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The Festival Of Fauna

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A cool ocean breeze played with Blake’s hair as she leaned over the railing, propped on her elbows. The sun continued to sink deeper, getting closer to the flat horizon and fading into red. Blake’s sensitive ears easily picked up the various sounds on the ship, from the slap of the waves on the hull to the low buzz of conversation from the other passengers on deck. She pulled in a deep breath, letting the salty cool air fill her lungs, and closed her eyes.

Footsteps sounded to her right, thudding on the deck of the boat. Footsteps she knew better than her own, but she only smiled slightly and didn’t turn to look.

She felt a warm presence at her side just before an arm wrapped around her middle and pulled her close. She leaned in and inhaled deeply. Yang smelled like sea salt and leather, as familiar and comforting as a favorite song.

“Whatcha thinking about?”

Blake opened her eyes to see the sunset once more, now dipping into deeper red as it sunk. “Mm. Nothing.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

Blake finally turned, raising an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Hm-mm.” Yang wasn’t looking at her, but rather out at the sunlit sea. But a small smile was playing on her lips. “I just saw this beautiful woman over here watching the sunset and she seemed like she was in deep thought.”

“Ah, I see.” Blake couldn’t help her smile getting bigger. “And what is she thinking about?”

“Something profound, I’m sure.” Yang glanced over at her and her smile turned cheeky. “Or maybe she’s thinking about a special someone?”

Blake leaned in closer and delighted in the light blush that spread across Yang’s cheeks. “Mm, maybe. Are you going to ask?”

Instead of answering Yang leaned in and pressed a kiss to Blake’s lips, her hand coming up to cradle her cheek. Blake melted into her, running her tongue along Yang’s lower lip. She tasted sweet, from the soda Blake saw her drinking earlier, and she couldn’t get enough.

They had only been “official” for a month now, but Blake knew she’d been carrying a flame for Yang for much longer than that. It had been remarkably easy to fall into this newness, after that first nervous confession. Blake had always been physically attracted to Yang, but she suddenly found herself craving Yang in ways she hadn’t before – her touch, her taste, her smell… all of it.

They hadn’t gone much further than heavy make out sessions. Whenever things started to get heated Yang always seemed to pull away, to slow things down. Doubts had started to creep in, in a too familiar voice that was quieter than it used to be, but still present. She doesn’t want you.

But when Yang was holding her like this, kissing her like she was water in a desert, that voice was silent.

This time Blake broke the kiss first, but pressed her forehead against Yang’s collarbone, a low rumble starting up deep in her chest. She felt Yang chuckle quietly and press her cheek to the crown of Blake’s head, right between her pointed black ears. She wrapped both arms around Blake and linked her hands at the small of her back.

They stood still for a moment, enjoying the quiet and each other’s company. But the moment was broken by a distant, shrill voice calling out “Get a room!”

“Already got one thanks!” Yang shouted back, turning to cast her eyes up for the culprit. But all she saw was a suspicious burst of rose petals fluttering down from the top deck above them.

Yang groaned and turned her head, burying her face in Blake’s shoulder. “Why did we have to bring them?”

Blake grinned and wormed her hands up in between them, cupping Yang’s face in both hands and lifting her head to look her in the eye. “Because I wanted all my friends to come? And we all need the relaxation? And this is important to me?”

Yang stuck her lip out in a playful pout. Blake pecked a kiss onto that lip and her grin widened when she saw Yang’s blush deepen. She took Yang’s mechanical hand and gave a gentle tug. “Come on, I think they are serving food in the dining cabin right now.”

 


 

Any hope that Yang had of a romantic sunset dinner with her girlfriend evaporated instantly when her sister scooted onto the bench beside her, her own plate stacked tall from the buffet. Weiss slid in next to Blake on the other side, her own plate much more reasonable.

Ruby started eating right away but Weiss picked at her salad, looking a little unsure. Finally she put down her fork and sighed. “So Blake. Why don’t you tell us more about this festival we’re going to?”

Blake took a sip of her water and set it down, looking contemplative. “The Festival of Fauna is a celebration that happens in Menagerie every spring, and my dad started it a just before I was born.”

Weiss nodded. “Yes, but what is it about?”

Blake tilted her head. “You know how there’s so many myths and stories about creation? Well the faunus have stories too.”

She propped her chin up on her fist, looking contemplative. “The story goes that a long time ago, when humans were still a young species, there was a powerful being called Fauna. Maybe she was a spirit, maybe a goddess, no one really knows for sure. Fauna ruled over nature, the plants and the animals, and she treated them all with great kindness. One day humans began to trespass on her sacred forest, which angered Fauna. She tried to drive them out of her forest, cursing their crops, sending droughts and floods. But the humans were relentless. They hunted her animals and burned her forest, which greatly weakened her, before they finally drove her away from her home. Injured and weak, Fauna took shelter in a secluded valley. Then, the animals came to her aid. The wolves and foxes and bears kept her warm with their fur, the deer built her a shelter with their shed antlers. The mice and rabbits brought her berries and fruit to eat, and the birds sang her to sleep.”

Blake scratched her nail at a small piece of paint peeling off the wooden table absentmindedly. “So, when Fauna recovered, she was touched by their kindness and as a reward, gifted them with new bodies and new minds. But to always remind them of their humble roots, each one kept a physical reminder of what they used to be.” Blake wiggled her ears for emphasis.

“These new people named themselves faunus, after their creator, and vowed to protect Fauna and the forest from the humans.” Blake frowned. “But you can probably guess how that turned out.”

The table was silent.

“Wooow.” said Ruby, eyes wide.

Blake shrugged. “It’s just a story, and almost no one really follows the old ways anymore. A lot of history was lost in the years before the war, and my people are just now rediscovering new things.”

Blake took another sip of her water and cleared her throat. “My dad was really interested in the old history and stories, so he did a lot of research. And he read about this grand celebration that ancient faunus settlements used the hold in the springtime, to honor Fauna and give thanks for her gifts. Back when he was still building the White Fang, he proposed we bring back the festival and the celebrations, to help everyone to relax and ease the growing tension.”

She snorted. “I guess it kind of worked. It’s mostly an excuse to throw a party and drink on the beach now. I thought we could all use a little relaxation after… everything.”

Weiss tightened her mouth and looked back down at her plate.

Yang had noticed that Weiss was...unusually reserved these past few days. A little too quick to snap. She’d never really been the type to brood, but she could often be found alone on deck or in the cabin she and Ruby shared. It was a little unlike her.

“Weiss.” said Yang. Weiss glanced up. “Is... everything alright?”

“Yes, of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Weiss.” Ruby piped up from beside Yang, wearing a similar look of concern. “See what I mean? Even Yang noticed you haven’t been yourself lately. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”

Weiss said nothing, but turned her head to look out the window, avoiding all their eyes.

“Weiss.”

Blake’s tone brokered no argument, and Weiss finally turned to meet her gaze.

“Did you… not want to come?”

Weiss’s expression changed into one of panic. “No no, that’s not it at all! I’m happy to come!”

She bit her lip nervously. “It’s just that… I don’t know if I’ll really be… welcome. Because of.. you know.” She gestured vaguely, but they all knew what she meant.

“Weiss.” Blake’s voice was firm, resolute. She reached across the table and placed her hand on Weiss’s as it lay on the tabletop. “You are my personal guest. You all are. If anyone has a problem with my friends, then they will answer to me. Okay?” She squeezed Weiss’s hand.

Weiss took a deep breath. She gave a tentative smile. She turned her hand so it was palm up and squeezed back “Okay.”

 


 

After dinner they all made their way back to their cabins arm in arm. Weiss appeared to be in a much better mood after her talk with Blake and she and Ruby bickered back and forth good-naturedly.

“I’m telling you I saw it! It was huge!”

“It was probably just a wave, or a school of fish.”

“Nope, it was totally a whale.”

Ruby bounced up and down in place happily. “You guys believe me right? I totally saw a whale."

“Right.” Yang laughed as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cabin keycard, holding it in front of the lock until it quietly beeped.

Ruby looked affronted at her sister’s tone. “Blaaake, help me out here.”

“Hmm.” Blake rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Well, they aren’t unheard of around these waters.”

“Don’t cha mean ‘whale’?” Yang said with a cheeky grin as the door slid open.

Blake couldn’t help a snort, and Weiss pressed her closed fist to her mouth. Ruby pouted. “Yaaaang!”

“Oh I’m just teasing ya sis.” Yang used her height to reach over Weiss’s head to ruffle Ruby’s hair, making the front stick up.

Ruby ducked out from under her sister’s hand and darted into her and Weiss’s cabin, a handful of rose petals scattering in her wake. Weiss rolled her eyes. “Good night you two.”

“Good night.” said Blake. “We should be docking in Menagerie by noon tomorrow, so get some rest.”

Weiss shook her head and glanced into the open door of her cabin, where Ruby was attempting to stand on her head on the bed. “I’ll certainly try.”

Weiss entered the cabin and closed the door behind her, but not before Yang could hear her scolding Ruby to “stop that before you break your neck.”

Quiet fell in the hallway, only broken by Yang softly clearing her throat. She threw her arm out in a sweeping gesture towards the open cabin door next to the one Ruby and Weiss disappeared into and bowed at the waist. “After you, ma’am.”

Blake smirked, and she lifted her chin and glided into the cabin with the grace of a queen. If she put a little more swing into her hips than she normally would then who could blame her? A quick glance over her shoulder showed that her little show had certainly been effective, as Yang’s gaze was distinctively angled downwards and the tips of her ears glowed pink.

Blake hid a smile as she turned back to the cabin. The cabin wasn’t anything fancy, small with simple furnishings, but clean and cozy. A single, round window provided a view over the rolling greenish blue waves and the setting sun. Another door led to a small washroom. The queen sized bed took up most of the space with a small vanity beside it.

They had only been at sea for two days but already the room looked lived in. Hers and Yang’s bags sat by the door, there was Yang’s jacket thrown carelessly on the bed, Blake’s hairbrush on the vanity… Something about the domesticity of the evidence of a shared space made Blake’s heart squeeze, and an odd feeling come over her. She was comfortable.

The thought of maybe someday permanently sharing a space with Yang didn’t scare her or make her nervous as much as she thought it would.

“Soo...” said Yang, reaching up and rubbing the back of her neck. “You can shower first. I gotta sit and digest for a bit.” She playfully patted her flat stomach.

