Actions

Work Header

Weiss and Ruby Get Trapped in an Elevator for Thirteen Hours

Chapter Text

Ding!

A gust of wind and rose petals is the only warning Weiss receives before Ruby rockets past the elevator doors moments before they close shut. She slams face first into the back wall and rattles the entire lift. She grunts in pain. Then, a laugh.

“Made it!” Ruby cheers, pumping her fist into the air. With victory in her clutches, she finally takes a second to survey her surroundings and takes notice of one Weiss Schnee staring at her. There’s thinly veiled annoyance on Weiss’s face, which by her standards means a scowl. Ruby rubs the back of her head. “Eheh. Fancy meeting you here.”

Scoff. Weiss crosses her arms and faces the doors. Friend or not, elevator etiquette comes first. “Was making this ride worth putting yourself at risk for a concussion? There’s another neighboring elevator, you know.”

“Yes!”

And now a deadpan crosses her face. Thankfully, a deadpan is a universally accepted expression, Weiss standards or not. “Just tell me what floor you’re going to,” she says as she presses the button for hers and alights it. Ruby responds in a civilized fashion by hopping forward and smashing her fist against the panel. Multiple surrounding buttons spark to life, caught in the crossfire. Weiss’s eye twitches as it takes all of her willpower to not say something.

The hum of the elevator pierces the silence. Other than that, there’s not a peep. The pair of partners stare straight ahead, not moving, not saying a word, nothing more than the occasional cleared throat to signal that the other is still there and not lost to the mysterious vertical hallway that an elevator resides in, never to be seen again.

It’s awkward. So painfully awkward.

Weiss hazards a sidelong glance at Ruby, only to flinch when Ruby is doing the exact same thing to her. They both straighten up as if jolted, eyes locking onto the doors again. Weiss’s train of thought screeches to a halt. Gods, it’s like they’ve just met again. Except they’re both Weiss. She has to resist the urge to pinch her nose and sigh, but a defiant feeling roots itself in her thoughts instead. Is she seriously going to let this hang in the air with Ruby of all people? She’s Weiss Schnee, and she’s not going to let a period of distancing in their friendship ruin what they have. She steels her nerves and prepares to turn to Ruby. She may be used to battling the creatures of grimm, but this will be a battle of emotions. Her words will be her weapon, her thoughts her shield.

“Ruby--”

Silence, and it’s not just because Ruby hasn’t responded. They both jump at the elevator suddenly decelerating, and its familiar warm hum stripping away. The quietness of jarring, eerie even.

“It stopped,” Ruby says. She stares up at the ceiling, eyes wide with disbelief.

“I never would have guessed.” This time, the urge to sigh wins out. Wonderful, just wonderful. What a marvelous development in an already splendid day. One day off a month, and she gets to spend it in a suspended metal cube with a partner she should be able to talk to but just. Can’t.

“What now?” Ruby asks. Weiss huffs.

“We call for help obviously.” She moves to retrieve her scroll, only to tense up when she grasps at an empty pocket. This was only supposed to be a quick trip from and back to the dorm room, and she hadn’t thought to bring it along. How convenient. She snaps her gaze towards Ruby, not bothering to hide the irritation in her voice. She doubts she could if she tried. “Do you have your scroll?” Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes and let them get this sorted quickly.

She pat-pats her empty pockets. “Um. If I say yes anyways, would it make you happy?”

For the love of--! Weiss groans with all the patience of a grimm stalking its prey. None at all.

As Weiss’s face meets the palms of her hands, Ruby finally picks up on her friend’s sour mood. She bounces in place, a mixture of concern and carefully placed optimism on her features. Weiss is familiar with it. It’s the same expression she’s used ever since Beacon days whenever Weiss locked herself away into the confines of a bad mood. It’s a little nostalgic, if she’s being honest. It’s almost enough to lighten her mood by a smidge.

Ruby pumps her fist against her chest. “Don’t worry for a moment, Weiss! I’ve got this.” She throws her red hood over her head and takes her cape in one arm, holding it as if she were on the cover of a comic about superheroes. Weiss knows she’s just trying to cheer her up, and figures the least she can do is humor her even if it doesn’t have the complete intended effect.

“My hero,” she says, forcing her lip to quirk upward. Most would call it a smile. She would call it a patented ‘pleasant yet practiced’ Schnee neutral expression. Ruby buys it every time. She beams a little too enthusiastically at the comment, but Weiss can tell it’s genuine. Then she’s smacked into the back wall as Crescent Rose unfurls to it’s full size within a very much not full size elevator. Cold steel juts against her ribs at all the wrong angles. Gods, it’s like Ruby is purposefully pointing the sharpest edges at her. “Ruby!”

“Sorry, sorry! I just need to…” She holds the scythe by upward half of the handle near the blade, carefully fidgeting with something that’s blocked from Weiss’s view. She’s about to voice another complaint when the girl lets out a cheer--and tosses a control panel lid over her shoulder. Finally, Crescent Rose folds back up and releases Weiss from its cruel clutches.

She shoots Weiss another grin before burying herself in her work as if she were at a tool bench, working on the latest upgrades for her weapon. Instead of instruments of battle, this time her hands fly over wires and buttons.

Weiss looks over Ruby’s shoulder, not having a clue if she knows what she’s doing. Part of her is scared to find out. “Unless I’ve been left in the dark about a sudden career change, you’re not an electrician. You know what you’re looking at, right?”

“Mmmyup.”

Weiss’s eyes narrow. “I’d hope so. Because I’d hate for tomorrow’s headlines to be ‘Schnee girl killed by falling elevator, death was completely avoidable.’”

“Uh-huh.” She mumbles something under her breath, and it takes Weiss a moment to decipher it as a song she’s humming as she works.

Well at least they’re talking, even if Ruby is only half listening. Maybe a change in subject is due. “You know, you could have just used Myrtenaster to pry open the panel. It’d certainly be more wieldy in here.”

Then Ruby hesitates, pausing. It’s only for a split second, but it doesn’t go beneath Weiss’s notice. Come on, it’s not like it’s an unreasonable suggestion, she thinks. But Ruby’s already back to fiddling with the elevator’s system by the time she speaks again. “I’ve never held Myrtenaster before.”

Weiss can’t quite place the underlying tone in her reply. It’s clearly hesitant, but… yearning? No. Nervous? Surely that can’t be it either. So she presses on. “And I’ve never held Crescent Rose. So what? It would have been practical.”

“I guess so.”

And there it is, the awkward silence that her and Ruby have so often shared nowadays. A weak attempt at conversation, a meager response, and the death of a friendship. Well, Weiss wouldn’t go as far as to say that yet. Not if she has anything to say about it. “Don’t tell me you’re so used to your scythe that the thought of a short sword is unbearable.”

She’s only half joking, and Ruby chooses the serious half. She glances to Weiss again, chewing her lip as she thinks of a response. Honestly, it’s like Weiss can see the gears turning in her cute little head--her head. That’s what she meant to think. Obviously.

“Weapons are an extension of ourselves,” Ruby starts. “I heard that growing up. It’d feel weird to use someone else’s just to attack an elevator. It’s a personal thing to hold a piece of someone else in your hands, I think?”

Oh. Well she wasn’t expecting a philosophical thesis as a rebuttal, not that she disagrees entirely. “Aren’t we close enough by now? ”

“We were. I mean, we are! I just… I dunno?”

“Yang has held Gambol Shroud plenty of times. Blake doesn’t mind.”

“That’s ‘cause they’re them.

“What’s the difference between them and us?” Ruby has the gall to deadpan at her. It genuinely takes Weiss by surprise. When did she develop the attitude to do that? Yeesh, maybe it has been a while since they last spent time together… And that doesn’t answer her question. “Ruby?”

And then there’s a guilty expression on Ruby’s face, and Weiss can’t fathom why. “Weiss, I--”

Flick!

Darkness. Murky, overwhelming darkness within a metal cube that encompasses the word limbo in its entirety. If there exists a plane between life and death, a stopped elevator without the decency to stay alight must be the closest approximation humans are capable of creating.

You cannot be serious, Weiss thinks as her mouth hangs agape.

“Weiss? Weiss! The lights went out!”

“You think I haven’t noticed?!” A pair of hands fall onto Weiss and walk their way onto her shoulders, gripping tight. Weiss has half a mind to shove Ruby away, but the urge fades quickly when she hears a twinge of nervousness in Ruby’s voice. Darn you, Rose…

“I miiiight have pulled the wrong wire.”

“I told you you shouldn’t have messed with it.”

“I was trying to save us!”

“How noble.” Unfortunately, praise only comes after a successful rescue attempt. She merely shakes her head even though neither of them can see it.

Ruby’s grip loosens when she seems confident Weiss isn’t going anywhere, though she doesn’t take her hands away. “What now?”

Weiss ignores the fact that Ruby has asked her that twice within ten minutes. “We wait. At some point someone’s going to notice this elevator isn’t responding, or that we’re both missing. Or both.”

“Oh.” Weiss hears clothes rustling. Maybe Ruby’s glancing around? “How long will that take?”

She opens her mouth to respond, but her voice hitches. Just how long will it take? Surely an hour at most. Atlas academy is a busy place, and someone is bound to request a lift. “I doubt we’ll be waiting long,” Weiss says, straying away from giving an actual timeframe. Ruby makes a noise of agreement, noticeably more chipper than before. See? All they have to do is wait a little while…

In a dark, enclosed space with nothing but each other and their mutual awkwardness.

Well, how bad could it possibly be?

Chapter Text

“Weiss?”

“Yes, Ruby?”

“Do you have any marshmallows?”

“No, Ruby.”

“Aww.”

“...”

“...”

Okay, fine. She’ll ask. “Why, pray tell, would I have marshmallows?”

“Because we’re huddled around a campfire, duh! You can’t have a campfire without smores.”

Weiss shakes her head, not sure if she should be insulted or not. Her dear Myrtenaster compared to a burning pile of wood? Ridiculous. It’s a specially crafted instrument of battle that just so happens to be on fire right now.

Elevator or not, they’re still in Atlas, and that means suffering through a heavenless temperature drop whenever they’re without heaters. With red dust taking on the role of lone savior through cold darkness, Weiss’s rapier answered the call. Every so often, Weiss prods the sword and channels additional dust, just enough to keep the flame as is. A ‘shishkebab of embers,’ Ruby had called it. The last thing they want to do is extinguish their supply of oxygen.

“Oh! Oh! You know what we can do to pass the time? Campfire songs!”

On second thought, Weiss has half a mind to let the flame burst into an inferno. Maybe that’ll keep Ruby from spewing out anymore nonsense. Though, a pang of guilt hits her as soon as she thinks it.. She hasn’t truly found Ruby annoying since their first semester at Beacon. Weiss isn’t a stranger to acting too harsh on others.

“As much as I’d love to, I don’t know any,” she says with the ease of a diplomat. “I listened exclusively to classical music, and trained in it.”

“I could teach you.”

“No.”

Ruby quirks her mouth in that disappointed-but-not-actually-disappointed way she always gets when Weiss denies her. The former heiress would rather not dwell on how long it took to build up an immunity to those puppy dog eyes. Shaking her head, continues watching her dust supply literally go up in flames, and she already feels a migraine coming on just imagining the request forms she’ll have to fill out to acquire more. She restocked two days ago! Her distress doesn’t go unnoticed, Ruby speaking up again. “Do you have enough dust if we’re in here a lot longer?”

“If we’re pragmatic about it, I can keep the fire alight for an hour or two. If for some reason we’re in here longer--” She grits her teeth. It feels heretical to even consider the possibility. “Then I can try using yellow lightning dust. But I can’t promise it won’t shock us whenever it feels like tempting fate.”

Ruby frowns and brings her hand to her chin in thought, and Weiss can’t say she blames her. Being trapped in an elevator and at the mercy of a live wire is a fairly terrible way to spend a day off. Then Ruby straightens up as if jolted here and now, and Weiss wonders if she’s developed a new electro-telepathy semblance.

“Don’t you worry Weiss. I’ve got the solution right here.” She points at her own face, sly and grinning.

Oh dear, she’s scheming. This can only end well. “As bright as your smile is, I have my doubts it’s going to help.”

“Not my smile, my--wait what? You think I have a bright smile?” Flickers of an emotion Weiss can’t recognize flicker out from the cracks of Ruby’s playful facade. And just what is that tone of voice supposed to mean, Weiss wonders?

“I… I guess so?” With nowhere else to look--and Ruby definitely is not an option--Weiss decides the floor is an interesting spectacle. Stupid, she scolds herself. Of course Ruby would think she’s acting weird for paying a compliment without prompting. Weiss can’t even say why she did so, it just slipped out without a thought.

