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Rebound

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Walking down the halls of Beacon High as Yang Xiao Long must’ve been an experience. Star of the Field Hockey team, surfer on the weekends, and just generally super popular. Everyone knew her name and everyone wanted her attention.

Maybe in a different life, they would have been friends. Played on the same hockey team and laughed on bus rides home and gone to parties together. But Blake had no intention of getting involved in athletics again.

Besides, Blake personally never saw the appeal of all the flocking masses. On both sides really. One: who would actually want to be bothered a million times a day by people who couldn’t all possibly know them? Two: Why would you want the half-hearted attention of someone that barely knows your name?

Or at least that’s what she originally thought. But, as she became accustomed to her new school, she realized that at least one of those things wasn’t exactly accurate. Yang very well might’ve known the name of every single student at Beacon.

Even her. The new girl of all of a week.

Though she found that out in a way she didn’t quite expect.

It was 10:45am on a warm Tuesday at the beginning of the school year when Yang strolled up to Blake’s lunch table and took a seat across from her like they’d eaten together for years. Blake had been alternating between reading her newest book and playing with the food on her tray, barely able to even think about eating lunch so early. Whoever thought it was fine to make the first lunch period that early in the day should have been sued.

Blake raised an eyebrow as Yang threw her leg over the bench and sat right down.

Yang’s long blonde hair fell over her shoulders in waves, her lilac eyes bright and full of energy. She dressed rather casually, despite her popular status; a light grey button up shirt left open with an orange tank top underneath and forest green pants. The sleeves of her shirt were rolled to her elbows, exposing her forearms; one toned and muscular the other metallic, painted a bright yellow and deep black. Blake remembered reading about the accident a few years ago. She’d always found it incredible that Yang had managed to come back from it.

After all, people left sports for a lot less.

Yang shot her a blinding smile. “Hi! Blake Belladonna, right?” She asked, stabbing a straw through the foil top of her juice cup.

Blake stared at her for a moment over the top of her book, trying to decide if it would be too rude to completely ignore whatever was happening. Then again, wasn’t it rude that Yang just… sat down? Blake didn’t have time to come to a conclusion before Yang was talking again, this time a wave of realization washing over her face as her cheeks flushed lightly.

“Sorry,” Yang said, rubbing the back of her neck. “I just… heard there was someone new with that name and I know I didn’t know you yet and no one was over here so I just assumed—” Yang’s eyes widened. “Not that I think you don’t have friends— I just mean, you’re new, right? I— that must kinda suck as a Senior? But it could be—” Yang shook her head. “I’m getting off track.”

“Were you ever on track?” Blake asked with a smirk, put at ease a little by Yang’s flailing.

Yang grinned, relieved. She waved her hands through the air, shaking her head lightly. “Let me start over.” Yang stood up, walked a few feet away from the table, and then approached again, stopping just before the bench as she met Blake’s eye. “Hi, I’m Yang! Mind if I sit here?” She spoke high pitched and dramatically nice, and Blake couldn’t help but chuckle. Yang smiled as she slung her leg over the bench again and sat down. “Thanks! Not every day I meet someone at the school I don’t really know. What’s your name?”

Blake rolled her eyes, placing her book down and leaning against her forearms on the table. “Is there a reason you wanted to sit here and not with your real friends?”

Yang mirrored Blake’s posture, a smirk curling at the corner of her lips. “Well. Not a typical name, that’s for sure. Bit of a mouthful if I’m being honest.”

Blake didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure what to say. This back and forth was a little easier than she could have anticipated and she didn’t want to risk offending Yang by taking it a step too far. Instead, she simply raised an eyebrow and waited for the girl to continue.

Eventually, Yang caved with a sigh. “Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have ulterior motives. But also…” Yang shrugged with a small smile. “I don’t know, moving to a new school your senior year sucks. Figured you could use a friendly face.”

Blake’s heart warmed a bit, a flicker of a smile twitching across her face. She’d forgotten what people – good people – could be like. But she didn’t miss the first part of that sentence either. “Ulterior motives?” Blake cocked an eyebrow. “And what might those be?”

Yang blushed, sitting back a little, her posture a little less carefree and casual. Blake might have even said she looked nervous. “Well…”

“Yang! There you are.”

