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Together For a Lifetime

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        Jaune, Nora, and Ren sit down on their worn, dirty mattress, Nora’s head resting on Ren’s shoulder, Jaune’s arm slung around them both, all leaning into each other to fill the empty space. Beacon had scattered six days ago, and they’ve been on the run since the Fall. None of them want to do this, really, and their eyes are already wet, red, and puffy, but it’s been long enough. Jaune taps lightly on his scroll, and the screen in front of them lights up with the face of Pyrrha Nikos, face still so full of life. It’s too much for Nora, already, and she buries her face in Ren’s shoulder, sobbing, while he absentmindedly strokes her hair, his other hand gripping Jaune’s in what could likely be called a death grip. It hurts, but the pain helps take Jaune’s focus away from the video in front of them, though he knows he needs to press play.
        They sit there for a while, in a silence broken only by Nora’s muffled sobs, and the pained breathing of Jaune. Mustering every ounce of courage, and love, and sadness, and regret, Jaune presses play, Nora wipes her eyes, and Ren loosens his grip. Pyrrha’s message began.

 


 

        “Heya! Pyrrha here. It is super strange to be recording one of these! I mean I understand fully that being a part of Beacon is dangerous, but—” and here she lets out a small huff of amusement, and Jaune flinches slightly, remembering— “I joined just two weeks ago, and people are already pressuring me to make one! I wonder how many people they’ve lost without having a goodbye message…” She shakes her head, slapping her face lightly before smiling again. “Anyways, if you’re hearing this, I’m probably dead—woo-oooo spooky ghost noises!” She laughs a little at her joke. “Anyways, I don’t even know who would be watching this but… I’m happy that you felt enough for me in such a short time that you would watch my goodbye. Have a nice life, stranger! See you on the other side.”

         Jaune looks to his left, seeing a small tear roll down Ren’s face, and he squeezed his hand lightly, resting his head lightly on Ren’s shoulder, a bittersweet smile on his face. Nora wasn’t crying anymore, instead just staring blankly at the screen. “She always was the best of us, wasn’t she.” Jaune mutters softly, barely catching Nora’s faint nod. It’s not a question. Of course she was. He exhales, steels himself, and presses play on the next video.

 


 

         “What’s up, people who know me well enough to watch my death diaries, Pyrrha here back atcha with another death vlog!” She giggles. “Anyways, guess I’m dead again, surprise! With how close I’ve seen some of the people to it after botched missions, I’m not surprised with how often I’ve seen people making these. There are some really interesting people here, although I, uh, still don’t really feel comfortable talking to a lot of the people here, but it’s... nice, not be treated like some sort of deity. After having my face plastered all over the city of Mistral, it’s incredible how coddled I was! I mean, someone got ANGRY with me! Actually ANGRY, and they YELLED! I mean, it was scary, but no one around me has been that genuine since before I was hired by Mistral’s propaganda ministry! It’s insane! Anyways, sorry to that dude whom I knocked over on accident and then had to help retrieve the sword of when it slid into a lower floor of the city. I doubt you’ll be listening to this, but, might as well make amends, right?” she adds, looking a bit flustered. “I think his name was… Jack? James? John? I don’t remember. Anyways, as always, see you on the other side, Pyrrha-heads! Don’t forget to destroy those enjoy and support buttons!”

         Jaune snorts a bit at the misremembered names, before sighing wistfully, and lying across Ren and Nora’s lap’s. Nora lifts her head from Ren’s shoulder, and smiles down at Jaune. “You sure you don’t wanna change your name, Jackey-boy?” Her voice is nowhere near as bright as her usual cadence, an undertone of ennui and pain soaking through, and Jaune pulls himself up lightly, and touches his forehead to hers. Nora looks like she’s about to cry, so he scoots across Ren, and pulls her into a hug, which is awkward for both of them, because he’s still sitting on her lap, but she still falls into him, arms wrapped around him, sniffling into his chest. Ren watches, a hand resting on Nora’s head, scratching lightly. “Maybe we should change your name too, Nora. How was it she messed it up? Noira? Kora? Aurora?” he jokes. Jaune can tell he’s trying to lighten the mood, get Nora smiling again, but it’s half-hearted at best, and they can all see the sadness in his eyes. Nora shakes her head, and pushes Jaune between her and Ren, clicking the play button on Jaune’s scroll for him.

