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Shiny Linings

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          “Alright, let’s get her off the mountain.” The sentence wakes Weiss up just enough to be present for an extremely unpleasant jostling as she was forcibly unfolded and placed on a hard surface.

          “Oh, you’re awake –” Weiss figures she must have made some sort of noise to gain the speaker’s attention – “my name is Yang and I’ll be helping you get off this mountain along with my partner Blake. Can you tell me your name while I wrap you up all nice and tight?”

          “Mmnah yh. Mice ngh. Ice snee –” Weiss attempts to respond positively but she’s so tired and cold. And thirsty. And her leg hurts, her head too.

          “Good enough. Here we go.” Weiss heard a couple of buckles snap before the so-called Yang seemed to hop on whatever object she was laying on. A loud engine starts somewhere above her head, startling Weiss and she finds the buckles were straps meant to hold her in place.

          “You’re safe now, relax.” The Yang voice sounds gentle and calming even being shouted over the steady drone of the engine. With little other choice, Weiss trusts the voice and relaxes into a near sleep, the weird state leaves her feeling as if she’s flying.

 


 

          “Minimally responsive; like she tried to answer some questions and it almost worked. Seems like maybe a concussion, definitely a broken leg, some hypothermia.” A voice seemed to trail off as Weiss’s brain now focused on the bright light she was being shoved under and the horrible throbbing in her leg and head.

          “Thanks Yang, we’ll get it from here,” the sound of doors slamming shut startles Weiss and she flinches against restraints again. “It’s alright, Ms. Schnee, you’re riding the RNJR express – now lemme just unwrap this little survival burrito a bit so we can get things started. Nora, will you pop some hot packs for me?” An affirmative response came from somewhere on her right side followed by several sharp pops – accentuating all the rustling on her left side. Suddenly she could feel hands on her bare skin, the heat of the other body like fire along her arm. With a gasp Weiss’s eyes shoot open attempting to take in everything around her. Lights shine on walls covered in labeled bins. Red seats on either side of her, both occupied by people in green uniforms. Square doors at her feet. She’s laying back and elevated – an ambulance, she’s in an ambulance.

 

          “Ow! Who are you? Don’t touch me!” Turning to look at the source of the burning sensation Weiss sees a girl taping down some kind of spigot that’s been shoved into her arm.

          “My name is Ruby. You were in an accident and now you’re being transported to the local hospital. Can you tell me your name?”

          “I was in an accident?”

          “Yes ma’am.”

          “But I’m good at skiing.”

          “Well, these things happen – that’s why they’re called accidents. Can you tell me your name?”

          “Weiss Schnee.” She’s been in an accident the information settles on her like a heavy blanket. She was meant to head back to Atlas today but she had just wanted to get in one last run on the – oh no, Winter! Winter was going to meet her at the airport! This wasn’t going to be good Winter was going to be furious that – Weiss could hear a snipping sound that coincided with light tugs on her feet. Looking down she saw a girl cutting off her very expensive ski boots before turning for her very expensive ski pants.

          “Hey! Who are you?! Don’t touch me!” Weiss attempts to shake her leg to rid it of the assault only to be left whimpering.

          “My name is Ruby. You were in an accident and now you’re being transported to the local hospital. Can you tell me how old you are, and what day it is?”

          “I was in an accident?”

          “Yes ma’am.”

          “But I’m good at skiing.”

          “Well, these things happen – that’s why they’re called accidents. Can you tell me how old you are and what day it is?”

          “I’m twenty-two and it’s… Sunday. Oh no – Winter will be furious that I’m not there!” Weiss answers before trying to sit up, only to be thwarted again by stupid straps.

          “Alright, let’s give’r some pain meds – Who is Winter, Ms. Schnee, are they your emergency contact?” A voice from down by her feet asks and Weiss looks down to see a girl removing her socks.

          “Hey! Who are you?! Don’t touch me!” Weiss shouts, or attempts to anyway.

          “I think we can bet on that concussion, Nora.” The voice mumbles at another person to the side before answering. A chuckle at Ruby's unfortunate induction into a concussion borne conversation loop sounds from that other side.

          “My name is Ruby. You were in an accident and now you’re being transported to the local hospital. Can you tell me who your emergency contact is?”

          “I was in an accident?”

          “Yes ma’am.”

          “But I’m good at skiing.”

          “Well, these things happen – that’s why they’re called accidents. Can you tell me who your emergency contact is?”

          “Winter Schnee. Her number is… Oh no, she’s going to be furious that I’m not home yet!”

          “Yeah – go ahead and mark concussion down, Nora. This is gonna be a long ride.”

 


 

          “What’s that supposed to mean!?” Weiss nearly shouts at her phone.

          “It means exactly what I said, I can’t come pick you up. I literally, legally, am not allowed to leave Atlas during these types of leave.” The voice of her sister, Winter, marches from her phone – neat, orderly, and even toned despite her own emotion stoked vehemence.

          “But Winter –”

          “Weiss. There’s nothing I can do for you. You can’t fly because of your ear anyway. You’re just going to have to wait. I’m sorry, but your name and money can’t solve every problem.

          “But, Winter, it’s barely even a hospital! I can’t stand the thought of staying here! Winter, please!”

          “So get a room? Buy a house? Donate equipment? Weiss, Schnee Medical is entirely yours, if you’re dissatisfied with the facility – fix it. And no,” Winter interrupts Weiss before she can set off again, “there will be no negotiation – I truly cannot do anything more than I’ve already done. You know if I could that I would. You can figure it out. If nothing else –

          “A Schnee always finds a way. Fine. I love you, Winter.”

          “I love you too little sister.

          Sighing Weiss leans back in the hospital bed she’s spent the past two days occupying.

          Good at skiing huh? She glares at the thick cast on her right leg and the short one on her left wrist. At least it wasn’t all bad – that E.M.T., Ruby, had visited both days so far and had promised to come by today. ‘Because everybody needs a buddy.’ was what she’d answered with when Weiss asked why bother coming to visit a stranger. It wasn’t much, but the upbeat, twenty year old was certainly a silver lining.

 

          “Good afternoon, Ms. Schnee – it’s time for your ear drops.” Nurse Polendina knocks as she enters, beaming brighter than the fluorescents above. With a sigh Weiss rolls her upper body away from the door just as she had three times a day for the past two days. “Thank you!”

          “Hey, do you happen to know the number for the lodge? My sister won’t be able to make it before I’ll be better enough to fly anyway.” Weiss decides to ask for help as she hadn’t been able to find anything for the lodge on the web about it – or even the town hardly.

          “I do, but there’s a convention right now so they may not have anything available. I do know somewhere else you can bunk up though if that’s the case. Here we go!”

          “Thanks. Would you mind giving me the numbers at your earliest convenience?” Weiss asked as politely as she could manage with the world muffled and on edge from the bull shit.

          “No need – there’s no rooms there. You can stay at my house.” Ruby’s voice spoke with confidence from behind her. For some reason this irks her.

          “And just how would you know that? Besides which I’m a stranger – I could be any one, I could be an accomplished hobby killer for all you know!” A choked laugh breaks behind her as Nurse Polendina excuses herself.”What?!” Weiss grows more irate as every tenth of a second passes. Still chuckling Ruby moves in front of her; locking eyes, and smiling broadly, she takes a seat in the chair just in front of Weiss’s bed.

          “It’s my uncle’s lodge and he was just bragging about being fully booked last night. Also, and I mean no offense with this, but you’re just about the least physically intimidating thing in my life right now. Anyone in the house could escape by just walking too fast. But there’s plenty of space, downstairs even, since dad’s away and uncle Qrow is busy.” Weiss huffs quietly as Ruby answers.

          “I wouldn’t want to impose.”

          “It’s not an imposition. There’s like, so much room. My house kind of became an unofficial dorm for the fire department and ambulance barn because of the proximity so dad just added on until it’s almost a lodge on its own.” Ruby smiles reassuringly and sets a hand on the bed, just close enough to be friendly but not close enough to be intrusive. “Besides, it won’t be for that long. And if you’re so worried about paying me back or whatever you can make a donation to the hospital or any of the rescue groups – that would be way more than enough.” Weiss rolled the thought around in her head for long enough that Ruby seemed to remember something.

          “Oh – I brought you a treat today I thought you might like. You can’t tell Penny though; she gets mad when I bring good patients dessert.” Ruby says with a wink before pulling a small container from her bag. Opening the container Weiss can’t help but let her mouth water a little – a slice of cheesecake, homemade by the looks of it, turtle cheesecake with a strawberry sauce drizzle.

          “You eat like this all the time at your house?” Weiss asks quietly, slipping the lid back on the treat. Ruby nods, her smile growing as Weiss looks at the container in contemplation – briefly. “I’ll stay with you then, if it’s really ok.”

 

          “It really is ok – and I have more of that hidden in my mini fridge so enjoy it, there’s more.” Nodding her own head gently at Ruby’s answer Weiss opens the container again. At a loud call of her full name from the hallway Ruby winks at Weiss one last time.

          “Oops, I guess she found out – I’ll tell them now, but you go ahead and remind them to call me when you’re getting discharged. See you soon, Weiss.”

Chapter Text

 

 

          “So, this is it.” Ruby gestures in front of the vehicle as they pull up a fairly long graveled driveway, “as you can see, there’s already plenty of people here.” Pointing at several cars parked down one side of a wide front yard, Ruby turned briefly to smile and wink at Weiss. “Since I’ve got priority cargo though, I get the garage.” Ruby waggles her eyebrows before pushing a button and turning the car around to back into a now open garage Weiss hadn’t even noticed. She couldn’t be blamed though – from what looked like it was originally a log cabin bloomed two ‘wings’ both with two stories, covered in mismatched (but clean) paint. A short food trough – with painted on cats – sat near what was likely the front door, and a legion of snowmen was just visible beyond the home.

          Honestly, what with the pain medication and the recent head trauma and the situation as a whole – Weiss simply didn’t have enough cognitive power in her possession to process everything she was actively seeing. Out of a sense of self preservation she decided to just ignore the whole thing.

          “Ruby, I really appreciate you letting me stay here.” She said instead of commenting on anything else.

          “It’s really no problem,” she started as she finished parking and hit the button for the door, “let me just grab your crutch.” They were briefly blanketed in darkness before Ruby opened her door and a motion sensing light flooded the area, leaving Weiss blinking. Before she could even really register what was happening Ruby was already at the passenger door waiting patiently with the crutch – ready to go. Maneuvering herself out of the vehicle was luckily as easy as falling out, unfortunately the fluid in her ear left her off balance after such quick movement, leaving her standing – dazed – in Ruby’s strong and steady arms.

 

          “Oof – watch out for those quick movements yeah? That’s what sent you tumbling in the first place isn’t it?” Ruby asks gently standing Weiss back up under her own power, crutch in hand.

          “That’s what they tell me. I’m just glad this ended up being a walking cast.” Weiss answers, carefully moving from the car so the door could be shut.

          “Oh, that would’ve been troublesome – not too bad the house is mostly accessible – but I’m sure you would’ve been troubled.” Ruby gestures to the ramp instead of stairs leading from the garage indoors; standing near enough to Weiss to if she tipped again, but not close enough to be a nuisance.

          “That’s kind of unusual for a…”

          “A bunch of abled people? Not everyone around here is as abled as they seem,” Ruby smiled gently and offered her hand as Weiss struggled with getting her bearings for a moment. “It’s hard to tell though, thanks to Penny’s dad. He’s usually working at the university inland – but he stops by often enough that dad just went and converted the basement into this crazy workshop, lab, bedroom thing for the guy. Ohmygosh it’s super cool though! I’ll ask him if I can show you.” Weiss chuckles as Ruby’s enthusiasm spills over.

          “Ok, thank you.”

 


         

          As Weiss is led through the laundry room, she asks about the curtains along one wall and Ruby explains that they installed a couple of shower stalls because sometimes their jobs aren’t pretty. She follows as Ruby leads further in – a massive kitchen, a large dining area, the larger ‘living room’, the basement access, which ‘wing’ was generally used as bunks by the various departments, until finally she stopped at a bright red door.

          “This is, of course, the forbidden wing! Don’t ever enter here unless –”

          “That’s your room isn’t it?” Weiss interrupts Ruby’s dramatic introduction.

          “What? No, it used to be till Yang moved to the other hall though. Now it’s the Hood-Cave!” Ruby announces with a smile expecting some sort of reaction – which she did not get.

          “The what?”

          “The Hood-Cave? Like the Hat-Cave in The Huntsman movies?” Ruby attempted to clarify and, oh, Weiss had sort of heard of The Huntsman before – for some reason Whitley was very in to Captain Huntsman.

          “From those Wowie Studio movies?” Ruby nods her head vigorously as Weiss confirms some knowledge of the character at least. “Never heard of it.” Weiss announces monotonously before smiling as Ruby’s face falls.

          “I’m just kidding you dork – I’ve never seen them but my little brother is all about Captain Huntsman so I know about him at least.” Weiss can’t help but smile at Ruby’s immediate recovery.

          “OHMYGOSH! You’ve never seen them? You’ve got time now – I’ll show you! We’ve got them all! Oh, but first;” she moved down a door, a not insignificant distance from the first, “I imagine you’re probably pretty wiped – here’s where you’ll be bunking.” Opening the door with a flourish, Ruby stepped aside so Weiss could enter unimpeded.

 

 

          And what a room it was. All red and black, blue and gray – all of the beautiful colors – one wall was covered in what seemed to be passes from Shion Bandit games and vintage RoseWick tees in perfect condition. Fairy lights strung around the room added a sort of whimsical vibe, especially with the antique whiskey bottle turned incense burner under a huge poster of the Rose from RoseWick - an image that looked almost exactly like the woman standing just behind her.

Near enough to gunshots, several things suddenly line up explosively in Weiss’s mind; Ruby’s mother is, was, one of the vocalists in her favorite metal bands - a singer who was her first crush.

This is Ruby’s room. Ruby was putting her up in her own room, a room with a shrine to a singer she idolized, an idol that is dead, from an accident on the road. An accident like she had just been in.

And Ruby had become a paramedic. A paramedic that invites injured strangers into her room, only to heal – just how good could one person be? And cute to boot? In the moments it takes her to process all this information Weiss comes to one conclusion, if this isn’t a fantasy of her dying brain still on that mountain she’ll drown in how shiny her E.M.T. is.

          Speechless, Weiss turns around slowly – taking this as a sign to continue the tour Ruby turns away grabbing a doorknob on the wall nearest the room they had come from.

          “So this is the bathroom for you to use – it’s shared between this room and the Hood-Cave so if you don’t want anyone barging in just flick the slide on that other door. Same goes for me – if I’m in there this strip will be red and will… Weiss, are you alright?”

          “I just – I… this is your room. I thought you said you had plenty of room?” Weiss latches on the first excuse she can, holding on to it like a life vest. No one was this kind without ulterior motives – no one! “I, I just don’t think it would be proper of me to kick you out of your own room for nothing,” Weiss's glance swivels for a moment, overwhelmed, before finding a chair in the corner to sit down in. With a gentle sigh Ruby settles down on the edge of the bed facing her.

          “We do, and if you’re really that uncomfortable with it I can get something else ready right away – I just figured this would be easier for you. This is a pretty big place, but there are only like a few rooms with en suite bathrooms and this is one of them so…”

          “Where will you sleep then? Why would you do this?” What are you expecting in return?

