand through her now dry hair again and adjusting her fingerless gloves and bracers, Ruby gave herself a smile and walked towards the door to show off her newest look.

     "Sooo!" Ruby said happily and walked out of the bathroom with her eyes closed. "How do I lo…"

     Opening her eyes was a huge mistake. Perhaps the biggest mistake she could possibly made in her current situation. Though she had already knew it, the sight that greeted her once again proved that she was dating the most beautiful girl in the world. Blake didn't own many clothes, clearly a byproduct of her being on the move so often with the White Fang, but yet she had still somehow found an outfit for the event that Ruby had never seen on her.

     A sleeveless, chocolate brown tailcoat was the most prominent article, the material fastened just under the girl's bust by delicate looking strings. At the bottom of the coat section was the tail, it's hem obviously frayed on purpose to add style. Beneath the regal looking coat was an equally regal looking white shirt that was also sleeveless judging by the small golden pauldrons that covered her shoulders; the only fabric visible in the area being some bandages that were clearly for show. The things that made Ruby warm up inside the most however was Blake's legs. Each one was slipped into a long thigh-high, heeled boots with laces running alluringly from the toes all the way up the front. Underneath were what Ruby assumed were a long pair of black socks, the top of them connected to the girl's gold hemmed, white shorts by a strap that Ruby could swear would torment her should she stare for too long.

     The entire outfit was wonderful, keeping the ninja aesthetic Blake was fond of but adding in a large dash of warrior princess that was dangerously close to making Ruby's head explode should she look much longer. So it was with a huge struggle that she dragged her eyes away from the Faunus's legs to look into her eyes, only to find Blake staring at her with just as much wonder. All of her confidence vanished despite the look, and she nervously reached up to twist a lock of much shorter hair around her finger. Fortunately, Blake was the first to break out of her stupor and take a step towards her.

     "Y-You look great," Blake whispered, her voice clearly struggling to form the words as her eyes darted up to Ruby's new haircut. "Your haircut looks… Amazing."

     "Th-Thank you," Ruby squeaked nervously, feeling her face heat up when the amber eyes caught hers again as Blake reached up to touch the tip of one of her spikes. "Y-You look incredible too… L-Like a Faunus princess."

     A large smile stretched across Blake's face and Ruby felt the tiniest amount of skin graze her cheek after leaving the strands of hair behind. She could tell immediately that Blake could feel how hot it was.

     "W-Well.. I kind…"

     Before Blake could finish her words, the moment was interrupted as the door swung open and Weiss walked in, looking just as amazing as she usually did. Just like the rest of them, Weiss had opted for one of her more formal outfits.

     The light blue dress that petered off at the front only to flow out at the back was very fitting her her tone and contrasted well with the dark blue coat that only covered one side of her chest and white belts that stretched across her stomach. Long, black gloves adorned each arm up to the elbow and similarly long white boots cover her legs up to her knees. She had also done something that was exceedingly rare and switched her ponytail into a long braid that reached her lower back, the thick top and thinner bottom of the braid somehow showing just how much longer the silken strands would be had it not been contained. If Blake only had hints of a warrior princess look, then Weiss had most certainly taken the rest.

     "Finally!" She said immediately upon seeing her, her back straightening as an eyebrow raised. "We have five minutes to get there."

     "Uhh…" Letting out a slight cough as she recovered from the earlier moment with Blake, she turned to her partner. "The party won't get started properly for at least thirty minutes."

     "And yet it starts in five," Weiss argued stubbornly with a hand on her waist. "It is you lot who want me to go to this thing, and I refuse to be late to anything. Even if it is… Fashionable."

     "Alright," Blake sighed with a nod and moved back a little, reaching over to grab her wallet from the desk and slipping it into her coat. "What about Yang?"

     "She is meeting us there with Coco and Velvet."

     Without further word, Weiss left the room, her braid making a loud thud as it struck the wall.

     "Welp, guess we are going to be the first ones there," Blake said before giving Ruby a charming smile. "Are you ready?"

     Biting her lip, Ruby held out her hand and gave a slight nod. With a much wider smile this time, Blake took it with her own and the two of them left the room together. Ruby had no idea what would happen during the party, but if she knew that if she didn't kiss Blake by the end of the night that it would forever haunt her.

Chapter Text

     Blake wasn't used to seeing a common room so empty as the one for the first year dorms was almost always occupied. With training for a hunter being such a drain on the body, it wasn't uncommon for her to walk into their common room and see some students asleep on the couches due to not having the energy to make it to their rooms. But the transfer-student's dorm weren't like that at all, though the current state was likely the result of the set up for the party. All the furniture had been pushed to one end of the huge room, the large cushy chairs sat facing each other so that conversation was easier and the smaller desk chairs surrounding numerous small tables, leaving the majority of the room a wide open space. On the other end was a slightly raised area that had obviously only been constructed as a stage for the party, large speakers on each side that looked like the same ones from the Vytal dance. Along one of the walls was a long table, laden with enough bowls of punch and food that it wouldn't surprise her if there were plenty of leftovers at the end of the night.

     The hosts of the party stood near the table, Neon arranging the food while talking excitedly to Flynt, who noticed them immediately; not that it was difficult in the empty room. Though Flynt was dressed in his usual attire, Neon had decided to ditch her usual blue crop top in favour of a bright, multicoloured band shirt. Tapping his partner on the shoulder, both of them finished up what they were doing and made their way over, Neon gliding effortlessly on her roller skates. While they were against the rules to wear to class, the girl tended to wear them everywhere else and Blake had watched her weave gracefully through dense crowds numerous times despite them.

     "Hey girls," Neon said happily with a spin before coming to a full stop, her eyes flicking down towards Blake's hand which was still holding Ruby's. "Awww, you two're so cute. But you're early?"

     "Weiss' fault," Blake replied while Ruby blushed, the accused girl walking into the room through the door behind them.

     "There is nothing wrong with being early," the heiress said dismissively and placed a hand on her hip. "You're lucky I even came at all."

     "I never doubted you would, Schnee," Flynt replied as he finally caught up with his partner, a confident smirk on his face. "Nice dress though."

     "And suddenly I want to leave," Weiss rolled her eyes as she turned to Blake. "I'm going to get a drink before everyone sweats in it."

     "Alright," she replied, though Weiss had already begun to walk away.

     "Teach me for trying to compliment her."

     "Didn't the last girl you gave a compliment to respond the same way, Flynt?" Neon laughed and poked her partner in the shoulder.

     "Yeah, yeah. Go finish up the food."

     With a twirl of his hand, the boy's trumpet emerged from behind his back. Quickly pressing it to his lips, he pointed it at Neon and played a note causing a tunnel of wind to erupt from the end and send the laughing girl rolling back towards the table. With a grin, he placed his trumpet back in its holster and turned back to them.

     "Anyways, I'm gonna go finish sorting out the speakers, make yourselves comfortable."

     With a nod, the boy walked towards the makeshift stage leaving Blake alone with Ruby. Unlike their first date, Blake didn't feel much awkwardness; but even still, standing on an empty dance floor with no music would inevitably cause such an emotion to arise should they linger too long. So giving the beautiful girl at her side a smile she slowly motioned to the comfy chairs and the two of them made their way over. As they walked, Blake thought on what had happened moments prior when Ruby had left the bathroom.

     When the girl had finally emerged from her haircut, Blake's mouth had almost hit the floor. Due to spending every day with her, she'd failed to recognise just how long Ruby's hair had become since the first time they met, but she had to admit that the shorter hair looked much better. For some reason it suited her style much more, made her softer features look stronger and more confident. Her outfit was by far the most different thing. Blake had seen different parts of it over the months, but everything put together looked incredible. The part she'd found her eyes were drawn to the most had been the shorts and boots, both things covering enough to keep her warm but leaving a gap where her tights-covered thighs were visible. The dark material may have hid the pale skin of the toned limbs, but the effect was still alluring all the same.

     The whole thing had caused Blake's mind to instantly fog over to the point where her body acted of its own accord. She was barely aware that her legs were moving towards the girl, and only realised where she was when a lock of the freshly cut hair was between her fingers. It was at that point she told herself to move away, unfortunately her body had different ideas and her hand made its way to Ruby's cheek. She wanted nothing more than to kiss her there and then, to give in to an urge that had been rising more and more over the last week; and had Weiss not walked in when she did, she may have finally succumbed. And she would have been kicking herself the entire date had she submitted to those urges, simply because she'd have broken her one promise to herself.

     Blake knew that the relationships weren't the same, that her past relationship with Adam was nothing like the one she was currently in with Ruby; but that didn't stop the worries. She remembered how it felt to think it was necessary to show the man affection, that sometimes in order to earn his attention she would feel the need to go the extra mile, even do things that she knew now she wasn't ready for at the time. And though she knew that Ruby didn't feel that way, Blake couldn't shake the power difference. Ruby was the team leader, in charge of everything but constantly worried about the team falling apart; what if she felt that kissing Blake was required to make sure to show she was interested and avoid a weird situation? The very idea of Ruby feeling even a little like the way she once had made her sick, so she'd decided to wait for the reaper to make the first move.

     Though if she was honest with herself, she really hoped it would be soon. Not because she thought Ruby was uninterested, she knew she was, but because Blake had no idea just how much longer she could keep her urges in check.

     "The decorations look nice."

     The words from her side quickly snapped her out of her wandering mind and she turned to face Ruby, the girl's eyes gazing around the room at the rainbow decorations that were hung from the ceiling. In the middle was a giant disco ball that Blake also believed was at the Vytal dance.

     "Yeah," she replied while sitting down, her hand finally breaking from Ruby's as she sat in a chair opposite; though not before a couple of seconds of clear indecision. "Definitely Neon's doing."

     "She really likes rainbows, huh?"

     "It's her semblance," Blake said absentmindedly, but saw Ruby give her a confused look. "She can induce a state of happiness on herself. She activated it while looking at a rainbow. It's why she can create the rainbows on her skin and that trail she used in the semi-finals."

     "Like Ren's?"

     "Sort of," Blake hummed, remembering thinking Neon's was quite similar to Ren's ability to mask emotions when she first heard of it. "Not sure if she can use it on others though."

     "Still, pretty handy for not attracting Grimm," Ruby said happily, her infatuation with all things weapon and semblance related shining adorably through.

     "Yeah, Flynt has her run recon on missions."

     "Ooo! That's a smart choice," Ruby said thoughtfully, clearly taking a mental note to talk to the boy about it. "Flynt's semblance is like yours and Sun's right? What's that like? I've never actually met anyone with a semblance like mine."

     "I dunno," Blake shrugged, honestly unsure what to think of it. "I've met quite a few people with a clone type semblance, they've all had their own little twist to it though. Sun can create four and control them completely but he can't move while doing it, Flynt can also create four but they only mimic his own actions. Flynt has an accent though, like your petals. The clones have different colours and he can choose which he is when they rejoin him. Here you go."

     As luck would have it, Blake had looked towards the boy in question to spot him in the mirror holding up his yellow tie. She had seen him switch enough time that she recognised the action so quickly pointed it out to Ruby. Though he was all the way across the room, the two of them still saw him split into four for a brief moment before reforming, both his tie and the band of his hat turning a lime green.

     "Woah," Ruby breathed and watched him give him hat a flick before walking away from the mirror. "That's so cool!"

     "Yeah, his accent is pretty cool," Blake smiled, turning away from Flynt to watch at Ruby again. "Speaking of accents, how's yours going? Any luck with the splitting?"

     One of the things Ruby had been busy practising during their sessions, and in private, was her semblance. Apparently what Blake had done during their private session all those weeks ago had spurred her to find a unique use for her own, and the thing she'd finally decided on was using her petals as a distraction. It was a clever idea as the petals were always created when her semblance activated anyway.

     "Kinda," she smiled. "I can get my petals to branch off now, but controlling where they go is a little tough. But I managed to hit a target with them yesterday, though I think that was an accident."

     "That's still great," Blake said with a chuckle, highly doubting that it was an accident as Ruby had a tendency to catch up on things rather quickly when she really tried. "You know I've never asked, but what is with the petals? Where they always there?"

     "Mmmmm," Ruby hummed. "I dunno why I make them, they kinda fluctuate though. Sometimes there are loads, but if I use my semblance too much then I can only make a few. When I first activated my semblance I pretty much covered an entire cliff-side with them."

     "I guess it's lucky they fade after a minute," Blake laughed, keeping to herself that it sounded exceptionally beautiful. "How did you activate you semblance anyway?"

     "I dunno, it kind of activated on its own," Ruby said thoughtfully, her eyes flicking to the doorways where a second year couple had just arrived. "I was fourteen, so two years ago, and me and my dad were visiting mom's grave. I'd just finished talking to her, it's not as weird as it sounds I promise," Blake gave a shake of her head as she didn't find it weird at all. "But I was running back to dad when I tripped over a rock and everything turned red. I thought it was blood at first, but I guess my dad caught me and because when the red cleared he was holding me against his chest on the floor."

     Staring at the girl opposite her, Blake raised her eyebrow slightly as it seemed that maybe Ruby had failed to note a possible cause. She understood why of course, as the girl had grown up with the name Rose, so it would have been easy to simply overlook the connection to her mother there. Though Blake could potentially be reading into things. She wasn't particularly superstitious or religious, despite having heard many tales of magic and gods in her journeys, but some things were hard to describe with logic. For Blake, it was entirely believable that the recent thoughts of the girl's mother could have influenced her semblance in some way.

     "What about you?"

     The question brought Blake back out of her head for the briefest of moments before plunging her straight back into memories she wanted to forget. She had expected the question to be returned, but while Yang already knew the truth, it wasn't really something she wished to discuss on a date. Thankfully, staring into the silver eyes of the beautiful girl opposite her made it much easier to push them aside.

     "Oh, I uhh… I was scared and fell over," Blake said simply, not mentioning who had scared her or why. "It was the first shadow I left behind."

     "It sucks that you had to be scared."

     "Yeah," Blake agreed with a small nod of her head as more people arrived.

     "And you don't have any accents that I, your super awesome team leader, should know about?"

     "If you mean like your petals, Flynt's colours, or Yang's hair? No," She smiled honestly. "Mine just propels me a little and allow me to double jump."

     "Which I'm still jealous of," Ruby laughed. "I need Crescent Rose's recoil to do that."

     "You still do it really well," Blake chuckled and stood up. "Maybe we should get a drink? Weiss kinda has a point that the punch is about to get rather gross with everyone helping themselves."

     "Sure," the girl grinned and rose to join her. "I hope they have strawberry."

     Smiling to herself at the joint love of strawberries the two sister's shared, Blake set off at a gentle stroll towards the food table with Ruby at her side; their conversation continuing as they discussed the semblances of their fellow students. She liked that it was something so simple, yet something that was innately Ruby. Something that helped give her more insight to how the girl viewed the world with her takes on each one. It was something she could easily get lost in while waiting for other people to arrive and the party to get started; so get lost in it she did.


     Taking a sip of her drink as she leaned against the wall, Blake looked around the room. Compared to when they'd first entered, there were far more people filling the floor. In fact, by the time they had retrieved their first drink, so many people had shown up that all the chairs were occupied. However, despite at least thirty minutes having passed from then, Yang had still not arrived. Not that she had noticed the time fly by all that much due to being engrossed in conversation with Ruby, but with the girl gone to snatch some cookies from the food table before people stole them all, Blake found herself alone and watching the crowd of people talking amongst each other.

     She didn't like crowds, and for good reason. While many assumed that it was because of her reclusive nature, something that definitely contributed, it was more that crowds were easy to blend into; that was a fact she had learned the hard way when someone had snuck into a camp they had taken refuge in during a celebration. Where normally his unfamiliarity and fake ears would have been noticed immediately, the cheery crowd had been too distracted enjoying themselves that he went unnoticed; and by the time they did, it was too late. Two people had already died, unable to activate their aura in time, and a third was severely injured. It was only after he had been taken care of by stronger members that someone recognised him as someone who'd been giving Faunus travelers issues.

     What had been a joyous celebration quickly turned into a wake. It was that reason Blake hated crowds, and even though she knew nothing like that would happen at Beacon, she still couldn't help but scan the face of every person who had gathered in the room. Many she knew, older Beacon students she'd seen around school, she even recognized a lot of the visiting students.

     Team BRNZ from Shade Academy were occupying some chairs near a table, three of the members talking and laughing while the girl she remembered was called May sat off to the side fiddling with what looked like a gun barrel, the beanie covering one eye giving Blake pause before she remembered the girl was a sniper who was used to watching the world with one eye.

     Team ABRN had taken up residency by an empty bookcase, Reese Cloris sitting on her hoverboard and throwing her a wink as their eyes met. Just after the tournament, Reese had appeared in front of her one day and asked her on a date, and though Reese was really quite attractive, Blake had not been interested in a relationship at the time and politely turned her down. Fortunately the green-haired skater took it well and the two had sparred a couple of times since.

     There were a few more teams she recognised too. Team NDGO of Shade were sat near a window talking to Team ROBN, also of Shade. The rest of Team FNKI had finally arrived and were sorting out the last of the music issues, Ruby's friend Penny and her partner Ciel aiding where they could; though it looked to Blake like Penny was staying far away from the speakers for some reason. The rest of the students were ones that were likely participants in the tournament who's fights she didn't see.

     "Sup, Blake?" She heard from behind her, the familiar voice warm and upbeat.

     Turning around she saw one of her closest friends walking towards her, his spiky blonde hair glowing as a light passed over him briefly. Behind him was his team, Scarlet, Sage, and Neptune, each one dressed in their usual attire.

     "Hey, Sun," Blake smiled back, always happy to see the boy. "I thought you would be here earlier to help Neon?"

     "Team training with Port," he said, glancing over her shoulder and around her back. "Why are you alone? I thought this was yours and Ruby's second date."

     "She's just getting some food."

     "Gotcha."

     "Hey, Blake," Sage said as he caught up with his leader, though his eyes quickly darted over to the stage. "Girl's opinion, how do I look?"

     "Very nice," Blake chuckled, giving him a once over. "You at least put on a shirt this time."

     "Told you," he said to Sun who rolled his eyes and shrugged. "I think she thought I was showing off last time."

     "I hear Penny says she likes timepieces," Blake offered him, knowing Sage had been crushing on Ciel since the girl had arrived.

     "Timepieces?" He said, a noticeable uptick in his voice as he rolled up his sleeve to reveal the old Atlas numerals tattooed on his arm. "I can do that."

     With that Sage began to walk away, and as she watched him walk away, she felt her own smile widen as Ruby could be seen weaving her way through the crowd with two small plates of food. Seeing her approach, Blake finally pushed herself off the wall and held out a hand to accept the plate once she was nearby.

     "Sorry I was so long, I was talking to Fox about his blades," Ruby smiled and picked up a cookie from her plate of food, that was mostly cookies.

     "Wherever you go, I always expect you to get caught up in a conversation about weapons," Blake teased, earning a cheeky grin from her girlfriend.

     "Hey, Sun," Ruby said after sticking her tongue out a little. "I think Neon is looking for you."

     "Don't blame her," Sun replied in a bragging tone. "I'm headed off then, see you later. Catch up with you guys lat…"

     His words cut off as he clearly noticed that Scarlet and Neptune had already wandered off into the crowd. Upon finding his team had ran off to do their own thing, he gave another shrug and a short wave before heading off to find his girlfriend. Finally alone again, or as alone as they could be in a room packed with people, Blake picked up what looked to be a small tuna sandwich and took a bite.

     "I didn't see these when we were over there earlier," she said curiously to the girl who was happily munching away on a second cookie.

     "Neon has a private stash and let me take some," she grinned, her silver eyes shining proudly. "So has Yang arrived yet?"

     "Nope," Blake said with a shake of her head. "I don't think she'll be much longer though. She never misses a party."

     "Mmm," Ruby hummed finishing the cookie and wiping her hand on her skirt. "Dunno what's taking her so long though. Probably still doing her hair."

     "Most likely," Blake replied hollowly, believing something else in her girlfriends' room may have held up the blonde. "So what were you and Fox talking about his blades for?"

     "Oh that? He said his blades are better than Crescent Rose."

     "How dare he?" Blake smiled.

     "Right? He's clearly wrong so I had to prove how wrong he was."

     "And did you?"

     "We came to the conclusion that they are both awesome," Ruby said victoriously, picking up a third cookie to reveal that there was actual food underneath the sweets.

     Letting out a short laugh as she knew the blind boy was likely only arguing to mess with the reaper, Blake took another bite out of her sandwich and relaxed back into the wall.

     "By the way, I forgot to ask since we were getting ready, but how did your test go this morning?"

     "No problem at all," the reaper grinned confidently. "And if I get above eighty then I don't need to continue the classes after the break. I'm pretty sure I got at least ninety," She beamed brightly.

     "Then I guess you really will be having that free time we talked about," she smiled as the silver eyes shined a little brighter.

     "Yup," Ruby smiled and finally pulled something from the plate that wasn't a cookie. "So are you ready to see mine and Yang's home tomorrow?"

     "I sure am," she grinned mischievously. "I finally get to see who is messier, you or Yang."

     "Yang, definitely Yang," Ruby laughed. "She once rolled Bumblebee into her room and stripped it down to rebuild it. There was oil everywhere."

     "Stay out of Yang's room if I want to keep my sense of smell, got it."

     "And don't expect to have a hot shower in the morning."

     "Unless I run to your old school."

     "Say my name and the janitor will let you in."

     Unable to hold in the laughter anymore, Blake let the smile spread across her face and a soft chuckle left her. In truth, she was rather excited to be staying at Ruby's house over the break, and not just because it meant they could actually set aside some time for stuff without most of their day being taken up with classes. From what she understood, Ruby's house was in the middle of the woods away from anything, so she was sure that there would be plenty of opportunity to steal the girl away for some peaceful moments.

     "What's got you two all giggly?"

     Though it seemed less so, the voice was still a little annoyed as the heiress appeared behind her partner, a drink in one hand and an apple in the other.

     "Just talking about Yang," Ruby giggled.

     "Well, there's plenty to laugh at there."

     "Do you often talk like that behind my back?" Another voice said from next to Blake. Turning around, she saw Yang, Coco, and Velvet walking through the doors, the Faunus between the two taller girls with a hand of each in her own.

     "Well I would normally say it to your face, but you're late."

     "It takes time to look this good," Yang countered happily and brushed her clothes off. Thought it definitely wasn't anything fancy, the mechanic's overalls style outfit and bomber jacket did look good on her. "Can't have these two showing me up."

     Coco and Velvet did indeed look lovely. The leader of Team CFVY was wearing what looked to be an extremely expensive, caramel brown shirt and a pair of black and gold jeans that were held up by her usual belt. The no-nonsense look always worked well on Coco and this time was no different. Velvet on the other hand had out-dressed them both, going for an old-fashioned look that suited her immensely. A grey waistcoat covered her top half, with a light brown shawl covering her shoulders, shorts of the exact same shade covered the top of her legs and stopped just short of her black tights that disappeared into a pair of long, fur-lined boots. Gloves covered her hands with a bracer of one arm and a piece of loose fabric wrapped around her other.

     "You were dressed when I left," Weiss scowled, though quickly rolled her eyes as Coco's face broke into a grin and she gave the heiress a wink. "For Oum's sake, anyone would think you're rab…"

     Weiss cut herself off before anyone had to, though Coco's eyes had definitely hardened instantly. A shadow of regret passed over Weiss' blue eyes and her scowl instantly faded as she turned to the rabbit Faunus.

     "I'm sorry, Velvet," Weiss said despite the girl's hand already being raised to stop the apology. "That was callous of me."

     "It's fine, Weiss. I know you didn't mean too," Velvet replied softly before turning to Yang and Coco in turn, the latter's eyes still trained on Weiss. "We should go and say hello to the hosts."

     "Right," the brown-haired leader said tersely as Velvet began to pull them away.

     As they passed, Yang placed a hand comfortingly on Weiss' shoulder and Coco paused briefly to give Weiss a hard look before moving on. Once they were passed, the heiress' head dropped and Blake couldn't help but feel bad for her. She knew Weiss still struggled with those feelings, the long ingrained prejudices of her father, and breaking those habits had been something the girl tried her best to do for months. Though she still had the occasional slip up, she always knew what she had done wrong immediately and took the time to reflect on it.

     "I need some air," She said sullenly and walked out of the doors.

     "Weiss," Ruby said quietly and went to follow her partner, but Blake placed a hand on Ruby's and stopped her.

     "She won't like you following her right now," Blake said gently. "She knows what she did wrong, so let her clear her head first."

     "You're right," the reaper sighed and picked up some food Blake didn't recognise. "Coco looked kinda mad."

     "Yang and Velvet will cool Coco off, they both know it was an accident," Blake smiled and popped a chip into her mouth. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Flynt saying thank you to Ciel and Penny while grabbing his trumpet; so with a smirk to herself, she wiped her hand and reach out for Ruby's just as Flynt took the stage and approached the microphone. "Come on."

     "Wha…"

     "Alrighty, Huntsmen and Huntresses," He said charismatically, earning everyone's attention and giving his weapon a spin. "Since the trash school speakers wasted our time with audio issues, we are far overdue some great music. Grab yourself a partner and dance if you want, or sit back and enjoy. Whatever you want; after all, we're all here to have fun now that school is over for two weeks."

     Without wasting a second, he raised his trumpet to his lips and started playing a fast paced jazz tune that the other two members of his team quickly started backing him up on. It only took a few minutes before people started to swarm the floor, Flynt's reminder of school being over clearly having struck a chord in the hearts of many there; therefore Blake felt less embarrassed about pulling Ruby into the crowd to dance. While it didn't instill the same energy as the usual rock music you would hear at a party, Flynt and his band were skilled enough that the crowd easily got lost in his tunes. Nor did it take too long for the smile that Blake liked so much to return to Ruby's face as she slowly got more into the music.


     Blake wouldn't be surprised if the last forty-five minutes of her life were cemented into her memory forever. It had been nearly an hour of glorious smiles and laughter, of upbeat music and silly dances. While Ruby was an excellent Huntress, her dancing ability was definitely not something she had trained. At all. While dancing together, Blake felt her toes being crushed more times than she could count, but she didn't care at all. The sounds of Ruby's excited laughter were more than enough to vanquish the pain immediately, though aura certainly helped too.

     Roughly half an hour after starting, Flynt had gone off stage for a break and allowed Team PRPL from Haven to take over for a little bit. Once they had, the music had switched from jazz to rock and the dancing had become a little more fast paced; and though they had stuck around for a little while, it was incredibly tiring to bob in time with the music while not getting swept up with all the strong students. So with both of them having acknowledged they needed a breather, the two made their way over to the empty chairs to sit down.

     "Dancing is so much easier without those stupid stilts Yang made me wear last time," Ruby smiled as the two of them claimed some seats, taking a sip of the drink they'd collected on the way.

     "You call that dancing?" Blake laughed jokingly, taking a sip of her own drink.

     "Meanie," Ruby grinned, letting out a loud sigh of relief as she sank into the comfy chair. "Not all of us can dance as good as you. Where did you learn?"

     "My dad mostly," she replied, remembering all the times her dad had danced her around the house. "But dancing was pretty much all there was to do at the camps so I got a fair amount of practice there too."

     "That sounds fun actually," the small reaper chuckled, her voice slightly louder than usual to be heard over the music even though they were sitting close together. "You never actually told me much about your dad. What does he do?"

     "Well he used to be an… Organizer," Blake said, not wanting to mention her father had actually been the previous leader of the White Fang. "But he was promoted to Leader just before I left."

     "Leader?"

     Ruby had clearly picked up on the specificity of the words. Deciding that she didn't want to spend the whole night lying to her, Blake let out a small grunt as she repositioned and carefully looked Ruby in the eyes as she prepared to confirm what the girl had almost touched on earlier that night.

     "Menagerie," She said slowly, seeing Ruby's eyebrows furrow a little before beginning to gently raise. "He's the Chieftain of Menagerie."

     "Wh-What?"

     Feeling a nervous smile replace her earlier happy one, she saw thoughts pass across Ruby's eyes. For a brief moment, she felt herself worry that Ruby might treat her different with the new information. However it only took a couple of minutes before the thoughts faded and her hand raised to scratch the back of her head.

