Actions

Work Header

stars in the darkness

Chapter Text

The cool metal of Tai’s old pump-shotgun is a comfort to Yang. It offers security, a defense and offense to the world ahead of her and Ruby. She runs her fingertips across the barrel, tracing a line of rust with a sigh.

From her right, she hears Ruby mutter something in her sleep before turning over and burying her face in her arms. Yang rubs her back soothingly, humming a soft tune that she remembers from their mother. It’d be better for both of them if at least one of them manages to get a good night’s rest.

Ruby stirs anyway, because of course she does. Yang can’t remember a single time her sister ever slept through an entire night without a fitful nightmare full of fire and blood and death.

Fire and blood and death is their life now. They see it everyday when they travel, and every night when they sleep.

Ruby’s eyelids flutter open, and for a moment she lays still and stares at the star-filled sky, the little balls of light reflecting the gleam in her silver eyes. Yang admires that about her, the way she always has a spark of hope, one that would never die down. She wishes, almost bitterly, that she could have even a fraction of that optimism.

“I can take the next watch,” Ruby offers, voice above a whisper.

“Not sure I’ll get much sleep,” Yang admits, but she lies down anyway, willing a slumber to overtake her.

Although her eyes remain closed and her posture relaxes as much as she’ll allow it to, she still struggles to find any semblance of peace in the silence of the woods. Yang’s on a tattered sleeping bag that’s known years of being draped on a forest floor. She turns on her side, her forehead making contact with Ruby’s knee.

Her younger sister, who’s sitting criss-cross above her, decides then to pick the dirt out of her hair, unknowingly lulling Yang into a doze. Maybe she can get an hour or two of sleep tonight.

“Grimm,” Ruby whispers suddenly, a familiar fear lacing her voice. She shifts away, her warmth drawing away and forcing Yang onto her feet.

The blonde, fatigued, draws her shotgun into her arms and shoves two knives into the belt around her waist. Ruby’s already on high alert, body straight, pistol in hand. Yang pockets her revolver; can’t be too prepared in a post-apocalyptic world.

“Let’s get this over with,” Yang grumbles. “So tired of these fuckers for trying to ruin my sleep every night.”

It’s dark, but the light of their shattered moon is enough for Yang to see Ruby look at her face.

“Red eyes,” she confirms.

“They’re close.” Yang nods grimly. “Hopefully not too many.”

A low roar echoes through the trees, and soon after, the sight of a Grimm hoard emerged. Some seem to be newly-turned Grimm, limping on two legs and mumbling gibberish under their breath. But a few of the others look like they’ve been Grimm for at least a few weeks, any semblance of their humanity gone. They stalk over to the sisters, bodies completely black, eyes glowing red, faces white, and teeth bared.

Yang levels her shotgun up, takes aim, and pulls the trigger. She is accustomed to the recoil by now, taking it with a grunt as her bullet soars directly into one of the Grimm’s foreheads, successfully knocking it off its feet.

The other Grimm advance faster now, and Ruby is quick to fire two shots into one of their bodies, its blood splattering as it falls. Yang readies another shot, though with quicker targets and limited ammunition, she knows she needs to be careful.

But she’s always careful.

With ease, she clears the head of a Grimm clean off, her next bullet striking through its fragile neck. When another Grimm suddenly approaches her from her right, a startled sound escapes her throat before she smashes its head with the butt of her gun. It crashes into her anyway, knocking her right off her feet, and at this point, her shotgun is the only thing between Yang and being bitten.

She struggles under its jaws, angling her face away. She’s about to muster up the strength to shove it off when suddenly, a shot rings out and the weight is completely thrown off her.

“Got you, Yang!” Ruby calls out. “Only three more!”

Yang scrambles to her feet, shaking off the fact that she’d almost turned. There’s no point in thinking about it in the middle of a fight.

She nods gratefully at her younger sister. “Thanks, Rubes. I owe you one.”

Ruby whirls onto her next Grimm, leaving Yang with the last two. It should be easy enough, though. Considering their size, they must’ve been teenagers when they turned. The blonde ignores the lump in her throat; she’s doing them a favor because she knows nobody would want to stay in a state like this.

So, deciding to make it quick, she twirls the revolver out of her belt and shoots two rapid shots into their chests, then just as quickly places it back into her belt.

By the time she finishes them off and turns to see if Ruby’s okay, Yang is tackled into a hug. She returns it gently, her pounding heart gradually calming down at the prospect of surviving another attack.

“You clean?” Ruby asks urgently.

“Yeah,” Yang assures. “You?” Yang separates from her, placing her arms on Ruby’s shoulders and scouring her body quickly to see if there were any bite marks.

“Please, Yang, they didn’t even come close to me,” Ruby says with a smug smile.

“Yeah, yeah, my capable baby sister saved my ass. Nothing new.” Yang rolls her eyes, though she knows Ruby’s arrogance is deserved. She’s grown into a skilled fighter, a quick thinker, and a reliable companion.

“We should move,” Ruby says, packing their sleeping bags and stamping out the last of their campfire. Yang helps her, and the two are back on the move, the sun beginning to peak from the horizon.

The forest would seem serene with its chirping birds and crickets, but the two sisters know better. Somewhere in the dark, there’s terror upon terror lurking, waiting to leap onto unknowing travelers.

“We should find an area to squat. Clear out an area, gather up some supplies, maybe stay a few nights,” Yang says.

Ruby thumbs her backpack straps, expression downtrodden. “Then it’s back on the road?”

“Then it’s back on the road.”

Ruby looks like she wants to say more, argue, shout maybe, but she doesn’t. They’ve had this discussion more than once, and every time, Yang has to put her foot down and tell her it’s final.

They have to stay on the move. Whether Ruby wants to or not, Yang’s priority is keeping her sister safe.

The sky is filled with light hues of orange and yellow when Yang and Ruby find a (relatively) structurally sound house covered in moss and nettles. Yang’s eyes flare red, and she’s about to tell Ruby that they can take the Grimm, when a gunshot rings from inside the house.

“Someone’s already there,” Ruby tells Yang the moment the blonde realizes it herself.

“Maybe we shouldn’t-“

But Ruby is already continuing ahead, reloading her pistol and disappearing into the entrance. Yang’s shoulders sag in defeat and she follows the shorter girl, her shotgun at the ready.

The first thing Yang sees when she enters the house is a Grimm on fire, wailing as it tumbles down the stairs. Her lilac eyes widen, and she exchanges a bewildered glance with Ruby.

“Whoever’s been squatting here does not play games.” Yang whistles lowly, and Ruby nods in agreement.

“Let’s go meet them!” she exclaims, shooting a Grimm in the leg casually before running up the stairs.

“Rubes, wait!” Yang calls from behind her, hurrying after her. When she catches up to her, she wrestles a Grimm off of her, crushing its hand under her foot and hitting it with the front of the shotgun. It continues to squirm under her, so she jams the gun further into it, and soon the struggles stop. “Don’t run ahead!” she shouts, turning to her sister, her eyes still red.

Ruby ducks her head, looking ashamed, and Yang instantly cools down. She’s about to apologize when she hears a click behind her, and something presses against the small of her back.

“Lower your gun,” a cool voice demands, and Yang immediately places it onto the ground and kicks it away. She puts her hands up in surrender and turns to face the person who was pointing the gun at her.

“We’re not here to hurt you. We just wanted a place to squat,” Yang says steadily, but her breath catches as her eyes fall down on a gorgeous brunette. She has dirt and blood caked over her face, and her cheeks look slightly sunken in, but the defiant gold of her eyes and clenched jaw somehow make her look like she’d dropped from every fantasy Yang has ever had. Her eyes flick up in surprise at the cat ears on top of her head, but Ruby points it out before Yang can.

“You’re a Faunus?” Ruby gasps. “I didn’t realize there were any left.”

The cat Faunus’s eyes narrow, and she tightens her grip on the gun. “Clearly there are,” she hisses. “I’m already staying here, so you’ll need to find someplace else.”

“Wait!” Yang pleads. “Just for a few nights. We have our own supplies, so you don’t need to share.”

“We’ll be right out of your hair after that.” Ruby moves forward, but the pretty brunette’s ears flatten, so she stops halfway through her step.

“I can’t trust you,” she mutters. “You humans kill every Faunus you see. The only reason you haven’t killed me is ‘cause I have a gun pointed to-“

Yang cuts her off by grabbing her wrist, yanking her arm upward, then spinning her around and knocking her off her feet. The Faunus grunts, but Yang doesn’t let her fall hard on the ground. She lightly presses her knee against her back, her fingers still wrapped around her wrist.

“Yang!” Ruby cries in exasperation.

“You really think you’d be able to take both of us?” Yang asks, but she hopes she doesn’t sound too menacing. She just wants to prove a point. “If I wanted you dead, I’d have done it by now.”