            “It’s just her nature to be exceedingly helpful I’m afraid. Sup lil sis, you overboard again?” Weiss looks up as large blonde takes only a step in before turning to address her. “Hey there, Ms. Schnee! You doin’ alright?” The voice is so familiar, but Weiss can’t quite place it.

          “Yang! We’re fine – everything is just fine!” Ruby stamps her foot, jostling Weiss out of her stupor.

          “Oh, there you are – hello again. Really though, how are you feeling Ms. Schnee? I’m glad to see you up and around, you were pretty banged up.” Yang responds to Weiss’s change in demeanor as Weiss finally realizes why the voice is so familiar.

          “Just Weiss… just Weiss is fine.” Weiss clears her throat and finds her voice to answer.

          “Alright, well if Just Weiss is fine – I guess I’ll clear off. Ah right – I came back to tell you, the car is cleaned up and returned. Literally everything that wasn’t part of it or the rental company is in the front room.” Yang begins to step out before leaning back in to finish the statement.

          “Thanks, Yang.” Ruby says to a quick wave as Yang leaves.

 

         

          Left to her own ruminations again Weiss is barely aware of the exchange, still trying to figure out exactly where she stands – well sits – in all this. Misconstruing the glaze in her eyes Ruby stands up, bringing Weiss back once again.

          “I’m sure you’re exhausted so I’m just gonna let you get settled and rest. Just holler or text if you need something or your ready for your stuff from the car, I’ll bring it to you.” Ruby smiles thinly at Weiss, as if she’s worried before patting the woman’s shoulder. Slipping from the room through the tandem bathroom Ruby offers one more wave through the doors before Weiss loses sight of her.

          I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t leave after all; trying to do anything when I’m this spaced out would be a terrible. With a sigh of resignation Weiss moves herself from the chair to the bed. She was quite tired after all.

Chapter Text

 

          It was with a grumble and a grunt that Weiss was finding herself slowly crawling back to the waking world some unknown hours later. Looking around slowly in the dim light left by one string of fairy lights Weiss tried to parse just where she was and what was happening. A soft voice, followed by a gentle tapping on the door brought her back to full cognizance of her current circumstances.     

          “Weiss? May I come in?” Ruby’s voice comes, muffled, through the door.

          “Hngf –” yes, very eloquent there Weiss, she scolds herself before shaking her head, clearing her throat, and trying again, “yeah. Come in.” Slowly opening the door to keep the light outside from being overwhelming, Ruby slips in – glass of water in hand.

          “I just wanted to check on you and I figured I’d bring you some water. How are you feeling?” Ruby asks gently, placing the glass on the table beside them and offering Weiss a hand getting sat up.

          “I’m fine. Just tired still. What time is it?” Weiss answers vaguely waving off the proffered assistance. She notices Ruby turns a strangely shaped object just beyond the water. A clock, she figures as the red numbers swim in her still tired eyes.

          “Ten. We’re mostly finished with breakfast but if you’d like I could put you some away for later. Or I can help you out now or…” Ruby says putting the clock back down before turning it away again.

          “Why are you eating breakfast at ten in the evening?” Weiss asks, a bit of sleepiness slipping through as she finally sets her back against the headboard. Ruby picks the glass back up and holds it out for Weiss's right hand,

          “ten in the morning, Weiss.” And graciously Ruby still has a hand on the glass as Weiss's own grip slacks.

          “Ten in the morning? Why is it so dark?” Incredulous, Weiss re-grips the glass and takes a small sip.

          “I have blackout curtains up in here so that I can sleep no matter what time of day I happen to get in. Sorry about that.”

          “No, no – that makes sense for your line of work.” Weiss drains half the glass in one go before continuing. “I don’t mind if you want to save me something, I don’t have any significant food allergies or preferences – but I think I’d rather bathe before I eat.”

          “Well, a bath isn’t going to happen – but I think we can work out a shower for you. How does that sound?” Weiss nearly chokes on her next drink as Ruby speaks.

          “What do you mean by we can work it out, precisely?” Weiss hands the now empty glass back to be set down, attempting to avoid eye contact in spite of her etiquette training.

          “Well,” Ruby sets the glass down and sits herself before continuing, “what I mean is; unless you want a basin and a sponge we’re going to have to get you all bagged up to keep your casts nice and dry and that means you’re going to need a hand.” Attempting to mentally bat away all the delightfully untoward literary scenes that start this way, Weiss waves her casted hand in the air.

          “A hand? Very funny. If I require assistance who is available?” Weiss very muchly hoped it would be a woman who was not Ruby – preferably one that did not attract Weiss in any way.

          “Well, in the house, currently awake, and qualified you have Sun, Neptune, Mercury, Jaune and me. Think it over – I’ll go get the bags while you decide what you wanna do, ok?” Ruby stands and grabs the empty glass before standing the crutch up against the table, ready to go.

          “Ok.” Weiss answers, watching Ruby work as she walks to the bathroom to turn on the light and place the glass beside the sink – on the right side – opening a new toothbrush and pulling down several different tubes of travel toothpaste.

 

          Once Ruby finishes and leaves Weiss runs her hand over her face. Being vulnerable in front of others is not a thing she enjoys, but being filthy is a thing she enjoys even less. Out of all those names there is only one she feel she’d be comfortable enough with to even try being vulnerable with in the first place – it seems she was going to have to either suffer through what was quickly becoming a kind of crush or suffer a sponge bath. Wrinkling her nose at both options Weiss finally slides out of bed to get started in the bathroom. As she walks by it she catches sight of herself in the mirror and nearly screams at the disheveled stranger so close.

          That settles it I guess – this is the worst possible way I could reenact any one of the Malachite Heights scenes.

 


 

          Still cursing her fate, Weiss welcomes Ruby back in the moment she arrives.

          “Have you thought about – oh, ok, I guess so. Well I got the bags so we’re good to go.” Ruby starts to ask before noticing Weiss's state of undress. Wrapped in only a towel and reading one of Ruby’s first aid manuals in her chair, Weiss hears an audible crunch as Ruby’s hands tighten on her cargo, and looks up just in time to catch what might’ve been a blush followed by a friendly smile. “If you’re ready, ready, I’ll grab the chair.”

         

         

          “I still don’t know why you have to help me though.” Weiss lightly protests over the crinkle of her ‘cast bags’ or whatever, as Ruby helps her into a shower chair and adjusts a step stool to rest her right leg on.

          “Well, have you ever had soaked socks?” Weiss nods at Ruby’s question, “so imagine that, but the inside of your entire cast – both of them – is the wet sock.” Weiss shudders visibly as Ruby fiddles with the shower behind her.

          “Alright, fine, that’s the bags accounted for – but beyond being helped in and out and with the shower head –”

          “You’re left handed, aren’t you Weiss? The hand in the cast? That you can’t use?” Weiss glares down at the offending member at the reminder.

          “Yeah, ok.” Weiss waits for a moment as the water starts and she can hear Ruby adjusting it. “But won’t your shirt get wet?” she turns briefly only to see Ruby silently chuckle.

          “There’s no need to worry about that, Weiss – it’s just water.”

          “No, I… I’d hate it if I ruined your shirt too after everything you’d done for –” cut short by the sight of Ruby’s shirt hitting the counter top, Weiss begins to turn – terroused by what she’ll surely find.

          “Is that better then?” Ruby asks stepping into her line of sight, all rock hard muscle with just enough soft on top to make every inch – “Weiss? Are you ready?”

          “So ready.” Weiss answers without thinking practically ripping off her own towel. With a soft laugh Ruby moves back around behind her, grabbing the shower head and bringing it out for Weiss to test the temperature.

          “Is this the part where I’m supposed to say, ‘Ma’am, I’m a professional.’ before being entirely unprofessional?” Ruby asks as Weiss ok’s the temperature. Turning bright red, Weiss presses her bagged hand over her face as Ruby laughs, letting the water start to run on her back.

          “No worries, Weiss – Malachite Heights was the shit. You’re not the only fan in this house, but don’t get Blake started because she can go for hours,” allowing a significant pause just to watch Weiss's face redden again Ruby laughs before continuing. “And hours about her ships and why the sisters are a metaphor for literally anything.” Grabbing the body wash Weiss had picked out she goes to work on Weiss's back, leaving the woman shaking fist at the heavens for her current situation.

Chapter Text

 

 

          “What?! No! That’s bullshit – what the fuck!? Just who the f – Clouded Leopard can’t go down like that! No! Bullshit! BOO!” Now, clean and full, Weiss finds herself elbows deep into a Wowie movie marathon and probably entirely too invested. Armed with a whole bucket of incredibly cute and soft stuffed owls to throw at the vid-screen when she finds herself – troubled – and with plenty of drinks and snacks to spare Weiss doesn’t mind the chuckles coming from her side as she sends another owl flying. So far, The Clouded Leopard has earned five enthusiastic owls, due primarily to her anger with Murder-man. To her left, Ruby sits entirely too proud of how quick and deep Weiss has fallen for her favorite movies.

          “Yeah, you sonuvabitch! You won’t get away with this treachery!” Ruby joins in throwing her own owl, more successfully, hitting Murder-man directly in the mouth as he yelled. Weiss couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up from deep within after that display and was forced to let it out meeting laughter from Ruby as it did. Pretty soon the only thing Weiss hears from the movie is Ruby’s own dub over Murder-man’s lines, and is left clutching her own sides from laughter.

          As the movie ends Weiss hears a loud clanging from behind and jumps. Ruby’s hand slides off her shoulders as they turn around Weiss wonders when it got there – similarly why she was currently removing her casted hand from Ruby’s knee. Now turned, Weiss sees a young man about her own age sitting in the ‘service wing’ in a wheel chair, wearing nothing but boxers and the silver plates covering his thighs above where his knees ought to be instead. Well, just those and a scowl to rival any she’s seen from Winter.

          “I’m really glad someone here is having fun, Red, but could you maybe shut your cute as a freaking button face up? Some of us are trying to sleep. Thanks, love you really.” The man turns the chair around and rolls back up the hallway once he seems satisfied Ruby has been properly cowed. Weiss remains still, incredibly impressed that someone made a compliment sound like a death threat and Ruby stays still, repentant expression slowly morphing into a sparkling smile.

          “Oops.” Ruby whispers to Weiss with the full power of that smile once they seem to be alone again, even though they’re both still turned toward the hallway behind them. Betwixt the smile, the timing, and the tone that one word is the funniest thing Weiss has ever heard and she immediately collapses in to giggles again. Ruby joins in all while turning off the vid-screen and gathering up their uneaten snacks.

          “I guess we’d better move to the Hood-Cave if you still wanna hang out with me,” Ruby winks at Weiss as the giggle fit, but not the smiles, start to abate.

          “Sure, why not.” Feeling for all the world like a scolded teenager caught at something, Weiss also can’t help but think this is the lightest she’s felt in the long time – maybe there was something to Clover’s ‘good bad luck’ speeches after all.

 


 

          “Hey there sleepy head,” Weiss feels jostling at her side and frowns. “Hey, it’s time for your ear drops. It’s fine if you wanna just flop over.” Grunting in displeasure Weiss does as she’s told – she’s lucky to have such a strong aura so that the treatment has been reduced to once a day – and lies down across something incredibly soft. Settling in and bracing for the inevitable unpleasantness of ear drops Weiss vaguely contemplates how warm and delightfully firm her new pillow is. Weiss flinches at the loud and freezing drop drip of the medicine and shudders before a warm hand runs up and down her arm.

          “Well done – in five minutes we’ll have you flip over so we can do the other one alright?” Huffing her consent Weiss dozes – so warm and fluffy – until she’s jostled once more.

          “Ok, go ahead and flip over if you’re comfortable, or I can move first.”

          “Hmrn. Fff. Nn. No, comf – ee.” Weiss slowly rolls over tucking herself up on the couch so she doesn’t bang her leg on anything.

          “If you’re fine with it then, here we go.” A soft chuckle comes from above her before another unpleasant drip-thump muffles her hearing again. It doesn’t take long after this second instance for the sleepy haze in her mind to begin lifting. Wriggling her head she wonders why anyone would use denim as a pillow case, but tackier things have happened, she registers the hand smoothing a soothing path up and down her own arm and remembers she’s been hanging out with Ruby. A small blush starts to form before her nap really starts slipping and she starts pondering the geometry of Ruby’s hand.

          Ruby’s right hand travels up and down her left arm – so they were close then. After another moment passes she realizes that she must be facing Ruby – but they were close. Suddenly it hits her; that no denim pillow case, it’s pants. Her eyes shoot open and she attempts not to jerk backwards – couches are a terrible place for that after all – her vision is filled with red. Ruby red. Red hoody. Soft, oversized, worn – currently – red hoody. She goes stiff briefly, if only her sister could see her now; Weiss Schnee – richer than entire cities – broken, ill, and face down in a stranger’s – 

          “Alright, you’re good to go if you want to sit up.” Ruby’s hand pats her arm before lifting off. “’Course it’s not much longer till dinner, if you’re still tired you can go ahead and take another half an hour – I’m not bothered.” Ruby tilts her head down a little, locking gazes with deep blue eyes, still weary, and attempts to softly brush the dark circle away from under one.

          Well, Weiss thinks, what’s the harm in wasting another thirty minutes here? Winter couldn’t see her – and Ruby isn’t a real stranger – why would anyone waste good rest on perceiving impropriety? She oughtn’t be so wasteful and ungrateful as that Weiss reasons – and makes herself comfy right where she is. At least until dinner that is.

         


 

          “So then she’s like, ‘I can too!’ and just jumps – straight on to the field – in only that little Bandits cape and pull-up. Then she manages to avoid all the officials and our mum going full out to catch her! Five whole minutes she held up the game screaming her little head off.” Yang smiles as Weiss's fork stills and her mouth drops open.

          “No way. What, really!?”

          “It’s true!” Yang laughs, gesturing with her mashed potatoes “you can still find vids of it if you look up the Bandits versus Gryphons quarterfinals game in –”

          “Shut up Yang! No witnesses!” Ruby shrieks, practically jumping over the table to shove bread into her sister’s mouth as a gag.

          “I’ve seen the vid, it’s unbearably adorable.” Blake manages to lean over and speak to Weiss around the wildly flailing limbs and food.

          “Show me?” Weiss mouths and Blake smiles conspiratorially. They’re interrupted as a loud crack and crash is heard, sounds of surprise, a loud ‘RUBY!’ and a nervous ‘oops’ follow not far behind.  

 

 

          “And I knew something wasn’t right about it – I just knew – but Winter promised it was a good plan!” After relocating to the front room for dessert and placing the broken chair out of the way to be fixed later, Weiss decided to trade a story of her own. “The look on my father’s face though as his five year old rode up to the garden party in nothing but her own knee-length hair – I mean, I didn’t even have a saddle! It was priceless. I believe mother still has a picture of me ‘dressed’ as Lady Goldiva. I think it was technically the first time I ever disagreed with his economics, even if I didn’t know I was at the time.” Unlike Yang’s story of Ruby hers is met by silence until,

          “holy shit – ”

          “that is so – ”

          “bad ass!” Yang starts, Blake follows, and Ruby finishes exuberantly.

          “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard! You rode without a saddle at five even?”

          “Yes, well,” Weiss tries and fails to temper a happy smile and blush. “Stardust was trained by Nana and was unfailingly patient with me.”