     "So I guess my earlier comment about you being a Faunus princess was actually kinda true," she chuckled with an interested look. "That's really cool."

     "In a way, I guess," Blake shrugged, not wanting to bring up that she didn't stick around long enough to know what it was like to be the Chieftain's daughter. "You took that much better than I expected."

     To her admission, the only thing she received was a short laugh that made Ruby's eyes twinkle and Blake heart soar.

     "My best friend, and partner, is one of the richest people in the world."

     "That is... a very good point," she conceded, realising that Ruby did in fact treat Weiss no different than she did anyone else. Nor did the rest of the team for that matter. "But do you mind, just not telling anyone else? For now."

     "My lips are sealed," the girl smiled, motioning pulling a zipper over her mouth. "Does Yang know?"

     "Yeah, she knows pretty much everything," Blake nodded and took another sip of her drink. Yang really did know practically everything about her, from her father's old position to the things that had happened with Adam and the White Fang. "Stuff I promise to tell you one day."

     "There's no rush," Ruby said kindly and placed her hand on Blake's. "I know your past is complicated."

     "Thanks."

     Receiving a reassuring grin from the little reaper, Blake claimed the girl's hand properly and relaxed back into the chair. Though loud music was still bouncing around the room, a soft silence fell over the two and they both seemed happy to ride it out and enjoy the moment; but less than a minute later, the window next to them opened and two girls climbed through. A little confused by the entrance, Blake and Ruby watched the pair hop down and straighten their clothes. Once they were done, they turned around and attempted to make their way into the party only to find Yang stood in their way with a plate of food, the sudden arrival of the blonde startling even Blake as she hadn't seen the girl approach.

     "What are you two doing here?"

     "Ugh, hoping not to run into you," one of the girls in a white dress said, her accent familiar to Blake from her time spent in the valleys of Mistral.

     "It's a party, where would we be?" the one in a red dress said in the same accent as the light caught their faces. Both girls were rather pretty, their perfectly matching features and accents enough to reveal them as twins; the only difference between them being the haircuts. "How did you even see us enter?"

     "This is Beacon, everyone saw you enter," Yang replied and motioned to the room. "You cause any trouble…"

     "Like you said," the girl in white interrupted boredly and inspected her nails. "This is Beacon. Why would we start anything?"

     "I dunno, but you always do," Yang replied and took a step forward, as did the one in white. Clearly all three of them had history as the girl in red rolled her eyes at the other two's actions. "But as I was saying, start anything and I will throw you out the same window that you just climbed in from."

     "Defenestration," called out Weiss as she approached from behind. Blake hadn't seen her since the earlier incident with Velvet, but clearly the girl had calmed herself down. "That's the word for throwing someone out of a window."

     "Yeah, I'll defenestrate you," Yang corrected herself, earning a halfhearted thumbs up from Weiss as the heiress sat on the opposite couch to Blake and Ruby.

     "Hmpf! Whatever," the girl in red replied and crossed her arms. "Are you two done flirting, Melanie? Or can I go get a drink?"

     "Ew! Don't be gross, Miltia," Melanie scoffed as she began to follow her sister past Yang and into the party.

     "Worst hook-up ever!"

     Yang's final words of contemplation were little more than a whisper that certainly went unheard by everyone, everyone except Blake who raised an eyebrow at her partner. While she wasn't surprised by such a revelation, she couldn't help but wonder which girl Yang was referring to. If she had to put money on it, she would definitely go with Melanie. As she decided that it was most definitely Melanie, Yang turned and caught her eye and Blake couldn't help but smirk at her partner; who also sat down next to Weiss.

     "You two enjoying your cuddles?" She smirked in return, clearly willing to embarrass Blake to cover up what she'd just admitted.

     "Until you came around with your big, loud mouth," Ruby replied and stuck out her tongue. In response, Yang picked up a mini sausage roll and tossed it at the brunette who easily moved her head into the perfect trajectory that had the roll land in her mouth. After it was caught in the energetic girl's mouth, a small sound of victory emerged from her.

     "Who were they anyway?" Weiss asked, reaching over and picking another mini roll from Yang's plate.

     "Friends."

     "Friends?"

     "Fine. Sort of friends," Yang shrugged, throwing a small cake to Blake. "We hung out a couple times before I came to Beacon."

     "By hanging out I assume you mean fighting?" Blake asked and took a bit of the soft sponge.

     "Occasionally," Yang shrugged and bit into what looked to be a pizza roll. "They tended to started it just as much as I did. Anyway, speaking of fights," she motioned her hand towards the heiress sitting next to her. "You need to apologise to Coco and Velvet. Properly."

     "I know," Weiss sighed, finishing off the sausage roll and reaching for another. "I really didn't mean it that way."

     "It's all good," Yang said cheerily and gave the girl a nudge. "I calmed Coco down for you. But this is what happens when you stop letting yourself relax and throw yourself into your studies without taking a break."

     "You do become rather crabby," Blake confirmed.

     "But we all still love you," Ruby added with a smile.

     "Yup," Blake and Yang said together.

     Obvious relief passed through Weiss' body as she sank into the chair a little and bit into a sandwich that she also stolen from Yang's plate. As the girl took her time to think, Yang tossed a cookie to Ruby who split it in half to share it with Blake. Happily taking the treat, she gave her date a smile and took a small bite. It was then that Weiss decided to speak up.

     "You are right," she said clearly, lifting her head to look each of them in the eyes. "I have been rather stressed lately, but that's no excuse for my behaviour. I'm sorry for the strain I put on our team."

     With a quick look to Yang, they both knew there were no hard feelings, but both of them still looked at Ruby to take her lead. She was the leader after all. Just as she suspected, the reaper gave the heiress a wide smile.

     "No biggie," she shrugged and bit into her own half of the cookie. "Right guys?"

     "Yup, what's life without a few insults from your sister?" Yang grinned and passed her another roll.

     "What Yang said," Blake agreed, though in hopes of maybe avoiding the situation again, she gently pushed a little further. "Although it might be good to know why you became so obsessed? You've always been studious, but this was different."

     "It's stupid."

     "Most things are," Yang shrugged.

     "You included," Ruby teased and threw a small piece of her cookie at Yang, who caught it in her mouth with a grin. "But Blake is right, you can talk to us Weiss. About anything."

     Letting out a low groan, Weiss entwined her fingers in her lap and sat forward.

     "Well," she sighed heavily. "When I go back to Atlas tomorrow, all the coursework I have left to do will be overseen by Father, and I won't be allowed to leave if it's not done to his standards. I was hoping to get as much as I could out of the way so that I could come back early because, as stupid as it sounds, I was actually looking forward to this break."

     A brief pause hung in the air before her next words.

     "I've never had friends to share a holiday with before."

     Music filled the silence that fell upon each member of their team. While Weiss certainly had her moments of genuine sincerity, she'd never said anything like that to her knowledge. And Blake took pride in the fact that Weiss words had caused a smile to pull uncontrollably across her face, as it was something that certainly wouldn't have happened almost a year ago. A year ago, she would have been horrified sharing a room with a Schnee, but now she considered herself lucky to be Weiss' friend. However, just as she always did, Yang quickly ruined the mood.

     "You're right," She scoffed and ate her sausage roll. "That's really fucking stupid."

     "Yang!" Both Ruby and Blake shouted at the grinning blonde, both of them throwing bits of cookie at her as Weiss turned to face her with a confused look.

     "What?" Yang said indignantly. "We all know that if Weiss misses this break then we will be spending multiple weekends making it up to her. And then there are all the other breaks she is going to be spending with us. I'm sorry, beautiful, but you're family now. There are sooo many more Xiao Long-Rose-Schnee-Belladonna gatherings to come."

     "You're an idiot," Weiss shook her head, but quickly rested it against Yang shoulder as the blonde put an arm around her in a firm hug. "But thank you, Yang."

     "No problemo."

     "She said it like an ass," Blake scowled at her partner who was currently eating the bits of cookie off her clothes. "But yes, you are stuck with us."

     "I may go crazy a little earlier in life than I had planned, but I think I can deal with that," Weiss smiled contently.

     "Awww yeah!" Ruby cheered happily, her hand shooting into the air. "Team RWBY together forever."

     "Sounds good to me," Blake grinned and reclaimed the girl's free hand, a red blush crossing Ruby's cheeks.

     "Ewwwww, get a roooooom," Yang groaned jokingly.

     "If they go and get a room now, they'll miss the slow dance coming up," A male voice said and the entire team turned to see Flynt had walked over, his trumpet in hand. "Speaking of, could use a vocalist, what'd ya say, Schnee?"

     "Why would I sing with you?" she returned, finally pulling away from Yang.

     "Give you some practise for your big event? Make some couples happy? Whatever excuse you need," he shrugged confidently.

     "Your attitude is enough to make me say no."

     "Aww come on, Weiss," Ruby whined, looking excitedly at her partner. "We only ever hear you from the bathroom. Hearing you properly would be really cool."

     "I don't know," Weiss said hesitantly.

     "Come on," Yang egged the girl on. "Think of it as one last piece of fun before you go. You say you wanna keep singing when your older, so now could be a great time to actually have a concert that your prick of a dad hasn't forced you into."

     "I also think it would be cool to have our friend sing for the first real dance I have with my g… Ruby," Blake agreed, correcting her slip up so fast that she was pretty confident no-one noticed. After all, she still wasn't sure what her and Ruby exactly were. "No pressure though."

     As Weiss took a second to think, Blake looked at Ruby to check her correction had worked. Fortunately the leader was so focused on Weiss and the cookie in her hands that everything else seemed to not exist. But as she turned her head to the heiress, she noticed Yang's lavender eyes locked onto her and a wide mischievous grin on the blonde face. Seeing Yang bit her lip a little, the usual indicator that Yang was going to say something only she could hear, she narrowed her hearing on the girl to catch her words.

     "Girlfriend huh?"

     A blush instantly painted itself on her face and she turned away from the now chuckling blonde. Of course it would be Yang that heard it, it was always Yang. No doubt the blonde would make great use of that over the break. Luckily for her though, she respected boundaries enough to not say anything in front of Ruby. Blake still had no idea how she was going to bring that topic up.

     "Fine," she heard Weiss sigh, snapping Blake from her from her thoughts. "One song."

     "Better than no song," Flynt grinned triumphantly, Weiss rolling her eyes in return. "I go back up in ten minutes so meet me by the stage."

     "Mhm," Weiss hummed as the boy left with a wave. Turning to her side, the heiress noticed Yang staring at her. "What?"

     "Nothing," Yang grinned, her tone holding such a false sense of ignorance that Blake didn't believe her for a second.

     "Riiight..." Weiss said, clearly not believing Yang either. "Well I might go and find Neptune, I've been ignoring him all week too. I will talk to Coco and Velvet after the song."

     "Gotcha," Yang waved as Weiss got up and walked off, raising off the couch herself. "I'm gonna go find them anyway. Can't have them having too much fun without me. Later you two."

     "Bye."

     Finally alone again, Blake felt Ruby's head rest against her shoulder and a deep sigh of relief breeze across her neck. Turning to see Ruby had her eyes closed, Blake was more than happy to let the girl relax for a little. Since she enjoyed the closeness and was really hoping for more of it, it really wasn't an issue for her to let herself melt in closer to the girl.

     "I'm glad everything with Weiss is sorted," she finally breathed after a minute. "I'm really hoping she can get back from Atlas early."

     "Me too," Blake replied honestly, knowing two weeks without Weiss would feel extremely weird.

     "And thank you, by the way," the brunette added softly. "For stopping me going after her. You were right that it would have made things worse."

     "It's fine, you just wanted to help her," she replied and squeezed Ruby's hand a little. "So what do you say to five more minutes of rest before we go kill our feet again?"

     "Sounds awesome," Ruby chuckled. "Sorry in advance."

     Letting out a soft chuckle of her own at the knowledge Ruby was likely going to crush her feet a whole bunch more, Blake happily rested her head against the freshly cut red and brown hair. For the next five minutes, she couldn't help but hope that the world left them alone.


     Five minutes, Ruby thought to herself as her internal clock told her the time for relaxing was up. It was time to dance. She knew she could back out, that if she told Blake she didn't want to, then the girl would be more than happy to stay seated and talk. But that wasn't the case. She didn't want to stay seated and talk, at least not for now, she wanted to dance with Blake. She was just so nervous that she may as well have been a shaking ball of nervous energy, but thankfully that wasn't the case because then Blake probably wouldn't have been as close as she was during those five minutes; and would have been freaking out internally about what she could have done wrong.

     She was a terrible dancer, Blake had noticed as much during their earlier session. However while the fast paced dancing had managed to hide most of it, the fact that Flynt and Weiss were about to play a slow song for all the couple meant she would likely be stepping on her dates feet all the more. While she had managed to barely avoid making a fool of herself for the entire night, and actually had a really fun time, she knew that time was at an end as she felt Blake shift with the end of the music.

     Looking up, she saw Flynt climbing up onto the stage as Team PRPL finished their track and raised her head from Blake's shoulder. Time was up. She was going to make a fool o…

     "You okay?"

     Blake smooth voice was finally audible since there was no longer music blasting throughout the room. Turning her head to the side, she saw the girl's amber eyes gazing kindly into hers and felt her confidence soar a little.

     "Mhm," she hummed. "Just never slow danced before."

     "Then I can take the lead," Blake grinned and stood up, holding out the hand Ruby wasn't holding to help her up. "Unless you wanna st…"

     "Alrighty Huntsmen and Huntresses," Flynt's voice cut her off as it rang through the room. "Now that the real music is back, no offense, Plume," The leader of PRPL gave Flynt the bird but laughed at the same time. "We're gunna slow things down a little. Let all you wonderful couples have an excuse to get close tonight. Even managed to convince the heiress herself to assist me."

     Walking on stage, Weiss gave a curtsy and more than a few people applauded her. Ruby often forgot that Weiss was widely recognised not only for being the heiress to the biggest company in the world, but also for her singing talent. Wearing a smile that Ruby genuinely couldn't tell whether was fake or not, she gave a wave and approached the mic, which Flynt allowed her to have.

     "I hope you can match me," Weiss said with a raised eyebrow, earning a few ooos from the crowd.

     Ruby didn't hear what Flynt said, but the shrug he gave her showed he was very certain of himself. She fully expected that Weiss had rolled her eyes in return. What she didn't expect, however, was that Weiss turned to gaze directly in Ruby's direction and gave a short jerk of her head to motion her. With the support of her best friends and Blake's smile bolstering her confidence, she finally accepted the Faunus' hand as she lifted off of the couch. Blushing a little and pushing down her nerves, she let Blake lead her gently to the dance floor where a few couples had already begun to gather.

     By the time they'd arrived, Flynt had already begun to play his trumpet; the slow jazzy sounds issuing around the room and captivating everyone there. Feeling Blake stop walking, Ruby clumsily told her feet to stop, only for them to disobey her and caused her to stumble a little into Blake, not that she seemed to mind. In fact, the Faunus simply looked down and gave her a smile.

     "I already know you're a bad dancer, Ruby," she grinned as Flynt's notes picked up a little and Weiss' beautiful voice came over the microphone with a soft ballad. "Just relax, and have fun. A little foot pain is worth knowing you're enjoying yourself."

     Giving a slight nod of her head, Ruby let Blake position her arms on her shoulders. Though Blake was taller than her, it wasn't by much so she was easily able to entwine her fingers around the back of her neck. Once her hands were in place, Blake placed her own on Ruby's waist and a shiver ran through her immediately. This was the closest they'd ever been, the closest that she'd ever been to anyone; and though she was still incredibly nervous, there was something electric about it, about being that close to Blake.

     With her hands around Blake, her thumbs grazing the girl's hairline and pulling her head down slightly, their eyes had found a perfect connection. A connection that she really didn't want to break. Blake's amazing amber eyes would glow like gold every time the light found them, and each time butterflies erupted in her stomach. The girl was gentle as she slowly led their motion, a small circle step that even Ruby knew wasn't the typical dance one did when listening to jazz. But Ruby didn't care, from what people were doing around her it was clear she could never keep up with such a dance, so she was grateful Blake was doing a simple one.

     "You know," Blake said quietly as they turned in place, her voice only just audible over Weiss' singing. "I was half expecting to be a little uncomfortable tonight. With it being a party."

     "Oh," Ruby whispered, knowing she was free to keep her voice down as Blake could hear her anyway. "Were you?"

     Ruby couldn't help breathe out a sigh of relief as Blake shook her, the single confirmation enough to assure Ruby that she hadn't been a total bore all afternoon.

     "I don't feel like that when I'm with you," Blake smiled and turned in place, Ruby following her lead and only slightly stepping on her feet. "I wasn't always so… Anti-social. I was actually rather vocal at rallies, and when I was younger, a friend and I would laugh and play around while making the signs. A lot in my life has changed since then; but when I'm with you, I feel like I can be the old me again. You're fun, you find the joy and the good in everything and I can't help but be swept up into it."

     An uncontrollable smile etched itself on her face at Blake words. Hearing such things had made her so happy that she struggled to find the words at first. What did you say to such an admission? She really didn't know, but Blake didn't seem to care for an answer right away, or even at all; she simply seemed happy to enjoy the moment. And so was Ruby, knowing she didn't really have the words, she just stepped forward and closed the distance between them a little more.

     As she did, she felt one of Blake hands slip behind and land on the square of her back while the other trailed up her side, the ripples that the finger caused on her clothing sending sparks coursing through her. Finally Blake's hand reached Ruby's and carefully peeled it from her shoulder, their fingers entwining as they were held out to the side. The new position was much more of a traditional waltz stance then previously, but Blake still kept the same rhythm despite it being completely out of step with Weiss and Flynt.

     Daring to look up into the older girl's eyes, Ruby saw them looking at her like she was the only person in the room. The look was enough to make Ruby blush as her entire body heated up at the realization of just how much she liked Blake looking at her like that. Thoughts rushed through her head as amber swam in her vision and before she knew it, her face was much closer to Blake's.

     She could smell the food Blake had eaten over the night, but it wasn't bad, she was more distracted by the deep breaths that were drifting down her neck and causing shivers to run down her spine. To keep her thoughts away from what she really wanted to do, she closed her eyes a little, but her body didn't seem to want that, so she quickly opened them again. That was the final straw. As those beautiful amber eyes staring down at her, Ruby pushed all her nerves deep down a slowly let herself press forward with only one goal in mind. But much to her surprise, Blake pulled her head back out of range.

     "Ruby," She said, the tone very important despite the heavy breathing. "Wait."

     "S-Sorry," she stuttered, immediately feeling her doubts return as her hand loosened its grip on Blake's. "Too soo…"

     "No!" Blake said firmly, recapturing Ruby hand carefully. "I just… I need to say something before… we go any further."

     "Oh," Ruby sighed, Blake's grip on her hand enough to reassure that she hadn't done anything wrong. "Wh-What?"

     Blake hesitated for a moment, thoughts rushing past the amber eyes; but after a deep breath, she swallowed heavily and started to speak.

     "My last relationship… It wasn't good," Blake said, her voice was strained as the memories were clearly painful to talk about. "A lot of things happened very fast; partly because I was young, but also because he was older. I felt pressured to do a lot of things I wasn't ready for because I thought it was the only way to show I liked him. I know how that feels. That's why I need to make sure that you don't feel like that. This is your first relationship and I'm not expecting anything you're not ready for, so if you really don't know, then we can just… keep going slow until you are."

     The dancing had stopped as Blake talked and Ruby could see just how serious she was, the way worry marred the shine of her eyes as she tried to convey that seriousness. In truth, Ruby did have doubts before. Doubts about the timing and whether it was too soon or not, but her doubts had never been about not wanting to do it. No, that had always been a pretty clear answer. She did want to go forward. She was ready. And since it was already out there and an attempt had already been made, Ruby dropped all her other reservations and shook her head with a smile.

     "I'm not feeling pressured, Blake," She said carefully, wanting to treat the situation with just as much seriousness as her date had. "I really like you, I have for months. I enjoy spending time with you because it's what I want to do, whether it's just studying or talking... and that's why I did… tried what I just did. I've been wanting to do that since our first date… no, honestly a little bit before."

     "Are you sure?" Blake asked, the smile pulling at her lips enough to show she appreciated the words.

     She could have given a nod, or said yes, but they didn't seem like enough to convey just how sure she was. So just like she had moments ago, Ruby pressed forward until their faces were so close she could hear Blake's breathing. Pausing to listen to the deep breathes and give Blake the chance to pull away, Ruby waited for what felt like an eternity. Finally, she saw her date's head inch in a tiny bit closer and took it as permission to continue. With one last look into the girl's eyes, Ruby shut her own and finally closed the last little gap between her and Blake.

     Electricity rushed through her the second her lips touched Blake's. Though it was little more than a soft peck, the feeling was more than Ruby could have imagined. Her lips tingled and her stomach erupted into butterflies as Blake slowly returned the pressure. She was gentle at first, the kiss careful and testing, like dipping your toes into a lake before jumping in; but as Ruby made it clearer by pressing in a little further, Blake responded in kind. The kiss wasn't particularly heated, there was no tongue or heavy breathing, but it was still amazing. And for her first kiss, Ruby was confident she hadn't screwed it up.

     After what could have only been seconds, that felt like minutes, Ruby pulled back and opened her eyes. Her silver met amber and found a happiness in them that made her heart soar. However, she wasn't feeling brave enough to go in for another on just yet, so she simply let herself melt into the grasp of her girlfriend as the older girl slowly started their rotation again.


     Weiss wiped a bead of sweat from her brow as she stepped down from the stage and out of the heated lamps, making her way toward Yang, Coco, and Velvet who stood nearby. She had never been one for heat, having grown up in a colder environment, and her usual performances used low heat bulbs as the spotlights; it also didn't help that she had spent more time on stage than she originally intended. Despite only agreeing to one song, she'd found the experience to be far more enjoyable then she had predicted. After the first song received decent attention, far different than the usual slow claps of her concerts, Flynt had started to play something a little faster that she could have easily let go and walk away; but she didn't. She'd stayed and let herself enjoy the feeling of performing by choice, instead of under orders. She liked that there hadn't been any feeling of expectation to it.

     She was also thankful that Flynt was capable of keeping up. Though she was likely to never tell him, the boy was actually a decent musician and performing with him had been much different to what she was used to. It had also been incredibly fun. As the pace of the songs picked up, Weiss felt herself getting more and more lost in the music, and ended up staying for four songs in total. It was a nice little taste of what if felt like when the performance wasn't against her will. However, with the heat having gotten to her much quicker than usual for some reason, she had finally decided to leave the stage.

     "Glad to see you remember us, Popstar," Yang grinned with a small bow as she approached, causing Weiss to roll her eyes.

     "Don't be a pest," Weiss replied over the music, unable to keep the amusement from her voice.

     Though it did get on her nerves some time, Weiss loved Yang's carefree attitude. While she certainly had her serious moments, the girl was exceptionally good at brightening the mood of the room with a few, often terrible, jokes and Weiss knew she was going to miss it for however long she was forced to stay in Atlas.

     "You really were wonderful," Velvet smiled kindly.

     "Thank you," Weiss smiled back and took the drink Yang offered her. "And I want to apologise to all of you for my earlier actions. They were completely uncalled for and there is no excusing my behaviour."

     "I already told you it's fine," Velvet replied with a shake of her head. "I know you didn't intend for it."

     "Yeah," Coco said and threw an arm around the Faunus. "You're lucky you have Yang in your corner though, but if it happens again then we will be exchanging more than words, got it?"

     "Understood," Weiss said with a nod, knowing that even she couldn't take Coco in a fight.

     "Good," Coco said with a quick scowl that gave way to a smile. "I'm gunna go get a drink."

     "I'll come too, you want another, Babe?" Chimed in the shorter girl.

     "Yes please," Yang replied as they walked away, turning back to Weiss once they were out of earshot. "Sooo… Looked like you were having fun? With Flynt."

     "I have no idea what you are insinuating, but stop," Weiss rolled her eyes again and leaned against the wall next to her blonde teammate. "That boy has a bigger ego than you."

     "So you weren't smiling after that little dance with him?"

     "We did not dance!" Weiss said with a blush, remembering that Flynt had caught her after she tripped on a wire and gave her a spin as she recovered. "I tripped over wires that he should have organized properly."

     "Mhm," Yang laughed and winked at her. "And what would Neptune say, huh?"

     "There is nothing between me and Flynt," Weiss said vehemently. "And even if there was, it wouldn't have anything to do with Neptune as we are no longer together."

     "Wait. What? Since when?"

     "Since roughly thirty minutes ago," Weiss shrugged and took a sip of her drink, the hint of what she knew was alcohol catching her taste buds. "Did you spike this?"

     "Nope, pretty sure that was the twins," Yang replied with a jut of her head towards the two girls that had crawled in through the window earlier. "I ain't complaining, but I am making sure Ruby doesn't touch it. Anyway, what happened with you and Neptune?

     "Over the last week I realised that I didn't miss him," Weiss explained, giving the drink in her hand a scowl, but ultimately decided she deserved one last night of fun before returning to Atlas and took a sip. It wasn't like Yang would hand her anything dangerous anyway. "And nor was I fazed by the fact I found him flirting with the Nebula. So we both agreed that our relationship had come to an end."

     "I'm sorry," Yang said softly, but Weiss quickly dismissed her.

     "I already told you we were not serious," Weiss replied. "We were fun, but the fun ended and there was nothing more to it."

     "I guess," Yang breathed, clearly accepting Weiss' words and turning to look out over the dancing crowd. "Those two are clearly not just fun though."

     Looking in the direction Yang was gazing, she saw her partner and their other teammate dancing to the music. From the laughter on both of their faces, the two were clearly enjoying themselves a great deal.

     "Guessing you saw it too?" Yang asked and Weiss knew exactly what she meant.

     "I did," Weiss said with a nod as Blake pushed Ruby away only to bring her back in and give the laughing girl a spin, though Weiss noticed a slight wince occur on the Faunus' face as she did. "At least they finally got it over with. Now Ruby can finally stop asking me the best way to approach it."

     "You too, huh?" Yang chuckled and stole the drink from her hand to take a sip. "I guess I actually have to accept that they're serious about this now?"

     "It's taken you this long?"

     "No," Yang chuckled before letting her face fall to be more contemplative. "She's just never been like this with anyone to my knowledge. Kinda weird seeing your little sister growing up in such a way."

     Though Yang was obviously only referring to Ruby as a sister, the motherly undertones of the statement were equally obvious. The whole team knew how much Ruby meant to Yang, so it wasn't hard to see why Ruby growing up and becoming her own person was distressing to the blonde. In an attempt to cheer her up as the brute had done earlier, Weiss bumped Yang shoulder and took the drink back.

     "No matter how grown up she gets, she will always need you, Yang," she said and took a sip of the drink. "Let's not forget she got herself tangled in her bed sheets the other day practising that new move and you had to help her get out."

     Weiss was unable to hold in her own laugh as the brawler next to her burst into her own laughter. The memory of walking into the dorm and seeing Ruby suspended from the bed by her sheets in a position that completely stopped her from moving was a memory Weiss would be recounting until her final days.

     "Thanks," Yang breathed at her side once the laughing died down, and Weiss was shocked to feel a pair of lips press against her cheek. "Sis."

     Rolling her eyes, Weiss couldn't help but feel the same wave of happiness that had run through her earlier when Yang had called her family. It had never been something she was well accustomed to with even Winter, the person she loved the most, being somewhat distant, so to have finally found a place was an experience that meant more to her than even she would be able to describe. Because of that, it was with ease that she was able to lean back against the wall next to the blonde and watch her best friend have the best night of her life. Though for fear of her sanity, it was highly unlikely she would ever dare tell Ruby she considered her as such.


Chapter Text


     Ruby was half surprised she had been allowed to remain in her current position for as long as she had, not that she was complaining at all. It could be two weeks until she saw her best friend again, so even if Weiss tried to struggle, Ruby would be getting her cuddles. Though admittedly, she was convinced that the only reason Weiss allowed the affection to continue so long was because the contact and her scarlet cape were blocking out the icy wind that still blew through Vale.