She lets go of her and stands, offering a hand to help her up. The Faunus seems confused, but she hesitantly takes the offer. Her fingers are calloused, but that’s to be expected. Still, they’re softer and smaller than Yang’s, though more nimble. As though she hasn’t been fighting just to survive every day of the better part of her life, always having a community to depend on.

“So you’re not gonna kill me?” she asks warily.

Yang lets her fingers linger against her palm for a few moments longer than needed, then grins. “Nah. We’re strictly Grimm killers.”

“Some people blame Faunus for the Salem Virus. You’re… not one of those people?”

“Well considering you’re the first Faunus we’ve ever met,” Ruby says with a shrug, “the Salem Virus is still going on, even though the general population of Faunus are gone. Pretty clear the government was wrong about you guys.”

The brunette’s expression is a mixture of shock and relief, and she nods gravely. “They wanted someone to blame, and who better than the Faunus? Humans hate us because they fear us. We remind them of Grimm. Our heightened senses, our ability to see in the dark, our animal-like features.”

“Yeah, but…” Yang scratches the back of her head, slightly bemused. “You’ve got a lot more human traits than you do Grimm traits. You can, you know, talk and feel and shit. And I’m pretty sure if you bit me, I wouldn’t turn into a raging beast.”

I’d totally let you bite me, though, just to test it out, Yang thinks, one side of her mouth quirking upwards in amusement at her own inner dialogue.

“Oh! Totally forgot to introduce ourselves!” Ruby smacks the palm onto her forehead and shoots her a friendly smile. Yang knows that the inviting look would be all that the Faunus needed to trust them. Ruby just has that effect on people. “I’m Ruby. And this total show-off is my sister, Yang.”

The Faunus chews on her bottom lip and finally lowers her gun. “Blake,” she responds. “Sorry for pointing a gun at you. I-I can’t be sure who to trust.”

“Don’t sweat it.” Yang shrugs good-heartedly. “Sorry for pinning you down.”

“No you’re not,” Ruby snickers, then lets out an oof! when Yang elbows her sharply.

Blake just smiles, only a slight trace of humor crinkling in her eyes. Then suddenly her smile drops, and her jaw slackens slightly. She stares deeply at Yang’s face, eyebrows furrowing in thought.

“I could’ve swore your eyes were purple before,” she murmurs.

Yang curses under her breath and quickly grabs her shotgun from the ground. “Grimm,” she sighs out. “Look, it’s hard to explain ‘cause I don’t even know why it happens, but my eyes turn red whenever there are Grimm nearby.”

“Yeah, and she goes, like, beast mode whenever her eyes turn red, too,” Ruby adds in. “Her fighting skills somehow just improve. Better aim, harder hits, more agile.”

“I’ve never even heard of something like that before,” Blake says, surprise clear in her tone.

Yang can’t blame her. As far as she knows, she’s the only person in the world with an ability like that.

“Yeah, well.” Yang bounces her shoulders up in another shrug, this one to punctuate the conversation. “No time to chat. Got some Grimm to kill.”

She reloads her gun, pulling the pump back, well aware that her eyes are blazing. She turns to look down the stairwell where a few recently-turned Grimm were trying to climb up to them. She pulls the trigger, and her bullet digs itself into one of their shoulders, the impact knocking it down the stairs and taking another one down with it.

Ruby is quick to help, shooting the legs off of a Grimm, but it just uses its arms to continue forward instead. It wails, louder than the others, as though it’s in pain. It drags itself up the stairs, a maroon-ish liquid (that Yang can only guess is its blood) spurts out of what remains of its legs.

“That’s… disgusting,” Yang comments, screwing up her nose.

“I should’ve just shot it in the head!” Ruby exclaims, repugnance clear in her own expression.

“Step back,” Blake orders, her voice somehow even. She takes something from her bag — a bottle? Yang doesn’t get a chance to question it before Blake lights it up and chucks it down at the incoming Grimm. They all simultaneously screech, flames engulfing their bodies as they limp away and right out of the house.

Ruby gasps in amazement, her eyes nearly glowing as she takes several steps too close to Blake. She gets onto her toes to stare right at Blake’s face. “What. Was. That?” she squeals, bouncing in place.

“Molotov cocktail,” Blake replies, inching away just slightly from Ruby.

“You have to teach me how to make one!” Ruby demands. “How effective would you say they are? Do you come across the needed ingredients often? What are the needed ingredients? Did someone teach you about them, or did you teach yourself? When’s my first lesson?”

“Calm down, Rubes,” Yang chuckles, placing a hand on her shoulder to quell her ecstatic jumps. “But she’s got a point.” She turns to look at Blake, smiling genuinely. “That’s seriously impressive.”

“And highly dangerous,” an unfamiliar and cocky voice from the bottom of the stairs chimes in. They all turn back to look at who’d just joined them, Blake immediately reaching for her gun, and Ruby glancing from behind Yang’s body to see who it was. The newcomer’s very clearly pretty, and somehow clean. She holds herself in a manner that demands every speck of dirt to leave the white of her hair, as though it doesn’t deserve to be on her. Yang chances a glance at her own condition; her clothes worn out, her hair probably a tangled mess in its ponytail. “One wrong move, and you could’ve burned the entire house down.”

“Who are you?” Blake inquires, voice hard.

“I should be asking you. This is clearly marked as Vale territory.” She points at a symbol of a gear on the wall, one that Yang missed when she’d chased after Ruby into the house. “You’re trespassing.”

“Pretty sure there’s no such thing as trespassing in a lawless world,” Yang replies. She turns to Ruby, just to check in, but she seems to be completely taken by the sight of the new girl. Her silver eyes remain unblinking, her lips parted and a few shaky exhales escaping her. Yang just raises an eyebrow and waits for the other girl’s response.

The white-haired girl sniffs, her sharp blue eyes observing the three girls, as though to test if they’re trustworthy. She seems to come to a conclusion, because she begins to speak. “You asked for my name, and I suppose it’d only be courteous to answer such a simple request. I’m Weiss, and I live in a community called Vale just north of here. I’m on a patrol to clear this area of any intruding Grimm.”

“What about intruding humans?” Ruby asks, voice small, not like she’s scared, but like she’s nervous. Yang can hardly believe the tone she’s hearing from her regularly bubbly sister.

“Well… should you try to fight back, I’ll have no choice but to shoot you. Out of my own defense, and the defense of Vale.”

“And if we don’t fight back? You’ll let us go?” Yang asks, fingers itching to just get a move on. This isn’t the same scenario as Blake. She was pointing a gun close enough to Yang that the blonde could easily disarm her. Even if they had an advantage of numbers, Yang knows she can’t risk trying to fight Weiss at this distance, not if she wants to escape unscathed.

“Oh no.” Weiss’s mouth curves up just slightly at the corners. “You’ll be joining me and the rest of my patrol group so that Ozpin can determine your fate.”

Chapter Text

When Ruby meets Blake for the first time, she can very clearly see that she’s pretty under all the grime and fatigue. Ruby’s met plenty of pretty girls in her travels, kissed a few; sometimes she goes even further than kissing.

But never in her life has she seen anyone more gorgeous than Weiss.

For one thing, she looks like she hasn’t been sleeping in the dirt her whole life — or at least not recently. But even if she was covered in shit, Ruby has no doubt in her mind that she’d maintain her beauty.

Her eyes, though intense, have a certain roundness to them, like she’s scared. Like she’s been scared for a long time. That look is familiar to Ruby. She sees it in her own reflection, in Yang, even in the Grimm.

But never in her life has she wanted to chase those fears away from someone so badly until Weiss.

Weiss’s only imperfection on her otherwise symmetrical face is a scar running from the top of her left eye to a little above her cheek. And really, it isn’t an imperfection if it makes her all the more alluring.

As Weiss leads them out of the house, Ruby speeds up her steps so that she’s next to the gorgeous girl. Weiss spares her a single, lingering glance, before placing her hands behind her back and raising her chin up. Her posture may seem dismissive to others, but Ruby sees right through it. She catches Weiss looking at her again through the corner of her eye, but she doesn’t say anything.

“I’m Ruby,” she introduces herself. “My sister, Yang — she’s the super tall blonde one — and I were looking for a place to stay for a bit when we came across that house. Blake and a few Grimm were already in there, though.”

“The patrol is just ahead,” Weiss informs her, though she turns her head just slightly and smiles gently to show Ruby that she acknowledges her introduction.

That’s good enough for her.

With an extra spring in her step, Ruby continues to explain what’d happened before Weiss met them. She tells her about Yang’s eyes, and the fact that Blake is the first Faunus she’s ever met.

Something akin to guilt flashes through Weiss’s expression, but she quickly replaces it with a carefully neutral face. Ruby doesn’t buy it for a second, but she doesn’t push it either.

“You’re about to meet a second Faunus, then,” Weiss says. She turns back to Blake and Yang who are chatting rather interestedly with each other. “I’d like you to meet Sun and Neptune. Before you do, however, I should warn you.”