 


 

        Pyrrha looks ragged as the video starts, several cuts are visible on her arm, pieces of her clothing are torn. Her breathing is irregular, and she has to take a few deep breaths before she speaks. Weakly, she begins. “So… I experienced firsthand how dangerous this whole… thing is today. It was supposed to be easy, only my second mission, but there was one more guard than we thought, in the cargo bay of the vehicle, and it all went to hell. One of the people with me lost a finger when a bullet went through his hand. I guess…” She pauses, shudders a little. “I guess I never really knew, really knew that this fight was life or death. This is what people have to deal with daily, when they aren’t the mascot of an entire city. All the more reason to fight, to make sure people won’t have to do this anymore, you know?”
        A sigh escapes her lips. “At least I have a newfound appreciation for these things, you know? I think I’m making friends, too! There’s this girl named… Shoot, I forgot her name, again! I think I accidentally called her Aurora last time. I know now that her name only has two syllables, but for the life of me I can’t remember… Anyways, I can’t wait to get to know her. She’s always hanging around this like, tall dark and handsome emo-looking dude, called… Pen? Rye Pen? Weird name. Anyways, when I messed up her name her face got all bunched up in the most adorableeeee pout. I think I might try to get to know them better.” She grins. “Pyrrha, out!”

        Nora is bawling. Tears flow down her face in waves, and Jaune and Ren reach over to comfort her, but she pushes them away. “I can’t take this anymore. Pyrrha… She- she isn’t coming back and it’s all my fault! If I had stayed closer to her in the battle... “ Nora scrambles to her feet, face tear-streaked, and runs to the bathroom, slamming the door. Ren and Jaune are on their feet, but aren’t fast enough to stop her from locking the door. “Nora... “ Ren mutters, turning around, and sliding to the floor with his back against the door, staring blankly into space. Jaune stood there for a moment, hand barely outstretched towards the door, before walking over, and sitting next to Ren.

        The two of them sit there for nearly an hour, occasional sobs coming through the door, before eventually, Nora cracks the door open, eyes dry, and peeks out. “I– I’m sorry, I just– I really miss her, and I know we have to watch these because it’s what she would have wanted and I really do want to, with you, but- can we take a break? I’m a little… tired.”

        Jaune nods, and Ren says,“Of course, Nora. But– um, could you give me a hand? My legs are kind of asleep already.” He holds out a hand to her, and she hauls him to his feet, catching him before he stumbles. “Come on, let’s get you both to bed.”

        After she helps Jaune off the floor, the three of them slowly walk over to the bed, and collapse onto it as one. Jaune and Ren are asleep almost instantly, a gentle snoring slowly filling the room as Nora stares at the ceiling. “Goodnight, Jaune.” She kisses him lightly on the cheek. “Goodnight, Ren.” A forehead kiss for him. Nora looks at the screen, the video of Pyrrha they have yet to turn off, and smiles a bittersweet smile. “Good night, Pyrrha.” She taps Jaune’s scroll, and the room descends into darkness.

 


 

         Nora was always the first one awake. None of the others were early risers, but she was. Because of this, she always made the teams breakfast, which, most of the time, was rehydrated nutrient slurry with salt, pepper, and spices for taste, depending on whose breakfast it was. Making four bowls was routine, so she did, on autopilot. Setting the table for four was routine, on autopilot, so she did so. When it was time for breakfast, she ducked her head into the bedroom and yelled softly. “Jauneee, Rennnnn, Pyr-“ She stops, breath hitching, before she can finish, but the others don’t seem to notice as they rise groggily from the bed, Jaune’s scroll, the last words they’ll hear from Pyrrha, left behind on the mattress, as the three sit down to eat. She can tell they both notice the empty fourth seat, though, and don’t mention it, for Nora’s sake.

 


 

        The three of them fall onto the mattress, Nora between the two, and she reaches over Ren to grab Jaune’s scroll, turning her head between the two of them. “Are... are you guys ready?”

        Jaune nods, and Ren places a hand on her shoulder. “Are you, Nora? Ready, that is.” The words hang in the air for a moment, before she nods, and presses play.