...Well now she’s thinking about it, and she can’t lie to herself and deny that Ruby has a bright smile. Ruby’s always had the cheeriest smile out of all her friends. The way her whole face lights up reminds Weiss of early morning sunlight at dawn and wow! She’s getting distracted! Ruby’s still staring at her and no doubt thinking her even weirder than before. Stupid, stupid!

Weiss hisses before any other absurd thoughts root themselves in her brain. “What were you going to do before I interrupted you?”

“Huh? Oh, right!” Ruby inhales through her nose, holds still for one second, then exhales out her mouth. Her eyes flutter closed. Weiss has to blink twice before she realizes why this scene rings a bell. Oh, of course! Ruby did much the same routine before she activated the power locked within those silver irises. Weiss disregards her earlier hesitation and peers onwards, curiosity winning out. So locked in a trance she is, that she forgets what follows.

Ruby becomes Remnant’s first living flashbang as she opens her eyes and unleashes a silver light as bright as lightning directly into Weiss’s own. An unladylike swear tears from Weiss’s throat, and she hops backwards, rubbing her blinded eyes. “Ruby!”

“Weiss!” That’s her name, and she’s heard Ruby yell it enough times today to last a lifetime. She shivers when a gust of wind hits her, followed by the scent of roses. She doesn’t need Ruby to grab her shoulders yet again to know that she’s rushed over, but surprise-surprise, that happens anyway. “Are you okay? I should have warned you. I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

“I’m fine,” she says as her eyes update her definition of pain. She shakes Ruby’s hands off her, but the scythe wielder just takes one of Weiss’s hands in hers instead. Funny, she can’t remember the last time Ruby clinged to her like this. What an odd thing to feel nostalgic for. Her mind briefly chases a stray thought, wondering that there’s surely a reason why they’ve become so awkward and distant around each other. But now’s not the time.. Not while her eyes do their best impressions of twin supernovas, but at least her vision is coming back.

The first thing she sees is Ruby looking awfully concerned. Weiss expected a shy ‘eheh…’ and a guilty grin, not an expression laced with genuine care. It warms Weiss in a way their campfire can’t.

“Are you actually fine? How many fingers am I holding up?”

“I can feel both your hands holding mine.”

“Trick question! I’m not holding up any! ...Really, are you alright?”

A few more blinks, and Weiss can thankfully say she is. “I am. You have my thanks. Not for blinding me, obviously, but for asking. Really, you don’t need to be so worried.”

“I guess so… I got really scared for a moment. It wouldn’t have been the first time they injured someone. During the Fall, they… When I scaled the tower and… Cinder--”

Ruby’s expression turns so downtrodden that Weiss acts on impulse. With her free hand, she closes the distance and cups Ruby’s cheek, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear with her thumb. “I know. You don’t need to think about it.” Gods know that Weiss is all too familiar with dwelling on the past, spiraling down a staircase that takes more and more effort to escape the deeper she goe Ruby says nothing, so Weiss takes it as her cue to keep talking. Maybe she’ll change the subject to something lighter. “How do they work? I’ve been curious.”

It takes Ruby a moment to register the question, visibly relaxing from whatever traitorous thoughts were battling within her head. Her gaze darts to Weiss’s hand and for a second she looks pensive as if she wants to say something. Then she answers the question instead. “Maria taught me. I focus on what I care about, and what I want to protect. My home, my friends, my family. Everyone.”

“Everyone?”

“Yeah. Especially Yang, Blake, and well, you.”

Me? Factually, Weiss knows she shouldn’t be surprised. But to hear it stated so bluntly makes her heart skip. That’s what she was looking for, wasn’t it? Proof that their friendship hasn’t faded, at least not completely. It’s rusted, she can’t deny that, but not beyond repair. Their eyes meet, neither betraying the others’ thoughts. “I…”

Have suddenly become far too aware of the position she’s in. Weiss retracts her hand and yanks free her other. One deep breath later, and she’s as prim and composed as ever. “Anyway! Warn me in advance next time. What were you even trying to do? Light up our eight by eight by eight foot prison for half a second?” She raps against the wall with her knuckles and listens to the echo just to illustrate a point.

“What, no!” Ruby crosses her arms and pouts. “I wanted to try keeping them lit. Like a pair of flashlights!”

“Can you even do that?”

“I dunno. But imagine if I could! I’d be like a killer robot from a movie. I turn to my target like a spotlight and hit them with a one-liner. ‘Silver’s a good look on you.’ Then bam! Ruby Rose wins again.”

Weiss’s face goes through a cocktail of emotions. An unamused base, stirred with the urge to indulge Ruby by laughing, and served with a chaser full of stoicism. Simply put, she hmphs in amusement. Rebounding already? She’s not sure she’ll ever get tired of Ruby’s optimism, and that’s something she can say of few of Ruby’s traits.

“Oh, Ruby?”

“Yes?”

And as quick as it appeared, Weiss’s cheerful mood dissipates. “How are we still stuck in here?”

“I dunno.”

Weiss sighs and scoots forward to stoke Myternaster’s dimming flame. They’ll just have to continue waiting. Lovely.

Chapter Text

Steel is frigid. It’s not the kind of cold that turns a shoulder towards you in your most desperate hour of need, nor the kind that chills to the bone those unfortunate enough to be left exposed to its cruel might.

No, steel’s brand of cold is indifference. It’s like touching the plaster wall of an abandoned apartment, clammy and unwelcoming. It offers no warmth, no familiarity, and not a shred of sympathy to the victims subjected to its presence. It’s only fitting that weapons, prisons, and the modern torture devices known as elevators would be made from such an unforgiving and uncaring material.

“And that’s reason number thirteen why I hate everything about this,” Weiss says with a stamp of her foot. “Why hasn’t anyone rescued us?!”

Ruby’s sitting with her back against the wall, hugging her knees brought up to her chest. Her expression is hard to gauge, Myrtenaster’s small flame casting uneven shadows across her face. She settles on a shrug. “I dunno. How long has it been?”

Too long. Too damn long, and Weiss feels like a ticking time bomb that keeps getting set back ten seconds every time she’s about to go off. The tension is unbearable. Her rapier becomes the next target of her glare, and she’s sure it would kill if Myrtenaster weren’t an inanimate object. “The dust is about to run out. An hour and a half? Maybe two? We’d know for sure if someone didn’t forget her scroll.”

Ruby’s pout is clear as crystal. “Hey! You forgot yours too!”

“Whatever.” She huffs, arms crossed and pacing in circles. It’s a wonder she hasn’t worn a hole in the floor and fallen through. It’s not an all bad idea. Stuck in her own thoughts, she hardly notices Ruby stand up and approach her.

“Aw come on, Weiss. We’ll be outta here soon, just you wait! Think of all the fun things we’ll get to do when we’re out!”

“You mean the fun things we’ll do as individuals away from each other?” She bites her tongue as soon as the jab slips out. She knows she shouldn’t be taking her frustration out on Ruby, weird friendship issues or not.

Thankfully, Ruby doesn’t seem to catch on. “Huh? I mean we’ll do all kinds of stuff! Ooh! Maybe we could grab a quick lunch first, I’m getting kinda hungry. Do you know any fast food places near the academy?”

Weiss shakes her head and wills herself to reign in the urge to roll her eyes. As if she’d be caught dead at a greasy pre-cooked food establishment. “I’ve never been to one in my life.”

Ruby gasps in shock and horror. To a bystander, it’d look as if Weiss just admitted she’s never pet a dog, or ever eaten pizza. The second one might be true, if she’s being honest. “You’re lying. Please tell me you’re lying!”

“I am not.”

Ruby brings her forearm to her head as if about to faint. “Why are you lying to me, Weiss?”

Weiss throws her arms up in the air, exasperated. “I said I’m not! Why is this an issue?”

“You are missing out on the foods of the gods.” A dangerously determined look crosses her face, and years’ worth of experience with the younger huntress forces Weiss to recoil with wariness. “When we get outta here, I’m taking you to a fast food joint. You’ll love it.”

“I…” Have long since learned to go along with Ruby’s ideas lest she return with twice the effort. “I’ll go. The food better be as good as you’re promising. Oh, wait! We don’t have our scrolls. How are we going to make a reservation?”

Weiss flinches when she gets pat on the head, her assailant sympathetic. “Wow, you weren’t lying when you said you’ve never gone to one before. It’s called fast food for a reason!” Weiss just grumbles.

Ruby chuckles to herself and lets her arm plop down on Weiss’s shoulder, and she leans against her. In a second, they both seem to realize the position they’re in and shoot each other matching odd expressions. Wait a minute…

Ruby’s eyes widen.

No…

Her grin turns maniacal.

No, no, no!

“Weiss, take off your heels!”

No words can describe the levels of mortal panic that course through Weiss’s veins at that moment. If every single one of the trillions of blood cells in her body were imprinted with the word ‘panic,’ it would cover a mere fraction of the sheer volume of fear overtaking her rational thoughts.

In other words, she cannot let Ruby realize that she’s grown taller. Weiss can already hear the endless drabble of short jokes and puns targeting her. “Why would I do that?”

“Just do it!”

“No.”

“Please?”

“Not happening.”

“For me?” Ruby’s lip quivers and she stares down Weiss with the most pitiful expression she’s seen in her life. It’s enough to make a girl give in.

However, Weiss isn’t any ordinary girl girl; she’s a woman with an iron will. And like Mantle’s wall, it’s sturdy and insurmountable... save for one glaring weakness. In Weiss’s case, just replace the fissure in Mantle’s wall with cute girls. Ack, cute expressions. No, pleading expressions! That’s what she meant. Clearly being in here for so long is making her go delirious. “Ugh, fine…” Two kicks, and her heels are set aside on the floor.

Weiss would describe the next sequence of events as a rose-scented whirlwind of excitement. Ruby vibrates in place, her cape bouncing in time with her. Oh brothers, what has Weiss unleashed?

“I’m taller than you!”

“Clearly,” she scoffs. “It’s not a big deal.”

“It’s a huge deal!”

“A two-inch deal, more like it! Don’t you dare pull a Yang on me and start cracking jokes--I see that look, Ruby Rose! Don’t pretend you aren’t already thinking of some!”

The cloaked girl giggles and it’s the most cheerful she’s sounded all day. “Oh, fiiine. Then I’ll just…”

The arm-and-lean combo makes its unwelcome return to Weiss’s shoulder. Ruby’s free hand finger guns at Weiss, accompanied by a wink. “Hey there, little lady. You come around here often?”

That’s… that’s new. Weiss is blank faced, and she’s sure she stares long enough that the silence becomes more deafening than any sound they could ever make. Did she just flirt? Badly flirt, granted, but a flirt nonetheless. She hasn’t a clue how to react. Return the favor? She’s never made an advance on anyone in her life and blue-haired what’shisname doesn’t count. Maybe Ruby’s just joking? Weiss mentally baps herself. Obviously that’s the case! Her estranged partner is jokingly flirting with her, and yet Weiss hasn’t the slightest why it makes her chest tighten up.

“Since when were you a flirt?” Weiss mutters, making a point to keep her gaze pointed away from Ruby.

To her credit, Ruby sounds rather bashful when she replies. “Eheheh. I’m copying one of Yang’s lines. I saw her do it to Blake.”

That gives Weiss pause. “Why would Yang flirt with Blake?” Wrong question. It earns her the nonverbal equivalent of sass, dripping with an unsaid ‘Are you serious?’ Choosing not to dignify that with a reply, Weiss instead considers the implications. She can’t fathom why Blake and Yang would flirt with each other. Two people only do that if they’re romantically interested in each other. It’s a mystery for the ages.

Either way, Weiss shakes Ruby off of her and begins to pace yet again. She barely catches a glimpse of the disappointed look on Ruby’s face, but she doesn’t let herself dwell on it. One, two, and three laps around their steel prison. The conversation was a nice distraction while it lasted, but Weiss’s patience has worn thin. One reshoeing later, she rolls Myrtenaster under her boot and kicks it upward and swipes it from the air into her hand.

“What are you doing?” she hears her partner ask, having taken the rapier’s spot in the center of the elevator.

Weiss makes sure the flame on the tip isn’t about to go out as she responds. “Saving us.” She lashes out with a smile brimming with confidence. She poses with her hand on her hip, and one foot in front of the other. Half of every battle is presentation, and she’s not about to be outdone by a hunk of metal. With a twirl of the blade, she pierces the air just below the ceiling.

A girly squee and the sound of scraping metal follow, then a--

Clang!

Well. At least one of them will win style points. Weiss merely shakes her head, unimpressed at the sight of Ruby trying and failing to unfurl Crescent Rose. Whereas last time she had enough light to space herself properly, now Ruby is left to fumble in the dark as the scythe bangs against every surface within reach.

“Ruby, what are you doing?”