“Are you sure?” said Blake, already unzipping her bag to retrieve a change of clothes.

“Of course.” Yang winked. “Ladies first.”

Blake laughed as she closed the door to the washroom, toiletries and clothes in hand. The washroom was small but clean, soft blue walls with warm lights above the mirror and inside the shower stall. Blake noticed a little decorative whale painted on the wall above the lightswitch. It was cheerful looking, with a happy smile and a little spout of water spraying from its blow hole. She thought about Yang back in the main cabin, probably lounging on the bed looking so effortlessly sexy like she somehow always did.

Blake’s thoughts began to wander as she held a hand under the stream of water to check the temperature. She pictured herself, entering the main cabin in her towel and throwing it aside, leaving her body bare. She pictured Yang’s eyes going wide, then hungry like the glimpses she’d seen in their more intimate moments. But this time, she wouldn’t pull away. No this time she would wrap Blake in her strong arms and kiss her passionately, like in the romance novels that Blake would totally deny she read.

Yang would sweep her off her feet and carry her to their bed, trailing kisses down Blake’s neck before sinking her teeth in, and pinning her beneath solid weight.

She’d trail kisses down Blake’s body, down her stomach and further, further…

The shower spout gurgled loudly, the unexpected sound jerking her out of her fantasy abruptly. Blake suddenly realized she’d trailed fingers between her legs, and she jerked her hand away. Blake blew out a breath and leaned her forehead on the wall under the lukewarm stream.

By the gods she wasn’t going to survive this...

 


 

Yang sat on the bed cross-legged, flipping mindlessly through her scroll, trying in vain to calm her thoughts. Blake had looked beautiful in the light of the setting sun, and the sway of her hips had been mesmerizing, the way the light from the porthole had highlighted the curves of her body…

Yang gave a groan of frustration and tossed her scroll aside. She flopped back against the bed and stared up at the light blue ceiling.

She wanted Blake. She wanted her bad. And Yang had a pretty good idea that Blake wanted her too. She had seen the disappointment that had flashed in her beautiful amber eyes every time Yang pulled away. She knew Blake wanted to take things further.

So what are you waiting for? whispered a small voice in the back of her head.

Yang’s gaze unintentionally wandered over to the washroom door, where she could hear the shower running. What would happen if she just… walked in? Threw back the shower curtain and pulled Blake into her arms? Kissed her hard? Touched every curve like she’d been aching too since she first laid eyes on her? Took her against the shower wall?

Yang was halfway off the bed before rational thought kicked in.

For the gods sake you’ve only been dating for like a month, get a grip Xiao Long.

Yang put her face in her hands and breathed. The cool metal of her right hand helped on her flushed face, but then she pulled her hand away and stared down at the black and yellow metal.

You can’t even touch her like a real person. Like someone who’s whole. She’ll just end up leaving like they all do…

“No.” Yang said low and firm.“Blake’s different. She came back. She promised.”

She already left you once. Who’s to say she won’t again?

Yang raked her bangs back and breathed out. She went to try and reach for the water bottle on the nightstand, but her arm jerked and stuck, stiff at the elbow. Yang frowned. It wasn’t often her prosthetic acted up (it was Atlas tech after all) but she hadn’t done maintenance for a while now... She gave it a firm hit with the heel of her palm, and she heard the mechanics whir under stress. She sighed.

Well, I guess this is as good a distraction as any.

 


 

In the end Blake just couldn’t work up the guts to try and make her little shower fantasy a reality, and she got dressed sullenly. She brushed out her hair and left it loose to air dry, putting on her best casual face before entering the main cabin.

What she didn’t expect to see was Yang sitting cross-legged on the bed intently examining her mechanical hand, the rest of the detached prosthetic spread across the mattress along with a variety of small tools.

Yang looked up from her task. Her eyes widened a little bit before ducking her head back down, setting her hand back down on the covers before reaching for a small cloth.

“Uh, sorry for taking up the whole bed, I’m almost done.”

“What’s up?” Blake said, sitting down carefully on the edge of the bed.

“Oh, I think the salt air keeps making my joints stick. I’m just cleaning them out.” Yang held the hand down with her foot before wiping the wrist joint with the cloth.

“Need a hand?” said Blake.

They both froze, the implications of her words hanging in the air. Yang slowly looked up from her task, a grin spreading across her face.

“Don’t.” Blake cut her off just as Yang opened her mouth.

“Aw, come on. You basically set that up for me!” Yang protested, waving the cleaning cloth in the air.

Blake forced down the rising guilt in her throat and swallowed.

“Hey.” The grin fell from Yang’s face. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Blake cleared her throat. “It’s just..."

“I get it.” Yang said, lowering her voice. “You know I don’t blame you right? I never have.”

“I know.” Blake broadened her smile in an effort to put her partner more at ease. Judging by the way she raised her eyebrow, it didn’t work.

“Come here.” Yang rolled so she was sitting on the edge of the bed and opened her arm, an invitation. Blake scooted over and curled into Yang’s side, pressing her face against a broad shoulder. They sat for a while, neither one saying a word.

After a moment Yang quietly cleared her throat. “Do you...want to hear what I was going to say?”

“What?”

Yang straightened and Blake felt her reach for something behind them. Yang held her prosthetic hand up. She cleared her throat again like she was prepping for a grand speech and said, “No thanks! I’ve already got one!” She wiggled the mechanical hand so the fingers flopped comically.

Even though the guilt still simmered in the back of her mind, Blake could not help the utter ridiculousness of the sight and laughed out loud – eyes squeezed shut, missing Yang’s triumphant smile.

 


 

Yang woke up sometime after midnight, the moonlight streaming in from the porthole falling across her face. She squeezed her eyes shut against the light and grumbled. Blake stirred and Yang froze, but she only hummed in her sleep and nuzzled up under Yang’s chin from where she was tucked against her chest. Her breathing slowed and she settled back into sleep.

Yang blinked against the bright light again and glared at the fractured moon through the porthole as thought trying to will it into dimming. She sighed. There was no way she was getting back to sleep like this.

Yang glanced down at Blake, biting her lip. She slightly shifted towards the edge of the bed. Blake didn’t stir.

Moving as slowly as possible Yang carefully maneuvered out from under Blake who only muttered something unintelligible and curled her knees up to her chest. Yang tip-toed across the small room and yanked the small curtain closed, sighing in relief as the harsh light cut off returning the room to darkness.

A whimper came from the bed behind her and Yang turned, frowning. Her eyes took a little time to adjust in the new dimness of the cabin, but she could still see Blake’s curled up figure under the covers.

Yang carefully made her way back to the bed and slid slowly under the blankets. Blake’s previously peaceful face was now pinched, her brow furrowed and mouth twisted into a frown. She whimpered again and rolled so she was facing away from Yang, restless.

“Shhh...” Yang whispered, wrapping her arm around Blake’s waist and pulling her tense body close so that Blake’s back was flush against Yang’s front. “Shhh...”

She felt Blake sigh and relax, still asleep, and Yang buried her face in her partner’s hair. With Blake’s warm solid weight against her and the smell of Blake’s favorite shampoo in her nose, Yang quickly succumbed back to sleep.

 


 

The sound of knocking on the cabin door was what woke Blake, stirring from her doze. The sunlight streaming from behind the closed curtain on the porthole told her it was about mid morning and she gave a jaw cracking yawn. Her hand reached out automatically to seek out Yang, but found the spot beside her empty. She sat upright, frowning at the space beside her. The sheets were cool, indicating that Yang had been up for a while.

The knock at the door sounded again, and Blake rubbed the sleep from her eyes before calling out whoever was at the door to come in.

Yang cracked the door open and smiled, and to Blake it was better than seeing the sun rise.

“Hey there, sleeping beauty. The captain says we’re making good time and should be docking in an hour or two. I brought you some breakfast!” Yang came fully into the room and presented a tray with a flourish.

Blake felt her heart catch in her throat at the utter sweetness of the gesture. “You didn’t have to...”

“Pssh, just let me spoil ya.” Yang set the tray down on the nightstand. “Had to sneak it out of the dining cabin, those servers are like, crazy strict."

Yang sat on the edge of the bed and leaned in for a kiss, but Blake turned her head with a laugh and Yang’s lips brushed Blake’s cheek.

“Don’t, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet!” Blake giggled. Yang pulled back with a pout.

“Aw, I don’t care about that!” Yang leaned in again, but Blake dodged, now laughing in earnest.

Yang narrowed her eyes and grinned playfully. “Oh so that’s how it’s gonna be?”

Blake’s eyes widened and Yang lunged, but just as her arms closed around Blake’s waist they sank through a shadowy image like mist, and the real Blake now stood beside the bed, her arms crossed.

“Wha- hey no fair!” Yang whined.

“Nobody said anything about fair.” Blake stuck out her tongue childishly, then darted toward the washroom. But for once Yang was faster and she vaulted over the bed, intercepting Blake just as she reached the door finally snatching her around the waist.

“Gotcha.” Yang’s voice right next to her ear made Blake shiver, and she twisted around in Yang’s arms to face her fully. “Now I gotta think about what to do with you.”

Blake set her jaw stubbornly, sticking her nose up in the air in an almost too good impression of Weiss. “Do your worst, I’ll never talk!”

“Hmm… my worst huh?”

Blake’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t...”

But Yang didn’t answer, she only grinned evilly and her hands moved from Blake’s back to flutter down her sides.

Blake burst out laughing and wriggled, trying to get away from Yang’s fluttering hands. “No, no, stop, hahahaha, I’m gonna kick your – gasp – ass for this Yang I – ahahahaha – swear!”

Yang pecked light butterfly kisses everywhere she could reach on Blake’s red face, reducing her to giggles and gasps.

Someone pounded on the door from the other side, and they both heard Ruby’s voice calling out over their laughter, “Come on guys! Pull your tongues out of each others throats! We’re gonna to be docking soon!”

The two lovers turned to look at each other with identical expressions of shock, before erupting into giggles again. Yang release Blake, but cupped her face gently and placed a single, sweet kiss on Blake’s smiling lips. “Come out to the deck when you’re ready okay? And don’t forget your breakfast.”

Blake pecked a returning kiss on the tip of Yang’s nose and rolled her eyes playfully. “Okay, mom.”

Yang stuck her tongue out one more time and released Blake’s face, then gave a little wave – just the barest wiggle of her fingers – before exiting and closing the door firmly behind her. Blake could here Ruby’s shrill voice take on a teasing tone and Yang retorting, but couldn’t quite make out the words.