“Ruh roh,” Yang drawls, her cheeks dimpling as she smiles. Blake seems to stare at her a moment longer than the rest of them, and Ruby is determined to tease Yang for it later.

“They’re incredibly insufferable.” Weiss ignores the blonde’s interruption. “Though, perhaps you’ll get along with them, Yang.”

“Sweet.”

Weiss continues to lead them forward until finally they come across a pair of men, one blonde with a monkey tail, and the other blue-haired and lanky. The blonde immediately turns to them and waves, while the other leans against a tree casually.

“These three are travelers. I figured I would bring them to meet Ozpin,” she informs the two, then turns to the girls. “This is Sun,” Weiss says, gesturing to the Faunus, then rolls her eyes at the other. “And that buffoon is Neptune.”

“Aw, you know you love me,” Neptune says, stepping forward to place his arm on her shoulder. Ruby immediately bristles, but Weiss nonchalantly trips him.

“Lay a hand on me again, and you’ll find that you’ll be missing it,” she tells him coolly, and damn, if Ruby wasn’t into her before, she sure as hell is now.

“You’re a Faunus,” Blake breathes in disbelief, eyes wide as she looks at Sun.

“I thought you said Faunus have good hearing. Weiss was just talking about it with me,” Ruby states in confusion.

Blake immediately flushes, her indifferent demeanor dropping for a moment. She glances at Yang, who just winks. “I-I wasn’t really listening.”

“She was distracted,” Yang stage-whispers to Ruby, flexing her arm, and Blake blushes deeper.

“This is so cool!” Sun exclaims, flicking his tail. “Weiss joined Vale just a month ago, and we don’t get a lot of travelers ‘round here, so three newcomers is great! And I’ve never met another Faunus besides my parents before!”

“Two Faunus in one day,” Yang says in awe. “Ruby and I really thought there weren’t any left.”

“And if you guys meet my parents, it’ll be four. Pretty crazy, huh?” Sun grins, then with a short hop, he puts a hand out to Ruby since she was the closest. “It’s real nice to meet you guys.”

She shakes it, eyes crinkling as she smiles. “It’s so nice to meet you too.”

As Sun and Neptune shake all their hands and finish introductions, they set off towards wherever this Vale place is. Ruby stays close to Weiss again, eager to learn more about her.

“So what kind of weapon do you use?” she questions.

“A rifle,” Weiss answers simply, thumbing the strap she’s using to hold it.

“Oh,” Ruby clears her throat. “W-Well, do you know what kind?”

“A Brunswick,” Weiss replies. Ruby clearly shows her disappointment at the curt responses, so she continues with a sigh. “Ozpin was there when the outbreak happened forty years ago. Before that, he was some sort of weapons dealer, so he had access to a large assortment of guns, ranging from rifles to pistols. Vale is still a fairly small community, but he’s worked hard to expand it into a unified town. He has hopes to rebuild civilization, and I’m honored to be part of that project.”

“That’s incredible,” Ruby says in astonishment. “So… Vale. It’s safe?”

“It’s the most secure place I’ve ever been.” Weiss nods. “You and your sister will be very welcomed there. You’ll have to work, of course. Whether it’s a patrol, construction, or working to keep the power up, contributing is what will pick this place up.”

“We can totally help!” Ruby confirms cheerfully. “Did you say you guys have power?”

Weiss smiles lightly. “We do. Running water, as well. Though both are fairly shaky, so we try to conserve it until we can find a strong alternative source of energy.”

“Wow,” Ruby cooes. “That’s amazing. I’ve always wondered what the world was like before the Grimm scattered it. It’ll be like going into the past, huh?”

“Vale is a representation of our past, yes. But it’s also our future.” Weiss turns to look at Ruby directly. “What about you? Any stories about your weapon?”

“My story sure isn’t as interesting as that, but I’ll try my best. I’ve actually got a few different weapons.” Ruby brushes her thumb over her pistol. “But finding ammo for this gun is the easiest.”

“I see Yang has both a revolver and a shotgun. How good’s her shot?”

“Really fucking good,” Ruby chuckles out. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen her miss before in my life. And she’s taught me everything she knows. That shotgun was actually our dad’s. He gave it to her before he died. Told her to take me and run. I was ten, she was twelve. That was fourteen years ago.”

Weiss releases a breath of sympathy. “I’m so sorry to hear that. I know what it’s like to lose family.”

Ruby just shrugs, pretends it doesn’t bother her. “It was a while ago. I’m sure everyone’s lost someone in a world like this. Just happens I guess.” Weiss remains silent, her face still tilted so she can continue to look at her. Ruby stumbles slightly under her gaze, nervous and exhilarated at the same time. “So anyway. Yang taught me to shoot with the gun, but it’s special to her. She basically hugs it in her sleep. She carved me a bow herself, which was something our Uncle Qrow taught her. She taught me to hunt, to avoid Grimm, and to fight them. I’m pretty small compared to her, so… our methods of fighting ended up becoming pretty different.

“Eventually, we found something that I think used to be a bank vault. I have no clue how we figured it out, but there was a clipboard filled with different number combinations, and we tried them all ‘til we got the door open. We stayed there for weeks. Longest we’ve stayed anywhere, actually.”

“A few weeks? Why’d you keep moving?”

Ruby doesn’t really know the answer to that. Yang never told her. So she just sighs. “Yang says it’s to keep us safe. We once found a safehouse with three other families that’d been settled for months. Almost like a mini version of Vale. I thought I could convince Yang to stay, but she just keeps moving. It got lonely, but if Vale’s as safe as you say it is, maybe she won’t want to run. She always avoids telling me why we do, but I trust her. She’s kept me alive for fourteen years.”

“I suppose that’s fair.” Weiss purses her lips. “I had a sister very similar to that. She was secretive about… a lot of things. She never had the chance to tell me any of them before she turned.”

“I’m really sorry about your sister.” Ruby places a hand on her shoulder, hoping she isn’t overstepping. She takes it as a win when Weiss doesn’t try to rip her arm off.

“Like you said, everyone’s lost someone.” Weiss shakes her head. “Anyway, we’re almost there. Finish your story.”

“Right, right.” Ruby regretfully removes her hand. “In the bank, there weren’t a lot of Grimm, but they were old. As far as we knew, nobody’d opened that bank vault since the outbreak. And the older a Grimm is…”

“…the harder they are to kill,” Weiss finishes. “How’d you manage to survive?”

“Um, with the power of love and determination?” Ruby guesses. “We got lucky, maybe. Yang handed me the shotgun and told me I’d need it more. She took a baseball bat that she’d hammered nails into, and just swung around till they were dead. I just kept shooting until it was over. That was where I found this pistol, and Yang found her revolver. There were tons of different kinds of soldiers in there, with a bunch of ammo. We took as much as we could fit in our bags, camped out, and that was that.”

“And you said your story wasn’t as interesting,” Weiss says, a teasing glint in her eyes. Ruby beams immediately back at her.

She’s surprised at how easily she opened up to her. She’s met dozens of people in her years of traveling, but never has she connected with them within a ten-minute conversation.

“We’re here,” Neptune says from ahead of them.

Ruby’s jaw slackens in surprise at the huge concrete wall that stretches up several feet. She’s confident that if she stacks three Yangs on top of each other, the wall would still be taller. A watchtower just a few feet shorter than the wall is directly next to the enormous wooden gate in front of them. Sun waves at the person in the tower, who waves back, then pulls some sort of rope.

Was Ruby really that invested in her conversation with Weiss that she’d missed something this immense?

The doors swing open, and Weiss turns to the rest of the group, smiling smugly at their reactions. “Welcome to Vale.”

Chapter Text

Vale is larger than Blake expects. From what she caught of Weiss’s description, she initially thought there’d be a community of four or five families. But clearly she’s mistaken in that assumption.

There are at least fifty residents out and about, a dozen of them children. Some look on at the three newcomers in excitement, some in wariness, but overall, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of attention on them. For that, Blake is thankful.

The houses are built with wood, but they’re built well. Some of them are just reinforced versions of pre-outbreak houses, while others were clearly made by hand in more recent years. Blake is eager to see more, but she isn’t sure wandering around would be her smartest move.

“I’ll be giving you a tour after you speak with Ozpin,” Weiss says, leading them to one of the older houses. She knocks and announces her arrival, and soon the door opens wide.

A man with graying hair, who Blake guesses is Ozpin, smiles kindly at them, gesturing to them to join him. He pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose as they all follow him into a living room area. His cane clacks with every step he takes, then he sits on a chair at the front of the room, everyone within his view.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you three,” he greets. “And of course, always nice to see you, Weiss. Please take a seat.”

They all do as he instructs, Yang sinking onto a couch and Blake perching immediately on its armrest. Ruby plops onto the floor and crosses her legs despite the many seats available. Weiss raises an eyebrow at her antics before something close to a fond smile slips onto her lips, and she takes her own seat on a couch, crossing one leg over the other.