        “Hey, Pyrrha again.” She looks much better than in her last video. “So I think I’ve finally got an idea who might be watching these! I joined a team! Remember that “Aurora” girl? Her ACTUAL name is Nora, and her… uh, boyfriend? Or are they just friends? Well, whichever it is, his name is Ren. Anyways, they invited me to join their team! Obviously I said yes, how could I not – I’ve never been on a team before, and I’m really excited. Sword boy is in it too! His name is Jaune, not John, but it seems like he still might have a slight grudge, because every time I caught his eye he looked away, but I’m sure we’ll work things out! Anyways, heya teammates!” She stops talking for a sec. “I’m using this like a diary again, aren’t I? Anyways, if you’re watching this Ren, Nora, and Jaune, I hope you’re all okay, and I’m sorry I can’t be there for you anymore. Don’t give up, because that is when hope is truly lost. Pyrrha, out!”

        Nora looks between the two of them. “We have to keep fighting, right? For her. It’s what she would have wanted, right?” Her voice wavers slightly, eyes almost pleading, and Jaune nods his head, gripping her hand softly.

        “We have to keep going. For Pyrrha.” Ren agrees, hugging Nora lightly, as Nora dry sobbed quietly. “Salem Corp is going to pay for what they did to her.” she whispers, her eyes burning, a fury greater than she had yet expressed, just under the surface. The boys nod, and Jaune presses play on the next video.

 


 

        Pyrrha is beaming. “You’ll never guess what happened today! Well, I guess if you’re watching this, you probably know what happened, but it’s my death diary so shut your mouth. Anyways, I’ve been on team JNPR for about 3 months, and me and Nora have gotten… really close, and she is so super cuteeeeee I almost can’t stand it! We were training today, sparring really, and I tackled her to the ground, and-” She blushes lightly. “She looked so cute laying there, and I couldn’t stop myself from leaning down and kissing her. And, here’s the crazy thing, she kissed me back! I broke away as soon as I realized what I had done, and ran to my dorm, but- I’m so conflicted! I think she’s really cute, but she’s already dating Ren! But… Maybe that’s okay? Ren is dating Jaune too, so maybe Nora wouldn’t be… opposed to going out? I hope I don’t get kicked out of the team for this.” She laughs lightly. “Anyways, if you’re watching this JNR, I want you to know that these past 3 months have been the best, most incredible and fun months of my life. It’s… different, having friends, but it’s better than I could have possibly imagined. See you on the other side. Pyrrha, out.”

        All three of them are crying now, huddled together on the mattress. Nora, surprisingly, cried the least, tired already from her tears, while Ren and Jaune clung to her and each other tightly. They didn’t let each other go until each of their sobs have faded into heavy breathing. Jaune fall down onto the mattress, arms outstretched, and brings one of them up to cover his eyes. “I’m sorry Pyrrha...“ Nora and Ren lay down next to him. “She wouldn’t blame you for anything Jaune.” Ren squeezes his hand. Jaune’s breathing slows, and he sits up, pressing play on the next video.

 


 

        Pyrrha’s face has a large, scabbed cut on it, with bandages holding the sides together. It looks fresh, but her eyes and mouth reveal that she’s happy. “Well, Pyrrha here with another in-case-of-death video. Ynow, every time I make one of these, it seems more and more likely that they’ll get used, and more and more I don’t want them to be… Nora. Jaune. Ren. You’re really the only ones who would watch this, aren’t you? Gods, that must suck. I’m so sorry I had to leave you guys. I know we only started ‘dating’ all together a few weeks ago, but you three are the most important parts of my life. I- I truly love you- or… Loved? I don’t know if I should be using the past tense in these things… Gods I don’t want to think about this right now. See you on the other side.” Pyrrha reached up to the camera, and the video flipped off.

        The three of them scoot closer to each other, Nora leans her back against Ren, while Jaune lays on his lap. Ren absentmindedly plays with Jaune’s hair, while Nora snuggles further into his nape, and he pulls her close with his other hand. Jaune reaches up, and cups Nora’s face, wiping a tear from her eye. “Are you guys… Ready?” Ren and Nora nodded, and Jaune pressed play.

 


 