She sighed dreamily and started humming under her breath softly before grabbing her bag of toiletries and entering the washroom.

 


 

Yang stood on the deck beside Weiss and Ruby, the wind streaming her hair behind her like a banner. The sky was a cloudless blue and the breeze was warm on her skin. As the coast of Menagerie grew larger on the horizon, she felt a certain nervousness start to flutter in her belly. She’d met Blake’s parents before, briefly during that mess at Haven. But she and Blake weren’t together at that point – she had still been detangling the confusing mess of feelings she got whenever she thought about her partner. And Blake had still been so unsure…

She knew that Blake had been writing to her parents and they knew about their current relationship, but being mentioned in passing in a letter was very different than being officially introduced as Blake’s girlfriend.

What if they don’t approve of us? What if Blake values her parent’s opinion more than our relationship?

Her gaze dropped from the island shoreline to the blue green waves crashing against the hull and breathed deep, taking in the cool salty air.

“Hey.”

As if Yang’s thoughts had summoned her, Blake appeared at her side, dressed casually in a lose blue shirt and shorts.

Her hair was still slightly damp and the scent of her favorite shampoo that was just so Blake drifted toward Yang on the breeze. Yang felt her racing thoughts calm, like the sea after a storm.

Blake leaned her elbows on the railing and closed her eyes. Yang’s breath caught in her throat at the sight of the sunlight playing in her hair and the backdrop of the glittering sea, and the brief thought that she’d been ensnared by the spell of a siren crossed her mind.

Blake opened her eyes and gave Yang a soft smile. “What?”

“Nothing, you just..” Yang leaned a little closer, returning Blake’s smile. “You look beautiful.”

A beautiful blush spread across Blake’s cheeks and she glance away shyly. “Really?”

“Uh huh.” Yang leaned further in and softly kissed Blake’s cheek and watched in delight as her blush grew.

Deliberately ignoring Ruby pretending to vomit over the side of the boat.

The boat blew its horn loudly, making everyone jump. The captain’s voice came over the loud speakers, “Attention passengers, this is your Captain speaking. We will be docking in Kuo Kuana in approximately 15 minutes. Please make sure that all personal items are removed from cabins, and have a pleasant visit!”

 


 

Blake strained a bit on her toes, peering above the heads of the crowded docks. Kuo Kuana was even more packed than usual, with the upcoming festival. Already she could see colorful banners and streamers decorating buildings and flapping in the breeze. The city hummed with an unfamiliar energy.

She sighed and turned to her friends, adjusting her bag strap from where it was digging into her shoulder. Ruby’s head was on a swivel, taking in everything she could see and excited pointing things out to Weiss, who had tucked her hair up into a sun hat and hidden her eyes behind sunglasses.

Yang set her own bag down with a huff and shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand. “We’re meeting your mom here right?”

“We should be, though I don’t know how she’s going to find us in this crowd...”

“Blake!”

Almost right on cue they heard the cry from in front of them, and several guards pushed through, Kali Belladonna at the front, cutting through the crowd like the bow of a ship through water.

“Mom!” Blake returned her mother’s tight embrace. She hadn’t realized how much she missed her...

“Hi sweetie! I’m so happy you made it!” Kali leaned back, her hands on Blake’s shoulders. “Let me look at you.”

Kali cast a critical eye over her daughter’s face. “Have you been eating alright? Drinking enough water?”

“Yes, mom. Stop worrying.”

Kali pursed her lips. “I’m your mother. It’s my job to worry.”

She looked past Blake and Kali’s face brightened. “And Yang!”

Yang only just barely concealed her mild alarm as Kali embraced her too. “I’m so happy you could make it! Blake talks about you in her letters all the time!”

Yang relaxed into the hug after the initial surprise, and returned Kali’s embrace with only the barest hint of awkwardness. “I’m, uh, glad to be here.”

Kali released Yang and nodded with approval. She turned to Blake and said with a wink, “I like this one.”

Blake felt a flush on her face. “Mom!”

“And Ruby and Weiss!” Not answering her daughter’s reproach Kali moved on to the other two, offering hugs for Ruby and Weiss as well. “We really didn’t get a chance to talk back at Haven but I’m so glad you all could make it!”

Ruby returned the hug enthusiastically. “Me too, Mrs. Belladonna!”

“Oh please call me Kali, Mrs. Belladonna makes me feel old.”

Weiss almost took a step back from Kali but seemed to catch herself, accepting the hug after only a moments hesitation. Kali’s embrace lingered on Weiss for just a second longer than the others.

“Ma’am?” One of the guards spoke up. “We should get going.”

“Ah right!” Kali stepped back and gestured for them to follow her. “I hope you girls are hungry!”

Ruby and Weiss grabbed their bags and followed after her, Ruby already striking up a conversation with one of the stoic guards. Blake bent down to grab the handle of her bag, only to have it snatched out from under her by familiar black and yellow hand. Yang hitched the strap over her shoulder and grinned cheekily back at Blake. Blake couldn’t help a Weiss-like eye roll, but she returned Yang’s smile. “Yang, I can carry my own bag.”

“I know.” Yang bent to pick up her own bag. “But what kind of woman would I be if I let my girlfriend carry her own bag?”

Blake pursed her lips. “You’re going to be stubborn about this aren’t you?”

“Yup.” Yang marched off after the rest of the group. “Hurry before Ruby eats your lunch!”

 


 

Yang let out a low whistle as she set down both bags in the Belladonna’s foyer. “Nice digs.”

Blake hummed. “There are perks to being the chief’s daughter.”

As if he’d been summoned, the double doors on the far end of the room banged open and Chief Ghira himself strode in. Beside him, a smaller woman jogged with an armful of papers – some of them fluttering to the floor. “Chief Belladonna, sir, there’s just a few more things we need to go over before the festival tomorrow night -”

Ghira waved a large hand dismissively. “I know when it starts, Tawny. We can finish preparations later. But right now I’d rather greet my daughter and her guests.”

The woman, Tawny, blinked behind her thick glasses as if noticing them for the first time. Yang spotted a long fluffy white tail – striped and speckled with gray – twitching behind her. “Oh! Of-of course, sir. It’s good to see you again Ms Blake.”

Blake approached with a warm smile. “Of course Tawny. It’s been way too long.”

Tawny returned her smile with the corners of her eyes crinkling. Then she looked up at Ghira, adjusting her glasses in a way that looked automatic. “I’ll just… see what I can delegate, shall I sir?”

Ghira nodded stoically, and Tawny hurried to collect any wayward papers and bustled out the front door, already reading intently and mumbling to herself. The doors boomed shut behind her and Ghira’s face melted into a wide smile. He held out his arms and Blake eagerly stepped into his hug, almost engulfed by the large man entirely.

Ghira ruffled Blake’s hair between her pointed ears. “I’m so glad you made it, sweetheart.”

“I wouldn’t miss it.” Blake’s reply was muffled, but still understandable. After a moment Blake stepped back and turned to meet Yang’s eyes. Yang shuffled a bit but tried a small smile.

Blake returned her smile and held out a hand in offering. Yang took it without hesitation and forced back a sound of surprise when Blake tugged her forward to stand at her side.

“Dad? This is Yang.” She tilted her chin up slightly and Yang caught the tiniest tightening in the corners of her eyes. “My girlfriend.”

Yang cleared her throat and held out her right hand in offering. “Sir.”

Ghira’s face was stone for all Yang could read, and he eyed her up and down. Yang felt that looking a pissed off Ursa in the eye would be less intimidating...

Slowly, achingly, Ghira raised his hand to take hers. He narrowed his eyes. So much like Blake’s… thought Yang.

“So. You’re Yang?” Blake’s father all but growled.

“Yes sir.” Yang forced herself not to gulp against her sudden dry throat.

Ghira stared for another pounding heartbeat, then grunted and nodded – releasing Yang’s hand. He turned to Blake. “I like her. Much more respectful than the last one you brought home. What was his name again?”

“Dad!”

Yang couldn’t help it. The feeling of relief that Blake’s father liked her lightened the mood considerably and she fell back on her instincts, chirping, “I thought his name was Sun!”

Silence. Yang felt her stomach drop but just before she could start babbling apologies Ghira let out a booming laugh and clapped her on the shoulder. “HA. Now I really like her!”

 


 

“So."

“So.” Blake stood in the threshold of her childhood bedroom eyeing Yang with almost wariness.

“This is your room?” Yang took it in, this glimpse at a Blake before. Before Beacon, before the White Fang.

Before them.

A double bed pushed into the corner with a dark purple bedspread. Posters on the wall, some of movies that Yang vaguely recognized and some that she didn’t. Kept meticulously clean by a caring hand, a vase filled with bright flowers stood on the windowsill and the sliding door leading out to a small balcony had been left half open to let in a late afternoon breeze.

A bookshelf took up an entire corner, crammed full with titles organized by author. A lumpy beanbag sat at the bookshelf’s base, a single book left on top like it’d been thrown there and forgotten about. Yang flicked her eyes into every corner, determined to take in every detail. A writing desk with a few more books precariously stacked on the corner, another poster with a scribbled signature (this time of a book cover that Yang didn’t recognize).

Blake quietly crossed the room to the bookshelf – running her hands across the titles. “Mom said this was the one thing she’d left untouched… when I left.”

Yang watched her with a tinge of sadness, then crossed the room to wrap both arms around Blake’s waist. “And when you came back?”

Blake leaned back into the embrace. “Just like she said. The one I’d been reading was still open on my desk.”

She ran a fingertip tenderly across the spines before stopping and tugging a single book free. She flipped the black and red cover over, revealing the title scrawled in a cursive font.

Yang peered over her shoulder and gasped. “I didn’t know there was a sequel.”

Blake’s hand tracing the letters Ninjas of Love 2: The Heart Scrolls paused. “You read the first one?”

Yang felt her face start to burn against her will and pressed it into Blake’s shoulder. “I saw it in a little bookshop back home when I was… recovering. It reminded me of you.”

Blake had stiffened at the word recovering , but relaxed when Yang squeezed her waist in response. “And? What did you think?”

Yang huffed and pulled her face out from Blake’s neck with a playful eyeroll . “ Soo much better than the dorky title made me believe.”

Blake slid the book back in it s place with care then maneuvered around until she was facing Yang in the circle of her arms. She stuck her lip out in a pout. “ I like the title.”