          “Do you still have them?” Weiss's smile falters a bit at the question, becomes softer,

          “no, I – they both passed quite some time ago. But Stardust did have a couple of colts and I still have Luna. Her brother Apollo went into dressage with a cousin of mine.” Softly, Ruby places her palm on top of the finger tips peeking from Weiss's cast and offers a smile of her own. Just beyond notice it starts snowing again, quieting the world - but indoors, right here, it's warm as something noisy and joyful begins to spark inside. Weiss knows loss is no stranger at this table and for the first time in a very long time she believes that maybe she isn’t so alone after all.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

          “And that’s why I have to go back to work sooner than expected – unless something really crazy happens though Yang and Blake will be around. Don’t worry; they’re qualified and perfectly happy to help you.” Ruby smiles as she just catches the edge of Weiss's pout. Resting on Ruby’s lap for one of her final doses of ear drops while finishing up one of the bigger vid-series tie-ins for the Wowie universe, Weiss ponders on the information she’s just received. Unhappy as she is, if there’s one thing she understands it’s the priority work gets. Luckily she’s more of a figurehead herself; Weiss thanks her lucky stars at having been lucky enough to poach her acting CEO Velvet and Velvet’s partners from a major competitor. It’s left her plenty of time to heal without needing to worry.

 

As for why she’s unhappy about Ruby returning to work well, she can’t say for certain, but it certainly feels like something significant.

 

          “That’s fine. Thank you for telling me, but you don’t have to worry about me. It’s more than enough that you let me stay here at all. I’ll make sure to pay you back.” Weiss attempts to reassure Ruby who frowns slightly.

          “Weiss,” Ruby sighs, almost agitated by the insinuation in Weiss's statement. “I neither need nor want you to ‘pay me back’. Helping people isn’t about what we can get in return, only what we can do to ease the load.” As Weiss turns her head slightly upward with a question Ruby offers a comforting smile. “Flip over, we’ll get the other ear and I’ll explain.” Weiss nods, even as a blush appears, even though this had been the routine once a day for the past three days or so she still couldn’t help her thoughts attempting an escape from control. With minimal assistance today she rolls over and Ruby pats her arm before readying a dose of the drops.

          “Alright, here we go. Now then where were we?” After a moment’s pause Ruby finds her spot and resumes what she was saying. “Ah, yes. Even Blake – who is a notorious pessimist by the way – says altruism towards each other is the most efficient way to be a person.”

          “How so?” Having grown up under the thumb of a man who believes quite the opposite, Weiss wanted a little more evidence, even if the thought that that statement could be true was so comforting.

          “Well, think about it. We waste so much time and effort fighting against each other, accumulating bullshit, and making sure we stay on top of our little hills that we’re don’t have any time or energy left to fix the larger things that need fixing or maintain the things that need it or change anything for the better. As much as I believe in bigger reasons to be kind and helpful, Blake’s right – it’s the only efficient way to be a society.” Ruby’s hand picks up a familiar pattern, rubbing warmth into Weiss's arm while Weiss mulls over the answer she’s just been given, eyebrows steadily furrowing.

          “I don’t understand that. If that’s the most efficient way to live why don’t more people do it?” Weiss asks, her thoughts thoroughly caught in the selfish greed lurking in Atlas.

          “I think because it looks like giving up control. Personally I believe greed is a control thing in the first place, a compulsive need to conquer and keep everything within one’s grasp – under control.” Ruby paused for a moment to get a drink before continuing. “Like, if they control the money and the land and the education and the whatever then they also control the people – it’s inevitable extortion with no way to evade or avoid getting caught up. But I feel like people don’t come together to overthrow that kind of shitty system because it’s scary to let go of what you already know no matter how badly it hurts you –” Ruby’s words strike a clear chord in Weiss with that sentence even as she keeps talking. “And giving even the slightest concession in the interest of cooperation feels like giving up control – which is especially difficult when you already feel like you have none. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel about it though. Sorry, I think I might have gotten a little out of hand there.” Ruby chuckles nervously as she finishes and looks up toward the ceiling.

          “You didn’t get out of hand,” Weiss begins – gently reaching up to softly place her casted hand on the side of Ruby’s face. “I think you’re right. It sounds just like Atlas. Hey –” Weiss lightly pulls on Ruby’s face until she turns back down and they lock eyes. As blue stumbles over shiny and nervous silver so too do Weiss's words and her prior thought disappears leaving only, “you are too good for this world, Ruby Rose.” Weiss speaks with a tender but resolute tone and Ruby doesn’t hide the blush that lights up on her cheeks as she gently grabs Weiss's cast and kisses the palm, though it’s quick and soft enough that Weiss would’ve missed it if she hadn’t been watching.

          “Thank you for thinking that – let me go get us some lunch, it’s definitely after one by now.” Weiss takes note of the way Ruby dismisses her compliment but if Ruby notices Weiss's displeasure as she gets up she doesn’t make a show of it.

 


 

          “Sorry Rubes couldn’t join us – they got a call shortly after she came out.” Yang offers Weiss a small smile, but something bothers her about it.

          “Usually I hear them go out,” she watches as Yang’s smile tightens the slightest amount and Weiss has her answer. “I suppose I may have drifted off a bit though, that couch is ridiculously good for napping.” She decides to let Yang off the hook and deflects, “did she get her lunch at least?”

          “Uh, probably? I didn’t really get a chance to check up on her myself honestly.” And she was being honest about that, that much Weiss could see. Blake suddenly appears in her periphery and Weiss jumps a bit, startled.

          “Oh – I’m sorry,” Blake smiles sleepily in her direction while turning on the kettle. “Would you like some tea, Weiss?” She offers.

          “No, thank you. Yang already made me some coffee. However,” Weiss sends a friendly smile back in her direction before meeting eyes with Yang again, “I do have a question I’d like to ask.” Raising a questioning eyebrow, Yang wraps an arm around Blake as she sits down and tucks herself into Yang’s side.

          “I’m a taken woman, Schnee –” a cocky wink meets Weiss's nearly offended frown, “other than that – shoot.”

          “You’re not my type.” Weiss raises her chin defiantly and Blake snickers as Yang pouts playfully before continuing. “No, what I wanted to ask is – what can I do for Ruby? I want to thank her and she seems adamant about not receiving any financial repayment but, at risk of sounding out of touch, money is all I have to offer. I – I thought you might be able to help.”

          “You’re the owner of Schnee Medical Technologies aren’t you?” Blake asks and for some reason it feels like she’s unsheathing a blade and the air gets colder.

          “I am – but I don’t interfere in the daily motions of the company.” Weiss answers.

          “Are you the one that originally set all of the equipment purchase and rental agreements for facilities?” Blake questions and Weiss frowns – they’re straying so far from what she actually asked but this isn’t the first time she’s been criticized over policy.

          “I can’t recall. It’s been some time since I took ownership and there are a lot of policies – you’ll need to tell me plainly what you’re referring to.” She tries to answer as neutrally as she can and Blake scoffs, earning a gentle nudge-scolding from Yang.

          “I mean, can you influence the policy agreement that a facility has to run only Schnee equipment or none at all?”

          “What?”

          “Part of the reason it’ll take you so long in those casts is that our rural facility lacks the funding to replace all of its equipment at once, but part of buying or leasing equipment from S.M.T. is that all of the facility’s equipment has to be on brand or it’s not happening.” Blake clarifies and Weiss balks.

          “I never – excuse me please, I need to make a phone call.” Blake just nods but Yang smiles and sends her off with,

          “Don’t get too worked up, and let me know if you need any help alright? Oh! And no getting those wet – if you need a shower grab one of us to –” Weiss shuts the door to Ruby’s room firmly behind her, as much to cut off her embarrassment as it is to give her some privacy as she sets up to call Velvet.

 


 

            That’s what I get for allowing one of my father’s contract writers to stick around. What a pain in my ass. Weiss thinks as she finally closes the last call she needed to make today. Weiss nearly jumps as a soft hand raps on the door.

          “Weiss, would you like to come out for dinner?” A voice, maybe Yang or Blake – she couldn’t tell through the difference through a door yet, invites. Turning she looks at the clock on the night stand, nineteen-hundred the corgi shaped device reads – seven p.m. already? Weiss runs a hand down her face as she thinks.

          “Is Ruby home yet?” A soft, chagrined chuckle reaches her ears as the door cracks open, followed by golden-blonde hair – it’s Yang that came for her then.

          “Nope, I’m afraid not – you’ll have to do with just us once again I’m afraid.” Yang smiles and there’s a tightness in the corners, a lack of luster in her eyes that Weiss recognizes but is kind enough to not comment on – for now.

          “That’s ok, Blake is fair company.”

          “Oof ouch – haha. C’mon then hop-along, let’s get you sorted.” Yang holds out her mechanical hand offering to help Weiss up, but Weiss nudges the back of it with her crutch.

          “Thank you, Yang, but I’ll manage.” Smiling to make sure she isn’t taken wrong Yang rolls her eyes but smiles as well.

          “Alright, see you at the table then Weiss.” She says before walking back down the hallway, leaving the door cracked.

 

 

          About halfway through dinner Weiss decides to reveal what she’s been up to all day.

          “I wanted to wait till Ruby was here as well, but since it seems she won’t  be coming home tonight I guess I’ll tell you two what I’ve been up to today.” Her statement is met with matching raised eyebrows before Blake gestures for her to continue, with a pasta laden fork.

          “Well, after what you told me today about S.M.T.’s policies I had a deeper look – it turns out our contract lawyer was retained from my father’s old staff. Needless to say, it’s been rectified. However, that still leaves rural hospitals like yours in a lurch so I thought about it and after contacting the local board,” Weiss pauses to build excitement, which seems like and endeavor lost on the other two occupants at the table, so Weiss huffs and continues. “I’ve bought Beacon Regional and its emergency medical transport contract. I’ve also made sizable donations to the other E.M.S. agencies in Patch County! Equipment and the new air ambulance will be here within the week!” Weiss finishes her announcement with a flourish and a broad smile that quickly falls when she isn’t met with the same amount of enthusiasm.

          “Weiss, I appreciate that you changed the contracting issue with your company but I – I didn’t mean you had to save Beacon or whatever.” Blake expresses with consternation only to be met with confusion.

          “It’s not just Beacon, there were several others as well I’m just trying to help!” Yang reaches across the table when it’s clear Weiss is on the verge of overflowing.

          “Hey, it’s ok – you just did what you thought was best. No harm, no foul, I’m sure it’ll work out. Probably don’t tell Ruby though.” Weiss allows Yang the small contact between her own fingertips and Yang’s prosthesis, but as she can’t immediately find a reason for Yang’s statement she decides to ask.

          “Why?”

          “Well,” Yang swallows, but then relaxes, “you’re in her room – you’ve seen all the Bandit game passes.” Weiss nods and Yang continues. “Those are there because Raven Branwen, their best forward of all time, is our other mother.” Weiss's mouth drops open at the revelation and Yang takes the opportunity to continue before interruption.

          “We didn’t grow up wanting for anything Weiss, between Summer in RoseWick and mom as a Bandit we had more than enough – didn’t matter in the end though, and I think in a way she resents money because of it. After Summer, well, everyone kinda fell apart – mom had nightmares real bad so she stopped sleeping…” Yang starts to trail off but Blake grips her shoulder in support and she soldiers on.

          “Which means she started on lightning dust, and with the money we had – she had plenty enough to go on. Last we heard from her she had a bad run in with the law in Mistral, don’t know if she got out or if she’s even alive still. In any case – the moral of the story is; Ruby hates the assumption that money removes roadblocks in life because it certainly didn’t stop any of the rough stuff in ours.”

          “’Helping people isn’t about what we can get in return, only what we can do to ease the load.’ Did she come up with that because of your circumstances?” Weiss asks, recalling what Ruby had said earlier.

          “That kid,” Yang stares off in the distance with an expression that looks both proud and weary. “That’s something ma, Summer, used to say when we were really young. I really wish she’d learn how to take care of herself first though; it’s been so long now but I’m not sure she ever did finish her grieving. Well, never mind – you don’t need to worry about our drama. Want some ice cream? Or would you like a shower?”

          But worry Weiss does and as she politely refuses both she begins plotting what she can possibly do to ease Ruby’s load.

Chapter Text

 

 

           Weiss wakes to a hushed conversation slipping in from the bathroom she’s currently sharing with Ruby. It’s hard to make out what is being said, but it sounds as if Yang is arguing with Ruby about the latter’s sleep.

          “I have to do what has to be done, Yang – I don’t have the luxury to… like you and Blake!” A harshly whispered statement breaks the overall tone of the conversation before. Though she misses part of what was said she doesn’t miss the loud thud and crack of Yang’s prosthetic slamming down on the counter top.

          “A luxury? You think it’s a luxury? That I just spend my time fucking – ” a heavy breath breaks an increasingly loud tirade mid sentence before Yang starts over again. “How many times do we have to go over this, Ruby? Rest isn’t a thing you can avoid – at best you’ll be useless at worst you’ll be mom.” The harsh slap of another hand on the counter top finally shakes Weiss completely out of her sleep – looking at the clock it’s three a.m.

          “Stop it, Yang! You aren’t her replacement and you aren’t my boss. Now move I gotta get dressed.”

          “No.”

          “Yang! Move!”

          “No! You need – ”

          “I need to go! Fine, I’ll just borrow clothes from Ren.” Eyes wide open and mildly startled Weiss watches as Ruby stomps angrily through the bathroom and out the door – without even a towel – followed shortly by an angry Yang, practically glowing with her emotions, and too late. Weiss feels like she should let Yang know she’s awake, but at the same time she’s almost paralyzed by the incongruity of the situation at hand. Not that it has really been that long, but Weiss has never seen Yang and Ruby so much as seriously disagree, let alone fight that way.

         

          With a heavy sigh Yang closes the door to the hall and looks in the direction of Summer Rose’s poster. As quietly as she can she moves over to it and switches out the spent incense for a new one before bowing her head and quietly beginning to speak.

          “Ma – I don’t know how to get it through to that kid. I mean, she’s not doing anything, yet, but she’s dealing with everything about as well as mom did and we all know how ‘keeping the nightmares away’ ended up. She’s headed that way if she doesn’t slow down and I don’t know how to make that happen – I just want her safe.” Raising her head and sighing again she turns to in Weiss's direction and just happens to catch on a pair of wide blue eyes. Lifting one eyebrow Yang moves around the end of the bed and sits, just near enough to speak properly.

          “I’m sorry if we woke you. How are you feeling?” Yang starts softly as heavy boots are heard coming down some stairs.

          “It’s alright. This afternoon the doctor said my ears are all better and my arm is about ready to be released so that’s good.” Weiss winces with Yang as the front door opens and closes harder than it needs to. It’s only been day since their conversation at the dinner table but during that whole time Ruby hasn’t been home for any observable length of time. Weiss was no closer to figuring out a way to help either and it was beginning to weigh on her.

          “That is good, Weiss. I’m glad. Hey, who took you to your appointment? Was it Ruby?” Yang asks, almost hopeful.

          “No, I’m afraid I haven’t spoken to her since before lunch, technically day before yesterday. It was actually Neo that took me, although I almost got stabbed first for calling her a child.” Yang does her best to stifle her laughter at Weiss's predicament.

          “Yeah, I think that’s just about how everyone meets Neo – at the end of something pointy – so you’re not alone there. Any word on getting out of here? Not that I want you gone but you must be going absolutely stir crazy in a place like Patch.”

