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“I cannot believe you talked me into this.” 

“Aw, come on, Weiss! It’s gonna be so much fun!” 

Weiss wanted to argue. Every fiber in her being told her to argue that this was not about fun, it was a mission. But she knew better and she really didn’t want Ruby to think that she was against them spending this time together. 

After all, it had been presented to them as a mission-slash-vacation. One that, according to Qrow and Oscar...or...Ozpin or whatever he was going by now, that they had earned. 

So instead, Weiss merely kept quiet and stared out at the never ending rows of trees and grass that made up the seemingly endless void of nature that was Patch. 

She’d never actually been here before, but being Ruby’s partner meant she’d heard thousands of stories about it through the years. Yang and Ruby spoke of it with such great joy and reverence that Weiss all but expected the hills to be made of ice cream and the rivers to run with chocolate syrup. 

Even if Weiss didn’t always (or hardly ever) share Ruby’s endless optimism and delight in the simpler things in life, she had long since passed the point where it bothered her. In fact, it was in the rare moments where Ruby wasn’t this happy that Weiss would genuinely worry about her. The years together had trained Weiss well in Ruby Rose 101. She could, better than probably anyone outside of Yang, tell how Ruby was feeling just by the way she said hello. 

Today, Ruby was teetering just between happy and obnoxiously joyful.

Weiss couldn’t really blame her though, it’d been years since she’d been home. 

“Your father is going to have a small stroke when he sees you, you realize that?” 

She turned to watch Ruby’s grin nearly split her cheeks. It was still a little strange to see Ruby driving. But better her than Weiss. “I’m counting on it!”

“You’re counting on your poor, retired father to have a stroke?”

Ruby laughed. “Just a small one! And he’s not retired, just...in-between things!” 

Weiss rolled her eyes. “How long has he been ‘in-between things’?” 

“Like five years or so,” Ruby flipped on the blinker and turned off the main road onto a much more narrow and rough road. “He keeps himself pretty busy with his garden and still helps ata the Signal.” 

Weiss could barely hear Ruby now, this gravel road sounded like they were driving over a sheet of broken glass. Not to mention it was trying to bounce her out of her seat. “Well he’s going to be…” a big bump made her sunglasses fall off. She already hated this. “He’s going to be busy trying to keep you fed the next two weeks.” 

“True,” Ruby seemed so delighted. More so than Weiss could remember her being in a long time. “Don’t worry though, he already has the list of Weiss approved foods.”

“What?!” Weiss screeched. “You did not send your father a list of approved foods for me? Ruby, I don’t want to be a hassle like that!” 

Like the absolutely absurd human being she could so often be, Ruby shrugged off Weiss’ frustrated squeaky tone as if it didn’t mean anything at all. “It’s not a big deal, Weiss.”

“Not a big…” Weiss rubbed her suddenly throbbing temples. “Ruby, this is the first time I’m meeting your father in person. He’s going to think I’m…”

“A Schnee?” Ruby teased and Weiss began contemplating how long it would take the Patch police to find Ruby’s body in this seemingly empty little town. “Weiss, you’re spending two weeks in a place you’ve never been to, in my father’s home. I know...I know it’s not exactly what you’re used to. But you agreed to come with me anyway and...I want you to actually enjoy your time here. So...I want you to have some good food too. Food you like. Even if it’s mostly rabbit food.” 

Then, just like that, Ruby could be the most thoughtful person Weiss had ever met. All the frustration and anxiety faded away. Even this Gods awful road felt less rough. 

“Thank you, Ruby. You...you didn’t have to do that.”

“Of course I did! This is going to be an amazing two weeks!” 

Weiss rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop her own smile. “Mission. Don’t forget, fearless leader. This is a mission.” 

“Pfft, a few beringals is nothing to worry about. We’ll be done with that by Monday! Then it’s rest, relaxation and fishing!

“Fishing?” 

“Yes! There’s an amazing pond a short ways away from my house. Yang and I used to go there all the time and fish and play and stuff. It’s where I unlocked my semblance!” 

“Oh?” Weiss was suddenly curious. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that story.” 

