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Papercuts

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Not that long ago, Weiss lived according to her father’s rules.  She went to the best schools, got the best grades, and tried her damndest to be the best at everything she did.  Schmoozing at corporate dinners took up her evenings.  Meeting well-heeled, horribly-arrogant ‘associates’ took up her weekends.  And, if there was any time for herself, she spent it wondering when the constant social climbing would stop.

A missing manhole cover answered that question for her.  It also granted her freedoms she’d never experienced before - most importantly, the freedom to use her intellect and social skills to forge her own path.

So she finished school and moved into the city, where everything was crowded, dirty, and small.  She rented an apartment and got a roommate, which surely earned her father’s hellbound ire.  She accepted a job ‘beneath’ her prestigious upbringing and relished the opportunity to work with people who didn’t speak in bank balances.  And, possibly the biggest change, she made friends - honest-to-goodness, real friends - her roommate being just one of them.

Her father never wanted her to have friends; he wanted her to have useful acquaintances.  Regardless, she’d learned on her own how to befriend others.  By altering her behavior and trying to treat someone like a decent human being, sometimes they liked her in return.

The change was a work in progress, and sometimes she fell back into her ‘polished, put-together’ act.  But, overall, she felt more connected to others than she ever had.  People weren’t put on the planet to be used and discarded; some of them were worth keeping around.

That newfound mentality explained why she slipped out of the apartment on a Saturday morning, and why she ventured outside of her neighborhood in search of a store she’d never visited before.  

Today, she wasn’t looking for a way to advance her social standing or flex her perfected demeanor.  Her goal was far simpler than that: shopping for a birthday gift.  And, because she didn’t want to be caught  while shopping for that gift - there was no faster way to spoil a surprise than being seen buying it - she went out of her way to shop in private.

While inconvenient and vaguely annoying, going out of her way was one of the many ways to show that she cared about someone and valued them as a person.  For someone she truly cared about, she would gladly sacrifice a bit of her time.

If her father was around to add his two cents, he would bellow that everyone should bend over backwards for her, not the other way around.  Fortunately, he didn’t get to bellow anymore.  Or maybe he was, but his voice couldn’t reach her from the depths of hell.  

Regardless, she didn’t plan on spending hours upon hours picking out a present.  She already had several ideas as to what she wanted to buy and only needed a small recommendation as to which of those ideas was best.  Unfortunately, in order to acquire that recommendation and the gift, she would have to suffer the indignity of setting foot in a store called Papercuts.

The bookstore was named Papercuts, for crying out loud.  

It was almost as if the owner didn’t want customers.  Or, if they did, they wanted each one to be reminded of the most pointlessly-painful injuries in existence.  But she was determined to keep this gift a surprise, which meant she couldn’t be spotted in the bookstore closer to home, which meant she had to shop here.  In a bookstore named Papercuts.

Remarkably, the store looked almost identical to the one in her neighborhood, except with an edgy logo and that ridiculous name.  The surrounding area was quaint with a friendly, prosperous atmosphere, assuring her that she wasn’t walking into some front for money laundering when she opened the door and stepped inside.  The door jingled as it fell shut behind her, drawing one of the employee’s gazes her way.

“Hey there!”  

The Papercuts employee - a girl near Weiss’ age with long, blonde hair and a warm smile - set a stack of books on a display table and turned Weiss’ way.  

“Can I help with something?”

Faced with the girl’s obvious beauty, one of the most blatant status symbols, Weiss’ instinct was to charm.  She even put on the smile for it - then she remembered she was only here for a birthday present, and this girl had already offered to help.

“I’m looking for a gift,” she replied with a more friendly, less charming smile.  “I was hoping you could recommend something?”

“Oh, uh, I’m not the best with recommendations, but Ruby can help.”  Before Weiss could respond, the girl turned towards the back of the shop and shouted, “Ruby!  Come help someone!”

“Coming!” someone yelled from the rear of the store, and the blonde turned back to Weiss with another warm smile.

“She’ll be right out,” she concluded before picking up the stack of books and carrying them towards another set of shelves.

Left on her own, Weiss looked around the store and felt moderately impressed by what she saw.  The aisles were spacious, the shelves were well-organized, the display tables were tidy, and several armchairs invited customers to stay awhile.  If she was the type who read in bookstores, as if she couldn’t possibly wait until she got home to crack open her newest novel, she might consider this a nice place to spend some time.  Today, however, she was only here to pick out a gift.

“Sorry for the wait!”

The wait hadn’t been long, but when she turned and opened her mouth to say as much, she found herself face-to-face with quite possibly the most attractive girl she’d ever seen.  

“I was making one of our new displays,” the girl explained with a smile, thankfully oblivious to Weiss’ growing disbelief.  “I’m Ruby,” she added while extending her hand for a handshake.

Weiss managed to shake Ruby’s hand, but she couldn’t convince herself to stop staring.  Not only did Ruby have the prettiest silver eyes she’d ever seen, but those eyes were coupled with an infectious smile and short brown hair that looked like it had a mind of its own.

She was cute.  

She was so cute that she looked more fit for a palace than a bookstore, with her effortless cuteness capturing hearts and convincing world leaders to do whatever she asked.

Faced with such off-the-charts social clout, Weiss didn’t know if she should be charming or friendly.  Was she supposed to win Ruby over?  She should try, but what type of smile should she use?  She should smile - was she smiling?  But she also needed to say something.  Start with her name.

“I’m Weiss,” she replied with what she hoped was a charming smile.  “It’s nice to meet you, Ruby.”

It was a proper greeting, but Ruby giggled, making Weiss’ heart flutter in the process.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Weiss!” she replied with a smile that outshone Weiss’ best attempt at one.  