          “Oh, um – well, Winter still can’t get away from Atlas and I can’t drive yet so I hadn’t really thought about it.” Weiss is glad for how dark the room is as she feels her cheeks heat up – she hasn’t thought about leaving because she’s been preoccupied on a certain missing cinnamon roll.

          “I see,” Yang says, and Weiss doesn’t like the knowing tone in her voice. “Well, I really am sorry we woke you – if you don’t need anything I’ll let you get back to sleep.” Yang gently pats Weiss's shoulder and waits for confirmation of contentment before getting up. “Good night, Weiss.”

          “Good night, Yang.”

 


 

          Despite, or maybe because of, Ruby’s warning Weiss had gotten into a particularly heated Malachite Heights – discussion – with Blake over lunch; so here she sits mid-afternoon chewing on some particularly interesting additional readings Blake recommended. Well, that and mulling over how to help Ruby, still. Before she can stumble too far down that pathway however, she’s interrupted by a rapid series of knocks. Weiss is about to call out when her sister Winter’s face pops up on screen, along with a call notification and the bouncing lilt of ‘do you wanna shank a yeti’. Sighing, Weiss thinks; she does want to speak with her sister but a weird sense of apprehension settles itself squarely on her shoulders. Shaking her head Weiss decides she’s just being silly and answers.

          “Hey, Winter. It’s so good to hear from you.”

          “Hello little sister, how are you feeling today?” Winter asks, her tone serious but there’s some little something in there that has Weiss about on edge.

          “I’m, fine – thank you for asking. Are you alright, Winter?” Weiss tests at what is certainly dangerous ground.

          “Oh, I am doing well enough. There’s just one little thing,” and oh, there it is, Weiss winces as Winter’s tone gets sharper. “I ran into Coco the other day, and she congratulated me on getting you to come around. Imagine my surprise when I had no idea what she was talking about. So she told me of your little – project.

          “Well, I –” Weiss attempts to interject explanation or justifications but she’s cut off.

          “Well I, as a good sister, wanted to congratulate you on your new endeavor and figured you must have requested a private apartment in your new acquisition. When I called to get that room number so that I could send you a surprise gift I was informed that you weren’t residing there and hadn’t been for a week.” Weiss's hand clenches around her phone, it’s been a while since Winter did the overprotective thing but it’s always just as annoying and inconvenient as it is sweet.

          “Winter, I’m fine –” But Winter is on a roll and Weiss is interrupted again.

          “So I look up that town, Patch, and there’s only one accommodation there so I find it with my means and what do you know? The only accommodation is owned and run by the most vile, belligerent –” Winter takes a deep breath to calm herself and Weiss just stays quiet, afraid to set her off again.

          “Anyway, being my little sister I know you wouldn’t be caught sleeping near that ruffian or any of his ilk.” It is at this point Weiss knows, Winter’s going to flip when she finds out. Ruby had said it was her uncle that owned that lodge – how Winter came to know, and detest, him is a mystery but not one she was willing to uncover yet. Weiss tunes back into the near-rant her sister is still caught up in just in time to catch,

          “- ‘well where could she be then self?’ You didn’t buy a house, you’re not at the hospital even though you did buy that, you’re not in that man’s den of iniquity – so where are you, Weiss?” Weiss gulps, what answer could she possibly give that would satisfy Winter but still be vague enough to evade her sources? Weiss doesn’t find that answer before the door to the room suddenly slams open with a yell of,

          “I know where my own room is Yang! Fuck off!” and Ruby stumbles in, tearing off her jumpsuit as she stumbles across the room. Startled, Weiss remains speechless even as Winter attempts to still get her attention over the phone, even as Ruby strips down to her underwear, even as the door finally swings back shut from the earlier force, and still as Ruby turns off the lamp and crawls into bed next to Weiss, asleep almost as soon as she does.

          “Weiss, Weiss! Answer me!” Winter hollers almost frantic from the phone and Weiss shakes herself from her stupor enough to answer.

          “I’m fine, Winter. I’m safe, everything is alright. I’ll call you back ok?”

          “No, Weiss wait –” but Weiss doesn’t wait, she just lowers the phone and ends the call. Observing Ruby before the light from the screen fades – face down, asleep, and snuggling slowly closer to the source of warmth in her bed – Weiss knows there’s no way she can bring herself to wake the poor thing. So she sets her phone to silent before returning to her earlier reading, and lays back allowing the questing cuddle bug a sturdy surface to snuggle into.

 


 

          Sighing happily, Weiss marks another story as done and enjoyed – while a few of them were admittedly mildly awkward to read while being used as a body pillow by her crush – she was grateful for Blake’s recommendations. Now though she had come across a very serious problem. Weiss desperately requires a moment of respite – but Ruby is practically glued to her. A knock at the door offers a glimmer of hope.

          “Hey Weiss do you want some – oh, hoho? What’s this I see? Someone cuddling on my sister right in front of me?” Yang steps into the room fully as she catches sight of Weiss's position.

          “Don’t be weird Yang, help me – I really need to, y’know.” Weiss pleads quietly still attempting to escape. With a single laugh Yang moves to help but every time she tries to pry one of Ruby’s limbs free she’s met with a fierce grunt and an even tighter grip – like some kind of cuddle hydra or something. Yang attempts to hold in a laugh, poorly, as Weiss looks up in conflicted distress.

          “I got you,” Yang mouths before leaning over by Ruby’s ear, “Roob-a-doo, I need you to let go.” An angry almost squeal is her answer as Ruby tucks her head tighter under Weiss's chin, prompting a distressed and overwhelmed squeal from her.

          “Just for a second Roo, or I’ll pee on your foot.” This statement is met with a sort of hiss as Ruby pushes Weiss away and rolls over, never once waking up. As Yang gently picks Weiss up over the sleeping critter Weiss can’t help but throw glances between the sisters.

          “What the heck what that?” She asks.

          “Haha, well –” Yang starts, setting her down gently making sure she’s steady before continuing, “for a long time after everything really went down Ruby slept with me because of her own nightmares – she’d wake up crying and come slip into my bed which was fine. The only problem was that she’s too much of a cuddle bug to release you for any reason once she gets really deep into sleep.” Yang starts to snicker and Weiss's jaw starts to drop, already seeing where this story is headed.

          “Well, one time it was really bad and I really, really, reeeeeaaally needed the bathroom but no matter what I did she wouldn’t let go. So I just peed right there.” Yang’s voice starts to shake with laughter and Weiss slaps her cast over her mouth to muffle her own.

          “We might’ve been ten and eight? Thing is, the way she was cuddled up it was right on her foot. She was so traumatized she responds to the threat even now – dead asleep. Just in case you need to know.” Yang winks at Weiss and heads for the door to the hallway. Weiss stumbles between words and laughter for a moment before she settles on a single word, doing her best to match the accent she manages to whisper yell,

          “disgustang!” In Yang’s direction.

          “Dinner’s about done by the way,” is the only thing she can make out besides wild laughter as Yang slips out, and shuts the door. It doesn’t do much to block out the relentless mirth that continues on the other side

Chapter Text

 

 

          A horrible squelch startles Weiss awake, jerking in bed she’s restrained comfortably by a firm but gentle grip. Sighing she relaxes back as Ruby removes one arm to grab the radio stuffed behind the pillows. Weiss smiles to herself as Ruby grunts at the device, recalling how she and Yang were finally able to bully Ruby into resting by claiming the heat wasn’t working in her room (Yang somehow managed to make sure it wasn’t long enough to get the girl to agree) so Ruby was going to have to keep sleeping in her own bed as a space heater. She took on the responsibility after all. Maybe it was playing dirty, but if Yang was on board and it helped the woman get the sleep she so clearly needed, well there was no reason not to utilize every available avenue in negotiation.

          “10-4… I’ll issue the…” Weiss begins to register some of the words coming over the radio as Ruby turns it up. It’s still her week on call, which Weiss finds incredibly unpleasant but manageable given her favorable new position as primary Ruby-nap-wrangler. A concerned grunt from behind catches her attention and she focuses better on the chatter, as Ruby seems to as well.

          “This is an all call – all available emergency units there’s been a code –” Weiss doesn’t catch the end as Ruby mutters an almost panicked ‘shit’ practically falling out of bed in her hurry to get up. Weiss is about to ask what’s going on when Ruby throws open their door, shouting at full volume, clearly intending for the entire house to hear.

          “Avalanche in the pass! Double digit casualties, double digit missing! Get it moving!” It takes it a moment to register before Weiss bolts up in bed also.

          “Holy shit, an avalanche? Is there anything I can do to help?” She asks, already worried about the answer.

          “I’d say you could be on food crew but not with your arm still done up I’m afraid.” Ruby answers loudly from the shared bathroom. Weiss hears her swish mouthwash and spit before the door bursts open, Ruby just in her underoos once again. Trying not to be so blatant with her stare, Weiss continues the quick conversation.

          “Dr. Oobleck said I’d likely be out of it within the next couple of days during my last appointment – do you think they’d take it off?”

          “Weiss, I don’t think that’s a very good idea if they don’t have a chance to check it out properly – I wouldn’t want there to be permanent damage.” Ruby slows down for just a moment, half tucked into her jumpsuit, and squats down by the bed. “Just relax.”

          “But I –”

          “Thank you so much for wanting to help. If it’s that important to you, call my uncle Qrow; see if you can watch part of the lodge for him or something if he hasn’t already got someone to cover him long enough to come out too.” Ruby interrupts, gently running a hand over Weiss's cast. The tips of their fingers interlock lightly and Weiss knows there’s something significant there – but like hell she was going to address like this. Instead she simply says,

          “be careful.”

          “Of course,” Ruby says, more words clearly fighting to be said but just as stubbornly being made to stay put. Instead she finishes with, “I’ll see you later, Weiss.” Something heavy settles behind her warm smile and Weiss traces it with her eyes. She feels like she’s drowning, the warmth suffusing her chest almost tangible and thick. She can feel herself moving forward, too fast for her mind, too slow for her heart. Ruby’s moving in too, their fingertips meet a little more solidly. Weiss is certain the pounding in her chest is so loud it’s reverberating through the walls – and then the front door slams open and she realizes it was boots on the wooden floors as she and Ruby both hop back some. Weiss realizes Ruby’s wearing a blush all the way down to her collar bones that matches Weiss's own, and that Weiss herself is wearing a shy smile to match Ruby’s.

With a final squeeze of her fingers, Ruby stands and finishes getting dressed.

          “See you soon.” She says with a smile over her shoulder as she steps out the door and it’s all Weiss can do to raise her hand with a simple,

          “Later.”

 


 

          “This is why my sister hates you isn’t it?” Weiss asks Qrow as she settles her cast on the table palm down, as directed.

          “The Ice Queen? Heh, probably. Just remember kid, this was your idea and I won’t be taking any responsibility if the pipsqueak gets all het up about it.” Qrow answers gruffly, but with more than a hint of humor in his voice.

          “I’m sure.” Weiss rolls her eyes and Qrow chuckles.

          “Wanna hit? Might help your nerves.” Qrow pulls out what looks like a filterless cigarette and offers it to Weiss.

          “No thank you, I don’t smoke any longer.” She scrunches up her nose as he lights it and picks up the cast-saw.

          “Not tobacco, kid – suit yourself though.” Smiling around the spliff in his mouth he starts up the saw, “hold still now!” And with a wink he starts cutting away the cast on Weiss's arm.

 

 

          “There you go, free at last. Give it a wiggle.” In the empty house, the silence is almost ominous now as Weiss gingerly lifts her arm out of the neat halves of the cast left on the table. With a bit of rotation and a stretch, Weiss listens for any unusual popping and waits for any tremendous pains. But with nothing but the soreness of not moving and a raw itch from fresh exposure to oxygen Weiss nods, satisfied.

          “I think it’s good to go. I haven’t had as much training as Winter, obviously, but due to our family’s – position – in various activities I have had some combat and aura training.” Weiss says, grateful again that her father has such a thing for protecting his ‘assets’.

          “I’m sorry you had to deal with that, kiddo, it sounds rough. After, well, I was away when everything went down with the girls’ moms, but after I came back I vowed to do everything I could to keep them from getting hurt again. It wasn’t much, but they’ve both had some aura training too. I don’t think Yang was too convinced about it since neither Summer nor Raven were helpless, but she took to it well enough in the end.” Qrow sets an encouraging hand on Weiss's shoulder as he speaks. He holds the joint out again, just under a half left. “You sure? No pressure I’m just double checking.” Weiss shakes her head.

          “No thank you. But why do you smoke it – I thought Raven was in trouble because of substance abuse?” Weiss asks, turning to face him, curious – meeting eyebrows raised in definitive surprise.

          “They must really like you.” He exhales, almost incredulously, before sighing. “Well, if you must know – this isn’t recreational. Sometimes when it’s cold or something high stress kicks off the pain gets to me,” stubbing what is left of the joint out in a clean ashtray on the table he turns around, lifting the side of his shirt. Revealing a fist sized scar on his abdomen with more, smaller ones surrounding it going both higher and lower than she could see he continues, “lucky – they told me. A round meant for my head dropped sooner than the enemy predicted, glanced off the wall I was standing behind, trying to help sand bag a civie house from the predicted floods…” Qrow trails off, letting his shirt drop – eyes obviously somewhere else – before taking a deep breath, shaking his head and turning to face Weiss again.

          “We all have our scars, kid – I’m not alone in the green boat in this house and if you look you won’t find a single drop of the hard stuff, too many of us carry that baggage, so it’s not allowed in the house. I think the fact that you want to help so bad today that you’re willing to lose the cast early means you’ve found somewhere to fit – if you want it. I also owe your sister a li’l something over my going away gift and having a sympathetic little sister would be just the thing to really get her.” Qrow finishes with a quick smirk, a wink, and a soft pat on the back.

          “Alright – well, we got plenty to do! So if you’re really on board for this go change into something warm that you don’t mind getting dirty.” He says and steps away pointing her back towards Ruby’s room.

 


 

          “I know it’s a lot to take in, but here are a couple of blankets. If you’ll fill these papers out and then place them in this bin here we’ll get to you as soon as we can. There is plenty of soup and hot drinks in the conference room if you want to head in there. I’m sorry it’s a little crowded.” Weiss gives her little speech for what must have been the twentieth time in a single hour, never mind the count over the past several. Qrow posted her at the head of a small force dealing with the uninjured and less injured victims of the avalanche. Occasionally a couple of emergency workers come in, apparently forced to take a break, they mostly just pass out in the office behind Weiss for a little bit before getting up and heading back out.

          As she looked through the doors into the conference room, families and individuals all huddled in a mass, some crying, some blank faced, she notices the soup being refilled again and sighs. It doesn’t feel like they’re making any progress, for every family she reconnects gets roomed, every individual that has a relative informed, it’s like three more show up to take their place. She keeps going though; they really will get nowhere if she gives up now.

The bell rings on the door before another person approaches the counter. Gathering the papers and only one blanket to match the number of footsteps Weiss begins her speech again without looking up.

          “I know it’s a lot to take in, here is a blanket. If you could just –”

          “Weiss?” An all too familiar voice interrupts, stopping her cold as her eyes slowly lift from the forms in her hand, over the desk, over gloved hands, a crisp white uniform and finally the solid, blue eyes of her sister. A quiet,

          “Winter –” is all Weiss manages before those blue eyes snap over her shoulder.