      The weather had finally dipped below freezing overnight, causing a thin layer of frost to cover the city; and despite Weiss' constant insistent that she was used to such weather, the girl had definitely been shivering when Ruby first initiated the hug. Behind her, Ruby knew that both Yang and Blake were likely rolling their eyes while watching them, but she didn't care. The only thing she cared about was showing Weiss how much she would miss her.

     "Ruby, this is really quite excessive," Weiss groaned, though her arms didn't move from their position on her back. "I must get going."

     "Your private airship takes off whenever you want," Ruby heard Blake said from behind her with a small amount of humor in her tone.

     Feeling Weiss' hand leave her back and twist, Ruby tightened her grip on the heiress. Ruby had friends before, but never had she made a friend like Weiss. There was no denying that their relationship started out rocky, what with Ruby having literally blown the girl up; but as time went on, Weiss had slowly warmed up. She certainly was still rather cold on occasion, but she often tried her best to listen and give advice. As far as Ruby was concerned, the girl was not only living up to her promise of being a good teammate, but also a great friend.

     "Alright," Weiss sighed, Ruby feeling a hand tugging at the back of her jacket. "For fear of your girlfriend misconstruing this situation, maybe you should take this display of affection over to her?"

     "Like Ruby didn't give her enough affection at the party," Yang joked, causing Ruby to bury her head in the shoulder of her best friend to hide the blush.

     Last night had perhaps been one of the best nights of her whole life, right up there with the night Ozpin had allowed her early entry into Beacon. To further add to said happiness, she had finally managed to push aside her awkwardness and kiss Blake. And not just once. The first at the party had been initiated by her, and in hindsight she knew it had been sloppy and not the best, though it was still amazing to Ruby as it was her first.

     The second had been initiated by Blake at the door of their room once the party was over, and she could say without a doubt that it was much better than the first. The kiss had been a little more heated with Blake taking the lead, though there had still been no tongue, but was something Ruby allowed herself to melt into. That too had only lasted seconds and was more something to say goodnight and that they'd enjoyed the night; but the thought of Blake's hands on her hips as she reached up to meet the older girl's lips was still enough to cause her heart to race. However, while her face was buried in the crook of Weiss shoulder, she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist and lift her up.

     "Alrighty, Sis," Yang said as Weiss' hands pulled her arms away and Yang carried her backwards, the cold air immediately pushing its way through the fabric of her jacket. "Stop holding Weiss up."

     Pouting as Yang placed her down on the seat of her bike, Ruby crossed her arms to show her sister her displeasure with having been so forcibly removed from her partner. The displeasure didn't last long however, as Blake quickly sat beside her with a smile and Yang took her turn to embrace the snowy-haired girl in a goodbye hug.

     "Don't let the assholes in Atlas get you down, okay?" Ruby heard Yang say as Weiss returned the hug before they quickly pulled apart.

     "I'll try my best not to skewer them," Weiss grinned as Yang moved away. "And I will try to get back before the break ends."

     "Either way, we'll see you in two weeks," Blake smiled with a small wave that was returned by the heiress, the subtle goodbye probably the most expected thing in the world for two girls who avoided unnecessary contact where possible.

     "If I'm unlucky," Weiss groaned, handing off her bag to a man who approached after seeing his boss was no longer occupied by hugs. "Anyway, I really must be going. I will send a text when I get there."

     "No problem."

     "Have a safe flight, Bestie."

     "Later."

     With one last sullen glance towards them, Weiss turned and walked away into the large crowd they'd escaped from. In less than a minute, the heiress' small frame was swallowed by the masses and Ruby couldn't help but feel a little saddened by the sight. It wasn't a terribly long flight to Atlas from Vale, but with Grimm there was always a chance that even a short flight could end in disaster. Thankfully, she felt a warm hand slip into hers and turned to see Blake giving her a reassuring smile.

     "She'll be fine, that girl could handle a Queen Lancer if it dared to mess with her," the Faunus said with a firm certainty to her voice.

     "Yeah, don't worry, Sis," Yang replied, picking up Zwei as she too sat down on the bike with the panting corgi on her lap. "I'm sure Weiss will be back and scowling at us in no time."

     "You're right," Ruby sighed, knowing that Blake and Yang were right but still feeling a little worried too. "Anyway, we should get home since it's still kinda cold. Are you cool coming with me and Zwei, Blake?"

     "An hour wi…"

     "I got Zwei, Rubes," Yang replied while unzipping her large jacket and pulling it open. "Came prepared this time. Zwei, in." On command, Zwei hopped into the open jacket and Yang quickly zipped it back up to secure the little hound. "There we go, he can keep me warm and enjoy the ride while you two can cuddle all the way home."

     "Just don't get caught," Ruby said and rolled her eyes as she stood up and addressed the adorable little puppy. "You behave, okay. And duck your head if you see the cops."

     Receiving as small bark in return, Zwei ducked his head out of sight for a moment before popping back out with what Ruby knew to be a pleased look on his face. Giving him a quick pat on the head, Ruby moved away from the bike with Blake's hand still in hers as Yang moved to straddle her pride and joy. A second later, the yellow bike roared to life as Yang gave the corgi a quick head scratch.

      "I'll see you guys at home," she said, placing the helmet on her head and slipping her usual aviator over her eyes. "Remember, people just finished their breakfast. You don't want to make them bring it back up with your PDAs."

     Blushing a little as she saw Yang's eyebrows wiggle over her aviator, Ruby heard the girl laugh to herself and take off with a cloud of dust, quickly pulling out of the car park and turning onto the road. With Yang and Weiss gone, Ruby and Blake were finally alone for the first time since the dance and Ruby was surprised to find that there wasn't much awkwardness remaining. And what awkwardness did remain was a result of Yang's comment triggering the memory of the night before for both of them.

     Shaking her head free of the memory, though she would have happily allowed herself to get lost in it were she not so cold, Ruby turned to Blake with a smile; unsure if the pink tinting the girl's cheeks was because of the cold or the memory. Feeling her innards warm at the smile she received in return, she motioned toward the line of taxis that were waiting nearby and took off at a quick pace as she knew they always had the heating on.


     Blake looked around as they stepped off the boat, the beautiful island of Patch filling her vision for the first time. It was so different from the city, with no massive buildings or busy streets, even the docks that she stepped onto held barely more than twenty people. With trees surrounding almost every building, it almost felt more like she had stepped into Vale's attempt to design their own Menagerie than anything else. Admittedly, the winter-stripped trees of Patch were nothing like the perpetually green trees of home, but she could imagine that, had she been visiting during Summer, everything would have been so much greener.

     Not that the leafless trees detracted from the beauty at all, they simply altered it. Instead of brilliant vibrance, the island held a more subtle, peaceful visage that was easily capable of putting her at ease. As she felt her body relax, the chill of the slight wind caused her to shiver and clamp her fingers tighter over Ruby's warm digits. Glancing to her side, she saw the reaper gazing at her with a silent question in her eyes, clearly waiting for her opinion on her home island.

     "It's nice," Blake replied honestly, giving the girl a smile and receiving one in return. "Hard to believe it's part of Vale."

     "I thought you liked Vale?" The redhead said in confusion as the two of them stepped forward, Blake letting Ruby take the lead.

     "It's fine," Blake grinned and gave her arms a slight flick so that the sleeves of her jacket slipped down to cover her bare skin. "Just very… uniform. And grey."

     "I guess that's true," Ruby chuckled, quickly turning off the pathway and into the forest next to it.

     "Are we not getting a car?"

     "They can't get up to our house, Yang's bike only just makes it," the girl replied, her voice punctuated by the cracking of the frost-hardened twigs beneath their feet. "I'm glad I got my hair cut though, long hair in the woods is a pain."

     "Well I guess I should be careful then," Blake laughed, gaining an apologetic look as she reached up to tuck her hair beneath her jacket.

     The conversation subsided just as quick as it began and Blake was more than happy to fall into an easy stride beside the girl. My girlfre... The thought was cut off just as soon as it began, as Blake had no idea if they could be considered that yet. Sure they had kissed a couple of times, and those kisses had been wonderful, but it was still a decision they would need to talk about. Blake knew that she herself was more than willing to start using the title however.

     The party the night before had been more than enough to confirm to her that she was happier than she'd been in years. The thoughts were there for a while in fact, and not just because of Ruby, but as she'd danced and laughed with the young reaper, she couldn't help wishing that the night would never end. Unfortunately it had, but not before Blake had stolen a second kiss. The first they'd shared was incredible, albeit clearly Ruby's first, and Blake had felt her stomach flutter at the girl's way of reassuring her that she wasn't feeling pressured. The second one however, was a selfish one; one born of a desire for more contact, but Ruby had happily gone with it. And as clumsy as the first had been, the girl was certainly a quick learner as there had been no problems with the second.

     Allowing a smile to pull at her face, Blake looked to her side and saw Ruby staring ahead with intensity. Turning to see where the girl was looking she saw a small puff of smoke coming from the ground ahead of them. She recognised it instantly, having come across them numerous times over the years and wasn't surprised to see Ruby digging into her pocket and pulling out a handful of bullets. Sorting through then, she held up one marked with a red band, but quickly put it back and selected one marked with blue instead.

     "I hate Termights," Ruby groaned and pulled Crescent Rose from her back to slip the bullet into the chamber. "They almost burned our house down once."

     "I've seen them burn down entire camps," Blake replied as they came to the smoke and Ruby offloaded the round into the hole.

     Before the hole was covered in ice, Blake saw the wriggling red and black bodies of the tiny Grimm. Small embers littered the bottom of the hole that Blake knew could eventually cause a huge fire if the colony was left unattended. Fortunately, Ruby's bullet froze them all instantly and they faded to dust as the ice cracked to emit the small black fog, as per usual with the death of a Grimm.

     "Yeah, Dad usually patrols the woods to take out as many as he can," Ruby sighed and put the sniper scythe back onto her belt. "I guess he still isn't back."

     Ruby's hand slipped back into her own as they continued through the woods, the earthy scent of dead leaves filling her senses as she crushed twigs underfoot and pushed aside low hanging branches. An eerie silence hung in the air now that they were away from the docks and civilization, serving as yet another difference from Menagerie; where it was so packed that there was nowhere you could go on the island without hearing people.

     "Almost there," Ruby grinned after they finished climbing a rather steep hill that would have given any non-huntress quite a work out. "Sorry, it's a little out of the way."

     "It's alright," Blake smiled and turned to look over the path they had just taken to see a river a short distance from it. "The longer we take, the more time we have away from Yang's teasing."

     "That is a very good point," Ruby laughed and joined her. "It sucks that the first time you see Patch is when it looks like this."

     "The bonus of reading is that I have a very good imagination," Blake chuckled, feeling Ruby nuzzle against her side a little more. "It's not hard to imagine everything in front of me as green and full of life."

     "It's not just green," Ruby said with a shake of her head and pointed out to the river and slowly swept sideways. "Around there is," Her hand stopped on a clearing among some trees. "But that clearing grows so many flowers in the spring that the floor looks like a painter's paint... board thing."

     "Palette?"

     "Yeah, that," Ruby nodded with a smile. "I used to spend hours down there everyday because all the colours together look so pretty. But as you get to town," Her hand pointed to a few faint buildings in the distance. "It gets really white since Patch's official flower is a tulip and people put them everywhere. And up there…"

     Ruby's hand came to a stop of a far off cliff that stood alone, the large outcrop that was overlooking the ocean visible even from their current position. With a quick glance to her side to see why Ruby had stopped talking, she saw the girl's face had dropped a little. She was certainly still smiling, but a hint of mourning had taken hold of it.

     "For three months of the year, that entire cliff in covered in goldgrass."

     Suddenly the intrusive emotion on Ruby's face made sense. During one of her outing with Yang, the blonde had mentioned their mother had been buried on a cliff of goldgrass. Blake had considered it exceptionally beautiful when she'd heard it, as goldgrass was rather rare and only grew in small patches. Unfortunately the flora was rather weak, and always wilted in the winter.

     "I'm sure it looks beautiful," She said quietly, giving Ruby a smile and squeezing her hand.

     "It does," Ruby sighed and turned away with a shiver. "Anyway, we should get going. I'm freezing and I need a hot chocolate."

     "That does sound pretty good, not gonna lie," Blake smiled allowed Ruby's hand to pull her along before catching up. "How far is it?"

     "Just a couple of minutes…" Ruby said, though a playful grin overtook her face as she stopped and turned to face her while biting her lip adorably. "Unless…"

     "Unless?"

     "Unless we race."

     "Except I have no idea where I would be going," Blake said with a raised eyebrow.

     Clearly set on the idea, Ruby pointed to a large tree on a hill off in the distance. Unlike the rest of them, there were clearly still a few leaves clinging to it. It wasn't incredibly far, but the distance as great enough that Blake was confident Ruby's semblance could only carry her part of the way. Once that was done, Blake could certain she could catch up. However, a race was a competition, and competitions had prizes.

     "Okay…" Blake said teasingly and took a step forward. "And what does the winner get?"

     Ruby flustered for a split second, her lip slipping from the hold her teeth had on it, but she quickly caught herself. The grin on her face widened a little as a red blush settle on her cheeks.

     "I can th-think of something," Ruby said nervously.

     "Hmm," Blake hummed, knowing what Ruby was thinking as she had barely stopped thinking about it herself. "If it's what I think, I can definitely agree to that."

     Ruby bit her lip again and Blake took another step forward. They may have settled on a prize, but it couldn't hurt to try for a little one now, and for a moment, Blake almost thought Ruby was going to let her. But as she drew close enough that silver filled her vision, the young reaper gave a wink and petals exploded in her face. Taken aback by the sneaky move, Blake turned to chase the blur of red that was weaving through the trees.

     Jumping into action immediately, Blake took off at a sprint. Thanks to her training she knew she was rather fast, but so was Ruby. The girl would undoubtedly use her semblance where she could to get an edge, so Blake did the same. Every ten strides when she had a straight shot before the next tree she would leave a shadow, using the small amount of propulsion she normally used to double jump to give her a momentary burst of speed. But it was nothing compared to the speed Ruby had, so knowing she had to do a little more, she steered herself to a large, slanted rock nearby and draw her weapon as she used it to leap into the air.

     In less than a second, her weapon was in it sickle form and she effortlessly slung it out at a nearby branch, the metal jamming into the bark firmly enough that she pulled herself along. With every few trees she would mimic her actions from the ground with her semblance, though this time pushing herself off the wood, to keep her momentum. Thankfully it was enough and she soon saw Ruby slightly ahead of her, the red blur of her cape and dexterity of how she moved through trees unchanged though she had stopped using her semblance.

     Out of the corner of her eye, Blake saw Ruby glance over her shoulder and Blake swore she could see a mischievous smile. It was a smile she should have paid more attention to as the girl once again burst into rose petals, though this time they were headed straight up into the treetops. Had the smile not still been in the forefront of her mind, she would have recognised the red ball sooner, but she didn't. Her brain finally clicked just before it struck a branch and exploded, filling the area with red petals that obscured everything in front of her.

     Cheater, Blake laughed in her own head, more happy that Ruby had successfully pulled off something she had been practising for a while than the fact it was a dirty trick. Thankfully, it was easy enough to avoid, but it did cost her time she couldn't afford and allowed Ruby to pull ahead more. Unfortunately, the great tree was quickly approaching so Blake pushed herself into high gear. From her higher terrain, she had the advantage of landing higher up the hill, but Ruby quickly caught up as she corrected herself.

     But it was the last stretch, so darting after the girl who was within arms reach, Blake tried her best to pull ahead. Unfortunately, she knew it was lost as Ruby looked over her shoulder again and stuck out her tongue, once again bursting into a small cloud of petals and immediately covering the remainder of the ground.

     "HA!"

     The shout was full of victory and Blake came to the top of the hill and caught her breath, not that the run had been particularly strenuous. Looking up from her crouched position, she saw Ruby punching the air before falling against the tree.

     "Fastest team leader, ever!"

     "Biggest cheater ever," Blake chuckled and straightened herself out.

     "Nuh uh," Ruby said and stuck her tongue out again. "We didn't make any rules."

     "That is a lousy excuse," Blake laughed and made her way over to the happy reaper. "However, I do think we talked about a prize."

     Blake wasn't sure if the scarlet of Ruby's cheeks was from the exercise or embarrassment, but the girl didn't make any attempt to move as Blake approached. A less than a second the silver once again filled her vision and Blake pressed her lips against Ruby's, the feeling of sparks rushing through her as the girl quickly returned the affection. Blake was still hesitant of course, and didn't push the limits too far, but for almost a minute the two of them enjoyed each other's embrace in the solitude of the forest. Once the urge to go a little further arose however, Blake pulled away and smiled down at the now certainly blushing leader.

     "Congrats on the petal burst, though," she breathed, still not moving away despite the broken kiss; the smile and glint of the girl's silver eyes keeping her spellbound.

     "Th-Thanks," Ruby stuttered in return, her hands still gently holding Blake's waist. "It's easier when I'm happy."

     "Well I'm glad you feel that way with me," Blake whispered, relieved that she definitely hadn't pushed a little to hard by kissing her so suddenly.

     "I do," Ruby said, clearly wanting to make sure Blake believed her.

     Giving Ruby a wide smile of her own, Blake rested a hand against the girl's cheek and felt the urge to go for another. And after seeing Ruby bite her lip and tilt her head, she felt emboldened to go through with it. Unfortunately, just before their lips touched again, a loud shout drew her out of the moment.

     "OI, LOVEBIRDS. PLAN ON JOINING ME SOON?"

     Confused as to how Yang had found them, she looked to her side to see a large wooden house stood in the center of a clearing on the opposite side of the hill. She'd been so caught up in the happiness of the moment that the surrounding area has seemingly melted away for a while. However, now that she was aware of it, she could see the figure of the blonde staring up at them with her hands on her hips surrounded by what looked to be destroyed patio furniture.

     "Looks like we are caught," Blake groaned and pulled back. "Looks like she had some fun of her own though."

     "P-Probably a Beowolf," Ruby stammered, also clearly a little embarrassed at having been caught. "They are always sniffing around."

     Once Ruby straightened her jacket, she reached her hand out and Blake was more than happy to take it. After a couple of seconds smiling at each other and properly registering how perfect everything had just felt, the two of them began to make their way down the hill to help the blonde clean up the yard.

Chapter Text

     Ruby was suddenly jolted awake as a large mass caused her mattress to shift and wake her from an excellent dream. Despite her groggy state, she knew exactly who it was and kicked out with her legs to get rid of them. She had been so happy to be back in her bed again, the soft mattress much more comfortable than the one at Beacon, and seeing how she was on break, she'd hoped to sleep in a little. Unfortunately, just like always, Yang didn't care and simply laid horizontally across her body instead. Letting out a loud groan, Ruby tried to raise her legs to shove her sister away but the girl was much heavier and stronger and refused to budge.

     "Yaaang!" Ruby whined, trying to pull her sheets up over her head only to find them also trapped beneath her brutish sister. "Lemmie sleep."

     "No can do, Lazy Butt," Yang said happily, twisting her body so that she could reach up and pull the blanket down. "Time to get up."

     "Ten more minutes?" Ruby pleaded, still not opening her eyes as she could already tell that bright sunlight was filling the room.

     "Hmm," Yang hummed while moving again.

     The hand holding the covers slipped to the side and ripped them open and Ruby let out a loud, disgruntled moan. However, just as she thought she would have to actually wake up, she felt a warm body slip in behind her and cover them both back up.

     "Fine, ten minutes," Yang said in resignation and Ruby felt her sister cuddle up to her. "You're lucky I love ya."

     "Mhm," Ruby hummed, nestling back into the perpetual warmth of her sister.

     She couldn't count how often they had been in the exact same position growing up, in fact she could barely recall a morning before she turned ten when she hadn't woken up with Yang in her bed. A large wave of comfort rushed through her at those memories. After her tenth, Yang had stopped doing it so much, but it wasn't uncommon for it to still occur at least once a week. After a couple of years though, it had practically stopped for the most part and was a rare luxury that she still enjoyed when she could.

     "It feels good being home again," Ruby sighed, her eyes still shut. "I missed my bed."

     "It's a good bed," Yang said, the daunting sound of upcoming torment entering her tone. "So what were you dreaming about?"

     "N-Nothing," Ruby said, covering her stutter with a yawn as she knew exactly what she had been dreaming about.

     "Well you were certainly smiling a lot for nothing," Yang teased. "Or was it actually a certain raven-haired teammate of ours?"

     "Shut up," Ruby groaned, jutting her arm back into her sister's stomach despite knowing the action would do little but confirm Yang's question. "You know you mutter about Coco and Velvet in your sleep too."

     "That's because my dreams of them are excellent."

     "Ewww! Gross, Yang."

     "All clean dreams," Yang chuckled, finger's grazing across Ruby's stomach and pulling a small laugh from her. "When did you start getting such a dirty mind, huh?"

     "When I was thirteen," Ruby admitted, feeling a small blush on her cheeks.

     "Oh."

     The reply hung between them with an air of awkwardness as Yang's fingers stopped their tickling. After a couple of seconds though, she felt Yang let out a deep breath.

     "I guess we never really had that talk, did we?"

     "I don't need that talk, Yang," Ruby said quickly, not wanting to have such an embarrassing discussion.

     "I know…" Yang sighed and wrapped an arm tightly around her. "Guess it's just hard seeing you really start to grow up. Not just with that stuff, but everything else too. Makes me feel like my days of being the person you go to for help are coming to an end."

     Those words hung in the air too. It was very rare for Yang to voice her worries to Ruby, just as rare as it was for them to spend the morning cuddling. She often hated how Yang bottled things up, keeping them to herself until she inevitable got so angry that she went off and took it out on something. It was because of that rarity that Ruby took care to think about how she could settle her sister's mind. After a minute, she budged a little closer to her sister.

     "I'm a sixteen year old who still reads comics and regularly eats myself sick with cookies," Ruby grinned. "I'm pretty sure you have a few more years."

     "Good," Yang breathed with a hint of relief of relief that made Ruby happy. "Coz I have a lot more wisdom left in me still."

     "Pfft," Ruby scoffed playfully and slowly stretched, finally admitting that she wasn't getting back to sleep. "Weiss isn't here to laugh at your jokes."

     As she felt Yang's body shake with small chuckles, Ruby opened her eyes and instantly regretted it as light burned her retinas. Rubbing them clear of the spots, Ruby let her eyes slowly adjust and was surprised to see the outline of her girlfriend standing in the doorway watching them nervously. Once she noticed she was caught, she straightened up and awkwardly rubbed one of her arms.

     "Morning," the girl said with a meek smile.

     "Morning," Ruby blushed, wondering just how much the girl had heard.

     "I think the sneaky little kitten was eavesdropping on us, Rubes," Yang teased, causing Blake to roll her eyes at the blonde. "So how was the patrol?"

     "Fine," Blake shrugged and Ruby saw a leaf fall from the girl's hair, something that Blake clearly saw too. "Couple of Beowolves but nothing I couldn't handle. There were some weird gouge marks on some of the trees though. A little too far apart to be from claws."

     "Ughhhh, four scratches about hands length apart?" Blake gave a short nod causing Yang to groan and sit up, Ruby knowing exactly why. "The stupid Hellk is back."

     "Hellk?"

     "Just what we call it," Ruby said with a whine as Yang's movement shifted the covers and allowed cold air to rush between them. "A massive elk-like Grimm."

     "Dad's been trying to kill it for years but it always retreats and comes back stronger," Yang yawned and slipped out of the bed. "Come on, Lazy, you've had your ten minutes. I'm doing breakfast."

     "Has your dad never hunted it down?"

     "Too much hassle," Ruby yawned due to her sister and finally sat up to stretch properly. "Plus, it's really freaking strong."

     "Yeah, best not to follow that thing back to it lair," Yang confirmed and poked Blake in the stomach as she walked out of the room. "Bacon and eggs good with you?"

     "Sure."

     "Good. You two can sort out the backyard while I'm cooking."

     "Hey! I'm the team leader!" Ruby shouted after her sister, only for Yang's head to pop around the door again.

     "And I'm in charge of the house till Dad gets back," she said strictly. "Now come on. Up."

     Sticking her tongue out as Yang's head disappeared from sight, Ruby heard a small chuckle from Blake and gave her a smile. Their eyes connected for a minute and a slight awkwardness filled the room, This wasn't their dorm room; it wasn't a shared space where they always saw each other, it was her actual room and she was still wearing her pajamas. Though she knew Blake wasn't looking, she still felt a little shy at the exposed skin and the privacy of it and clearly Blake caught on and looked away with a cough.

     "Sorry," She said quietly and backed out of the room. "I will leave you to get dressed."

     "R-Right," Ruby said awkwardly. "I won't be long."

     With a short nod, Blake walked out of view and Ruby let out a loud sigh and collapsed back into her comfortable bed. Every time she looked at Blake since the kiss at the tree she couldn't help but think back to how it had felt. It was much more heated than their first two and while Blake was still obviously trying not to go too fast, Ruby's lips still tingled as she thought of it. She knew all about the body reacting to the stimulus, but she had never expected the reaction to be so strong.

     She had practically melted into the kiss, the feeling making her mind rush so much and making her want to just stay there forever. The way Blake's body pressed lightly against hers had made her whole body heat up like a furnace, her stomach to flip, and had it continued any longer Ruby knew she would have let her hand snake around Blake's back to pull her closer. Just thinking about it again made her flush.

     Unfortunately, Blake was waiting and they needed to get the garden sorted before breakfast was done, so giving her head a shake in an unsuccessful attempt to rid herself of the thoughts, she let out a loud groan and reluctantly pushed herself out of bed.


     A cold breeze blew past Ruby as she opened the door to the garden and stepped outside. Despite the sun being completely hidden, its light still brightened the clouds enough to sting her eyes so she quickly raised a hand to block them out. Thankfully the weather itself wasn't too bad outside of the breeze, so she had been able to do with a simple red hoodie and a pair of jeans.

     Scanning the treeline, she saw Blake knelt by the scattered lawn furniture. Even from where she was, Ruby could see that it was broken beyond repair and Blake clearly realised it too as she picked up the splintered wood and turned around this a shrug. Despite the broken furniture, she couldn't help but give the girl a smile.

     "I don't think we are fixing this," Blake said with a sigh and placed it into a bag.

     "That's like the thousandth chair they've broken," Ruby shrugged and moved over to help pick up the remaining shrapnel, only to find one piece was scorched. "Though I'm pretty sure we are cleaning up after Yang right now."

     "Aren't we always?" Blake chuckled.

     Smiling at her girlfriend's words, Ruby looked up and regretted it immediately. Butterflies erupted in her stomach the moment her eyes caught Blake's amber orbs and the thoughts she had successfully cleared from her mind came rushing back. Is this how it's always going to be? She asked herself with an inward groan. It wasn't that she didn't like how Blake made her feel, because she really did, it was more of an issue because it was so debilitating. Every look, every word, every slight touch sent Ruby's mind racing and make her want to continue what had been left at the tree, and she was still struggling with calming it down.

     "I do remember you saying Grimm attacks were common out here."

     "For us, yeah," Ruby nodded and moved to pick up another piece of wood, glad of an excuse to look away. "They tend to avoid the main town due to the defenses, but since we're on the outskirts…"

     "I see," the raven-haired Faunus replied with a hum. "Your dad never thought to get some defences here?"

     "Nah, it would be a waste of money," Ruby said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "He's a pro huntsman, so is my uncle who visits regularly, and both me and Yang are in training. The odd Beowolf or Ursa were just good practice. Even Zwei fights Grimm."

     "That is a very good point," Blake laughed and picked up the towel that usually hung over the now destroyed furniture, though Ruby noticed one of the cat ears twitch.

     "You hear something?" she asked curiously and held open the bag for Blake.

     "I think a twig snapped north-west, might be mistaken though."

     "Hmm. Zwei!" At her call, the Corgi bounced from the house, his tongue lolling the side, and Ruby pointed to the direction Blake had said. "Go check."

