Weiss had a lot of books. The sheer volume of them all had Ruby in awe, but it was more awe-inspiring that she had read each and every one of them. She'd read more books than Ruby had even seen in her lifetime. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but for real: she'd read a ton of books. She loved reading too, but the amount of them stashed into Weiss's bookshelves greatly intimidated her. The fact that many of them had excessive word counts just made it worse. Maybe if she had Weiss's intense focus, she could've read that many books on that many subjects. Who even read an entire textbook on quantum mechanics when they hadn't even taken those courses?
With so many books on those shelves, there were times when she'd find something she'd never seen before. Today, she had her greatest discovery yet: Weiss's senior yearbook. Her eyes practically glowed with glee when she saw it nestled in the bottom left corner, as if it was trying to hide from her. Too bad nothing could stay hidden forever from her incredible seeking skills. If Blake's middle school goth photos could be found, then this wasn't going to stand a chance.
She pulled it out of the bookcase and got comfy in her red saucer chair. The two of them had very different high school experiences, and she was impressed with how nice Weiss's yearbook looked. Her own yearbook had been fine, but... sparse was probably the right word. That sounded like something Weiss would say to describe it. The school she and Yang had gone to in Patch had been pretty small, since it wasn't a big area. Atlas was a completely different beast of a place, and they obviously took themselves very seriously. This was a proper, no-nonsense yearbook, and it was kind of intimidating. Well, as intimidating as a book could be.
She flipped through the pages, admiring how crisp and clean everyone looked. There wasn't a single photograph out of frame or a single pose that didn't look perfectly planned. Even the 'candid' shots looked too good to be real. Their uniforms were pure white and really nice-looking: cooler than her own uniform from middle school. Heck, her high school hadn't even had them. She just got to wear whatever she wanted, which was awesome and best suited her, but she had to admire the look here. Maybe Weiss still had her old uniform that she could model for her...
There were plenty of interesting pictures, but what she wanted to find was a picture of the most important person to her. She and Weiss had met back in college, though neither of them had gone to the same school. Not at any point in their lives. That was definitely a story for another time, but she had always wondered what Weiss had been like back in grade school. She'd heard stories and seen a few pictures, but as a connoisseur of all things Schnee, she was ever-fascinated with the life and times of her girlfriend. Since she'd never actually seen a proper picture of Weiss from her high school days, this was going to be a brand new experience!
"What are you doing?" She yelped and tossed the book in the air, groaning when it slammed back down in her lap. Weiss had made her grand entrance, a hand on her hip as she stared evenly at her. "Why do I get the feeling that you're doing something you're not supposed to?" Uh oh... She had been caught.
"Weiss! I, uh..." She gulped, smiling guiltily as she held up the yearbook. "I just saw your yearbook on the shelf and I wanted to take a look at it. Please don't be mad!" She was holding it up to show what it was, but it also made for a good shield in case Weiss threw her coffee mug at her. To her surprise, Weiss just laughed, walking over towards her without any tenseness in her muscles. So she... wasn't mad about it?
"Ruby, why would I be mad? Since I've left these all out for guest consumption, you can read any of them you want." She got down on her knees next to Ruby's chair and pointed at the yearbook. "Even my yearbook. Just try not to crumple any of the pages, please." Ruby could only laugh and breathe a sigh of relief. She knew how important Weiss's property was to her, and she hadn't wanted to make her mad by reading something that probably meant a lot to her without permission.
"I won't! I mean, I probably won't..." She started to take a lot more care with how she turned each page, just in case. "I just really wanted to see how you looked in your yearbook! You've never shown me this before, and I wanna see what you looked like before we met."
"I'll show you, then. Give me the yearbook." Ruby did so, and Weiss quickly started to flip through the pages. She watched a bunch of pictures fly by, with no time to recognize anything but blobs and shapes. Once Weiss had reached the section where all of the students' official pictures were housed, she began to look through them by last name. With 'Schnee' as her own, she was going to be near the back, and as a senior, farther still. "Here we go." She handed the yearbook back to Ruby, then pointed at her own picture.
"Woah... You were cute in high school!" It didn't take much for her to start gushing about Weiss. She had double majored in loving everything about her girlfriend, and that included something as simple as a yearbook photo. "I like the bangs. You should grow those back." Weiss snorted, not even needing to say anything to let Ruby know that wasn't happening. Besides the bangs, she looked pretty similar to how she looked now as an adult. At least from the bust shot. There was another difference, though... "Wait a minute... I've never seen you wearing glasses before!"
"I... forgot that I was wearing them in that picture." Weiss suddenly looked embarrassed, staring down at the picture as if she could erase the spectacles through mental will alone. "My eyesight isn't great in my left eye, and I'm supposed to be wearing corrective lenses because of it. I... I don't think I look good in them, though, so I don't wear them often. Especially around you!" She looked away, blushing. "I didn't want you to think I looked too nerdy when we first met..."
"Aww, nooo!" Leaving the yearbook open in her lap, Ruby leaned over so she could hug Weiss. "I don't think you look nerdy! They're super cute on you! You should wear them more often!" Weiss was even more embarrassed under the praise, but she smiled slightly despite it. There was something about Ruby that could make any insecurity lessen in an instant. She just had that sort of power, and it made her grateful that she was allowed to date this energetic woman.
"I'll... keep that in mind." She glanced over at Ruby, smiling. That non-committal answer was basically a solid yes in Weiss-speak, and Ruby was positively beaming. She couldn't wait to go to bed one night and see Weiss reading with her glasses on. It was going to be super cute! "Well, since you've seen me in them, I suppose there's no point in hiding the club photos that I'm in." She flipped the pages backwards, still cringing a bit at the thought of her in those dorky-looking glasses. But if Ruby was okay with them, it probably wouldn't be that bad.