How did she smile like that?  Had she been taught or was it natural?  Because it felt very natural - although what it did to Weiss’ heart was most assuredly not.

“So…” Ruby began to say, and Weiss - realizing she was being a poor host - spit out the first words that came to mind.

“So, Ruby, what brings you here today?”

As soon as confusion flickered through Ruby’s beautiful eyes, Weiss heard her mistake and silently scolded herself for such a stupid question.  But it was ok.  She could recover from that god-awful beginning.

“Uh...I’m here because I...kinda work here?”  

Ruby was gracious enough to smile with her answer, a welcome but undeserved reward for the blunder.

“Oh, right.”  After waving off the response as if it was obvious, Weiss tried another smile.  Smiles usually worked.  “For a second, I thought you were another customer.”

When Ruby’s brow furrowed and she glanced down at her shirt, which very clearly said Papercuts on it, Weiss struggled to keep her confident, unflappable smile in place.  That might have just been one of the dumbest things she’d ever said, but she refused to let her incredulity show.

“Guess I could be a customer,” Ruby finally replied with a soft laugh that granted a semblance of clemency.  Whether that laugh was at Weiss’ comment or the situation in general, Weiss didn’t know.  What she did know was that Ruby had the cutest laugh she’d ever heard.  

“But I actually work here, so...Ruby Rose, at your service.”  

When Ruby bowed after the introduction, Weiss’ heart responded with another flutter.

Who was this person, and how was she making Weiss so flustered?  She grew up rubbing elbows with some of the most elite members of their society.  She’d learned all of the skills necessary to charm and flatter anyone she met.

“Have you been here before?” Ruby asked after straightening up and subtly pulling her shirt back into place.

“I haven’t, actually.”

“Then welcome to Papercuts!  Please handle the books carefully.”

Spotting the playful gleam in Ruby’s eyes, Weiss laughed - a loud, obnoxious laugh that was the furthest thing from poised, graceful, or normal.  

Fortunately, Ruby grinned at the response.  Clearly, she didn’t mind that Weiss was making an utter and absolute fool of herself.  Which made one of them, but at least one of them was better than none of them.

“Yang said you needed help,” Ruby continued while gesturing in the blonde’s direction.  “So...what can I help with?”

“Um, yes.”  

Weiss probably had a reason for requesting assistance, but she couldn’t remember what that reason was.  Now, all she could think about was asking Ruby on a date.  Was it inappropriate to ask someone out after having known them for three minutes?

“I’m all ears.”  After waving towards one ear, Ruby smiled and shook her head.  “I mean, not all ears, but I have a couple.”

Again, Weiss laughed.  Again, it wasn’t her usual laugh.  It was...louder and probably more annoying.  She needed her good laugh back, but right now she couldn’t even remember what that one sounded like.

She just needed to start a conversation like a normal person.  Once they started talking, she would settle into a rhythm and woo Ruby’s socks off in no time.  Preferably more than just Ruby’s socks, but she needed to take baby steps at the moment.

“I’m looking for a book,” she said with confidence, only to freeze and shake her head when she realized that she was in a bookstore.  Of course she was looking for a book.  

Yet Ruby laughed, and the light, joyful sound was enough to make her smile at the mistake.  Smile and cringe a bit, because that was still the opposite of smooth.

Smooth!  That’s what she needed to be.

“You came to the right place,” Ruby replied, her smile making Weiss’ heart do inexcusably-unrealistic things.  “What kind of books do you like?”

“Well, I don’t read as much as I used to,” she admitted, feeling compelled to honesty under Ruby’s gorgeous silver gaze.  “I like to read mysteries though.”

“Those are fun!  Have you read any of the new stuff, like from the last year or so?”

“Unfortunately not.  I’ve been pretty busy working, but my - oh.  Wait.”  Abruptly remembering the real reason she was there, she shifted gears mid-sentence.   “Actually, I’m looking for a birthday gift.”

That was the exact opposite of smooth, which was why Ruby’s brow furrowed.

“For...yourself?”

She was already looking at what she wanted for her birthday.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t buy people.  Not anymore, at least.  

“For my roommate, Blake,” she replied, and silently congratulated herself for not continuing the trend of stupid answers.

“Is Blake a guy roommate or girl roommate?”  

“A girl, but we’re not dating.”  

Why did she add that part?  

“Not that I care if she’s a girl,” she added, making matters not-at-all better.  “I mean, her gender doesn’t matter - I’d date her.  But she’s just - we’re just friends.”

“Ok…got it.”  Thankfully, Ruby nodded and kept her smile.  If anything, it looked like she was enjoying their conversation - hopefully?  “So you’re looking for a birthday gift for your roommate, Blake, who’s a girl and only a friend.”

“Exactly,” Weiss replied with a sigh of relief. 

“I think we’re on the same page now,” Ruby said, the sparkle in her eyes suggesting even more happiness.  “And I can help you find something for her!  What kind of books does she like?”

“Mostly trashy romance novels.”  That was not what Weiss meant to say, but Ruby’s brow had already risen in surprise.  “I mean, really trashy stuff,” her mouth continued as if it had a mind of its own.  “I don’t even know where she finds some of it, honestly.”

“Uh, well, we have an adult section...”  

When Ruby pointed towards the far back corner of the store, Weiss shook her head and begged for the social deities to save her.  She’d taken plenty of etiquette courses during her childhood, yet discussing romance novels with strangers had never come up.  Probably because it was so far outside the realm of acceptable social behavior that the instructors figured the answer should be obvious.

“Oh, that’s fine.”  It was perfectly fine because she shouldn’t have brought it up to begin with.  “I made a list -”  

After patting several pockets in search of her cheat sheet, she cringed when she realized that not only had she forgone a paper list - typically, she had no issue remembering three titles on her own - but she also just made it sound like she made a list of trashy romance novels.  