“It was nothing super special. We were playing catch with a ball that was pretty much the last one we had, because we’d lost so many over the years and stuff that my dad made us start really taking care of our stuff. Yang threw it like...way too far, because of course she did, and I couldn’t let it fall in the lake, you know?” As she spoke, and drove, Ruby used her free left hand to gesture as if she were drawing a diagram of the entire event in the air. “And so I just kinda...jumped, you know, and suddenly it was like the whole world slowed down and I was in the air and the ball was coming at me. I caught it and realized I could probably shift my momentum and maybe make it back on the shore.” Ruby started laughing. “When I landed, you should have seen Yang’s face. She was freaking out! Though I bet it looked pretty weird. Then all the rose petals started falling from the sky too. It was super cool.” 

It did sound pretty cool, and maybe a little scary, and far better than Weiss’ semblance story. Her’s wasn’t so much discovered as it was beaten out of her through years of struggle and failure. 

The one thing Weiss couldn’t help but notice is how long they had been driving since they arrived in town. She hadn’t seen any real buildings or businesses in at least ten minutes and they were still driving. 

“You do know where you’re going, right?” 

Ruby waved Weiss off. “Of course I do, we live a bit out of the way, but not too bad. We’re almost there.” Ruby pointed forward with one hand as they made their way up a very steep and unpaved hill. “That house at the end of this road, that’s us!” 

Following Ruby’s finger, Weiss’ eyes were drawn to a large, two story wooden house set in the middle of a wide array of trees and the greenest grass Weiss had ever seen. No matter how far she looked from left to right, Weiss could not see another house anywhere near this one. 

Eventually, the road leveled out and softened as they drove closer. This place honestly looked like it fell out of some kind of magazine. 

Ruby was practically bouncing in her seat as the car rolled to a slow stop. Weiss reached over and put a hand on her shoulder, drawing her eyes as she stopped. “You’re going to hit your head on the roof if you keep this up.” She said and Ruby laughed. 

“It’s just so good to be back! I’ve missed it so much! There’s so much I want to show you! So many things we can do!” 

Once the car was fully stopped, Weiss couldn’t speak another word before Ruby was out of the car and taking a deep breath. 

She breathed in so hard that she started coughing and Weiss couldn’t stop herself from laughing. “You dolt.” She said, unbuckling her seat belt and climbing out as well. She couldn’t deny it though, the air here was different than anywhere they’d been recently. Not to mention how quiet it was. With the car turned off, all you could hear was the wind rustling through the trees. 

There were so many trees. 

Just as Ruby was about to race to the front door, Weiss knew she had to stop her. “Ruby!” She snapped, pulling those silver eyes in her direction. “We need to unload our bags and bring them in.” 

“Oh right!” Ruby wasn’t about to leave Crescent Rose in the car. Ruby burst in a rush of rose petals and the back door was suddenly flying open. As Weiss made her way to the back at a normal, human speed, Ruby already had both their suitcases out and was trying to stack Myrtenaster’s holding case on top. 

“I can carry some.” Weiss said, stepping in and taking her weapon case off Ruby’s tower of luggage. “Ruby,” Weiss spoke a little more sternly as she watched Ruby trying to pull out her own weapon carrier. She was one bad step away from dropping everything. Her teammate froze, looking at her like a child who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “I know you’re excited, but you need to relax a little, all right? We’re here - we’ve got plenty of time. Let’s not dump all of my good clothes in the dirt.” 

With a bashful smile, Ruby nodded and put her weapon back into the car. “Right, sorry...I’m just...really happy we’re here.” 

This girl was impossible to be upset with. “I know, so am I. We’ll take this in and I’ll come back and get the rest.” 

“Okay,” Ruby grinned even more than she already was. “Oh! Did you tell Blake we were here?”

Weiss nodded. “I texted them when the airship landed. Blake said Yang was stressed and went to exercise with Ren.” 

“Yang stresses too much,” Ruby said, but Weiss knew Ruby would be calling her sister when she found some free time to, once again, reassure her that they would be fine. 