"Oh my god, Weiss! You're so short!" Okay, maybe it was going to be that bad. She looked down reluctantly at the picture of the student council, where as the president, she was directly in the middle. Which meant she was being flanked by other students who were a bit taller than her... Okay, they were much taller than her. She hadn't even thought about it when the yearbooks were initially printed, but seeing it now with a fresh pair of eyes... Oh god, she was short... She had barely topped the five foot mark at seventeen, so she was easily dwarfed by the remaining members in the student council. Even the second-shortest person had a couple of inches on her. Oh, the shame of it...
"Yes, I am aware." This was not exactly the same reaction her glasses had gotten. She really should've worn taller heels...
"I can't take it! You're too adorable! Like a snow-white kitten!"
"Okay, I'm taking the yearbook back."
"Wait, wait, I'm sorry!" Ruby grabbed onto the yearbook, trying to keep it from being taken away. "It's not that you're short! You're just... fun-sized!" Weiss just stared blankly at her. "That's a compliment. You're the perfect girlfriend size!" She smiled as wide as she could until Weiss finally relented. With a groan and an emphatic roll of her eyes, Weiss pulled her hands back and let Ruby continue to explore her past. "Thank you!" She gave Weiss a peck on the cheek, grinning at the blush it drew to her cheeks. One more cheek kiss, and then she was back to the yearbook.
Now that she had seen the adorable pictures of her girlfriend, she decided to go to the very back of the yearbook. That was where everyone's classmates would write their goodbyes and other silly stuff at the end of the year. She wanted to see if Weiss's fellow Atlas students were just as proper and stuffy as they were in the pictures, or if they had any sort of a silly side to them. Her curiosity drove her right to the back, where... it was blank.
"Huh?" She stared down at the last several white pages where she had expected the messages to be. There was nothing there, though: not even an errant marker scratch. She slammed the book shut and opened it from the front, thinking that maybe she had missed them on the first few blank pages. Those were empty too. That didn't make any sense... Unless they were so elite that they wrote all their messages in invisible ink! "Weiss, can I use your blow dryer?"
"What? What in the world for?"
"Because your classmates' signatures might be in invisible ink!" She closed the yearbook and stood up, holding it under an arm. "I can go get it myself, it's cool. You haven't moved it from under the sink, right?"
"Invisible ink... Ruby, wait!" Weiss grabbed her hand before she could make her way to the bathroom. "What in the world are you talking about? Did you hit your head or something? Why would there be invisible ink in my yearbook?"
"Because I can't see any messages! So I thought maybe your fancy-pants classmates made them invisible or something. 'No plebeians can see our super special messages!'" She changed her voice to try and sound like Weiss, which only made her sound like a terrible impersonator. Which she absolutely was.
"Ruby, sit down before you give me a headache." She tugged on Ruby's arm until she finally sat back down. "I have no idea what you're talking about. There is nothing written in my yearbook, invisible or otherwise. Why would there be?" It sounded like a joke, but Ruby knew Weiss well. Jokes from her were few and far between. With the look of legitimate confusion on her face, it didn't seem like she was telling a joke either. But that meant...
"Nobody signed your yearbook?" She sounded so sad about it, like it was the end of the world. Hearing her voice like that immediately sent up the 'Protect Ruby at all costs' flags in Weiss's brain. The only problem was that she didn't understand what the issue was. Ruby seemed to be upset that nobody had signed her yearbook, but she legitimately didn't know why anyone would do that. She was trying to understand it, but she needed more time to analyze the situation. With how sad Ruby sounded, she didn't have that time.
"Ruby, why are you sad about nobody signing my yearbook?" She'd learned in her time with Ruby that it was best to clearly ask questions that would lead her to an answer. As much as she wanted to just say that this kind of reaction was nonsensical, she knew that would only make things worse. It wasn't the way she was supposed to handle the emotions of other people: another lesson she'd learned from being around Ruby.
"Because they were supposed to!" Well that didn't seem like sound logic. "At the end of the year, you take your yearbook around and all your friends sign the pages in the back and front. You sign theirs too, and you write things like 'Have a good summer!' or 'See you on the flippity flip!' or something like that. It's fun!"
"O...kay?" She had never heard of such a thing in her life. This must've been one of those 'small school' things, like everything Ruby talked about that confused her. "That may have happened in your school, but I never saw such a thing at mine." Ruby frowned deeply, unable to believe that could be the case. Were they really all so stuck up that signing yearbooks was beneath them? "Ruby, what's wrong?"
"That just isn't right... What did your school do on the day yearbooks came out?"
"Well, I know some people showed their yearbook photos to their friends. That was all I noticed, though. I didn't have any friends in high school, so none of that was appealing to me." She spoke so dismissively of the whole thing, shrugging as if being friendless didn't matter. Like it didn't shape and exacerbate her emotional and mental issues throughout her teens. The fact that Weiss acted like it was just a regular occurrence that wasn't a big deal made Ruby extremely upset, to the point where she actually began to cry. "Ruby?! Why are you crying?! Don't cry! Stop that this instant!"
"But it's not fair! You're such an amazing person, and you deserve every friend in the world!" Despite Weiss's 'gentle' admonishment, she couldn't stop crying. It made her so mad that those other students would be so mean to Weiss. She'd known that Weiss hadn't been the most popular girl in school, having gleamed that information from some of her stories, but this was just too much. If she had her way, she'd... she'd kick 'em all in the shins! Or maybe she'd get Yang to split the job... "Your yearbook should be full of signatures..."