Yang smirked and automatically leaned down to press her forehead to Blake’s. “Well, you’re a dork so that makes sense.”

Blake mock gasped and squirmed as if to wrench herself from Yang’s arms. “I can still go tell Mom that we need separate rooms, you know.”

Yang tightened her grip pressing their bodies close. “After all that trouble she went through convincing your dad that his adult daughter can share a room with her girlfriend? Not a chance.”

Blake’s squirming stilled and her eyes grew half-lidded. “Mmm, not that we’d ever get up to adult things in here, right sweetie?”

Yang couldn’t look away from those golden irises, trapped in their light – frozen like a helpless mouse before a hunter. “Uuhhh...”

Blake kissed her, one hand going up to tug on the collar of her shirt. Yang groaned, the taste of Blake’s mouth as addicting as ambrosia. Blake’s other hand slid up her torso to wrap around her neck, locking Yang in. Yang didn’t protest her captivity – kissing Blake felt as natural and necessary as breathing, and she’d happily be locked in chains for the rest of her days if it meant she could have this.

Yang let her hands wander down Blake’s sides, committing the curves of her body to memory. Her hands stilled on Blake’s hips, lightly squeezing. Blake tugged on her collar – just barely, more of a suggestion than anything – and Yang took the hint. Or rather, her feet did. Yang took a step, then another, until she’d backed Blake into the bookshelf. Blake’s hand slid up from Yang’s collar to tangle in her hair, nails scratching lightly as they dragged along Yang’s skin.

Yang broke away for air first, gasping and throwing her head back like she was pleading to a nameless god. Blake refused to drag her lips away from Yang’s skin, planting light kisse s to her jawline and following an invisible path to the tender patch of skin below her ear. Yang shuddered, a full body shiver skittering down her spine at the light scrape of Blake’s teeth.

Before she could think better of it Yang’s hands slid around Blake’s hips to the small of her back. Her shirt had ridden up just enough to expose a sliver of skin and Yang jolted like she’d been struck with a lightning bolt at the soft warmth of Blake’s bare skin.

With a herculean effort Yang forced her hands to keep from creeping up the back of Blake’s shirt to feel more of that incredibly tempting skin and to stay put . Blake must have felt her sudden ly tense because she finally pulled her lips away from where she’d been lightly sucking to touch her forehead to Yang’s. Yang vision was filled with the most beautiful golden eyes, the color of a sun rise in a fog.

“What is it?” Blake’s voice was soft, quiet. Unwilling to shatter the air between them.

Yang took a shaky breath. Blake’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes were still a bit hazy, but she blinked it away.

“I… I...” Yang tried to force the words out, but they stuck in her throat – refusing to be voiced.

Blake’s hand slid out of her hair until she was cupping Yang’s cheek in a tender caress. “Talk to me.”

Instead of opening her mouth and spilling the words she desperately wanted to say all over the floor, Yang buried her face in Blake’s neck, her hair spilling like a dark curtain and hiding Yang from the world. She breathed Blake in, her scent and her skin, until the rest of the world fell away and all of her insecurities, fears, and failures felt inconsequential. Blake was here , real and warm and safe.

She felt Blake’s hand stroking her hair and the breath in her chest vibrating as she hummed a tuneless song.

They stood in near silence for a few moments before Yang finally sucked in a deep breath and pulled her face from Blake’s neck. Blake slid her hands slowly around until she was cradling Yang’s face, leaning their foreheads together.

“Sorry.” Yang chuckled wetly. Blake shook her head, just slightly.

“Don’t be. Tell me what’s wrong.” Blake gently stroked her thumb across the delicate skin under Yang’s eye.

“Nothing’s wrong, I just...” Yang sighed and closed her eyes. “I want this. I want you.”

“But?” Blake gently prompted, sensing the unspoken word.

Yang opened her eyes to look into Blake’s. She’s here. She promised. You can tell her.

“I don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want to…” Yang swallowed against the sudden lump in her throat. “I don’t want to lose you again.”

Pressed together as they were, Yang felt in her soul Blake’s quick intake of breath. She loosened her arms, intending to step back to give Blake her space. “See? It’s stupid...”

Blake’s hands left her face to grip her wrists. “Don’t.”

Yang stilled, her own heartbeat pounding in her ears so loud she was certain that Blake could hear it. “It’s not stupid. You’re not stupid.” Blake held her wrists for another beat, then cautiously let go like she was afraid Yang would turn and run. She slid her hands around Yang’s waist to mirror Yang’s own hold. “I don’t want to lose you either.”

Blake let her head fall forward, her forehead lightly thumping into Yang’s collarbone. “I did this.”

Yang sucked in a breath and tightened her hold. This was a familiar conversation and a familiar ache. Yang pressed her cheek into Blake’s hair at the top of her head and raised her left hand to twine in her hair. “Blake...”

“I know.” Blake tilted her head to press her ear to Yang’s chest, over her heart. “I’m okay. It doesn’t change the fact that I hurt you. That I shattered your trust in me, and I don’t blame you.” Blake sighed, eyes looking misty. “All I can do is promise that I’ll never hurt you like that again. And prove it by showing how much I mean what I say.”

Yang sniffled, but couldn’t help a small smile. “You’re definitely a woman who means what she says. That’s what I love about you.”

Blake pulled her head away from Yang’s heartbeat to prop her chin on her collarbone and peer up at Yang. She mirrored Yang’s smile. “You love me?”

Yang leaned down to peck a kiss on Blake’s nose. “I do. I don’t think I’ve said it yet today.”

Blake’s smile grew wider. “I don’t think you have. You’ve got some making up to do.”

Yang’s smile softened, a look reserved only for Blake. “I love you.”

She watched the prettiest blush spread across Blake’s cheeks as she peered up at Yang through her eyelashes, and Yang felt her breath catch in her throat. “I love you too, Yang.”

 


 

Blake tried to stop her eyes from flicking over to Yang every five seconds, but that was proving to be an almost impossible task. Conversation around the table felt light, but that moment with Yang in her bedroom kept replaying in Blake’s mind and darkening her mood.

Blake’s eyes darted from her plate back up to her girlfriend, currently poking her food with her fork halfheartedly. Worry tinged with that familiar feeling of guilt made her mother’s normally delicious cooking taste bland.

I should have known. thought Blake. I should have known how she felt.

She loved Yang with all her heart, and that moment they’d shared back in her bedroom lingered in the back of Blake’s mind. Even now remembering how Yang pressed her against the bookcase and those little sounds she’d made when Blake used her teeth made her heart race and heat flush her cheeks red.

I want you. Yang’s words still rang in her ears. I want you.

But there was a catch. Of course Blake’s own bad decisions would come back to haunt them, and Blake’s heart broke for the way Yang had clung to her like she’d dissolve into smoke at any moment. Blake knew that Yang always tried to be everyone’s rock, the level-headed one. The strong one. The one who never broke.

But Blake knew better.

She saw the cracks that Yang tried so hard to plaster over, the cracks that threatened to cave the roof in at the next hard tremor. And each one hurt like an open wound upon her own skin.

Blake gave herself a small mental shake and crept her hand across the small space between them to take Yang’s right hand in hers. Yang jumped, clearly caught up in her own thoughts as well. Yang met Blake’s gaze with her own. After a moment, Yang gently squeezed her hand and smiled, small but filled with unspoken meaning.

Blake felt a weight lighten just a fraction in her chest. Yang’s smile told her everything – they would be okay, no matter what came their way.

They would be okay.

 


 

The thrum of energy in the market felt like nothing Yang had ever experienced.

She felt like her head was on a swivel, taking in all the sights and smells and sounds. Shouts of merchants looking to gain new customers, food stalls with every kind of edible treat there is.

Blake’s hand in hers, tugging this way and that. The glitter in her eye as she pointed out different places from her childhood – she seemed to have a story for everything.

People called out her name in greeting and Blake responded back with a smile and a wave. Yang noticed a few odd looks thrown her way, but she suspected Blake’s presence had something to do with the fact that no one said anything.

Yang had never seen so many different varieties of faunus in one place before – ears and tails and antlers and even colorful crests of feathers. Banners in a rainbow of colors flapped in the wind, music from somewhere drifted on the air above the hum of a thousand voices, and different smells of various dishes from across the continents lingered on the breeze. Yang could feel the excitement and anticipation of the crowd down to the tips of her toes. It would have been overwhelming were it not for Blake’s tight grip on her hand, grounding her like an anchor.

They stopped at a food stall attended by an older woman, tall mottled gray rabbit ears twitching in every direction seemingly of their own accord. She smiled at Blake with familiarity, but squinted at Yang with mild suspicion. “Blake dear! So glad to see you home for the festival! And this is…?”

Blake stepped closer to Yang’s side and squeezed her hand. “Mrs Harris, this is Yang Xiao Long, my girlfriend. She and my friends are my guests for the festival.”

Mrs Harris blinked, then her suspicion cleared and she gave Yang a warm smile. “Very nice to meet you, dearie.”

“You as well ma’am.” Yang extended her right arm without thinking. Mrs Harris took it with only a moment of hesitation.

She sucked her teeth with sympathy. “That looks like it was a nasty wound, dearie. If I may ask…?”

If asked later Yang would say she was damn proud of the fact that her face only fell slightly and she gently released Mrs. Harris’s hand. She felt Blake stiffen slightly at her side.

Mrs Harris seemed to pick up on the change and frowned. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. Sometimes I can be too nosy for my own good -”

Yang shrugged and smiled. “No it’s alright, it is hard to miss after all.” Yang flexed her mechanical hand and made a fist. “I fought in the Fall of Beacon.”

Mrs Harris put her palm to her heart. “Oh I heard about that business. So you’re a huntress then? A very noble profession – my son-in-law is a huntsman in Vacuo.”

Mrs Harris seemed content to listen to the sound of her own voice, talking about her son-in-law and daughter and 4 grandchildren, so Yang just nodded along, humming every few seconds to prove she was listening. Without looking she leaned and nudged Blake’s shoulder just slightly- an unspoken question. Are you alright?

Blake squeezed her hand in response. Yes.

It took a while for them the break away from the older woman, but she was friendly and her jam tarts were to die for, so Yang didn’t mind. Blake mentioned that they were made fresh from a hard shelled fruit that grew on a local species of tree – a sweet and creamy flavor that Yang found she liked immensely.