“I’m--one sec--um, I’m trying to--there!” Finally she manages to twist her way into her classic pose, scythe held behind her at an angle. The top rubs against the ceiling, but it’s the thought that counts. “I’m posing too!”

“Why?”

“Cause you are! Isn’t that what we’re doing? Posing for emotional support and motivation?”

Weiss’s brow twitches. “No. No we are not. I’m going to blast open the ceiling hatch so we can escape.” Ruby’s mouth hangs agape, comprehension dawning. Whatever. Time to make a timely exit.

Two fingers hover over the edge of Myrtenaster’s blade. It reacts to her silent command, drawing from her dwindling red dust supply and setting ablaze the entire length. Weiss traces a square into the ceiling and heats it to a blistering red. Her lip curls into a defiant smirk. Destiny may declare that her and Ruby are meant to be in here, but she’ll write her own fate with fiery ink.

“Now!” She thrusts the center of the square as a black gravity dust rune blossoms from the tip. If the hatch she carved soars any less than to the top of Atlas, she’ll consider it a defeat. Aura and dust merge into a deadly strike.

Myrtenaster tinks off the surface and clatters to the floor, landing on its side and still aflame like a log.

The two partners share a look. Ruby opens her mouth, and Weiss takes it as prompting to slap her hand over it. “Not. A word.”

“Mmphmm!”

“I’ll forgive that because it’s technically not a word. Why didn’t it budge?!” She practically hisses at the now-dimming square that dared to stand against her. Another tick to her 1v1 losing streak. Whatever, she’s used to it by now. Though losing to a slab of metal is rather embarrassing.

She shudders when something slimy caresses her hand and shrieks when she realizes the source. “Ruby! You did not just lick me!”

Ruby sticks her tongue out again just to say ‘yes, she totally did.’. “How else was I gonna talk? Weiss, that’s solid metal!”

“Who makes an elevator out of solid steel panels, much less ones that can stand up to what I did?” Perish the thought. No engineer would be so dumb.

“It’s Atlas.”

“Excuse me? What are you trying to imply? ...Okay, fine. You have a point. They didn’t even include an escape hatch.”

Ruby nods. “So they probably over designed the elevator. It’s military-grade, Weiss. It’s a good thing the control panel was bolted on, not welded!”

Ah yes, Ruby’s disastrous attempt at saving the two of them rears its ugly head. An unpleasant thought has been worming its way into the back of Weiss’s thoughts. With the topic resurfacing, the idea breaches into open air. “You know, if you didn’t play pretend-electrician, we’d still have the lights.”

Weiss knows she shouldn’t start this, but it’s hard to resist. Not a single thing hasn’t gone wrong, and she’s long past her wit’s end.

“Wha? I, I know! I already said sorry.” Ruby shrinks up a bit, visibly catching onto the warning tone in the former heiress’s voice. Weiss seizes the opening.

“Haven’t you wondered why we’re still stuck in here? I think you broke more than the lights.” When Ruby gawks, she continues talking. Let the girl flounder. A few hours’ worth of pent up frustration has finally come to a boiling point, and there’s no point in trying to put the lid back on. “Clearly the elevator still had power. There was a chance it’d work out its kinks and resume travel. But now--” She sweeps out her hand, gesturing across the room with the dramatic flair of theatre play. “We’re stuck without electricity, and there’s not a chance in hell we’ll be moving anytime soon because of it.”

Dumbfounded describes the start of Ruby’s reaction, followed with a smooth segway into indignant disbelief. “You’re blaming me for this? The elevator stopped on its own!”

“You killed any chance we had of it restarting.”

“It wouldn’t just come back to life for no reason!”

“You don’t know that.” She hasn’t spoken to Ruby like this since their time at Beacon. Then again, they haven’t been so distant from each other since Beacon either. She can’t decide if the feeling in her gut is guilt or not, but she is confident about one thing--anger. Fury that she’s trapped in a cell, putting up with an unholy ray of sunshine, and wasting her one day off a month. “You should have at least talked to me first. I would have told you it was a bad idea before you rushed in.”

Ruby’s eyes flicker to and from Weiss’s eyes a few times, shying away from direct contact. Conflicting emotions rage behind her silver eyes like storm clouds encroaching on a blue sky. Then whatever snide comment she was going to spit back dies in her throat, and Weiss can’t say she’s surprised. Ruby’s never been the argumentative type without serious prodding. Instead she murmurs under her breath. “It’d be nice if you talked to me at all.”

No, that’s far worse than any quip Ruby could have said. That means they’re going there, to the one subject they’ve both been dancing around for weeks. She decides to play dumb. “What are you talking about?”

Ruby rounds on her, and the flickering shadows from their makeshift campfire distort her face in all the wrong ways. “Us, Weiss! Why aren’t we talking to each other? What happened to what we had? Why are we arguing instead of working together?” With the hatchet unburied and placed on full display, she rallies on. “I made a promise to you in Argus to always be by your side, but I can’t do that if you’re pushing me away!”

Wow, they really are doing this after all. A forgotten, rational part of her clouded mind says that she’s reading this all wrong. They’re literally trapped in an elevator together. If this isn’t a sign from the brothers that they’re meant to repair their relationship, then what is? It all makes sense. And yet her anger wins out.

“People grow apart. That’s just how it is sometimes,” Weiss says as if it's the most casual thing in the world.

Ruby sputters, then she scowls. She stomps away, sitting down against the opposite wall. “Fine!”

“Fine,” she agrees, sitting down as well with her legs folded under her. Making sure to not hazard a glance at her fri--whatever they are now, Weiss takes a deep breath to recollect herself. Sure, she hasn’t exactly reached out to Ruby as often as she used to. But Ruby hasn’t either! It’s supposed to be a two-way street.

She swears she hears a muffled sniffle come from the other side of the elevator. Weiss’s composure nearly breaks right then and there, but no, facing the truth is better than living a lie. Sigh.

Ugh, what even caused all this? A switch flipped as soon as they arrived in Atlas. They were closer than ever, and now it feels like an unknown force has infected both of them and whispered to stray away. Her heart pangs with a longing she doesn’t recognize. Today couldn’t have gone any worse.

Dimmer, dimmer, and then darkness. Oh right, she used up the last of her red dust as well. Scratch that. Now it couldn’t have gone any worse.

Chapter Text

Guilt is a sensation that is neither foreign nor welcome to Weiss Schnee. She can break her life into three distinct periods of guilt. First, the buried and repressed kind that she grew up with and carried with her all the way to Beacon, whispering into her ear how she'll never be good enough to save her family name from her father’s greed.

Second, the guilt that drove her forward on the day she left the Schnee manor and set off for Mistral. She'd wasted far too many months playing dressup for Atlassian elites instead of doing what she was placed on Remnant to do: be a huntress, save lives, and fight for a just cause.

The third and final guilt is having ever doubted that her friends would welcome her back with open arms. She doesn't mind this one quite as much.

Today, Weiss embarks on a fourth period of guilt that she has taken to calling 'oh gods, I fucked up my friendship with Ruby.'

Weiss sits with her back to the elevator wall, the doors to her right. Ruby is sitting directly opposite or at least she assumes so. That was the last she saw of that bright red cloak, and it's rather difficult to double check in pitch black darkness. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She curses herself for using up the last of her fire dust in a futile attack. She's teetering on the edge of using lightning dust despite how unstable it is. Electroshock treatment or stay in the darkness long enough to evolve night vision. Decisions, decisions…

She hasn't a clue how long it's been since the fire went out. The rational part of her mind, shrinking by the second, insists that it couldn't have been that long, but the rest of her thoughts backslide into a pleasant little pit of insanity. Yes, that sounds about right. She's losing her mind being cooped up in here. Maybe this is reality now. Or has it always been? Has her life up until this point been a delirious daydream forced upon her by a cruel broken transportation device? Are her friends, Blake and Yang and Team JNPR and Oscar and everyone else mere figments of a lost soul clinging to an isle of normalcy amidst a black ocean?

Wow, okay, Weiss! Loosen up on the existential dread before you really do lose your sanity, why don't you? She nearly sighs but bites it back at the last moment. She doesn’t want to make a peep while so much tension lingers in the air. Ruby's been silent since the argument, so she will too. First one to give in and vocalize loses. That’s the rule of the one-sided game Weiss plays in her head.

Ruby. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. Roobles. No, that's dumb. Think of a better pet name. Pet Name? Don’t you mean nickname? Weiss scolds herself. And now there's that weird feeling in her gut again that’s reminiscent of looking over a cliff with no safety net. It’s different from sadness and guilt. The more she thinks about Ruby, the more it makes itself known. Yet it slithers away from comprehension.

Weiss settles back on feelings that she can actually put to words. She didn't truly mean the harsh words that she spewed at her friend. Time and time again, their argument replays in her head. Each iteration hammers Weiss’s head and she curls in on herself tighter. This needs to be set right, and falling down the rabbit hole of self pity won't solve it. She opens her mouth to speak and doesn’t find it in herself to care that she’s about to lose the quiet game.

Grumble.

She hops to her feet with a start. What was that? It sounded inhuman and guttural. Maybe it’s a neighboring elevator, she wonders. Surely not. That’d raise more questions than answers. Why would that one be working and not this? If people are taking the second one, wouldn't they have noticed this one is broken?

Grumble.

A chill slides down her back like a rain drop that found an opening in her collar. There it is again, and it’s louder. Closer too. A terrifying thought starts to form as she pieces the puzzle together. As soon as she comes to a conclusion, her heart starts to thump with a quickened pace. There’s something in the elevator shaft just beyond these steel walls.

Weiss pats her hip in a hurry until her fingers wrap around the handle of Myrtenaster. It's drawn and held at the ready without a moment wasted. Whatever's out there isn't getting the drop on her without a few dozen rapier wounds. She thinks strategically. It’s too beastly to be a human. A robot would never be quiet enough. That leaves one possibility. Grimm. And given the small confines of the elevator shaft it must be either a small one or an incorporeal one like the wraiths they fought in the mines.

If she's fighting a wraith in the dark, she's going to need to play her cards right. She's holding a pair of two's against a royal flush, and she's going to have to bluff like her life depends on it. Instead of activating a light source through her dust or semblance, she plants her back against the wall and waits for a pair of red eyes to leer at her from the darkness. She’ll bury Myrtenaster between them and put an end to the intruder that dared to sneak up on them.

"Ruby?" Weiss whispers into the dark. She glances left to right, not that it makes a difference. When no reply comes, her voice strains. "Ruby, did you hear that?"

Silence reaches her ears, and the hand that clutches her sword quivers. Why… Why isn't she responding? Ruby wouldn't give her the silent treatment on the verge of an ambush. Weiss's blood runs so cold that she’d bet she’s living up to her ice queen nickname. Bad, bad, bad, this is bad! The wraith must have gotten to Ruby. It's the only explanation!

Fire sparks up inside Weiss, melting away the snow that blanketed her fury and burns from the inside out. Like hell is she letting a creepy ghost grimm get away with this. "Show yourself! What have you done with Ruby?" Weiss yells.

Grumble.

That does it! No one lays a finger on her gem except her. Weiss lashes out with a rapier thrust that whistles through the air. It carries all of her fear and rage, unleashing them at a deserving target. Myrtenaster clinks off the impenetrable wall of iron, and Weiss isn’t finished. A slash. A jab. A twirl on her heels and a wicked spinning hurricane of sword art assaults each and every surface in the room.

Adrenaline pumps through her veins. For Ruby, she thinks, she needs to protect Ruby. Her thoughts fall into a haze as instinct takes over. With flight not an option, fight has taken control. Her vision tunnels. Beads of sweat dot her face. Blood pumps in her ears, drowning out every other sound. Weiss doesn't even register the timid voice calling out to her. She has to hit the grimm. Nothing else matters. Slay that grimm!

She spins the dust dial of Myrtenaster and stops it in its tracks with her thumb. Even without her sight, she knows how to feel for the chambers. Channeling her aura through the conductor, her sword crackles to life with raw electrical energy. Arcs of lightning escape from the blade as if the air itself has cracked open to reveal gold underneath. They light up the room, finally letting her scan the perimeter for her target. Red and black movement catches her peripheral. A smirk toys at her lips.

"No more running, grimm!" she says as she whips around, hair braid whishing through the air to follow the movement. With a shriek, she lunges forward and lets years worth of training guide her true. If the red and black target were any slower, then it'd have been impaled before it could so much as notice the storm tearing its way forward.

Thankfully, Ruby is a master of acting on short notice. She sweeps to the side and gasps when Myrtenaster's tip misses her face by an inch. A lock of hair floats to the ground, sliced clean off. Silver eyes stare at the weapon in disbelief. They travel the blade and to the owner's face. "Weiss…?"