"It's not a big deal." She was slipping back into her logical state, which she should know better than to expect that it would work. The Rose-Xiao Longs were not logical creatures like her family. She needed to use her logic to be emotional, as weird as that might sound. It wouldn't do if both of them were in some kind of mood. "It's okay, Ruby. I'm not worried about whether or not anyone from high school signed my yearbook or not." She started to wipe Ruby's tears away. "They were all jerks, anyway. Those messages wouldn't be worth much anyway."
"That's not the point! The point is they're... they're mean!" Ruby pouted pitifully, kicking out at the air. "I'm gonna pop three of their tires so that they can't get them all refunded..." Weiss laughed, gently stroking Ruby's arm. She could certainly be a handful sometimes, but the way she loved her so unconditionally, to the point of wanting to commit a minor offense, was worth it.
"Don't you dare go to jail on my behalf, Ruby Rose. Not even I'm worth that." Ruby was clearly about to argue, so Weiss put a finger to her mouth to shush her. That finger was quickly kissed in 'retaliation'. "This isn't anything to get worked up over, alright?" She grabbed the yearbook out of Ruby's lap and shut it, standing up to put it back on the shelf. "Let's just forget about it. Why don't we play one of those video games you keep talking about?"
"Okay, I guess..." She wasn't convinced by Weiss's little act. This was just her way of reflecting any talk about emotions. She may be saying that she was okay with it, but Ruby didn't feel like that was the case at all. Especially because she wanted to play video games, which she almost never wanted to do. She never understood why anyway would want to sit around and play them, no matter how many different genres of games Ruby had tried to show her. So the fact that she was willing to play one now was majorly suspicious.
Even if she was okay with it, as unlikely as it was... Ruby certainly wasn't! She was not happy with this at all! Sure, it had happened years ago at this point, but there was no satisfying conclusion and it made her mad. As much as she wanted to let it go like Weiss was telling her to, she just couldn't. It was going to bother her for days if she didn't do something about it...
Slowly she got up and followed Weiss to the bedroom. There was a television set up there, and she'd allowed Ruby to leave a couple consoles and a handful of games in case she wanted to play something while over at her house. As she passed the bookcase, she took one last look at where the yearbook was. A thought crossed her mind, and she knew exactly what she needed to do. She wasn't going to rest until she had made this injustice right!
"So you want me to... sign a yearbook?" Her chance wouldn't come for another week. They hadn't reached a point where either of them had asked the other if they wanted to live together, and their respective living arrangements weren't exactly close. There was quite a bit of distance between Atlas and Patch, so a good portion of their relationship was done over the phone. She would go up to Atlas to visit Weiss when she could, though, and on occasion Weiss would slum around in Patch. Maybe she ought to broach moving in together with Weiss... Would she even want to do that? Maybe her snooty coworkers would sense that she wasn't one of them and ostracize her right off the bat.
"Yes!" She was back home in good ol' Patch, in the house that she shared with her big sister Yang. Well, shared might not be the proper word... Okay, she was freeloading. Just until she got a proper job, though! Maybe she needed to start checking the wanted ads in Atlas... "This is Weiss's yearbook, and nobody signed it! I want to get everyone we know to sign it so I can show her that she deserves all the friendship in the world!"
"I guess the ice queen really didn't have any friends in school." Yang took the yearbook and flipped to the back pages, searching for the messages that weren't there. She had many concerns about Ruby's relationship with Weiss, whether it was the physical distance between the two or Weiss's standoffish nature the first time that they'd met. Weiss could certainly be opinionated, but Ruby really seemed to love her. Since she felt so strongly about her, Yang had done her best to support the two of them. No matter how hard it might be sometimes.
"I wonder why..." Blake was on her phone next to Yang, not giving the yearbook a single look. She was Yang's long-term girlfriend from Menagerie, though she'd moved to Patch several years ago so they could buy a house together. Their relationship was one that Ruby had wanted back in college, if she ever did get into one. Of course, she did get into one, and it wasn't anything like those two. Still, she wouldn't want to change anything about it. Except for these messages, that is...
"Pleeease?" She gave her best puppy dog stare towards Yang. This was super important, and she wanted to procure as many signatures as possible. By the time she came back with the yearbook, there would be no doubt that Weiss was an awesome person who was loved and appreciated by many people. She refused to let her think any less of herself any longer, even if she never admitted to doing so.
"Alright, alright! Don't look at me like that, geeze. Those puppy dog eyes are going to scare Blake, you know?" Blake looked up from her phone to just stare at Yang, who was grinning at her own bad joke. "Lemme grab a pen." She handed the yearbook off to Blake, heading to her room so she could grab one from her desk. Blake looked at it with great disinterest, immediately offering it back to Ruby. She wouldn't take it back, though. Not yet.
"You should sign it too, Blake. It'd mean a lot." She smiled, but her stomach was already churning with the anticipation of low-key conflict. Weiss and Blake didn't exactly get along. While there was a sort of begrudging respect between her girlfriend and Yang, Blake wasn't as willing to give any sort of respect to her. There were socio-political issues that were well beyond her depth, but she didn't want to just give up. As Yang's partner, Blake was important to her too. She wasn't willing to give this up without some sort of fight. Not... an actual fight, of course.
"I'll pass." Simple and to the point: very Blake-ish. She continued to hold out the yearbook, expecting Ruby to take it back. Ruby refused, however. They were still having a silent stare-off when Yang came back with a pen, wondering what in the world had happened while she was gone. Realizing that Ruby wasn't going to back down, she sighed and pulled the yearbook back. "Ruby, I'm not going to sign Weiss's high school yearbook."