She was just licking the last of the jam from her fingertips and nodding along to Blake’s explanation when a loud shout of Blake’s name interrupted them and a familiar face materialized from the crowd. A shorter dark-skinned girl with reddish brown hair – Yang knew she’d met her before but her name escaped. Leah? Lily?

“Ilia!” Blake’s smile grew bright and she embraced the girl with enthusiasm. Ilia! Right, from Haven.

Ilia looked quite different from what Yang remembered. Gone was the dark practical clothing, now replaced by a light flowing shirt printed with flowers and beige shorts. She jogged over, weaving in an out of the crowd with expertise.

As soon as she got close she pulled Blake into a tight hug. “I’m so glad you made it!”

Blake returned the hug with just as much enthusiasm. “Me too!”

Yang watched Blake smile, a subtle but odd feeling stirring up in her chest. Almost like… jealousy?

Stop it, Ilia is Blake’s friend, Yang forcefully tamped down the feeling, knowing it wasn’t exactly fair. She knew they were close, even with their tumultuous history. Ilia was instrumental to the defeat of the White Fang at Haven, and Blake’s genuine joy at seeing her made Yang smile.

Ilia pulled back and only just seemed to notice Yang. To her credit her face only fell slightly, but Yang still noticed a hint of hesitation before she stuck out a hand to shake. Yang took it and smiled with what she hoped was reassurance.

“You’re Yang right?” Ilia said, glancing down at her mechanical arm then back up.

“Yep. It’s good to finally meet you officially.”

“Blake talked about you a lot.” Ilia looked over at Blake with slightly raised eyebrows, a question that Yang couldn’t decipher in her eyes.

She caught Blake’s subtle nod, and the burn of jealousy got hotter in her gut. But it made Ilia relax and release Yang’s hand.

“Well, don’t let me get in the way of what I’m sure is an ongoing tour!” Ilia laughed. “I gotta get going, but I’ll see you tomorrow night, right?”

Blake laughed, and Yang just took a moment to admire the sound. “Wouldn’t miss it!"

Ilia’s smile stretched into a grin and her freckles flashed yellow, then briefly pink. She waved happily at them as she jogged away, quickly disappearing into the crowd.

Blake returned the wave, then sighed. “I’m glad she’s looking better.”

Yang raised her eyebrows. “What happened?”

Blake reached down to take Yang’s hand again to continue their walk. “Well, after that whole mess at Haven and with the White Fang, she wrote to me, saying that she didn’t know what to do with herself. Said that she felt like she’d ‘lost her purpose’. Dad’s been giving her tasks to do around the island, to keep her busy. And it seems to be helping.”

Blake led her down a smaller side street, a little less crowded than the busy main road. “I think Dad is going to ask her to help with the building of the new White Fang. I think she’ll do great at it.”

Yang couldn’t help a glance back in the direction that Ilia disappeared in. “She seems… nice.”

Blake’s gaze darted over to Yang’s face. She stared for a heartbeat, then a small smile started to tease the edges of her lips.

Yang felt a small part of herself bristle. “What?”

Blake’s smile turned into a chuckle. “You’re cute when you’re jealous.”

Yang sputtered, cheeks burning. “Wha-what? I’m not jealous!”

One of Blake’s eyebrows arched slightly.

Yang only held out for another beat before her shoulders slumped. “Okay, maybe a little bit.”

Blake smirked, before leaning in to peck a kiss to Yang’s flaming cheek. “I love you, you know that?”

Yang smiled softly and wrapped her arms around Blake’s waist to tug her close. “Yeah. I love you too.”

Blake hummed and tucked her head under Yang’s chin, pressing her forehead to the base of her throat. Yang marveled at how their bodies fit together almost seamlessly, like two puzzle pieces.

And even though the crowd around them pressed in, for a fleeting moment it felt like they were in their own world.

 


 

Blake wasn’t exactly sure what woke her that night, at first.

The familiar sight of her childhood bedroom and the warm puffs of breath against her neck soothed her, chasing away the vague imprint of her dream, leaving behind only impressions.

An arm tightened around her middle and Yang made a small noise against the back of her neck. “Mmm, y’ okay?”

Blake breathed out softly and couldn’t help the small smile – one that Yang wouldn’t be able to see in the dark of the night.

She traced a gentle touch up Yang’s forearm, draped over her middle. “Yeah. Just a dream, I think.”

She felt Yang press warm lips against her shoulder. “Bad dream? Wanna talk about it?”

Blake rolled over onto her back to look at Yang’s face and couldn’t help a huff of laughter at the way she squinted in the dark, pupils blown wide. To her, of course, Yang’s features were clear as day. Blake stretched up to press a slow kiss to her sleepy mouth. Yang relaxed into the kiss, humming softly under her breath.

Blake pulled away first and reached up to trace the outline of Yang’s lower lip with her thumb. “It wasn’t a bad dream.”

“Oh? What was it about?” Yang’s eyes slid closed at Blake’s touch.

Blake hummed in thought, and her thumb left soft lips to trace along Yang’s jawline and down her throat. “I could tell you… or I could show you.”

Yang’s breath hitched and Blake felt the way her throat bobbed when she swallowed. “O-okay, if you want to...”

Blake leaned up to kiss her again, slow and soft. Yang returned the kiss, letting out a breathy sigh against warm skin. With a gentle push Yang rolled onto her back and Blake swung a leg over her hips. Her sleep shorts weren’t exactly thick – the hot humid weather of Menagerie in summer made thin clothing a necessity – and Yang made an absolutely obscene noise when Blake ground her hips down.

The kiss grew deeper, Blake slipping her tongue inside to tangle with Yang’s, her taste sweet and addictive. Yang’s hand slid down her back and even through the thin material of her shirt Yang’s touch was warm, almost hot.

Blake drew back slowly, but paused just far enough away that the tips of their noses were still touching. She took in the way Yang’s face flushed from the tips of her ears to her kiss-swollen lips. “That’s what my dream was about.”

Yang’s chest rose and fell rapidly and Blake could feel the pounding of her heart through her own torso. Her voice sounded breathless, like she’d just sprinted from one end of the island and back. “Oh.

Blake nudged Yang’s nose with her own. “Is this okay?”

Yang nodded, but her hand paused in its path on Blake’s hip. “Gods, Blake I want you so bad...”

“But…?” Blake prompted, sensing the word hanging in the air.

To her surprise, Yang’s face turned a bit… sheepish? Embarrassed? “But maybe we shouldn’t do this right down the hall from your parents, who both have absurdly good hearing.”

Blake blanched. “Uh, you might be right about that.” Carefully Blake eased her leg back over and lay down against Yang’s side, trying to slow her pounding heart.

Yang rolled back over onto her side to pull Blake close. Blake let her head rest in the crook of Yang’s shoulder. And breathed in her scent, content to stay right where she was.

Yang shifted slightly, then sighed. “Besides, I think our first time should be special."

Blake tilted her head back to look at Yang with a raised eyebrow. “What, like candlelight and wine special?”

Yang gave a slight cough, a clear sign she was embarrassed. “Well, yeah. Don’t wanna mess anything up, right?”

“Oh Yang...” Blake propped herself up on her elbows to peck a light kiss onto her lips. “Making love to you could never be anything but special.”

Blake delighted in the bright blush that spread across Yang’s cheeks under her freckles and the way she sputtered before settling back down into her place on Yang’s shoulder. “Now let’s get some actual sleep, tomorrow is gonna be a long day.”

Yang breathed out slowly, and wrapped her arm around Blake’s shoulders. “Yeah, it is.”

 


 

Yang straightened her cover-up over her yellow bikini in the mirror and frowned. She flexed her prosthetic and felt the mechanics inside whir, then sighed and fiddled with the attachment. With a hiss and a click the arm detached, powering down with a beep.

Turning back to the bed where a large case lay open and empty, Yang carefully arranged the prosthetic into its specially made cushioned, then closed the lid with a firm click.

A soft knock on the door startled her out of her thoughts, and she called out for the person to enter. Blake slid in, wearing a dark purple robe tied around her waist. She paused on seeing the case on the bed. “You’re not wearing your arm tonight?”

Yang shrugged. “Nah. Sand and mechanics don’t exactly get along, ya know?”

Blake nodded once, then glided further into the room to wrap her hands around Yang’s waist. Yang happily leaned back into the embrace and lightly scratched the skin on Blake’s wrist. “Are you excited?”

She felt Blake’s huff of laughter against her back. “More nervous, I think.”

Yang’s eyebrows knitted together. “You’re opening the festival with your dad, right?”

Blake nodded against Yang. “Yeah. As the chief’s firstborn it’s my job to perform the opening ceremony.” She huffed a sarcastic laugh. “Something I haven’t done since I was twelve.”

Yang smiled and turned in Blake’s grip, tilting her chin up with a gentle finger. “I’m sure you’re gonna do great.”

Blake stuck her lip out in a pout. “You’re supposed to say that, you’re my girlfriend.”

Yang just couldn’t help herself and leaned forward to peck Blake on that very lip. “And you’re still not going to tell me what this ceremony is, right?”

Blake hummed in contemplation, then shook her head. “Nope. You have to wait and see.”

It was Yang’s turn to pout. Blake huffed out a laugh. “Uh uh. I told you it’s a surprise.”

“I could just ask your mom, she’ll tell me.”

“Too late.” Blake grinned. “I’ve already sworn her to secrecy.”

Yang’s pout got bigger, but Blake refused to budge. Taking her girlfriend by the hand Blake tugged her out of the room and down the hall to where Ruby and Weiss were waiting. Yang blinked at the sight of

Weiss, hair and eyes uncovered, engrossed in conversation with Ghira.

Ruby perked up at the sight of Yang and Blake and nudged Weiss none too gently in the back. Weiss jumped and glared at Ruby, but smiled at them as they got closer.

“Hey you two. We thought we were going to have to come and drag you out.” There was something subtle but sly in Weiss’s expression that made Yang’s cheeks heat up. Blake rolled her eyes fondly and nudged Yang closer.

“Alright, I’ve got to leave you guys for a bit to get ready for the opening ceremony. Don’t get into to much trouble.” she chuckled.

“No promises!” Ruby chirped.

Blake grinned, squeezed Yang’s hand one more time, then broke away to duck through a side door. Ghira cleared his throat. “Alright, it’s going to be a few hours until the festival officially starts, but there are plenty of booths set up along the main road down to the beach already. You girls go on and enjoy yourselves.”

