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Papercuts

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After a week of thought, Weiss decided that she couldn’t wait for that preordered book to arrive.  As easy as it sounded to have Ruby call her and present a bonafide reason for returning to Papercuts, she was impatient.  Plus, as had been the case over the previous weeks, a few days’ worth of social gatherings restored her confidence and proved that she could converse like a normal person.

This was her final attempt.  At least, that’s what she told herself as she made her way to Papercuts on yet another Saturday.  Realistically, so long as Ruby seemed to even slightly enjoy her company, she might return every weekend until told to stay away.  That seemed borderline desperate, but it also seemed appropriate considering the situation.

“You wrote it down?”

“Yes.”  Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out and showed Blake the folded piece of paper containing her request - a last-ditch effort to ask Ruby out.  

“How’re you ever going to date someone if you can’t talk to them?”

“It didn’t look like you and Yang were doing much talking either,” Weiss pointed out.

“We did…a little bit…”

“Before or after making out?”

“Before, obviously…”  

As Blake’s cheeks reddened, Weiss smiled and shook her head.  Blake had been surprisingly tight-lipped about what happened during their previous visit, but she’d been more than willing to accompany Weiss again today.  In fact, Weiss hadn’t even asked her to come along - she volunteered.

“I have to know.”  Deciding that now was as good a time as any to ply Blake for details, Weiss paused and turned towards her friend.  “How did she convince you to make out with her so fast?”

That was something Weiss had wanted to know all week but hadn’t asked out of respect to Blake’s privacy.  On the cusp of returning to the store, however, she had to know - both for her own edification and in case the knowledge was in any way applicable to Ruby.

“She just...asked if I wanted to live out one of my fantasies…” Blake mumbled.

“Is making out in an adult section of a bookstore one of your fantasies?”

“No, but making out with a hot girl I just met is.”

The honesty, and the blush on Blake’s cheeks, was enough to make Weiss smile and shake her head while carrying on their walk.

“You’re judging.”

“I’m jealous,” Weiss replied with a disbelieving laugh.  “Here I am wishing for the chance to take Ruby out to dinner, and you only need a minute to get to second base with her sister.”

“Technically, it was more like five minutes…”  

“I’d still trade in a heartbeat,” Weiss admitted as they turned the corner and saw Papercuts’ awning just up ahead.  Realizing they were nearly to their destination, her steps slowed and her heart sped up.

“What’s your plan?”  

“I’m going to walk right over and hand her the note.”  

Thinking about it made her even more nervous, but Blake responded by raising one brow.

“And?” she prodded when Weiss didn’t say anything more.

“‘And’ what?  I’ll hand her the note, let her read it, and hope she says yes.”  

Pray that Ruby said yes was more like it.

“I still think you should just ask.”

“Why don’t you ‘just ask’ Yang out then?” Weiss replied, and Blake scoffed.

“I would, but…”  

When Blake trailed off and uncertainty filled her eyes, Weiss realized why she’d been so reluctant to discuss what happened, and also why she’d been so eager to return today.

“But you’re scared that it was just a one-time thing,” Weiss answered on Blake’s behalf.

“Like you said, we didn’t really talk much,” Blake explained.  “So we never discussed if it was just something fun to do right then or...something more than that.”

“Do you want it to be something more?”

“I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not like I know a lot about her or how she feels...”  Sensing Blake’s hesitancy to admit more than that, Weiss patted her shoulder and offered a smile.

“Why don’t you find out the answer to that today too?”

“You mean...we both ask them out?”

“Something like that,” Weiss replied with a quick laugh at how ridiculous it sounded in theory.  In practice, however, knowing that Blake also had a big question to ask made her feel like she had company on this endeavor.

“Alright.  I’ll ask her too.”

With that settled, the two of them walked with determination over to Papercuts.  Reaching the door first, Blake set her hand on the handle and gave Weiss a look.

“Ready?”

After one last deep breath, Weiss nodded, and Blake opened the door to their new favorite bookstore.  Resolved to make this experience different from the previous three, Weiss walked into Papercuts with confidence that came easily to her on a daily basis. 

That confidence disappeared as soon as she saw the unexpected sight in front of her.

There was another customer in the store today, who Ruby was helping with enthusiasm and zeal.  Her smile was bright, her laugh joyful, and the lady she was helping seemed smitten by the interaction as they made their way to the checkout counter.

Of course this woman was smitten.  Who wouldn’t be smitten when someone like Ruby doted on them?  But apparently that’s how Ruby was with everyone, which meant asking her out based on that reason alone could be a grievous mistake.

