Blake didn’t have to try very hard to find Yang. After reuniting at Jaune’s sister’s house and relaying the… news… they decided it was for the best to go their separate ways and cool down for a bit.
Since she’d rejoined team RWBY, she had been doing her best to navigate… everything. Just all of it. Blake had changed in the time she was apart from her team. To be fair, it had been close to a year. And a lot of them had changed, too.
Which meant that her dynamics with everyone had changed.
It was subtle, but sometimes she would respond to her friends in a conversation in a way they weren’t expecting her to. She hoped she wasn’t doing the same thing to them. Ruby and Weiss had both matured, so had Nora and Jaune. Ren seemed more actually-calm instead of his normal forced-calm. And Yang… Yang was the hardest.
Not only had Yang changed a lot, but ontop of having to navigate that time apart, with everything that had happened between them- everything was so tense. It felt like they couldn’t have a full conversation anymore. They’d been back together for long enough that Blake had been slowly chipping away at it. She likes to think that she’d made enough progress that she doesn’t have to feel anxious about being alone with her because she knew it would be tense.
Blake was actually pretty confident that their relationship was improving until... well, their conversation at the abandoned house with the Apathy.
She surprised herself by wanting to search the house for her. Yang had gone somewhere to be alone, she thinks- maybe to reflect. Blake finds herself wandering down unfamiliar halls until she hears the sound of Yang’s voice. Not talking, but grunting with effort, followed by the sound of Ember Celia firing. She opens a door to find a patio like balcony space that hangs off the side of the house. She hadn’t noticed it before.
Yang had already caught her gaze, probably hearing her open the door. If Yang was surprised by her presence, she didn’t show it. “Hey.” She greeted.
“Hi.” Blake replied. She looked about the space. “Training?”
“Yep.” Yang confirmed.
Then they stood there. In silence. It might have been awkward, but it wasn’t horribly oppressively tense. Like it had been. In past.
Blake could recall the last time they had been alone, and Blake had said the exact wrong thing in an attempt to comfort Yang after clearly struggling with a ptsd flashback from the fall of Beacon. She had been doing so well, too.
So of course one the sparingly few instances of them actually talking about that night, Blake had to screw it up completely.
Blake tried not to talk about the fall. It felt like a tender wound, not to be poked or prodded, lest it be revealed that Yang was still resentful towards her. And honestly, that’s what Blake was afraid of. Because why wouldn’t Yang be resentful? Why wouldn’t she hold a grudge? It was Blake’s fault. She should be mad. The fact that she had been nothing but sweet and forgiving and persistent was almost worse than being yelled at. At least then she would know what Yang was feeling.
She also didn’t want to push Yang to talk about something she was clearly still healing from. Blake was still messed up about it, too.
Not to say that things were this tense all the time, Blake likes to think that they’ve made some progress. That’s why she feels for Gambol Shroud on her back and says; “Can I join you?”
Yang blinked confused, then she smiled. “If you can keep up.”
Blake could feel residue tension slip away, falling back into the best friends she knew them to be. “We sparred too often at Beacon for you to get ahead of me.”
“I was always better at hand-to-hand.” Yang bragged.
“That is such a lie!” Blake countered.
“Care to test that theory?” Yang teased.
Blake placed Gambol Shroud carefully on the floor. Yang easily took Ember Celia off her arm. It felt odd, only having one gauntlet. Did Yang feel unbalanced by it?
Blake stepped forward, slipping down into a fighting stance. Yang didn’t even bother, rushing toward her in one movement. She didn’t land a single hit, Blake being entirely too evasive, dodging punch after punch, just like back a Beacon. Blake barely had to think, falling right back into their sparring routines from school.
Yang always threw her punches too hard, and was easy to unbalance. Though Blake found that she was pulling back, waiting for Blake to attack first. When Blake swung her leg up to her a high kick in, Yang caught it with her forearm, and Blake pulled back, forced to find another opening.