Ghira made a small waving motion, and Tawny appeared, this time without a teetering stack of papers and looking decidedly more relaxed. “Tawny here is going to be your guide for tonight, at least until up to the opening ceremony.”

Tawny’s tail flicked side to side and she nodded along. She turned to Ruby, Weiss and Yang. “My presence also ensures that no one will be foolish enough to cause trouble. Humans like you aren’t unheard of at the festival, especially in recent years. But that doesn’t mean that any of the more, ah,” here Tawny coughed, straightened her glasses and not so subtly tilted her head toward Weiss. “- fervent believers in our goddess won’t try something.”

Weiss’s face tightened and Ruby frowned. Yang swallowed, then leaned in and slung her arm around Weiss’s shoulders. “Aww, don’t worry Weiss. If anybody wants to pick a fight with you send ‘em my way.”

Weiss rolled her eyes and all but shoved Yang’s arm off her. “I think I’m capable of handling myself, thank you.”

There was little bite in her voice despite her words, and Yang caught the edge of a smile on her face.

Tawny waved them forward, and soon they were exiting the house and making their way down the main street. The energy that Yang had felt earlier now an audible hum. Thousands of voices, talking, laughing and singing as well as various musical instruments were tuned. Vendors called out to them selling everything from multicolored flags to meat sizzling on sticks to glittering pieces of jewelry.

Despite the crowds Tawny led them with ease, her long pale mottled tail glowing like a beacon. Torches lined the main path and colorful paper lanterns strung between buildings, not yet lit in the still bright early evening.

“Alright, the festival is mainly taking place here along the main road, leading all the way down to the beach where the bonfires will be.” Tawny explained, waving her hands. “The path will be well lit so it should be easy to find if you should get lost. As long as you can see the statue,” here Tawny gestured ahead of them to a dark statue, placed in the middle of the path and towering above the crowd. “you can find your way.”

As they got closer Yang could make out that it was a full figured woman, carved from dark brown wood and dressed in light flowing cloth. But her most striking feature were the large tree branches growing from her crown, like antlers. Birds and other small animals sat among the branches, carved in exquisite detail and looking so lifelike Yang thought they could start moving at any moment.

“That’s her, isn’t it? Fauna?” said Weiss, almost in awe as they reached the foot of the statue. Scattered around the goddess’s pedestal were offerings, food and small stacks of lien as well as colorful stones and feathers. As they watched a small boy scurried from the crowd and place a small brown bag at the statue’s feet, bow his head, then dart away – fluffy beige tail wagging behind him.

Tawny nodded. “It is. Direct worship of her has just about died out, but isn’t gone completely.” At this Tawny pulled a chain out of the neck of her shirt to reveal a small round pendent imprinted with the shape of twining tree branches. “Some of us here on Menagerie keep the old traditions and beliefs alive.”

Her brow furrowed and she tucked the pendant back into her shirt. “It’s such a shame that certain leaders of our people have taken Fauna’s message and twisted it into something so sinister.”

It was obvious who she was talking about, and Yang’s hand unwittingly went to her right shoulder.

“But I thought Fauna fought against humans.” said Ruby thoughtfully.

Tawny frowned. “Yes she did, but only to protect her own, and only against those who wronged her. Fauna has no quarrel with innocents, regardless of species.” Something familiar passed over Tawny’s expression, and Yang recognized a look that Blake often wore – heated determination. “There is no honor in blind hatred.”

Tawny blinked behind her thick glasses, then made a small gesture towards the statue – a circle over her heart then a touch to her chin – before turning back to them. “I’ve known Blake since she was a small girl, and it makes me quite proud to see that she’s following in her father’s footsteps, even improving on what he has built. Making friends, not enemies.”

“Yeah.” Yang didn’t look away from the statue before them. “Blake’s pretty special.”

Tawny nodded in approval then once again waved at them to follow her and she led them back through the crowd to a small set up of outdoor chairs and couches surrounding a lit firepit, already occupied by a handful of faunus drinking from colorful cups.

“Alright, you girls can wait here, the ceremony should be beginning shortly, and I have to go make sure everything is set up properly.” Tawny wrung her hands and waved toward the couches before hurrying off.

The faunus around them appeared to be around their age, early twenties at the oldest. One young man with smooth horns curled over his ears made his way over and held out a cup. “Hey there! I’m Mata. You guys are the Belladonna’s guests right?”

“Sure am.” Yang took the drink, carefully avoiding Ruby’s grabby hands and took a sip. Fruity, with only a slight bite of alcohol. “We’re Blake’s team."

Mata’s expression brightened. “You’re huntresses then? That’s so cool. I was with the militia who went to Haven, and I think I saw a little bit of your work.”

“Yang!”

Yang spun around at the call of her name and spotted Blake through the crowd, still dressed in her loose deep purple robe.

The light from the nearby torches caught on something glittering on her face and as she approached, and Yang’s breath caught in her chest.

Someone had painted Blake’s face with shimmering gold in delicate swirls starting in the outer corners of her eyes, curling up over her brow and down around her cheekbones. The effect made it look like her eyes were glowing, like the amber of her irises had spilled over and mixed with fallen stardust. The paint, combined with dark smoky kohl lining her eyelashes made Blake’s eyes positively shine.

“Blake you look amazing!” Ruby piped up from her seat at the fire pit.

Blake reached up to delicately touch her cheek. “Oh, it’s not smudged is it? I kind of ran off to find you guys as soon as my mom finished...”

“Why don’t you ask Yang?” Weiss said with a sly smirk. “I’m sure she’d love a closer look.”

Yang knew her mouth was gaping like a dumbstruck fish, but she clamped her mouth shut when Blake turned toward her with an expectant look. “Could you check for me, babe?”

Yang sputtered. “Um, I – yes – hmm, you look good – I mean the paint looks good, uhh...”

“Oh good. It’s been a while since I’ve worn the traditional paint and my mother would kill me if I smudged it.” Blake took her hand off her cheek and closely inspected the tip of her finger.

“Traditional?” asked Ruby.

A faint blush colored Blake’s cheeks, and she cleared her throat a bit awkwardly. “Well, I’m performing the opening ceremony, over thereby the center square.” She pointed across the crowd, to a large open space ringed with lit torches. “I just came over to let you guys know we’re gonna be starting soon, I wanted you to get a good spot.”

“We’ll be there.” Yang squared her shoulders and handed off the drink in her hand to wrap her arm around Blake’s waist, pulling her close. “I wouldn’t dare miss it.”

Blake’s smile was joyful, and she slid her hands up Yang’s arms to loop over her neck. The sparkling paint in her cheeks wasn’t anything compared to the sparkle in her eyes…

“Can I give ya a kiss for good luck?” Yang knew her smile turned cheeky, but she couldn’t help it.

Blake touched a fingertip to her chin in exaggerated contemplation. Then she gave a short precise nod, like she was making a decision about a technical upgrade to Gambol Shroud. “You may. But you have to answer to my mother if you smudge my paint.”

“Fair enough,” said Yang before leaning in.

The threat of Kali Belladonna’s wrath was enough to make her careful, but Blake’s sweet mouth was still the best thing she’d ever tasted. Blake hummed happily into her kiss, until a loud, low bell wrung out across the square and she jolted away.

“Oh shoot, I gotta get going. Make sure you guys get a front row seat, okay?” After one last peck on Yang’s lips she darted away into the crowd.

Yang already her.

Mata cleared his throat. “Uh, so you’re Belladonna’s girlfriend?”

“Yeah.” Yang didn’t bother with hiding the pride in her voice.

Mata relaxed and took a sip from his own drink. “Nice. My boyfriend couldn’t make it this year. Travel is a little crazy in his area right now, and there’s always next year.” Mata frowned briefly, then brightened. “C’mon. I know where to get good seats.”

True to his word Mata led them to the square, where a large circular area had been cleared in front of a stage, ringed with torches. They ended up beside the stage, just on the edge of the ring of torches. Yang spotted Tawny, carefully lighting each torch with the assistance of a younger girl with short stubby antlers. Once the last torch was lit Tawny said something to the girl, who grinned and darted off into the crowd.

The sun sank beneath the horizon, darkening the sky and making the first few stars wink into existence.

A hush fell over the crowd.

Ghira took the stage, stepping up to a podium with Tawny at his side. He cleared his throat once then threw out his arms.

“Welcome!” Ghira’s deep voice boomed out, heard even at the back of the crowd. “Welcome all! Friends and family, brothers and sisters. And blessings of Fauna be upon you!”

Yang spotted a few faces in the crowd bow their heads in reverence and make the same gesture Tawny did earlier – a circle over the heart and a touch to the chin.

“Tonight, we honor our loved ones, both with us and not. Tonight we celebrate Fauna, as well as each other and the hardships we have overcome. But I won’t bore any of you anymore.” A few chuckles rippled out across the audience. “But before we start, my daughter will be performing the traditional opening dance.”

Murmurs broke out, quickly shushed until there was silence, like the world was holding its breath.

A drumbeat started up, slow and steady like a heart beat pounding in Yang’s ears.

All at once, the crowd across from her parted like grass in the wind, and there she was.

With two glittering fans in her hands, and small yellow and white flowers woven into her hair, Blake began to sway to the beat, shaking the fans so they caught the torchlight and glittered golden yellow.

Gone was that lose purple robe, and in its place sheer golden fabric fell like water, flowing down her legs to flutter around her ankles in response to her movements. The upper half left her arms and stomach bare, lean muscle flexing as she swayed.

The drumbeat picked up, joined by others. Blake’s movements became faster, and she began to spin around the torch-lit circle. Her skirt shimmered in the flickering firelight like it was alive as she spun, and the paint around her eyes caught the light, and Yang swore for minute it looked like the sun itself had decided to rise again and join in.

Blake’s eyes were closed, lost to the beat of the music, but she opened them briefly to make contact with Yang across the circle, and Yang felt as though the very breath was stolen from her chest. Blake’s eyes glowed behind her facepaint, and Yang thought she saw a small smile flit across Blake’s lips before she turned to make another circuit around.

The drums picked up, faster and faster until Blake was almost a blur. Then, with one last beat, she froze, perfectly posed in the center of the circle. With one last shimmering shake of her fans she bowed at the waist towards the stage and her father.

The last drumbeat seemed to linger in the air for a single breath before the crowd erupted into wild cheers, and Blake straightened out of her bow with a wide, breathless grin.