          “You!” Winter borders on shouting. A soft scoff answers from behind Weiss.

          “Ice Queen. It’s good to see you weren’t caught up in all the fuss.” Qrow speaks and Weiss can hear the smirk in his voice without even looking.

          “What are you doing, Qrow?” Winter pronounces his name like a swear, which he seems to find infinitely amusing if the laugh behind Weiss is anything to go by.

          “I think you already know I own this place – beside that, I’m helping. What are you doing?” He moves to stand beside Weiss and now she can see his smirk. It looks just like the ones Yang and Ruby pull.

          “I’m here to collect Weiss.” Winter says matter-of-factly. With the tense situation at the counter none of them notice the ring of the bell as another emergency crew comes in to rest. One of whom takes particular exception to Winter’s declaration.

          “Yeah? Well you can’t have her!” Weiss recognizes Ruby’s voice, tired but steady – resolute – and she blushes as Winter snaps around and Qrow begins laughing.

          “And just who are you?” Winter asks, practically growling at the angry puppy equivalent in front of her.

          “Well who are you?!” Ruby asks, attempting to puff herself up more. It isn’t threatening in the least but it does make Weiss melt.

          “I asked you first!” Winter frowns, affronted by the soaked yet still adamant Ruby.

          “I asked you second!” When Winter just frowns and Qrow hits the desk behind the counter with his face while collapsing with barely contained laughter Ruby blushes. “Well, never mind, I’m her girlfriend and you can’t just come here and snatch people!” She holds one finger up as though she’s scolding Winter, or perhaps relating a proclamation from the heavens to which Winter’s frown just darkens.

          “Is that so. Well, I’m her sister, Winter.” Ruby seems to have a critical malfunction at this point, knowing she’s just made a critical miscalculation.

          “O-o-oh, uh, just – haha – just kidding. We just sleep together. Wait – no! I mean we’re roommates, but there’s only one bed so…” Ruby continues to ramble, blush growing proportionately to the height her gaze falls toward the floor and Weiss wonders if it’s too late to take Qrow up on his offer – she knows now that she’s absolutely in love with this walking headache who would jump in to defend her from unknown odds without any hesitation.

          “Ruby, shut up and go lay down please.” Weiss finally says – one hand over her face.

          “Yes ma’am.” Ruby mumbles and practically sprints to the office behind the desk. There’s a dull thud and muffled sobs as Qrow finally slips off the desk and onto the ground.

          “Winter, I can explain –” Weiss begins but the door creaking behind her interrupts her as a quiet,

          “You’d better not be over-working that wrist Weiss, we discussed that already and I intend to check it myself later,” slips out as Ruby attempts to be sneaky. It does not go unnoticed – nor does Weiss's blinding blush.

          “I certainly hope so.” Winter replies to Weiss's earlier statement with no shortage of skepticism.

Chapter Text

 

 

       It doesn’t take long after Qrow recovers for him to somehow draft Winter into duty and Weiss wonders if the ease that he has talking her into things is one of the reasons Winter hates him – not that she’s going to ask if she can help it. So Weiss finds herself strapped into Qrow’s passenger seat once again, this time with Winter at the wheel, as they head toward the pass with extra supplies and tremendous (at least in Weiss's estimation) containers of soup and hot chocolate. As they drive, Weiss begins to feel some hope that perhaps the road conditions are bad enough that they’ll require Winter’s total focus and she’ll be able to escape in relative peace. She is not so lucky.

       “So,” Winter begins, “a girlfriend?” She punctuates with a single raised eyebrow as they slow.

       “Well, not exactly no. It is true that I’m sharing her bed –” Winter’s other eyebrow raises to match the first as she slips the vehicle into four-wheeled drive and Weiss sputters, racing to clarify what she means – “by which I mean I’ve been staying in her room, except for sleeping but! Well, the heating isn’t always the best in there and it would be a real shame to make her sleep somewhere else and – why are you laughing? Winter!” Weiss does her best to stamp her non-casted foot before pouting out the window.

       “I’m sorry Weiss,” Winter takes a second to compose herself, the length of which grows with every bit of extra pout that goes into Weiss's scowl, before continuing. “If you like her that’s fine, you don’t need to justify it to me – I was just worried because I had no idea where you were and you were injured. All you had to say was that you were staying with a girl you fancied.” Weiss knows Winter caught the reflection of her eye roll in the glass when she turns to face more snickering.

       “Would that have really been enough though?” She practically harrumphs the sentence out, sulking down into the seat.

       “At first, though I certainly would have wanted to meet her and check on you eventually it wouldn’t have taken me calling in a favor from a man I can’t stand to get down here.” Winter looks over at Weiss with a fond smile that quickly turns into a frown when she notices Weiss's posture. With a quick whap to her uninjured thigh Winter scolds her. “Don’t slouch. Your pouting alone is more than pitiful enough.” With a yelp Weiss sits up straight away, angrily rubbing at her thigh.

       “Winter! I am twenty three –”

       “Then act like it.”

       “Shut up! I can sit how I want!” A silence stretches out after Weiss's outburst before Winter speaks flatly.

       “Would you like to tell me what you’re actually upset about there, little sister?” Weiss blushes immediately, almost glowing red against the white background outside. Her eyes fall to the hem of the coat she’s wearing – she borrowed Ruby’s – and she does her best not to fidget as Winter waits.

       “I just –” Weiss heaves a large sigh and tries to figure out what has her so worked up herself. “I don’t know, if I’m being quite honest. I think I’m maybe a little frustrated and nervous.”

       “It seems she likes you too so if you need to, ahem, discuss intimate –” Weiss makes a sound that just about approximates a five second key-smash interrupting Winter before finding enough actual words to blurt out,

       “oh gods no! Fu – uh, blugh, uhg no! NO! Winter no! That is not even remotely what I was talking about! No – I do like Ruby, but she has a thing about people trying to buy their way out of reality and I did just sort of buy one of the cornerstones of the local economy so.”

       “Did you do it to buy her affection?”

       “What? No!”

       “In that case you shouldn’t worry. Look, is she a reasonable being?”

       “For the most part.” Weiss nods.

       “And she doesn’t jump to the worst conclusion at every opportunity?” Winter asks.

       “Not that I’ve seen. She seems to really believe in silver linings and seeing the best in people.” Winter chuckles at Weiss's answer and Weiss continues, “I know, it’s entirely too precious and much more than I deserve.” Winter’s chuckle stops abruptly and she frowns tiredly.

       “Little sister.” Winter claps a warm hand on Weiss's shoulder, squeezing gently, as they come within view of countless flashing lights. “You deserve the world and when we get back – go get her.”

 


      

       “Why can’t you just take me back to the house?” Weiss's tone is dangerously close to a whine as she slumps through the door to the lodge behind Winter.

       “Because this isn’t my vehicle and I still need to arrange lodgings for myself, you heard what the trooper said – so until I am able to get a hold of a pilot I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

       “Oh no – that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened.” Qrow laughs from behind the desk, sitting down now, sorting through paperwork. It looks like he’s made good progress, though the conference and dining room are still full of stranded people.

       “Be quiet you – ”

       “me what?” Qrow looks up at Winter with something he seems to think is a charming smile but it just seems to infuriate Winter more. There’s some sort of charge in the air between them and suddenly Weiss thinks that maybe it’s not hate at all. Fighting the urge to audibly gag she tries to back away without being noticed unfortunately it isn’t to be and she backs whole body into another body. Hearing a small ‘oof’ and a crash she tries to spin around and apologize, forgetting for a moment that she’s only got one leg, and trips over herself. Expecting a rude greeting from the hardwood floor after her crutch hits the ground she instead finds herself held aloft in a familiar set of strong arms.

       “Woah there Weiss, I don’t think Ruby would appreciate you falling for me like this.” Looking up she finds the ever bright smile of one Yang Xiao Long.

       “Shut up!” Weiss makes an attempt at appearing un-amused, it convinces exactly no one – but no one comments on the matter as Yang walks her around the desk and gently deposits her into a chair.

       “So, who is this taller, hotter, Weiss?” Yang points at Winter once Weiss is settled – Qrow immediately begins to lose his composure again as winter begins to go red.

       “That’s my sister, Yang!” Weiss hisses.

       “Alright! Same name!” Yang teases, holding her hand out for a high five and shooting Winter a playful wink.

       “Not quite – Winter is my name.” Winter takes the hand into a handshake instead. Yang smirks with a chuckle turning Winter’s hand in her own gently leaning to brush a kiss across the knuckles.

       “Pleased to meet you, Winter.” Weiss's jaw drops open and she’s just about to say something when she hears a quiet ‘hrrk!’ from where Qrow was sitting and a warm hand slips tightly over her own mouth followed by a harsh whisper from Blake.

       “Don’t ruin this for me!” Weiss's eyes widen as she takes in the wild look in Blake’s own as she watches Yang flirt with Winter and suddenly all sorts of terrible and awesome questions begin to form in the back of Weiss's mind.

       “I think the pleasure is mine, miss?” Unfortunately for Blake, but fortunately for Weiss there was one element that they hadn’t accounted for – Ruby.

       YANG!” An exasperated shout breaks the tension from all parties like a tornado with so many glass houses. Standing across the lobby is a Ruby, all poofy haired, her jumpsuit tied around her waist, a child stuck to each leg and pointing at the broken plate near the door. Where Weiss had run into Yang. Where there was now carnage of at least half a dozen cookies along with her abandoned crutch. The look of betrayal on Ruby is so powerfully adorable that Weiss swears she is physically thumped in the chest by the sight. That or it’s fear as Blake’s hand tightens, just barely before letting go.

       “Well, since everybody’s here –” Qrow is interrupted by a cough as he adjusts his shirt, and then the door opening.

       “Qrow, why is there an empty cast on my dinner table?” A curious male voice asks as the door shuts. Weiss hears Ruby gasp,

       “Uncle Qrow!” but he just laughs.

       “She made me, held me hostage and everything. You’re back early Tai – something happen?”

       “Well, kind of – Oz called and said with the new equipment they were having to redo some of the building and wanted to make sure it was all fire coded.” The new man says, taking off his coat and scarf.

       “What do you mean new equipment, dad?” Ruby, now free of her passengers has joined the rest of them around the desk.

       “Hey Roobster! Didn’t you hear? Schnee Medical Technologies bought Beacon Regional and sponsored all new equipment!” Weiss pales as Ruby’s expression is less than celebratory.

       “What? When did that happen?” Before Yang or Blake can jump in on her behalf, Weiss stands.

       “Not long ago, I found out about some rather, unfortunate, mistakes made in the contracting department and I wanted to do my best to correct it. Beacon Regional isn’t the only rural facility with new colors.” Weiss does her best not to fidget or look away as Ruby scrutinizes her. Something about the interaction is entertaining enough that their audience watches silently, and suddenly Weiss feels a bit like an exotic animal trainer in her first meeting with some apex predator. Apparently Ruby finds whatever she’s looking for though as she smiles and closes the distance between herself and the desk.

       “That’s really cool.” She bends down to rest her elbows on the counter top and holds out her hands to Weiss. “You’re really - cold! Holy shit, Weiss!” Ruby exclaims as Weiss takes her hands, before promptly dropping them and hopping over the desk.

       “Ruby, don’t hop over the --”

       “It’s an emergency uncle Qrow!” a grumble of ‘I bet it is’ is all Weiss hears as Ruby snatches up her hands again and wraps them around herself, tucking them down the back of her jumpsuit, directly onto her back. Weiss feels her brain short out as the world’s cutest squeal is let loose almost directly into her ear.

       “I think she’s broken.” Both Yang and Blake manage to speak simultaneously as Qrow buries his face in the deck and Winter just huffs humorously.

       “Guys, I’ve been gone less than a month -- how did I miss so much?” Tai whines in the background and all Weiss can think is the mental equivalent of a five second long keysmash followed by white noise.

Chapter Text

 

 

          “So, what’s… well, what’s the deal with that?” Weiss asks Ruby from her seat on the latter’s lap, legs elevated over the arm of the chair, pointing at Yang still trying to flirt with Winter. Blake's thirst obvious with her wing-manning her own girlfriend.

          “Well your sister’s kinda hot – ”

          “Not that! I mean, aren’t they dating?”

          “Yeah, and?” Ruby looks up genuinely confused.

          “Did ‘fidelity’ suddenly lose its definition?” Weiss raises an eyebrow and looks back.

          “What does audio quality have to do with a three wa–”

          “Gods it’s a good thing you’re cute.” Weiss interrupts Ruby, covering her entire face with a hand while blushing violently.

          “Oo nk m ut?” Ruby attempts to ask a question but is still muzzled by a palm. So she licks Weiss's hand before trying again.

          “You think I’m cute?”

          “Gah! Not anymore I don’t!” Weiss shouts rubbing her hand on Ruby’s cheek, simultaneously trying to wipe both her palm and Ruby’s beaming grin off. “You’re the worst!” Weiss manages to scrunch her nose and feign at pushing away between the laughter she can’t help but let bubble up in response to Ruby’s.

          “Pff, you love me.” Ruby says laughing but as soon as the last syllable tumbles from her lips an instant shift in the mood hits them like a lightning bolt – they both fall silent and still, staring deeply into each other’s eyes. The sky locked onto liquid starlight – Weiss opens her mouth to say something but what comes out instead is a high pitched squeal from where Winter had been. It startles the two of them out of the moment and immediately into matching rouge. Weiss shakes her head to clear it and looks toward the sound only to find Yang push pressing her sister – who seems to be enjoying it – with Qrow and Blake egging her on.

          “Ugh, not again. Hold on Weiss, I’m gonna shout.” Ruby warns Weiss who only has a moment to cover an ear before Ruby begins yelling. “Daaaaaaad! Yang’s dead lifting guests again! DAAAD!”

          “What?!” Comes an answering shout from somewhere down the hallway, heavy footsteps not far behind. As if by reflex Blake stiffens up as Tai Yang bursts onto the scene. “Where!?” He exclaims, picking up Blake as though she’s furniture looking under and around her – anywhere but where Yang still has Winter suspended above her head. Ruby sighs exasperated, as Yang giggles while helping Winter gently to the ground.

          “Oh, you just missed it Tai.” Blake says, somehow maintaining a straight face while being held aloft.

          “It’s no surprise, he’s only managed to hit two targets in his entire life.” Qrow chuckles from the kitchen, opening an orange soda.

          “Rude! I’ve hit at least three, but only two really counted as scores.” Tai Yang sets Blake back on the ground and winks at Qrow – who spits out the mouthful of soda he’d just managed to take in, barely keeping it off of anyone else. After just a second Weiss connects the dots and does her best not to sputter as Ruby begins to groan.

          “Ughhhhh gross! Dad I called you out to help – not to make it worse!” Ruby wails, flailing her arms as much as she can without dislodging Weiss. “I am officially gruntled!”

          “Disgruntled, Ruby.” Weiss corrects and Winter hides a snicker.

          “I thought ‘dis’ meant the opposite?”

          “It does, being gruntled means you’re pleased.”

          “But a grunt isn’t a pleasure sound??”

          “Well –”

          “No! Bad dad!” Ruby interrupts whatever interjection Tai Yang meant to make before both the front room and the kitchen erupted into laughter.