This wasn’t Ruby and Weiss’ first mission without Blake and Yang, but it was the first one they’d taken without them on a completely different continent. Blake and Yang wanted to come, but the truth was that they weren’t really needed. It was a fairly simple mission and though she didn’t know it, Ruby’s team had put their heads together and decided that their leader desperately needed a vacation. 

It had been almost five years since they’d last seen Salem. A brutal fight that nearly tore Mantle to the ground. Yet somehow, they’d pushed her back and she just...vanished. She didn’t die, they didn’t win - but she was gone and the world kept moving. 

All of them knew she would be back, probably stronger than ever, but the waiting was all that remained and for five long years, it weighed heavily on all of them. 

Especially Ruby. 

She worked so hard in the wake of Salem. Not only to help restore Mantle and the people who’d lost homes and loved ones, but everywhere they went. Ruby treated this war as if it was her own personal burden - as if Salem and everything else was her fault.

The worst part was, Ruby had a very bad habit of internalizing all of her guilt and pain. Instead of dealing with it, she would simply...work harder, push herself more and do everything she could to avoid it.

After all, you can’t hurt if you don’t ever let yourself stop working to fix the world. 

So, the plan was made and it was fairly simple. Take Ruby away from all of this and let her rest. Granted, Ruby would never truly rest and she would have never come without the guise that she was at least doing something productive. So when Taiyang reached out with a very simple mission in Patch, the team presented it to Ruby like they would any other mission. Only this one was an extended stay, in the home she grew up in, and thankfully Ruby couldn’t deny how nice that sounded. 

Of course, one of Ruby’s stipulations was that Weiss come with her. Weiss had always planned on coming along, but Ruby’s insistence and then decision that they would not stay in a hotel, but instead at her childhood home, made it a bit more daunting than originally planned. 

Still, Weiss couldn’t completely deny the beauty of this place. 

“Come on, let’s get all of our stuff in and then we can start making food for Dad!”

“Your father isn’t here?” Weiss asked, following Ruby to the door. 

“No, he’s taking small shifts at Signal - he enjoys being around the kids and gets him out of the house.” Ruby started to reach up to one of the lights set on either side of the door. She fumbled around near the left one, clearly searching for something. “He better not have moved the spare key on me.” 

“He knew we were coming, right? Why would he hide the key from you?” 

Ruby stuck her tongue out as she continued to search. This was one of the rare times Weiss was thankful that Ruby had grown a few inches taller than her because if not neither of them would be able to reach that high. 

“My dad is a little forgetful. He kinda gets all caught up in his head sometimes and doesn’t remember little things.”

“Oh,” Weiss smirked. “So it runs in the family then?” 

“Shush,”  Ruby shot a glance at Weiss, this time sticking her tongue out directly at her. Then suddenly, her eyes lit up. “Ah-ha! Found it!” She pulled down a key and had the most satisfied look on her face. “Can’t keep me out of my own home!” 

As soon as Ruby opened the door, there was a bark that erupted from inside. Weiss couldn’t help herself from getting a little excited. She hadn’t seen Zwei in so long. It felt like another lifetime. 

“My boy!” Ruby cried as the door opened and Zwei came racing towards them. He was a little slower, a little heavier and a little grayer, but it was still Zwei. When Ruby knelt down, he jumped into her arms and started licking her face and making her giggle. It was one of the cuter things Weiss had ever seen. 

And while it wasn’t as if Weiss was holding all of her future self-confidence on this one exact moment, but when Zwei looked at her and started barking happily and trying to wrestle out Ruby’s arms to get to her, Weiss felt like maybe the world wasn’t as awful as it seemed to be. 

He’d remembered her. 

She took Zwei into her arms and hugged him, enjoying the way he rustled around in her grip. She looked up at Ruby, who was smiling at her in a way Weiss had never really seen before. It was a strange thought to have of someone she’d seen almost every day for the last five years, but Ruby had never looked more serene. 

“Welcome home, Ruby.” Weiss said, so glad her friend... best friend, was happy. 

Ruby took a step towards her and pulled Weiss and Zwei into a hug. “Thanks for coming with me.” 

Weiss decided not to tell Ruby that she had already committed herself to following Ruby wherever she went for as long as Ruby would have her.