"I know you two aren't close, but... but we're friends, right?" Blake nodded, staring at her suspiciously. "And Weiss is my girlfriend, whom I love very much. So... maybe you could be okay with her too?" She really wanted this to work. It wasn't a topic that ever came up, either between herself and Weiss or herself and Yang. She really didn't like that she couldn't get everyone close to her to warm up to Weiss the way she wanted them to. "She would really appreciate it."
"I'm sure she would." Blake's response was so deadpan and obviously sarcastic. Ruby's smile faded, which was Yang's cue to hop onto the couch and be ready for mediation. "While I respect your right to choose who you date, I don't have to be friends with her. She doesn't like me, and I don't like her: that's the bottom line." Maybe for her, but it wasn't for Ruby. She knew that Yang would tell her to stop trying to make everyone love each other. Even Weiss would probably say the same if she knew, but she just couldn't!
"Well that's not fair! I know she said some not-nice things to you when you first met, but that was years ago! She isn't like that anymore!" Weiss's feelings towards the faunus were a huge point of contention back when she initially introduced her to Yang and Blake. At the time, it had seemed like a rift that would never be fixed, but Ruby had found a way. At least the best way that she could. She'd talked to Weiss about it, sometimes for hours at a time. It made her understand her girlfriend's feelings, but she was also able to explain why the things that she had been saying weren't okay. That had been a lot of work, but she knew that Weiss was a different person now. Blake just wouldn't accept it, though...
"Just because she's nice to you doesn't make her a nice person. She still has that bigoted side of her, and that doesn't just go away because you talked to her about it once."
"You don't know that! How would you know when you don't even give her a chance? You won't talk to her or let me show you that she's not that same girl you spoke with years ago. Maybe... Maybe you're the bigot!" She didn't mean that, but she was speaking out of frustration. Why was it so hard to believe that Weiss could be a nice person? Blake was acting just like all those people who were mean to Weiss in high school. She just couldn't believe that Blake didn't believe that someone could change. It had happened, and she had seen it firsthand! She had been there, supporting Weiss every night when she could coax any scrap of emotional truth out of her. To say that all that wasn't true, or that it didn't mean anything, completely demeaned it all!
"Alright, chill you two." It was time for Yang to flex her mediating muscles. It was kind of ironic that the woman who had once punched a hole in the wall of a pizza place because they got her order wrong - twice, to be fair - was the one trying to bring about peace, but that was the role she needed to take in this instance. "Ruby, I know you love Weiss, and I really am happy that you've found someone that you can feel that way about. That doesn't mean everyone has to feel the same way about her that you do."
"You do still kind of hold a grudge against her, Blake." That got Blake's attention. She turned in surprise, caught off guard by Yang's serious tone. "I understand why you feel that way about her, but Ruby's right: it's been years, and people really can change. Would you say that I haven't made any changes with my anger issues?"
"No, of course not... You've become a much calmer woman since I met you." Blake sighed deeply, knowing that her own words were implicating her now. She wanted to say that it was completely different, and she did feel that it was. There wasn't much of an argument she could make now with both sisters standing against her. "I'm not going to praise her for not being a bigot."
"You don't have to praise her. If you could at least understand that she's trying to be a better person." Yang looked over at Ruby, smiling softly. "Ruby says that she is, and I trust my sister." Ruby smiled back, silently thanking Yang for sticking up for Weiss. She had been worried that the girlfriends would stick together and she'd be left talking to the void, but it looked like fortune smiled upon her this day. What about Blake, though? She turned to look at her, seeing her struggling to agree to Yang's simple demands.
"Alright, I'll try..." Her shoulders slumped as she admitted defeat. "But I'm not going to like it."
"That's the spirit!" Yang hugged Blake tightly, drawing a slight smile from her. That smile then disappeared when she felt Ruby pushing the yearbook closer to her.
"And the yearbook?" Ruby asked hopefully, trying to push her luck as far as it could go.
"Fine..." Blake flipped open the yearbook and took the pen from Yang's hand. "But I'm not going to like this either." In the top left corner of the second blank page in the back, she wrote 'Good luck - Blake,' which was about as much as Ruby could expect. She'd already pushed her luck far enough. Yang took the yearbook and the pen from her, writing beneath it 'Thanks for loving my sister, ice queen. We may not see eye to eye, but I'm happy that she's found someone to love as much as she loves you.'
"Thank you!" Ruby hugged them both, smiling brightly. "This is gonna be great!" She took the yearbook back and jumped to her feet. "Okay, I gotta head into the city, then over to Mistral. I should probably stop in Vacuo too..."
"Can you afford all those trips, Rubes?" Ruby had said she wanted as many people as possible to sign Weiss's yearbook, but Yang hadn't expected her to go to every kingdom to get them. Then again, when Ruby was gung-ho about something, she didn't let much stop her.
"I'll find a way, Yang. Nothing is going to stop me from filling this book with loving messages!" She held it up like a prized treasure, then hugged it close to her chest and ran to her room to start planning where she was going to go and the people she was going to ask to sign. Once she left, Yang and Blake turned to look at each other.
"You know Weiss doesn't deserve her, right?" Blake had no idea how someone like Weiss had reeled in Ruby, but they'd been going out for years without breaking up, so she must've been doing something right. She just couldn't fathom what it was.
"No, but the world doesn't deserve Ruby's either. She's too good for us all."
That weekend, Ruby went into the city to meet up with some of her grade school friends. She still kept up with their going-ons, so it was easy enough to meet with them and get them to sign Weiss's yearbook. They all admittedly seemed to find it a bit weird as to why she wanted them to sign it. For one, they'd all graduated years ago. Two, they didn't go to school with Weiss. And three, they didn't really know her all that well. Ruby had taken her to meet a couple of them, but that was it. They weren't exactly all buddy-buddy or anything.