                  

The front door opens as another crew gets back from avalanche cleanup. After a few inquiries Weiss and her lot find out that state crews are finally in full force from the other side of the slide and that nobody died, though the man that caused it by crashing while drunk driving did total the car and end up with a bit of frostbite after being pushed off into the trees. Being last in, Mercury closes the front door before looking up at the rowdy occupants before him.

          “I’m really glad everyone’s so happy, but I’m serious – if you guys wake me up with this, I’ll beat you all to death with my bare legs. Copy?” He smiles, slipping his boots off like everyone else and after Tai nods, confirming for everyone, Mercury nods in kind. “Good, thank you. Love you guys really.” Mercury’s footsteps gently click and whir as he walks away and for a moment longer everything is still, then someone snickers and it’s all over.

          “Alright ladies – you heard the fellow! Disperse!” Tai Yang waves his hands trying to get everyone to leave the front room and kitchen.

 


         

          “This reminds me though,” Ruby suddenly starts in the middle of their current episode of the next Wowie tie-in. “How are you feeling after jail breaking your cast and then being on your feet all day?”

          “You want to bring it up in the middle of an episode?” Weiss asks raising one eyebrow, doing her best to hear the show around Ruby’s question.

          “That bad huh? I told you not to hurt yourself! Also, this episode doesn’t even have anything important.” Ruby gently flicks at Weiss's ear, turning a bit more on the small couch in the ‘hood-cave’ to face her better.

          “Knock it off, you said everything was important because they liked hiding spring-fest eggs.” Weiss attempts to fight a smile twitching in the corner of her lips, still doing her best to ignore Ruby.

          “Well sure, but this one hasn’t – oh, I guess that was technically one but it won’t matter for like two more movies.”

          “Ruby! I’m fine damnit!” Weiss's tenuous composure nearly breaks when Ruby stops flicking her ear and instead just runs her finger along the cartilage so soft… it makes her shiver, goose bumps instantly running all over – she barely contains a squeal and Ruby just chuckles, the imp.

          “Oops.” Ruby smiles, not sorry in the slightest. “If you’re so fine though, why didn’t you answer me the first time?”

          “Because I wa-a-a –” Weiss gets stuck a little as Ruby proves how unrepentant she is by running the same finger from the base of Weiss's skull to the base of her neck, tracing little shapes in between faint freckles. Coughing, Weiss attempts to continue her answer. “Beecaa-ause, I was watch,” taking a deep breath to steady herself Weiss finally turns to face Ruby – a blush along her collar bones and a sharpness in her eyes halting Ruby’s nonsense for a moment.

          “Because I was watching the show, but if you’re trying to get me to confess to being naughty or something I may as well earn it.” An almost sinister smile blooms as Weiss takes her hair down. Ruby’s jaw drops open and she leans back, her eyes darting around as though she means to escape the situation she’s put herself in – Weiss isn't having that and she begins to press into Ruby. As Weiss scoots forward Ruby leans back, working her mouth like maybe she means to say something – or she’s a fish out of water – but a blush that runs up from the neck of her jacket to the tips of her ears keeps Weiss crawling up her body.

          “Wei-Weiss?” Ruby squeaks as Weiss unzips Ruby’s jacket, slowly, steadily, while pulling her own legs fully up on the couch. As they both watch the zipper pass the last few teeth Weiss looks into Ruby’s eyes and bites her own lower lip and that does it – with a final ‘eep’ Ruby falls back onto the couch, wide-eyed and red faced. Laughing Weiss just snuggles down onto Ruby’s chest using the woman as a heated pillow.

          “Not as funny when you’re the one being teased is it?”

          “No ma’am.” Comes the sheepish response and Weiss just continues to chuckle as she settles in to finally finish off the show in peace.

 


 

          “Oh my gods that’s the cutest shit! Quick, give me your phone!” Whispered words start to rouse Weiss from a most comfortable nap, not quite breaking through to consciousness yet she remains still.

          “Why my phone?”

          “What? You don’t want a picture of this? What kind of older sister –”

          “Fine, you’re right, here.” That particular configuration catches on something that makes Weiss begin to stir.

          “Oh take it quick, that’s her wake-up scowl!” Curling her hands tighter into the soft material beneath them Weiss grunt squeals and shoves her face tighter into the warmth underneath it.

          “Ok, now that’s adorable and blackmail. Perfection.” The voices begin to get louder and Weiss whines in protest again, receiving a matching whine in response before more warmth wraps around her and she’s even more snug than before.

          “What’s going on girls? Did you find them – oh, oh that’s so cute – I’m gonna die. I’m going to die right here that’s too cute.” A deeper voice enters into Weiss's consciousness and existence begins to relentlessly drag her back from the comfortable fuzziness of snoozing.

          “Don’t worry dad, we got pictures.” Weiss practically feels her ears burning as awareness finally comes back full bore.

          “Excellent – send them to me. It’s a shame, really, but you still need to wake them for dinner. I’m going to see who else is ready to eat with us tonight.

          “Thank you Tai.” Weiss picks out Winter’s voice now and notes the hint of amusement in it and wonders if it’s because of her.

          “I think maybe she’s already awake,” Yang’s voice comes next after Tai’s footsteps retreat and Yang gently touches a bright red ear.

          “I’m certain you’re correct. Maybe we should let her wake Ruby herself?”

          “Pshaw, not a chance – that’s no fun at all. Observe.” Weiss can feel Yang’s presence growing closer as she leans down, across Weiss, to whisper directly to Ruby. “I know you’re awake Ruby, and I know what you did.”

          “But I didn –” Ruby attempts to sit up, only to slam her forehead directly into Yang’s nose, almost bucking Weiss off the couch. Weiss's eyes open wide as she hears Yang hit the ground, groaning in a harmony of agony along with Ruby, accompanied by Winter’s laughter. Loud, and free, laughter. Weiss meets eyes with Winter and smiles as she sits herself up and Winter just carries on.

          “You’re right, Yang, this was much more fun.” Winter comments as she helps Weiss stand and Yang just gives her thumbs up followed by a middle finger from the hand she’s not using to hold her bleeding nose with.

          “Let’s go get Tai.” Weiss chuckles and Ruby gives her a much kinder gesture between groans.

Chapter Text

 

 

          “Ok, so it’s going to be a little tight for a bit – but if we double up in the rest of the rooms I think we can make it work.” Tai Yang receives mostly muffled snickers before asking for volunteers. Weiss notices Tai seemingly swearing at the heavens and she figures, much like department meetings, trying to make house meetings work around everyone’s schedules and sleep times and attitudes is always a trial. Although a couple of people were still missing, Tai has managed to gather almost every one.  Luckily the people in this house are actually willing to cooperate – kind of.

          “If we get two bunks we can put Sage and Scarlett in with me and Neptune.” Sun is the first to respond properly.

          “I don’t mind if Neo bunks with me – she’s quiet at least.” Mercury adds with smirk receiving a sarcastic expression and emphatic rude gestures in return. “See? She’s good with it.” With an exaggerated sigh Neo does acknowledge her consent.

          “That leaves us with,” Tai’s eyes roll up as he attempts to count the number of occupied versus vacant rooms still on the property before Weiss jumps in.

          “Four total rooms completely free, two free-able and ten absolutely occupied – including the doctor’s basement apartment.” As she briskly rattles off the house’s occupancy, Weiss doesn’t notice the attention she’s getting – nor the silence left in her wake until it’s broken.

          “Are you keeping her Ruby? ‘Cause if you’re not, like, I sure will.” Nora speaks plainly, leaning around both the table and Weiss to address Ruby.

          “She’s mine! No, I mean – you can’t have her! I – I mean, you can’t just… Shut up, Nora!” Ruby fumbles, growing ever more frustrated till she finally snaps leaving the whole room giggling around a rosy Weiss and a glowing Ruby.

          “That’s my sister.” Yang says fondly, draping herself over Ruby – to muffled protests. “Is that all dad?”

          “Not quite. About the same time the air ambulance folks are getting here the state is going to start moving the stranded people back out of Patch, so be ready for any complications there. Also, Dr. Polendina will be here next week for check-ups, so make sure your limbs are all accounted for and you’re ready to be seen ok? I’ll make sure it’s all written on the big calendar, but you guys need to remember too – we don’t want another incident, do we, Yang?” Even standing a few people away Weiss can practically feel the heat of both Yang and Blake’s blushes after Tai Yang’s words and she can only imagine what kind of terrible mishap they managed to cause. Not that she wants to know.    “Alright, that’s it then. Who wants cake? Only one piece each, guys!”

          “Stingy!” A voice that sounds suspiciously like Nora cries as almost everyone crowds around where Tai has Qrow and Winter handing out cake.

         

          “What, don’t you want cake?” Weiss asks while sliding slyly up to Ruby.

          “Not really, I had something sweeter in mind. C’mon.” Weiss swears she can hear Blake choke on something behind them as Ruby pulls her down the hallway towards the hood-cave. Weiss takes the brief moment to appreciate the fact that she no longer requires a crutch for walking, especially now. “I think you’ll like this – I’ve been waiting since you started staying here to share this.”

          “What do you mean, what is it?”

          “Shh,” Ruby stops in front of the door, eyeballing the party still behind Weiss before sparing her an almost wild smile. “It’s a special surprise, just for you.” Opening the door, Ruby steps aside, waiting for Weiss to walk in first. Raising her eyebrows, Weiss does so. Something about it seems so significant and yet Ruby has given no indication that she has anything well, significant, planned. Weiss waits for Ruby to join her for a moment, and when that doesn’t happen right away she turns around only to see Ruby quietly shutting the door before dropping her jacket and beginning to unbutton her flannel shirt.

          “Um, Ruby?”

          “Shh! Just trust me! You don’t want anyone to interrupt us do you?” Ruby responds walking closer and all Weiss can do is shake her head and gulp out a quiet ‘nope’ as she watches more of Ruby’s neck and chest become exposed. “Good.” Weiss hears the slick smile in that one word and shivers, but it doesn’t manage to draw her eyes away. Just before Ruby’s hands reach a critical juncture in the buttons, one reaches inside the shirt and retrieves a key, as she moves gently past Weiss towards the other side of the room.

          “R –”

          “Shh! There’s no way Blake isn’t listening, just waiting for me to open you up. Just waiting for me to free all that sweet, creamy –” Weiss hears Ruby lick her own lips as she reaches a painting of a safe. Moving it away Weiss sees a locked mini-fridge behind it. “Aw, yeah, that’s it. Let’s just get this pesky barrier out of the way huh?” Suddenly Weiss put two and cake together despite the blood loss in her brain and realized Ruby was talking about a different cake, the cake. The turtle cheesecake with strawberry drizzle that she’d squirreled away.

          “Oh, oh! Ruby, yes!”

          “Don’t you worry Weiss, we’ll get it all –” Ruby grabs a container and Weiss can’t help the squeal of anticipation and joy she lets loose “– worked –” Weiss can’t help but chant a low mess of ‘yes’ and ‘give it’ as Ruby grabs two forks “ – out.”

          “Ruby!” Weiss demands with grabby hands, probably louder than she means to, as Ruby turns back towards the couch. About that time a few things happen in rapid succession, things that – in hindsight – were entirely predictable and totally hilarious but at the time were horrifying and mildly traumatic.

 

The door busts in, wood splintering by the handle. Weiss turns to see Winter standing, red-faced, brandishing a knife, standing shoulder to shoulder (struggling to get through the broken door frame) with a red-eyed, huffing, Yang Xiao Long. Small clicking sounds garner her attention as a scroll manages to take pictures over the top of them both, held by one, smirking, Blake Belladonna. Ruby screams and throws the forks into the ceiling – before slamming the cheesecake back into the fridge and promptly eating the key. Weiss realizes they had been listening outside the door after all, and what that must have sounded like. And with face growing ever redder all she can do is whine out a long,

          “whyyyyyyyy,” in mourning as she also realized she wouldn’t be getting that cheesecake any time soon.

 


 

          “So that was a thing.” Yang says, sitting on the remains of Ruby’s mini fridge. As things became clear, Yang and Blake began to demand their promised share of the cake – which Ruby hadn’t yet given them – and since Weiss still wanted hers she quietly threw her voice in with theirs. Outnumbered, and out voted Ruby surrendered the fridge as she could no longer surrender the key. Luckily for them, not so much for the appliance, the application of a screwdriver and Yang’s prodigious strength was all that was required to free the sweet delights within. It did kill the fridge though.

          “Don’t worry, Ruby, I’ll get you a new fridge.” Weiss assures the younger girl who still looks forlornly at Yang’s makeshift seat.

          “In red?” She whimpers out and Weiss feels her heart clench.

          “In any shade – I promise.”

          “Yay.” Fighting an overwhelming urge to succor Ruby to the utmost of her ability, Weiss restrains herself to patting Ruby’s knee instead.

          “You guys are disgustingly soft. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to just – ugh – it’s obscene.”

          “I must agree, Blake. The mood emanating from them triggers my cute aggression and –” Winter begins before Yang finishes for her.

          “You wanna just crush them into some, like, adorable paste? Yeah, I get that.”

          “Shut up, you’re ruining my life.” Ruby sulks and Weiss can’t help but smile, even if she agrees with Ruby’s statement.

          “C’mon then Ruby, let’s ditch these losers.” She says, standing before holding a hand out to Ruby.

          “What about your mess?” Blake asks, gesturing to the murdered appliance, dishes, and forks still embedded above.

          “Your mess – it’s primarily your fault and don’t act like it isn’t.” Ruby grumbles, taking Weiss's hand and still standing up entirely under her own power. Weiss turns back one last time as Ruby shouts at Qrow that she was taking his ‘truck’, to stick her tongue out at the remaining residents of the hood-cave. As she walks away she blushes as she catches one of them say,

          “They’re practically already married!” Before laughter erupts.

 


 

          “One sugar, two cream – as requested.” Ruby says with a smile as she hands Weiss a convenience store coffee she swears is ‘better than starpucks, really!’. Weiss thanks her as she hops back in and takes a moment to sip at the beverage. In an unexpected turn, it really is better – she resolves not to let the admission slip.

          “I know I wanted to leave those guys behind, but did we really just leave for gas station coffee?”

          “Well,” Ruby pauses, taking a drink of her own beverage and seems to be weighing something in her mind before she speaks. “Well, yes and no.” Weiss quirks an eyebrow and Ruby closes her eyes, taking a deep breath; “Weiss, I think it’s pretty clear that I like you, like, really – a lot.” Weiss fights the urge to chuckle at Ruby’s phrasing.

          “But?”

          “But – I think it’s also pretty clear that I’ve got a lot of hang ups and some pretty bad habits and a tendency to ramble and a problem –” Weiss sets her hand on Ruby’s fist, clenched around the steering wheel to help ground her.

          “But?”

          “But I think you deserve better than me.” Ruby finally manages, only to be met with silence. Upon opening her eyes she finds Weiss staring at her, seeming to be running countless calculations in her head. Nervousness starts to seep into her being before Weiss seems to settle on something, suddenly declaring,

          “Ruby, throw our cups out please.” A little lost, but eager to escape what was quickly becoming a little awkward Ruby does as asked. As she opens her door to get back in the vehicle she’s immediately pulled over the center console and onto Weiss's lips. Their first kiss is rough, territorial, claiming – explaining to Ruby in no uncertain terms precisely what Weiss thinks of her statement.