Blake glanced up to see a short girl with a long white ponytail approaching. She was pretty and preppy, but not without an edge to her. Her eyes were ice blue and Blake would be lying if she said her curiosity wasn’t piqued by the sizeable scar that cut through her eyebrow and cheek. She knew better than to stare and knew better than to ask, but it gave the girl a certain toughness that otherwise Blake might have overlooked; what with the white and blue frills and lace adorning her outfit.

The girl sat down next to Yang and her eyebrows raised as she met Blake’s eye. “Oh! I see you found her already, good.” She popped a grape into her mouth. “Did you ask her yet?”

Blake raised an eyebrow in Yang’s direction. Yang blinked between the two of them for a moment. “Um… no, thanks for the segue, Weiss.

Blake squinted. Weiss… Weiss… why did…? Oh.

“Weiss… Schnee?” Blake asked, schooling her features to try and remain as neutral as possible.

Weiss sighed. “The one and only, unfortunately.”

Blake shook her head. “But you’re—”

“Inconveniently related to a misogynistic, sexist, racist asshole that runs one of the largest corporations for advanced technology in the world?” Weiss said, more bored than anything else. “Yes. Yes, I am. But I’m less interested in that and more interested in who you are, Blake Belladonna.”

Blake raised an eyebrow. “And who exactly do you think I am?”

“One of the best goalkeepers of our generation,” Yang said. Blake looked at her. Yang’s expression was a little… awed. Perhaps even baffled, as if she couldn’t believe that Yang wouldn’t know who she was. And maybe Blake wasn’t that surprised. After all, not everyone gets invitations to play for the National team.

And certainly not everyone turns those invitations down.

Blake swallowed. “I don’t play anymore,” she said, softly. “Sorry.”

Weiss shrugged. “Well you do now. Tryouts are in two weeks, but you’ll walk on so it’s basically just practice.”

Blake blinked. “I just said I don’t play anymore. I wasn’t kidding. I stopped at my old school and I’m not playing here. Sorry, but I know you have a great keeper. You’ll be fine.”

“Um, no we won’t. And how can you just stop playing?” Weiss asked, looking Blake over. “You are literally one of the most skilled players in the world and I see nothing wrong with you, so… what?”

Blake bit her tongue.

“Weiss, c’mon, we said we’d respect her answer,” Yang said, though Blake could hear the disappointment laced through her tone.

“Not when the answer is bullshit.”

Blake’s jaw set, her eye squinted and hard. “Not all scars are physical.” The words came out in a rush before she could stop them. Clipped and final.

Weiss had the decency to look at least somewhat empathetic, her eyes softening by a margin as she calmed a little. “I know that,” she said, softer than before. “But don’t let them win.” Blake didn’t respond and after a moment Weiss let out a long sigh and shook her head. “I think I’m going to go find Pyrrha and the others. Good luck, Yang.”

Weiss quickly gathered her things, and as she walked away Blake felt her shoulders relax a little.

“I’m… sorry about her,” Yang said after a moment. Blake turned back to face her as she continued. “She means well. It’s just… we’re in a bit of a situation and you are our best bet.” Yang smiled a little. “I mean, you have no idea how pumped I was when I found out you transferred here. I remember playing against you when you still went to Menagerie. You’re insane in the goal.”

Blake smiled for a moment, recalling their crossovers herself. “You weren’t so bad yourself.”

“Some might even say I’m extremely talented,” Yang said with a grin. She shrugged, “but hey, semantics.”

Blake chuckled lightly. “Well, if I remember correctly, Pyrrha Nikos plays goal here. And from the sounds of it she’s still here. I don’t think you need me.”

Yang sighed. “Normally, I’d agree with you. Pyrrha’s a badass. But uh…” Yang glanced across the cafeteria in the direction Weiss had wandered off to.

Over in the far corner, near the snack stand, Blake could make out quite a few faces she recognized.

Weiss Schnee: Fullback. Best at aggravating the hell out of other players by being stubbornly silent on the field. Knowing a little more of her now, Blake was a bit surprised by the silence part.

Ruby Rose: Midfield. Team captain – youngest in school history if you want to get technical.

Nora Valkyrie: Fullback. Can and will drive the ball from one end line to the other.

Coco Adel: Forward. Terrifyingly hard shot.

Velvet Scarlatina: Forward. Most assists. Good at precision and playing against her opponents’ weaknesses.

Penny Polendina: Midfield. Fast as hell and never gets tired. Blake wasn’t entirely unconvinced she was part machine.