“Actually…”  Giving Ruby an apologetic look, both for this conversation and for taking up so much time, Weiss slowly backed towards the door.  “I must’ve left it at home, so I’ll have to come back some other time.  Are you usually here on the weekends?”

“Yeah, I work all day on Saturdays and Sundays.”

“Good.  Then maybe you can think of some recommendations.”  As soon as Weiss saw the blush rising on Ruby’s cheeks, she shook her head.  “Not those!  I don’t need any of those - really, we already have too many.  She!  She has too many.  I’ve never read them.  I mean, I sneak a few chapters every once in a while but -”

She needed to leave.

“But I’ll come back another time,” she concluded.  “When I’m...more prepared to make a purchase.”

Ruby had hardly nodded before Weiss bolted through the door and left Papercuts behind.  It was only when several blocks separated her from that cursed store that she sighed and mourned the loss of her dignity.

She was a Schnee, dammit.  She might have left the company behind and eschewed a life of excess and fortune, but she was still a Schnee!  Just because she gave up that life didn’t mean she’d forgotten everything she learned.  She could still schmooze with the best of them.  Just last week, she accidentally convinced Sun to give her a hundred dollars.

That was only Sun, but still.  She hadn’t even meant to do that.  If she could do that on accident, then why couldn’t she make a positive impression when she tried?  What made Ruby different?

“She’s so cute...” Weiss muttered to herself while hurrying home.  She might have just mortally embarrassed herself but one thing was for certain - she was going back next Saturday.

Chapter Text

After a week of preparation, Weiss was ready.  She’d regained her confidence by charming every person she came across, with predictable success.  She’d made an actual list of Blake’s favorite novels - the most PG ones.  And she’d sworn that she wouldn’t make as big of a fool of herself as last time.

Realistically, making such a fool of herself again would be borderline impossible.  She’d practiced.  She’d prepared.  She was ready.  All she had to do was make it out of Papercuts without mentioning another X-rated topic, and she would consider it a win.

The bar was remarkably low, but she should clear it without issue.  

Too bad her father couldn’t see her now.  He would voluntarily fall into the next open manhole if he witnessed her inability to converse with someone being paid by the hour.  Weiss Schnee...born and raised to lead one of the largest companies in the world...reduced to stutters by a retail employee.

By a very, very cute retail employee, who somehow short-circuited her normally-effortless ability to flatter and charm.  That realization had led her to two possible conclusions - either they were soulmates, or she’d been duped by a pretty face and even-prettier smile.

The latter was something her father specifically warned her about; falling for beauty meant falling for a farce, as he would say.  Of course, he was the one who taught her to use her looks as a weapon when she needed something, so what did he know?  He couldn’t even watch where he was walking when in an active construction zone.

Without more information, however, she couldn’t decide which conclusion was correct.  That led her to this moment, as she headed towards Papercuts with determination yet apprehension for what was to come.  Spotting Ruby through the window was nearly enough to send her in the other direction, but she refused to back down from a challenge.  

Not that this was a challenge.  It was a temporary obstacle she’d yet to overcome, but that she would overcome because she was a Schnee and that’s what Schnees did.  So, after a deep breath and multiple prayers for divine intervention, she opened the door and walked inside.

She didn’t see any other customers, which was perfect, and Ruby wasn’t hard to find.  Standing near the checkout counter, Ruby was arranging books on a display table while the other girl - the blonde one - pulled stacks of brand new hardcovers from boxes on the floor.  It was in the midst of grabbing another stack that she noticed Weiss and smiled.  

“Hey!  It’s birthday book girl!”

The name caught Ruby’s attention, and she looked up, caught Weiss’ gaze, and smiled.  Weiss, however, was thrown by the greeting.  Obviously, she made enough of an impression that Ruby talked about her, but was that a good or bad thing?  What did she say?  Did she think Weiss was funny?  Attractive?  Hopelessly tongue-tied?

“Hey Weiss!”

None of that mattered because her prayers were just answered - Ruby remembered her name.

“Hi Ruby,” she replied while Ruby walked over to her.  

“Back to pick out a book for Blake?”  

When Ruby winked at the question, showing off that she remembered much more than Weiss’ name, a blush heated Weiss’ cheeks.

“I am.  And this time I brought my list.”  Wishing the blush away, Weiss held up a folded piece of paper and watched Ruby’s eyes move to it.

“Can I see?”

“By all means.”  Satisfied with how seamlessly that interaction went, Weiss handed over the list and watched Ruby scan it.

“‘Do laundry, clean bathroom, buy -’”

Before Ruby read the last item aloud, Weiss snatched the page and wished for a missing manhole cover for herself.  Unfortunately, Ruby’s blush implied that she already saw far more than she should have.

What was happening?  Was this store cursed?  Did it exist in an alternate universe where social behaviors were the opposite of what Weiss had been taught?  What else explained why her ability to behave like a normal person evaporated as soon as she stepped through the door?

She could recover.  Possibly.  She just needed the rest of this to go perfectly, and hope Ruby forgot what she just read.

“It’s this one.”  

This time, Weiss checked the page before handing it over.  Ruby, however, gave an amused smile while accepting it.

“You like that stuff?”

“I...don’t mind it…” Weiss mumbled, looking anywhere but at Ruby while a fire raged across her cheeks.  

Maybe this was her family’s destiny.  It wasn’t wealth, power, or prestige - it was inglorious deaths.  First, her father falls into a sewer - where he belonged, honestly, considering he was utter garbage.  Then she passes away from humiliation in a store named Papercuts. 

Death by Papercuts. 