          “You’re so stupid sometimes, Ruby.” Punctuating her sentence with more kisses while settling Ruby more comfortably on her lap Weiss continues, “you are the single most caring,” a kiss. “Sweet,” kiss, “dependable,” kiss, “selfless,” kiss, kiss, kiss – “deserving person I have ever met. And I kinda wanna be your girlfriend.”

          “Wait, really.” Ruby asks still in Weiss's air, her eyes shining in utter astonishment and Weiss can’t help but laugh against her lips.

          “Yes, really.”

          “Awesome.” Ruby smiles, beaming bright and Weiss can’t help but match it before bringing their lips back together laughing in joy all the while. They quickly begin to lose track of time until a heavy rapping on the window startles them both making Ruby shriek as Weiss bites a little too hard on her collar bone. Hearts pounding heavy, Weiss calmly rolls the window down a bit only to get hit by the brightest flashlight beam she’s ever been subject to.

          “Gods why?!”

          “This is Patch PD ma’am. Can I get the two of you two step out and hand me your identification please?”

Chapter Text

 

 

          “So I’m bailing you out of jail in the middle of the night because why again?” Tai Yang asks a very red Ruby as she finishes collecting her stuff from an officer.

          “It’s not my fault!” She protests vehemently as she walks out of the building with her father.

          “I didn’t say it was kiddo – I’m just asking you to clarify for me.” Tai puts his hands up, attempting to placate her as they walk down the stairs and towards the waiting car.

          “We may as well wait until we get home so I can just tell everyone all at once.” Ruby sulks as she gets into the backseat next to an impatiently waiting Weiss – who immediately begins to check her over. “I’m ok, Weiss, really.” She assures her new girlfriend.

          “I’m really sorry this happened –” Weiss starts only to be cut off by a quick and chaste kiss.

          “Did you really drive home by yourself?” Ruby asks and Weiss averts her eyes before leaning back away silently. Tai can’t help but laugh as he watches the exchange in the rear-view mirror.

          “You kids are adorable.” Ruby frowns even as she slips a hand into Weiss's and the car slips into silence during the drive home.

 


 

          “We’re here Ruby, c’mon wake up.” Weiss jostles Ruby from her short nap as they pull into the driveway. Looking a little disoriented, Ruby manages to focus on Weiss and slips into a smile.

          “Hi.” Ruby mutters happily and Weiss replies with a smile and a,

          “hey yourself,” punctuated by a chuckle and a forehead kiss.

          “Much as I would love to leave you two to it, we gotta get you inside and cleaned up kiddo.” Looking down at her favorite hoody now likely stained with parking lot Ruby grunts – hopping out before quickly moving around to Weiss's side and offering her hand at the already open door.

          “You’re such a dork.” Weiss smiles, but graciously takes the proffered hand anyway, continuing to hold it as they walk inside. Immediately upon entering Ruby is set upon by Yang, Blake gently moving Weiss back for her own protection as the elder sister fusses about over the younger.

          “Yang, Yang – Yang! I’m fine, just a little dirty is all.” Yang looks at her skeptically, eyeballing the scrapes on her chin and hands.

          “Did they clean you up at all?” She finally asks in a serious tone and Ruby sighs, likely knowing this isn’t a fight she can win.

          “Yeah, but it was just some deputy that did it. You can check me over again if you want in a little bit.” Yang finally seems placated by Ruby’s concession so Blake and Weiss move back over. Blake gives her a quick squeeze on the shoulder, Weiss notes a slight grimace before Ruby turns with a smile and a nod of appreciation.

          “Wanna take a seat and tell us just what happened short stuff?” Comes the gruff and tired voice of Qrow sitting in the front room, just out of Weiss's immediate view. Ruby just nods again before the whole group migrates. Weiss and Ruby take the rest of the couch next to Qrow while Yang and Blake share one large chair and Tai Yang takes another.

          “Did we want to wait for Winter or…” Ruby asks as everyone settles in, likely trying to put off telling her story.

          “No, I already told her everything – she’s getting it sorted.” Weiss says and from the looks she gets it seems she must have said it ominously. Well, pissing Winter off tended to result in unpleasant consequences so it probably should be ominous – she emphasizes her statement with a definite nod.

          “Oh, ok then.” Ruby takes a deep breath sorting her story out before continuing. “So – let me preface this by saying officer Watts is still the douchest and I don’t know why he has a job.” Ruby talks with her hands and from the looks around the room it seems there may be a bit of a feud between the family and this officer. Weiss understands why.

          “So, we’re sitting at the nearest Circle J just enjoying some coffee, talking, hanging out – avoiding these losers –” Ruby points at Yang and Blake, who act offended immediately – “when all of a sudden some cop’s beating on the window. It scares the shit out of me so I go to open the door, but as I do he opens the door all angry like and, well, I fell out.” A short chuckle goes around the room and Ruby barely stops, apparently it’s fairly normal for her.

          “Alright, so I’m suddenly falling and obviously out of reflex I grab the nearest thing to steady myself whiiich just so happens to be a duty belt.” Blake quickly throws a hand over her mouth to cover what is likely the beginning of a laughing fit as Ruby continues – on a roll now.

          “Well you all know how Watts is, so his duty belt does exactly nothing against gravity and down go both me and his trousers. But! In trying to save his dignity he ends up running his face into the car door. By this point I’ve started to get up, it also just so happens to be about the time he decides it was somehow all intentional and immediately takes me back to the ground and arresting me for assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct!” She finishes and just about everyone works on stifling giggles until Qrow asks one more question.

          “Just the one instance of assaulting an officer?” Apparently he knows more about the interaction than he had originally let on and Ruby turns red immediately, angry this time.

          “Well, no, but that’s not my fault either.” She protests and the room quiets, silence stretching too long for Yang to take it so she presses,

          “what happened, exactly.” Ruby wraps her arms around a knee she pulls up onto the couch, clamming up so Weiss takes over, answering in her stead.

          “For some reason the officer didn’t even bother looking my way so I guess he doesn’t know I was witness to the way he goaded Ruby into fighting him by saying things like…” Weiss trails off, not wanting to hurt anybody but Ruby moves one hand to take hers so she continues. “Saying things like, ‘I’ll bet Raven is real proud now that you’re following her footsteps’–”

          “Fuck that guy! I hope you broke his fucking face Ruby!” Yang nearly shouts, appearing to be held down only by the weight on her lap.

          “If he weren’t an officer…” Tai Yang seems to agree as he grips the arm of the chair tight enough to make the leather squeak.

          “Hell, we could still –” Qrow begins before Winter enters the room, interrupting whatever he was about to say.

          “It’s been taken care of. You won’t be seeing him again nor will you be facing any charges. Behavior like that from a law enforcement officer is unacceptable. The fact that the organization tolerated it for so long itself is, despicable.” Somehow Winter manages to make the one word sound like the most vile of swears and Weiss can’t help but agree.

          “Thank you, Winter. I think I’d like to go to bed then please.” Ruby says as she stands, looking at Weiss briefly silently asking if she'll be joining. After receiving affirmative answers from everyone and a fairly discreet nod from Weiss Ruby excuses herself.

          “Hey, hold up – you told me I could check up on you.” Yang protests, only just remembering as Ruby enters the hallway.

          “Check on me tomorrow. I'm tired now.” Ruby waves her off before she can stand up and disturb Blake.

          “Maybe we should all go to bed in that case?” Tai Yang proposes, quashing what was quickly becoming an uneasy silence. With a chorus of assent everyone begins to disperse, save for Weiss who gets pulled aside by Winter.

 

          “You know, little sister, you can stay in my room if you’re uncomfortable or you need some space or, well, anything.” Winter initiates big sister mode, albeit a bit awkwardly, placing a stiff hand on Weiss's shoulder in support.

          “Thank you for your concern, Winter – I think I’ll be alright though. Sleep well.” She bids with a smile and a hug, getting a soft hug in return.

          “Goodnight sister, sleep well.”

 


 

          Wrong. Weiss recalls her earlier assurances to Winter – and she was so very wrong, absolutely, positively, wrong, wrong, wrong. Now, she lies as still as possible, wrapped around the warm body of her new girlfriend and Weiss finds she is not alright and she is not sleeping well at all. Instead she decides to catalogue Ruby’s injuries, once again assuring herself that Ruby is alright. Frowning, she  backs up just a little, running fingers barely over ribs that the officer’s knee managed to knock out of place. Unfortunately it’s too soft and Ruby jerks with a giggle then a gasp and a groan. Turning her head a little she gives Weiss a sleepy couple of blinks before attempting to speak.

          “Oo n’k?” Comes an airy mumble and Weiss can’t help but snuggle back in, answering her interpretation of the almost-words.

          “I’m alright, Ruby – just having some trouble sleeping.” Ruby yawns along with a stretch and turns slowly in Weiss's arms until they’re face to face. The blankets pull away a bit and Weiss can’t help where her view slips, nor her following blush. Ruby catches it, close as they are and raises one eyebrow lazily.

          “My fault?” She asks, still sleepy.

          “No,” Weiss averts her eyes only to have Ruby reach up and pull her face back, conflicted blue meet concerned and stern silver and Weiss breaks. “It’s not your fault because of you it’s just…” she trails off turning red again, reluctant to continue.

          “You’re as crazy attracted to me as I am to you?” Weiss swallows hard as Ruby gets it in one. “Do I need to sleep somewhere else or put on a shirt or something?” Ruby asks, being ever sweet and accommodating. Weiss answers almost too loud and definitely faster than she means to,

          “no!” She buries her face in the pillow for a moment groaning before following up. “No, you’re fine. It’s me – not that I’m uncomfortable!” She clarifies quickly when Ruby frowns. “It’s more like I’m too comfortable, I just. I’m weird, I know.”

          “It’s ok, Weiss. Everybody has their stuff. Hey, I’ve got an idea – switch me spots.” Ruby says starting to climb across Weiss, signaling for her to move to the open edge of the bed. In her confusion and the effort of the shuffle Weiss doesn’t have time to be bothered and for that she is grateful. Settling back in Ruby speaks again, facing the wall this time.

          “There, now you’re on the edge so you can get up any time you’re uncomfortable. Maybe that’ll help.” Throwing a sweet smile over her shoulder Weiss can’t help but smile in return. Contemplating things for a moment Weiss finally makes a decision, and sheds her top too.

          “Is this alright?” She asks, tucking herself back into being the big spoon.

          “Yeah,” Ruby stretches out the word with a yawn before snuggling back. “You’re warm.” She says appreciatively and quickly slips back into sleep. Weiss can’t stop a chuckle, but Ruby’s right – this is very warm. It doesn’t take long for Weiss to finally follow Ruby into slumber.

Chapter Text

 

 

          Weiss flexes her ankle every which way the quick speaking Doctor Oobleck tells her to, receiving what seems to be approval Weiss is finally free of her leg cast.

          “Well done!” Pyrrha, a member of the new flight crew, congratulates as she walks Weiss out of the orthopedics office.

          “Thank you,” Weiss starts with a smile, “but I don’t know how much congratulations I can accept for nature running its course.” Pyrrha had quickly become friends with not just Weiss, but pretty much everyone in the house, especially with –

          “Are you all done?” Jaune, one of the E.M.T.s she’d ended up friends with due to Ruby’s influence asks, standing up in the waiting room – he’d been the one to drive her to the appointment.

          “Yes, thank you for waiting, Jaune.” She says, chuckling as his eyes quickly stray from her to Pyrrha. “Say, I have an idea –” Weiss starts, noting Pyrrha’s blush at the attention – “since I have some freedom now why don’t you go ahead and grab some lunch with Pyrrha – she’s still pretty new to Patch after all.” She suggests. And maybe – just maybe – she wants to play matchmaker too since her relationship has taken off.

          “Oh, ok, yeah –” Jaune rubs the back of his head, a nervous gesture that everyone in the house seems to share – “I know of a couple of good places really close by since you’re still on duty.”

          “That would be lovely.” Pyrrha replies with a smile offering a hand. Jaune hesitates, awkwardly staring at it until Weiss nudges him and knocks him out of his stupor. With a blush the two take off leaving Weiss satisfied with herself in the waiting room.

         

          “I think that’s adorable.” A voice says from beside Weiss, making her jump before turning to see nurse Polendina standing just beside her.

          “They are, aren’t they.” Weiss states, attempting to wrangle her startled nerves.

          “Oh! My apologies! I didn’t mean to startle you!” The nurse says suddenly, putting a hand out, “I also realize I never introduced myself as a friend!” Weiss can’t help but stare at the outstretched hand awkwardly for a moment before knocking sense back into herself.

          “Don’t worry about it, there hasn’t really been an opportunity.” Weiss finally responds, shaking the nurse’s hand.

          “I suppose not. My name is Penny Polendina – I’m a day shift nurse here at Beacon Regional.” She introduces herself and Weiss reciprocates.

          “Weiss Schnee. Owner of Schnee Medical Technologies.”

          “It’s nice to meet you properly, Weiss! Ruby talks about you a lot.”

          “She does?” Weiss wonders just how long they’re going to be shaking hands, but figures it’s fine – if a bit strange.

          “Of course, she’s ever so excited about her girlfriend. She’s always saying how pretty and smart you are and while I can’t comment on the latter – you are very pretty!” Weiss blushes all the way to her ears and focuses on the enthusiasm of the extended handshake rather than the compliment.

          “I see.” Trailing off, a strange silence settles over the two before Weiss finally has to address it. “Penny, may I have my hand back now?” Seemingly unaware of the fact that she still had it even Penny quickly lets go.

          “Of course. I apologize!” Weiss chuckles and can just about see why Penny is one of Ruby’s best friends. Figuring if she means to stick around – something she hasn’t spoken with anyone about and really ought to at least discuss with Coco – she may as well get to know Penny. Besides which, Ruby’s on duty and being alone at the house is boring at best.

          “Hey Penny, if you’re on your break, would you like to get lunch with me?” She offers and somehow the already beaming smile on Penny’s face grows.

          “I’d love to!”

 


 

          Weiss finds herself laughing nigh uncontrollably as she discovers the sense of humor that really makes Penny brilliant. She’s just about to invite her to hang out more often when a racket of alarms goes off from staff all around her in the cafeteria. Penny goes silent almost immediately, a seriousness settling on her face as she seems to wait for an announcement. She doesn’t have to wait long.

          “Code Vale, Code Vale. All available hands to the emergency to receive multiple traumas; first responders among them. Repeat…” Weiss doesn’t know what exactly that means but based on Penny’s reaction she has a pretty good guess.

          “Penny, what does that mean? Penny – Ruby was on duty today, what does that mean?” Weiss asks, getting close to frantic as Penny jumps to her feet and immediately heads towards the emergency room. “Penny?!” She stops abruptly and turns, putting her hands on Weiss's shoulders.

          “Weiss.” She begins seriously and professionally. “You need to go sit in the waiting room, out of the way, if you’re going to stay. I promise if it’s anyone you need to know about I’ll have someone get in touch with you – but right now you need to go.” Weiss feels almost glued to the floor as Penny turns and walks away, in only a few moments she finds her feet moving automatically towards the waiting room. She only just makes it down into a chair when sirens screaming just outside make her jump to her feet again.

First a couple of paramedics Weiss doesn’t recognize run in a burn victim – and it’s bad. Soon enough it’s a steady stream of them, none that she recognizes, but more than one is in the local sports colors and that alone is worth worrying about. That’s where Ruby was – on standby at the game. Weiss begins pacing – she can’t help herself, as paramedics run back out and retrieve more victims. None of which, neither the E.M.T.s nor the victims, are Ruby.