“Weiss insisted we meet you,” Ruby speaks first. “And after everything she told me about you, I was very eager.”

“You’ll find Ruby’s constantly eager,” Yang teases, chuckling when the younger girl sticks her tongue out. Blake forces her gaze not to linger on her dimple cheek, or her chiseled jaw, or the light smatter of freckles over her nose — and okay, maybe her gaze does linger.

“Eager minds are what we’re looking for to rebuild civilization,” Ozpin tells them, giving the sisters an amused look. “I won’t force you to stay, but I would like you all to consider it. I guarantee you’ll be safe from Grimm, and you’ll find something worthwhile to work for. You won’t just be surviving; I’ll ensure you get to truly live.”

Blake’s already made up her mind. She’s not exactly affiliated with Yang or Ruby, so their decision won’t sway hers. She has nowhere else to go, and this seems like a gift that’d presented itself on her lap.

“I’ll stay,” Blake says, shrugging. “I just want to know more about your plans on expanding, your procedures for ensuring safety, anything I’d be getting into.”

Ozpin nods like he expects that. “Of course, Miss…?”

“Belladonna, sir. But I’d like it better if you just called me Blake.”

“Alright, Blake. There are an innumerable amount of tasks you can look into. We have some folks with medical experience, some who have worked for several decades alongside me to get running water and electricity. I’m sure you noticed, but some of these cabins were made fairly recently. Several people work on construction projects, and our current one is a playground for the kids. There are gardens, a nursery, a stable filled with horses, and of course, patrollers and hunters. The last two jobs are the most dangerous, as you’d have to leave town for them, but in order to expand, they’re fairly necessary.”

“That sounds…” Ruby trails off, awe nearly palpable.

“…incredible. You’ve gone through great lengths to turn this into an entire society,” Blake finishes Ruby’s thought for her.

“It is incredible,” Ozpin agrees. ”I honestly didn’t believe we’d make it this far, but everyone’s been pulling their weight. I am more confident now than ever before that if we continue to uphold this sense of community and family, we can accomplish great things together.”

“So… do you just rehearse that in the mirror every morning in case you get new travelers?” Yang asks, crossing her arms over her chest. Blake would be amused at the wryness, but Yang actually seems angry.

“Yang!” Ruby reprimands. “He’s giving us a real chance to be part of something bigger. Don’t you want to leave some sort of legacy? You could teach the kids to fight, or you could help build new houses, or if you really want a taste of our old life, you can go patrolling.”

“‘Our old life?’” Yang echoes. “Do you hear yourself right now? It’s still our life. Ozpin here is making this place look like some sort of euphoria, but nobody can guarantee safety. Even if you somehow manage to keep the Grimm at bay, the real monsters still lurk.”

“What do you even mean by that?” Ruby asks incredulously. “How long did you think we’d travel before I got sick of it? Did you really believe I’d be okay with getting close to people just to be forced away from them for fourteen years? I want…” Ruby trails off, her face reddening. “I want to have a future to look forward to. I wanna, you know, fall in love! I want my life to matter.”

“Your life matters to me!” Yang snaps. “Do you seriously think I like any of this? I know you’re unhappy, but I will do anything in my power to keep you safe.”

“You don’t get to choose that for me! What if I’m okay with… with being unsafe for a bit? What if I would rather live a short life doing the things I wanted, instead of a long life filled with what-ifs?” Ruby’s eyes shine, and she nibbles her bottom lip slightly. “I love you, and I trust you, Yang. You’ve done more for me than I’ll ever be able to repay you.” Yang opens her mouth to interrupt, but Ruby just shakes her head. “No, you have. And you haven’t asked for anything in return. But please just do this one last thing for me. I’m not the kid I was before! You taught me to protect myself and take care of myself, so don’t let those lessons be for nothing.”

Yang stays silent for several moments, the air around them tense as she clenches her jaw. Blake glances at Weiss, who exchanges a similar look with her. They both know they shouldn’t be present for such a personal conversation.

“Fine, Ruby. I’ll… fine,” Yang finally agrees, her posture deflating. Something tells Blake that the blonde’s stubbornness is not something that’s easily dissolved. “But if I tell you to trust me, I want you to trust me, okay? I don’t want to regret this.”

Ruby leaps off the ground and throws her arms around Yang’s neck. “Thank you, fuck, thank you!”

“So you’re all on board?” Ozpin questions, his fingers clasped over his cane, about to stand up.

Blake nods, Ruby whoops excitedly, and Yang just sighs before shrugging. He smiles and gets to his feet, walking past them all to show them to the exit.

“Thank you for coming. Weiss will show you to a room, you may shower, change, and get some rest. If you want to explore, you’re welcome to. We have a restaurant owned by Sun’s parents. I assume you’ve met him already?”

They all nod.

“Excellent,” Ozpin says. “If you have any questions or concerns for me, please let me know. Tomorrow you can meet with Coco to let them know what you can contribute with and what you’ll want to learn.”

“Ozpin,” Weiss starts, glancing at them apologetically. “It’s not that I don’t trust them, or anything, but I was wondering if they’ll need to be checked.”

Ozpin clicks his tongue. “I suppose you should, yes. You may check them after their shower.”

“Check us? For bites?” Ruby asks. “Am I gonna have to strip ‘cause I’m not sure I feel very comfortable with just anyone seeing my body.”

“You could always have Yang and Ruby check each other,” Blake suggests.

Weiss looks even more apologetic now. “They’re sisters, and we wouldn’t know if they’re covering for each other. Why don’t I check? If, of course, you’re all fine with that.”

Yang shrugs, clearly indifferent to it. Ruby looks even more apprehensive than before, but she eventually nods, likely because she doesn’t know anyone else from Vale.

Blake is still unsure. Weiss doesn’t look like the leering type, especially because she hasn’t seemed to be able to take her eyes off Ruby since they met each other. But Blake’s been caught off guard by her most trusted partner, so she doesn’t know whether to give Weiss the benefit of the doubt yet.

Yang seems to notice her hesitation. “Blake and I aren’t sisters. I could check her if that makes her more comfy,” she says, shrugging. “Up to you, though.”

Blake’s eyes widen, the prospect of Yang seeing her clothless making her even more nervous than if Weiss did it. From what Yang told her on their way to Vale, she seems to have some experience in… that field. But for some reason, her worries don’t lie with whether she can trust Yang, but on how quickly she wanted to agree with Yang over Weiss.

Yang helps her make her choice. “Why don’t you decide after your shower?”

“If it means anything, I don’t judge scars,” Weiss says when they leave. “I’ve seen all sorts of injuries, I have plenty of my own.”

“That’s not…” Blake trails off. That’s not what she’s worried about, but she doesn’t know how to explain without sounding distrustful.

“We won’t touch you,” Yang assures, as though she knows that’s exactly what Blake’s been scared of. “A check is just to look for a bite, right? So there wouldn’t be any touching involved. Not unless you want it.” Yangs winks after adding the last sentence in.

“This is our house,” Weiss announces, gesturing to a huge pre-outbreak house.

“What do you mean ours?” Ruby almost squeaks.

Weiss raises an eyebrow at her. “Well, before you three, I was the newest one in town. We try to keep as many of the older houses open for newcomers until new cabins can be built. If you want your own place, you’re welcome to join in with the constructors and help make yourself one. As I’ve only been here a month, I still stay in this one.”

“Have I told you how fucking cool this is yet?” Ruby looks just about ready to combust. “Because this is so fucking cool!”

Weiss has a strangely soft look in her eyes as they watch the girl practically bouncing her way towards the front door. The white-haired girl follows her, leaving Yang and Blake still lingering at the entrance.

Yang presses her knuckles against the wood, knocking at it lightly. “This has held up for so many years. I’ve seen a lot of houses completely ruined after the outbreak, but this town looks so clean and untouched.”

“Ozpin seems to have put a lot of work into it,” Blake comments. “Why didn’t you…” She lets her question die on her tongue, not wanting to seem nosy.

“Why didn’t I want to stay?” Yang finishes for her. “That’s what you were gonna ask, right?”

Blake nods guiltily. “You don’t have to tell me though.”

Yang sighs, her lilac gaze tired and sad. “It’s a long story. One that I haven’t even told Ruby. You’ve seen how hopeful she is. I can’t… tell her.”

“Because it’d ruin her hope?” Blake guesses, but to her surprise, Yang shakes her head.

“Because it’d give her more. And I’ve learned that hope is your worst enemy.”

Chapter Text

“Go right on ahead, Weiss,” Yang says with a smirk, holding her arms out with her palms facing up. “I’m not shy.”

Weiss tries to pointedly avoid looking at her chest. She quickly rakes her eyes over her (admittedly) fit body, then instructs her to turn around. Yang does as she’s told, and when Weiss is finished looking, she practically shoves a towel into her arms. Yang is undoubtedly attractive, especially when she doesn’t smell like she’s rolled around in feces for a decade and a half, and the mud has been thoroughly washed from her hair.