Weiss is panting and looking through Ruby. At her name being called, she furrows her brow. That voice. She knows that voice. Her cyan eyes flicker to Ruby's--Ruby! Where did she come from? Where's the grimm? If she's here safe and sound, then does that mean Weiss was victorious? Then the look of disbelief on Ruby's face finally registers, and Weiss feels her heart sink like an iron ball weighing down her chest.

"Ruby, I--"

A shower of sparks erupts in front of the two girls and forces both of them to stumble their way out of the blast zone. Or more accurately, shock zone. Weiss does a double take when she realizes what she stabbed in her blind rage. Myrtenaster is sticking straight out of the open control panel, electricity zapping each and every wire and component. Then as quick as it started, the light show ends. As eager as her sword was for revenge on the bastard of an elevator, it loses its grip and clinks to the floor. The yellow dust loses its charge without anything left to channel it, and just when darkness is about to make its return, something unexpected happens.

The lights pop back on.

Unexpected... but entirely welcome! A rational Weiss would hum to herself in satisfaction if she weren't sitting on her bum, mouth hanging agape in surprise. Oh, you have got to be joking. Stabbing the elevator fixed the lights? And if the sudden warmth is anything to go by, the heaters are back as well.

"So, uh. Yeah. Lights are back. Yay. Um…" Ruby murmurs.

Weiss takes a number of deep breaths. In through the nose, spend ten seconds cursing out each and every bad thing about this elevator, and out through the mouth. It doesn't help at all. She’s shivering despite the rise in temperature. Weiss fixes her gaze at her boots and flinches when a gloved hand comes down on her shoulder. She didn't even notice Ruby approach. "Are you okay?"

If by okay you mean taking shots of hysteria and self loathing, then yes, she is doing very okay. Weiss can’t even dignify Ruby with a response. She shrugs. Why would Ruby even care after everything Weiss put her through today?

Ruby reaches higher, probably to caress her cheek, but Weiss shies away. She's yanked into a hug before she can retreat, two arms enveloping her whole.

"It's okay, Weiss. I promise. It'll be okay."

What is that girl talking about? Of course it'll be okay. Weiss can handle it. She rushes to return the hug and crushes Ruby in her grip. She notices Ruby inhale sharply and tense, caught off guard. Weiss isn't sure why she's clinging. She’s fine. Obviously. The hug just sort of happened on its own, she insists to herself.

Ruby is whispering something, and the ringing in Weiss's hearing roars louder and louder to a deafening volume. Her hug tightens. She buries her face into Ruby's shoulder. It reminds her of home. What a weird thought, she thinks in a daze, because her home in chilly, unwelcome home Atlas is nothing like the girl in her arms. This is warm and peaceful and nostalgic. She catches the tail end of one of Ruby's murmurs. '--always be here for you.' Weiss's eyes sting as tears start to form. It doesn't make any sense. Why is she crying? She doesn't understand. And why is she clinging? There's no reason to cry or cling. She whimpers into Ruby's shoulder. This is dumb. She's being dumb right now. She doesn't deserve someone like Ruby. She hopes Ruby never lets go.

"I'm sorry," she whispers through half-choked breaths. "I'm so sorry."

"It's okay," Ruby coos, a breath away from her ear. She rubs up and down Weiss's back. "I promise."

Weiss isn't sure she believes her, but she knows she wants to more than anything else.

For all she cares, they sit like that for hours. It’s only when her tears run dry and her subdued weeps turn hoarse that she settles down and shifts her weight off of Ruby. The red cloak is tickling her nose, and her eyes start to fall shut. Exhaustion threatens to take her as if she returned from a week-long hunt. At the very least, the chains weighing her down feel much lighter. Ruby guides her into a sitting position, and Weiss nearly groans in protest. A nap would be preferable.

The sheer concern dotting Ruby's face jolts Weiss back to reality. It says everything without the need for a word. 'This can't wait any longer.' In her heart, the former heiress knows her friend is right. "Weiss… What was that?"

The attacking or the crying? Either one are reasonable things to ask about. She shrugs her shoulders and answers truthfully. "I don't know." Ow! Her vocal cords must be sandpaper right now because her voice is raspy enough to hurt.

Ruby doesn't look pleased by the answer which doesn't come as a surprise. The way her eyes are a bit lidded and her brow quirks strikes Weiss as sympathetic, and she's thankful that the lights are back on to give her the chance to see. "I’m worried, Weiss. You started pacing and muttering about a grimm and then you started attacking everything. I yelled at you, but you didn’t listen. And when you swung Myrtenaster at me, for a moment I thought you were trying… to…"

Weiss swears she can hear her heart snapping into a thousand little rose petal-shaped pieces. "No! No, I wasn't. I swear. I was--" Delirious. Paranoid. Drained. "Not in a good place. I-I think this is getting to me, Ruby. I don't want to be here anymore, and it's only gotten for worse after what happened." Ruby's eyes flicker to the floor and she bites her lip for a brief second. Weiss has an urge to reach out and comfort her, but decides it'd be better to let her partner work out her thoughts.

“It’s okay.”

“Is it really?” The disbelief is evident, but not hostile. If anything, it’s pitiful.

When their eyes lock again, the silver ones are firm with resolve. "I forgive you."

"...Pardon?"

Ruby has the gall to smile in a situation like this. "You said you were sorry, and I forgive you."

This girl has a tendency to leave her speechless at both the best and worst of times. "I don't deserve it," Weiss sputters. "I said horrible things to you, and then I attacked you, and then I used your cloak as tissue as if I had any right to come to you for support!"

Ruby opens her mouth and then shuts it without a sound. She unclasps her red cloak and tosses it to the other side of the elevator. Ahem. "You said it yourself. You're overwhelmed. You didn't mean what you said, right?" When Weiss shakes her head, she continues. "Exactly! I'm willing to let this go if you are."

The 'are you?' following it doesn't need to be said. The corners of Weiss's mouth turn up before she can stop herself, and before she knows it, she's sporting the most genuine smile she’s had all day. "I am, but… not yet." She holds up one finger, shushing her friend.

Friend. Oh thank goodness she can call her that again and mean it. At least she thinks so. Is it too early? Their next conversation might decide that, but Weiss chooses to have hope. If they can recover from this debacle of an afternoon (evening? morning?), they can overcome anything. "I want both of us to be alright, and I know there's something else on your mind. You brought it up first after all."

Ruby scratches the back of her head, and Weiss is struck with the image of a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She'd know. She's caught Ruby doing that exact thing more times than she can keep track of. Huh. Crying her heart out must have actually helped if she’s able to recall cute little memories like that.

"Riiight. Um… Where do we start?"

Ruby's outburst replays in Weiss's head once more. Up until her breakdown, every path her thoughts took lead back to it, and it still stings as if it's the first time. But instead of dredging up pain and guilt, she lets it become her drive to fix this and never let Ruby be in such anguish again.

"Well, why did we grow apart ever since coming to Atlas? Did I do something? Do you hold sometimes against me?" She doubts that's the reason, but it doesn't stop her voice from trailing off.

Ruby shakes her head immediately. "No! Of course not! I want to be with you." She gasps and recoils back, drawing an odd look from Weiss. "I want to keep being friends with you."

Okaaaay then. Letting Ruby's strange reaction slide, she already knows how to respond. "Same. I have nothing against you. I think we've come too far to let us spiral despite how strained our bond has become. So what happened?" She says the last line more to herself than to Ruby and slinks off into thought, but she receives answers anyway.

"I've thought about it. A lot--" Oh look, another pang of guilt for Weiss to add to her collection. "From the moment we showed up in Atlas, we were put to work. It's been nonstop training and missions. It took forever for Ironwood to give us a day off!"

"We have bad luck with days off, don't we?"

"Eheh, yeah…" She clears her throat. "And another thing. You and I reunited with old friends and family! You haven't seen Winter in almost a year, and I thought I'd never see Penny again. We've spent almost all our time with them. A-and don't get me wrong, that's awesome! But with how busy we are, we barely get to spend time with them. Never mind with each other."

Weiss nods slowly. It makes sense. Yet she doesn't feel satisfied. It's too simple of an explanation. "I agree. But is there anything else?"

"Anything else?" Ruby replies, her voice a few notes too high.

"Yes. I mean, I don't know. I feel like there has to be more to this than a matter of circumstance." When Ruby starts to look to and from with a ‘no idea’ and a ‘that’s got to be it’ and other meaningless filler, Weiss acts on impulse. They’re going to fix this friendship, and they’re going to do it now. She scoots forward and sits on her knees, barely brushing against Ruby's. A younger Weiss would have complained about personal space. The older one is happy to violate it. "Is there anything else bothering you, Ruby? You can tell me anything.”

If Weiss wrote a list of reactions she expected, a blush would have been at the bottom in dead last. For better or worse, her partner does just that and Weiss hasn’t a clue what to think. When Ruby answers, there's a glint in her eye that Weiss has only caught in passing glances down retreating hallways, or in the middle of a battle after a close call. She'd never seen it head on.

“Blake and Yang are dating.”

What. What?! “They’re what?” A million questions shoot out in rapid fire. “Since when? They like women? Have they always liked each other? Is that why they’re inseparable? Why haven’t I noticed? Or been told?! Why are you telling me this now? Is this what’s bothering you?”

Ruby shushes her with a giggle. As much as she hates being the butt of a joke, Weiss has to admit it eased the tension. “You can interrogate them yourself later. I’m telling you because it’s the answer to a question you asked a while ago.”

“What did I ask?” The other half of their team popped up a handful of times in their earlier chats, and it usually led to Ruby deadpanning at her. Now she knows why. Apparently her density rivals lead itself.

“You asked why I didn’t want to hold Myrtenaster while Blake and Yang hold each other’s weapons all the time.”

The swordswoman tilts her head, even more questions building up on the tip of her tongue. “Because that kind of thing is saved for exceptionally close bonds such as love?”

“Weiss.” Ruby kicks something off the ground behind her and sends airborne, then snatches it in one fluid motion. One hand on Myrtenaster’s handle and the other on the blade, Ruby presents the sword to its owner. "There might be something else that’s bothering me."

Weiss freezes. Ruby leans in closer. Their foreheads practically touch. She means to say her friend's name, but it catches in Weiss's throat. Alarm bells ring in her head. She doesn't know why she cried earlier, or why she ended up trapped in here. She doesn't know why Ruby is acting this way, or why her heart is trying to escape from her chest.

Weiss doesn’t know why she’s the one to close the distance between them either.

Chapter Text

Gay? Weiss isn't gay. What a ridiculous notion, she thinks as she locks lips with another girl. Wait, no, that’s not right. This isn't a random girl she's hidden away with in the back corner of the library (not that she's ever done anything so crass!). She's kissing Ruby Rose, her partner and closest friend.

Weiss shivers as if a breeze floats by, and she opens her eyes wide. Ruby's closer than she's ever been before. Weiss would say she smells like strawberries if she weren't sweating from being cooped up in here for gods know how many hours. Salt and locker rooms will have to do, but hey, it's her locker room that she's kissing.

Okay, that is a weird metaphor. Knock it off, Weiss. She's frazzled enough as is and loosing the reins on the barely restrained beast called her imagination will do no good. Ruby's eyes are clenched shut and only now does Weiss notice that she's quivering. Or maybe that's just her. Both of them? Definitely both of them.

As if sensing the gaze on her, one of Ruby's eyes opens a smidge and spies Weiss. They both pop open. For a brief and not-at-all awkward moment, they sit there with their lips pressed together. Cyan pools meet silver. An alarm must ring in both their heads because they come apart at the same time.

"Heh… ehehe." Ruby is doing an award-worthy impression of a shoujo protagonist if her blushing and giggling and arm rubbing is anything to go by. The only reason Weiss even knows what that is can be traced back to when she read Blake’s and Ruby's books out of curiosity. If that's Ruby's standard for romance, then honestly it explains a lot about what transpired between them just now.

“Romance,” Weiss mouths under her breath. By all definitions of the word, she and Ruby just had an incredibly romantic moment. But that can't be right; after all, Weiss isn't gay. She clears her throat before she can dwell on it any further. "I'm glad we talked about our issues. I would have hated to lose my best friend."

Every drop of ditzy, blushy giddiness evaporates off of Ruby's face and leaves behind a mask that serves as the living incarnation of unamusement. The sheer bouts of 'are you fucking serious right now?' energy radiating off of her partner leads Weiss to one singular conclusion--she fucked up.

"Weiss."

"Yes, Ruby?"

"We kissed."

"Yes, it seems we did."

"You were the one to do it too."

"What point are you trying to make?"

Ruby raises an eyebrow and tilts her head forward. Sass is a look that Weiss still isn't used to seeing on her, but she's been given plenty of opportunities to grow acquainted whilst in the elevator. "Why are you calling me your best friend? I just confessed to you. And then you kissed me! That means you feel something, right?"