She convinced them, though, and she got those signatures with little problem. Now, while her grade school friends didn't really have much connection with Weiss, she did have a couple of friends in Vale that were a bit more familiar with her girlfriend. She had actually known of Coco and Velvet from back in school, though their connection from back then was barely existent. They were older than her, and they didn't go to the same school either. The only reason she knew of them was seeing them a couple times when their schools faced each other in friendly sporting events. She did remember hearing plenty of rumors about Coco, even at a separate school, since she was apparently the coolest girl at her school. Apparently she also had a heartbreaker reputation, though she'd only heard about that through second-hand voices at the time.
To her surprise, she found out that Weiss and Coco knew each other as well. She didn't find that out until last year, when she noticed that one of the tags on Weiss's new fancy dress said 'Adel' on it. She'd casually mentioned that the last name sounded familiar, and that she remembered someone with that last name from back in school. When Weiss had said that it was unlikely, since that was a dress designed by the Coco Adel, she had nearly ripped the tag off in shock.
As it turned out, being rich had its perks. Who knew? Weiss and Coco had met in passing through a fashion show, and somehow the fact that she was now a pretty big designer had completely escaped her mind. Okay, so she wasn't exactly fashion-inclined... Weiss hadn't even believed her at first that she'd seen Coco back in school, but she'd employed the great argumentative tactic of 'prove me wrong'. So Weiss attempted to do just that the next time she and Coco met up... and was completely floored when the timing of their respective schooling and the proximity of their locations matched up. Though Coco admittedly didn't know Ruby actually existed, which was kind of an ego crush... But that was okay. She honestly didn't know why she'd think Coco would know of her anyway.
That coincidental connection ended up with her getting in contact with Coco, through Weiss of course. It also let her properly meet Velvet, who was Coco's partner. She did remember Velvet, but not by name: it was the ears. There weren't many faunus at her school, so seeing one in the stands of Pharos Academy was a relatively new thing. She decided not to bring that up, though, since it sounded kind of rude. She also did not ask if any of the heartbreaker rumors were true, as that also seemed rude. Weiss wasn't the only one learning things in their relationship. Ruby had also learned not to blurt things out without thinking about how they might be perceived by others.
So now she was taking the bus up to where the two of them lived, ready to get those signatures. Unlike with her grade school friends, she'd made sure to let them know that she was coming. Coco was a busy person, and she didn't want to go all the way up there for nothing. She was assured that the two of them would be home that day, so she hopped on the bus and made her way there.
"Hey Ruby! Come in, come in!" Coco opened the door and stepped aside, allowing Ruby entrance into her very nice-looking home. That was fine and all, but Ruby was more surprised at seeing Coco not wearing her trademark sunglasses. She seemed to have them on at any time, even while indoors, so it was a bit shocking to learn that she had an eye color. "Uh, everything alright?"
"Your eyes are brown... Uh, sorry." She smiled sheepishly, pulling Weiss's yearbook from out of her bag. "I was hoping you could sign this!" She thrust it forward, which Coco looked at curiously.
"A yearbook? I thought you graduated from high school already."
"It's not mine: it's Weiss's." Coco quirked an eyebrow curiously. "She graduated too. Oh man, I'm gonna have to explain this every time... Nobody signed her yearbook, and I think it's really mean, and I want to get everyone I know to sign it so that she knows she's appreciated." If she could've swung it, it would've been easier to get everyone to gather in one place to explain everything in one go. It could've been like a yearbook-signing house party!
"Huh, that's sweet... in a sentimental way, I guess. Very you. Alright, let me grab a pen and my girl. Make yourself at home, but don't get lost." She walked down the hall, with Ruby in tow. They reached the living room, where Ruby took a seat on the couch and watched Coco head further into the house. She tapped her feet and looked at the TV, which had been left on the shopping network. If she was allowed to make herself at home, could she change the channel to something more interesting? She wasn't sure... but she still started looking around for the remote.
"Hey Ruby." She jumped, finding Coco and Velvet entering the living room. "It's good to see you again." Smiling softly, Velvet bowed slightly in greeting. She always seemed to be a lot more reserved and polite than most people Ruby knew. She would've just hugged a friend in greeting, but to each their own.
"Good to see you too!" She smiled brightly, then noticed Coco sticking her hand out. Handing over the yearbook, Coco took it and flipped it open, somehow easily holding it open and signing it without having to lay it on her lap. That was not a magical power Velvet had, who sat down when it was her turn to sign it. When they both had finished, it was handed back to Ruby, who gave the signatures a quick once-over. "Looks good! Thank you so much, you two!"
"No problem. Glad to help a fashionista." Of course, she was referring to Weiss. "You know, if you wanna stick around, I bet we could find something pretty great for you to wear instead of that old skirt you always have on." Ruby gulped, seeing Coco looking down at her with that look in her eyes. It was the kind of look that she'd be able to decipher even through her sunglasses. As a major player in the fashion world, Coco had found Ruby's plain, 'throw on the first thing I grab' attire to be in need of an upgrade. This seemed to come up nearly anytime they were in the same room.
"I think I actually have to get home. I gotta, uh... help Yang with... the oven that I left on." She jumped to her feet, awkwardly hugging both Coco and Velvet at the same time before heading for the door. "Thanks so much for the signatures! I'll see you girls soon, okay? Take care!" She had her shoes on and was out the door before either of them could stop her.
"You scared her off again." Velvet sighed, then let out a squeak of surprise when Coco dropped down onto her lap.