Yang knew that she was staring, open mouthed, but couldn’t seem to find it in herself to unfreeze her face. A small cough from beside her and a finger on her chin shut her mouth with a click, and she turned to see Ruby with a smug smirk. She sipped almost daintily the last of her drink and her smirk got bigger. “I was just saving you from swallowing a fly or something.”

Yang glared, but before she could retort her vision was suddenly full of dark hair and the scent of flowers. Blake threw her arms around Yang’s neck and kissed her on the cheek. She pulled back, and Yang found herself dazzled by her bright grin.

“So? What did you think? I didn’t mess it up too badly, right?”

Yang returned the smile automatically. “I – Blake that was amazing. You’re amazing.”

She watched Blake’s skin darken with a blush underneath the gold facepaint, now lightly smudged from perspiration. “Thanks, babe.”

Another cough from the side, and they both saw Ruby very obviously tilting her empty cup upside-down. “Ahem, I’m gonna go find another one of these. You comin’ Weiss?”

“Sure,” Weiss shrugged, then smiled at Yang and Blake. “Don’t have too much fun, you two.”

Yang snorted. “Likewise.” She reached over Blake’s head and ruffled Weiss’s perfect ponytail. Weiss ducked out from under her, grumbling.

“Hey, make sure you two stick together, alright?” Yang made sure her voice dropped to a lower tone. “And keep Ruby from going too hard on those drinks.”

Weiss narrowed her eyes, clearly hearing what Yang was really saying. Finally she nodded her assent. “Fine. But if she makes a fool of herself I’m not stopping her.”

Ruby gave a loud indignant “HEY” but Weiss took her by the wrist and tugged her away, back towards the couches and chairs.

 


 

Blake twined her fingers with Yang’s and dug her toes in the cool sand. Kuo Kuana hummed with energy, voices and an eclectic mix of music from across the continents along with the roar of the bonfire made something sing in her blood, like she was humming along with the island itself. But she suspected some of it might have had something to do with the woman leaning on the log beside her.

Yang laughed at something Ilia said and Blake took a moment to just admire her, the way her hair caught the firelight and glowed like fire...

She took another sip from her drink, only for her straw to suck air. Yang perked up at the sound and took the opportunity to snag her empty cup and lurch up from the log, loudly proclaiming that she was going to go find a refill station.

Ilia stretched across the space to nudge Blake’s knee. “I like her.”

Blake raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

Ilia shrugged. “Eh, she’s funny. For a human. And she cares about you a lot.” Something softened in Ilia’s expression. “She treats you well, right?”

Blake found her gaze drifting to Yang’s bright hair, easily spotted even from a distance. “Yeah, she does.”

Ilia nodded, decisive. “Then that’s good enough for me.”

Yang tottered back to the log, despite her unsteady feet and only having one hand she successfully sat down on the sand and handed the cup to Blake. “Here you are, darling.”

Blake rolled her eyes with fondness and pecked her on the cheek, before settling into her previous position in Yang’s lap. “Thank you, love of my life.”

Yang flushed brightly and touched the spot where Blake kissed her with tentative fingers. Out of the corner of her eye Blake spotted Ilia rolling her eyes but with freckles tinted bright pink.

Blake was content to sit and take in the sounds and smells of the celebration around her and the warmth of Yang beneath her, but after a few minutes the stirring in her blood got to be too strong and she stood to stretch her arms above her head.

Yang paused in mid conversation to give her a quizzical look. Blake held out a hand. “Walk with me?”

Yang’s expression melted into a smile, and she accepted Blake’s hand instead of responding. Blake caught Ilia’s wink and tried not to look like she was hurrying as she led Yang away.

 


 

The drinks she’d had weren’t strong by any means, but they were enough to give Yang a pleasant buzz and a warmth in her belly, only made stronger by the feel of Blake’s hand in hers. That suspicious wobble in her step started to disappear as she gained her balance, and as they walked further down the beach and away from the more crowded areas the sounds of nature around them grew louder. The quiet but constant roar of the waves, the rustle of the wind in the palm trees and the muffled crunch of the sand beneath their feet.

Blake’s skin felt so warm against her own and Yang sighed, content.

Blake squeezed her hand. “Mm, what’s that for?”

“Huh? Oh, nothing. Just… enjoying this, is all.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Yang closed her eyes for a moment, and a light warm breeze ruffled her hair. “It’s just nice to have some time to relax, after everything.”

Blake stepped closer, and leaned her head on Yang’s shoulder. “It is, isn’t it?”

Yang pressed her cheek to the top of Blake’s head. “Mm hm. You wanna know something?”

Yang felt Blake’s ears twitch against her skin. “Sure.”

She squeezed Blake’s hand. “I’m been thinking a lot. You know, about everything that’s already happened. And about how, we don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Or the next, or the next...”

They passed underneath a quiet pier with warm shallow sea water swirling around their ankles. The light and noise of the celebrations still echoed behind them, but here, engulfed in shadows with only the noise of the sea and each other’s breathing, it felt like they were the only two people left in the world. “But what I do know is that right here, right now, I love you with everything I have in me, and I don’t wanna waste a single moment.”

Blake wrapped her hands around Yang’s neck and pulled her in, lips crashing together almost too hard. Yang groaned into the kiss as Blake’s hands crept up to twist in her hair.

Yang’s hand crept around Blake’s bare waist, feeling the warmth and impossible softness of her skin. Suddenly the thin sheer material of her own light cover-up felt far too thick, but before the urge to be as close to Blake as possible overcame her, the thudding of stumbling footsteps on the wooden planks above them along with muffled giggles and two people shushing each other.

Blake’s hand slid out from Yang’s hair to cover her mouth, eyeing the pier above them. She looked back down to meet Yang’s eyes. She held one finger over her lips in a shush motion, and whispered, “Come with me, I know a place.”

She and Yang hurried out from under the pier, hushing each other and muffling each other’s laughter with stolen kisses. Blake led Yang up and away, the dwellings around them got smaller and further apart. Through thick jungle and skirting around rocky outcrops.

Finally after nearly ten minutes, they approached a solid wall of dark volcanic rock and Blake swept aside a curtain of hanging plants to reveal the dark entrance to a cave or tunnel. Yang hesitated, but Blake nodded and gestured for her to go first.

The tunnel was dark and smelled strongly of the sea and Yang had to bend at the waist to fit, but pale light shimmered ahead and the tunnel quickly opened up onto a small, crescent shaped beach. Surrounded by a tall lip of volcanic rock that cut off the rest of the world. The rock encircled a calm lagoon, water barely stirred by the small waves lapping at the shore. The full, broken moon shone down, reflecting on the surface of the lagoon in silver ripples.

Yang could only stare, struck dumb by the beauty of this place. A place Blake must have discovered some time ago, if the confidence with which she’d led Yang to this place was anything to go by.

She soon felt Blake’s presence coming up from behind her and pausing at her side. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I – wow, Blake this place is breathtaking. Does anyone else know about it?”

Blake shook her head and she started shaking out her hair so the small flowers woven in fluttered down to the soft white sand. “Not to my knowledge, I found this place one day when I was a kid and I’d gone too far while exploring. I never told anyone, I liked the idea of being the only person who knew about it. And all the times I’d visited I’ve never seen another person here.” With this Blake eyed Yang beside her with faint shyness. “Except you.”

Yang turned to smile at Blake, then froze at the sight of Blake undoing the tie at the back of her neck of her golden top. “Uuuuh, Blake? What’re you doing?”

Blake shrugged and smirked. “Well, I didn’t show you this place just to look at it. The water is very calm here, and unlike you I didn’t bring a swimsuit.”

Yang gaped, feeling like one of those broken computers back at the Beacon library that froze up the second you typed a phrase longer than “tech support”. Blake turned away and tossed the balled up fabric toward the tree line, where it caught on a branch and hung there, glittering in the moonlight.

The moon was bright enough that Yang didn’t have to strain her eyes too hard, but that also meant that she could easily see the lines of Blake’s bare muscular back and shoulders. Suddenly the buzzing in her head made her tongue feel like it had grown several sizes. “Bu- bu- bu, Blake...”

Blake turned back, this time with concern. “Is this alright?”

Yang, not trusting herself to speak, nodded fiercely – while her eyes started to wander downwards from Blake’s face.

With Yang’s assurance, Blake’s concern melted into something heated, and she gestured up and down with one hand. “Alright, then you too. It’s only fair.” With that Blake shimmied out of her skirt and trotted off to the waterline.

After a brief moment where Yang tried to catch her breath, then almost ripped her thin cover-up in her haste. She reached behind her to untie the back of her bikini top, and with a single tug it fell free, and Yang shivered a the touch of the gentle wind on her bare skin.

After shucking off the matching bottoms (and swearing her thanks to whatever god might be listening that she remembered to shave her legs) before wading out into the water.

The water lapped at her ribs, warm and enticing. Yang sighed at the feeling and waded deeper in. Just ahead Blake bobbed in the water, her dark head illuminated by the light of the moon reflecting on the surface of the lagoon.

Yang’s feet left the sand and she floated for a brief moment before a sudden wave of water splashed in her face.

She sputtered, and shook the water from her face. Brushing her hair out of her face revealed Blake’s grinning face. The golden facepaint smeared by the water across her cheeks and making her skin glitter like stars. Yang returned her grin and stuck out her tongue. “Oh, that’s real mature.”

Blake swam a short distance away, and stuck her tongue out in retaliation. “Only because you know you couldn’t beat me in a splash fight.”

Yang narrowed her eyes playfully. “Oh you didn’t just say that.”

The next few minutes devolved into a fierce splash fight, culminating in Yang luring Blake into the shallows just so she could throw her over her shoulder and toss her back in the water.

Finally Blake threw her arms around Yang, laughing breathlessly, and Yang held her close, giggling into her neck. Then the realization that neither of them were wearing a single stitch, and Blake’s bare skin was pressed against her own.

Their laughter trailed off as Blake seemed to come to the same conclusion, and she pulled back to press her forehead against Yang’s.

Blake breathed out shakily and her breath fanned across Yang’s lips.

 


 

Blake...” Yang breathed her name against her lips, and Blake shivered. Yang’s hand stroked her back, up and down and her touch burned.

Unable to take it anymore Blake slammed her lips against Yang’s, a moan rising up from deep in her throat. Yang returned the kiss, her tongue coming out to trace Blake’s lower lip. May I?