And finally, Pyrrha Nikos: Goalkeeper. Insane reflexes and speed, with a will to lead. A true prodigy. Blake remembered seeing her in action. It was one of the few games that ended in a 0-0 tie, and even then Pyrrha had definitely been the better athlete.

She was sitting next to a lanky blond boy, his arm draped over her shoulders for a moment before he nodded at whatever she said and wandered over to the snack line. It didn’t take long for Blake to pinpoint the problem then, what with the way Pyrrha’s lips twitched down and she resettled into her seat, gingerly moving her booted foot into a more comfortable position.

“She tore her Achilles,” Yang said after a moment. “Last practice of summer camp.”

Blake sighed. “That sucks.”

Yang chuckled, humorless. “Yeah. Doc says she probably won’t get back for the season. Any of it.”

The corner of Blake’s mouth twitched into a frown. “It’s her Senior year, isn’t it?” It wasn’t really a question. Blake knew Pyrrha well enough. They’d gone to a few of the same training camps over the years. She knew they were the same age.

“Yeah. But… she’s come to terms with it. Pyrrha’s nothing if not a team player.” Yang cleared her throat, drawing Blake’s attention. “Look,” she said, gaze soft and understanding, “I don’t know what turned you off to the sport but… right now we’re basically looking at no season and half the team is graduating.” She sighed. “And I’m not trying to guilt trip you with that, sorry. It’s just a frustrating position to fill. And trust me, we’ve tried. Nora in the net? Terrifying. But awful.”

Blake looked at Yang for a moment and found the forced smile she put there for the half-hearted joke.

“You don’t have to give us an answer right now,” Yang added after a moment. “There’s still a few weeks left to decide. So, just… think about it?”

Blake hesitated. She wasn’t sure she should get Yang’s hopes up when she was all but certain what her answer would be. Yet there was this look in Yang’s eyes that stopped her. This ounce of hope that she just couldn’t crush. So, she gave her a hesitant smile and nodded. “I… I can’t make any promises,” Blake said. “But I’ll give it some thought.”

Yang smiled. “That’s all I can ask. Thanks, Blake.”

Blake bit her lip to suppress her smile. There was something about Yang’s that was infectious and it made her a little self-conscious. She looked down at her tray. “Don’t mention it.”

There was a moment of awkward silence between them and Blake glanced up again to find Yang staring at her like she wanted to say something. “What?” Blake asked.

Yang quickly shook her head. “Nothing! I guess I was just wondering if… maybe you wanted to sit with us? Maybe getting to know the team might make you feel a little better about it.” She crinkled her nose, leaning in a bit and Blake caught a whiff of her shampoo, sweet and citrusy. “Between you and me, Weiss isn’t the best representation of us all.”

Blake couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her with Yang’s whisper. It had been too long since she’d had this easy kind of conversation. With Ilia it was always… tense. With Sun it was always unwarranted advice. With Adam it was…

Blake cleared her throat, leaning in a little further herself. “You mean blunt questions and semi-judgement isn’t what your entire team is like?”

Yang grinned, eyes lighting up brighter as Blake challenged her back. “Shocking I know. Some of us are even…” Yang looked over at the other table and over her shoulder, her voice lowering to a whisper, “nice.

Blake chuckled and bit her lip, looking down and back up again. She studied Yang’s features for a moment. The honest curve of her lips, eyes bright and mirthful. Blake felt her cheeks flush slightly as she realized just how close they were, but Yang seemed unaffected as Blake leaned back a bit. She sighed. “Are you sure you want me to—”

“I’m positive!” Yang said. “C’mon, they’ll love to meet you.” And just like that, Yang was up, her hand taking Blake’s as Blake quickly grabbed her things before Yang tugged her gently in the direction of the other lunch table.

Blake pointedly ignored the way her stomach fluttered as Yang’s hand held her own. Or at least she tried to. After all, she’d seen Yang do the same with plenty of other people in the halls. Giving out hugs and high fives and just being affectionate in general. It was the type of person she was, and Blake wouldn’t confuse it for something else. Especially if they might be hanging out for a little while.

As they got nearer to the table, Blake noticed Weiss raise an eyebrow in her direction. “Did she decide to change her mind?” Weiss asked, looking doubtful.

“Play nice, ice queen,” Yang said with a chuckle, letting go of Blake’s hand and taking a seat next to Ruby. “She said she’d think about it and that’s good enough for me.” Yang looked back at Blake over her shoulder and smiled before patting the bench next to her. “Take a seat! Meet the team! Or, uh… some of the team.”