The way Ruby's question crescendos into a hopeful plea twists a knife into Weiss's heart. She opens her mouth but closes it when every answer she can think of hitches in her throat. 'Of course I do!' Does she? 'It didn't mean anything.' A lie. 'A friendship kiss.' Is that even a thing? Weiss wishes she had a coat to shrink into right now ‘cause the best she can think of is stating the obvious. "You have feelings for me."

Ruby purses her lip, taken aback by the statement. Weiss chides herself and bites her cheek as punishment. Ruby’s going to take that as a question, and the poor girl has to have had enough of Weiss’s abrasiveness for a lifetime without needing to confess all over again. The answer arrives all the same. "Yeah. I do. I didn't realize it until a few months ago, but I do."

It's a surreal experience being confessed to by someone Weiss actually cares about. All her life, she’s built up her skill in rejecting unwanted suitors that only wanted her for superficial reasons. The golddiggers, the womanizers, and the Jaune. Especially the Jaune. He once sent her a love letter, so she corrected it in red ink and sent it back to him. If that’s not an indication of her experience with true romance, she doesn’t know what is.

When it comes to Ruby, the former heiress hasn’t a clue what to think. If Ruby realized her feelings months ago, then she must have been pining this entire time. Whenever they spent time in one another’s company, or stayed up late sending messages to each other, Weiss wonders how her friend must have felt. A pitiful feeling in one’s stomach that makes them want to reach out and take what they so desperately long for, or maybe it’s an uncertain attraction that one doesn’t understand and instead runs away from.

She’s not speaking from experience or anything. Perish the thought.

To her credit, Weiss's sympathy is genuine when she finally speaks. "I'm flattered. But Ruby… I'm not interested in women." She prepares for the worst. Heartbreaker is not a title she wanted to add to her collection, but she'll do it if she has to. She hopes Ruby is still willing to be friends after this.

Fate makes a habit of proving Weiss wrong. Case in point: Ruby’s expression turns bewildered instead of hurt. "Since when?'

Since when?! "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Weiss," she starts with an air of caution. "You send my gaydar into overdrive."

Weiss isn't sure what a gaydar is, but if it's what she's thinking it is, she'll have to inquire where to purchase one. "Where could you possibly get the idea that I'm gay?"

"You just kissed m--"

"Other than that!"

Ruby looks as if she wants to call her out, but she holds her tongue. "Well you had a crush on Pyrrha."

Weiss sputters and chokes, but she manages to save grace by turning it into a laugh. Though the snort at the end likely did her no favors. "Pyrrha?! Don't get me wrong, Pyrrha was a lovely girl, but I didn't crush on her."

Her friend smiles, dry as a desert. She readjusts herself and sits cross legged, elbow on her knee and chin in her hand. "You asked her to join your team as soon as you met her in person. You lamented for a week that the 'redheaded champion with a spear' didn't ‘end up with you.’"

Two can play at that game. Weiss was head of the debate club for a reason. She folds her legs under her and crosses her arms. "Poor phrasing. She would've been a capable teammate, is all.” She pauses as an ever so faint shade of red dusts her cheeks. “I might think red hair is pretty from a purely objective point of view."

Ruby twiddles a lock of her hair between her thumb and pointer finger, red tips sticking out. Weiss's eye twitches. Is that girl trying to say something? She should spit it out instead of playing mind games.

"Okaaaay," Ruby says, not backing down. Just as expected from her team leader, Weiss thinks. "What about that time in Haven you forgot how to speak because you met Ilia."

Weiss’s mouth hangs agape. The… the audacity of this accusation! "I didn't forget how to speak! I merely decided to speak in tongues. It's a cultural thing. She’s from Atlas too." When Ruby says she doesn't buy it with a single look, Weiss stammers. That was a terrible excuse considering that they’ve all been in Atlas for months. "Okay look, she was short and bright eyed and had a fiery spirit. Anyone would do a double take, straight or not."

"Did you describe her or me?"

"Ruby!" She checks the bright eyed category on two accounts. No fair. It’s almost as ridiculous as this interrogation, Weiss huffs. “Are you done yet?”

"Nope! I have one more ace up my sleeve.” She jabs her finger at Weiss, and for a moment, Weiss thinks an ace really is going to come flying out of her sleeve. “I've seen the way you stare at Robyn whenever she’s being all super cool rebel-heroine and delivering speeches. You look like you’re about to faint. Your sister too! Guess the Schnees have a type, eh?"

Weiss’s resolve weakens. She can’t even deny that one. Damn Miss Hill and her league of cute girls. As thought after thought and denial after denial swirl through her head, Weiss finds herself drawn back to a single question: Is Ruby right? Is what she felt for all these women not admiration but attraction? It could be both, and it'd make sense. But accepting that conclusion would mean… She makes a feeble attempt at a final excuse, at her wit’s end. "I like the leaderly type?"

"Let's see…" Ruby counts on one finger. "You like red hair." She counts a second. "You like short, bright eyed, and fiery." She counts a third. "And you like the leaderly type. I wonder who fits all three." Check and mate. Ruby folds her arms and smugs. It’s unbearable to Weiss.

“You’re not short anymore…?”

Shrug. “Close enough.”

Weiss buries her face in her hands. She clutches harder and harder at denial, only to find it slipping from her grip, escaping and taking her pride with it. With a sigh, she wonders why she’s even arguing at this point. The truth was evident the moment she initiated a kiss. Hell, even earlier than that. The entire time she’s been in this elevator, they’ve been tiptoeing around the rose-tinted elephant in the room. Longing stares and awkward blushes are merely the symptom of an affliction called a crush that’s plagued Weiss for far longer than she could guess. Weeks, months, years? It’s hardly a wonder the two of them grew apart when they’re both hopeless wrecks that run from the first signs of love.

Gay? Of course Weiss is gay. It only took her crush to beat her over the head to stop denying it.

"I like you, Ruby. As in, like like you.” She swallows hard. No more running, Weiss. Face the truth and embrace it head on. “A-and I want to be with you!”

For a handful of moments, silence deafens the air with the only interruption being the mechanical hum of the elevator's fluorescent lights. Doubt and fear pick at Weiss. There’s no way she’s horribly misread the situation, right? Leave it to someone as dense as her to find a way to screw up a confession to someone who has feelings for you.

Weiss’s anxieties wash away with relief when Ruby beams and jitters in place, sitting up and bouncing on her knees. No amount of caffeine can match the excitement brough by a rose that just had her crush reciprocated. Weiss tenses up, knowing that look. She's been on the receiving end enough times to be conditioned to fear it. "Ruby--"

Whump! A trail of rose petals blossom as Weiss finds herself victim to a tackle hug (note to self: tell Ruby to stop spending so much time with Penny if she’s rubbing off on her like this). She opens her mouth to gasp for breath, air squeezed from her lungs, then ‘mmphs?!’ when another pair of lips meet her own. She half heartedly returns the gesture, and shivers when Ruby nibbles on her lower lip.

It’s with a hint of reluctance does Weiss squirm enough to put distance between them and draw the breath that she needed. Her heart’s racing, and adrenaline is pumping as vigorously as it would during a fight. As much as she’d like to push herself further, and oh boy does part of her want to, Weiss orders logic to retake the helm of her decision making. "Aren't we taking this a little fast?"

Her partner--in more ways than one, says Weiss’s brain which she tells to shut up--tilts her head. Her breathing is heavier than before, and it’s oddly nice to know she’s not the only one being affected by this. "Whatcha mean?'

Weiss’s eyes flicker down and trace the two of them. Ruby has her cornered against the wall, both hands on her shoulders. She's practically straddling her.

Ruby sounds off with a squeaky little giggle of embarrassment and climbs off, cheeks as red as her namesake. "Right. Yeah. Sorry. I-I'm just so excited! The love of my life likes me back!"

Ba-dump goes Weiss’s heart, skipping more than a few beats. She’s not sure a love-induced heart attack is a thing, but she’s not eager to prove modern medical science wrong. "L-love of your life?"

"Oh! I guess that might be kinda early to say." She waves her hands in front of her. "You’re right. We should slow down. Today has been kinda rough for you...” Taking Weiss’s deadpan as agreement, she carries on with only a hint of hesitation. “We’ll take this easy. I think having a gay awakening is as good a reason as any.”

"Hey!"

"Gotta say, being the reason for it feels pre-tty good." She winks, and Weiss suppresses the impulse to throw Myrtenaster at her.

She’s such a dolt, Weiss thinks, though she can’t hold back the small smile that plays at her lips. She doesn’t think she’d have it any other way. "Our situation is unorthodox," she admits. "But we should make do."

“Hmm..." Ruby rubs her chin in thought, then brightens up when what looks to be inspiration takes hold. “I know! Let's have a date!"

What a lovely idea! If only they weren’t trapped in a steel cell suspended in a floating city a mile off the ground. “We can’t go anywhere, Ruby.”

"Well, duh. I meant in here." The silver eyed girl twists her body around until she spots Myrtenaster on the floor next to them, then nudges it towards Weiss. Its owner retrieves it albeit with confusion.

“What are you planning?”

Ruby moves again, this time settling herself side by side with Weiss. She waves her arm across the room in a dramatic flourish. “Picture this. You, me, and a dining table sculpted out of ice. Rose petals line the surface and the floor around us. We scrounge our weapons for whatever red dust is left and light a makeshift candle. Pretty romantic, right?”

Weiss chuckles as she shakes her head, eyes fluttering closed. “Honestly? It is. Cheesy, but that’s not a bad thing.” A peaceful calm starts to flow through her, and she leans over to rest her head on Ruby’s shoulder. She feels her friend--girlfriend? They’re certainly not official yet, but calling Ruby her girlfriend sends her places she could have never imagined. Anyways, she feels her girlfriend relax once the initial surprise subsides. Though her eyes are closed, Weiss can tell a smile is pointing down at her. “Before we do that, can we just sit here for a while? I’m exhausted.”

“Anything you want,” comes the reply, soft and caring.

They sit there for a time, neither one able to know for sure how much time passes, but Weiss doesn’t particularly care. If it means staying like this for as long as can be, then maybe she can tolerate being trapped in an elevator a while longer.

Chapter Text

It’s a beautiful day outside, and the Rose household is bustling. Weiss flits across the kitchen from counter to counter. The meatloaf should be ready in five minutes which gives her just enough time to finish chopping vegetables, but she’s yet to set the table because it needs to be dusted off, and her favorite gravy is buried somewhere in the pantry. Gods know how long it’ll take to find that. She sighs and decides that it’s worth it to take a minute to straighten her back and breathe. It’s hard work being a homemaker.

She cleans her hands on the white apron fitted over her blue floral-print dress. Tired as she is, a smile plays at her lips. For Ruby, the day-in and day-out is worth it. She’ll never tire of seeing her wife’s face light up whenever she steps through the door into a loving embrace. And how could she forget little baby Summer?

“Honey, I’m home!”

Well if it isn’t the woman of the hour. Weiss sets her vegetable knife down and strolls from the kitchen to the front door. Like a ray of sunshine breaking through the dark, the sight of Ruby returning home dismisses any doubt she had. Weiss skips two steps and yanks her wife into a crushing embrace. “Darling! You’re home early. Work didn’t keep you late this time?”

“Nope! Traffic was pretty good too. Wait until you hear what Nora did today!” Ruby peels herself off of Weiss and shuffles out of her coat, hanging it on the rack by the door. She sniffs the air and gasps. “Ohmygosh, is that what I think it is?” Weiss nods, and Ruby practically hops in place with excitement. In a second she remembers to settle down long enough to peck her partner on the cheek. “You’re the best, Weiss.”

“Who would I be if I weren’t?” Weiss teases, flicking Ruby on the nose. Every day she misses her, and every day catharsis comes walking through that door. Repetitive maybe, but it’s a life she’s content with. “All that grimm hunting got your clothes dirty. Go get cleaned up, alright? Oh, and be quiet. Tiptoe around.”

Ruby dusts herself off, looking bashful with that toothy grin of hers. “Why’s that?”

“I put Summer down for a nap. She’s been fast asleep.”

Ruby thinks for a second and then inspiration strikes. Her hand sneaks its way onto Weiss’s cheek and bats a few white locks of hair with her thumb. The shorter woman tenses up, already having an idea of where this is headed. Ruby’s tells have gotten easier to catch over the years, not that they’ve even been subtle. Weiss had just been dense. “Then we have time to ourselves.”

“What are you… oh.” How awfully direct of her to say. A blush as red as her last name spreads across Weiss’s face. “But dinner.”

“I don’t mind reheating.” Ruby’s hand starts to trail under Weiss’s chin, but she grasps it by the wrist and steps away.