     Without hesitation, the small hound ran off towards the forest with a small yip. Ruby remembered how the sight of watching Zwei bound into the woods to hunt Grimm would terrify her as a child, how she would always fear he would never return and her precious puppy would be gone forever. However, as the years went on, she'd learned that he always returned. While he was perfectly fine fighting Grimm, he would never do it unless he had a human at his side. So knowing it would take a couple of minutes for him to return, she continued to clear up the yard with Blake.

     "There's likely gonna be a couple days of fighting them off," Ruby said, fully expecting to hear a loud bark from the woods at any moment. "They always try to take over the area when we leave for more than a day."

     "Well I'm sure we can handle them," Blake smiled kindly.

     The smile went unnoticed however as Ruby had just spotted something else that was broken and quickly made her way towards it. Dropping to her knees, she let out a small sigh and lifted the small ceramic shard gently off the ground. Like the furniture, the ceramic wall was cracked in numerous places and would take a lot of effort to fix, as would the rosebush that was now crushed to death. A slight sadness washed over Ruby as she looked of the messed up flower bed.

     "Everything okay?" Blake asked, a hand landing comfortingly on her shoulder.

     "This was my mom's," Ruby said sadly and tried to place the shard back where it came from, only for another piece to fall away. "It's never been broke before."

     "Oh."

     The hand on her shoulder squeezed reassuringly before leaving it as Blake walked away. Hearing a rustle behind her, she was about to look behind her when Blake reappears and crouched down beside her with the towel they had thrown away. Quickly placing it on the floor, she began piling the broken shards onto the fabric and recognising what she was doing, Ruby placed the pieces in her hand onto the towel. With all the stray pieces collected, Blake carefully folded the towel and placed it aside.

     "Ceramic doesn't shatter like glass, so it's not too bad," Blake said quietly.

     "I know," Ruby said with a sad nod. "The rose bush will need replanting though. This little part always felt sacred, no matter how many Grimm came, it never got damaged. Like Mom was protecting it."

     "I'm sorry," the Faunus sighed and gave her a small hug. "I'm sure Yang will happily remake it wi…"

     BARK! BARK!

     Blake was cut off as Zwei's loud bark echoed around the area and Ruby span to see the corgi running full speed out of the forest, almost immediately followed by a large Mantid. The grotesque black Grimm skittered across the ground on its six legs as it dragged it's large peapod body behind it. At the top of its thin body were a pair of razor sharp, serrated, white claws that could cut through flesh as if there were no resistance; and from the mouth, set below two bulbous red eyes, dripped a green liquid that Ruby knew was acid strong enough to melt bone on contact.

     Acting before Blake could even stand up, Ruby pulled her sniper scythe from behind her back and quickly fired a shot at its head. The brown bullet exploded as it impacted on the white skull to cover the entire head in a hard stone; wasting no time, Ruby unfolded her Scythe and activated her semblance to zoom towards the creature. It may not have been the one to destroy the flower bed, may not have even been in the vicinity; but by the gods was it going to pay for what its kind had done.

Chapter Text

     Ruby felt the fast wind push her hood down as she soared towards the creature at breakneck speeds. All it would take is one strike through the Mantid Grimm's thin body and it would be cleaved in half, usually a rather difficult things to do, but that was why she'd made sure to encase its head in stone first. Blind and Strike was always the best tactic for a solo Grimm. So rearing her scythe back as she approached, she swung forwards in a graceful arc to slice the thing in two.

     Unfortunately, just as what tended to happen, not everything went to plan. Though the Grimm remained blinded, it turned to face away from her and brought its armor-covered abdomen up to block the hit. Feeling the scythe glance off the armor, she shifted her weight enough to let it roll along the long body and fired off another shot, this one sending her spinning into the air. Landing a short distance away facing the creature, she saw the rock around its head crumble and a small flood of viscous green liquid fell to the floor; smoke rising as the grass withered at its touch.

     With no down time at all, the nine foot tall creature flattened its body and began to charge at her. Seeing movement from the corner of her eye, Ruby jumped. As if by instinct, her arm reaching out to grab the sickle that had been thrown and was immediately pulled away from the grotesque insect just in time to avoid the abdomen as it twisted to hit her again. Landing next to Blake, she saw the creature crash through a table that had somehow survived Yang's tussle the previous day.

     "I've never fought one of these," Blake said quickly as the thing was already starting to recover. "What should I look out for?"

     "Sharp claws, acid spit, and its mandibles are like a vice," Ruby relayed quickly. "Aim for the thin thorax."

     "Movement and vision?"

     "Three-sixty vision, but kinda slow. It's abdomen weighs a ton and slows it down, but also hits hard."

     "Stay moving, got..."

     Blake's words were cut off as they both jumped to the side to avoid a stream of liquid, the heat of the searing concoction warming Ruby's cheek despite being out of its range. Time for relaying information was over and Ruby stepped forward to intercept the already close Grimm. It may have been slow by Grimm standards, but it was still faster than your average animal and could close gaps quickly when needed. As a claw descended upon her, she gave Crescent Rose a spin to knock it away with the butt of the scythe's hook and allowed the momentum to drag her backwards, out of the range of the other claw that had followed. Flipping backward, she dug the tip of her weapon into the grass to anchor herself and fired off a shot the moment her feet hit solid ground, the bullet striking the white, armored head and forcing it to recoil.

     Not wasting a second of the opening, Blake ran past her and made an attempt at the thin body only for a pair of wings to erupt behind it and flutter hard enough to drag it backward, causing her strike to miss. Correcting herself instantly with a slight pirouette, she raised her sword at block the downwards strike of the two claws and effortlessly rolled to the side. Seeing an opening, Ruby fired another shot only for the creature to duck below it. Just like before, it began to charge.

     This time she waited until it was close before jumping to land on its heavy abdomen, but before she could do anything it had already raised it head and span it completely around to look at her. Glowing red bore into her own silver and she knew she couldn't dodge as a jet of acid hit her chest so activated her aura instead. Feeling the liquid burn despite her aura protecting her from actual harm, Ruby jumped back and landed near the broken table just as another stream was sent her way. This time she was prepared and her scythe was already in motion, the two fangs of the hook digging into the broken table top and bringing it up to block the attack; the wood bursting into flames instantly.

     To compensate for its legs unable to turn it quick enough, the veiny black wings erupted from its back again and lifted it an inch off the ground, but Blake was ready. Using her own semblance to boost her speed, she sprinted past and slashed out, her blade cutting the thin wings off and grounding it. Seemingly annoyed by this, the Mantid leaped forward in an attempt to crush her, but Blake merely faded into shadow and the real one appeared at Ruby's side.

     "It's being too defensive for us to get to the thorax. We need those claws out of the way," Ruby said, wiping the gunk off her front so she could conserve more aura. "I can do that, if you can get the body?"

     "I'll follow your lead," Blake nodded, her words punctuated by a small chattering as the creature turned to face them again.

     "I only have three rounds left, so give me cover fire until I create an opening," Ruby instructed as the Grimm sized them up, knowing that Blake had more ammunition on her than she did. "You'll know when to strike."

     Blake collapsed her weapon into its gun mode at the order and took off to the right while Ruby sped straight at the creature. As she predicted, it tried for another downward strike and she nimbly dodged it with a simple lean and brought her scythe up. Once again the beast went into a defensive stance and caught the blade with its other claw, attempting to toss her aside. Taking it in stride, she leapt up to let the force carry her body around and shoved both of her feet into the creatures face. It didn't do much due to the size difference, but it was enough for her to push herself away and slip Crescent Rose free just as three shots collided with the white plating. Not wanting to waste the opening, Ruby fired off a shot of her own as she landed and the creature stumbled from the impact.

     With that however came its abdomen, which swung around at such a speed that Ruby barely managed to jump up in time. Barely clearing the incoming object, her scythe hooked around a leg and severed it cleanly as more shots from Blake landed in the back of the vile thing's head. With it off balance and injured, Ruby knew she was ready and rolled back into range of its claws. They were the only way through, as any attack from behind would be met with acid, and she needed to do as she said and get them out of the way. With its mobility hindered the creature scuttled backwards a little and Ruby advanced; her scythe slashing out, but each attack was blocked by the creature's quick claws. With each deflection, the Mantid would try for one of its own but she danced her way between them as Blake littered the insect's head with bullets to keep it confused.

     Finally she saw her opening. The creature tried to lay its body down on top of her, but she repelled it with another smack from the butt of her weapon's head which, just as she planned, was blocked. The block forced the Mantid to rear up further, its claws going above its head and with a graceful spin, she let her scythe head crack back into its extended form and cleaved a perfect diagonal arc towards the thorax. She didn't intend it to kill as she knew it would be blocked again, but it was that block she needed. The claws instantly shot back down and caught it as the body flattened to the ground and the vice-like mandibles clamped down on the blade.

     That was the creature's last mistake.

     Triggering the transform mechanism, that she had purposely designed to have a little more kick than it probably should have, she hopped and let the force pull her around as Crescent Rose straightened out. Once it was locked into place in its normal form, she let herself fall a little while holding the grip and jammed her feet against the back of the Grimm's head while pulling her scythe back and letting off another shot.

     The kickback caused the grip of Crescent Rose to jut backwards, making the creature's whole torso bend until she was laid against the armor of it large abdomen. With its head unable to turn due to her feet keeping it locked facing away, and it's claws unable to defend its thorax, it was practically defenceless. And Blake didn't miss a beat.

     Before Ruby's back was even fully against the armor, Blake appeared in the air; her weapon sheathed and spinning fast. Ruby recognised the move and at the opportune time fired off a shot, her last bullet, that struck the end of Blake's sheath, the extra force making her spin even faster as she descended, until the moment came. Less than a meter away, she unsheathed her weapon in one fluid movement and both her blades struck their mark, cutting through the thorax like butter and leaving behind a trail of purple light from the force of the attack.

     Feeling the slack as the body split in two, Ruby tumbled backwards but quickly turned it into a roll, landing on her feet in time to see the Grimm fading into smoke. The battle had not been long, not much more than a minute in fact, but Ruby couldn't help but breathe deeply. Mantids weren't the hardest Grimm ever, but even the weak ones still put up a hell of a fight.

     "Not too bad," Ruby heard Blake say while she was bent over and checking her precious scythe for scratches. Seeing none, she let out a relieved breath and straightened herself up. "I still prefer Beow…"

     Blake cut out and quickly turned around, but not before Ruby saw her eyes narrow and her ears flatten. Looking around for what had caused such a reaction, she quickly found it and blushed a deep scarlet. She thought she'd removed all the acid from her chest before turning her aura off, but it appeared she had missed a bit, and it had burned a hole in her hoodie. Almost the entire left side of her bra and part of her stomach were visible and Blake had received a full shot of the lacey material that was just as scarlet as her face likely was.

     Idiot, she thought to herself as she covered herself up and turned away from Blake to head into the house and get a new hoodie that didn't expose her so much.


     "Idiot," Yang's scolding words caused Ruby to visibly flinch as the blonde shoveled bacon into the reaper's plate, Ruby quickly picking up a piece and sucking on it with a frown. "What has dad said about rushing in without a plan?"

     "I had a plan," Ruby countered, though the sting of her tone was lost as she was clearly enjoying the food. "It just didn't work out, so I made another. It's not like you ever have a plan."

     "I always have a plan," Yang replied and turned back to get the eggs.

     "Punch it till it dies isn't a plan," Blake answered, taking a bite of her own food. Yang may not seem like the kind, but she was actually a rather decent cook. "More a motto than anything."

     "Don't you take her side," the boxer scowled and scooped and egg onto her sister's plate. "I was watching from here, she rushed in foolishly and gave the advantage to the Mantid."

     "She did," Blake admitted, earning a sad look from her girlfriend. "But she knew I was there to help fill in the gaps, and was quick to correct her plan. Signs of a good leader if you ask me."

     Yang glared at her for a second, though the action was clearly for show as there was no annoyance behind her lilac eyes, until she finally let out a sigh and placed what was left of the food onto a third plate and sat down at the table.

     "This is gonna happen a lot now, isn't it?"

     "What?" Ruby asked.

     "You two siding with each other."

     "Probably," Blake smirked at her partner as a pained look passed over her eyes. "Get used to it."

     "I can't believe I miss Weiss already," Yang replied with a roll of her eyes.

     Feeling a little smile pull at her lips, Blake continued pecking at her food as the three of them passed idle chit chat. She still couldn't remember when it had started to feel so normal to joke and mess around with her team, but she couldn't say she disliked it. It felt like years since she'd had anything of the sort, as even her final years in the White Fang were barely spent with anyone she considered friends. The team certainly had their falling outs or disputes, like Yang's earlier annoyance, but they always passed and Blake always felt a sigh of relief when they did. Ruby and Yang were the biggest example of that.

     Most likely due to them being sisters, the two fell out with each other constantly over very minor stuff such as broken mugs or ripped pictures, but the fights rarely lasted a day before they were laughing with each other again. Every relationship on the team seemed to have taken on those aspects too, the minor falling outs, the quick mending of fences, and it was more confirmation to Blake that they were becoming what Yang had said at the party. They weren't friends to her anymore, they were sisters. With the exception of Ruby of course.

     People didn't feel about their sisters how Blake felt about Ruby, well not most people anyway. Ruby had become something more altogether. She was her first thought when she woke up in the morning, the person who drew her eyes without fail when she entered a room. Talking to her was more than enough to put a smile on her face and she found herself seeking those moments more and more. It scared her a little as she remembered just how fast she had fallen for Adam, but she also found comfort in knowing Ruby was nothing like that. With Ruby she could be herself and didn't have to worry about hiding things or appearing strong.

     That wasn't to say she wasn't still holding back though in a few areas though. Blake still wasn't sure what Ruby was ready for or not, and didn't want to push anything. Kissing seemed fine, Ruby even seemed to like when Blake kissed her, but even those kisses were a little tame. But then there were other things that, while knowing they were very far away, Blake couldn't stop invading her mind. Like the incident that had taken place less than an hour ago.

     Despite how she portrayed herself, Blake certainly wasn't void of desire, that much would be obvious to anyone who looked at her book collection; but after noticing the state of Ruby's hoodie, Blake had to practically force herself to turn around to be respectful. It may as well have been more than she had seen when Ruby accidentally poked her head out of the bathroom because at least then there had been nothing to see, nothing to make out. This time however, most of the lace bra was visible and Blake's eyes had lingered a little too long and allowed her mind to formulate everything the curves represented.

     She knew Ruby didn't mind at all, that accidents like that happened and that even she had those thoughts, but hers had lingered during the entire time they spent cleaning the backyard; despite her best attempts to get rid of them. For all the freedom she felt with Ruby, she still couldn't help chastise herself for letting those thoughts continue for so long. She knew that she really needed to get them under control if she was going to keep her self-imposed promise to let Ruby always take that first step.

     "Remnant to Blake!" The loud voice of Yang startled her out of her thoughts and she looked at her partner with confused eyes. "Jeez, been a while since you dipped out like that."

     "Huh?" Blake looked around and saw that they were alone and Yang was collecting the empty plates. She did have a tendency to get lost in her head, but Yang was right in saying that it hadn't happened in a while. "Sorry, where did Ruby go?"

     "Upstairs to clean up," Yang replied and slipped the plates into the sink. "Something bothering you?"

     "Not bothering, per say," Blake sighed and stood up to walk over to her partner. "Just something on my mind."

     "Would that something be this," Yang grinned and pulled the ruined hoodie from the nearby bin. "Bet ya got an eyeful, huh?"

     "Shut up," Blake rolled her eyes as Yang pressed the red fabric against her chest.

     "Oh come on, you both looked so adorable freaking out over a little bra shot," Yang laughed and threw the scorched remains aside. "Was standing there trying not to crack when Ruby ran though."

     "Well it's not funny to me," Blake said firmly, causing the laughter to stop immediately. "It's actually a little frustrating."

     "Right…" Yang sighed, and turned the tap on to wash the plates. "Forgot you have that weird thing about Ruby making all the first moves."

     "It's not weird, it's right," Blake countered and handed Yang the washing up liquid.

     "If you say so," Yang shrugged. "You'll probably find it weird having this convo with me and I'm not gonna tell you to go bonk my sister, because that would be even weirder, but what I will say is that if you're waiting for Ruby to make all the first moves, then you will be waiting for a long while. She has no idea what she is doing in that area."

     "We have only just kissed, Yang," Blake argued, pulling open a drawer that Yang was pointing to and taking out a towel. "I'm fine waiting a while for whatever comes next, doesn't mean it's not hard though."

     "That's what he said," Yang chuckled, but quickly raised her arms. "Sorry, couldn't resist. But seriously, relationships are a give and take. You both need to take risks and know where those lines are. Ruby will say if its too far for her, so stop being scared to explore where those lines are if that is what is what you want. As much as I hate to admit it, Ruby isn't a kid."

     As Yang washed the dishes, Blake took a second to think on what she had just said. It certainly made more sense than her current decision, but she couldn't help feel hers was more right. She was Ruby's first girlfriend, she deserved the right to explore on her own accord and not because her partner wanted too.

     "You're right," Blake sighed, getting the hint that Yang wanted her to dry the china as the blonde placed them on the counter. "Talking to you about this is weird. Can we change the subject?"

     "Sure," Yang shrugged again and began on the pan. "Wanna tell me what made Ruby rush in like that?"

     "Oh," Blake exclaimed, slowly going over the plates to make sure she got every little part. "The flowerbed broke yesterday in your fight and she was kinda upset about it."

     "Fuck," the brawler breathed, the disappointment in herself obvious. "I didn't even see that."

     "We collected all the parts in a towel outside, if that helps?"

     "I'll sort it out later," Yang sighed, placing the now clean pan between the tap and the windowsill to dry on its own. "Thanks though."

     "No problem," Blake smiled kindly and placed the towel aside. "I'm gonna go clean up too."

     "Alright."

     Walking away from her partner, she turned back as she reached the door and saw Yang leaning over the counter with her head hung low. Clearly the girl was upset about the flowerbed too, so Blake left the room to give her some space. From the sounds of it, Ruby was cleaning up in the upstairs bathroom, so she quickly altered her path to the downstairs one grabbing her things from her backpack in the living room.

     May as well think about what Yang said while I'm in there.

Chapter Text

     Tearing her sword from the already disintegrating corpse of the Beowolf, Blake slipped it back into it sheath and affixed it to her back with a sigh. She had spotted a hill during her patrol yesterday that she had wanted to check out, but couldn't since she was busy protecting the house at the time. Instead the had made a mental reminder to check it out the next day, and, for the most part, she was glad she did. The third unfortunate Beowolf to be cut down did dampen the hills beautiful views a little though. Ruby really wasn't kidding when she said the Grimm tried to move in when the place was left alone. The day before, they had rushed outside four different times due to a seemingly endless amount of different Grimm types emerging from the forest. It was so bad that Yang had spent the night awake to keep guard.

     Breathing out a low groan as she finally reached the hill, she started the climb up to the top. It was a bit steep from the side she was climbing, but the other side was a pretty long, sheer drop. After only a minute or two of scrambling up the rock face, she reached the top and looked out over the island of patch. While not the highest hill of the island, it was still high enough to look out over the trees that littered the west side of the island. The sight was actually rather serene, so pulling a book from her inside pocket, she sat down on the grass and settled in to read while she thought over some things.

     The last two days had been a little awkward for her, but she was finally beginning to settle down. Last night as she watched Yang fixing the flowerbed under flashlight, Blake had thought on the girl's words and realised a few things. With how happy she had been at the party, with the admission of how much Ruby liked her and the kisses that Blake could still feel tingling her lips when she thought of them, she realised she'd been running a little hot. It wasn't too uncommon given her preferred reading material for Blake's libido to run high, but it was something she needed to get under control. So she had purposely repacked her more explicit books into her bag and shoved it under her bed, leaving out only her dramas and mystery novels.

     She had also realised that Yang was partially right. While Blake didn't want to, and would never, push Ruby in any way, there was the chance that Ruby would struggle with those first moves. Even when she felt those things were needed with Adam, Blake herself had struggled to go that far, and she was already fascinated with the books that were now hidden in her bag by that point. But Ruby was still new to dating, still unsure of how to cross those lines, and Blake holding that part of herself back completely wouldn't help; in fact it could even come off as her being disinterested.

     That didn't mean she was going to start having heated make-out sessions with the reaper. No, she was still adamant Ruby would be the one to make the first steps; but that didn't mean she couldn't take the initiative and show Ruby that she was fine with whatever step the girl wanted to take. If those steps took weeks, months, or even years, then so be it. There was one step that Blake wanted to take though, and that step was the cause of her small little hilltop getaway. That thing was a single word.

     Girlfriend.

     She had thought the word on a couple of occasions in the last week, and had even almost slipped up, both at the party and last night. As far as she was concerned, she was comfortable with that being their definition, but raising that subject was awkward. Despite having kissed a couple of times and having admitted to really enjoying spending time together, Blake wasn't sure if Ruby was on that page yet. It was a rather forward step to go from dating to girlfriends. One was fluid and offered some relief from pressure, the other was static and confirmed something more serious.

     But with two dates passed, and her feelings only growing stronger, Blake felt it was something she needed to talk to her about. If Ruby wasn't on the same page, then so be it, but it was a clarification that Blake needed. She hoped the novelette she was reading would offer her some ideas on how to broach the subject as it was a short relationship drama of two childhood friends beginning a romance.

     Books had always been a good guide for her, and an even better outlet from her own life. Aside from her favoured reading material, she tended to stray towards the more real novels, stories that weren't afraid to shy away from the darkness that came with real life. Though people would usually stray away from what reflected their lives, Blake often felt a book that refused to acknowledge the ugliness was far too idealistic. While she did enjoy the occasional light-hearted novella or even a comic, the latter being much more fun when read with Ruby, the stories never really left her fulfilled or inspired. She hoped the story in her hand proved differently on the latter.

     The book wasn't long at seventy-nine pages, nor was it particularly deep, but she easily found herself liking the characters presented. They were simple, but that simplicity suited their situation and only accentuated the awkwardness of them falling in love. The story was equally as simple, but managed to convey the sincerity of the situation enough that Blake could find a common ground. However, after an hour of silent reading to herself, she reached the end and found herself disappointed.

     The friends had simply given into their urges and kissed. There was no conversation of what they were, no understanding, just them submitting to their feelings; and while it certainly matched the story told, it didn't help with Blake's problem. So with a sigh, she set the book aside and leaned back on her arms. Breathing out a sigh of frustration at not having chosen the right book, she looked over the forest before her.

     Instantly her senses locked onto a cluster of trees that were moving more than the wind could ever cause. Though it was a small distance away, Blake noticed they almost seemed to bend before cracking back into place, only for the trees in front of them to mimic the action. She knew instantly it was a Grimm, and a rather large one at that, as even Ursai Major couldn't move such thick trees so easily.

     Leaning in slightly to try and catch a glimpse of what was causing such a disturbance, Blake felt herself freeze as two trees stopped dead while being pushed apart. Sitting there quietly, she held her breath but felt her heart rate pick up. And then it happened. One of the trees began to return to its normal position but the other kept bending, the strong body twisting as it turned towards her. More trees along its path began to bend and after a couple of seconds, a loud crack filled the air as the truck fell to the floor.

     Blake shot her her feet and shoved the book back into her jacket, watching the trees once again begin to move, this time however they were being shoved aside in a path that was headed straight for her. Feeling herself shake as she knew that she absolutely would not be able to take on whatever that was alone, she turned and took off at a sprint, making sure not to head straight for the house. If it was following her, the last thing she wanted was to lead it back there. As she ran, she reached up to her ear and tapped her team communication earpiece to start the voice call function and called Ruby to give her a heads up.


     It hadn't occurred to Ruby just how much she had become accustomed to the loud noises of Vale before, but as she walked through the shopping district of Patch with Yang and Blake, the difference was obvious. Unlike Vale's massive shopping district that was filled with malls and so many people that you often had to squeeze your way through, Patch's was simply one large square. Only a couple of stores lined it, two of which were grocery stores while the others were for rather specific needs.

     A single computer store, one weapons store, a garage, a couple more that suited the island's inhabitants basic needs, but for anything other than that people had to travel to the main city. In the center of the square was a grassed area with benches and tables, the trees that stood there were usually green, but were stripped bare by the winter, though in the spirit of the approaching holidays they were wrapped in lights before the weather got too cold for anyone to stand. The area was a common gathering place for students and adults taking a rest from their shopping and even in the cold weather there were a few people gathering around the gazebo that stood in the middle.

     While Ruby would have really liked to relax in the gazebo after a long morning of killing Grimm, she knew they couldn't stay away from the house for long. Ideally they wouldn't have had to go out at all as Grimm would no doubt try to capitalise on them not being there, but the cupboards had been pretty empty and they really need some groceries. So knowing they couldn't do without them until their dad returned, Ruby had reluctantly left the house to the Grimm, knowing that they would have to fight them off when they got back.

     "... it was?" Blake asked Yang curiously. The two had been conversing the whole way and had finally got to the subject of some large Grimm living in the forest.

     "The Hellk most likely," Yang shrugged, waving to some old friends. "You said it was pushing tree's aside easily?"

     "Mhm."

     "At least it's moving away from the house," Ruby reasoned as they made their way towards the store. "Not sure we could handle it without dad."

     "Are you kidding?" Yang scoffed and slammed her fists together. "We're Team RWBY."

     "And even we have our limits," Blake replied, Ruby pointing to Yang's pocket and Blake using her free hand to sneakily steal the scroll that was hanging out of the blonde's pocket and handing it to her.

     Giving the girl a mischievous grin, Ruby quickly input her sister's password. A picture of Velvet greeted her, the rabbit faunus grinning happily as Yang and Coco kissed a check each and Ruby felt a smile pull at her face. Quickly opening the pictures as she knew she didn't have long, Ruby found the folder labeled RWBY and quickly scanned through for a decent picture. Finally she found it, a snapshot of Weiss glaring angrily at the camera with her arm raised back ready to throw a book. It wasn't an uncommon reaction and as such, Yang was the only one who ever dared to take the heiress' picture. Selecting it, she pulled down the menu and found Weiss' number.

     'Two days and I already miss you throwing shit at me.'

     "Besides, Weiss isn't here so we're a member down," Blake continued as they neared the store before turning to whisper in Ruby's ear. "Yang doesn't type like that."

     "Oh, right," Ruby replied and quickly corrected it to read much worse and throwing a wink at the end.

     After hitting send she closed out of the files and prepped to hand it back, but was struck but a sudden spark of inspiration and opened the settings. With a few clicks, she changed the language to Atlesian and closed everything again. Passing it back to Blake, who rolled her eyes with a grin, the girl slipped it back into Yang's pocket just in time for them to arrive at their destination.

     The moment the door opened, the smell of cinnamon filled her senses as warm air rushed passed her. The business had originally been two separate stores, a general goods store and a bakery, but after the owners had begun a relationship and got married, they'd decided to turn it into one big store. It was actually one of the biggest and most popular shops on the island and the couple were old friends of their family. Well pretty much every family on the island.

     As they combed the shelves, Ruby picked up a basket and made her way to the confectionary section. Groceries were important, there was no doubting that, but so were cookies. Without the delicious baked goods, how could anyone be expected to keep their spirits up? It was almost impossible. So shoving four large packs of double chocolate chip cookies into her basket, along with some plain ones for Blake and a pack of strawberry chocolates for Yang, Ruby made her way back over to the other girls and received a playful eye roll from both of them. Once everything they needed was obtained, the group made their way over to the counter where a woman with forest green hair gave them a warm smile.

     "Well it has certainly been a while since you two have been in here," Kelly said kindly and began to scan the items. "You're a new face though."

     "A little too long, this is Blake," Yang said happily with a motion to the Faunus, who was inspecting a fridge with what looked to be a fresh cod on a bed of ice. "But yeah, Beacon keeps us all pretty busy. How are you and Beril doing?"

     "We're hanging on," the woman said easily, though Ruby noticed her smile falter a little. "Still getting over what happened though."

     "Huh?" Ruby asked, earning a confused look from the woman before clarity passed across her eyes.

     "Oh, you wouldn't have heard, would you?" She said sadly. "Miss Matte's daughter, Pearl, went missed last week. The Xanths found her body yesterday. Poor girl must have wandered into the woods and ran across some Grimm."