Will she ever admit this to the blonde? Unlikely.

Yang snickers from behind her and steps out of the bathroom and into the bedroom that it’s connected to. Weiss gestures to the clothes she laid out for her earlier, hoping it’d fit. She borrowed a huge yellow flannel from Sun, who’d been more than happy to lend what he has.

“Good luck with Ruby,” Yang cooes as she throws her clothes on and leaves. “Try not to, uh, let your eyes wander.”

Indignant, Weiss chucks a pillow at her right as she shuts the door, this time her laughter audible through the wall. “Keep that up, and I’ll… I’ll…”

“You’ll what?” Yang asks, opening the door again and popping her head through the entrance with a smirk. She lowers her voice, her smug tone annoyingly unwavering. “Canoodle my sister?”

Her face reddens, and she’s about two seconds away from throwing her shoe at the blonde before she leaves again, her footsteps fading until they were completely imperceptible.

Weiss huffs, pressing her hands against her heated face. Yang will likely be the death of her one day. Or at least she’ll be responsible for the death of her sanity. She really hopes the tall blonde doesn’t get too close with Sun and Neptune. The three of them together would be a disaster.

Weiss shivers at the thought and composes herself. She opens the door and calls Ruby up for her turn to shower. The brunette bounces into the room in an anxious manner, her thumbs twiddling and her silver eyes darting anywhere around the room that isn’t Weiss.

“You’re sure you’re okay with this?” Weiss questions, raising a brow.

“Oh, yeah,” Ruby releases a pfft sound and waves a hand in the air dismissively. “I mean, tons of girls have seen me naked. None of them, you know, as beautiful as you, but ha, what difference does that make? No difference! None at all! And it’s not like this is gonna be sexual, you know? Just a gal lookin’ at her naked pal.”

As Ruby flounders, Weiss shoots her a concerned frown. “Right…”

Weiss isn’t blind. Ruby is clearly gorgeous, what with her bright gaze, blinding grin (accompanied by a set of the cutest dimples she’s ever seen), and a defined jaw to set her face shape well. And yes, Weiss finds her endearing, from her bubbling over-excitement to rapt interest in everything Weiss tells her.

But that does not mean she’ll pounce on the first opportunity presented to her; Weiss has enough decency to at least wait for a second one.

Ruby shuts the bathroom door behind her, leaving Weiss to find some clothes that may fit her. Finding something that would fit Yang was difficult because of how much taller she is than most women she’s met, but it was rather easier to find a red hoodie and jeans for Ruby. The hoodie is Weiss’s, but she figures that if she drowns in it, then it’s better off with someone taller.

“Hey, Weiss?” Ruby calls from the bathroom. “What’s this cube thing that smells really good?”

Weiss furrows her brows, and then releases a scoff when she realizes what the girl is referring to. “That’s soap, Ruby,” she responds. “You clean yourself with it.”

“And it’ll make me smell good?”

“Yes.” Weiss rolls her eyes, barely fighting off a grin. No wonder Yang feels a need to protect her, she’s fucking adorable.

A loud crash comes from inside the bathroom not five minutes later, and Ruby screams, “You didn’t tell me everything in here would be slippery!”

“Well what did you expect?” Weiss asks incredulously.

“I don’t know! I’ve never taken a shower before!”

After several minutes of Weiss explaining that Ruby needs to rub the soap over her body and that she needs to vigorously scrub the dirt from her hair, the sound of the faucet ends and Ruby announces she’s done.

“That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” she sighs out, and Weiss hears her unlock the door.

“You fought Grimm everyday of your life for the past fourteen years, and that was the most challenging?”

“Fighting Grimm is something I’m used to! Giant pellets of water hitting me while I’m using the slipperiest cube in the world to make bubbles on my body which somehow clean me, is not.”

“Alright Ruby,” Weiss chuckles. “Let me check for bites and we’ll be on our way.”

Ruby opens the door and stands with her arms to the side, her eyes squeezed shut. “I-I- okay.”

Weiss tries her best to be as respectful of Ruby’s modesty as she can. Now that the dirt isn’t browning her shaggy-cut hair, Weiss notices that she has tips of red on every strand. The maroonish Grimm blood that’d been splattered on her cheek is gone now, and a few light freckles are unhidden.

Where Yang’s built nearly like an ox, Ruby seems to have more of a subtle build. Her biceps are toned, her abs defined, and scars litter her body, each likely having its own story. After circling her once and getting a good glimpse of her muscled back, she absent-mindedly nods to herself. There’s only one more place to search.

Without thinking about it, Weiss delicately places her fingers on Ruby’s fists. She immediately draws away when her eyes shoot open in alarm.

“Sorry,” Weiss breathes out, realizing this was the first time she touched Ruby. “I just need to take a look at your palms for bites.”

Ruby wordlessly opens her fists and brings them up for Weiss to look at. When the white-haired girl takes a bit too long staring at her veiny hands, Ruby clears her throat.

“Am I all clear, doctor?”

Weiss looks back upwards and nearly takes a step away when she’s met with an unfamiliar intensity in those stormy silver eyes. The taller girl seems to have suddenly dropped her demure character, now adopting an intrigued expression.

Weiss opens her mouth to say something, but finds her throat clogged. She chokes on her words for a moment before quickly composing herself. “Yes,” she rushes out. “You’re clean.”

Neither of them indicate to the other that they plan on separating, instead opting to share a heated look. Their attraction is clearly mutual, but the question lies in whether they decide to act on it.

And then Ruby’s moving, the rough pads of her fingers making contact with Weiss’s jaw, then slowly traveling across the hollow of her cheek. She tucks a strand behind Weiss’s ear then flicks her gaze between her eyes and her lips in an unspoken question.

Weiss parts her lips and exhales sharply at the sensation, her eyelids fluttering shut as she leans forward. Ruby doesn’t waste time to close the distance between them, her other hand now coming up to cradle the other side of Weiss’s face.

Weiss has only ever kissed one person before, and she immediately threw him off when she found that she despised his aggressiveness. Ruby’s different, though, because of course she is. She’s tentative with it, clearly showing her desire but not pushing for it until Weiss reciprocates.

Their mouths mold perfectly together, and Weiss has to steady herself by placing her hands on Ruby’s collarbone, the bare skin smooth against her palms. Ruby gasps against her lips, draws back for a moment, then surges forward with more urgency.

Butterflies erupt in Weiss’s stomach, and her hand trails up and around to the nape of her neck. She tangles her fingers into Ruby’s wet hair and brings her face down, angling their kiss better. Ruby’s own hands have started to roam, rubbing against her sides, dipping under her shirt teasingly, playing with the waistbands of her jeans.

All too soon, the moment ends.

“Holy fuck,” Ruby murmurs in awe, her pupils visibly dilated. Weiss can only get on her toes to peck her lips once in agreement.

Her entire body feels like it’s floating, her lips tingling at the absence of Ruby’s mouth against them. She’s never been the type to kiss someone the very day she meets them, especially when they’re not wearing clothes.

There’s a first time for everything, she supposes.

“So what? Wasn’t good enough for you ‘til you saw me naked?” Ruby teases, eyes gleaming.

“Please,” Weiss scoffs, regretfully letting go of Ruby completely and backing up. “You haven't used soap up until this point in your life. I wasn’t about to do anything to you until you were clean.” She fumbles slightly then. “I-In any case, we should probably free the bathroom up for Blake. Then I’ll show you to Sun’s restaurant.”

Ruby grins, and then that smoldering expression is gone. She seems to revert to her usual bubbly charm and opens the bathroom door. Weiss hands her a towel, taking one last eyeful of Ruby before she covers herself up.

The taller brunette catches the look and only seems to smile wider. “Don’t worry, Weiss! Once we’re alone, you can… you know, check me again.”

“That’s absurd. I wouldn’t need to check you unless you decide to go out the gates-“ Weiss cuts herself off in realization, eyebrows shooting into her hairline. “Oh. You were flirting.”

“Clearly I’m not as obvious as Yang when I flirt,” Ruby comments, scratching the back of her head with a nervous chuckle.

“I don’t think anyone could be more obvious than Yang.” Weiss rolls her eyes. “It doesn’t matter to me though,” she continues, tone softening as Ruby throws on the hoodie Weiss picked out for her. “I prefer subtlety.”

“I can do subtle! Subtle is good,” Ruby rushes out, tripping over herself slightly as she changes into her new pants. They fit around her waist fine, but they’re just a bit short.

Weiss steps forward once she’s changed, and she pinches her index finger and thumb around the hemline of her hoodie. “Subtle’s great,” she says casually.

“It’s fantastic,” Ruby says dumbly, eyes tracking Weiss’s every movement. Weiss is just about to kiss her when a loud knock protrudes from the door. They separate immediately, placing a few feet of distance between themselves.

“Hey guys, if y’all are done, Blake needs to shower too,” Yang says. “She’s too polite to say anything, so it’s a good thing I’m not.”