         Pyrrha’s grin is bright enough to light up an entire floor of the city. She appears to be in a bathroom, sitting on the toilet, with the seat down. She must not have washed her face that night, because they can still vaguely see the outline of one of Nora’s kisses on her cheek. The timestamp indicates it was recorded one week before the Fall. “Hi Jaune, Nora, and Ren! It’s kind of weird to be recording a video like this with the three of you sleeping in the next room, but I don’t know where else to record it! I used to simply do it in my resistance dorm housing, but now that we’ve got our own place together… Guess I’m recording it in the bathroom!” She gets up from the toilet, tiptoeing to the door, and opened it quietly, peaking out at the three sleeping forms under and over the large bed’s blanket. “You guys are so cute when you’re sleeping!” She giggles lightly, before closing the door and sitting back down.
         “Anyways, I’ve been thinking. I really, really love you guys, and I know this is supposed to be a dreary ‘avenge me!’ goodbye message, but I’ve been using these as a diary for so long… Regardless, like I said, I love you three and… I want nothing else but to spend the rest of my life with the three of you, if you’ll have me. I don’t know how I’m going to tell you, I mean, it’s not like I have the money anymore for a romantic dinner date, or three wedding bands… I guess I would need one too so that would be four, but- I’m going to tell you soon, I promise. I’m saying it here so if I don’t get the chance to tell you in person…” The smile falls from her face. “I will tell you in person. And then when we’re old, we can watch this and laugh at how in love we were and still are! I’ll make the next one of these after I ask y’all to marry me, okay? See you on the other side, loves!”

         Jaune, Nora, and Ren watch as the last of their love’s words fade from the room. All three of them have tears in their eyes. “We’re saying yes, right? We have to say yes- I want to spend the rest of my life with both of you- and I wanted- I wanted to spend it with Pyrrha too.” Nora spits out, words flowing like a burst dam, a dam that also opened the floodgates in all their eyes. Tears flowed like blood, and the three huddle close together, hands intertwined. Jaune breaths deep, calming breaths, and through choked sobs, speaks. “Of course Nora. I want to spend the rest of my life with you and Ren. Of course I do. Pyrrha is going to be with us, too, you know, as long as we- as long as we remember her- she’ll always be with us.” He pulls the other’s heads against his, and sits there for a moment. “Always. Always. Always.” His face scrunches into a grimace of sadness, and sobs leak from his throat once again. Ren nodded. “For our- for our wedding afterparty- lets kill Salem.” Nora and Jaune laugh lightly, still sobbing, but a smile comes to their face for a moment. “You know Jaune, you’re the only one of us with any family left, so we’re counting on you to fill out the guest list.” Nora teases, tears still flowing. Jaune nods. “I- I have an idea for the wedding bands, too.”
         They sit there for what seems like ages, crying and laughing or both, reminiscing about their time together, about Pyrrha, and planning for the future. A future they will have to go into, together, regardless of who was missing from the picture.

 


 

         Today is the day. It had taken Jaune days to work up the courage to do this, not because it’s scary, but because of what it is. Pyrrha’s circlet is clutched in his hand as he walks into Yang and Ruby’s blacksmithing workshop. After Blake left, and Yang lost her arm, she had poured almost all her energy into the forge, so he was certain he could find her here.
And there she was, music blasting, the metal in her hand molding and being shaped under her strikes. He watches her for a while, entranced by how she pours her emotions into her actions so visibly, before a lull in the music causes her to notice him. She pauses it, sets the metal aside, and turns to face him, cybernetic arm propping her up as she leans against the anvil. “Oh, hey Jaune, what’s up?” Her eyes scan him over, catching on the circlet in his hands, and the smile vanishs from her face.
         Jaune laughs nervously. “Hey Yang… Listen, I know you’re busy lately, what with getting Beacon back together, and your forge, and… everything that happened, but- I have something I need you to do for me- no, us. Something Ren, Nora, and I need you to do.”
         “Yeah, sure, anything you need Jaune- Unless you want me to date you, I’ve already got my eyes on-” Yang stops herself when she sees the sorrow in Jaune’s eyes. “Right, sorry. Anything you need, just ask.”
         “Can you- Can you melt her- her circlet into-” He pauses to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand. “Into three rings? I have our measurements.” Yang nods, and approaches him, before pulling him into a deep hug. Jaune wraps his arms around her, and pushes his face into her shoulder, sobbing loudly.
         “Of course I can. Of course. I’ll bring them to your safehouse when they’re ready, okay? I won’t let anything happen to them.” Yang lets him cry, but before too long, Jaune pushes himself out of hug, and hands the circlet to Yang.
         “Thank you.”

 


 

         None of them have the credits to get new clothes for the wedding, and Jaune’s family couldn’t attend, as their district is under quarantine, but they have the service all the same. Few people are invited, mostly friends from their time in Beacon, and the service is relatively short. But none of that is the important part. The important part comes when Jaune presents Ren and Nora with the wedding bands, each of them engraved with the words “Forever with us, Pyrrha.” Of course, they cry, but happily, this time. Pyrrha will be remembered, and just as they said, Pyrrha will be avenged.