     "Fuck!" Yang breathed out angrily. "Didn't she just turn fifteen last month?"

     As Kelly gave a small nod with a grimace, Ruby felt a wave of sadness wash over her. She had known Pearl from Signal, but she wasn't part of the huntress course. She was a sweet girl, super inquisitive and always tried to help. Not that she could think of anyone who did deserve such a fate, but she certainly couldn't think of anyone who deserved it less.

     "How are her parents?" She asked, knowing the family had been pretty close. "And her brother?"

     "Not good," Kelly said with a sigh. "They've moved to the city to grieve but are returning to bury her here. Feels like that's happening more and more lately though."

     Ruby understood what she meant and gave her a small nod. Though Patch was extremely close to the main city, they still struggled with Grimm. Those Grimm often brought death, which in turn caused negativity; negativity that would very easily spread like wildfire. When someone was cut down, the family would normally leave the island for a while so that their grieving didn't draw more Grimm to the rest of the inhabitants. It wasn't a rule that was forced on people, or even expected, just a courtesy that the people of Patch had developed over the years to keep their friends and families safe.

     "Yeah, we've heard Grimm are become more active too," Blake said gently. "I'm sorry you lost a friend."

     "Thank you," the older woman said with a kind smile. "I'm just glad there are people like you three rising up to protect this world. I'll rest easier at night knowing the strongest huntresses to come out of Patch are back for a while."

     "Well you can call on us if you ever need anything, Kelly," Ruby replied comfortingly.

     "Yeah, you have the number for our home phone and we move surprisingly quick when we need to," Yang added.

     "I will keep that in mind," she said and finished up scanning and packing everything. "Will this be all?"

     "Yea…"

     "Wait," Ruby interrupted her sister and pointed to the fish Blake was still eyeing. "Can you keep that aside for us too? We'll collect it before we head home."

     "Of course," the woman smiled as Yang handed the Lien over. "Please take a cookie each from the bakery too. On the house, of course."

     With a small nod, Yang accepted the change as Ruby retrieved the cookies and Blake picked up the bag. Walking back to the door, they found themselves stopped as the woman called out to them.

     "Oh, I almost forgot. The funeral is on Friday at noon, in Cheer Clearing."

     Ruby exchanged a look with Yang. They could both tell that it wasn't just an invite, but a request to protect what would no doubt be a situation with a lot of negative emotions. The look was merely one of confirmation however, as its was clear that both of them were thinking the same thing. So with a smile, Ruby turned back to their family friend and gave her a nod.

     "We'll be there," Ruby said firmly. "And you can count on Team RWBY… Well, three of my team anyway."

     "I'll let the Mattes know."

     Giving the woman one last smile, Ruby, Blake, and Yang left the store and all three of them let out a deep sigh. Without saying a word, Yang walked off on her own and Ruby kept Blake from going after her with a simple shake of her head. For all Yang's claims of adventure, Ruby knew she loved the people of Patch. Many had helped her after Summer passing with quite a lot of things and that was important to her sister, so Ruby knew she needed a minute to collect her thoughts.

     Seeing the look in Blake's eyes though, she gave her a small smile and pulled her towards the gazebo to sit down. After receiving such news, Ruby simply wanted to sit down and relax with the person who made her happy.


     "Any sugars, dear?"

     "Yes please," Blake replied kindly to the grey-haired woman as she accepted the drinks.

     While Blake would normally consider adding sugar to hot cocoa to be completely unnecessary, she was starting to come around to the idea as it more often than not caused a contented smile to paint itself on Ruby's face. Something about copious amounts of sugar seemed to always bring Ruby immense amounts of joy, and Blake wanted Ruby to have that joy again. She knew what it was like to lose a friend to Grimm, so wasn't surprised by how quiet Ruby had been since they had found out. Even she was saddened by the news as, while it was unfortunately not too uncommon, fifteen was far too young for a life to end.

     Though they had first been sat it what Blake had to admit was a wonderful gazebo waiting for Yang, the weather had unfortunately took a change for the worse and they had darted into a cafe before the rain could flood though the previous structures exposed sides. It wasn't too busy, with only three other people, who had waved when they entered, sat at a nearby table; and the whole place spelled like a wonderful mix of coffee and chocolate. While she was partial to tea herself, those smells were definitely better for a rainy day.

     Setting the drinks down on the table they had chosen, Blake took her seat opposite the slightly gloomy girl and gave her a soft smile.

     "Did you know her well?" She asked carefully.

     The reply wasn't instant as Ruby went about adding three more sugars to her drink, but Blake didn't push her; instead simply waiting and sipping her tea. After a minute or two, Ruby raised the drink to her lips and gave a small nod.

     "She used to watch me train," Ruby sighed and placed the cup back onto the table. "She tried to learn how to fight herself for a while, but she just wasn't cut out for combat. I don't know why she would have gone into the woods."

     "I'm sorry," Blake offered. She knew it was weak, but she had no idea what could have made a girl who couldn't fight run into the woods alone.

     "Thanks," Ruby sighed again and played with the spoon in her drink. "I'm concerned though. Grimm seem a little too active, even for Patch."

     "Coco said they have been migrating too," Blake nodded. "We can check it out if you want?"

     "Tomorrow," Ruby said with a firm nod of her own, her mind obviously already made up on that anyway. "The Xanths found her so she was likely somewhere around Peel's Pond."

     "Then we'll start there."

     With a hum of confirmation, Ruby took another sip of her drink and Blake reached out to work her fingers between the reaper's. Thankfully, that action along with the sugary drink seemed to finally pull a smile from her and Blake happily returned it.

     "Thanks," Ruby said, her tone noticeably cheerier, though still holding a little gloom. "Finding out what happened to her might help her parents."

     "I can hardly say no to my girlfriend's attempt to he…"

     Blake cut herself off immediately as she recognised what she had just done. It had not been a thought, or an easily cut off word this time. No, she had flat out said it while her mind was focused on cheering the girl up. And from the reaction, Blake knew Ruby had definitely noticed.

     The young brunette's thumb had stopped the gentle stroking of the back of her hand that Blake liked so much, and her eyes had widened a little. It was tough to tell what the girl was thinking as she looked into the wide silver orbs, so with doubts running through her mind, Blake looked away to stare at her tea in hopes that the silence would ease the situation. However, after almost three full minutes, that Blake counted in her head, the silence became a little too much for her.

     "S-Sorry," she stuttered, not looking up from her drink. "That was probably too soon. And hardly the right time."

     "I… I don't mind," Ruby said in a soft voice. "I uhh… I didn't know you were there yet."

     Looking up, Blake saw that the silver eyes were resting on her, and there was a twinkle in then that made Blake unable to lie. So taking a deep breath to settle her uncertainty, she gave Ruby a small shrug. "I am. If you're not, then it's fine."

     The silence that followed didn't last long and Blake felt Ruby's thumb move on her hand again. Watching as Ruby's face broke into the very grin that she had hoped the hot cocoa would achieve, she felt her stomach do a backflip and her heart begin to race.

     "I thought I was the only one thinking it," Ruby said with a hint of relief. "That I was moving a little too fast."

     "Oh," Blake said, unable to suppress her own grin. "So umm… If we are both thinking it, should we make it official?"

     Ruby's head had barely finished nodding when Blake leaned across the table and pressed her lips against the girl's. She could feel the smile pulling at them as Ruby quickly returned it, and the two of them let out a relieved breath, glad that they had finally sorted that out. However, before they could choose to part, which wouldn't have happened for a while, the loud ringing of the door's bell rang through the room, and the two of them broke apart to see Yang's hulking form in the doorway.

     Her hair was dripping wet, though not much more than the rest of her, the blonde strands hanging wildly across her face. Every single part of her mud-covered clothes clung to her body from the moisture, and murky water dripped from her as more rain added to that. In fact she was so thoroughly soaked that the owner of the store held up a hand to tell her not to come in. With a small nod to the grey-haired woman, Yang glance over to them and they both stood up to make their way over to her.

     As Blake drew closer, she noticed that one of Yang's Ember Celica was completely out of shells and a large scratch mark had been carved into the paint. It was obvious the girl had sought a fight, and that whatever she had found was no longer living. Thankfully, the brute's eyes seemed to have settled from the stormy anger Blake had noticed when they had left the store earlier.

     "You two ready to head home?"

     The voice was strained, but calm; whatever emotion the girl had been battling having long since passed. So looking to Ruby to find reassurance in her silver eyes, Blake looked back and nodded. As they left the store, she saw Ruby sneak the scroll from her sister's pocket herself, and quickly change the language back to normal.

Chapter Text

     Pulling her coat a little tighter, Blake let out a small breath that instantly turned to fog. The day was another cold one, probably the coldest of the year so far, leading to her choice in clothing being her leather catsuit for once. The tight fabric was a tiny bit restricting, but the fact it kept body heat trapped inside, and the frigid wind outside, were benefits that far outweighed such a small negative. Another thing that was good about her outfit was that Ruby's eyes had flown wide open when she had entered the kitchen wearing it.

     Despite knowing they were going on a mission, of sorts, Blake couldn't help tease her girlfriend a little. With the outfit being very form fitting, she had enjoyed feeling Ruby's eyes on her whenever she reached into a top cupboard for sugar, or stretched in preparation for the mission. They may have been taking things slow, but knowing Ruby was definitely interested, along with seeing the flustered look on her face whenever she thought Blake had caught her looking, was a little too cute to resist. She had even waited until the last possible minute before putting her coat on, something that Yang had remarked about as they left the house.

     The coat itself was a beautiful, white tailcoat with light purple accents, and had been a gift from Weiss after the heiress saw her eyeing it for nearly a week, so she was always cautious about wearing it overmuch. However, despite how thin it was, the material was designed to keep the wearer warm during cold weather, so it was also too good to pass up on such a cold day. Unfortunately, even with her clothing designed to keep out the cold, it was still managing to sneak its way in through the tiniest gaps.

     As she pushed her way through the trees though, she returned her thoughts back to the mission. She was currently following a track she had picked up roughly five minutes ago. She had no idea if it was the right one, as there were no prints due to yesterday's sleet fall, but the broken twigs she was following were definitely not broken by Grimm. Taking a knee as she found another, she heard Ruby and Yang stop behind her.

     "Find something?" Yang asked, just as she did every time Blake stopped to check.

     Blake didn't mind of course, as she knew the blonde simply wanted to know when she could punch whatever had killed the girl. It was however a decent clue this time. While it was just another suspiciously snapped twig, the direction was consistent with all the others she'd found so far. So giving a short nod as she stood up, Blake pointed in the direction she was certain the tracks were headed.

     "They seem to be leading that way," she said firmly.

     "That's Peel's Pond up ahead," Ruby said with a hum. "Guess I should have gone with my gut instead of starting where she was found."

     "No, it's good you changed your mind," Blake clarified. "Had you been wrong we would have wasted a day searching the area. At least now we have confirmation she came from that direction."

     "And what she was doing there."

     Both Blake and Ruby gave Yang a confused look as they had no idea what the blonde was talking about, but thankfully she quickly filled them in.

     "She had a date," Yang groaned with a shake of her head. "Peel's Pond is a dating spot. All the Signal kids know that."

     "I didn't?"

     "Well you never had a date, and graduated before you could."

     "Oh. True."

     "If she had a date then surely there would be someone else missing," Blake said and continued their walk towards the pond, making sure to push Yang aside so that she didn't scuff the tracks. Just in case they were still needed. "We would have heard about that yesterday, right?"

     "I dunno," Yang shrugged and slipped her hands into her pocket. "Hopefully whoever is was got away, or didn't show up. A shitty as that sounds to say."

     Blake understood Yang's meaning on the last part. It felt callous to say as it meant Pearl's last thoughts might have been that she was stood up, but it also meant that person would have avoided what was obviously a very deadly situation. As she thought about it, she was glad that situation would never arise with Ruby; while the reaper seemed to have a little more trouble with fighting people, she was more than proficient at taking out Grimm.

     Blake actually quite liked that about her girlfriend. Ruby cared about not hurting people so much that she always had trouble committing to an all out attack; but when it came to Grimm, she was like a surgical instrument. Never a wasted strike, never a missed opportunity, watching her fight the bloodthirsty creatures was like watching an artist paint a masterpiece.

     "Maybe," Blake said quietly as Ruby came up to her side. "You two know what's on this island, what do you think did it?"

     "Dunno," Ruby said with a sigh. "None that I know of. Kelly said she had small scratch marks on her, but Signal has classes on how to escape Beowolves. She also smelled like seawater apparently, but there are no underwater Grimm this far inland since we have blockades where the river meets the ocean."

     "Yeah," Yang agreed thoughtfully. "Could be something new though, been a couple reports of new stuff lately."

     "If it is then we'll need to tread carefully. Study as much as we can before we kill it, then report straight to Ozpin. New Grimm are bad news."

     "Agreed," Blake hummed.

     Huntsmen and Huntresses weren't just tasked with the extermination of Grimm, though that was their main job, they were also tasked with gathering as much information about them as possible. It was dangerous to come across a new species for the first time, as they would always provide a new challenge, but that was exactly why it was important. Gathering intel helped others who encountered it in the future, meaning less people were likely to die. Of course, the Grimm dying took precedence if it was too dangerous to study, but studying them was always encouraged.

     Fortunately, she wouldn't have to wait much longer to see if it was a new species as they quickly arrived at the pond. Pushing through the trees, her eyes fell upon a body of water that was a little bigger than she expected. It was actually quite beautiful, the still water reflecting the cloudy sky while small bushes lined the bank, each one glittering from the frost that clung to its brambles. Nothing immediately struck her as odd, but clearly something had caught Ruby's attention as she took a step forward and focused on the water.

     "Something wrong?" She asked, alert just in case she needed to track something.

     "The pond should be frozen," Ruby replied, her voice barely above a whisper. "It always is this time of year."

     Ruby was right. With how cold it had been the last couple of days, there should have at least been a thin layer of ice across the pond; but there was nothing. Suddenly the beauty the pond had possessed before turned ominous, and Blake drew her weapon, as did Ruby and Yang.

     "You think whatever attacked Pearl is still here?" Yang asked, following Ruby's lead in keeping her voice quiet.

     "Could be," Ruby hummed and raised the sniper, using her scope to check the other bank. "Fan out. Search the bank for clues, but don't get too close and stay quiet. If it hasn't realised we're here yet, then we keep the element of surprise. But if you see anything that looks like a Grimm, shout."

     "Got it," Blake and Yang said, both of them splitting off in the opposite directions and activating the team's coms, though hers seems to be messing up, and giving a slight bit of feedback.

     Ignoring the slight humming in her ear, as she could still hear Yang and Ruby just fine, Blake kept one eye on the ground and one on the water. As she walked slowly around the bank of the pond, she felt the wet mud slosh around beneath her feet. Ruby was right in that it wasn't normal. In such cold weather the lake should definitely be frozen, and the bank should be hard with frozen mud. Looking towards the water properly, she gazed into it and tried to see anything. Thankfully she saw nothing.

     Good, maybe it's moved on, she thought to herself, returning her gaze to the surrounding area. This place really does make a good dat… Blake cut out her thoughts and shook her head as it wasn't the time to be thinking about such things, though the action made her earpiece hum a little louder. Must be a faulty wire, she thought, making a note to ask Ruby to look later.

     As she continued her search, she knelt down every now and again to investigate some tracks. They were odd, not like anything she had seen before. Multiple thin lines about the width of Gambol Shroud's sheath, but the edges were quite wavy. Had the tracks not been so wide, she would have said they belonged to a snake; but while they were wide, they were also too thin to belong to a King Taijitu.

     "Anything yet?" Ruby's said through her earpiece, the voice causing a shiver to run through her for some reason.

     "No."

     "Found some tracks, could be something else though," Blake replied.

     "Alright."

     Gods, even her voice is amazing. Again, Blake shook her head free of the thoughts. Focus, Blake.

     That was easier said than done. Every time she shook her head the humming from the earpiece seems to get louder; and though it was slightly distracting, it wasn't entirely unpleasant. Thankfully there was no crackle to it, just a hum that her brain seemed to have found some melody to. Pushing it aside, she returned her focus to the bank followed the tracks along the water's edge.

     After five minutes of searching, she felt her foot hit something more solid, yet more giving, than a rock and came to a stop. Leaning down, she pushed some of the mud aside and saw what looked to be a bracelet. Picking it up, she watched all the silver beads drop to the ground and quickly inspected the split ends of the string. It hadn't been torn or ripped away from its owner, but cut. The pink spots that ran along the string itself were enough to tell Blake that the bracelet had not been lost without injury.

     Pocketing the string and reaching down to pick up the beads, she raised them to eye level. Each one was engraved with a single letter, and though she knew what the word would spell, she rearranged them until the word PEARL sat in her hand. Letting out a brief sigh, she stared at them for a second and found herself transfixed. The way the faint light of the sun glinted off of them was almost exactly like the way Ruby's eyes danced in the light. Or when she saw some freshly baked cookies.

     Or after I kissed her, Blake thought with a smile to herself as she looked at the beads.

     "Hey, Blake," Yang's voice came over the coms. "Can you stop humming? It's hard to listen for stuff with you in my ear."

     Yang words caught her off guard. She didn't know when she had started, but her throat was definitely letting out a low rumble in time with the earpiece. "Sorry."

     Pulling her eyes away from the little balls of metal, she quickly placed them into her pocket alongside the string, and continued her investigation. A low fog was starting to pour into the area, not particularly thick at the moment, but with how fast it was coming on they likely only had just over an hour before it became too dense to see the other side of the lake. Letting out a sigh that they would likely only be finding tracks today, Blake followed the tracks until they abruptly ended.

     There were no more tracks. Not on the grass, nor on the bank, so leaning down she inspected the end of them closely. They were deeper, like whatever had left them had dug itself into the mud and jumped. With the extra depth, she could see that the lines weren't in fact solid. Part of them was, the very centre being roughly the same thickness as her arm, but shooting off from them were short, thin lines. While Blake didn't know what had left the tracks, she knew what the lines were. Bone. More specifically the thin, hair-like bones you would see jutting from the spine of a fish.

     Mmm, fish, she thought instinctively. Ruby and Yang had bought her one yesterday and prepared it. After months of decent-at-best school food, the meal had been a wonderful treat, and Blake had savoured every mouthful. The conversation had been pleasant as well. Though Yang and Ruby were still clearly a little upset over Pearl, they all still managed to have a decent time.

     The night had concluded with Blake and Ruby cuddled up on the couch. Not much had happened except a little hand holding and a kiss goodnight, but she remembered how it felt to be near her. How she smelt like strawberries, how due to the warmth of the house Ruby had changed into her pyjamas which clung just that little bit more tightly to her body and accentuated her curves. Her mind raced even now as she thought about how badly she wanted to run her hands over those curves, how she wished she had tasted Ruby neck with her lips when it was so clo...

     No… that wasn't right. She hadn't thought those things last night, though she was certainly thinking about them now; and she could barely stop her mind from racing. And why was she humming again? She could feel it, her throat pulsing in time with the song in her head. Something was wrong, these weren't he…

     Standing up, she looked around and saw the fog was thick enough that she couldn't see her team. But that was too soon as well. Confused by the thoughts, she span around and tried to see through the dense mist.

     Then she saw her and her mind eased. Ruby was there. But why was she in the lake? She hadn't told them that she was entering it. And what had happened to her clothes? Why was she barely wearing anything?

     So they don't get wet, duh, she reasoned to herself, her humming continuing as she took a step towards her girlfriend. The girl seemed to notice her approach and turned to face her, a wide smile painting itself across her face, and she glided effortlessly through the water. An arm raised toward her and Ruby crooked a finger, clearly wanting Blake to join her. Blake knew she shouldn't, that she was supposed to be doing something; but with her beautiful girlfriend before her and a wonderful song playing in her head, she couldn't remember what that thing was. So with no clear reason not to join her, Blake gave the girl a smile and took a step forward with her own hand outstretched.

     That was when she heard it. A loud blood curdling scream that chilled her entire body as if she had been plunged into the pond itself.

     "BLAAAAAKE!"


     "BLAAAAAKE!"

     She was already running as fast as she could, even though she had seen it too late. The pale white, misshapen body that almost looked human from afar that stood in the water, the grotesquely bent arm that was held out to Blake, Blake's own reaching back. By the time she had seen it and took off running, Blake was already underwater, taken by the sea creature to the depths of the pond.

     She was stupid. So stupid. The lake, the humming, the tracks, the seawater smell on Pearl; she should have realised what was happening. But the river barricades had never failed before so she hadn't even considered it. But that didn't matter, hindsight wouldn't help right now, all that mattered was getting to Blake. So stripping her coat and throwing it to the ground as she neared where Blake went under, she prepared to jump in. However, just as she was about to jump, she felt a strong hand close painfully on her shoulder and throw her backwards with enough force that she rolled head over heels a number of times.

     Finally coming to a stop covered in dirt and mud, she looked up just in time to see Yang's blonde hair disappearing below the water. She wanted to shout out again, to run and join so that they could get Blake together, but her smarts won out. She knew Yang wouldn't fail, she never did, so while she waited with her nerves on edge, she retrieved her coat and ran over to collect Gambol shroud from where it was left forgotten and scooped it up. By the time she had shoved it onto the back of her belt, a bubbling could be heard coming from the lake, followed by a geyser of water that sent a malformed shape slamming into a rock on the opposite side of the bank.

     The figure was hideous. Pale white skin stretched over bony ribs so tight that it was torn in places revealing the organs underneath. The arms were bent and crooked, bones and sharp spines stuck out at odd angles. It's face was the most disturbing. Almost human enough to be deceiving from a distance, but Ruby knew that up close that it eyes were actually covered in a thin fleshy veil that was almost always hidden by a curtain of lank, patchy black hair. From the waist protruded six skeletal limbs, each one looking like the carcass of the fish Ruby had thrown away yesterday, and each ending with a malformed eel's head whose jaws snapped at the air. Attached to each the limbs were shining, bulbous yellow sacs.

     As the Syren righted itself and dove back into the water, a disturbance on her side of the bank drew her attention, and she quickly darted forward to meet her sister. Blake was in her arms, her whole body shivering from the ice water she had been plunged into. She was breathing but it was fast, much too fast. She was gulping like every breath was difficult, and before Ruby could say a word Yang had thrown the Faunus into her arms.

     "Help her, I have this."

     Looking at her sister, Ruby saw the blonde's eyes were such a fierce red that she didn't reply and simply obeyed. Before she could move however, one of the creature's skeletal limbs shot out of the water straight at them, only to be swiftly caught by Yang.

     "GO!" She bellowed, the limb twisting side to side as it quickly snapped free of Yang's grasp while pulling the girl forward towards the water. A nod was all Ruby could give and she immediately activated her semblance.

     Carrying another body was still difficult for her, but there was nothing that could make her fail now, not when so much was at stake. Within a second Ruby arrived back at the treeline and placed Blake gently on the floor. She was deathly pale and she knew the girl's body was going into shock. With one last glance over to her sister, she saw the blonde slam her fists together, her hair glowing brighter than the sun as steam folded off her. Another limb shot out of the water, but Yang seized it and pulled hard. That was all the time she had to watch the two beasts fight as she knew Blake needed her attention.

     "B-Blake," Ruby stuttered, trying to get the girl's attention as her trembling hands worked the zipper of the coat down. "I n-need to g-et these off."

     Blake was panicking and there was little she could do for that right now. She needed to focus on the main issue, and that was stopping the blood that would be rushing to Blake's chest. With the coat finally open, she shoved the two sides apart and pulled down the zipper keeping her catsuit in place. She only needed access to Blake's chest, but the zipper didn't go far enough so she was forced to rip the leather a little deeper into the cleavage.

     Just like I wanted to this mo…

     Ruby cut her thoughts short, knowing the Syren was influencing them. Now that it was exposed, it was spreading its song properly to try to play on their desires to weaken them, but Ruby pushed it from her head and instead focused on helping her girlfriend.

     Reaching down to her belt, she pulled one of her spare rounds free and put the tip in her mouth. What she was about to do was risky and that Weiss would berate her if she ever found out, but that wasn't going to stop her, so activating her aura, she bit down as hard as she could and gave it a solid twist; praying the dust inside didn't activate. Thankfully it didn't and the bullet came free. Without wasting a second she poured the bright red powder onto Blake's chest and repeated the process with two more bullets.

     When she was sure it was enough, she grabbed for Blake's arms but they were still flailing slightly as she struggled for breath.

     "Bl-Blake, please," She sobbed, trying to grab the limbs and finally succeeding. "Look at me!"

     She found her voice firm on her last instruction and it clearly punctuated Blake's panicked mind as the amber eyes found her own. Emboldened by the newfound focus, Ruby placed the freezing cold hand on the edges of the dust before placing her own on Blake's chest so that they were covered in as much of the powder as possible. Though she normally would have closed her eyes to focus, Blake seemed to need them to stay focused; so gritting her teeth, she gently activated her aura.

     Heat erupted between her hands and Blake's skin as the fire dust heated up, but Ruby was careful not to let it fully burn. She needed Blake to warm up, not to burn alive. It was tough, Weiss had stressed how careful she needed to be with the aura flow when teaching her, and Ruby tried to remember everything Weiss had said. Thankfully she knew she was doing well as her girlfriend's shivers began to slow, as did her breathing. More and more focus returned to Blake's eyes with each passing second until finally one of the hands lifted and closed over her own. Seeing Blake able to move and breathe properly again finally made the tears that had been on the verge of spilling break free, and she let her head hang in relief.

     "Ru…"

     She cut the girl off and pressed her lips against the Faunus', her relief that Blake was going to be fine too much to stop her. However, less than a second later, she felt a hand on her own chest pushing her away.

     "H-H-Help Y-Yang."

     "But you…"

     "Wil… fine," Blake breathed, her voice still stuttering heavily. "Pl...se."

     Looking her girlfriend firmly in the eyes for reassurance, she found a strength there and knew it was fine for her to leave. So picking up the coat she had dropped to the ground when placing Blake down, she threw it over the Faunus and gave her a fleeting kiss before quickly running to help her sister.

     As strong as Yang was, even she could only hold off an elder Syren for so long. Even the younger ones with their four limbs could be a challenge, but as they grew from their battles they frequently grew extra limbs and even shock sacs. It was those yellow sacs that were causing electricity to run across the limbs, along with causing sparks every time one slammed against the ground. While the current wasn't particularly strong, reports had shown that it was powerful enough to stun for a moment and even leave a nasty burn should it hit an auraless foe.

     Seeing one tear through the air towards her sister, who had jumped to avoid another, Ruby activated her semblance and caught her sister.

     "Thanks, sis," Yang breathed quickly once they landed. "How's Blake?"

     "Fine."

     "Good. Then let's kill this bitch."

     Another limb surged towards them, the very end tipped with the skeletal head of an eel, it's thin needle like teeth barred. Glowing a bright gold, Yang reared her fist back and took a strong step forward as she struck out. Her fist collided with it and the bones shattered and scattered across the ground before quickly turning to smoke. Before they could take another step forward to the creature, it retreated further into the lake out of their reach.

     Knowing that they couldn't fight it in its own habitat, Ruby turned to her sister and gave her a command. "We need it out of the water so don't destroy any more spines. Use them to drag it out."

     With a nod, Yang rushed to the water's edge. Almost immediately another limb shot out of the water and tried to ensnare her but Yang caught it easily. Just as it did the first time, the Grimm twisted it's whole body and Yang was forced to let go, or risk being pulled in. The moment it was free, it thrashed in a circle and three more limbs swept through the air towards them, but they both easily dodged them with a small back step. However, as she moved vaulted backward, Ruby reached out and caught one of the spines with the hook of her scythe just below the eels head.

     Once again, the Grimm tried to spin free, but since there was no arm to twist, its efforts were useless and the bones merely scraped along unyielding metal. It's strength was still an issue however, and if Yang's hand hadn't clamped on to the base of Crescent Rose, Ruby would have likely been pulled into the pond. But Yang and Ruby had been training together for years, they knew each other better than anyone else in the world and there was nobody in the world she trusted more with a piece of herself. So feeling Yang give a strong tug of the weapon, Ruby trusted Crescent Rose to Yang and took off at a sprint towards the main body.