All Ruby had to do was add another word on the matter and Weiss would follow the path of her father.  As fortune had it, however, Ruby didn’t dwell on the topic.  Instead, she read through the list of carefully-selected, purposefully-tame books and nodded at what she found.

“These are pretty great,” she said once she reached the end, then smiled and waved the piece of paper through the air.  “You have really cute handwriting.”

“Oh.  Um, thank you.”  

Weiss had received far more extensive compliments in the past, but the earnestness in Ruby’s eyes made her want to cover her steaming cheeks and squeal like a schoolgirl.

“I have a great suggestion,” Ruby added with another wave of the book list.  “Want to check it out?”

“Of course.  That’s…that’s what I came here for.”

Honestly, Weiss came here to check out Ruby - buying a present for Blake was secondary at this point.  If all else failed, meaning she left Papercuts with no gift and ample embarrassment, she would give Blake a gift card or something.  Not exactly the most endearing display of friendship, but she didn’t have much social capital to spare at the moment.

“It looks like your roommate likes adventures.”  Motioning Weiss after her, Ruby led the way to one of the aisles on the right-hand side of the store.  “With a healthy dose of romance thrown in…” she added before stopping at one of the shelves, running her hand along the spines, and pulling out a book.  

“How about this?”

“The Dust Chronicles?” Weiss read out loud before scoffing at the busty blonde adorning the cover.  “Well, isn’t she provocative.”  

When Ruby’s brow rose at the poor word choice, she resisted the urge to groan.  

“I mean provocative as in exciting,” she tried to correct. 

“Does that mean you’re into blondes?” Ruby asked in return, confirming that Weiss only made it much, much worse.  But in every crisis was an opportunity, and she could take advantage of it.  At least, in most cases she could, but that probably didn’t matter right now.  

“Actually, no,” she attempted anyway.  “I mean, sure, she has some...enviable qualities.”  After glancing at the book - more specifically, the main character’s ample bosom - she shook her head.  “But hair color and...physical attributes...don’t matter to me.  Personality matters far more.”

She...did it?  She strung together several sentences without embarrassing herself?

“Of course, I’m more attracted to brunettes,” she added.  Because of course she had to ruin that perfect answer by divulging too much information.  Why didn’t she just describe exactly what type of person she was attracted to, down to what they were currently wearing?

Fortunately, Ruby only seemed amused by the response, and even ran a hand through her hair - an unfairly-tantalizing motion that sent Weiss’ heart slamming against her ribcage.

“Guess I have a chance, huh?”

The accompanying smile reduced Weiss to sputters as she tried to sort out her thoughts while her interest spiked to unheard-of levels.

“I - um, would never - rule anyone out...” she mumbled before trailing off and leaving her response at that.  Under ordinary circumstances, she wouldn’t have any issue telling Ruby that yes, she had a very good chance, and maybe they should have dinner to discuss those chances.

Weiss missed those days of certainty...although this was exciting in its own way.  Exciting and horrifying, but in an addictive way.

“I mean, thank you.”  When she raised the book to show what she was grateful for, she grimaced when she nearly hit Ruby’s shoulder with it.  “Sorry,” she added before attempting her best smile.  “But thank you for the recommendation.  I’ll get this for her.”

“Awesome!  You’ll have to let me know how she likes it.”

Faced with that comment and Ruby’s friendly smile, Weiss couldn’t help but imagine that Ruby wanted to talk to her.  If that was true, then the feeling was mutual.  Though Weiss was struggling to hold up her side of a conversation right now...

“I’ll do that,” she agreed before throwing out the first question that popped into her mind - anything to keep the conversation going.  “Do you like reading?”  

“I do!  When it’s slow, I check out the new stuff.  Getting paid to read - pretty cool, right?”  

“That sounds like Blake’s dream job,” Weiss replied with a small laugh.  It was only when she saw Ruby’s smile that she realized she just strung together two composed sentences in a row - a shameful accomplishment she would gladly accept.

“What about you?” Ruby asked while casually leading them back to the main portion of the store.  “Want to get something for yourself?”

“What would you suggest?” Weiss asked in return, though what she really wanted from this store didn’t come in paper form.

“Do you like romance?”

The moment Ruby turned those silver eyes Weiss’ way, Weiss’ heart jumped into her throat.

“I -” she began only to clear her throat and try again.  “I, um, wouldn’t call myself a very romantic person, but I’ll definitely try if that’s what you’re looking for.”  

As soon as Ruby’s brow rose, Weiss heard how that sounded out loud.  

“I mean if you like romance nov- books!  Romance books, of the not-mature variety.  If you like them, I’m willing to...give them a try…”

Apparently, her record would remain at two composed sentences in a row, because that was just horrible.

“You know…”  When Ruby lowered her voice and leaned forward, Weiss’ heart nearly stopped.  But Ruby stopped a polite distance away and let her gaze flick towards the back of the store.  “I’ve snuck a few chapters too.  But don’t tell Yang!  She’ll never stop teasing me if she finds out.”

With a laugh, Ruby backed away and playfully touched a finger to her lips.  Weiss, meanwhile, tried to laugh too, but she couldn’t hear it over her heart beating like a jackhammer in her ears.

She wanted to know which one Ruby read though.  Or was it more than one?  She couldn’t ask.  She shouldn’t ask.  No matter how much she wanted to know the answer, she should not ask what romance novels Ruby indulged in for fun.  She shouldn’t ask for the title, or the topic, or the situations or positions - 

“I’ll take this too,” she blurted out in an effort to distract herself, and grabbed the first book her hand landed upon.  When she looked at the cover, however, she discovered that she just traded one embarrassing subject for another.

“Dog breeding?” Ruby asked while a smile tugged at her lips.

“Um...yes.”  

What was Weiss thinking?  She didn’t even have a dog.  