Yang attacked, throwing punch after punch, that Blake was able to block easily, if she covered her face with her forearms. She remembered Yang hitting harder than that. Was she holding back?
With Yang focused on her face, Blake hit her in the midsection, and was able to regain her footing. Before Yang could upright herself, Blake rushed back in, throwing another kick at her side.
As Blake was pulling her leg back, Yang was able to recover, but she didn’t attack. So Blake ran back in, hitting what was really just Yang block. Yang pulled back one of her arms to attack again, and Blake struck at the opening, hitting Yang in the face.
She staggered backward, and put up her arms. “Alright, you win.” She spoke.
And she had. Though something about this felt decidedly wrong. Yang could have won that if she wanted. But she held back, pulling her punches and not taking openings when she saw them. Why was Yang going easy on her?
Blake felt something red hot boil in her stomach. It felt like anger, so she decided it was. “This time.” She said. “Go again.”
Yang raised an eyebrow, but assumed a fighting stance. Blake rushed in at her, and immediately went for a high kick. Yang threw up her arms over her head and it didn’t land. She heard the soft clunk of her leader boot hitting Yang's metal arm. She pushed Blake foot back, and she stumbled, wasting four precious seconds scrambling back to action. Four seconds Yang didn’t use to attack.
She was going easy in Blake. She felt frustration broiling in her gut. “You can do better than that,” Blake called, taunting. “Or are you getting rusty?”
That sort of thing always riled her up back at Beacon. She always fell for teasing like that. Now she simply deepened her stance, getting lower to the ground. She got a single hit in, barely hard enough to make Blake stagger backwards. Then Yang smiled like that was a triumph.
“Who’re you calling rusty?”
They traded blows back and forth, and Blake could tell Yang was pulling her punches. The hits landed softer than she was used to. Blake finally landed a hit to the side of her leg, causing her knees to buckle.
“One more time.” Blake insisted.
This time, when Yang rushed at her, Blake sidestepped and hit her from the side. Blake put more force than necessary, hoping to push Yang over the edge.
She flinched but didn’t stagger. She turned to face Blake head on and threw another punch. Blake dodged again by crouching low and hitting Yang in the rib, right below her still-outstretched arm.
This time Yang did stagger, taking several steps backward. “Just hit me already!” Blake blurted out, her frustration boiling over.
Yang raised herself back up into a fighting stance. “What do you think I’ve been doing?”
Blake went again for a high kick, and Yang easily swatted it away. In the same motion with her other arm, she threw a swift punch to Blake’s stomach. Still too soft for her to have meant it. Yang’s bicep was twice the size as Blake’s, she should be able to hit harder than that.
“Hit me harder!” Blake yelled. “Like you mean it!”
“We’re just sparring- “
Blake threw another punch. Then another. Yang brought her arms up to guard her face and Blake just kept launching her fists at it. Eventually, Yang ducked, and Blake stumbled. And yet- Yang still didn’t take the opportunity to attack.
“Why won’t you just get mad !” Blake cried. She rushed forward. She refused to register Yang’s expression. She threw one hit, and then another. Yang’s guard remained up.
“At what?” Yang asked, her tone somewhat panicked.
“At me !” Blake hissed. Yang’s guard faltered, and Blake adjusted her stance to be firmer, and then her fist collided with Yang’s jaw. Hard.
Yang stumbled backward, a hand over the blow. Her Aura flickered gold. Did that mean she was activating her semblance? She had to be mad now. Furious. Blake was being irrational, Yang should be angry with her now.
But Blake was met with wide violet eyes, full of concern. That only made the emotion in Blake’s gut boil hotter. “Why can’t you get upset?!” Blake continued, her voice sounded more strained than she wanted it to sound. “Yell at me! Throw things! Get mad !”
Blake strode forward to close the gap between them. She struck out with one arm, which Yang caught by the wrist. She tried with her other arm, and the same thing occurred. “Just shout. Just say something. Don’t you want to hurt me?”