"It's going to happen someday. I swear to you, my darling, I will get Ruby to wear something substantially hip and cool!" Good luck with that.
With Vale out of the way, the next place she was heading off to was Mistral. There were a few more people that they both were friends with over there. They all knew Weiss relatively well without the same loathing that Blake felt, which was perfect. She just needed to catch a boat over there, since it was cheaper than flying.
She'd already called ahead to make sure she had a place to stay, since she was planning on crashing there for a couple of days. It was a long-enough boat ride that she wasn't just going to touch land, get signatures, and bounce back to Patch. She'd stay a bit, hang out with some good friends, and then head back home. Luckily, Nora and Ren were happy to let her stay on their couch. She used to stay with Jaune and Pyrrha on her first visits to the city, but now there wasn't much room for her with the kids there. They were so grabby too...
She hugged Nora and Ren when she got to their house. The normally excitable Nora wasn't leaping onto her the moment she entered the house now that she was pregnant. That didn't stop her from greeting her with the same gregariousness she always had. The three of them then went into the living room, where Jaune and Pyrrha were already sitting on the couch. They had come over when they heard that Ruby wanted to talk to them all about something, leaving their two kids in the capable hands of Pyrrha's mother.
"Great, everyone's here! That means I don't have to explain what I'm doing multiple times." She sat down next to Jaune, with Nora and Ren sitting on the other side of her. With two loving couples sandwiching her, she suddenly wished that Weiss was there so she wasn't the only one technically alone. Then again, her being there would defeat the purpose of this being a surprise... So she explained what she was doing, as she had done several times already. Saying the same thing repeatedly was causing the words to sound weird in her ears.
"So you want us to sign Weiss's old yearbook." Pyrrha hummed quietly in thought. "I remember getting my own signed by a lot of people. Even people who didn't go to my school..." That did not surprise Ruby in the slightest. Pyrrha had been a pretty well-known athlete in her youth, and those kinds of people got plenty of attention. It was probably an honor for some of them to just stand in her presence. Actually, that's how she felt about Weiss...
"Yeah, that was the best! Ren actually asked me out for the first time by writing it in our sophomore yearbook." It was slight, but the normally-impassive Ren was definitely blushing. Ruby giggled, knowing that it was a fool's errand to keep anything a secret if Nora knew about it. Which was why she did not tell her anything that she didn't want out in the public sphere.
"Nora, I don't think anyone wants to hear that." And be 'anyone', he assuredly meant himself. Ruby had to put a hand over her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud again. "I think your idea is very admirable, Ruby. I'm sure we all would be more than happy to assist you with this." The others nodded in assent, and Ruby beamed. She really did have some great friends. "I will get us some writing utensils." He stood up to fetch them, and Nora leaned in to Ruby as soon as he had walked away.
"I still have the yearbook he wrote that in if you wanna see it later." Ruby nodded, getting a thumbs up from Nora. It was sorta funny: she'd never been into romantic stuff when she was younger. All of it seemed so... not useless, but in the way, if that made sense. She felt like being in a relationship would change her, and then she wouldn't get to hang out with her friends or do cool, dangerous stuff anymore. Weiss really did change her outlook on that sort of thing when they finally hooked up. Love could be a powerful substance, and she was definitely addicted to her small white drug. Do not tell the police that out of context.
Ren came back in with three different pens, in case anyone wanted to choose a different color to write it in. That wasn't a bad idea, actually, since everyone else had written their words down in black. It'd be good to get a bit of variety in there. Despite that, Ren chose black, which maybe shouldn't have been that big of a surprise. Nora took a pink pen, writing down a small but meaningful message. She followed this up by drawing a doodle of her and Weiss lifting a hammer - or at least that's what it kinda looked like - that took up a third of the page. At least she wouldn't have to worry about having too much white space left on that page. The last pen, with its red ink, was used by Jaune and Pyrrha.
"Thanks, you guys!" This was great! All these signatures were really coming together. She couldn't wait to see Weiss's face when she came back with the yearbook and surprised her with it. This was going to be like a Christmas present, but not at Christmastime. Or a birthday present not on her birthday. So just a regular gift, then, huh? Sometimes she just wanted to give Weiss things just because she loved her! She wasn't awash in money, but she'd do what she could.
"Hey, since we have Weiss's yearbook here and all..." Nora leaned in again, placing two fingers on the page the yearbook was opened to. "Can we see Weiss's yearbook photo?"
"Sure!" Not even thinking about how embarrassed Weiss had been about it, Ruby dutifully flipped back until she had found it. All four of them leaned in to get a look, with Ruby pointing to it specifically to help them. "Isn't she just the cutest?!"
"Well yes, but..." Pyrrha didn't want to detract from Ruby's enjoyment there. It was obvious she was just head over heels for her girlfriend, but... "She's not even smiling."
"Yeah, everyone else around her is. She looked so intimidating even then..." Jaune shuddered, still remembering getting yelled at the first time he had been introduced to Weiss. Apparently he had set a record for the quickest person to piss her off. Nobody had told him it was her dessert, though! It was just left out on the table! Who does that?
"I bet she made the cameraman cry." Okay, this wasn't exactly the reaction she was expecting... "Ooh, get a picture of her driver's license! I wanna see how deep her frown can go!"
"Nora, that's her private information. She should only share it if she so chooses."
"Aww, you're no fun, Ren!"
"A-Anyway!" It was time to change the subject before this got too ingrained in everyone's minds. If it got back to Weiss, she was going to get a stern talking to. "Her glasses are cute, though, right?"
"Oh yeah." "Absolutely." "They look very nice on her." "I didn't know she wore glasses."