Blake heard Yang’s unspoken question, and opened her mouth to tangle her tongue with Yang’s. Yang let out a small squeak of a sound and Blake squirmed against her in response.

Her lips tasted like the salt of the sea and Blake’s lungs burned for air. She tore her lips from Yang’s, but Yang continued to kiss her down her throat. Nipping at her collarbone and shoulder, Yang peered up at Blake, and she gasped at the hints of crimson glistening in her irises. Her hand slipped down Blake’s back to squeeze the flesh of her rear, before continuing it’s path to the back of her thigh.

With an impressive display of dexterity and strength, Yang hitched Blake up to her stomach, encouraging her to wrap her legs around her waist. Blake obliged, and Yang planted hot kisses down the center of her chest.

When Yang’s lips closed around a nipple Blake gasped and threw her head back, up to the stars. Yang’s tongue swirled in circles and Blake felt like she would combust into ash at any moment. And then Yang switched to her other nipple, and Blake whined, hands coming up to grip the top of Yang’s head.

She was so caught up in the feeling of Yang’s mouth on her skin she didn’t even realize Yang was swimming them back to shore until her back met soft sand and Yang was suddenly there, hovering above her with pure hunger in her eyes.

Yang went right back to her chest with single minded determination, lightly biting and nipping at her skin.

Blake moaned, arching her back against Yang’s mouth, and she felt her smirk. Yang released her nipple with a soft sound and crawled back up Blake’s torso to kiss her with surprising softness. She pulled back just enough to whisper against her lips, “Let’s take this back to the house.”

After that is was a rush of putting dry clothes back onto wet bodies and squeezing water out of thick hair then they were running hand in hand back to the main festival, following the lights and sounds of celebration. The party was still in full swing like they’d never left, and Blake spotted the tall statue of Fauna as they rounded the corner onto the main road.

Yang pulled them to a stop and kissed her again. “I’m gonna find Ruby and Weiss to let them know, I’ll meet you back at the house.”

Blake hummed into the kiss and nodded. “Don’t take too long.”

 


 

Yang watched Blake walk off into the crowd and let her eyes trail down to Blake’s shapely rear. After a good shake (both mental and physical) and she made her way towards where she saw her sister and teammate last.

But before she reached it she spotted a familiar red swimsuit and Ruby appeared, this time with what seemed like half a coconut in hand with a colorful swirly straw. She brightened at the sight of her sister. “Hey, Yang! Did you go swimming or something? Where’s Blake?”

“Hey Rubes. Blake went back up to the house, and I’m just here to let you know that we’re probably going to turn in.”

Ruby tilted her head. “Why?” Then her face twisted. “Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.”

Yang couldn’t help a smirk, then it turned into a frown. “Where’s Weiss?”

It was Ruby’s turn to smirk. “Back there. Making new friends.”

At Yang’s confused look Ruby tilted her head and shoulders back in the direction she’d come. “Come, on, I’ll show ya.”

Ruby led her back to a small park, set up with several picnic tables surrounding a bonfire. And there was Weiss, surrounded by a dozen or so faunus in various ages hanging onto her every word.

“And then Kline says, ‘I think it’s because he’s full of hot air’.”

The crowd erupted into laughter. Beside Weiss Yang spotted Mata slapping his knee. “Man, Kline sounds awesome!”

Weiss’s face turned wistful. “Yeah, he was. I mean, the man dealt with my father for years, he had the patience of a saint.”

Weiss waved her hand. “Anyway, you wanna hear the story of when my father ‘accidentally’ died his hair blue and about how Winter and I maybe had something to do with it?”

Enthusiastic nods and more laughter. Yang smiled and turned to Ruby, who smirked back.

“She’ll be fine.” said Ruby, nodding almost proudly. “You go on. Have fun.” Here Ruby’s expression melted into something softer. “Team leader’s orders.”

Yang pulled her sister into a tight hug. “Thanks sis.”

 


 

Blake stood underneath the water, so hot it steamed on her skin. Eyes closed, she heard the familiar sound of the door to her room slide open and a soft inquiry. “Blake?”

“In the shower!” She raised her voice to be heard over the water and shook out her hair, rinsing off the last of the sand and salt.

“Blake?” Closer this time, just outside the washroom door. Butterflies rolled in Blake’s stomach as she thought back to when Yang was gasping her name in a much different tone, surrounded by still water and moonlight…

She jolted out of her reminiscing at the sound of the door sliding open and Yang’s cough. “Oh, uh… sorry, I couldn’t hear you out there...”

Blake steeled herself and took a deep breath, before pushing the shower door open just enough to stick her head out and catch sight of Yang, looking up at the ceiling and blushing as if she hadn’t had her mouth on certain parts of Blake’s body barely than an hour ago.

Blake couldn’t help a small laugh, which eased the nervous fluttering in her belly.

But only slightly.

“It’s alright, I sometimes forget you can’t hear like I can.” Blake smiled to try and ease Yang’s clear nerves. “I’m just rinsing the sand off.”

Yang’s shoulders relaxed, and she groaned. “Ooh that sounds amazing.”

Blake blinked, then swallowed down the lump in her throat. The butterflies got worse.

“You know… you could join me.”

Yang blinked rapidly for a few seconds, then a slight raise of her eyebrows. A question.

Are you sure?

Blake responded with what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Yes.

A scant ten minutes later found her gasping at the shower ceiling and the feeling of Yang’s mouth on her throat and her hand roaming down her side and rear. Her heartbeat throbbed between her legs and all the way down to her toes.

Yang hummed against her pulse like she could taste it, and Blake felt her smile rather than saw it.

“Yang, please...” Blake didn’t even care that she was begging, Yang’s slippery skin and the way their bodies fit together just felt too damn good

“What do you want?” Yang probably hadn’t meant to make her voice sound so husky, but Blake squirmed at the sound of it all the same. The scrape of Yang’s teeth on her shoulder mad her jump and curse breathily. “Fuck...”

Yang’s hand roamed across the muscled of Blake’s abdomen and paused just below her belly button. “Blake? You have to say it...”

Blake would later be embarrassed at the whimper that she let out, but right here right now Yang’s touch burned, and she felt like she was going to lose her mind if Yang didn’t touch her right now -

“Gods, Yang I need you to touch me!” The words finally burst out, almost shouted. But Blake was far beyond caring – her parents wouldn’t be back for hours and Yang was right here, touching her like that…

Yang’s hand finally slipped between Blake’s legs and she sucked in a sharp breath. Yang’s fingers explored her, tentative and unsure at first, then more confidently as Blake whispered fervent encouragement in her ear.

Something began to tighten in Blake’s belly. She’d been twined so tightly for the past few hours that her peak crept up embarrassingly fast and her hips jerked messily against Yang’s fingers. The coil tightened further and further, until Yang sunk her blunt teeth into the cord of Blake’s shoulder and the mild pain jolted straight down to her core. The coil released, sending shudders of pleasure to roll down her spine and tingles down to the tips of her toes.

Her muscles spasmed around Yang’s fingers and she pulled back from Blake’s bruised shoulder to kiss her, swallowing her gasped and moans.

Yang continued to touch her as Blake came down from her high and her head fell forward onto a strong shoulder. Until a muffled whine made Yang’s hand still and pull away, dragging up the soft skin of Blake’s hip.

Blake breathed for a moment before pulling back and touching Yang’s forehead with her own, a dreamy smile on her lips.

 


 

Yang bit her lip as she stared into Blake’s golden eyes. She’d washed the paint off her cheeks, but Yang swore she could still see a shimmer on her skin, like dim starlight at dawn. Yang felt like she’d been struck dumb at the sight of Blake in the throes of passion and couldn’t shake the giddy feeling of having brought Blake to that beautiful high.

Blake kissed her and sighed against her lips. Yang closed her eyes and hummed into the kiss.

Blake dragged her lips away and trialed them down Yang’s neck, nibbling lightly at the corner of her jaw.

Yang jumped at the touch of Blake’s fingers, tracing the clenched muscles of her stomach, then sliding downward…

Yang took her wrist in a gentle hold before it got too far. “You don’t have to...”

Blake frowned, the wrinkle between her brows filling Yang with the urge to smooth it away with her fingertip. “I want to.”

Yang gulped at the heated look in Blake’s eyes, then gave her a shaky nod.

When Blake’s fingers touched Yang’s heated slick skin and Yang shivered at the sensation. Blake explored her with nimble fingers, taking note of where Yang gasped the loudest or moaned the longest, returning to those places over and over again until it was Yang’s turn to whine.

Yang watched Blake’s jaw set into something determined through hazy vision, then suddenly she was gone, kneeling down on one leg in the small space of the shower.

“Blake? What’re you – oh gods!"

Blake cut her off by leaning forward and placing an open mouthed kiss where her hand still worked furiously. She slipped a single finger inside and curled it forward, making Yang see stars.

Yang’s head thumped against the shower wall and she sent a prayer to gods she didn’t fully believe in that she wouldn’t combust right then and there. Heat built up behind her eyes like when her semblance was just about to burst free and Blake’s name was the only thought running through her mind.

Release hit like a roaring freight train and her throat burned, only dimly registering she was screaming.

It was only Blake standing back up and embracing her that kept Yang from collapsing.

After the world faded back into existence did she bury her face in Blake’s shoulder and mutter a faint “show off...”

Blake only chuckled in response.

She barely registered the water shutting off and Blake tugging her by the wrist to step out into the cold air of the washroom. Only when Blake grabbed a fluffy towel off a nearby rack did she stir, allowing Blake to towel her dry then taking the towel and doing the same.

They took turns drying each other’s hair and both stumbled out into Blake’s bedroom, not bothering with clothes before collapsing into a tangle on the bed.

Blake propped up on her arms to lean over Yang and peck a kiss to her nose. “I hope that was special enough for you.”

Yang melted into her. “Mmm, you’re amazing. Although you did kind of steal my romantic thunder...”

Blake arched an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Yang hummed an affirmative, hand coming up to trace shapes onto the bare skin of Blake’s back. “Mm hm. I had this whole plan, flowers and dinner and candlelight and everything. Then you had to come in with a private moonlit lagoon and out-romance me.”

Blake nestled down against her side, grinning. “Doesn’t mean you can’t do that anyway. The flowers and candles and everything.”

“Yeah?” Yang murmured. She shifted until she was hovering over Blake, lost in the amber gold of her irises. “Looks like I’ve got to get planning then.” Before leaning down to kiss Blake softly.

Blake smiled against her lips.