“Do you breed dogs?” 

“No….I just have a...passing curiosity...about how they’re bred.” 

Who had a ‘passing curiosity’ on dog breeding?  This was worse than asking what kinky things Ruby was into.  At least that deathly embarrassment would elicit information that Weiss would gladly use in the future if presented with the opportunity. 

“That’s cool.”  Regardless of how ridiculous Weiss’ response was, Ruby grinned.  “I love dogs.”

“I do too!”  

Thank god they found common ground, allowing Weiss to escape the conversation with some dignity intact.

“Yeah?”  Even Ruby was excited now, which made her gorgeous silver eyes sparkle and her smile warm Weiss’ heart.  “Do you have one?”

“Oh.  Well...no, I don’t.  I just...really like to pet them when I see them.”

Maybe it was time for Weiss to accept that she wasn’t leaving this place with any dignity at all.

“Oh,” Ruby replied before a giggle slipped through her lips.  “Then do you have any favorite breeds?”

“Sure, I like…”  Dammit.  She couldn’t think of a single dog breed.  “I like fluffy ones,” she finally said.  “And ones with four legs,” she added, because why shouldn’t she make this worse.  “I really like their fuzzy ears and...cute noses…”

She just needed to stop talking.

“That’s like all of them!” Ruby replied with a happy smile.  “So you really just like all dogs?”

“Yes.”  It felt like Ruby was throwing her lifelines, and Weiss couldn’t be more grateful for it.  “I like all dogs.”

“Yang and I have a dog, you know.”  

When Ruby nodded towards the blonde, who winked at them before carrying on with her work, Weiss had a horrible realization.

“Oh, I didn’t realize you two -”  

Unable to say the words aloud, Weiss motioned between Yang and Ruby.  Ruby, however, looked briefly confused before breaking into laughter.

“Ew, no.  We’re sisters!”  Reading Weiss’ surprise, Ruby nodded.  “Different moms.  That’s why we look nothing alike.”

“Oh...that’s good then.”

“Good that we’re sisters or good that we’re not dating?”

If Weiss stopped saying stupid things, she wouldn’t have to answer questions like this.

“...both,” she replied, hoping that was the least revealing answer.  It seemed to work too, as Ruby just nodded and carried on the conversation.

“Want to see him?”

“Yes, of course.”  

Thank god, Weiss thought to herself while Ruby raced around the checkout counter and grabbed her phone.  Once she found a photo, she held out the screen so Weiss could see.

“His name’s Zwei,” she explained while Weiss looked at the adorable, happy, grey-and-white fluff ball.

“Cuteness must run in the family.”  

Weiss blushed as soon as the words slipped out, and even more when Ruby gave the picture a confused glance.

“I never met his family,” she said before giggling.  “I bet they were cute though!” 

That’s what happened when Weiss tried to flirt - she complimented Ruby’s dog.  Really, if the floor opened up and swallowed her right now, she would gladly accept the escape from this unending embarrassment.  At this point, she deserved a headline-making demise.

“Here, let me ring those up for you,” Ruby added while motioning for the books in Weiss’ hands.  

After handing them over, Weiss searched for her credit card while Ruby rang up the purchases.  It felt like their time together was drawing to a close, which was far more disappointing than relieving.  Even though she was making a fool of herself, she was...also having fun? 

“Alright, it’s thirteen-fifty.”  Once Weiss handed over her card, Ruby swiped it and quickly bundled everything in a bag.  “I hope your roommate likes the book,” she added while returning Weiss’ card and sticking the receipt in the bag.  “And that you like your book too!”

“I’m sure she will, and I will.”  Holding up the bag, Weiss stepped away from the counter and smiled.  “Thank you for the help.”

“You’re welcome!  And, uh, maybe I’ll see you around sometime?”

“Definitely.”  

Ruby’s smile at the affirmative response only made it more certain that Weiss would be back, regardless of the embarrassment.  

Holding onto that smile as long as possible, Weiss backed away from the counter and promptly knocked into one of the tables.  The resulting thud nearly sent the display crashing to the floor, but she managed to lunge forward and steady it in time.  Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

“Are you ok?”  

Ruby was already rushing over to help, but Weiss shook her head and flashed a smile.  

“I’m fine,” she said even though her cheeks were reaching catastrophic new levels of hot.  “That was just...really clumsy of me.  I’m sorry.”

Thankfully, the books hadn’t fallen over.  Because that was the most embarrassing thing that could have happened.  As if sharing her to-do list and complimenting Ruby’s dog weren’t embarrassing enough.

“Maybe I should, like, walk you home or something,” Ruby suggested.  “Make sure you get there alright.  Those sidewalks are pretty uneven, you know?”

The offer sounded heavenly, but Weiss wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not.  Considering Ruby probably couldn’t leave while in the midst of working, it had to be a joke.  So Weiss forced a smile and shook her head.

“I’ll be alright.”  This time, she looked where she was going before backing away.  “I made it here just fine, didn’t I?”

“That’s true,” Ruby replied with another cute smile.  “I’ll see you later then!”

“Of course.”  Hoping to avoid another embarrassment, Weiss memorized as much of that smile as possible before hurrying outside.  Only when the door fell shut behind her did she sigh and shake her head.

At least she got Blake’s birthday gift.  That offered some measure of solace as she set off...only to immediately stub her toe on the sidewalk and nearly go sprawling onto the ground.  Fortunately, if fortune existed in her life anymore, she ‘only’ stumbled forward, flailed her arms a bit, and eventually caught her balance.

Another crisis averted.  Except when she turned and confirmed that Ruby just witnessed the entire failure through the window.  Reading Ruby’s concern even from there, Weiss flashed a big smile and a thumbs-up before hurrying away as quickly and safely as possible.