After a trip the next week to Vacuo to nab a couple more signatures from Sun and Neptune, she had to wait an agonizing month before she could head up to Atlas. Normally Weiss was kind enough to pay for her airfare, but she had become pretty swamped with work. It meant that she couldn't spend as much time with Ruby as she wanted to, so they had to subsist on texts and the occasional call until then. That was usually totally fine, and just knowing that she could send Weiss an 'I love you' text whenever she was feeling lonely and get one back made her really happy. It just wasn't fine in this instance because she was so gosh darn impatient to show Weiss what she'd done! Like a little kid wanting to show their parents a new drawing or something.
However, when that month had passed and she was on the airship up to Atlas, she was now besieged with nervousness. She'd had all this confidence that Weiss was going to love what she had done and be so pleased that people really did care about her. Now she could only think of what could go wrong, like if Weiss didn't like it. Maybe she'd just think everyone was lying, or that Ruby had forged the messages. What if she was mad that she'd marked her pristine years-old yearbook? These were the thoughts that made her want to throw the yearbook out of the airship, then have herself follow right after it. A 'yeetbook', as Yang would call it.
She stayed inside the airship, though, and she didn't leave it until they touched ground. Her legs were shaking when she was on the ground herself, though. Weiss was going to already be there, and she'd know something was wrong the moment she got in the car. She had to hide her nervousness, or else she'd give it away before they even got to the house! There was only one way she could keep her cool within the next twenty seconds: Grimmemes. She fumbled for her scroll, bringing up all the funniest pictures she'd saved to get herself in a good mood.
She was laughing at a 'Grimm gather where there's negative emotions, so they must all be at school' drawing when she found Weiss's car. Well, she nearly bumped into it because she was looking at her scroll, but she halted herself just in time. She pulled open the passenger's door and hopped in, leaning over to give Weiss a big ol' hug.
"Hey Weiss! I missed you!" She was doing good so far. Her smile was natural and her attitude was pretty normal. Weiss didn't seem suspicious at all.
"I missed you too, Ruby." She smiled back, waiting until Ruby had put her seatbelt on before driving them home. "I hope the flight was alright for you as usual."
"Yup! Those airships are very smooth." She was actually appreciative of the small talk, and not just because it was a welcome distraction. When they'd first met, it'd been difficult to engage in small talk with Weiss. She didn't understand the point of forcing conversation when there didn't need to be any. Apparently uncomfortable silences were just the norm for her, and she was completely fine with it. She was at least okay with small talk now, which was a relief. Those uncomfortable silences were torture!
They reached the house, and all that nervousness was back in full swing. She was no more than a couple minutes away from showing Weiss the yearbook, and she was so worried about it not being received well. Augh, why was she even thinking like this?! It was so unlike her! This wasn't the way to think. She could do this! It was gonna be great, Weiss was gonna love it, and it might even get her a sweet makeout sesh. She could totally do it!
They got inside, and seconds turned into a minute as Weiss went to get a drink of water. Ruby declined, and then another minute passed as she was asked about how the previous month had been. Weiss had become much better at asking about people's days, and it was appreciated that she'd sit there and listen with rapt attention. It was great, but... she didn't want to talk about her day. She wanted to get that yearbook out of her bag before it burned a hole through it!
"Ruby, are you okay?" She blinked, wondering why Weiss had asked that. Had she been too obvious?
"Yeah, of course! Why?"
"I asked you a question and you didn't respond. You were staring off into space for twenty seconds." She was? Oh man... "Are you sure everything's alright?"
"Yup! Totally fine!" Weiss did not seem to believe this. "... Okay, the truth is, I want to tell you something, and I've been wanting to tell you for like a month now. It's super cool, and I've just hated waiting!" Now that was something Weiss could believe. "Are you ready to see this?"
"I suppose so..." Weiss wasn't sure what this was going to be, but she was a bit worried all the same. She didn't always know what would happen when it came to Ruby.
"Alright, it's..." She opened her bag and pulled out the yearbook. "... this!"
"... My yearbook?" Weiss just stared at her as if she'd gone crazy. "I knew that you must've taken it. There was a noticeable hole in my bookshelf." She took the yearbook back, setting it next to her on the couch. "I figured you had taken it to look through it some more. Which is fine, but I wish you would tell me before you do such things."
"No, it wasn't that! I mean, yes, I took the yearbook, but it wasn't just to look through it! Please look at the last pages." It was clear that Weiss didn't know what she was getting at, but she picked up the yearbook and flipped the back pages. To her surprise, the normally-blank pages were covered in messages of varying inks. Her eyes widened, looking to Ruby for an explanation. "I know you said it wasn't a big deal that nobody signed your yearbook, but it was to me. It made me mad that your classmates didn't show you the love and respect that you deserve. So I went to everyone I could find and got them to sign it, to show you how important you are!"
"Ruby..." Weiss shook her head, smiling at Ruby's enthusiasm. Now that she could see what Ruby had done, she wasn't all that surprised. This was exactly the kind of thing that she'd do. Even though she'd tried her best to reassure her that it was fine, she of course went out and did this. It was unnecessary, but it was... nice. Very Ruby-like. "You actually got Blake to sign this?"
"Sure did!" She decided to leave out how hard it had been to even get her to write two words. "I got pretty much everyone to sign, see? Blake, Yang, Coco, Pyrrha, Ren..." She started pointing out everyone's words, even though Weiss could obviously read them. Weiss started to read through each one of them, feeling something strange building inside her as she read all the kind words within her yearbook.