“I can’t do this.”  

Confidence effectively wiped out, Weiss tried to back away only to run into Blake.

“What do you mean ‘you can’t do this?’” Blake replied in a hushed voice before nudging Weiss forward.  “She’s almost done helping them -”

“But what if she doesn’t actually like me?” Weiss argued with a glance towards Ruby, who was still smiling while swiping the woman’s card and putting the books in a bag.

“Then you’ll know and can move on.”  

When Weiss’ brow rose at the remark, which sounded an awful lot like something she would say, Blake sighed and snatched the note from her hand.  

“Fine, I’ll do it for you.”

“Blake, don’t you dare!” Weiss whispered, grabbing Blake’s arm to keep her from walking away.

“Then ask her yourself.”

“But this was a bad idea!”  She tried to snatch the note from Blake’s hand, but Blake held it stubbornly out of reach.

“This was your idea -”

“And it was a bad one.”

“Hey!  What’re you guys up to?”

As soon as they heard the voice, they exchanged glances and pretended everything was fine while turning towards Yang. 

“Uh, nothing,” Blake said before a shy smile snuck onto her lips.  “Hi Yang.”

“Hey Blake,” Yang replied with a warm smile of her own.  After the two of them shared that look for a few seconds, she motioned to the paper in Blake’s hand.  “Whatcha got there?”

“Oh.  It’s...nothing.”

“Ok,” Yang replied with a light laugh, looking more than willing to leave the subject at that.  Blake, however, glanced at Weiss before a small smirk appeared.

“Actually, we were just discussing how best to deliver this.”

“Blake!” Weiss exclaimed, only to watch in growing horror as Yang gave them both a confused look, took the note from Blake’s hand, and unfolded it.

“‘Hi,’” Yang read aloud, much to Weiss’ mortification.  “‘I think you’re really cute, funny, and amazing.  I’d love to take you out for dinner sometime, if you’re willing.  But only if you have time.  No pressure or anything...’”

Hearing the words out loud made Weiss cringe, especially when Blake gave her a look that clearly said ‘That’s what you spent the last few days working on?’  What Blake missed, however, was the way Yang lowered the paper and looked at her with curious, interested eyes.

“Really?”

The comment finally tore Blake’s gaze from Weiss, and she looked at Yang in surprise.

“You want to go out to dinner?” Yang clarified while waving the note.  “Like...on a date?”

Weiss shook her head at the misunderstanding, but Blake stared at Yang for a few seconds before nodding.

“I’d love to.”

Now was the time for Weiss to watch in disbelief as Yang beamed like mad and Blake smiled in return.

“Me too!” Yang confessed.  “I’ve been thinking about you all week, hoping I’d get the chance to ask you out.”  While Weiss’ brow rose at the admission, Yang glanced at her watch.  “Oh, you know what?  I haven’t taken my break yet.  How about we grab lunch now and dinner later?”

That was not one, but two dates.  That was spending practically the entire day together and, based on how their first meeting went, would probably last well into the night too.  And Blake knew it.  That’s why she looked like she just won the lottery as she nodded and said, “I’d love that even more.”

“Then it’s a date!” Yang replied, as if Weiss needed it rubbed in.  “Give me a second to grab my bag and tell Ruby.”  

With one last smile, Yang hurried away to complete those tasks, and Weiss turned towards Blake in shock.

“Ok...what just happened?”

“I’m sorry!  I really am.  I thought she’d know it was for Ruby and make a big deal about it.  I didn’t know she’d think it was from me because...why didn’t you write a name on it?”

“Because I’m an idiot, Blake, obviously.”  Even though Weiss sighed at the turn of events, she couldn’t be mad.  It was her fault for not writing Ruby’s name - or even her name - on the note.  After the hours and hours she spent trying to get her handwriting as ‘cute’ as possible, she’d forgotten the most important element of a written confession.

At least Blake lucked out because of it...

“I guess that answers your question though,” Weiss pointed out.  “She likes you.”

“Yeah...I guess so?  Which is...”  After trailing off and sending another small smile in the direction Yang just went, Blake turned towards Weiss.  “You should still ask Ruby.”

“I don’t know…”

“You don’t know that she doesn’t like you.  Maybe she’s been looking for someone who can’t string two sentences together and buys books on dog breeding.”

“Ha, ha.”  Even though Weiss shook her head, a smile slipped through.  While not exactly one of her proudest moments, it made the shortlist of the most embarrassing things she’d ever done.

“I’m just saying...you should still go for it.  What have you got to lose?”