     More limbs cracked through the air as they tried to stop her approach, but she ducked and flipped over each of them. She could hear the song getting louder as the creature grew closer, not only from her sprinting but from Yang fishing it out of the lake. Ruby tried to block it out, but she could feel it digging in, dragging the desire from her. Nevertheless, she activated her semblance and jumped up onto the outstretched limb that Yang was pulling at. The main body was almost at the water's edge, the mottled flesh stretching over the torso flickering and smoothing out, the lanky black hair becoming voluminous and darker. The veiled eyes danced between red and amber. But Ruby ignored it, ignored the fact that Blake's body, or what she thought would be Blake's body, was right in front of her, and continued her charge.

     Limbs flew at her at random, but dodging them with her semblance was effortless. As she reached the flickering body, she leapt and twisted her body in mid air to deliver a drop kick to the creature's face that would make Yang proud. With the Syren off balance, Yang pulled it the rest of the way out of the lake and Ruby used her semblance to push herself forward to avoid taking a plunge.

     "RUBY!" Yang words echoed through the area the second she landed.

     Looking up, she saw Yang throw her scythe straight at her with such force that the spinning blur of red sheared straight through another limb. With little effort, Ruby caught it. Crescent Rose was a part of her and she doubted there would ever come a time where she didn't catch it. And the very moment she felt the metal graze her fingers, she let it slide over her hands and easily altered the momentum to suit her needs. Smacking another limb aside, she let her hand fall to the base so the head carried her forward, sweeping her off her feet and nimbly avoiding another spine that careened at her.

     Repositioning her body and the scythe midair, Ruby jammed the nozzle to the ground and fired off a round to propel her forward. Again her feet collided with the beast, though this time it was its rotted chest, and her knees bent as she gathered her strength. Activating her semblance, she boosted off the creature with enough force to make it stagger backwards towards Yang, just in time to avoid a tentacle that was swung at her. The blonde brute's strong hand quickly wrapped around the thing's head and, with a guttural scream of anger, she twisted her body and threw it as far away from the lake as she could.

     However, as it soared through the air towards the treeline, Ruby felt something wrap around her ankle and instinctively activated her aura. She barely had time to look down and see the skeletal eel trying to bite into her leg before the momentum of the Grimm's body caught up and the world turned into a blur of colour.

     She came to a stop as her back slammed into a tree and pain ran through her body. Aura stopped damage, but that didn't mean you didn't feel it. Thankfully she had a high pain threshold and quickly shrugged it off. In the impact, the spine on her ankle had slipped, but as she lay face down, her instincts told her something was coming. Listening to them, she rolled to the side just in time to avoid the bones that crashed into the spot she had been laying seconds ago; though she didn't avoid the electricity that sparked from it. One thin string of yellow lightning arced toward her and her nerves lit on fire, the immediate pain enough to elicit a grunt from her. She knew any normal person would have screamed from the pain, but Ruby gritted her teeth and bore it while standing to her feet.

     The Grimm was now between them again, its curved, bone limbs holding it a couple of meters off the ground, but this time Yang was the obstacle the thing would have to overcome to get back in the lake. While Ruby would have done her best to stop it getting back into the water, she knew Yang was much better suited for that role if the Syren tried for a full force attempt. So picking up her scythe, Ruby charged forward to attack at the same time that Yang did.

     The sound of sniper shots and rockets filled the air and Ruby was aware of a small, repetitive popping that sounded a lot like Blake's weapon. With each shot, more and more dirt and wood splinters filled the area as they both fought off the grotesque limbs that tried to keep them at bay. Every time they had a second of reprieve from the lashing tentacles, they would attempt to fire at the hideous creature's face or body, but it always either swayed to the side like seaweed or let its body flop disgustingly. While the entire thing was gross, the way the main body moved like it had no bones was enough to make Ruby's stomach churn.

     "This isn't working, Ruby," she heard Yang shout as she missed another shot. "I can't… hit shit."

     "We need… to take more… Ugh... limbs off," she panted in return, feeling another spark hit her body as she barely avoided another swipe. "Slow it down."

     "Open to ideas, here."

     Unfortunately, they were making little progress in getting to the body. Though two spiny limbs hung uselessly from the waist, it still had four left. They were quick too, each one slicing through the air with reckless abandon as it effortlessly repositioned itself with each swing, and getting hit by one guaranteed a shock to the system. She had already received three more hits in her attempt to get close, and her muscles screamed more and more each time the shocks ran through her. But she couldn't let it live, so knowing they had to remove more limbs to finish the fight before it exhausted them, she made a decision and smacked away another attempt to wrap her while twisting her body to throw her Scythe.

     "Strawberries," she called as she let go of it.

     The name had originally been Strawberry Sunrise, named after their favourite food and the gold of Yang's hair, but it had also become quickly apparent that the name was too long to say in the midst of battle. Thankfully, it hadn't taken long to get accustomed to the shortened version and Yang recognised the signal.

     "Got it!"

     She activated her semblance and launched into the air as the scythe hurtled towards Yang. . During her ascent, she saw the blonde sidestep yet another tentacle, that shot towards her as the Grimm dodged the spinning weapon, and twisted her body to punch the incoming scythe. Her fist landed perfectly on the butt of the hook and her gauntlets released a shell that rocketed the scythe into the air, where Ruby was ready to intercept. Emerging from her ball of roses, Ruby landed easily on the top of Crescent Rose and activated her semblance, just as she had against the Syren's chest. Careful not to lose its momentum, Ruby boosted herself off the metal and sent it screaming towards the ground as she went even higher.

     Watching from high on, Ruby saw the short blade attached to the bottom split the ground and force the weapon to bury itself in the ground. Though the intent had been for the spear to cut through the Grimm itself, the Syren had dodged it again. However, Yang had the foresight to launch herself off the ground with the power of her gauntlets and seize two of the tentacles as Crescent Rose continued even deeper, the two long bony limbs that Yang held being severed cleanly when it finally bottomed out like a miniature guillotine.

     Ruby watched everything as she rose higher into the air, Yang growing smaller and smaller until she was barely recognisable below, but as she felt her ascent slow and began to descend, she activated her semblance again and shot straight to the ground. It took less than two seconds for her to reach a speed so fast that she could no longer keep her eyes open, not that she needed them to be. She trusted Yang's aim, they had worked on the move for years and gone over it in meticulous detail; so, while at full speed she reached out both hands and felt a warmth meet them as she caught Yang's Dust rockets.

     "AAARRRGH!"

     Less than a second later, she struck the ground with such force that she knew every bone in her body would have been broken without her aura. That force was what she needed though. Pain exploded across her body as the frost-hardened ground cracked and fractured, the deep fissure spreading out from her landing point like spider webs. Without losing a single ounce of the momentum, she dropped to her knees and slammed the Dust into the crater. The force of her landing combined with the explosion of the dust caused a devastating shockwave to erupt around her, the fire Dust mingling with the wave to give it a burning orange hue and an incredible amount of heat. From what other people had said when they had seen her practice it with Yang, she knew it would look to an outsider like a large bomb was going off.

     The force of the shockwave threw everything backwards. Dirt, rocks, chucks of the earth that had cracked when Ruby landed; even the Grimm that she had landed right next to. The vile thing spun helplessly in the air and Yang launched herself up to finish it. Apparently the Syren wasn't done yet however, as a limb struck out at the blonde. With the momentum of its spinning along with its strength, the force of the strike sent Yang plummeting to the leaf covered forest floor with such force that she bounced off the hard ground and her aura flickered for a second, but not enough to give out. Thankfully she stood up a second later, the limb that had struck her dangling lifelessly from where she had caught it as it slowly faded into smoke.

     Pulling Crescent Rose from the ground proved easy due to it being so cracked from her landing; but as she stood up properly, she felt her body scream bloody murder at her for what she had just done to it. She knew that both she and Yang were low on aura, but thankfully the Grimm was done for. Turning to face where she had heard it land, she saw it laying helplessly on the ground. With only one limb remaining, it was no longer able to stand, no longer able to dodge or do anything to save itself. The only thing it could do was drag itself along the cold earth with its weak, broken arms that were only fit for holding something underwater.

     In a last attempt to save itself, the final limb shot towards Yang, but once again the girl's hair glowed like the sun as she caught it. Knowing shocks would be running through Yang's already weak body, Ruby raised her sniper and shot the limb off at the middle. With the head that allowed it to move gone, the final spine dropped pathetically to the ground and remained still.

     Watching Yang walk over to it, Ruby returned her weapon to its scythe form, the noise echoing across the now silent area and drawing Yang's eye. The blonde seemed to understand, and instead of finishing it instantly, she reached down to seize a clump of the horrid black hair to hold it up. As the body was picked up, the thin arms tried to scratch at Yang with its sharp claws, but the gold shimmer of Yang's aura protected her.

     "All yours, Sis."

     There was no rush now, it's fate was sealed after all, so Ruby held her scythe to her side and walked calmly towards the despicable creature. She had never been one for hate, never in her life had she actually hated a person, and knew she never would, no matter what they had done. But these things, they were not human. They didn't have feelings, or mercy; all they did was kill and ruin lives. How many had the one before her killed to grow so strong? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Likely the latter. Then it had killed a friend, a child taken from her family forever, and then tried to kill Blake. It was those thoughts that rushed to the forefront of her mind and told her everything she needed to know. The pathetic thing in front of her was one thing she hated with her whole being.

     However, as she was almost in killing range, something happened that caused Ruby some confusion. One of the veils that covered its eyes had split open during the fight and the black ball beneath was visible, the red iris in the center spasming around in the socket. But as Ruby drew closer, the red stopped spinning and locked into her own silver eyes. It was then that it happened.

     The red contracted and the body began to squirm more. The weak arms that had been meekly clawing at Yang's began frantically scratching and tearing at the thing holding it in place. With every step, the thrashing grew more and more frantic as the red eye refused to stray away from her own silver ones. It was then that Ruby saw it, an emotion. Not love, or anything redeeming; but fear. Pure, unrestrained fear.

     Good, Ruby thought viciously as she finally got close enough and slowly raised her scythe with aching arms. Let it be scared. Let it feel the fear that all its victims felt.

     Holding the scythe high in the air for a moment, Ruby took a deep breath. Expelling it slowly, she brought the heavy metal weapon down. The blade slid through the rotted, pale flesh with ease, and the writhing instantly stopped as the body slumped lifelessly to the floor. Straightening up, she saw the head still dangling from Yang's hands by the thin strands of hair, it's mouth dropping open to reveal two rows of broken, chipped teeth. However, after a couple of seconds, smoke began to rise and the head slowly disintegrated from the neck upward. Just before it was done, Yang dropped it carelessly to the floor.

     "Bitch," Yang growled, spitting on what little remained of the skull before turning to look her way. "You okay?"

     "Yeah," Ruby breathed, whole whole body screaming at her as the adrenaline faded. "We should get Blake…" She was cut off as she looked at her girlfriend. "... home."

     Littered around the treeline were smoking Beowolf bodies. Ruby hadn't even noticed, but it appeared Blake had recovered enough to protect them from any other Grimm that had tried to join the fight. But the fight seemed to have drained what energy the girl had left, and Ruby quickly rushed forward as Blake struggled to pull her sword from the corpse of a vulpine beast. Arriving just in time as Blake's legs gave out, Ruby wrapped a hand around her waist and kept her steady.

     "You should have called for help," Ruby said with a sigh as she heaved Blake up to her feet, but merely receiving a slight chuckle in return.

     "I'm fine," She replied, her voice clearly very tired despite her words. "Can you maybe scold me at home though? So I can lay down."

     She was most certainly going to scold Blake for putting herself in danger without telling them, but for right now, she needed to thank her. As Blake finally found her feet, Ruby pressed in and kissed her. With no Grimm or emergency to interrupt them, Ruby put as much feeling into it as she could, before pulling away to give her a smile.

     "Thank you. For protecting us."

     "Alright you two, save the cute stuff for later," Yang said before Blake could reply, taking Blake from Ruby with a groan. "We all need some rest."

     Ruby couldn't lie, rest sounded really good as her entire body was screaming for her to sit down, so much so that even the walk home seemed daunting. So giving her sister nothing more than a nod, she slipped her hand into Blake's and the three of them slowly made their way back to the house.

Chapter Text

     Ruby was oddly peaceful as she lounged on the couch, her head finding a home on Blake's lap while Yang massaged her legs. After a battle that had left her entire body aching, it was nice to be spending the day relaxing. Thankfully the Grimm also seemed to be giving the relentless attacks a break, though that was likely because they had defeated the Syren.

     Elders had a nasty habit of attracting Grimm, so they were always the priority in a fight as, if left alone, they would simply call for backup. The Syren also explained why the Grimm had been so frequent. The Hellk being around was bad enough, but a second elder would have been real bad had it not been dealt with so quickly. Her entire body being in pain for a day or two was a worthy price to pay.

     Her aching body also meant she had an excuse to be closer to Blake. She wasn't sure if it was because the girl had almost died, but things felt a little easier. Sure, she still had the image of a completely naked Blake in her head thanks to the Syren's song, but the smaller things that used to cause her to pause seemed to not bother her anymore. It had surprised her most last night, when she effortlessly gave Blake a kiss goodnight and didn't even realise she had done it until she got to her room.

     However, as much as she was enjoying being tended to by her sister and her girlfriend, that did come with some pain whenever either of them made the slightest of movements. Like the movement Blake made to reach for the remote control to change the channel, which dragged a groan from Ruby's throat.

     "That's what you get for doing Strawberry Sunrise," Blake said disapprovingly. "We really need to rework that move."

     "Pfft," Yang breathed, her fingers digging deeper into Ruby's calves. "The move is fine. Right, Rubes?"

     "Yeah, maxi...owwww," Ruby, forgetting that her arms were also sore, had thrown her arms into the air and immediately regretted it. Returning them to their previous position on the couch, she let out a small hiss. "Maximum power."

     "Maximum bone breaking if you screw up," Blake scolded them both.

     "Nah, we've been working on it for years," Yang scoffed.

     "Beside, we only use it in emergencies."

     Blake simply shook her head with a sigh and changed the channel the main news network. However, as the broadcaster went over the goings on in Vale, Ruby felt her girlfriend's hand graze the tips of her hair. Though it caused her some pain, she shifted her head a little closer to the hand and gave Blake a grin, causing the girl to roll her eyes. Nevertheless, the hand quickly began to weave through her hair and a relaxed feeling came over her.

     Laying there in her relaxed state, listening to the Lisa Lavender go over the business news as Blake and Yang soothed her aching body, Ruby mulled over what they had done after the fight. Once Blake was in bed and taking it easy, Ruby insisted that she go to the relay office to report the barricade breach personally, but Yang had firmly put her foot down and refused to let her leave the house. It was a good thing too as, less than ten minutes later, her legs had given out. So instead of walking, Ruby had simply called the relay office instead and spent most of the day sitting down.

     "Employment rates are down by two percent-"

     Admittedly, she was getting a little restless, but the fact Blake had recovered quickly and her pampering was more than enough to make up for her lack of mobility. Despite the Faunus repeatedly scolding her, Blake had also been feeding her cookies and fetching her milk when the glass was empty. It felt a little childish, but Ruby didn't care that much. She liked what she liked.

     "Mmm, that feels nice," Ruby hummed as Yang dug a thumb into her calf muscles and circled it.

     "Tuckson's Book Trade is havin-"

     "Me or Blake?" The blonde chuckled.

     Her eyes snapping open as her face heated up, as did Blake's from the look of things.

     "Blake," Ruby said smugly and stuck her tongue out, knowing immediately that she shouldn't have challenged Yang.

     "Then I guess I better give you two the room."

     Both Ruby and Blake flushed a dark scarlet that time and Yang let out a victorious laugh. However, the girl thankfully didn't move and continued to massage her legs.

     "In news outside of Vale. A string of dust robberies-"

     "Shush," Blake said with a grin and threw a cushion at Yang, who caught it with ease. "You're always so embarras…"

     "... White Fang were caught as the Vacuo police responded to an incident."

     Blake cut off at those words and her smile faltered as she turned to look at the television. Having heard it too, Ruby and Yang stayed quiet to hear the report.

     "Police urge that there is no reason to panic, but remind you that should you see anything suspicious in other Kingdoms, do not approach as the White Fang are known to be quite hostile. Instead, report it to your local precinct."

     Without hesitation, Blake turned the channel to something else and let out a deep sigh. It was clear she was distressed at the news, so despite the pain, Ruby reached up and slipped her hand under Blake's. She seemed unwilling to look at either of them for a couple of minutes, but after some shifting of her hand, Ruby finally spoke.

     "That's not you," She said gently.

     "It used to be."

     "But not anymore," Yang countered firmly.

     "Yeah," she agreed. "You know that doing stuff like that is wrong now. Those people are just criminals."

     "They're misguided," Blake corrected her. "And I don't know who's doing it. Sienna is okay with violence, but this doesn't seem like something she would authorise."

     "Sienna?" Ruby asked, having never heard the name before.

     "The person who took over when my… the old leader stepped down," Ruby heard the stutter, the correction that showed Blake had almost slipped up. She was curious what it meant, but she also knew it wasn't her place to intrude on something so personal. Blake would tell her when she was ready. "This can't be her."

     "Then maybe it isn't," Yang shrugged. "Might not even be actual White Fang members. Your old uniform isn't exactly hard to copy, and people really love blaming Faunus for stuff."

     "Yeah, it could just be a mistake," Ruby agreed.

     Blake didn't seem convinced, but she gave a nod anyway and looked down, the girl's amber eyes meeting her own silver ones. Without hesitation, Ruby gave her a smile and after a couple of seconds, received one in return. Knowing one smile always led to another with Blake, Ruby considered it a success and let the hand holding Blake's drop to her stomach so that her aching arm could have a rest. However, with her arm aching so much, her aim was off and her hand landed a little higher than intended, instead coming to a rest on her ribs.

     It took a lot of effort the not let her eyes fly wide open at the realisation of where Blake's hand now was. It was close to a certain area, but she couldn't move it without it being very clear why. Thankfully, Blake seemed to have her own ideas of where her hand should be and slowly dragged it over to where Ruby had originally intended it to be. Though that time Ruby had to keep her eyes from shutting at the pleasure Blake's fingers sent rushing through her, and it was because her eyes were still open that she saw Blake purposely looking away from her.

     The kisses there easy, they were things they'd done already, but what about the things that hinted to what the future held? It was those things that were still weird between them. The little things like the close calls, the almost touches and glimpses that still made things awkward. She was very aware that Blake was holding back, she knew what kind of books the girl enjoyed after all, but it wasn't just Blake. When everything had died down yesterday, when the Faunus was in bed and Ruby was on the couch, Ruby had thought back to what she'd done during the fight.

     She'd ripped open Blake's catsuit and seen more than she had before. Hell, she'd done more than see, she'd touched. Her hands had been right there, and the thoughts that came to her mind may have been amplified by the Syren's song, the Syren couldn't create those feelings. They used what was already there, and they were clearly there for Ruby. The thoughts teased her, and caused her mind to race and her cheeks to blush.

     "Dear Oum, you two are s…"

     Whatever they were, Ruby certainly wouldn't find out any time soon as they all heard the front door open. Pain shot through her as Yang instantly jumped to her feet, her gauntlets extended and ready to fight whatever had intruded. Her stance quickly faltered however as a male voice called from the hallways, the humorous tone exceedingly familiar to Ruby.

     "Do I keep my head if I poke it out to say hello?"

     Regaining her composure, Yang thrust her arm back and the audible sound of the Ember Celica's reload mechanism echoing around the room as a shell was locked into place. "Only if you brought me something?"

     "Hmmm, how about ten Lien?" Their father said, his hand coming into view holding the money, only to be pulled back after Yang cocked her gauntlets again. "Right, right. How about coupon for twenty percent off at… No, you shouldn't be buying alcohol at your age. OH! I know."

     A large groan came from the hallway, as if their dad was lifting something heavy, followed by a small squeak as a small girl was placed in the doorway. The expression on her face was one of shy uncertainty and her rabbit ears were folded at the tips.

     "How about a cute girlfriend I found at the docks?"

     Once Velvet was in view, Yang lowered her stance and returned her gauntlets to their collapsed form, the loud whirring earning a sigh of relief from the hallway. A wide grin overtook both their faces and Yang quickly made her way over to the Faunus, both pulling each other into a hug.

     "The perfect gift."

     "Thank Oum for that, 'cause I had nothing else," Tai chuckled as he walked past them and into the room.

     He looked tired, but happy. His usually scraggly beard was longer due to the weeks travelling and his hair was a mess, though that wasn't out of the norm. His clothes were muddy and even torn in a few places, but other than that, he looked fine. He must have dropped his weapon off in the hallway though, as she didn't see it anywhere. However before he could get far past the doorway, Yang reached out a hand and stopped him with a snap of her fingers. He gave a short roll of his eyes before placing the Lien in her hand and he was finally allowed entry.

     "There's my little Petal," he said as he approached Ruby and Blake, his arms open wide. "Doesn't your dad get a hug after his long and arduous mission?"

     "Uhhh…" Ruby hummed nervously, still in a little pain from where Yang had moved so fast. "I am giving you one in my head."

     Tai scowled at her for a minute and then gave a shake of his head. Ruby knew he didn't like their team move either, that he considered it reckless and a waste of aura, but Ruby and Yang were rather proud of the raw power of it.

     "That stupid move," he sighed and dropped his arms before turning to Blake. "You must be Blake Belladonna? It's good to finally meet you."

     Ruby felt the hand on her stomach leave instantly and she immediately missed its warmth. She felt Blake's legs tense up a little and could tell she was nervous about not only meeting a new person, but meeting her girlfriend's father. It was also telling of her nerves that, while she had moved the hand from her stomach, she hadn't removed her hand from Ruby's; so they were still holding hands as she offered hers out to greet him.

     "It's ni…" Blake noticed Tai's eyes lock onto the joined hands and quickly released them. "It's nice to meet you too, Mr Xiao Long."

     "Please, call me Tai," He smiled kindly and took Blake's hand, though it quickly turned to the same mischievous grin that Ruby feared from Yang. "Though from the way my daughter is clinging to you, you might be calling me Dad soon."

     While Ruby and Blake both blushed, a snort of laughter came from Yang as the girl finally pulled away from her girlfriend and moved into the room. Velvet's nerves seemed to have subsided now the joke was over and she gave them both a smile as Yang led her back to the couch and sat down, the rabbit Faunus happily sitting on her lap as the blonde's hands wrapped around her.

     "Nice one, Dad," She chuckled. "Having two people around to tease them will be so much more fun."

     "For you maybe."

     "Three actually," Velvet corrected her girlfriend. "Coco will be here in two days."

     "Sounds like we have a full house," Tai grinned, ignoring both Ruby's and Blake's groan. "What about your fourth member? Weiss?"

     "Not sure yet," Ruby replied, her hand dropping back to her stomach, which filled with butterflies as Blake's hand found it again. "We're hoping she can get back soon though."

     "Got it," he breathed as he sat down in the comfy, one person chair that he always occupied. "So what were you fighting that left you in that state anyway?"

     The three of them filled Tai and Velvet in on everything that had happened with the Syren. With each detail, her dad seemed to look more and more worried, even letting out a low, sad sigh when they told him about Pearl. Once they were done, he let a hand run through his messy hair and shook his head while taking a couple of minutes to think. Clearly the news of a Grimm getting through the barricade had disturbed him.

     "That poor family," He said miserably after a while. "L'vynda's father recently passed away too. Did you report the breach?"

     "Ruby did," Yang replied with a nod.

     "They said they're sending someone out tomorrow," She confirmed. "Apparently a lot of huntsmen are being called to Vale's borders at the minute, so that was the earliest they could send anyone."

     "Not surprising," He said with a yawn. "Grimm grow in strength with every day they're alive. Time is never on our side, and sometimes it feels like we are just delaying the inevitable."

     "That just means we need to get stronger," Ruby said with a wide smile, hoping the cheer her father up.

     Thankfully it seemed to work and her dad gave her a brief smile. "Your mom used to say the same. Oz has a plan, she'd always tell us. She was never one to give up hope."

     "And she was right not to," Yang said with a firm nod, everyone in the room mimicking her action. "Though trusting Ozpin? Not too sure on that one."

     "You still don't like him?" Velvet asked.

     "Something about him feels off."

     "That's just Oz," Tai reassured her. "He's rather… aloof, and I don't agree with everything he does; but he does have good intentions, Yang."

     "Hmm, we'll see."

     Yang not trusting Ozpin always confused Ruby. To her, he seemed like a good guy. He had let her into Beacon early, and always took an active role in tutoring the student's. He was also a prodigy, the youngest headmaster ever appointed to any school with an incredible track record. Sure he was a little mysterious and secretive, but so were most adults. As far as she was concerned, he obviously had reasons for hiding the things he knew. Besides, they could hardly be world changing things, or the world would already know about them.

     "Anyway, I haven't slept since yesterday morning, so I'm going to bed for a nap," Tai sighed, pushing himself off the chair. "I need to be up and rested to help check the barricades tomorrow anyway. See you all later, and if Yang gives you two any trouble, you have my permission to wake me up to fight her. From the looks of that Vytal tournament footage, she needs the practise anyway."

     Without looking, he caught the cushion that was thrown at him and, without any loss of movement, brought it around his body and released it so fast that it hit the blonde in the face before she could catch it. All that was heard was a soft chuckle as he left the room.

     "So how's Coco?" Ruby asked Velvet one her dad was out of the room.

     "She's fine," the bunny Faunus said with a smile as Yang straightened her hair out. "Her and Mate are going to see Toma for a couple of days. Then she's heading over."

     "I thought her and Mate weren't talking?" Yang asked.

     "Pretty sure that's why Toma wanted them over."

     "Well hopefully they sort it out," Blake offered. "From what she had mentioned, he's mainly just upset she's putting herself at risk."

     "Mhm," Velvet said with a hum. "So how have things been here? Yang said Grimm have been attacking quite frequently."

     "Not counting the Syren, just some lesser Grimm," Ruby replied dismissively.

     The next thirty minute passed with the group exchanging small talk. Velvet told them about the small mission her team had undertaken at Vale's wall where she guarded a new shipment of dust from the Grimm, while Ruby informed her about everything else that had happened. Despite seeing the girl's eyes dart to where Blake's hand was, she didn't mention it, and Ruby was thankful that the girl tended to not intrude on personal things. Gods knew that Coco would certainly not show the same courtesy when she arrived.

     However, once they were all caught up, and Yang clearly began vying for attention by nuzzling her face into the nook of Velvet's neck and causing the Faunus to giggle, the girl rolled her eyes and leaned in to whisper something to Yang. A small grin spread across the blonde face as she gave a nod, and Velvet prepared to get up.

     "We're gonna head up to my room too. I haven't called Coco since before the fight," Yang said as Velvet lifted off her lap, pushing herself up to slip and arm around the smiling Faunus' shoulders. "Don't you two do anything we wouldn't."

     "That's not exactly very restricting," Blake countered.

     "She does have a point," Velvet giggled.

     "Wow!" Yang exclaimed, her hand going to her chest in mock insult. "And here I was thinking of using the Lien I just earned to buy you a carrot cake."

     "Oh you are definitely still buying me that," Velvet argued, pulling the blonde away. "Goodbye you two."

     "Later," They both replied as the sulking blonde and grinning Faunus left the room as well.

     With everyone gone, even the television couldn't make up for noise they took with them. Not quite knowing how to break it, Ruby simply laid there in the quiet as Blake's fingers slowly ran through her hair. Though awkward at first, it quickly became a nice feeling and Ruby found her eyes closing to enjoy the attention further.

     The peace was easily one she sank into, as those moments were what they often sought at Beacon. Those small little meetings where they sat alone in an unused classroom and ate lunch, the quiet afternoons in the plaza when Yang and Weiss were sparring with whatever strong opponent they had chosen that day. As she laid there, she realised how much she missed those moments.