         

          “Weiss. Weiss. Weiss!” A familiar voice chants her name, one extra-warm hand on her shoulder – the acrid smell of smoke extremely strong – and she turns to see an ash smeared Yang still dressed out for the most part right next to her.

          “Weiss,” Yang begins again, “there’s something I need to tell you.” Weiss blanches, she can literally feel the blood leave her face at Yang’s statement and her vision starts to go dark before she catches sight of another stretcher being run in – a dark shape covered in blood on top of it. Weiss can hear Yang like a murmur in her ear as she focuses on Qrow; his abdomen soaked through the pressure still being applied and the door swings open again breaking through the cotton in her ears with a piercing scream from the love of her life.

          Ruby is wheeled through next, hollering for Qrow between boughts of painful sounding coughs. Weiss just catches the sight of red – too red – before Yang’s catching her about the waist with one arm. Yang drags her backwards and down onto a chair – doing her best to help Weiss through her panic. It takes Weiss an embarrassingly long time to realize Yang isn’t using her right arm – the prosthetic missing entirely.

 


 

          “Wait, what?” Weiss can’t believe what she’s being told, it’s ridiculous – it's, it's insane!

          “It’s exactly what I said. It seems Watts couldn’t handle his just desserts so he got the help of some murder-happy bastard that’s been on the run for quite some time. They set fires at the stadium in the middle of the game and then during the panic they attacked first responders. Seems he was looking for Ruby in particular.” Yang repeats herself and Weiss shakes her head, at a loss.

          “What kind of absolute lunatic does that kind of thing?”

          “A dead one.” The tired voice of Tai Yang enters gruffly into her consciousness – the weary fire chief joins them in the waiting room. He's still in most of his gear as well. “They caught him trying to run not long ago. He resisted till the end.” Tai sighs, rubbing his face – only managing to smudge the soot around on his cheeks. Looking up, he decides to fill Weiss in on how the two family members ended up on the wrong side of emergency services.

          “Chief Lionheart will be giving a statement later, but due to the circumstances," His voice gets tighter until he takes a second to clear his throat and center himself again. "He's given me permission to tell the family as much as I know." Tai Yang furrows his brows, his eyes focusing way beyond Weiss and Yang even as he speaks in their direction.

          "Tyrian – that’s the fugitive Watts got to help him – went straight after Ruby. Luckily Qrow was right there and he managed to take him down before he could get to Ruby, much. Unfortunately he’s not as young and fast as he used to be.” He lets it trail off and after a moment his focus shifts fully to Yang, who still has a grounding hand on Weiss's shoulder, and he asks her how she’s doing.

          “I’m going to need the Doc to make a special visit – not as badly as Merc, though – the arm got busted a bit.” She replies, a shallow smile appearing to assure all of her wellness.

          “You did good out there today firecracker.” Tai reaches over to gently ruffle Yang’s hair and she smiles a little bigger, but still nowhere near as bright as normal. Weiss can only frown - frown and silently send what might pass as a prayer to any and all powers that might be able to intercede in affairs such as these.

 

          Heavy and heavier, the seconds stack up as they wait. At some point Blake joins them, bringing food – not that anyone is too interested in eating – and a doctor informs them that Qrow’s gone to theater, shortly followed by Ruby. There isn’t much to say, so the four of them sit and worry and pace and worry and fidget and worry – until Weiss can’t take it anymore and moves to visit the vending machines. As she stands the same doctor as before comes back over to them, it doesn’t look like bad news, but Weiss doesn’t want to jinx anything so she stays quiet as the rest of the party stands to join her.

          “It’s all good news.” The doctor assures to start with. “Ruby did really well. While there was some damage from smoke inhalation and quite a bit of muscle damage in her leg, there shouldn’t be anything permanently debilitating. She will likely require some physio before the leg is fully recovered. She should be good to go home tomorrow, she’s in recovery at the moment.” Weiss feels a heavy weight lift and it seems everyone else shares the feeling as they all stand a bit straighter.

          “Mr. Branwen should also make a full recovery, albeit much slower –”  Weiss falls into the nearest chair, as the doctor continues, relief stealing the legs and ability to listen any further from her. She vaguely hears Tai Yang thanking the doctor before the other three join her in sitting as well. They sit together again in collective silence for a while yet, processing, and although the mood is much higher now it's clear that Yang and Tai Yang are both more than emotionally exhausted. Eventually Blake begins trying to sort them out.

          “Alright, now that that’s settled and everyone's ok, let’s get you two home and cleaned up. You both need rest.” Blake fusses at the ever stubborn father and daughter who, predictably, protest.

          “I can’t leave yet. I have to be here when Ruby wakes up. I have to.” Yang frowns and Blake kneels down in front of her.

          “You heard the doctor, she’ll likely sleep all night – and only one person will be allowed to stay in the room. Besides, we need to get a hold of Dr. Polendina.” Vaguely Weiss makes the connection between the doctor and the nurse, but ignores for the matter at hand.

          “I’ll stay.” She volunteers over the top of Tai's attempts to argue with Blake's good reason. “You both really should get back and clean up. I’ll stay. I promise to let you know if anything changes.” She reassures them.

          “Fine," Tai Yang crosses his arms, nearly pouting, and names the price of his cooperation, "but I’m keeping you company until they move her to a regular room at least.” Yang parrots his demand, and Blake and Weiss have no choice but to acquiesce.

 


 

          During her vigil over Ruby's drug induced nap, Weiss has plenty of time to contemplate just how she feels. Slipping in and out of a nap of her own at Ruby’s bedside she dreams about a future in Patch – really giving up the company she barely deals with in the first place. She could do it she reasons while she's awake, she has enough money – neither of them would actually have to work ever again. She chuckles softly, pushing hair out of Ruby’s face; Ruby would work anyway – she’s too good not to. Apparently the gentle touches and the waning pain medication work in conjunction to wake Ruby and she stirs. Groggily at first she looks around the room, spotting Weiss first before her eyes slip to the sleeping Qrow just behind her. Ruby’s heart monitor begins to pick up and Weiss rests a hand on her face, drawing her eyes back towards herself.

          “Hey, he’s alright. He’s just fine and so are you.” She speaks softly, just loud enough to know she’s heard and Ruby closes her eyes taking a heavy breath to calm herself before slowly opening her eyes again.  “Hi.” Weiss greets, getting a small smile in return and a raspy,

          “hey yourself,” in return. With an answering smile Weiss begins to ask if Ruby would like her to call the nurse, unfortunately her mouth betrays the train of thought she's been stuck on instead.

          “What if I asked to stay with you forever?” She asks, blurts out more accurately, before furrowing her brows and trying to figure out just how exactly that kind of malfunction happened.

          “I’d say yes.” Ruby mumbles, surprising Weiss from her internal query. She didn’t expect an answer in the first place let alone a positive one.

          “You’d say yes?” She asks – nervous excitement attempting to claw its way to the surface. She tamps emotion down though, it's been a trying and day and it’s a big decision to move someone in to your life after all, even if it seems like she’s already been accepted as part of the household.

          “Yes, I'd say yes. You weirdo. I don’t want a big ring or ceremony though, ok?” Ruby sighs out her reply with a more solid smile and leans her head forward for a kiss. Weiss obliges while her brain runs double time trying to figure out what a ring or ceremony has to do with moving –

          “Oh, I!” Weiss realizes Ruby said yes to her proposal – but not the proposal Weiss was actually trying to make. Weiss begins running innumerable mental calculations on how to correct the misunderstanding when a voice that sounds suspiciously like Winter stops her in her tracks.

          Why not go with it? I'm happy aren't I? Ruby seems to be happy, she already said yes after all. Right?

With a last soft kiss to the again sleeping Ruby’s forehead she steps out in the hallway to make a call.

         

          “Coco; I’m moving to Patch.” She announces quietly but without doubt or hesitation the very instant the call is answered, only to receive a huff over the open line.

          “Good for you, but you had to call me at five in the morning to tell me why?”     

          “Well,” Weiss takes a breath, “do you know anything about planning weddings?” Weiss has to move the phone away as full bodied laughter erupts from the other side of the call and thinks maybe she should have given things a little more thought after all, encouraging head-voices be damned.

Chapter Text

 

 

          Weiss's eyes flutter open, resisting the natural pull of daylight. Slowly the sensations around her begin to trickle in; a salty breeze, the sound of water slapping wood, a slow rocking, but best of all – a warm and soft Ruby Rose-Schnee wrapped around her. With a happy hum Weiss turns around in Ruby’s arms, doing her best not to wake her wife. As her own blue eyes meet silver sparkling with mirth she knows she wasn’t successful.

          “Hi.” Ruby practically chirps, giving Weiss a little squeeze as she stretches.

          “Hey your –” Weiss is interrupted by a stretch of her own – “hey yourself.”

          “So, wife – what’s the agenda for today?” Ruby asks, adding a sort of joyful emphasis on the word ‘wife’ and Weiss chuckles.

          “Hmm, I don’t know – meine Frau – how about a little…” Weiss seems to be searching for an answer before ducking under the blanket with a playful growl; Ruby’s delighted squeal is all the permission she needs.

          “Hahaha! Weiss!” Weiss smiles against Ruby's skin, beyond enjoying her wake up work out and the happy racket Ruby’s making just above her. Enthralled as she is Weiss doesn’t notice the cabin door opening, nor Yang’s heavy footsteps wandering in, until it’s much too late.

          “You look comfy there lil sis.” Yang yawns, leaning on where she assumes Weiss's back is. A startled grunt lets her know she’s made her mark. “You uh, you got a good heater? Got some good sleep? Gonna get… pff, gonna get some… hahahaha! Weiss stop struggling!” Yang laughs as the writhing mass below her elbow attempts to fight its way to the surface.

          “Yaaaaaang! Why are you always so mean? We don’t bother you when you’re about to –” Weiss finally slips free and breaches the blankets, interrupting Ruby.

          “That is – of course – the last thing I would want to interrupt. Again.” Weiss adds, her sentence broken by almost gasping breaths trying to recoup what air was squished free.

          “Sure, sure. Anyway – I actually came down to let you know there’s about twelve hours to port – gods willing – so it’s your turn on the wheel.” Yang smiles broadly before slipping the pillow out from under Ruby’s head to use as a bludgeon against the two still lying down.

          “Are you serious?” Weiss asks, fighting her way around the pillow, spilling out into the open air.

          “Woah, clothes maybe? Also yes.” Yang stops beating on Ruby, turning to throw the pillow at an utterly naked Weiss.

          “Woah, don’t barge in next time maybe?” Weiss says sarcastically as she catches the pillow and returns fire before turning to find clothing. “That was much faster than anticipated.” Yang averts her eyes only to run into a vigorous eyebrow waggling from her sister, she grunts in disgust and turns even further till she’s facing the door.

          “That’s what Winter was saying, but I guess we caught a favorable tailwind.”

          “Is she still gonna meet us there?” Ruby asks, catching a shirt tossed her way.

          “Yeah,” Yang smiles and Weiss can’t help the shiver that runs down her spine – it’s weird. Not that her sister is happy, no that part is fantastic! It’s the part where her sister is happy with her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law’s partner. Weiss frowns, it’s not the casual polyamory that’s getting to her, it’s that there’s too many big sisters she figures –

          “Hey, you’re giving me a headache with all your think-y thoughts. Quit it, this is vacation.” Ruby protests, dragging Weiss from her headspace and she’s right – this is vacation.

          “Put on your vacation pants then.” Weiss retorts playfully as she throws the black and red, ‘shark bite’, board-shorts at Ruby who replies with a peppy ‘yes ma’am’ while Yang laughs.

       

 


 

 

         They continue to cut a steady path through calm waters, and as they draw ever closer to their destination Weiss retrieves the other two from their break.

          “I love it out here.” Yang says, walking up to and then throwing her arms over the bow railing. She lets the wind toss her hair back and takes a deep breath of the quickly cooling air. “I’m going to love it even more when we make land though; this sea air is hell on my hair.” Ruby laughs, seagulls seeming to laugh with her as they drift along near the boat. Ruby leans up next to her sister for warmth in body and heart. They stand in a comfortable and companionable silence, just watching – as the sunlight fades behind them and the lights of Southern Anima begin to sparkle on the horizon.

         

         

          “Thank your parents for letting us borrow the house again, please.” Weiss reminds Blake, bringing her a fresh cup of tea in the wheelhouse.

          “Of course. Thanks for bringing us along on your honeymoon. Or was that the plan all along?” Blake takes the tea and turns to give Weiss a sultry look.

          “Fuck off, Belladonna – are you a sis-con or something?” Weiss shoots back causing Blake to lose her mouthful of tea and turn a most excellent shade of red in the sunset.

          “What? No! Weiss! Do you –" clearing her throat Blake attempts to wrangle her shock - "Weiss, just what do you think sis-con means exactly?” Managing to get herself under control finally Blake double checks Weiss's knowledge of fetish definitions.

          “It's someone who is obsessed with sisters. Is that not correct?” Weiss huffs, crossing her arms; it hasn’t been long since she’s been introduced to these ani-memes or whatever, that Ruby and Blake are obsessed with and she actually rather likes them. Or has so far, that’s where she picked up the term in fact and she feels quite proud that she’s picking it up so quickly –

          “Well yes it does, but not quite in the way that you’re thinking.” Blake interrupts her thought process, gesturing for Weiss to get closer before whispering what it actually means in her ear.

 

 

Ruby can’t help but jump as the door to the wheelhouse slams open followed by a war cry of “disgustang!” following just behind. Yang catches her as she almost flings herself overboard from the shock, laughing as she pulls Ruby back.

          “What have you done this time Roo?” She asks still chuckling.

          “Nothing! I think.” Ruby protests, barely, as Weiss stomps up towards them.

          “She’s just learned the actual definition of sis-con.” Blake calls out from the door, still laughing herself. Yang sets a hand on Ruby’s shoulder in support,

          “shoulda picked better shows I guess. G’luck Roobadoo.” Yang gives her a pat before moving towards the wheelhouse, pointing and laughing at the pair as she goes.

 

          “Are you actually mad?” Ruby asks a red faced and pouting Weiss. Sighing, Weiss lets her shoulders drop before burying her embarrassment in Ruby’s neck.

          “No.” She says, muffled by Ruby. “It’s just, I still feel awkward sometimes.” And it’s true – as welcome as she is and has been since the day she began staying with this lot, sometimes she still feels out of place. Ruby chuckles softly, running her fingers through Weiss's new, shorter, hair. ‘It’s easier to deal with’ she said, revealing her new undercut – Ruby’s pretty sure it’s about breaking with her old life, but either way she can’t get enough of it.

          “I understand,” gently moving Weiss back so that she can nudge noses, she then rests her forehead against Weiss's. “I promise you’re fine though. You’re family after all.” Weiss smiles, eyes closed before Ruby adds,

          “besides, we’re on a boat – there’s no escape!” Laughing, Weiss playfully punches her shoulder.

          “I hate you.” She says, smiling.

          “Nah,” Ruby whispers, tilting Weiss's face up, “you love me.” Trapped in eyes shining bright despite the low light Weiss only has one thing to say,

          “lucky me,” before pulling Ruby down into a kiss, every bit as wild and possessive as their first.

 

 

fin