'Thanks for being a cool friend, Weiss!' 'Even if you've graduated, you might as well enjoy the summer! So enjoy the summer!' 'Hope to see you soon.' There were lots of messages written, each with different penmanship and different feelings attached to them. The only similarity was that they were all nice messages just for her. All these people were willing to write these nice things in a high school yearbook just because Ruby asked them to. That probably said something about the way Ruby could get anyone to do what she wanted, but it also did show something else. All these people that she had met, mostly through Ruby, cared about her. They were glad to have her in their lives, even if she hadn't been the easiest person to get along with for all these years.
"I'm surprised you didn't write me a message too." She found messages from a bunch of her's and Ruby's friends - well, Ruby's specifically, so they were more like secondhand friends - but she didn't see one from Ruby herself. Looking through all the signatures again revealed the same truth: everybody's names were there but Ruby's. "Not that you have to write me anything. I'm not saying that, of course."
"Check the front." Weiss flipped the book over to the beginning, finding a large message scrawled on the first blank page. So there was Ruby's message. She glanced at her once, then began to read the message. The further down she went, the more... emotional she was feeling, until she felt tears threatening to stain the yearbook by the end.
'Hey Weiss, hope you're not upset that I took your yearbook. It was really important, though! I wanted you to know that you have all these people in your life who appreciated you, and I knew that just saying it wouldn't be enough. So here's all these signatures and messages from everyone I could find! You've really changed my life so much ever since we met, even if you haven't realized it. Well, maybe you know, because I don't leave everything on the floor anymore, but it's more than that! You've made me a better person, and a happier person too. I'm so so grateful that I got to meet you, and that you wanted to go out with me. The distance is tough, but it's okay because I know you'll always be here when I come visit. I love you so so so so much!!! Love, Ruby.
P.S. Would you maybe want to move in together?'
"Ruby, this is..." She wiped at her eyes, hoping that Ruby somehow didn't realize that she'd started crying. "It's really sweet that you'd go to all this trouble for me. I really do appreciate it." She looked over at Ruby, who was positively beaming at her. Closing the yearbook on her lap, she leaned over and gave her a hug. Ruby was something else, that was for sure. It was a good thing, though. She was the kind of person Weiss had never expected to meet at any point in her life, but she couldn't be happier that they had ended up meeting. "One thing, though."
"Did you mean that postscript about wanting to move in together?"
"Mhm! I've spent too long living with Yang and Blake, and way too long this far away from you. Only if you're okay with me moving in with you, though. I would still be okay with staying at Yang's place if you're not ready." Out of everything she had written in the yearbook, this was the part she was most worried about. She didn't know how Weiss felt about the two of them living together. They'd been dating for years, but this was a big step, and she knew that big relationship steps made Weiss nervous. She just hoped this would be okay, and not something that ruined all the good she'd been trying to do.
"I... have admittedly been thinking about asking you to move in as well." Wait, what? "It was such a big step, though, and I know how close you are to your family. I wondered if it was wrong of me to ask you to come up here and live with me. It wouldn't be as easy to see your family anymore, and this place isn't too fond of outsiders..." She shuddered at the thought of Ruby being stared at and judged on the streets of Atlas. It wasn't fair to her... but that's just how it was here, and for all her wealth and power, there wasn't much she could do to change it. "But it looks like you were thinking the same thing."
"Of course I'd miss getting to see my family all the time, but I already miss you all the time right now." This wasn't a decision that she'd decided on a whim. She'd been thinking about it ever since Nora showed her Ren's message in her old yearbook. It was a romantic gesture to her, and she started to wonder if she could do something similar. That's where moving in together came about, and she really had to think about if it was what she wanted: what Weiss wanted. In the end, she decided that it was worth it to ask. "I know there are jerks here, but you're here too, and you're worth a million of them! If you'll have me, I really do want to live together with you."
"And you're sure about this?" Ruby nodded. "You've really thought this through?" She rolled her eyes before nodding again. That made Weiss smile. "Then I would love to have you live here with me." Squealing happily, Ruby was the one to initiate the hug this time, as she usually was. Her hugs were a lot stronger, but Weiss had learned to weather them without her spine being in danger.
"This is so great! Now I get to sleep in the comfiest bed ever!" Ruby was beyond ecstatic. She was going to move in with her amazing, awesome girlfriend! Hopefully her dad and sister would understand, but they had always been at least somewhat supportive of who she chose to date. She didn't think there would be any problems. Heck, Yang would probably be glad to get the house to herself again, so she and Blake didn't have to worry about her accidentally walking in on them. Again.
"Is that the only reason you want to move in with me?"
"No! Of course not!" Weiss laughed, her teasing a rare but lovely thing. Ruby was so happy that she never wanted to let go of her. Though she didn't say it out loud, Weiss felt the same. She'd been worried that Ruby wouldn't want to stay with her because of her family, or that they'd end up loathing each other if they were in the same place for too much time. At the moment, none of those worries seemed to matter. They were going to be living together, and that was that. Nothing in the world was going to keep them apart now.
Weiss stood up, the yearbook in her hands. She went over to the bookshelf and carefully returned it to its proper location. Smiling softly at it, she went back to the couch to relax some more in Ruby's arms. Sometimes she didn't understand Ruby, or the things she did. However, seeing at how emotional all those messages had made her, once again she knew that the things Ruby did had a purpose. Just because she didn't understand them didn't mean they weren't right. Time and time again she had been shown just what she had been missing growing up in her family's isolation. She could never repay Ruby for everything she had done for her. It truly meant the world to her.
So the two of them relaxed together in the house that was about to gain a second resident. All those messages in the yearbook meant a lot to Weiss, but it was one in particular that meant the most. The woman with her arms wrapped around her... She really did mean everything to her. If she was the only person she had by her side, then she'd still be okay. Someday, she'd make sure Ruby understood that.