     Being back at the house had been great, but Yang was around all the time and there were no other students for her to challenge to fights, so those moments were nowhere to be found. However, with Velvet having arrived for the rest of the vacation and Coco arriving soon, Ruby knew her sister would be so busy that she would be able to drag Blake away for some more private moments. She could already imagine the places she could take her. Gratitude Ruins on the west lookout, Breathing Hill; a little boring in comparison, but maybe even the small arcade and movie place that always showed the old black and white films that Ruby knew Blake loved.

     Yeah, cuddling up in a dark movie theater sounded a little cliche, but it had to be cliche for a reason. She could just imagine it. The dark room, the old romance movie playing as they cuddled on the couches that the owner preferred over individual chairs, popcorn and maybe even pizza from the store next door to it. It was exceedingly simple, but so was Ruby.

     "You're a little quiet," she heard Blake say, the girl's hand still gently toying with her hair. "What are you thinking about?"

     "Spots I can take you on the island," she admitted with a smile.

     "Oh? Gunna whisk me away somewhere Yang can't interrupt us?"

     "Maaaybe," she grinned up at the Faunus, earning a slight chuckle from her.

     Enjoying the sound of Blake's laughter, Ruby tightened her grip on the girl's hand and felt it respond in kind. However, feeling the fingers graze against her stomach caused it to flinch, and Blake's laughter quickly began to fade. Instead her face became slightly more serious and contemplative. Though she preferred her girlfriend to be laughing, she couldn't help but marvel at how quickly Blake could switch from happy to serious, and vice-versa.

     "You really trust going somewhere alone with me after yesterday?"

     Her marvel faded at that question, replaced with confusion as she had no idea what almost dying had to do with her trusting being around her.

     "Huh?"

     "I looked up the Syren this morning in your dad's bestiary," Blake sighed, her hand pausing it stroking as the gold eyes filled with remorse. "They trigger desire and are more effective on people with more of it. I'm trying my best to control them and am letting you take things at your own pace, but when I was presented with the choice yesterday, I couldn't resist it. And because of that, you were down a team member for the fight."

     "And we still won," Ruby said immediately. "And you weren't the only one it affected, Blake."

     With a groan, Ruby forced herself into a sitting position and turned on her sulking girlfriend. The pain the movement caused didn't matter, as she wasn't about to let Blake blame herself for something a Grimm had done to her.

     "But I was affected the most, Ruby," Blake sighed and slowly stood up to pace the room a little. "Me suppressing stuff and the annoyance at how I feel, how I'm so fixated and easily obsessing over something that I shouldn't care about yet. It's those negative emotions that made me an easy target. I heard it the moment we started our search and didn't pick up on it despite knowing that there could be something around. I caught my mind wondering and suspected nothing, I said nothing. And I almost died. Yang had to save me by jumping in freezing cold water and then protect us while you helped me. She could have died too doing either one of those things. I put you both at risk."

     "We're at risk everyday," Ruby breathed.

     "But it was never because of me!" Blake's voice was firm as she turned, her amber eyes glowing. "Everyone around me gets hurt. I'm just… I'm scared that will happen to you, or Yang, or Weiss."

     "I know that," Ruby sighed, reaching out a hand and stifling the grunt of pain as she pulled the girl back into her seat. "And I can't say we won't ever get hurt, but I can say that we will never care. You once told me that if you died by a mistake of mine, you would be fine knowing I would use it as a lesson to make sure no-one died the same way again. Yesterday was my mistake. I had all the clues I needed to figure it out what it was, but I didn't because I had faith in our barricades."

     "That doesn't change that fact I was still the most affected for a reason."

     "You were the most affected, but anyone could have been chosen. Me, Yang, even Weiss if she were her. All of us have desires."

     "But you dad's bes…"

     "Blake, my dad's bestiary is outdated," she cut the girl off firmly. "Syrens don't trigger it, they amplify it, so it doesn't matter how much desire you have for something, they will keep amplifying it until its all you can think about. You were the focus of its song for a while without knowing it was there. With that much time, even I would have fallen for it."

     "But you didn't."

     "Because I was already fighting it by the time it turned its song on me properly," Ruby countered with a shake of her head. "That doesn't mean it didn't show me things. Even when I was tending to you, I… I thought… things, and they even tempted me despite the danger."

     Ruby felt a heat rise in her cheeks as she prepared to address the other things Blake had said. She wasn't too sure how to go about it without embarrassing herself immensely, but clearly Blake was struggling with those feelings and she wanted to put an end to that. She wanted Blake to be herself, and Ruby was very aware of who that was.

     "And as for you trying to control… those feelings, I don't want you to," Ruby breathed, seeing Blake's head immediately snap around to face her and knowing she should explain better. "I mean… I'm not ready for… that, or anything like that, but I don't mind you trying to take things further than we are."

     "What?"

     "I'm new to this," Ruby shrugged and gave her girlfriend a sheepish smile. "And those situations are a little awkward for me because I have no idea what I'm doing. So I might need a little… help… getting to them."

     "Oh!"

     "Yeah."

     Both of them were silent for a while as they processed what had just been acknowledged. Ruby had essentially just given Blake the green light to be the one who tried to take their relationship to those next levels, but she knew if it was only her doing it alone then it would take forever. And Ruby didn't want that. Sure she was a while away from such things, but that certainly didn't mean she didn't already want them eventually; or think about them regularly.

     "Are… Are you sure about that?" Blake asked cautiously.

     "Mhm," Ruby replied with a nod. "Nothing too fast, but I'm fine… No, I want you to feel comfortable helping me work out things."

     "A-Alright," Blake stuttered, a small hint of red tinting her cheeks now.

     Silence followed as the understanding settled in for both of them. Squeezing Blake's hand firmly, she turned to look at her and the moment their eyes connected, Blake moved in. It took less than a second for the lips to connect, and the kiss was far more than anything Ruby had felt before. All of their previous ones were careful and a little reserved, them testing uncharted waters to see if they were warm or cold, but the one she was currently experiencing was full of heat and passion.

     Blake's lips were pressed firmly against hers, a hand was on her cheek and Ruby could feel the short breaths that left the girl's nose brush over her face. It wasn't a kiss that left her lips tingling like all the others, but one that left them burning. Burning for more. Her body realised that before her mind did, and was already responding to its own desires. She pressed in closer and found that the pain in her body had subsided, or more likely that her mind turned off the sensation because it had more important things to experience. She could feel the lips on hers, taste the apple she'd eaten for lunch, she could hear the breaths the girl was taking through her nose, and even her delicate floral smell filled Ruby's nose. The only sense that wasn't filled with Blake was her sight, and that was only because Ruby was physically unable to keep her eyes open as pleasure shot through her body.

     And just like that, it ended as quickly as it began. Blake's lips were no longer on hers and she already missed them. Ruby could still feel it, her lips aching for a return to the actions that had taken place seconds before, but she knew Blake was now in control of herself again. Clearly at Ruby's own words, the girl had willingly let that control drop for a second to show what that permission was allowing.

     As she opened her eyes, they were met once again by amber orbs. The orbs held a little worry in them, a nervousness that what had been done was too much. But it wasn't. The only thing that kiss had proved was that Ruby had made the right decision, so she was happy to see her girlfriend let out a sigh of relief at the smile she was given.

     Glad that hurdle was finally over, Ruby let out a sigh of her own and turned back around to lay on her girlfriend's lap and felt Blake's hand immediately returned to her hair. To anyone who walked in, it would look like nothing had happened, but it had. And Ruby couldn't wait to see what the newest change would bring about.

Chapter Text

     The forest smelled stronger than usual, though Blake suspected that because she was incredibly happy. The day had started off incredibly as she woke to sun beaming through her window, the weather itself actually rather warm compared to the last week. It may have still been chilly, but at least she was able to opt out of wearing a jacket. The second thing that happened to make her happy was that Ruby was completely healed. The energetic brunette had already recovered enough the night before to jog into the kitchen for more cookies, but that morning she had chosen to show she was all better by using her semblance to dash into the kitchen and do laps around the table, finally concluding with a loud TA-DAA! as she posed before them.

     The last thing that made her happy was a discussion that had happened the day before, and she had barely stopped smiling since. As much as she hated to admit it, Yang was right. Coming clean to Ruby about her feelings had been the right choice, and as soon as she did she felt a weight lift off her shoulder. Ruby had said that she didn't mind Blake advancing their relationship little by little, and though she was still adamant that Ruby would be the one to final say when those steps happened, Blake felt a little freer knowing the girl wanted her to help her slowly get to that point. She just wished it didn't take a near death experience for those feelings to be put into the open.

     It was that freedom that made it so easy to smile as she walked through the forest, hand in hand with her girlfriend. She had no idea where Ruby was taking her, all she knew was that Ruby had decided to pull her away while Yang and Velvet trained; though to be fair, she didn't really care. Ruby could have simply pulled her away for a walk and it would be just fine, but the fact that their direction hadn't changed at all meant the girl clearly had a destination in mind.

     The only thing Blake could tell was that they were heading west into a more densely packed forest. It was so dense in fact, that the trees they were walking under were still full of leaves, and the ground felt much softer than in other parts of the island as the heat was more insulated.

     The densely packed trees also worked wonders for keeping the Grimm at bay as there was no real path to walk on, instead they were weaving their way through the small spaces between the trees, Blake holding onto Ruby hand; both because it made her happy to do so, and because it stopped her from getting lost.

     However, ten minutes later, after her brain ran out of things to think about, she asked a question that she knew probably wasn't going to get an answer to, but asked anyway with a small grin on her lips,"Where are we going, Ruby?"

     "Nope," The girl replied simply and continued forward into the trees. "We are almost there anyway."

     "You said that twenty minutes ago?" she countered with a raised eyebrow. Is she actually lost? She wondered to herself as she knew it was a definite possibility with Ruby.

     "Yeah… I got uhh… turned around," Ruby chuckled nervously, though quickly turned back to flash her a look of confidence. "But we just passed a log I know is on the way to the ru… Where we're going."

     Shaking her head in slight sympathy, Blake found that she couldn't exactly be mad; because the more Ruby got lost, the longer they got to spend together away from everyone else, which was something she had missed in recent days. Plenty of memories had passed through her mind when she thought she was about to die. Her childhood, dancing with her father, listening to her mother talk about what she'd recently overheard from the neighbors, days out with Yang, studying with Weiss who would always break after a while and engage in small talk, the days that Team RWBY had spent either lounging around or getting up to no good with Team JNPR; but at the very end was Ruby.

     It wasn't the training, or the loud happy giggling of them dancing either, but those quiet moments they spent tucked away talking. When Ruby would tell her of how she wanted nothing more than to simply save anyone she could, or to develop the world's most powerful superweapon. It was those small conversations that made Blake feel normal the most. In what she believed to be her final moments, her brain had decided to show her at her happiest. So when she lived and the fight was over, she'd decided she wanted more of those moments, and the only way to have them with awkwardness would be to come clean about what had been holding her back. Thankfully, she had found her worries were for naught, and just like always, Ruby quickly assuaged them.

     "Almost there," She heard Ruby breath as the tree's began to get further and further apart.

     "Still not sure where there is?"

     "You'll see," Ruby laughed and started to jog backwards towards the treeline that was just ahead. "This is the oldest thing on Patch. Apart from the island itself, obviously."

     "I would assume that the island is older than everything on it," Blake replied with a smirk, earning a stuck out tongue from her girlfriend.

     However, the smirk was quickly wiped from her face as they stepped out of the woods, and Blake found herself questioning just how long they had been there. If it weren't for the odd rays of light that managed to break through the canopy overhead, she would have been convinced that night had fallen already. Thankfully though, her night vision quickly took effect and she saw that they were actually standing in a relatively small, circular clearing. The grass grew dark and green, and down the centre of the clearing ran a thin, inclined path of cracked, yellow bricks. Six stone braziers with a rail between them lined each side of the pathway, three per side, and looked like they could once be lit to guide the way to the house that stood at the end.

     Is house really the right word? Blake thought to herself as she inspected it from afar. There were certainly elements of a house to it, the basic shape that looked like someone had once lived there, but it appeared to have been built long ago. Cracked and crumbled rock composed a large majority of the structure, each one purposely placed and speaking of such reverence for the original that it demanded the same from whoever looked upon it. It was very clearly a shrine to something, most likely whoever once lived there.

     "What is this?" she breathed. Not because she was breathless, but because she felt it would be rude to speak at any other volume than a whisper.

     "This is Gratitude Ruins," Ruby smiled, her voice not quite as quiet as Blake's, but low enough that Blake knew she was right in that she should show respect for the place. "One of the oldest ruins in all of Vale."

     "Really?" Blake asked, a little confused. "I've never heard of it."

     "It's not in most books because it's small," Ruby smiled, taking a small step forward. "But it's rather important to Patch."

     "Well then…" She grinned and made to take a step forward, only for Ruby to tighten her grip and keep her in place. "... If there are no books on it, then you will have to tell me the story."

     "With pleasure," Ruby replied and fiddled with one of her belt pouches to pull out a bunch of small, red Dust crystals. "Should probably make sure I can see first. You wanna do the other side for me?"

     "Uhh sure. How do I do that?"

     Watching Ruby hold out her hand, she saw the crystals were actually roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Knowing she should take them, she reached out to take the four that were offered to her and moved over to the other side. Up close, she could see the rod that connected the braziers was actually a little slanted with an opening at the end, and suddenly the spherical shape of the crystals she'd taken made sense. Glancing to her side, she saw Ruby holding one of her own pieces against the pipe and followed suit.

     "One at a time," the girl smiled, holding up her other hand and extending a finger. "One."

     Blake let the crystal roll into the pipe and her enhanced hearing heard it stop a short distance away.

     "Two."

     Another ball was rolled into the tube and this time she heard it stop a little further away from her, though she also heard a small clink as it hit the edge of the other dust fragment.

     "Three."

     Two clicks were heard as the third ball rolled and eventually came to a stop further away than the other two. However, there were only three braziers, so a little confused as to why she had a fourth ball, she looked to her girlfriend and saw the reaper hold her own piece between her fingers and flow some aura into it. Coming to the realisation that it was a chain reaction thing, she did the same and rolled the fourth, glowing ball into the tube at the same time Ruby did.

     The reaction didn't happen straight away, in fact she had enough time to meet Ruby back in their original spot before anything happened, but she certainly didn't miss it when it did.

     She heard six clunks before she saw anything, but the moment she heard them, light blazed from the six braziers. With the new light, Blake could see glass in the sides of them, and from just how much they illuminated the area, she guessed the glass was specifically designed to amplify the light of the dust. And dear Oum was the area beautiful.

The dark green grass was very overgrown, even poking through the chipped stone path, but sticking out of it were flowers of varying colours. The blades moved occasionally, but the ears that poked out told her that the cause was simply rabbits running around the area. However, the two-story house itself was far more intact that Blake had originally thought. Among the stone construction were wooden slabs, old and broken, but still there. From what she could tell, the house used to be made mostly of wood, but a large majority of it had been replaced with stone.

     Windows lined the side, the thin glass that had once been held in the frames long since broken and lost to time, overlooking a porch. She could imagine how beautiful it would have been to sit out there when the building was in its prime. Isolated from the world, enjoying the peace with a cup of tea and gentle conversation. The second story looked small compared to the first, the house itself only spacious enough for two people to live in, but another window was positioned there overlooking the area. Again the glass was missing and the frame was bent, but the shape was still discernible as a sideways eye.

     "It's beautiful," she said quietly, making sure her voice was just loud enough for Ruby to hear. "I can't wait to hear the story behind it."

     "It's… not the happiest," Ruby said solemnly and looked at the dilapidated house. "But I like it."

     Blake heard the reaper take a deep breath and release it, and as the girl's hand slipped into her own, Blake held onto it and followed the small step forward that Ruby took onto the inclined path.

     "Thousands of years ago," Ruby began as she took her step towards the house. "The people of Patch used to worship a god. They would offer sacrifices, bring food and other offerings to appease him as they prayed for his protection from the Grimm. For years they worshiped him and nothing happened, but they never lost faith. Then one day, a large Grimm made its way into the settlement; but before it could do any damage, a bright green light filled the area and the Grimm turned to smoke."

     "Nobody knew what happened, and no-one came forth, but they believe it was an act of god. They thought their god had finally graced them with his protection, rewarded them for their dedication. So they continued to give offerings, and every time a Grimm would show up, the same green light would turn them to smoke. After decades passed, and new generations were born, they stopped fearing the Grimm, feeling safe in the protection of their god."

     I bet that was a mistake, Blake thought to herself. She could already tell that there was no god, but she didn't want to interrupt Ruby's story.

     "Then one day, a man went missing. People were confused, it had never happened before, the Grimm hadn't taken anyone since the first light. And things continued to get worse after that. While the light would still strike down the creatures of darkness, it was rarely before it damaged something or killed someone. People grew scared again. But then something even weirder happened."

     "The first man to go missing, who everyone believed to be dead, returned. And with him he brought a story. A story of an old man who lived alone in a house on the west of the island. He said that the man had saved him from the clutches of a beast, tended to his wounds and nursed him back to health. When the people asked how the man was able to survive out there alone, he told them how he had witnessed the man fight with a green light produced from his staff."

     Ruby's fell face a little as they approached the middle of the path.

     "But the people were scared. They had lost family members, felt their god had abandoned them. So they didn't believe him. Though the man tried to stop them, they gathered their pitchforks and sought out the house. It didn't take long to find the solitary home, and when they did, a wizened, old man stepped outside to greet them. But instead of returning his friendly gesture, they accused him of being a charlatan, a trickster who was trying to be a false god. They blamed his actions for their god abandoning them."

     "He tried to calm them down, to explain himself; but with all that negativity, it didn't take long for the Grimm to arrive. People immediately panicked, but the old man remained calm and produced a staff from nowhere. The clearing was filled with green light as he urged people into his home, to get to safety. Once they were all safe, he fought off the Grimm alone. But he was no longer a young man, he was old and frail; though he managed to kill all the Grimm, he was mortally wounded and died on the patio before any of them could even leave the house to help him."

     "None of them knew what to make of it. They had seen him fight with green light as their friend said, but they still had some faith in their god's existence. Nonetheless, he had died to save them, so they buried him at his home and gave their thanks. However, the green light never appeared again, Grimm attacks returned to normal and they eventually realised they had to fight for their own lives. After another decade, they finally accepted that there was no god protecting them. They finally accepted that it was the old man that had protected them, that he had looked over them his whole life, and even died for them, without ever asking for thanks. So they returned to his house once more to see that it was already falling apart, and so they worked to preserve it. It was their way of finally showing their gratitude to him for all he had done for them."

     As the story ended, they finally reached the last steps of the path. There was nothing left in front of them but the house, and where the door had likely once stood was a plinth with a small statue resting atop it. It was barely the size of her forearm, and terribly worn, but Blake could see it was a statue of the man in Ruby's tale from the staff in his hand. A staff that the man was using to keep himself upright and was topped with a small, green chunck of glass jammed so tightly between the hands that the only way it would ever move would be to break the statue itself.

     "They say the man he tended back to health carved that in his honor," the girl said with a finality that said the story was over.

     Blake liked the story. She had read others of its kind before, but most ended with the hero living so she had always taken them with a grain of salt. Though while there were certainly parts that had to be exaggerated for effect, like the borderline magic that the story said the man used, she found it an easy one to believe. And from the loving way in which it had been told, it was clear the story meant a lot to Ruby too.

     "He sounds like a huntsman born out of time," Blake chuckled, resisting the temptation to reach out and touch the staff. "He sounds like you."

     "He is part of the reason I became a huntress," Ruby said with a nod. "It was one of the stories I remember Mom would tell me as a kid. When she died, Yang continued and it was the one she would replace the hero with Mom the most. The story always resonated with me. The man had nothing, no family, no friends, no-one to care for, so he cared for everyone. He spent his life making sure others could live theirs, and when the time came, he willingly sacrificed himself. He wasn't seeking praise, or thanks; he just wanted people to be happy."

     "Like I said, he sounds like you," Blake grinned, though her grin faltered a little as she remembered what Ruby had once told her. "Even down to the part where he sacrificed himself."

     "Everyone has something they are willing to die for, Blake," Ruby smiled, not a hint of remorse or fear in her voice at what she was saying. "For Yang, it's me. For Weiss, it's the true honor of her name. For you, I'm guessing it's justice. But for me, it's just making sure people can go a little longer without feeling what it's like to lose someone. Whether that's the rest of their life, or just one more day, I will be happy knowing I gave them that."

     "But you also need to have something to live for," Blake replied, feeling it important to remind the selfless girl of that.

     "I do," Ruby said and shuffled closer, her head coming to a rest on Blake's shoulder. "I have you. And Yang. And Weiss. And all the other people I love. You all make every day incredible."

     "Good," Blake breathed, letting her head fall against her girlfriend's. "Because I'm going to make sure you never have to sacrifice yourself to give people that happiness."

     "Okay," Ruby said with a happy nod, Blake feeling the hand leave hers and snake around her back.

     The two of them stood in silence for a minute, the sounds of birds and crickets echoing around them. Blake enjoyed the tranquility of the moment, the feel of Ruby close and the smell of her strawberry shampoo drifting up to nose. However, after a moment of them both enjoyed the peace, she felt Ruby wriggling next to her. As she turned to see what she was doing, Blake saw a wrapped tuna sandwich being offered to her.

     "Lunch?"

     "Sure," Blake replied with a roll of her eyes as she took the sandwich.

     Parting from each other, Blake watched Ruby sit down on the chipped stone steps that led to the front door. Though she hesitated for fear of being rude, she quickly put that feeling aside and sat down next to her as the girl rummaged through her the largest pouch on her belt, pulling out another sandwich that looked to be chocolate spread. With a cute hum to herself, the reaper unwrapped it and took a large bite.

     "You really hate proper food, don't you?" Blake chuckled, taking a bite of her own delicious tuna salad sandwich.

     "Whaaat?" Ruby said, her mouth full of copious amounts of chocolate. "This is proper food."

     "This is proper food," Blake replied with a smile as she pulled out a piece of lettuce and held it up. "That is junk that will make you sick."

     "Nuh uh," Ruby shook her head and stuck out her chocolate-covered tongue. "Besides, I used to eat that all the time, but when I activated my semblance I started getting really, really tired."

     "Your semblance burns energy?" Blake asked, curious as to why she had never heard that mentioned before. "Is that why you eat so much?"

     "Mhm," the girl replied with a nod. "I lost so much weight and was sooooo tired, then one day I had a brownie and I was like POW!" Her arms did a karate chop to an invisible enemy. "I was so happy that I ran to town and back."

     "Then you ate more brownies?"

     "The whole tray!"

     A laugh was pulled from Blake at just how happy the memory seemed to make Ruby. She had always known the girl loved sweets, and Weiss always told her off for not eating healthier, so to know that she was eating so much to keep her energy up actually made Blake feel better about sneaking so many packs of cookies into the secret bag she kept attached to her bed. Looking to her side, she saw Ruby happy enjoying the meal and felt a little mischievousness overtake her.

     "Can I… have a taste?" she asked slowly when she saw Ruby finish her mouthful out of the corner of her eye.

     "Huh? Oh sure."

     Ruby held out the sandwich to her and Blake reached out to taste it. However, that wasn't the source she wanted it from, so as her fingers slid around Ruby's wrist, she gently pulled her arm aside and swooped in. A small squeak escaped the girl at first as the taste of the chocolate that was on her lips exploded into Blake's mouth, but the squeak turned to a hum. Taking it as a sign that what she had done was okay, Blake pressed in a little further and breathed out softly through her nose.

     Feeling braver as Ruby pressed in closer too, Blake slipped a hand to the girl's waist and carefully pressed her tongue against her lips to ask for entry. She wasn't sure if it was too much, but she knew Ruby would tell her if it was. A rush of excitement ran through her though when she felt the lips part and Ruby's tongue pressed against hers.

     It was a cautious touch that made Blake smile a little. While Ruby was a decent kisser, it was obvious that she had no experience with any other action. She didn't want to tell Ruby she was using too much movement, so she pulled back a little and opened her eyes, after a second Ruby's opened too and Blake silently asked to take the lead. Thankfully, the girl seemed to understand and Blake moved her hand from the reapers wrist to her cheek and pressed back in.

     With her in control, things were much better, and after a few kisses she tried to go further again. When she was granted entry, she let her tongue dance lightly over Ruby's and the girl quickly got the hang of it.

     The sensation was amazing, even though the girl's inexperience was still obvious. Blake could feel the trust Ruby was putting in her, the gentle care the girl was taking to not mess up. She could feel the soft hums that she let out, the way her hand grabbed at her waist. She could taste and smell the chocolate that the girl loved so much as the sounds of the forest surrounded them. She actually feared she would get lost in the moment, but she didn't care.

     Sat in a serene forest clearing kissing Ruby? Could there be anything better to get lost in? She thought to herself, her hand slipping from the girl's cheek to push into her hair.

     However, it appeared she had finally hit that barrier that Ruby wasn't ready for as the redheaded reaper let out a happy sigh and slowly pulled away. Though she didn't move too far, staying close enough that Blake could still hear her deep breathing.

     "Too much?"

     "N-No," Ruby breathed, a smile pulling at her lips as their forehead pressed together and Blake drank in the silver wells before her. "I think that just… where I am, right now."

     "Then that's where I am too," Blake replied happily.

     "W-Was it… Was it good?" The girl asked with the same sheepish smile Blake had seen her give last night when she admitted to having no idea what she was doing. "Be honest."

     Blake bit her lip, but quickly gave a nod.

     "Not the worst I've had," Blake chuckled honestly, stroking her thumb down the cheek she was still holding. "But that was your first time doing that, and it's nothing that won't work itself out."

     "S-sor…"

     "I still enjoyed it," Blake said with a small nod, her voice suddenly firm to cut off the unnecessary apology.

     "Me too," Ruby said and bit her bottom lip.

     The moment it escaped the grip, Blake couldn't help herself but claim it with her own again. It wasn't a passionate kiss this time, just a regular one that she pulled away from quickly before temptation took her again, but a grin pulled at her face nonetheless.

     "I enjoyed the chocolate taste too," She smirked, causing Ruby to laugh and pull away.

     "Well the rest is mine," She laughed and took another bite from the sandwich that looked a lot more squashed than when they had first started eating. "You have your… Stinky fish."

     "Did you just…" Blake gasped with false insult and pulled her sandwich to her chest.

     Seeing Ruby stick out her tongue, Blake plucked a piece of tuna from her sandwich and flicked it at her, only for the girl in front of her to turn into roses and disappear in the blink of an eye. She knew where she would go though, as the countless hours training together had made the girl's movement second nature to her, so pulling another chunk out, she turned to her left flick it, only to feel something chocolatey hit her lip.

     "You little…" Blake began, wiping the spread away with her arm.

     "You said you liked it," Ruby said smugly with another taunting poke of her tongue.

     Glaring playfully at the girl, Blake subtly adjusted the position of her legs. When they were in the position she needed, she flicked the tuna that was still on her finger at Ruby and, as the girl dodged, launched herself up to avoid the chocolate that came her way. She landed a short distance away on the path and threw another chunk at the laughing blur of red, but missed. As Ruby reformed on the path, Blake saw that this time she had a much bigger glob in hand and a wicked grin on her face, so used her semblance to dash back into the cover of the trees, where she could fade into the shadows.

     It worked and Ruby quickly began to look around for her, the laughter fading as a determination set upon her face. It was cute seeing her like that. Even in something as silly as a food fight, Ruby wanted to win; but so did Blake. So she circled the area for a minute, waiting for her moment to strike, which inevitably came. A rabbit ruffled a patch of grass causing the waiting reaper to turn towards it, and, being in the girl's blind spot, that was the moment Blake chose to emerge from the woods.

     She was on the girl in seconds. As Ruby sensed the approach and turned to face her, Blake slipped one arm around her waist while the other grabbed her wrist to stop any chocolaty retaliation. The two stumbled a little, Blake still holding Ruby, until they came to a stop against a tree; and before Blake even had time to think, her lips were back on Ruby's.

     All pretense was gone that time and Blake kissed her with her true passion. An arm hooked around her neck to pull her closer and she happily obliged, deepening the kiss as her body pressed against Ruby. The way she tasted, the way the kiss made her feel, it was almost enough to be addicted. All thought of control was lost and her tongue came out to meet her girlfriend's in seconds.