A valid point, as Weiss had very little left to lose.  She’d already thoroughly embarrassed herself on multiple occasions and sullied what had once been a pristine social record.  She brought up romance novels repeatedly, for some reason.  She handed Ruby her to-do list, which had included a fairly revealing item.  She failed to remember a single dog breed, she hardly remembered her phone number, and she was at increased risk of accidentally bumping into inanimate objects as soon as she walked through the door.  

The worst that could happen was that Ruby declined and the spirit of Weiss’ father came back to smite her for such woeful use of the skills he spent years hammering into her head.  Honestly though, damaging her father’s pride was far less of a deterrent than expected.  If anything, she almost wanted him to see just how well she was using that prestigious last name of hers.

“Fine, you’re right,” she finally admitted.  “I’ve already made a big enough fool of myself - why not add a bit more?”

“That’s the spirit.”  

Blake smiled and patted Weiss’ shoulder, but it wasn’t long before her gaze drifted to the left.  Yang had just reappeared from the back of the store and made a quick stop at the checkout counter to whisper a few words in Ruby’s ear.  Ruby looked surprised by the news, but she quickly smiled and motioned Yang away.  

While Yang headed over to them, Blake leaned closer and lowered her voice to a whisper.

“If you want, I can wait -” she began, but Weiss quickly waved away the offer.

“Thanks, but you two have fun.  I’ll...figure this out on my own.”

She had no idea how she would figure this out on her own, and Blake seemed to suspect as much.  There was little time for argument, however, as Yang rejoined them with a smile she probably wouldn’t lose any time soon.

“Ready?” she asked and, as soon as Blake nodded, offered her arm.  When Blake willingly accepted, the two of them grinned at each other as if this was the best day in the world.  

“I thought of a few places we could go,” Yang added.  “Or we can try someplace new - your call.”

“How about we go to your favorite place?” Blake suggested, much to Yang’s delight.  

When Yang motioned towards the exit, however, Blake leaned close to Weiss and whispered “Good luck” before walking away.  Yang was talking excitedly by the time they reached the sidewalk, which left Weiss with a smile as she mosied over to one of the displays.

She didn’t want to be too conspicuous, but her gaze steadfastly remained towards the front of the store.  The sale had already ended, but the customer was biding her sweet time leaving.  It looked like she had half a mind to carry on the conversation for hours, which was most aggravating because that’s what Weiss wanted to do right now.  Fortunately, it wasn’t much longer before Ruby waved the woman away, and Weiss sent a subtle glare in her direction as she finally left the store behind.

“Hey!” Ruby called out before hurrying around the counter and nearly jogging over.  “Sorry for making you wait.”

“It’s ok.  I was just browsing.”  

Weiss waved towards the table of books she hadn’t given a second thought, but her nonchalant greeting failed when Ruby’s brow rose.  Only then did she glance over and discover that the table was covered with pregnancy books.

“Uh...congratulations?”

“I’m not pregnant,” she immediately said.  “That would require -” she added before shaking her head.  “A bit of a miracle since I’m...not exactly the straightest -”

She needed a miracle to make it through this conversation...

“I see,” Ruby replied with a giggle.  “Not that I’d judge!  I’d just be surprised.  And a little disappointed.”

That last comment drew Weiss’ full attention, but Ruby was already moving on.  

“Yang said your roommate asked her out!”

“Yes, that’s...exactly what happened.”

“That’s great.  Yang’s been talking about her nonstop since last week.  She was planning on asking you for a number or something if you came back.”

“Really?”

“Yeah!  Sounds like Blake beat her to it though.”

The irony of the situation wasn’t lost upon Weiss, but she still smiled at the outcome.  At least one of them had found some measure of success.  If it couldn’t be her, Blake was the next best choice.

“Anyway,” Ruby continued before flashing a small smile.  “If your roommate's going to dinner tonight, does that mean you’re free?”  

When Weiss’ brow rose at the question, Ruby’s smile became almost sheepish.  

“I was just thinking that if Yang will be gone too, maybe we can hang out?  We could make dinner or something.”

For a second, Weiss thought her imagination was playing tricks on her.  Then Ruby shifted between her feet, clearly waiting for an answer, and Weiss’ mind filled with surprise. 

“Really?” she asked, because she couldn’t quite believe this was possible.  After making such an incredible fool of herself...Ruby was asking her out?

“Yeah!  I mean, unless you think that’s like, weird or something...”