Yang’s eyes widened farther with alarm. “Why would I want- ?” Blake grunted with the effort to pull her arms away. She could feel her eyes sting with the need to cry, so she shut them tight and ignored it. “Why would I want to hurt you? Ever?”
“Because I hurt you !” Blake reproached.
“Because we’re sparring!” Yang corrected.
“No,“ Blake hissed. “Not- why would I be talking about- I left you! Yang, I ran away. You lost your arm because of me, and then I ran away. Can’t you just be angry at me for it? Why can’t you see that you deserve that? That I deserve it?”
Yang’s mouth made an “o” in recognition. The fact that Yang was oblivious enough to completely miss what Blake thought was an elephant in the room for weeks now was so Yang and Blake, it was endearing and familiar enough that she wanted to laugh.
She stopped struggling.
Yang didn’t let go of her wrists. She did loosen her grip. Blake could have ripped her hands free, if she wanted to.
“... Do you want me to be mad at you?” Yang asked, her voice soft.
Blake didn’t meet her eyes. “No. I mean, yeah. Well, it’s not what I want- but I prefer it to this.”
“ ‘This’ what?” Yang asked. “Forgiveness?”
“I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Not yet.” Blake responded firmly. “What have I done to reward forgiveness?”
Yang shook her head. “You’re thinking about this all wrong.” She said. “Forgiveness isn’t some reward you get for appeasing someone. You don’t get to decide if I forgive you or not. I do. And I was never angry with you. You know I never blamed you for any of this, right?”
Blake could feel Yang trying to meet her eyes. She refused to look up.
“You didn’t hurt me. Adam did. He hurt you, too. And yeah, it did hurt when you left. And I wanted to be mad at you- sure I did. I was frustrated and confused and scared- but never mad . And even if I was, I’d never take it out on you. That’s like, super messed up.”
Blake snorted. She let her eyes drift to meet Yang’s. “I’ve gotten worse for much less.” She replied softly.
“And Adam was wrong for that.” Yang spoke firmly. “And he didn’t care about you like I do.”
“I don’t know how you can still care about me after what I did.” Blake pleaded quietly.
(Her mind bounced back to Menagerie. To her parents. How can you still love me after what I did? )
“If I could stop caring about you, I would have done it by now.” Yang said. “We’re partners, I’ve already committed to you singularly as by best friend. How could I suddenly stop now?”
Doubt and self-loathing creeped into her lungs and set in like ice. But you should hate me. I know about your mom and I still left you. Why can’t you hate me? Why don’t you see that I deserve to be hated? Why do you look at me like I’m a creature worthy of love?
Blake took a deep breath. “I’m going to ruin you.”
That caught Yang off guard. “What?”
”Like poison.” Toxicity. Blake thought, If I were a word, that’s what I’d be. “I’m always... bringing it with me. Wherever I go. Whoever I meet. I bring all the bad things with me. Didn't I already ruin you? Isn’t it too late to fix?”
Yang squeezed her hands. “I am- right now, I am the strongest I’ve ever been. I’m stronger for have knowing you.” She held Blake’s gaze, steady. “You don’t ruin anything.”
“Then tell me how to make this right.” Said Blake. Tell me how to fix this. Tell me what you need. Tell me whatever I need to do to make things okay between us again. I’ll do anything to get rid of this tension and insecurity.
“Stay.” Said Yang. “And stop blaming yourself for something I’m not even blaming you for. And please, don’t talk about yourself that way. That’s my partner you’re referring to.”
The door swung open, and Ruby burst in. “Have you guys seen Oscar?”
Blake turned to look at her in alarm. Yang dropped their hands on instinct.
“... Oscar?” Yang asked, as though the name was foreign to her. As if nothing existed outside of her, Blake, and the conversation they had been having.
“We can’t find him anywhere- he’s gone missing!”
Yang threw her arms wide. “God damn it Jaune, this is what happens when you yell at traumatized fourteen year olds!”