There was embarrassment, then there was humiliation.  If she had to rate how that interaction just went…

At least she got Blake’s birthday present.  The book on dog breeding could be a good gag gift too, considering how little Blake liked dogs.  It only cost Weiss all of her remaining dignity and…

Suddenly frowning, she paused and searched through the bag of books.  Thirteen-fifty seemed too cheap for two hardcovers...a suspicion she confirmed by looking at the receipt and realizing that Ruby had given her an employee discount.

“And you didn’t even notice?” she scolded herself before dropping the receipt back into the bag, shaking her head, and heading home.

That store was a cursed domain funneling away all of her charm and charisma.  Without those traits, she was left with nothing but sputters, stumbles, and the unenviable ability to stick her foot in her mouth.  She would prevail in the end, most likely...but her certainty wasn’t quite what it used to be.

She just wanted to take Ruby on a date.  It didn’t have to be fancy or extravagant; they could just sit, talk, and share some food outside of Papercuts.  Maybe then she could hold a conversation without mortally embarrassing herself...

Chapter Text

“Can you tell me the plan again?”

Considering they were already on their way to Papercuts, Blake’s continued questions made Weiss sigh.

“We’re going to the bookstore,” she repeated for what felt like the tenth time.  “And you’re going to distract Ruby’s sister while I try to ask her out.”

“And why can’t you ask her out with her sister around?”

“Because I can hardly talk, Blake.”  When Blake laughed at the admission, Weiss rolled her eyes and kept walking.  “I need as many advantages as I can get…” she muttered as they drew nearer and nearer to their destination.

After the catastrophic failures of her first two visits to Papercuts, she’d enlisted Blake’s help in turning the tide in her favor.  Now, not only would she have emotional support but also assurance that she and Ruby wouldn’t be interrupted.  Freed of possible distractions, maybe - just maybe - she could summon the words and poise to ask Ruby out to dinner.

“I can’t wait to meet this girl.”

“She’s incredible…” Weiss sighed, much to Blake’s continued entertainment.  

“She must be if she can make a fool out of you.”

She’s not making a fool out of me,” Weiss argued, drawing Blake’s dubious gaze.  “I’m making a fool of myself…” 

“Much better.”

Sensing the sarcasm, she rolled her eyes and shook her head.  “Look, I don’t understand it either.  I’m more than capable of speaking to anyone - everyone, really - except her.”

“She’s your weakness.”

“I don’t have a weakness.”

“Then why can’t you talk to her?”

Realizing she had very little explanation for that other than ‘because she’s cute,’ Weiss kept her mouth shut and nodded towards the awning marking the store of her unraveling.  “There it is,” she added as they approached, feeling her palms dampen as inexplicable nerves sprang about her chest.

“Papercuts?” Blake read aloud before scoffing.  “What kind of name is that?”

“My thoughts exactly.”  At least, that had been one of Weiss’ first thoughts...before she cared less about the name and more about the gorgeous worker inside.  “Come on,” she added while leading them to the door.  Once there, she glanced through the glass, spotted no one, and took a deep breath before pulling the door open.

“Try to give me as much time as possible,” she whispered as the two of them walked inside to the sound of the bell.  

“You so owe me for this…” Blake muttered in response, but Weiss’ agreement disappeared when Ruby hurried out of the back of the store and spotted them.

Just seeing Ruby was enough to make Weiss’ heart flutter, and she suddenly questioned her ability to follow through with her plan.  Unfortunately, there was no time to back out now, as Ruby was already on her way over.

“Weiss!” she greeted them with a big smile that melted Weiss’ heart.

“Hi Ruby.”  

Suddenly bashful, Weiss flashed a smile before averting her gaze and attempting to quell the blush rising on her cheeks.  Three seconds into this endeavor and she would already give herself a failing grade.

“Three weeks in a row,” Ruby continued unaware.  “Must be my lucky day, huh?”

That was the perfect opening to say that Ruby could make Weiss extraordinarily lucky by going to dinner tonight.  Instead, she met Ruby’s gaze for only a second before glancing away and muttering something along the lines of, “Yes, maybe, or mine too…”

The uncharacteristic response drew Blake’s interest, but Weiss was too busy being flustered to worry about what Blake thought of her.  Instead, she cleared her throat and attempted to be a proper host.

“This is my roommate -” 

“Oh, you’re Blake!”  With a bright smile, Ruby stuck out her hand to shake Blake’s.  “The one who likes all kinds of books.”  

When Ruby’s gaze darted Weiss’ way, Blake gave Weiss a thoughtful expression while Weiss struggled to maintain a neutral look.

“That would be me,” Blake finally replied while shaking Ruby’s hand.

“Happy birthday, by the way!”

“Thank you.”  

This time Blake’s glance was suspicious, probably wondering (rightfully so) what information Weiss spilled already.

“Did it already pass?”  Ruby glanced at Weiss with the question, and Weiss nodded when Blake did.  “Then you got your gift already?  Have you read it yet?”

“I did, actually.”

“And??  What’d you think?”

“It was really good,” Blake admitted.  “I hardly put it down.”

“That’s great!  It’s one of my favorites.”  When Ruby leaned against the display table and Blake suddenly looked much more interested in the conversation, Weiss glanced between them with growing confusion.  Blake didn’t usually get along with people right off the bat...

“Who’s your favorite character?” Ruby asked with a smile, and Blake actually smiled in return.

“As unoriginal as it is...I liked Sky the most.”

“She’s hard not to like, right?  Especially when she -”  Pausing mid-sentence, Ruby glanced at Weiss and cringed.  “Sorry, I won’t spoil it.”

“Oh, she won’t -”

“I might read it someday,” Weiss interrupted, giving Blake a pointed look.  “Especially if it’s as good as you both say.”