     Though she made sure not to push the boundary they had just discovered, Blake wrestled with Ruby's tongue as pleasure shot through her. It felt good to not be restrained for once, to show Ruby just how wild she drove her. And Ruby clearly enjoyed it too as she let out a groan of pleasure too. It was the groan that brought Blake to her senses though, as well as the teeth that bit down on her lip. She wasn't sure where Ruby had learned to apply the perfect pressure, but she looked forward to experiencing it again in a future make-out session. For now however, she slowed her kiss down and pulled away, both hers and Ruby's breathing labored.

     "Sorry," Blake breathed shakily, not wanting to make excuses for what she had just done. "I couldn't resist."

     Silver eyes open and she once again drank them in, vaguely aware that Ruby was smiling.

     "Good, I'm glad you didn't," Ruby said softly after she gathered her own breath. "But Blake, you…"

     "W-What?"

     "You… have something on your face."

     "Huh?"

     It was Blake's mistake. The kiss had made her completely forget what had preluded it, so as her hand came up to check what Ruby was on about, she sense Ruby's hand swing up and collide with her face, sending chocolate spread everywhere. She was stunned for half a second, but as Ruby burst into fits of laughter, Blake felt a wide grin take over her face that quickly turned into laughter of her own. Wanting to share the cause, she rubbed her face against Ruby's and smeared the chocolate over her cheek as Ruby let out a humorous groan.

     It took a minute or two for the laughter to die down, but once it did, Blake let the hand that was still holding Ruby's waist relax so that the hold she had on the girl was much more gentle than previously. They were both a mess, covered in chocolate and dirt; but Blake couldn't remember ever being happier. However, she knew it had to come to an end as it was still winter and it would begin to get dark soon. So with a reluctant sigh, she put some distance between their bodies and stepped back.

     "We should get back before the sun goes down," She said, unable to keep the sadness about the date being over out of her voice.

     "Yeah," Ruby breathed, maintaining her smile. "Yang is gunna make fun of us enough as it is."

     "On second thought, can we just stay here tonight?" She asked jokingly, not looking forward to the teasing that would be waiting for them at home.

     "I think that will just make her mock us more," Ruby laughed, taking a step forward. "Besides, our mission is tomorrow."

     "Right," Blake said with a nod, remembering that they were going to be protecting the funeral. "I guess it's an early night for us then."

     "Yup."

     "Then I suggest you lead the way home, Leader."

     Beaming down at her, Blake watched Ruby lean in a place a kiss on her. Just like last time, it was a restrained one, seconds long and to simply say she was happy, but it made Blake's stomach fill with butterflies nonetheless. This time however, there was no sadness when Ruby pulled away and began to pull her back into the woods so they could head home, and she knew why. Because it would not be the last time they shared a day like this, and she was more than happy to wait for the next one.

Chapter Text

     Ruby could feel the sadness in the air before her ears picked up the footsteps approaching the clearing. It was all around them, in the wilted grass, in the trees, on the wind. They all spoke of a sorrowful occasion, of a life taken too soon. At her side was Blake, her girlfriend having chosen to accompany her to the burial site for an early patrol. She was grateful for it, as she herself was not looking forward to the day.

     Though not a very close one, Pearl was a friend. She remembered seeing her at school, remembered the few times Pearl had asked for help in handling a sword. While not Ruby's main weapon, she did know a thing or two and did try to teach her, but it was obvious the younger girl was not cut out for combat. She was an explorer who took great pleasure in finding new things, and there was barely a month that passed where the girl wouldn't have a new color running through her hair.

     During one of the sessions, she had expressed her deepest desire to visit Menagerie, to see the culture and explore the island, and Ruby remembered telling her that she should totally hire her for the journey when she became a huntress. It saddened her to know she would never get to find out if that would have happened, that the girl never got to live that dream.

     But that's life on Remnant, she thought to herself with an inward sigh at how true that statement was. Every day, people lost their lives to the Grimm, or were injured, or lost loved ones. And it was her job to prevent that. It was a tough job sometimes, and one she knew she couldn't do if she allowed those thoughts to consume her. She would only bring more Grimm and put the funeral attendees in yet more danger. So closing her eyes and taking a deep breath just as the procession began to exit the tree, Ruby pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind, and prepared for the mission that was ahead of them.

     At the front was Yang and their dad. The two had left early with Velvet to collect Coco from the docks, where they would then escort everyone to the clearing where the burial was to take place. With the negativity that would be emanating from the group, Ruby was glad she had sent everyone as, judging by the twig in her hair, Yang had clearly been in a fight already.

     Just behind them came the coffin bearers. Pearl's father, Seruleon Matte, was among them, stone-faced as he held up a corner of a coffin that was much smaller than any coffin should be. She could see the pain in his eyes, but couldn't imagine what it must feel like to carry your fifteen year old daughter's body to her grave. She hoped she would never have to.

     "Everything go okay?" She asked miserably as her dad and sister approached.

     "Some Beowolves and Ursa." Tai replied and slipped his hands into his pockets. "Nothing we couldn't handle. Not sure how long that will last though."

     "Pretty sure L'vynda is gonna attract half of what we fight today just by herself," Yang breathed while Blake pulled the twigs from the mess of blonde hair. "Can't blame her for that though."

     Ruby looked past her sister and saw the woman in question. Yang was right, she was a mess. Though she was leaning on Kelly, it looked more like she was being forcefully held up. The caramel skin that Pearl had happily inherited seemed pale and sickly, and tears already stained her face. Ruby's heart went out to the woman as she knew just how close she was to her daughter.

     "Then it's good we have the extra help." Blake waved to Coco and Velvet who had just exited the woods behind the final members of the procession.

     The two girls walked over, both of them in their usual battle outfit. Coco's bag was slung over her shoulder, and she looked about ready to kill anything that even resembled a Grimm, while Velvet's ears were folded at the tips and her camera was stowed away in its box. When they finally arrived, each slipped a hand into Yang's and the Faunus rested her head against the blonde's upper arm.

     "Pretty shit thing to arrive to," Coco remarked heavily. "I'm sorry about your friend."

     "Thanks," Ruby said, agreeing with Coco's words about the whole situation being shit.

     "Yang said you volunteered your team to run protection, and since we are not gonna just sit by, I guess that means me and Velvs are under your command for today."

     "Give us an order and we will follow it," Velvet said with a nod as she dug in her pocket for her Scroll and held it out.

     With a nod of her own, Ruby loaded up her own Scroll and tapped it against Velvet's to give her access to their team-speak and aura levels. Once the transfer was done, she did it again with Coco and went to put hers away, only to be surprised by a third being held out. Her dad's.

     "Same goes for me," He said with a smile. "My weapon may still need fixing, but my fists work just fine." She stared at her dad for a couple of seconds, the thought of how weird it would be for her, a first year huntress in training, to order around her dad, a fully licensed huntsman who was stronger than all of them put together, running through her head. However, seeing as she did have a use for him, she gave a small, appreciative smile and transferred the access to him too as he pulled out an earbud. "Been a while since I used these things." He mused.

     "So what's the plan?" Velvet asked.

     Ruby had spent the night working on it, on how best to secure the area, and she had finally settled on a simple perimeter.

     "You're with me," Ruby began. "We'll be patrolling the northern section. There are a bunch of weird Grimm that live there, so your adaptive combat style will be best used there." Velvet gave a nod. "Blake, you're in the east. There are a couple of Beo packs that live over that way that might be attracted, and you said you prefer to fight them."

     "I won't let a single one past."

     "Yang, you and Coco are in the south since it's closer to the ocean and stuff might emerge there."

     "We'll handle anything that comes out of Croak Cavern too," Yang said with a nod.

     "Good," Ruby breathed, knowing a strong toad Grimm lived there. "Dad, I need you in the west. Blake and some people around town have reported the Hellk being more active than usual lately, so I want our strongest there in case it does show up."

     "Got it."

     "Keep the comms open at all time," Ruby ordered, firmly. "If you're in over your head, call for help immediately. We can't risk us feeling scared and attracting more Grimm. We'll rotate clockwise to help and compensate for the unprotected areas, then go back to original positions when it's under control."

     "Understood." Everyone said with an accepting nod.

     "Good," Ruby breathed with a nod, happy that everyone found her plan to be a good one. "Also, I know you may have to, but try and keep gunfire to a minimum. I don't want the people here getting more worried; and more importantly, I want L'vynda and Leon to bury Pearl in peace."

     "We'll keep the noise down where we can," Coco said and pet her bag softly. "Blunt force trauma only, hopefully you can fix the dents afterwards if there are any Ruby."

     "Alright, I want to talk to L'vynda first, but you should get into position since things are likely gunna happen soon, as for fixing weapons afterwards I'm your girl, that goes for everyone since I took up this mission." With the plan laid out and understood, Coco and Yang hugged Velvet before they all took off, however Ruby wasn't done and called out again. "Coco, can we have a talk for a minute? Leader to leader?"

     Yang and Coco exchanged a short look, but Yang gave a thumbs up and continued on ahead. "What's up, Red?"

     "I just…" Ruby paused, unsure how to phrase it without potentially hurting the older girl's feelings. "I just need you to make sure you'll call for help. Yang is upset and will likely try and handle too much. I'm trusting you to call if it's needed."

     While she couldn't see them, she knew the chocolate brown eyes were staring into hers, clearly understanding what she was talking about. She hated to bring it up, but Ruby knew what had happened that day. She believed Coco had learned her lesson and was willing to send her with Yang because they worked well together, but that didn't mean she couldn't say something. Thankfully, a comforting smile pulled at the other team leader's lips.

     "Lower Cairn was a hard lesson. One that I learned from," Coco replied firmly. "If we're in over our heads, I'll request help myself."

     "Thank you," Ruby breathed, her worries settled as she trusted Coco's word. Tapping the earpiece and putting it in her ear, Coco walked away to join Yang as they walked towards their position on the southern border.

     With everything out of the way, Ruby let out a deep breath and turned back to the people who were still there. Blake had yet to get into position and was digging through her pocket for something, but her dad was also still standing there. The smile on his face felt so out of place, and the intensity of his gaze was enough to make Ruby shy away a little. "Wh-what?" She asked him.

     "Nothing," She smiled with a shake of his head. "Just remembered your mom giving me orders like that. She'd be proud of you, Kidd… Well, I guess that nickname isn't really appropriate anymore."

     "I... I don't mind," Ruby replied, not sure what else to say in return. To hear her dad say those words meant more to her than she could express. Fortunately she didn't have to as he pulled her into a brief hug before pulling away and taking off at a jog to his position.

     As she recovered from his words, she felt Blake's hand slip into her own and looked up to see her girlfriend's amber eyes gazing down at her softly. Giving her a soft smile in return to show she was okay, Ruby turned and began to make her way over to the small crowd of people, Blake following along with her as they were set up in the east.

     People greeted her as they walked through the crowd, many of them being people Ruby knew growing up, and Ruby waved a friendly hello back to them. However, not wanting to stick around too long so she and Blake could get into position, she motioned to Pearl's parents to indicate she was busy. They all seemed to understand and gave a simple nod, and before long, Ruby was standing in front of the grieving couple.

     "Hi, Mrs Matte, Mr Matte."

     "Hello, Ruby," Leon replied, the smile looking like the most forced thing in the world as his bright blue eyes held nothing but pain. "Thank you for doing this for us today. And for taking out the Grimm that took our darling girl from us."

     "It's not a problem," She replied with a shake of her head. "But we really shouldn't have to."

     "No, you shouldn't," He agreed and wrapped an arm around his wife. Up close she looked worse than ever. The silvery hair, hair that Pearl had also inherited, that she normally kept in a tight bun, hung down over her black dress. It was windswept and knotted, but she didn't seem to care. The only thing she seemed to care about was gently caressing the picture of Pearl that was attached to the coffin. "Vynda appreciates it too. This week has been tough on her though… Tough on all of us."

     "I can only… No. No I can't." She sighed, not wanting to lie to him. "What I can do is assure you that you can bury her in peace. My team has the area covered and we'll keep you all safe."

     "I can see my daughter looked up to you for a reason." He said with a grateful nod. "But the ceremony is about to start, and I shouldn't keep you any longer."

     "Right," Ruby said and took a step back, only to see that Blake hadn't moved and was fiddling with something in her hand. "Bla…"

     "I… Uhh," Blake breathed, earning the attention of the man. "You don't know me, but I found these while we were investigating the lake." Blake opened her hand to reveal a beaded bracelet. "I fixed the band for you, and its tradition on Menagerie to hold an item belonging to the deceased during the burial."

     She held out the bracelet and L'vynda turned her head to look at it. Tears filled her eyes as she reached out to take in, her hands quickly closing around the accessory and clutching it to her chest. "Th-Thank you," She whispered, her voice sounding raw and cracked.

     Ruby saw Blake give the woman a small smile before stepping back. Taking her girlfriend's hand again, she looked up at her and mouthed a silent thank you of her own. In response, Blake pressed a light kiss on her lips before pulling away with a subtle tap on her earbud. With a final wave, she took off towards the woods and Ruby took one last glance at the small coffin, the wooden box being much smaller than Ruby thought a coffin should ever be, and started towards her position.

     Velvet was waiting as she arrived and Ruby gave her a quick nod. The forest seemed clear, but she knew that would not last long, so reaching up, she tapped the comms and turned them online.

     "Comms check, report in."

     "In position in the east, all seems clear for now."

     "Same here in the west."

     "Yang? Coco?"

     "Ugh… Some Mantids, but all good here, Sis."

     "Alright," Ruby breathed, pulling Crescent Rose from its holster and extending it, determined to only use her bullets if it was absolutely necessary. "Comms confirmed. Keep an eye on your aura levels, and let's protect this place. One life was already lost, we're not losing anyone else."


     Ruby was right in thinking that things would pick up pretty fast. It had barely been three minutes since getting into position that Grimm began to run towards the funeral gathering. Beowolves, Ursai, Creeps, Mantids, Termights, Croakers; all manner of Grimm were making their way out of the woods. They were handling them well enough, but it was hard work. There was barely more than a minute or two where she and Velvet could rest. As such, Ruby was already breathing a little heavy and the funeral seemed to only be halfway through.

     To her side, Velvet didn't seem to be as affected, but her chest was still working faster than normal. Ruby suspected that was due to the difference between a second year and a first year. The Faunus was obviously already used to the endless hordes of Grimm, and Ruby was very happy she had chosen Velvet to guard the northern sector with her. Her recreation of Penny's sword, Floating Array, and the laser beam they made when combined had been the only thing that could destroy the Termight swarm. Thankfully though, despite a few scrapes, neither of them had taken too many hits and their aura reserves were holding fine.

     "We should take a second to breathe," Velvet suggested, pulling her camera from its box and scrolling through the pictures. Still extremely confused as to how Velvet's weapon worked, Ruby watched over her shoulder and saw her place a few pictures into a file before pressing the copy button. Ruby didn't see what she made but Velvet quickly pressed a finger to her ear. "ADA, scan the area." She waited for a second and saw a smile appear on Velvet's face as a puff of blue issue from her ear. "The area is clear for now."

     "But it won't be for long," she sighed, leaning over to put her hands on her knees.

     "So we should take what we can get."

     The voice was firm, a request more than an order. Maybe Velvet wasn't doing as well as Ruby thought. Looking up, she saw the girl place her camera back into its box and lean against a tree.

     "Sorry," she apologised.

     "It's fine, you're a first year," Velvet breathed deeply. "You'll get used to it. I remember our first mission. We were barely able to walk at the end of the day. Even Fox was too tired to crack jokes."

     "Wow. Really must have been rough," Ruby chuckled, knowing the only time Fox ever stopped joking around was when he was asleep.

     "Seven hours of killing Grimm, not as many as this though," Velvet said with a hum of confirmation. "On such a long hunt, you learn to take breaks when you can, or you won't be useful when you're needed."

     Hearing the sense in Velvet's words, Ruby gave her a short nod of understanding. Slumping to the floor, she dropped Crescent Rose to the ground beneath her and spread out. Her legs immediately thanked her and she let out a loud groan of relief. Watching Velvet take a seat too, Ruby reached up and tapped her earpiece.

     "Hey Blake, everything okay in the east?"

     "Got it handled now," Blake replied breathlessly. "You weren't kidding about the Beo packs though. I think Coco got the Alpha that led some around to the south."

     "Shoved his head down into his chest," Coco interjected with a confirmation. "Me and Yang are fine too."

     "Aww, Yang not giving you enough attention?" Velvet cooed into her own earpiece.

     "I give her plenty," Yang chimed in. "Dammit, another Ursa Major. Catch up later."

     "I see some Beowolves on the tree line too."

     "Be safe," Ruby muttered to her team.

     Looking up at the sky once the comms fell silent, Ruby thought on how weird it was to fight without her team. She used to be fine fighting alone. She never had to worry about commanding anything other than her scythe, and the only positioning she had to maintain was hers and the Grimm's. But after almost six months of training alongside her teams, it felt weird to fight alongside someone who wasn't them. She was almost certain that the only reason her teamwork with Velvet was so good was because of the girl's semblance to copy fighting styles. She had been sticking mainly to Weiss, Blake, and Yang's style, and though she was close, it still felt a little off. Especially when the Faunus copied Weiss' style.

     That was probably because Weiss' semblance was so heavily integrated into her fighting style, and Velvet couldn't copy that. That didn't mean Weiss wasn't a fantastic fighter without it. She almost never used it in their sparring sessions and Ruby still rarely won; though she was getting closer to making them even fights. But when she used the semblance, their teamwork seemed to flow like water. Every time Ruby needed a platform, Weiss would make it without her having to give any indication. Whenever Weiss needed to back off, Ruby was ready to take the heat for a while until the heiress composed herself. Technique after technique had been mastered over those six months of training, faster than with any other member of her team, even Blake. And Ruby really missed those training sessions.

     More than anything though, she missed her best friend. People said the stern girl had changed during her time at Beacon, even Blake and Yang said it, but Ruby didn't think she was any different. Sure, she was a little less cranky and had relaxed her standards, but everything that made Ruby like her was still exactly the same. Weiss had a good heart, the people who said she changed were just finally seeing past the facade the heiress put up. A facade that Ruby had seen past from their first day as partners when she had been saved from the Deathstalker.

     Though never really engaging in the conversations, Weiss never turned her away when she wanted to talk, and unless there was studying to be done, she also never said no when Ruby wanted to goof around. Weiss really was a true friend, and to go a week with nothing but text messages had made her feel a little alone. She loved hanging out with Yang, and everything she did with Blake made her smile, but there was still a feeling that their team was incomplete whenever they all sat down for a meal. She really hoped the girl could return soon, and that incomplete feeling would vanish with…

     "I hear movement," Velvet said, cutting through Ruby's thoughts and causing her to sit up.

     "Where?"

     "Coming towards us from the clearing." Velvet's ears twisted in the direction the funeral was taking place. "Sounds like footsteps, do you want me to check?"

     "Nah, you're better off here," Ruby sighed, lifting to her feet and brushing the dirt from her skirt. "I'll see who it is."

     She picked up Crescent Rose from the ground and walked towards the direction Velvet's ears had turned. Weaving through the trees, Ruby saw the clearing ahead and all the people there. It looked like a teacher from Signal was standing in front of the crowd and speaking, though he was too far away to hear. Scanning the crowd she saw two people walking towards her that she vaguely recognised and noticed a worried look on their face as they scanned the treeline. She turned in place for whatever they were looking for and saw it a couple of trees away.

     A leg stuck out from behind the trunk, the knee bent to show its owner was sitting down. With the size, Ruby assumed the owner was young and quickly marked where she was. Putting a comforting smile on her face, she took a step out of the woods and waved to get the parents attention. Once she had it, she held out her hand to tell them to stay and motioned to where she had seen the leg and then to herself. Understanding her request for them to not enter the forest, they gave a nod and backed away, though not by far. Returning it, Ruby ducked back into the trees and moved to see who the leg belonged to.

     She heard the gentle crying before she saw the owner, a girl who looked roughly a year younger than herself. Her pale blonde hair was in a neat ponytail, and pale skin stood out against her black dress. Ruby recognised her from Signal.

     "Hey…" She said softly as she approached, startling the girl a little. "Lyt, right?" The girl gave a small nod and a sniffle. "Mind if I sit down? All this fighting is kind of tiring."

     The girl gave another nod and Ruby took a seat at the base of the opposite tree. She stayed quiet for a little while, letting the girl feel her emotions. A minute or two passed and the girl finally stopped crying, but her head was still kept firmly in her knees.

     "Uhhh Ruby..." She heard Velvet's voice say in her ear. "... I have some Grimm here that could be tricky alone."

     Not wanting to leave the girl, nor usher her back to her parents when she clearly wasn't ready, Ruby raised her hand to her ear to reply. "I have something here. Blake, can you circle around to help Velvet?"

     "Sure, but the Beopack are waiting."

     "I can cover your position for now," Yang replied. "Coco has things handled here."

     "Alright. On my way, Velvet."

     Dropping her hand, she crossed her legs and looked back to Lyt to see that the orders had clearly sparked her interest. Her head finally left her knees and Ruby could see the pink eyes looking at her, the skin around them an equal shade of pink from her earlier crying. Ruby offered her the same comforting smile she had given the parents and leaned her scythe against the tree.

     "Y-you don't have to st… ay for me," the girl coughed and wiped her eyes.

     "I want to," Ruby smiled and reached into her back pouch to pull out two energy bars and handed one to her. "They're not as good as chocolate, but they still taste alright."

     Lyt eyed it for a second, but eventually reached out a shaky hand to take it. "Thanks." She mumbled softly.

     Silence filled the space again as they both unwrapped the snack, and though the blonde's trembling fingers caused it to take a couple of tries, she eventually got it and took a bite. Ruby wasn't surprised at the grimace, as in truth they were rather bland.

     "Were you friends?"

     She asked the question cautiously, not wanting to upset her further. Thankfully it seemed okay and the girl had another nod.

     "We were… friends."

     Ruby picked up on the pause.

     "Oh!" She breathed. "I'm sorry."

     "I was st-still getting to know her," Lyt stuttered, her mouth still full of food.

     Suddenly it clicked and, remembering what Yang had said about Peel's pond being a dating spot, she pieced it together. "You were who she was meeting?"

     Lyt gave a sad nod and her eyes returned to the ground.

     "But I was st-stupid. I got detention... and when I showed up and couldn't find her, I-I thought she went home and was mad at m-me because she wasn't returning my texts. I-I didn't realise something might have happened until sh-she didn't come to school the next day. If I was the..."

     "You would have died too."

     Ruby kept her voice firm and steady. It hurt her to be so callous, but she knew it was something she needed to make sure Lyt understood.

     "How do yo…"

     "You would have died too," Ruby repeated a little softer as she reached out to place a hand on the girl's knee. "Lyt, I fought that thing with my sister, and it was a struggle. There's nothing you could have done if you were there, and if you were then we'd be burying two bodies today."

     "Then what do I-I d-do?" The girl said miserably, tears appearing in her eyes again. "If I-I c-can't even p-protect my friends?"

     "I…"

     Ruby was about to reply but an alerted voice sounded in her ear.

     "Ruby! Two got through and are headed straight at you!"

     She saw them before Blake's words were even finished. Two knee-high Grimm sprinting full speed at them, faster than even Yang's bike could go. Gooms. Small geese Grimm whose bodies were covered in black feathers and their armored beaks making for sharp little spears. While not particularly dangerous, their speed was fast enough to rival her own.

     "Get down!" Ruby shouted as she sprang to her feet and shouldered Lyt out of the way, rolling backwards herself as one of the Gooms jammed its sharp beak into the wood.

     As she straightened up, she grabbed Crescent Rose and brought it up in a clean arc that separated the Grimm's head from its body. Spinning around, she didn't have time to reposition her scythe, so smacked the second with the hook and sent it spinning into a tree. It twisted grotesquely in mid air and landed with its webbed feet against the trunk before launching itself off like a bullet. That time she was ready, and as its beak opened, she swung her scythe horizontally. The blade slipped between the beak and sliced it cleanly in two.

     "Any others?" She asked her team immediately.

     "No, sorry. The flock was a big one."

     Ruby breathed out a sigh of relief and turned around to see Lyt looking up at her from the ground, her eyes wide. There was shock in them, but also awe. Unfortunately, though Ruby would have liked to talk to her a little more, she knew she had to get back to Velvet since they needed to get back into position quickly. So she offered the girl a hand and pulled her to her feet.

     "I don't have all the answers, but I think the first thing you should do," Ruby sighed while Lyt brushed herself off. "Is stop doing whatever it is that you did to get detention. Then if you really want to learn how to protect people, you still have time to learn how to do that. Train to be a huntress, a doctor, anything that helps people. And then, maybe one day, you can save me like I just saved you." She gave the girl a soft smile. "If Pearl liked you, then she obviously saw something special."

     Lyt looked at her for a couple of seconds, her pink eyes still full of sadness; but Ruby was glad to see some determination behind them. She had no idea where that determination would lead the girl, but, as she turned and walked back out to her parents, Ruby hoped it would be somewhere good.

     Once the couple pulled her into a hug, Ruby let out a sigh of relief and told Blake she was on her way back.


     "Well this has probably been the shittiest day I've had in awhile," Yang groaned as she fell onto the couch and pulled Velvet onto her lap to bury her face in the girl's shoulder. Coco sat down beside her and took her hand.

     Blake sat down on the opposite end and also let out a groan. While the mission had not been anywhere as long as the Mountain Glenn mission, there had been so many more Grimm and both her legs and arms were tired. It had been nothing but Beowolf after Beowolf, enough to make her question just how many could be on the island, or at least question once again where they came from. No-one really knew, all they knew was that some ancient Grimm could spawn them, but where those Grimm came from was still a mystery.

     "It'll get better," Coco said in a voice that Blake knew was reserved for Velvet and Yang alone. "Yeah," confirmed Velvet and wrapped an arm around the blonde's neck as she turned to Blake. "How is Ruby doing?"

     Blake turned her ears to the room that Ruby had wandered off to be alone the second they got back. She wanted to follow, but she knew Ruby needed a minute to herself. As she listened, she felt her eyes drop to the floor as her ears picked up the sound of sniffling. The kind that usually accompanied crying.

     "I think she's finally letting out what she put aside for the mission," Blake sighed. "Maybe I should go and see her."

     "Leave her." Yang muttered into Velvet's shoulder, the words causing all of their eyes to look at her.

     Watching her partner curiously since Yang had never been one to leave Ruby alone when she was down, she saw the blonde dig into her pocket and pull out her Scroll. In seconds, the television turned on and Yang's device connected to it to show that she was calling Weiss. A while passed and Blake almost thought that the heiress wasn't going to answer, but on the final ring, the call connected and Weiss appeared on the screen. She looked tired and was still laying in bed.

     "You better have a damn good reason for calling me at five in the…" The annoyance in her voice cut off as her tired blue eyes scanned the room, landing on Yang. "What happened?"

     "We just got back from a funeral," Blake breathed, Weiss' eyes darted to her and widening slightly. "One of Yang and Ruby's old school friends."

     "Oh!" Weiss replied, a hint of relief in her voice. "And I am guessing she has locked herself in her room?" Everyone in the room gave a short nod of their head. "Very well, I will talk to her. I will also be returning on Monday."

     "Your father gave you permission?"

     "No, but I will not be taking no for an answer," Weiss replied bitterly to Blake's question. "This city is… Not where I should be."

     With an understanding nod, Blake saw Weiss shift from her position and go to hang up the phone, but something stopped her. From the other end of the couch, with her head still buried in her girlfriend's neck, Yang whispered a quiet "Thank you." Weiss looked at her, clearly having heard the word due to the Scroll being so close, and closed her eyes and shook her head before hanging up.

     Blake looked at her teammate and felt her heart ache. She had lost a friend, and she couldn't comfort her sister because she herself was upset. Both of those things were incredibly important to her and Blake knew just how much she must be hurting. Thankfully she knew the sisters were also quick to bounce back, and though it would take a couple of days till their sadness passed, Blake was going to help however she could. Even if it was only in small ways. So standing from her chair, she walked to the kitchen and put the kettle on to make everyone some hot chocolate.