“One of these days,” Weiss mutters. “Yang is gonna try to kiss Blake, and then I’m going to interrupt her. And she will cry about it.”

“Harsh,” Ruby whistles. “But she’ll probably kiss Blake either way. No amount of doors being slammed open will stop her from what she wants.”

Yang knocks again. “Did you guys hear me?” she asks. “Weiss, I’ll bust this door down if you’re kissing my sister right now.”

Weiss is about two seconds away from giving the blonde a piece of her mind before Ruby opens the door with a raised brow. “Yang, what’s busting the door down going to get you?”

“She’s right,” Blake points out, popping her head out from behind Yang. “You wouldn’t accomplish much besides having to fix a broken door.”

Yang groans. “Whatever. Seriously though, Blake needs to shower. You two go ahead to the restaurant, and we’ll catch up with you later.”

Weiss and Ruby shift out of the room as Blake and Yang shift in. “Wait,” Weiss starts. “How will you figure out where the restaurant is?”

“We’ll ask for directions,” Yang says easily with a shrug. “If I can travel the country for over a decade on foot, I think I can figure out where the restaurant is. I’m sure I can follow the smell of cooked food, or whatever.”

“I’d be more likely to do that,” Blake offers. “But Yang’s right. We don’t want to keep you two waiting. Save us some seats.”

Chapter Text

“I just need to make this extremely clear right now,” Blake announces to Yang before she opens the bathroom door for the blonde. “You do not own me.”

“Oh!” That’s not the direction that Yang was expecting this to lead. “Yeah, of course. I never… really assumed that I did? But if you need me to clarify, or like, swear on my dead mother’s grave or something. I can do that.”

Blake inhales and exhales brokenly, her breaths catching at random times as though she’s hiccuping. Yang suddenly feels a need to punch the person who’s responsible for Blake’s panic.

The brunette opens the door and pops her head into view. The fur on her cat ears are adorably spiked up, but Yang decides not to comment on that. Especially not with the utter anxiety rolling off the girl in waves.

“You are in control here,” Yang says, raising her hands up to show she’s harmless.

Blake follows the movements with a sharp eye, then finally nods, her jaw seemingly unclenching almost in relief. She opens the door wider and steps back so Yang can follow her in. “Okay. Thank you. Please make it quick.”

And Yang does. She doesn’t allow her gaze to linger in any area, her only visible reaction being a furrowed brow at an angry red scar on Blake’s hip.

There’s nothing sexual about the check, especially not after Blake’s alarm. If the very idea of being seen naked is enough to set off a feeling of trepidation, then Yang does whatever she can to wipe the interest off her face and neutrally scan her.

Because Blake is attractive, no doubt. Ruby and Weiss can probably already tell that Yang’s been eyeing her since she met her. But that doesn’t mean the brunette is ready for something like that. And it certainly doesn’t mean Yang is either.

Yang gives her an all-clear, turns on her heel, and passes her a towel. Blake takes it with a grateful nod and dries herself quickly, while Yang averts her gaze. Suddenly the chipped wood of the bedroom door frame is very interesting to her.

“You know,” Yang starts, clearing her throat. “I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but I think-“ She halts at her own words, eyes widening at the fact that she’s nervous right now. “Well, I mean, I’m not sure if it’ll mean anything, but I think you should know that I think-“

Her face burns in utter mortification. Here she is, just trying to say something genuinely nice, but she’s completely choking. This is not regular Yang Xiao Long behavior. She’s supposed to be well-spoken and charming and smooth. She’s supposed to have everyone within the palm of her hand just by offering up a wink and a grin.

But as she turns to look at Blake, whose hand is on one hip and her eyebrow is raised questioningly, Yang feels the blood rush right back up to her face again. She’s wearing a long sleeve black shirt that has a faded white print on it and jeans that look like they need to be cuffed at the bottom in order to fit her.

“You think…?” Blake asks, gesturing with one hand for her to continue.

“You’re really really beautiful,” Yang finally manages. “And I promise I’d never do anything you wouldn’t want me to, but I think you’re…” This is it! Say something poetic about her beauty. Tell her you could get lost in the molten gold of her eyes! “…really cool-looking.”

What the fuck was that?

Yang practically squawks at her own words. “N-No, wait. I meant your eyes are melted! And I’m lost in gold!” That’s not right either, you dumbass! “No, not that!” She fumbles ridiculously, grasps for something that isn’t completely idiotic. “I’m- fuck, I’m usually much better at this, but I just want you to feel comfortable around me, and I don’t really know how to do that to people without… like… complimenting them. But there’s so many compliments I could give you that I got them all mixed up, and I just don’t wanna mess up, but I know I already have, and I’m gonna shut up now!”

Blake just blinks at her slowly, and after a long moment, she smiles. At first it’s small and shy, and then it blossoms across her entire face — her cheeks bunch up, her eyes crinkle, her nose scrunches — and then she throws her head back and laughs.

And it’s Yang’s favorite thing in the whole world.

“My eyes are melted?” Blake echoes between chuckles, and when Yang can only helplessly shrug, another laugh bubbles from her throat.

“I’m sorry,” Yang finally apologizes, shoving her face in her palms. “I’m such an idiot, I was just… well if I say it now, it’ll just sound like a cheesy line.”

“You’re so not getting out of this,” Blake teases, her grin still plastered on her face. Yang decides to make it her mission to keep it that way.

“I wanted to say something stupid like, ‘I get lost in your eyes,’ and that just did not work out,” Yang admits, figuring there’s no point in fretting. She’s already embarrassed herself enough, what’s a bit more?

“That’s sweet,” Blake says, her eyes soft. Yang snorts at her words, but she hurries to continue, “I’m serious. I mean, it does sound like a line, but you managed to make it… endearing.”

“I’m serious too! Like, if I could, you know, stare at your eyes all the time, I totally would. In a non-creepy way.”

“Totally not creepy.” Blake nods so seriously that it’s comical.

Yang just shrugs, pocketing her hands and awkwardly shifting her weight between her legs. She has no idea how to recover from that colossal humiliation from five seconds ago.

Blake decides to take care of that for her. “I don’t, by the way.”

Yang tilts her head. “Don’t what?”

“Hear that often.” Blake holds one of her arms and sucks her bottom lip between her teeth. Yang tries not to focus too hard on that motion. “That I’m… beautiful.”

“Well you should!” Yang protests. “And I swear I’m not just saying that ‘cause I saw you naked. You just have this… like, thing about you. And it’s intriguing and attractive and it makes my stomach feel weird. And it’s-“

“If I make your stomach feel weird, isn’t that a bad thing?”

“No, this is like, a good weird. Haven’t you ever gotten butterflies?”

Blake peers at her closely as though she’s puzzling something together. “Just once, maybe.”

Yang just grins. She’s well aware that she’s bold with her words. Subtlety has never been her forte, and she doesn’t intend for it ever to be. A lot of her words could be considered suggestive or inviting, but something tells her that she doesn’t have to worry with Blake.

Yang won’t push for anything further. The ball for that is in Blake’s court. But that certainly isn’t going to stop Yang from showering Blake with the adoration she clearly deserves.

“We should find the restaurant,” Yang says after a moment, clapping her hands once.

Blake nods in agreement. “Right, right. And follow our noses like you suggested?”

“Duh! How else do you find food?”

***

They end up finding a short redhead girl with bright blue eyes who directs them towards Sun’s parents’ restaurant. “My husband spends a lot of time working there! Ask for Ren and he’ll slip extra fries into your plate,” she says with a wink and heads into a building labeled as the infirmary.

“What the fuck is a fries?” Yang asks incredulously, and Blake just shrugs in response.

Once they finally trek through the town (which turns out to be much bigger than Yang initially thought it to be), they find the restaurant. The blonde holds the door open for Blake, and they’re both immediately met with an overwhelming amount of aromas mingling together.

The restaurant seems busy, the large one-floor building hosting at least twenty people. Chatter fills the air, some people seated and conversing animatedly, while others are bustling through between different tables.

Ruby waves at them so enthusiastically that it’s almost impossible for Yang to miss. She waves back, then subconsciously grabs Blake’s hand to help her through the crowd of people.

“Hey!” She greets the pair once she reaches them.

Blake doesn’t make a move to draw her hand away, but Yang lets go anyway, not wanting to overstep. Sure, she’s seen her naked, but holding her hand might be too much.

“You guys made it!” Ruby shoots from her seat like a rocket, then gestures wildly for a tall black-haired man to come to their table. He raises a finger at her to indicate that he’d be there in a moment.

“We took directions from a pretty… eccentric person. She was nice about showing us, though,” Yang replies, taking one of the offered seats. “Have you guys eaten anything yet? We were told to ask for Ren because he gives extra fries?”

“We were waiting for you! What are fries?” Ruby asks.

“No idea,” Yang says, then smiles mischievously. “Wanna find out?”

“Fuck yeah!”