Were this any other day, Weiss would brandish her words like a rapier and lecture her partner about the importance of a freshly served meal, but she decides to have mercy. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll get the food taken care of, and you go get yourself cleaned up. You’re dusty from all that grimm hunting.”

“And then?” Ruby smiles in that cute little way that makes her dimples flare, and Weiss knows she’s got her on the hook. Now to reel it in.

“And then I’ll pour two glasses of wine and see where the night takes us.”

When Ruby’s eyes alight, she knows she’s sealed a deal. “Okay! I’ll do that and check on Summer on the way out.”

Weiss claps her hands together. "Perfect!" She stands on her tip toes to peck her wife's cheek again, only for Ruby to do the same movement in sync. They both freeze up, eyes widening in matching looks of surprise. "You lead."

"No, you do the honors."

They both lean out, register the other's actions, and then lean in again. Both pause and stare at each other as if posing for a photo entry in the visual dictionary of awkwardness. Weiss's eye twitches. They're married, own a house, and have a damn kid yet they can't coordinate a cute little cheek peck? She relinquishes control of the force that keeps her resting bitch deadpan in check, and grabs Ruby by the collar with both hands. One squeak later, and she yanks the other woman into a passionate kiss on the lips.

Weiss lets them enjoy each other for a few fleeting moments before breaking away. This part comes later. As she tilts her head and smiles casually to complete the 'smug housewife that secretly wears the pants in the family' look, she speaks up. "Move along then."

Ruby gulps, at a loss for words. Serves her right, Weiss thinks. "R-right. Um."

"Something the matter?"

She pokes Weiss's wrist with her pointer finger. "You need to let go of my collar before I can ‘move along.’”

Weiss glances down. She's still gripping tight, which she then corrects without another thought. "So I do. I'll take care of dinner." With another shoo, she dismisses Ruby and watches as she disappears down the hall. Ruby may be the one to, ahem, 'take charge' most of the time, but sometimes seeing her wife blossom red is worth the extra effort.

Something catches her eye before she can return to the kitchen. A spot of silver is poking out of Ruby's coat pocket. Weiss isn’t one to fuss over every single thing her partner does, but it’s as if a little voice in her head nudges her forward inch by inch. Why not be curious this once, she rationalizes with herself. Two fingers pluck the object free. It’s a… key? She knows what their house key looks like, and this isn’t it. Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem like something worth fretting over. She’ll merely ask about it. She moves to slip the key back where she found it, and--

The air gets sucked from her lungs with a croaked gasp. She doubles over, clutching her head. Weiss takes a shaky step backwards and falls against the front door, wincing when the hard wood offers no comfort. She hasn’t a clue what just happened. Calm down, Weiss, calm down. She repeats the mantra to herself as her heart threatens to hammer her ribcage. Sudden illness? She’s certain that there’s nothing wrong with her health. A moment ago she was cooking dinner, greeting Ruby, and then stopped to inspect a key.

“Ah!” Her head throbs again and she clutches her bangs tight enough to turn her knuckles white. She looks down at the key in her hand, but averts her eyes when it stabs her head with pain again. “What’s… wrong with this thing?” she whispers, her voice papery thin. A single thought about the damn thing makes it feels like her hair is being torn out. What to do, what to do?

Ruby! The key--the thingy! Don’t even name it, Weiss. The thing was in Ruby’s pocket. She has to know what’s happening then. Weiss’s voice is too raspy to yell for her wife and that leaves her with only one course of action. Her gaze snaps down the hallway, ponytail whipping across her neck. The door to their bedroom stands directly opposite her. She’ll have to take this one step at a time.

The first attempt sends her careening to the side. She flails her arms like a seagull until she regains her balance. Simply graceful, she’d grit out if she weren’t concentrating. The second attempt she’s able to anticipate, and she lurches past the kitchen and onto the hallway wall, throwing her weight against it. One. Step. At a time.

With the wall as her crutch, she shambles down the corridor. Her breath comes out in pants, and her head is still pounding like the world’s worst migraine. The hallway goes on for a mile; whether it’s from her own dwindling awareness or if it actually stretched out, she has no idea. With the twist this evening has taken, she can’t count out the latter.

Then anger starts to well up in her gut. She doesn’t know what the hell this thing in her hand did to her, but it’s going to be a cold day in hell if she lets a piece of metal be her downfall. She’s faced down grimm, killers, and tyrants without flinching. Her streak of victories will not end today, or she isn’t worthy of the name Weiss Rose.

Stomp. Weiss shoves off the wall and sprints as far as she can before her body screams at her to stop. She smacks the opposite hallway wall and closes her eyes as she sucks at air. She’ll get through this. Stomp. Heavy footfalls echo as the tortured woman dashes again. She’ll figure what’s happening and get through this herself. Stomp. For Ruby. Stomp. And especially for their Summer!

Her forehead aches again because she bonks against something. She opens her eyes and heaves a sigh of relief. She’s pressed up against the bedroom door, finally. With how much she’s trembling, it takes a few attempts to get a grip on the handle, but furrows her brow when she finds it locked. Ruby wouldn’t have a reason to lock it. They’ve been comfortable with each other for ages. She looks at the knob but then feels a chill run from the base of her spine up to the nape of her neck. A bright silver lock with a keyhole is embedded above it.

Weiss doesn’t need to think twice to know what it’s silently asking of her, not that it helps the anxiety boiling up in her gut. She needs to use the thing. Keeping her eyes off the lock, she fumbles with it and feels for the end that slides in. As she tries to insert it, metal tinking hopelessly against metal, her vision starts to blur. Darkness creeps into her peripherals, black tendrils threatening to cut her blind at any moment. All her pain and fear channels into determination as she jams the key into the lock and turns. The door swings wide open.

Six steel walls loom before her like a cell waiting for its occupant, four on each side and two on the roof and floor. What happened to her bedroom? What happened to Ruby?! A horrifying thought slaps her across the cheek. What if little Summer’s room is like this too? She starts to turn back around when something collides with her square in the back.

Weiss collapses onto her hands and knees dead center in the cell. She bites back a whimper. That might have left a bruise if the ache on her back is any indication. With a deep breath to try and steady her nerves, she cranes her neck to view over her shoulder. Cyan eyes meet silver.

“Ruby?” Weiss stares on in disbelief. As much as she wants to deny it, she can’t ignore the image of her wife in front of her. She notices Ruby’s foot lowering back to the ground and her arms on both ends of the door frame, blocking the exit. Out of everything, what demands Weiss’s attention the most are the dull shine in Ruby’s eyes. It’s as if the apathy have badgered her wife’s mind again.

Ruby makes only the subtlest of expressions, conveying guilt and disinterest. It’s a walking contradiction. How can someone look shameful and bored at once?! Yet it’s the only way Weiss could describe it if she had to put it into words. Then Ruby steps back and two metal panes start to slide into the doorway from both sides. “Ruby, wait!” She yelps with a scratchy throat, and tries to leap to her feet but stumbles when her focus wavers. She slams against the doors too late, cold steel embracing her instead of the arms of her lover.

Ding!

The cell shudders and rattles as the sound of creaking metal echoes from above. Wait, above? It’s a one story house! As if hearing her anguish, the chamber decides to make it worse by beginning to rise. Weiss bites down on her cheek, forcing the pain to ground her senses for just a moment. It takes all of her will to power through the pain and the urge to panic. She tries to channel a rune to anchor herself to the floor, but summoning without Myrtenaster is difficult. In the midst of an agonizing headache, it’s impossible.

The cell’s ascent accelerates. Weiss feels her stomach lurch as gravity tries its best to flatten her against the silver steel floor. The screech of metal erupts to a deafening volume. She’s in no state to make an escape, Weiss realizes. She’s trapped.

As she curls in on herself, bracing for an impact (that’s assuming this hellish thing doesn’t blast her straight to the moon), her thoughts race with unanswered questions. Why is their bedroom replaced with a cell? Why does it hurt so bad to think about any of this? Why did Ruby push her in with those awful, dead eyes? Is Summer okay?

She clenches her eyes tight and covers her ears, anything to drown out the awful jeers of metal grinding on metal. Somehow, the thought of Ruby betraying her to this twisted fate hurts her worse than everything she’s endured up to this point. Oh, Ruby. Weiss doesn’t know what’s happening, but more than anything she wishes her gem were by her side. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby--

“Ruby!”

Weiss’s eyes fly open and she jolts straight up as if she’d sat on a pile of lightning dust. She looks from side to side in a hurry, and for one heart stopping moment she thinks nothing has changed. Then she blink-blinks, and heaves out an exhausted sigh.

A nightmare. Lovely. And it started out so well too. Waitwaitwait, what? Her palm hits her face. Did she seriously just dream about being Ruby’s housewife? What the hell, Weiss? As terrifying as the latter half of the dream was, the other half should have tipped her off right away. Her, a cook? Laughable. Not keeping the Schnee name? Hilarious. Having a precious little daughter named Summer?

...Okay, that last one makes her heart swell up but now’s not a good opportunity to ponder what her subconscious is trying to tell her. She sits back and rubs her temples, taking deep breaths to let herself drift back down to Remnant. Brothers, what an awful dream. At least it’s over. Being trapped in an elevator is doing a number on her psyche. Dreaming about Ruby betraying her was bad enough.

Ruby! She needs to make sure her probably-girlfriend (still need to clarify that) is okay. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be, but after a dream like that, Weiss isn’t feeling particularly patient. She takes her eyes off the floor and opens her mouth to speak when an ice sculpture interrupts her train thought. A few feet in front of her is a topheavy block of ice? No wait, a table! Chairs too. Ruby’s promise from earlier about a date replay in her head. That’s honestly really sweet, and Weiss smiles for the first time since she woke up. Where’s Ruby though? She shuffles on all fours and checks for Ruby on the other side.

She spies her wife--girlfriend! Not wife yet. Yet?! Damnit Weiss, enough with the intrusive gay thoughts! She’s been having them all day and, frankly, she’s lost her patience for them. No more correcting them. Now what was she doing again? Right, searching for Ruby. Oh look! There she is, sitting with her knees to her chest and facing the elevator doors. Weiss reaches out and taps her partner on the shoulder. There. Simple as that. Why was she even worried?

Ruby stiffens at the one-two poke. She must take her time piecing together what happened because she turns at a snail’s pace, scanning behind her with only a single silver eye visible between her messy hair and cloak. It locks onto Weiss, and the former heiress stifles a gasp.

Dull, just like her dream. Weiss does a double take, but when she looks again Ruby is back to her excited, cheery self. Wary as she is, she’s willing to chalk it up to her brain still reeling from that hellish excuse for a dream.

“You’re awake!” Ruby chirps, twisting her body to steer towards Weiss.

“I am! Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” On second thought, Ruby isn’t quite as cheerful as she left her. Living with Ruby for years has given her ample chances to pick up on the redhead’s quirks. Her expression droops ever so slightly, and she’s favoring one side more than the other; in order words, being trapped for hours must be catching up.

“Don’t worry about it. If you’re sleepy, you’re sleepy. Besides…” A wry little smirk slips its way in, and Weiss braces for the worst. “My shoulder must have been pretty comfy, huh?”

Oh dear. Weiss realizes she’s done the worst possible thing she could have done: given Ruby ammunition to tease her with. It’s only a minute since she woke up and she’s already back in the fire. “When you’re exhausted, anything works as a pillow,” she pleads, trying to salvage the battle of wits.

Of course, trying to outwit someone who fights dirty is a loser’s gambit. Ruby flat out ignores her protests. “Did you know you’re a sleep-cuddler?”

“Excuse me?!”

“Don’t be embarrassed. It was adorable when you clung to my arm. The drool was a little gross though.”

“Oh my gods.” The audacity of this woman. Just what does she see in her again?

“Joking!” Ruby’s hand falls onto Weiss’s shoulder, shaking her back and forth. “Mostly. You only drooled a little.”

Twitch-twitch goes Weiss’s brow, ripe with irritation. She questions whether this is even an improvement over the nightmare. “Well I’m glad one of us enjoyed herself. Were you up?” When she gets a ‘yuuup’, Weiss follows up, “How long was I out?”

Ruby bites down on her lip, and the sound of the gears turning in her head are almost audible. “Ummm… I dunno? A few months probably.”

“...” Okay, Weiss. Feel that urge to snap at her? Don’t give in. Let’s try this again. “For real, Ruby. I’d feel guilty if I left you alone for hours.”

Her girlfriend shrugs her shoulders to say ‘I’m as helpless as you are right now.’ “It might have been even longer, like a year or two.”