“It’s great if you’re interested in a crazy adventure with a little romance thrown in!”  That didn’t sound like Weiss’ usual novel, but she didn’t say as much as Ruby’s gaze returned to Blake.  “The second book is coming out next month.  If you want, we can preorder it for you.”

“I’ll do that,” Weiss spoke up the moment Blake opened her mouth.  The eagerness earned her a curious look from Ruby and a bemused look from Blake, but she shrugged and waved as if it was no big deal.  “I bought you the first one, didn’t I?  What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t buy the second too?”

“It’s going to be a trilogy,” Ruby pointed out.

“Then I’ll get you all three.”  When Weiss shot Blake a triumphant smile, Blake barely held an eye roll at bay.

“You’re such a good friend, Weiss,” she said instead - the sarcasm enough for Weiss to catch but not enough for Ruby to pick up on.  

“A simple ‘thank you’ will do.”  Turning back to Ruby, Weiss smiled at their new plan - and the fact that she’d recaptured Ruby’s attention.  “What do you need to place a preorder?”

“Just a name and number.  Then you’ll get a call when it’s ready to pick up.”

“You’ll call me?”  

Weiss’ heart sped up at the thought, only to fall when Ruby shook her head.  

“Depends on who’s working when the books arrive.”

“Oh…”

“But if you’re ok with waiting, I could call you?”

Even though Ruby was only asking if she could call Weiss about a preordered book, Weiss didn’t care.  “That’d be nice,” she replied instead, and butterflies fluttered through her chest when Ruby smiled.

“Glad you got that sorted out.”  The dry comment jolted Weiss out of her Ruby-induced stupor just in time to catch Blake’s mini eyeroll.  “I think I’ll go look around...” Blake added, only to trail off when Yang walked out of the back of the store with two large boxes in her arms.  

“Ok, that’s fair,” she muttered under her breath before heading towards the blonde.

Happy to be rid of the third wheel, Weiss returned her attention to Ruby.  Now that they had a few minutes alone, she had to figure out how to ask Ruby out.  But first...

“Should I give you my number?” 

Typically, Weiss refused to hand out that information unless someone had a legitimate need for it, but she had a legitimate need for Ruby to have it.  Or at least have access to it.

“Yeah, sure!”  

With a friendly wave, Ruby headed over to the register.  Once there, she pulled a binder from underneath the counter and flipped it open to a partially-filled page - not exactly the most secure location for someone’s personal information, but Weiss wasn’t about to complain.

“Ok,” Ruby muttered while finding a pen.  “The Dust Chronicles,” she continued, writing the title in the appropriate box.  “For Weiss…?”

“Schnee,” Weiss added when Ruby looked up at her.  “Weiss Schnee.”

“Schnee,” Ruby said aloud as she wrote.  Before carrying on, however, she paused and gave Weiss a curious glance.  “That sounds familiar.”  

Weiss’ concern grew at the comment, and she preemptively tried to decide how to explain that yes, her family owned one of the largest businesses in Vale but no, that didn’t make her exceptionally wealthy.  She was definitely on the wealthier side by most standards, but she wasn’t that type of wealthy anymore.

“Did you go to Vale U. by any chance?” Ruby finally asked, and Weiss’ concern faded into a smile.

“I went to Vale Academy, actually.”

“Oh.”  After an adorable little chuckle, Ruby gave Weiss one of the most effortlessly attractive smiles she’d ever received.  “Where all the smart kids go.”

Considering the intellectual capability of some of Weiss’ classmates, that statement was factually incorrect.  She didn’t bother saying as much, however.  She preferred to dwell upon Ruby’s subtle compliment instead, even though she’d done nothing in this store to merit a label of ‘smart.’

“Can you write your number there for me?”  

After spinning the binder around and tapping a blank space, Ruby set the pen down for Weiss to use.  

“I mean, for the store,” Ruby added while Weiss carefully wrote her number in the space.  

Suddenly, Weiss was afraid she didn’t know her number.  She’d never forgotten it before, but with Ruby watching her so intently...it was difficult to focus.  After double-checking what looked like her phone number, she pushed the binder back to Ruby.  

“Thanks!”  With a glance at the number, Ruby smiled and wrote a note in the margin.  “I’ll put down that I’m supposed to call you, then you can come pick it up!”

“Great.”  Weiss didn’t want to say that she was excited for Ruby to call her, but...she was excited for Ruby to call her.  “When’s the second book supposed to come out?” she asked, realizing she’d already forgotten.

“Next month.  On the eleventh.”

As soon as Weiss left Papercuts, she would add the date to her calendar.  Maybe she would be able to communicate like normal over the phone.  Of course, maybe Ruby had a ridiculously cute phone voice too, in which case...Weiss better not get her hopes up.

“You’re all set.”  After flipping the binder shut, Ruby leaned across the counter and smiled.  “So...what’re you looking for today?” 

This was it.  This was the perfect opportunity to ask Ruby out.  To dinner.  Or a movie.  Or anywhere outside the walls of this confounded bookstore.  But when Weiss opened her mouth and imagined asking that question, her confidence disappeared.

They didn’t know each other.  Sure, the purpose of asking someone out was getting to know them, but that didn’t change the fact that they were still on the verge of strangers.  What if Ruby was only being this nice and friendly because it was her job?  What if she was like this with everyone?  What if she didn’t want to get hit on by some awkward girl who overshared, brought up mature topics far too often, and hardly remembered her phone number?

If Weiss possessed even a fraction of her typical self-esteem, this wouldn’t be an issue.  Under ordinary circumstances, she could easily believe that Ruby would want to spend more time together.  Why wouldn’t she?  Weiss was smart, well-read, and capable of holding her side of a conversation.