Blake felt her pulse rush, nerves kicking in as her palms grew slick. She quickly slid onto the bench next to Yang and looked around the table. Nora was across from her, absorbed in whatever conversation she was having with a dark-haired boy. Coco was next to him, her arm around Velvet’s shoulders as she whispered something in her ear that made her blush.

On the other side of Nora was Weiss and then the empty space where the blond boy had been. Then, at the end of the bench on that side was Pyrrha Nikos who kindly made eye contact and waved. “Hello! It’s good to see you.”

Blake smiled and gave a nod. “Likewise. I’m sorry about your leg though.”

Pyrrha sighed. “Thanks. I’m just worried about the team now.”

Blake swallowed, eyes flitting to her tray instead as she nodded again. She was fully prepared to wallow in guilt until Yang nudged her with her shoulder and gave her a soft smile.

“Don’t worry about any of it today,” Yang said, smile warm. “Just have lunch with some new friends. And…” She looked around the table as Pyrrha’s boyfriend rejoined the group, then back at Blake. “I do apologize in advance for all the couples at this table. They’re all sickening in their own ways,” Yang said with chuckle that made Blake smile. “But stick with me and we’ll get through it together.” And then she winked before going back to her meal and Blake was annoyingly flustered.

“You must be Blake! I’ve heard a lot about you!” Blake was snapped out of her stupor by the rapid-fire comments coming at her from one Ruby Rose. She’d never played against her, but Ruby was always one to watch. “Yang said you were picked to be on the National Team! That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to get that good one day. How did you even try out? They don’t tell us that kind of stuff here and I—”

“Easy there, little sister,” Yang said, laughing softly as she gently nudged Ruby back into her spot on the bench from where she had been leaning over Yang. “She can’t answer you if you rapid fire at her.”

“You’re sisters?” Blake asked, eyebrows raising.

Yang nodded, speaking around a fry in between her teeth. “Half, if you want to get technical.”

“Wow, Yang,” Ruby said, hand over her heart. “And here I thought we were so close.”

Yang laughed, slinging an arm around Ruby’s shoulders and mussing her hair. “You know I love you, Rubes.”

The corner of Blake’s mouth twitched up at the sight, as Ruby shoved Yang away with a groan, running her fingers through her hair. “Yang! You know it takes forever to get it just the right amount of messy…”

Yang laughed, turning back to her tray. “You’re right,” she said. “I can’t believe how long you hog the mirror in the morning literally messing up your hair.”

The two continued to bicker as the rest of the table fell into steady conversation, Blake content to sit back and listen until the bell rang and everyone started to clear out.

Yang walked with Blake to the trashcans. She was silent for a moment before speaking up. “Y’know,” she said, not looking at Blake as she spoke, “there’s going to be a party at Nora’s on Friday.” She glanced over at Blake for only a second before looking away again and shrugging. “You should come by. Get to know everyone a bit. Even if you don’t join the team… maybe you could just make some friends?”

Blake studied her a moment as they placed their trays on the window of the kitchen and started to head towards the exit. She had never gone to many parties back at her old school. She’d always gone out with Adam instead and on the few occasions she was able to attend the parties her teammates held, he’d always tagged along. She only took him to a couple before realizing it was probably best to just not go at all.

But that was when Adam was even a blip on Blake’s radar.

She nodded. “Sure.”

Yang lit up and if Blake hadn’t been sure this was the right choice before, she was sure it was then. “Great!” Yang said, pulling out her Scroll as she came to a stop next to the wooden double doors of the cafeteria. “What’s your number? I’ll text you the address.”

Blake gave a small smile as she rattled her number off to Yang, who quickly typed it into her Scroll and sent Blake the address.

“And now I have your number. So expect terrible memes at 1 a.m.,” Yang said with a smirk as she pocketed her Scroll.

Blake rolled her eyes, but her smile was still there as she brushed past Yang and into the hallway. She looked over her shoulder with a grin. “Expect no response,” she said before turning back around and walking towards her next class; only laughing for a moment when she heard Yang’s call of “We’ll see about that, Belladonna” in the distance.

 

 

Yang 1:00 a.m.: * image attachment*

Blake 1:03 a.m.: well… you’re certainly punctual

Yang 1:03 a.m.: and u answered

Blake 1:04 a.m.: 🙄

Yang 1:04 a.m.: lol nite blake

Blake 1:06 a.m.: night