“Fries are just sliced potatoes that have been fried and excessively salted,” Weiss informs them, rolling her eyes at the sisters’ matching energy.

“Are you all ready to order?” A calm voice asks, and Yang looks behind her to see that the tall man that Ruby waved down earlier is here.

“Hello, Ren,” Weiss greets politely. “We’d like to-“

“Hey!” Yang interrupts her suddenly. “Ren, we met your wife! She said you can get us extra fries or something.”

“I can.” He nods, then asks, “Which one?”

“Which what?”

“Which wife?”

“Which… huh?” Yang furrows her brows in confusion.

“I’m married to three people,” he tells her. “Two wives, one husband.”

“You can do that?” Ruby gasps out. “That’s so cool!”

“It was the redhead,” Blake responds to his original question.

Ren’s lips curl up in amusement. “Both my wives are redheads.”

“She didn’t tell us her name,” Blake replies. “She had blue eyes, and she was even shorter than Weiss.”

“I’m not that short!” Weiss complains, but the only response she gets is a sympathetic pat on her hand from Ruby.

“That was Nora. I should have figured she’d tell you I would do that.” He sighs in what seems to be exasperation, though the fond look in his eyes tells Yang that he’s not quite as vexed as he’s making himself seem.

“So what about your other… um, spouses?” Yang asks, still a bit bewildered but she’s getting a good grasp of the situation. He’s just a dude with multiple partners.

“There’s Pyrrha,” he replies, looking all too happy to talk about his loved ones. “And there’s Jaune. Pyrrha patrols mostly, and she was the one that let you into the gates when you first arrived. Jaune works at the infirmary, but he spends a lot of his time at the nursery as well. And, of course, there’s Nora, who you just met. She patrols and helps with construction whenever they need an extra pair of hands.”

“Wow…” Ruby sighs out, clearly starstruck. “Everything about this place is so cool.”

Even Yang has to agree with her there. Though she’s hesitant to stay in the same place for a long period of time, there seems to be a strong system and community set in place in Vale.

For the first time in a long time, Yang feels safe.

Chapter Text

Ruby decides that fries are her favorite thing about Vale.

Besides Weiss, of course.

And though she’s eager for a tour, having a full belly surprisingly makes her groggy.

“Ever heard of a food coma?” Yang asks, doubling over and clutching her stomach. “‘Cause I think I’m falling into one.”

“Jeez Yang, you haven’t slept in almost two days,” Ruby comments after a moment, realizing that her sister never actually got any sleep last night because of the Grimm.

So Weiss decides to lead them back to their house, each of them given a separate room and bed. As Ruby marvels over something that Weiss calls a light switch, she finds that though she has a clean mattress and fluffed pillows, she’s not completely comfortable.

After a few long moments of switching between laying on her back, on her side, or on her stomach, she scrambles off the bed and wraps herself into her blanket. She trudges out of her room and knocks on Yang’s bedroom door, but it creaks open on its own.

Yang, shockingly, is awake. She’s propped herself up against her headboard, the lamp beside her bed on and a book in her hands. The blonde glances up when she hears Ruby come in, and then she’s smiling.

“Hey Rubes,” she whispers just loud enough for the shorter girl to hear from across the room. “Can’t sleep either?”

“I’m not used to it,” she replies. “Can I…?”

Yang already seems to know what she’s about to ask. She pats the spot next to her on the bed, and Ruby immediately curls up beside her.

“It’s hard to sleep when you’ve been by my side for my whole life,” Yang admits. She moves to place her book down, but Ruby stops her.

“Read to me,” she says, and the warmth radiating from her sister is already enough for her eyelids to droop in exhaustion.

Yang chuckles, then starts from the beginning. Her voice is a soothing lull, a constant in Ruby’s life. Just as she’s about to doze off, however, the door creaks again and Yang stops reading.

Ruby peaks an eye open and sees Blake in the doorway, rubbing the back of her head awkwardly. “Hey, I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“You’re all good,” Yang reassures, her eyes significantly brighter at the sight of Blake. “Did you want something?”

Blake puts one of her hands on her elbow. “Can I join you?” she asks. “I heard you reading on my way back from the bathroom, and it reminded me a lot of…”

She doesn’t look like she wants to continue, so Ruby lifts her head and throws her a sleepy smile. “The more the merrier.”

Blake looks relieved, and she shuffles further into the room. Yang and Ruby scoot over until there’s enough space for her. She squishes against Yang’s other side and takes a peak at the book.

“What’re you reading?” she asks.

Yang looks like she’s malfunctioning, her eyes flitting between herself and Blake. Ruby elbows her to snap her out of her stupor.

“Uh, I’m reading all right!” she blurts out stupidly, and Ruby snickers under her breath.

“I can see that,” Blake says, her voice laced with amusement.

“It’s a book our mom would read to us every night when we were younger,” Ruby explains, curling up again and shutting her eyes. “It’s one of the last things we have of her.”

“My parents used to read books to me too,” Blake says with a faraway tone. “They’d take turns reading and do funny little voices when there was a change of dialogue.”

“That’s adorable.” Yang sighs wistfully. “What were your parents like?”

Blake’s about to respond, but the door creaks open again. Ruby doesn’t have to open her eyes to know that it’s Weiss. Process of elimination, and all that.

“Oh, hey Weiss,” Yang says, her voice cracking slightly in a sign of fatigue. She clears her throat, as though to shake it off.

“I saw your light was on and then heard you conversing. What are you two doing in Yang’s room?”

“Blake here just can’t seem to get enough of me,” Yang drawls out a response. “And Ruby hasn’t slept without me in many, many years. So? You staying or leaving? Joining or betraying?”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Ruby scolds and snuggles closer to Yang. She’s just so warm all the time.

“I… suppose I’d like to stay if that’s alright with you,” Weiss says, and Ruby’s eyes shoot open. She quickly scoots in as much as she can to make room for Weiss on the bed.

Yang shuts the book and hands it to Blake to place on the table. The brunette shuts the light off right as Weiss slides into the bed, her arm tentatively coming to wrap around Ruby’s waist.

The squeeze is definitely tight for four fully-grown adults, but because Blake and Ruby are both practically on top of Yang, and Weiss’s front is flush against Ruby’s back, they somehow manage to make it work.

“Well isn’t this nice?” Yang comments, though there isn’t much sarcasm in her tone.

“It is,” Weiss says seriously, her nose nuzzled against the back of Ruby’s neck, her breath tickling her delightfully. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation. What were you talking about?”

“Our families,” Blake replies, and Ruby feels Weiss instantly stiffen from behind her. “My parents were kind. Too kind for an unforgiving world like this. They died to save me.”

“Our parents died like that too,” Ruby says, trying to control her breathing as the distant memories wash through her mind. She remembers her father, tall and blonde and muscular like Yang, shoving his shotgun into Yang’s arms and screaming at her to run. To never stop running, even if it exhausted her. She remembers her mother, who’d often kiss her on top of her head and tell her that the Grimm were just a nightmare. Nothing Ruby would have to worry about because she’d always be protected.

“Grimm?” Weiss asks, her breaths coming out in short puffs. Ruby furrows her brows in concern, and she’s about to ask if she’s okay when Weiss manages to even out her breathing.

“My parents were murdered,” Blake tells them, “by another Faunus. He was…” She trails off as though there aren’t any words to sum him up.

“An asshole?” Yang offers.

Ruby feels Blake’s chuckle more than she hears it. “Yeah. Adam was a real dick.”

“What about you, Weiss?” Ruby asks, her curiosity getting the better of her. “You told me earlier about your sister. How’d she die? Did you have any other family?”

Weiss doesn’t respond at first, and Ruby mentally kicks herself for being too nosy. She’s just a second away from apologizing before Weiss says, “My entire family’s dead besides my father. My mother, my brother, and my sister. They were all bit, and because it takes a week at most for someone to fully turn, they asked me to kill them.”

The room goes dead quiet at her words.

“I refused at first, of course,” Weiss continues, her voice shaking at either the memory or out of nervousness. “But Winter, my sister, insisted. She said it’d help me in the future. I’m not completely sure what she meant by that, but I… killed them all while they were half-turned.”

“Shit,” Yang curses under her breath. “Weiss, that’s… I’m so sorry you had to do that.”

Weiss tightens her hold on Ruby’s hip, like it’s her lifeline. Ruby has no complaints to that.

“You mean you don’t think I’m fucked up for killing my own family?” she asks, her voice so small that Ruby wants to meet with the Grimm responsible for this and kill them herself.

“Of course not,” Blake responds, a frown in her voice. “If I was bit, I’d want to be killed before I turned too. Do you ever think about the people that the Grimm once were? What if they’re completely aware of what they’re doing but have no way of stopping it? I wouldn’t want to live a life like that. What you did, Weiss, was a mercy.”

Ruby feels Weiss shudder behind her. She sniffs, likely forcing back tears. “Thank you.”