Except she wasn’t.  Not here, at least.

“I was just wondering…” she began, only for her courage to disappear when Ruby nodded for her to continue.

She couldn’t do it.  Not today, at least.  Maybe when Ruby called her - when the book came in - she could try again.  

“I just stopped by to pre-order those books,” she said instead.  When she motioned towards the binder, however, Ruby gave it a baffled smile.

“But...I thought you didn’t know about those until you got here.”

“Oh.”  

Ruby was right, of course, and now Weiss scrambled for a way to save this conversation.  A convincing lie.  Plausible denial.  Diversion.  

“That’s...right.  I didn’t.”

Apparently, she couldn’t lie to Ruby, and now she looked like an even bigger idiot.  A big, floundering idiot.

“I was actually just...telling Blake about you.  Your store, I mean - Papercuts.  I was telling her about Papercuts, and she wanted to check it out.  So we walked over...to do that.”

“That’s great!  We love getting new customers.”  Before Weiss could smile in relief, Ruby leaned even closer and playfully waggled her brow.  “So what’d you tell her?”

Faced with Ruby’s sparkling eyes and enchanting smile, Weiss stared for several long seconds before saying the first thing that popped into her mind.

“Pretty…” she began, only to shake her head when Ruby’s brow rose.  “I mean, I told her it was a pretty store,” she corrected with an embarrassed laugh.  “And that the workers are really pretty - I mean nice!  And worth checking out.  The store is worth checking out.”  

Ruby’s smile grew the longer Weiss rambled, which was the only positive outcome of what just happened.  She might as well have just come right out and said that she found Ruby ridiculously attractive.  That would have been less embarrassing.  Maybe.

“Anyway, I should probably go,” she said while backing away from the counter - this time keeping a close eye on the tables so she didn’t knock into anything.  If she wasn’t asking Ruby out today, she needed to go home and regroup - again.

“Do you know where Blake went?” she asked while looking around the store, where her roommate was nowhere to be found.

“Pretty sure I saw them over there.”  By the time Weiss glanced over, Ruby was making her way out from behind the counter and motioning Weiss after her.  “Haven’t seen them in a bit though,” Ruby added as they made their way to the far side of the store.

Weiss had never been over here before, but she was far more interested in watching Ruby walk in front of her than taking in the surroundings.  She was so distracted in watching Ruby, in fact, that she didn’t react very quickly when Ruby turned the corner and abruptly stopped.  “Oh -” was all she got out as an apology before seeing why Ruby stopped.  

“...Blake?” 

The name slipped out of her mouth and jarred her roommate apart from the blonde whose hands had definitely been underneath Blake’s shirt.  When a giggle slipped through Ruby’s lips, and Yang grinned like mad, Blake tucked her hair behind her ear and cleared her throat.

“Yes?” she asked, pulling her shirt back into place and pretending like her tongue hadn’t just been in someone else’s mouth.  Her blush showed how embarrassed she was to have been caught doing...that...and it only took one glance at a nearby shelf for Weiss to understand why.

“Are you ready to go?” Weiss asked rather than bring up the obvious in front of their audience.  “Or do you need a few minutes?”

The look Blake sent Yang’s way suggested that she’d like some more alone time, but she reluctantly nodded and stepped away.  “Thanks for the recommendations...” she mumbled before walking over to Weiss’ side.  When she refused to make eye contact with anyone, Weiss shook her head and flashed a smile towards Ruby, who looked infinitely amused at what they just discovered.

“Um, thanks again,” Weiss said before grabbing Blake’s elbow and dragging her out of the store.  

Apparently, Papercuts meant ample embarrassment for them both - an outcome she hadn’t expected.  As soon as the door closed behind them and they were out of sight to the employees inside, she dropped Blake’s arm and lowered her voice to a whisper.

“I said distract her, not make out with her!”

“I know,” Blake whispered back as they hurried away.  “But it worked…”

“In the adult section though?” Weiss pointed out, which only deepened the blush on Blake’s cheeks.  Obviously, Blake was embarrassed at having been caught, but she shouldn’t be.  Weiss would kill to do the same with Ruby, even if their location of choice was filled with romance novels.  

Maybe she was going about this in the wrong way.  Maybe instead of assuming that she would eventually figure out how to access her more personable side, she should take a page out of Blake’s book.  The question was...how did Blake convince Yang to make out with her when they only just met?

“How’d it go with Ruby?” Blake asked then, and Weiss sighed at the memory of yet another disastrous meeting.

“How do you feel about getting a puppy?” she asked instead of a direct response, only for Blake to look at her in surprise.

“A puppy?  Why?”

“Because if I distract her with a puppy, maybe she’ll agree to go out with me without realizing it.”

When Blake’s brow rose, Weiss nodded to show that she was, unfortunately, being serious.  The admission made Blake laugh - a happy, joyful sound that was very much at Weiss’ expense.

“If you go that route, you could just lure her into a restaurant by having her follow the puppy.”

“I wish that didn’t sound like a good idea…” 

With her personal embarrassment fading away, Blake laughed at Weiss’ plight and gently nudged her side as they headed home.

“Never thought I’d see the day you couldn’t talk yourself into whatever you want.”

“You and me both…” Weiss mumbled while Blake patted her shoulder in consolation.

Even though the solution eluded her, giving up wasn’t an option.  Schnees didn’t give up, and she was still a Schnee.  She might not act or talk like it whenever she entered that infernal store, but she was.  If she needed a puppy, she would get a puppy.  If she needed an entire litter of puppies, she would get an entire litter of the cutest, most adorable puppies.

Either she succeeded in asking Ruby out, or she cemented her place as one of the least socially adept people to have ever shared her last name.

Chapter Text

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.