“I don’t.”  Worried Ruby might rescind the offer, Weiss quickly shook her head.  “That sounds great, actually, and I’d love to.  Even if it’s weird, I’d still say yes - but I don’t think it’s weird!  It’s extremely normal, actually, for two people to make plans.”

“Exactly!” Ruby said before another cute giggle slipped through her lips.  “Just two regular people, making some regular plans.”

It sounded like Ruby was teasing her, but Weiss was too elated to care.  Not only had her horrible note succeeded in getting Blake a date, but Ruby asked her out too?  Even after she suggested that she was browsing pregnancy books?

“But...why?” she asked when she realized this was too good to be true.

“Because I think you’re really cute,” Ruby admitted, and the small blush on her cheeks was enough to make Weiss blush too.  “I kept hoping you’d come back so we could talk more.”

“Even though I say the dumbest things?” Weiss asked in disbelief, only for Ruby to laugh.

“That’s just part of your cuteness!  And I love it.  Usually I’m the one being weird, but you’re so adorable stumbling over your words and saying the most random things…”

When Ruby trailed off and blushed even deeper, Weiss opened her mouth but found no words to say.  Quite frankly, she didn’t understand what was happening seeing as how she’d done nothing but embarrass herself within the walls of this store.  

Maybe Papercuts finally decided to take pity on her?

“I really like you,” she blurted out, immediately proving that hypothesis wrong.  “I mean - yeah, I really like you.” 

There was no point in trying to salvage her dignity at this point, so she might as well embrace this new reality.  If she’d wanted to retain her self-respect, she wouldn’t have returned so many times.  Something about Ruby drew her back time and time again...and it probably had something to do with that smile, which warmed her heart and made her feel lighter than air.

“I swear it’s only this store though,” she added.  “If I’m anywhere but here, I can conduct myself like a normal person.”

“Yeah?”  For some reason, Ruby looked excited by the news.  “Let’s try it out then!” she added before motioning Weiss towards the door.  Embracing the opportunity to redeem herself, she willingly followed Ruby outside and smiled when Ruby turned towards her.

“It’s nice out, isn’t it?”  

When Ruby closed her eyes and looked up at the sun, Weiss did her best not to stare.

“It is,” she replied without hesitation and with what had to be a charming smile.  Suddenly, she felt like herself again - confident, capable, and excited to see where things went from here.  Considering how her heart swooned when Ruby’s silver gaze returned to hers, she had a feeling quite a few emotions were in her future.

“I guess you’re right,” Ruby eventually said, laughing when Weiss maintained her composure for three seconds in a row.  “But I’ll see you tonight?  I can text you my address.”

“That sounds groovy.”

As soon as the word slipped out - a word Weiss had never used in her life - she closed her eyes and shook her head.  

“I mean, let me know if I can bring anything?” she asked instead, only to watch Ruby’s smile widen before a delighted giggle slipped out.

“Just yourself,” Ruby replied with a wink.  Before heading back inside, however, she paused and sent Weiss one last grin.  “And I really like you too.”

The admission released butterflies in Weiss’ chest, yet she could do nothing but watch in dumbfounded disbelief as Ruby waved and headed back to work.  Ruby glanced back and caught her staring, of course, but she had no idea if that was a good or bad thing.  Considering Ruby asked her out after she’d committed more than a few social blunders, maybe it was...good?  Maybe Ruby liked that she wasn’t put together, poised, or confident like she’d been raised to be?

When another customer passed her and walked into the store, she left Ruby to work and made her way home with a hop in her step and an undeniable smile on her lips.  It wasn’t Papercuts, after all - it was Ruby.  Ruby had this disarming effect on her.  Ruby stripped away all of the social lessons and turned her into a stumbling, sputtering fool who used words like ‘groovy.’

Not too long ago, she would have run from such a challenge.  Now, however, her fluttering heart wouldn’t even consider the option.  In fact, she had the sneaky feeling that Ruby was worth the mountain of embarrassment she was destined to experience tonight and in the foreseeable future.

Maybe that’s why she kept going back.  Because if she could spout nonsense and Ruby still liked her...then all those years of training hadn’t determined who she would be for the rest of her life.  Underneath those mandatory layers of polish and poise lingered another version of Weiss Schnee - this one an inevitable idiot who spoke before thinking and leaped before looking.  

She should probably be upset by the discovery.  Instead, she looked down, tapped her foot on the ground, and smiled.

“Prepare to do some more turning in your grave,” she remarked before chuckling to herself and making her way home.  Her father would be beside himself if he could see her now, but she couldn’t care less.  She had a date tonight, and a suspicion that there were many more in her future.

And that was pretty damn groovy.