Weiss takes a deep inhale and exhale as the urge to scold this girl threatens to win out, but gets interrupted. Ruby is staring at her, but she’s not looking at her. Her gaze travels through Weiss as if she weren’t even there. “It felt that long. If I can’t tell if I’m wrong, I think that makes me right. Right?”

Uh-huh. Existential crises are more her schtick, not Ruby’s. Guilt does indeed start to gnaw at her, so Weiss ponders how to nip this in the bud before it blossoms into a situation she’d describe as ‘royally screwed.’ A change of topic can’t hurt. “So what’s with the ice table?”

“Ice table?” Ruby snaps back to her senses, refocusing on the other person in the room. “Oh, that! Remember what I told you before you started hibernating? It’s for our date!” She giggles, back to normal just as Weiss hoped. “First date as a couple. I’ve waited forever for this!”

Is that because of what it took to get them to confess their feelings, or because of having to wait for her to wake up, Weiss has half a mind to ask. She thinks better of it. “We should get to it then! I could use some happiness in my life right now.”

Grumble.

“And apparently some food too,” Ruby teases, but Weiss is too shocked to respond. The icy swordswoman covers her growling stomach with her hand.

“That’s what that sound was? I went crazy and started attacking everything because I thought I heard a grimm. I heard my own stomach?! You have to be kidding me.”

Ruby takes her by the hand, smiling with sympathy as she rises and tugs her to one side of the table. She pulls out a chair for her date and takes her place at the opposite end. “At least we know the truth! I’m pretty hungry too.” She rubs her chin with her pointer finger. “I wonder how we’ve survived so long without food or drink…”

Taking her seat, Weiss gives silent thanks to her winter clothing. She can’t say sitting on a slab of ice was on her bucket list. “We’ve been in here less than a day.”

“Riiight.” Ruby makes no attempt to hide the dubious tone in her voice, but she doesn’t offer Weiss the opportunity to press her on it. She crosses her arms then throws them out wide in an explosion of cheeriness. “Dating time start! Do you like the table? Sorry if the chairs are kinda, erm, lumpy. Ice sculpting is haaaard.”

Weiss snickers, adjusting herself again. Well, it could be worse. At least she can sit like a civilized person again. “I assume you used Myrtenaster’s ice dust?”

“Yup!” Ruby blanks. “Wait, was that okay? I touched it earlier, but using it while you’re asleep might have crossed a line? Please tell me I didn’t ruin the date already.”

One shake of her head later, and Ruby heaves a sigh of relief. “You’re fine. We’re girlfriends now, aren’t we?”

“I, yeah. We are. It still makes me giddy just to think about it. Weiss Schnee is my girlfriend! It’s like those stories in my journal came true!”

“The what now?”

“Nothing!” Planting both elbows on the table, Ruby leans into her palms. She flutters her lashes with dreamy ambition. No doubt she’s reminiscing on finally being able to shout to the world that she’s dating her beloved. “Sooooo.”

“So?”

“What do we do on a date?”

Plot the downfall of the Atlas aristocracy. No, that’s a third date kind of thing. “Well normally we’d go somewhere quiet, order food, and walk through the park holding hands.” According to the romance movies she ‘borrowed’ from Winter as a young teen, that’s what a couple is supposed to do. Loathe as she is to admit it, she’s just as inexperienced as Ruby is when it comes to serious relationships.

Ruby chews her bottom lip, taking one arm off the table to twiddle her hair. “Can’t really do those while we’re in our new home.”

“Did you just call the elevator our new ho--”

“I know!” Ruby slams her fist down on the table. Ice shards crack off and fall to the floor. “Why don’t we talk about our favorite memories about each other? We could make it a game and take turns. If you want?"

"That sounds really cute actually." Finally, a shred of normalcy. Recalling happy moments they've spent together shouldn't be too hard. She could talk about all those times they went shopping for combat skirts together and got kicked out for trying on the whole selection without buying anything. Or maybe one of their recent escapades in Atlas. Just the other week Weiss was having trouble sleeping, so she sat at the dorm room desk and found herself drawn to Ruby’s sleeping face. She only meant to watch for a few minutes, and next thing she knew dawn’s light was breaking through the curtains. Maybe she should be talking aloud instead daydreaming. But not the last thing. That was rather creepy.

“I’ll go first,” she says. “Hmm… The first night together after we reunited in Mistral. I don’t think I had a single happy memory after we separated during the Fall. I skipped from dealing with the worst Atlas had to offer, being shot out of the sky, and then kidnapped by Yang’s hot mom. It wasn’t exactly a high point in my life. Then when you, Yang, and everyone else came into my life again, did you know what I felt?”

“Claustrophobia?”

Weiss disagrees, taken aback. “Where’d that come from? No. What I felt was home, Ruby. I found a place where I felt welcome, especially with you.” She trails off wistfully, hoping it carries sufficient romantic intent.

Apparently her delivery lands because Ruby squeals like a puppy that knocked over her bag of treats. “Weiss, that is so sweet! How am I supposed to top that?”

“This is just for fun, remember? Don’t top me unless you want to.”

For whatever reason, Ruby spends a full five seconds snickering. “Okay, okay, let me think. Hmm. Mmmm.” Her eyes brighten. “I know! Remember when I had to come to you for help with assignments at Beacon?”

Ah yes, the ‘C is a passing grade’ era of their friendship. “All too well. Why?”

Ruby ruffles the back of her head, smiling crookedly. Her cheeks tint red. “I might have been pretending not to understand the material a few times… a lot of times. I liked it when you helped me even if you were kinda mean back then.”

“Hey, I wasn’t mean back then!” Ruby stares at her. Weiss stares back. Okay, fine, she was mean. “Anyways, that’s kind of precious? Did you have feelings for me all the way back then?”

Ruby shakes her head. “Not yet. I just wanted to be your friend! Besides, you did help me raise my grades in the end. They shot right up like an elevator, and now we’re in one! Guess it was always fate, huh?”

If Weiss’s fate is to be trapped in an elevator, she’d like to file a formal complaint with the brother gods. That’s the second instance Ruby has acted weird about this mess since the conversation began.

She clears her throat. “I suppose it’s my turn then. Do you remember a month ago when you, me, Blake, and Yang were returning from a hunt? It was late and the academy mess hall had already closed for the night. The four of us gathered whatever food we had lying around and tried to make something from it.” She holds her hand to her mouth to suppress a giggle. “The abomination we called a dinner tasted horrible, but I couldn’t stop grinning at how silly it was. Blake and Yang went off to do their own thing, so that left just us. We were doing the ‘awkward avoiding thing’ still, but for just a little bit, I think we connected again. I-it might have been the first time my heart really panged for you, and I didn’t even realize it.”

Ruby cups her cheeks in both hands. “That’s, that’s.” She tries to pounce across the table, but a gravity rune holds her down. Weiss came prepared, hand on the hilt of Myrtenaster, though that doesn’t stop Ruby from holding her arms out and making a kissy face. “That’s the cutest thing ever! I don’t know what to say. Gosh, I’m going to miss having that.”

It’s funny how six little words can shift the atmosphere so much. Weiss opens and closes her mouth before settling on her next words. “What do you mean, you’re going to miss having that? There’ll be plenty more opportunities when we get out of here.”

Ruby freezes up, not reacting whatsoever. Just when Weiss thinks she’s going to have to be the one to break the silence, her partner twists into a mask of amused sympathy. It’s eerily reminiscent of her final expression in the dream, and it sets Weiss’s fight or flight response on edge. “I guess you haven’t realized it yet. I don’t think we’re getting out of here.”

“I beg your pardon?” Her voice jumps an octave too high, not that she cares. How could she after a declaration like that?!

“When you were asleep, I realized something. Everything happens for a reason, right? S we must be meant to be in here! That’s why no one has come for us. We need to embrace a bad situation.” She sits up straight, grinning a little too wide. The light in her eyes starts to flicker out, replaced again by that haunting dullness Weiss knows all too well.

Well this is now happening, and it’s certainly less than ideal. The older girl thinks on her next words cautiously. Clearly, Ruby is not taking this well and the isolation didn’t do her any favors. “Okay. Ruby? You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’ve been through a lot of emotions tonight. You’re not thinking straight.”

“Of course not. I’m gay.”

Weiss facepalms. At least the part of Ruby’s brain that makes stupid jokes is functioning. It would be a tragedy if that were lost. “We will get out of here, alright? Eventually someone will notice we’re gone, track us down, and fix this damn lift. We can take the stairs for the rest of our lives. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

Confusion is the reply, Ruby cocking her head at the question. “Why would you wanna leave? This is our home now, Weiss. Our world! It’s just you and I, and no one to ever tell us no. Isn’t that beautiful?”

Oh my gods, she really has lost it. “Why are you so insistent on this? How long have we been in here? How long did I leave you alone?! You’re worrying me, Ruby.”

“Don’t worry, Weiss! This is a good thing.” She tries to hop to her feet again, but Weiss reacts in an instant. The same gravity rune from before springs back to life, keeping her girlfriend in place. Ruby looks down, then back up with an unreadable expression. “...You don’t want to be in here.”

“Obviously! Why would you?”

“Weiss, we’re staying in here. Even if the doors open.”

“Ruby, I do not need this right now.” Weiss pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs. “We are not doing that. Swear on my name, I will drag you out of here kicking and screaming. You’d seriously try to resist?”

In a motion she’s undoubtedly practiced thousands of times before, she swipes Crescent Rose off her back and unfurls it to full size, crashing the massive blade through the crack in the ice table. In one slice, she cleaves it in half. Weiss shields her head as a wall of ice shards pelt her, and it’s just enough of a distraction for Ruby to escape the rune’s clutches. She stands tall, raising her scythe with menacing intent. “I would. You’ll thank me for this one day!”

Weiss grimaces at the sight and shakes her head in defeat. Everything from Ruby’s words, to her glare, to her posture tell Weiss that she’s not getting out of this one on agreeable terms. She draws Myrtenaster but keeps it at her side, reluctant to take the next step. “You know, I had a dream. Rather, a nightmare.”

“That we left the elevator?”

Damnit, how far gone is she?! “I dreamt that you betrayed me. Well there was also a part about being a housewife and having a kid, but that’s not important right now. You pushed me into this steel prison and closed the door on me. I see now that it was a warning, and I don’t intend to repeat the mistakes of my dream self.”

Ruby’s drags the tip of Crescent Rose along the floor with a deafening whine of steel against steel. Weiss enters a swordwoman’s stance, primed and familiar despite who her adversary is. Breathe in, breathe out. A single drop of sweat rolls down Weiss’s cheek. She doesn’t have to hurt Ruby, just maybe restrain her. A nap could do her well. A sudden thought crosses her mind.

“Wait!” Weiss calls out. “Pause!”

Ruby steps back, caught off guard. “What?”

“No matter how this turns out, we’ll still be girlfriends, right?”

“Oh, definitely.” Ruby nods.

Weiss thumbs up. “Good. I’m glad that’s cleared up.”

“Communication is key to a healthy relationship!”

That out of the way, Weiss raises Myrtenaster again. She glares with all the intensity of a quite-literally-caged animal. “Resume. I’m not staying in here, not even for you. Ready to settle this?”

The reaper leers at her like a wolf would a deer. “Weiss, I’ve wanted to have an all-out fight with you for years. I should ask you if you’re ready.”

“When am I not?”

Without another word, they launch themselves at each other. Weapons clash, blade on blade. The winner writes their fates.

Chapter Text

When those doors open, Weiss is walking out of this godsforaken elevator, and she'll drag Ruby kicking and screaming by the ankles if she has to. Every time her girlfriend rambles about their ‘own little world’ she’s further pushed to the realization that she needs to tear it down. With a flourish of her rapier, Weiss prepares herself to carve a path forward.

Even if she has to go through her beloved to do it.

Their blades clash with a show of sparks, and the shrill ping of metal on metal buzzes in her ears. Not a moment goes to waste. Weiss veers to the side as she slides Myrtenaster free, one foot behind the other to skirt around Crescent Rose’s strike. Ruby is skilled, that much is obvious. Weiss knows she’ll need to use whatever remaining brain cells that haven't been fried by her time in the elevator to clutch victory. Think, Schnee, think!

Grrrrrind.

Both Ruby’s and Weiss’ eyes widen in surprise and follow the noise, the former’s expression twisting into a frown while the latter holds back a laugh. A white scar cuts across the ceiling and ends at the outer end of Crescent Rose, unable to budge further thanks to its massive size. Would you look at that? Weiss stifles a chuckle as she readies her fighting stance. It appears today's battle will be an easy one. “En garde!” she declares with subtle confidence if subtle meant not bothering to hide it whatsoever.

Ruby’s eyes darken when she gazes up and down the length of her scythe. The traitorously large weapon gleams back. If there’s a single testament to how far gone she is, it’s that she’s treating her weapon with anything less than unconditional adoration. Weiss could spend decades with Ruby in holy matrimony, and she’d still question whether her wife’s love for her could ever match her love for Crescent. One flick of a switch later, and the scythe furls into its rifle mode. A pang of disappointment flutters through Weiss that they won’t be having a proper fight after all, but at least this will be easier to deal with. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to duel after they’ve left the elevator.

“Sorry in advance,” Ruby murmurs. She presses the butt of her rifle into her shoulder and stares down the barrel. She’s already lined up her shot and squeezed the trigger by the time Weiss reacts, crossing Myrtenaster against her body. Bang! Weiss tenses up as a bullet screams past her ear, deflected off her rapier by inches. Bang! The second ricochets off her blade and off two different walls before a corner catches it. Ruby hesitates for only a second, peering curiously at the second round, then presses on with her assault. Bang! Bang! Bang!

Three barrel towards her chest. Weiss spins her revolver with her thumb and wills a black snowflake to blossom before her. All three slow to a crawl, caught by the time dust rune. She swats them from the air like flies.

“Someone’s trigger happy,” Weiss says, hand planted on her hip. Ruby pouts, scrunching the corner of her mouth in an adorable little way makes Weiss want to shower her with--not now! Admiring her girlfriend comes later! She needs to focus on not getting shot through the heart.

Ruby aims again and Weiss squeezes the handle of Myrtenaster, ready to intercept. Then Ruby lowers her rifle, a wry little grin finding its way onto her face.

“Giving up?” Weiss says, not daring to lower her guard.

Ruby shakes her head. “Just admiring how cute you look when you’re nervous.”

“Wow, I literally don’t know how to respond to that.”

“While you think about it, I’m just gonna...” Bang!

The shot goes wide, too wide to be an accident. Weiss snaps in the direction of the bullet just in time to hear two pings and then get smacked across the cheek. She shrieks and tumbles to one knee. Her aura flickers bright cyan. She cups her face in spite of the throbbing pain, but she knows she can’t sit tight long. Another shot rings out and Weiss launches off the ground, somersaulting through the air while a rush of wind tells her she barely avoided the followup.

She lands on her feet and whirls on Ruby. “Since when could you do that?”

Ruby shrugs. “I’unno.”

“You don’t know?! You ricocheted it into my face! How do you not... whatever!” Weiss cuts herself off before frustration can get the better of her. She hazards a glance at her dust cylinders. There’s but a smidge of ice dust left, most of it eaten up by the table Ruby cobbled together. Weiss wonders if that was a strategic decision rather than an act of kindness. Did Ruby expect her resistance from the start? For the sake of her sanity, she chooses not to assume the worst.

Time to adjust her plan. Weiss sets one foot behind the other, ready to strike forward with all of her speed. She’ll never be able to predict which direction the shot will ricochet in from, but who says she has to? Another snowflake rune blooms behind Weiss and she propels off of it at a breakneck pace. Crescent Rose fires, and Weiss decides she won’t worry about it until she has to. Instead she thrusts her sword forward with an embittered cry. Ruby gasps and reacts the only way she can to defend herself against the sudden advance--she unfurls Crescent Rose.

Just as Weiss expected.

The outer edge of Crescent Rose explodes outward and smacks Weiss in the jaw. She growls and bears it and twists her sword arm into position. She clicks the trigger and lets loose the last of her ice dust. At the same moment, Weiss hears a whistle in the air then the back of her head erupts with pain when the bullet hits square. She’s sent careening just in time to see Crescent Rose’s muzzle flash with another shot. Unfortunately, she happens to be pressed against it.

Point blank? She’d be impressed by Ruby’s audacity if she weren’t busy bracing herself for a hellscape of agony.

Her sense of direction may as well warp inside out as she’s swept off her feet and delivered against a steel wall. Her aura flashes brightly in protest, flickers, and then fades without shattering. Weiss heaves a breath of relief; it has to be on its last leg by now. No way she can take another hit like that. Or any at all, if she’s realistic. Has Ruby always fought this dirty?

She perishes the thought. Honorably dubious tactics or not, this is a fight she must win. Ruby is her challenge, and Weiss swears she’ll conquer her.

...Phrasing, Weiss, phrasing.

She puffs a stray hair out of her eyes and surveys the scene. She nearly cheers when she discovers her plan bore fruit. Ruby's mouth hangs open in an 'O' shape. Disbelief covers her face. At the end of Crescent Rose sits a chunk of solid ice that encases the end of the barrel and the underside of the blade. Weiss' favored dust type proved its worth once again!

“It appears I’ve won,” Weiss says, standing tall with triumph. Her girlfriend presses the switch to retract the blade, but the gears whir in defiance. She does it again, and then a third time, still to no avail. It’s frozen in place with a miniature glacier to lock it down

Ruby blinks blankly then meets Weiss's eyes. “What are you talking about?” she says with such earnest curiosity that it makes Weiss frown.

Isn't it obvious, you dolt? One would certainly think so. “Crescent Rose is too large to swing in here, and now you can't retract it. You can't even aim it.”

Ruby chews the corner of her lip in thought then clicks the switch again. Still no movement. When she says nothing, Weiss continues. “I'll admit that our little lover's quarrel made for a fun duel... despite your underhanded tactics... but now it's time to drop the charade. I held the advantage from the start. You were fighting a losing battle. Are you ready to admit how ridiculous you're acting?”

Ruby ignores her. She turns her attention back to the ice, curious expression unchanged. Then she adjusts her grip to hold her weapon below and above the ice patch with each hand.

“We're not staying in here,” Weiss says. She prattles on, patience wearing thinner with each word that falls from her lips. “Surrender, Ruby Rose. You've been outplayed and out--”

Smash!

Ice shards scatter across the elevator. Weiss’s eyes go wide and she pivots away to shield herself. The unmistakable sound of a blade swishing through the air reaches her ears, but she tells herself she must be mishearing. Crescent Rose is useless in here! Yet when she looks again and sees what’s happened, her blood runs cold with disbelief.

Crescent Rose, Ruby’s first love, lays in two halves over its owner’s knee. The end of the barrel is snapped in half, separating the scythe from the rifle. Ruby drops the latter portion and twirls the blade in one hand, held reversed like a tonfa. She winks at Weiss. “Up for round two?”

Abstract horror would be an understatement if Weiss were to describe herself right now. “What have you done with my girlfriend?!”

“Hey, it needed a new barrel anyways! I didn’t want to break it like that, but you gave me no choice!” She sticks her tongue out, and Weiss huffs at how immature that girl can be even at a time like this.

“Don’t pin this on me.”

“I’d rather pin you directly.”

“What?!”

“Nothing.”

“Then quit stalling and fight!” Weiss practically snarls at her and bounds forward, her blade becoming a dozen as she puts her skill on display. Ruby has the nerve to grin at her and match her advance. Weiss isn’t sure whether to be relieved or annoyed that the part of her girlfriend that loves a fight is still very much present.

Their weapons clash countlessly in a matter of seconds, metal grinding across metal loud enough to deafen Weiss’s own thoughts. With little room to navigate, their duel becomes an acrobatic dance that weaves their movements into a tapestry of swordplay. Rather, scythe-on-swordplay? Not important, Weiss. Focus on the fight.

Runes and rose petals decorate the elevator. Weiss dives under and soars over each of Ruby’s attacks. Even after being halved, Crescent Rose’s swipes dominate the air space. What she can’t dodge she deflects lest her remaining pool of aura be stolen away.

Weiss parries a strike but lurches too far to follow up on it. Exhaustion is catching up with her and she knows it. She speaks up, trying to buy a moment to rest. “Even like that, Crescent Rose is still massive! You're only delaying the inevita...” She clams up when the scythe reaches close enough to take a lock of white hair with it. "...ble." She bites back the rest of her taunt and reengages.

Ruby twirls on her toes, harnessing the weight of her weapon to carry her into a spinning slash. She carves out gashes along the walls like claw marks from a caged beast that's long past feeding time. Weiss contorts her body to somersault over the attack, deadly yet telegraphed, just in time for her face to be introduced to boot. She yelps indignantly and stumbles back.

“I've been practicing hand to hand!” Ruby chirps as if hearing Weiss's thoughts. “Bet you didn't see that combo coming, huh?”

“Clearly not because you landed it,” Weiss says. Hopefully the full force of her deadpan is enough to convey how done she is with all this. Oh well. No more getting distracted. A loss here means... Okay, if she's being honest, she doesn't know. Obviously they can't stay in here forever contrary to what her batshit crazy scythe girlfriend would have her believe. At the very least, it'll be a pain to drag her out of here and...

She's slapped back to reality as another slash nearly disables her sword arm. What did she just say about not getting distracted?! Channeling her anger, she levels Myrtenaster and races forward. Ruby's held the center of the room for long enough. Time to claim ground.

Ruby clutches her reverse-held scythe close to her chest, the two weapons colliding with a clang. Weiss has the quicker weapon she knows it. She yanks back like a revolver cocking and then fires, unleashing a six-pointed flurry of jabs. Step by step, Ruby's forced to retreat to handle the barrage.

In the midst of a high-octane fight, it only takes a millisecond to slip up. A skilled opponent can capitalize without thinking twice, and Weiss is more than happy to consider herself as such. She targets a chink in Ruby's armor and lets the tip of her rapier soar. It skids across Crescent Rose and stabs Ruby square in the chest. She winces, red aura flashing. Weiss lands two more thrusts before Ruby recovers enough to kick off the wall behind her.

Suddenly rose petals burst around Weiss, twin flurries circling around her on either side. The swordswoman whips around just in time to catch Ruby reform whole and throw her strength into a crushing blow from above. Weiss's eyes widen and she braces on instinct, letting it crash onto the length of her sword and then uses her free arm to push back. They lock together, neither combatant willing to back down.

“Do you know how I use my eyes?” Ruby asks without missing a beat. She smiles through the strain of keeping their blades locked together. A bead of sweat rolls down her cheek, the only indication that she’s starting to tire out.

“What are you talking about?” Weiss snaps. Whatever game Ruby is trying to play by bringing that up, she wants no part of it.

“You!” Ruby drives forward and Weiss groans trying to hold the line, boots skidding against the floor. “I think of everyone I love and want to protect.” She channels her aura and shoves again. “Yang, Blake.” And again. “Jaune, Nora, Ren, Pyrrha.” And again! “Penny, Oscar, Uncle Qrow... and you!”

Weiss grimaces as all the ground she made is lost just like that. She's taken far more punishment than Ruby has and the consequences are making themselves known. The black outer edge of Crescent Rose hovers inches below her chin with only her rapier to keep it at bay.

“You could at least act like it...” Weiss murmurs, too quiet for anyone but herself to hear.

If she didn't know better, she'd say a touch of melancholy reaches Ruby's expression. “I'm glad we ended up in here. If we didn't, we would've gone on being the awkwardest pair of partners on Remnant. It took a miracle for you to realize you had a crush on me!” Weiss opens her mouth then shuts it. Okay, fair point. “And now it's just you and me, no worries, no responsibilities... Weiss, you're all I can think of.”

Weiss's heart pangs and her face twists with conflict. That was awfully... honest. For a brief moment she wonders if there's more to all this than Ruby is letting on, then Ruby's eyes flutter closed, so serene she may as well have fallen asleep.

Realization jolts Weiss like a lightning strike. How could it take her this long to realize what Ruby's planning?! It was only a few hours earlier that she was introduced to that power up close! “Ruby!”

In an instant, silver light cascades over the world. Weiss throws her free arm over her face and clenches her eyes tight, but she’s milliseconds too late. Nausea swells up in her head from the sudden flash. Before she can so much as blink the gaps from her vision, she’s swiped off her feet with a yelp. Something kicks out her legs sideways, then barrels into her gut. The wind gets sucked out of her, making her gasp painfully. Sent into the air and Weiss loses whatever remained of her senses. A rush of cool air breezes past her, then what she hopes is the finale of Ruby’s assault crashes upon her. A red blur craters her into gravity's cruel embrace. She slams against the steel slab of the floor, spread eagle and Myrtenaster clattering out of her hand. A brief flicker of cyan blue light in her peripheral tells her that her aura must have finally shattered.

That... hurt. Weiss hacks for breath and tries to turn onto her side. A weight comes down on her, holding her in place and putting an end to that idea. “What...?” She silences when the sharp edge of a blade presses under her chin and against her neck, not enough to break skin but just enough to send a message.

Consider it received and acknowledged. With a solemn vow to never again underestimate the depths Ruby will sink to win a fight, Weiss lays there and waits for her vision to clear up. The first thing she sees is a toothy grin and then rose petals floating through the air, framing her lover like a portrait.

“Weiss?”

“I know.” Weiss says. It doesn't need to be said.

She’s lost.