“Weiss,” Ruby starts. “I’ve met a lot of people in my years of traveling, and everyone’s got a story. Everyone’s got their own morals. You did what you thought was best, and no one can fault you for that.”

“I have a question,” Yang says suddenly. “What if… someone got bit by a Grimm, but didn’t end up turning?”

“That’s not possible,” Blake replies immediately.

“No, no, I know. But what if it was? What if you kill a half-turned person, but this whole time the bite didn’t do anything to them?”

“Like immunity?” Ruby questions.

“Yeah. Like that.”

Weiss snorts. “Unless you know someone who’s been bitten and didn’t turn within that week, I’d say it’s pointless to entertain that thought.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re right. I was just curious.” Yang’s voice is growing more hoarse, and in just a few moments, she’s dozing off.

“Good night,” Ruby murmurs before quickly following Yang’s lead and falling into a deep slumber.

Chapter Text

Blake is the first to wake up the next morning, only to find that they’re all in the same positions as last night. Yang is splayed out like a starfish, one of her biceps under Blake’s head, and the rest of her arm is wrapped around her, her fingers clutching her waist. Her other shoulder is under Ruby’s head, and her forearm is under Weiss’s. Weiss is still tautly spooning Ruby, who’s clutched onto Yang’s side like a koala.

And Blake…

Blake’s nose is pressed against the side of Yang’s chest, and her hand somehow crept its way under her shirt in the time that they were sleeping, while her leg interlocked with one of Yang’s.

Her face reddens, and she instinctively pulls backwards only to tip over the edge of the bed. Yang’s arm is so securely wrapped around her, however, that she manages to stay in place. At the very least, she pulls her hand out from under Yang’s shirt, mentally berating herself for mourning the loss of contact with the hard planes of Yang’s abs.

Yang's eyes shoot open, and her whole body stiffens. Her gaze flits around in panic, as though she doesn’t know why she’s being pressed down by all this weight. She opens her mouth, maybe to shout or cry, but Blake shifts upwards and places her hand on her jaw.

“Yang,” she says, shushing her. “It’s okay.”

“Why didn’t anyone keep watch?” Yang demands, her eyes still wide. “Shit, I should-should’ve stayed awake.”

Ruby grumbles in her sleep, letting out an annoyed, “Five more minutes,” before returning to her snoring.

“Yang,” Blake repeats softly. “It’s okay. We’re in Vale. We don’t need to keep watch. You’re safe, Ruby’s safe.”

Yang relaxes at her reassurances, and Blake brushes her thumb across her cheek to catch a stray tear. Her lilac eyes shut, and she squeezes Blake’s waist once.

“Fuck,” she curses, her voice low with fatigue. “Fuck, I’m so not used to this.”

“Getting a full night of sleep?”

“Yeah.” Yang chuckles humorlessly. “Well, it’s more just… feeling safe enough to sleep.”

Blake feels a rush of sympathy for the blonde. Sure, she’s seen her fair share of horrors, but for the first twenty-five years of her life, she had her parents, Adam, and the rest of the White Fang surrounding her. She can’t imagine walking around the entire continent aimlessly for the majority of her life, sleeping with one eye open and being responsible for an entire other person on top of that.

“I got lucky, you know,” Yang says. “Having Ruby as my sister. If I got stuck with someone less capable, I’m not sure we’d survive this long.”

“She’s lucky too,” Blake replies, offering a soft smile.

Yang moves her head back enough so that she can look directly at Blake. And then she grins, her cheeks dimpling adorably.

“Were you feeling me up earlier?” she asks, and Blake immediately shoves herself away. But again, Yang’s arm keeps her in place, refusing to let her fall off the bed. A low chuckle bubbles from Yang’s chest, and all the brunette can do is blush furiously.

“No! My hand was just… there when I woke up!”

Sure,” she drawls. “I don’t blame you, of course. Took a long time to sculpt these bad boys into perfection. I’d be offended if you didn’t wanna touch.”

“Shut up,” Blake grumbles, pressing her face into Yang’s shoulder to hide how red it is.

They remain that way for several minutes, and Blake is actually about to fall back asleep, when Ruby shifts so much in her sleep that Weiss is forced awake.

“Ugh,” the white-haired girl groans, rubbing the sleep from her eyes with her knuckles.

“Rise and shine, Weissy,” Yang mumbles. “How’d you sleep?”

Weiss sits up abruptly, as if forgetting for a moment that she fell asleep with the rest of them last night. Blake and Yang glance at each other in amusement as Weiss attempts to smooth her hair down.

“I slept well,” Weiss finally replies after she’s finished raking her fingers through her hair. “Though my neck is a bit sore.”

Blake can relate. She lifts herself up so she’s (regrettably) no longer lying beside Yang, then twists her body. After she feels a satisfying number of cracks run through her body, she twists the other way to do the same. She then rolls her neck to hear another series of cracks. Her shoulders relax, and she sighs in relief at how loose her body feels now.

Weiss screws up her nose and shudders. “Ew, I heard that from here.”

“Your chatter and cracks woke me up!” Ruby whines, her face shoved into Yang’s arm and her hands over her ears. “It’s too early to be awake.”

Yang leans closer to Ruby and whispers, “C’mon Rubes. We gotta meet with that Coco person Ozpin was telling us about. Gonna pick out our jobs for Vale.”

Ruby lifts her head to meet Yang’s gaze. “Can’t Coco wait?”

“No, actually,” Weiss tells her, placing a hand on her back. “They head out for a patrol at noon today, and right now it’s…” She glances down at some strange contraption on her wrist. Her eyes go wide. “Half past eleven. Hurry up, you three! Cannot believe I slept in.”

“Woah, what’s that?” Ruby asks, eyeing her wrist interestedly.

“A watch,” Weiss replies. “It tells the time. Ozpin says this one’s solar powered, and that’s how it’s lasted this long. It was a gift from my mother.” Ruby opens her mouth to reply, and from the crazed energetic gleam in her eye, Blake can guess she’s about to completely nerd out. Weiss, however, cuts her off before she even starts. “Let’s go, You need to be fully recruited before Coco has to head out!”

***

The first thing Blake notices about Coco is that they manage to maintain a level of extravagance that not many can achieve in a zombie-ridden world.

“Ah, hello,” they greet, flashing them all a smile. “Neptune told me I should expect some newbies soon. Let me lay out your options for you, but first, here’s some basic info. Everyone gets a primary task and a secondary one. Or a few secondary ones if you wanna go above and beyond. You get schedules based on what you choose. But to keep things balanced out, you might have to work a random shift in something you haven’t expressed interest in. That’s not usually super common though, so you should be fine. Any questions?”

“I have some!” Ruby immediately raises her hand. Coco nods to her to continue. “First off, what’s the difference between primary and secondary? Can we choose more than one primary? When you say ‘a few’ secondary tasks, how many is that exactly? And Weiss, what’re your tasks?”

Coco blinks once, as though processing the vomit of words escaping the younger girl’s mouth. “The difference between primary and secondary?” they reiterate questioningly. Ruby nods, bouncing in place. “Your primary is the one you’re scheduled to the most. For example, mine is… specifically making sure there’s enough clothes to go around. That hoodie you’re wearing? I salvaged it from what used to be a shopping mall and fixed the fabric so it’d get through the next few years. My secondaries are helping new recruits whenever there are some…” They trail off pointedly, raising a brow at the three of them. “…and patrols. Jaune and I alternate Wednesday patrols every week.

“As for the amount of secondaries, there isn’t a limit exactly, but it all depends on your availability. Because my job is pretty individualized, I can make or fix clothes whenever I want. That makes my schedule really flexible, and I tend to help people in tasks I never even signed up for. I’m happy to help, of course. Two primaries, however, are likely to clash in schedules, so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you really want to, you can personally ask Ozpin. He oversees the scheduling.”

“Wow!” Ruby immediately gushes, her eyes practically sparkling. “Where can we sign up?”

“There’s a board near the entrance gates. I’ll show you on my way to my patrol. If you have any other questions, I’m sure Schnee over there will be happy to oblige.”

Blake flinches at the all-too familiar last name. When Coco lazily gestures to Weiss, she turns to the white-haired girl quizzically. Her heart thunders in her chest, and she can feel her ears flatten. Blake is numbly aware that they’re following Coco’s lead to the board, but she’s too busy staring at Weiss in shock to even process it. Blake only decides to speak up when Coco leaves.

Please, no.

“Schnee?”

Please don’t let that be true.

“Like… the lab?”

Please let this be a coincidence.

Weiss doesn’t meet her gaze.

Maybe Schnee is a common last name.

“The government-mandated lab that forced the Faunus into endangerment because of the-the vile experiments demonstrated against them in an attempt to rid the world of Grimm?”

Even if she is a Schnee, Weiss probably wasn’t involved. The lab lost its credibility after several decades, the government crumbled. There’s hardly any Faunus left to experiment on.

“Yes,” Weiss finally answers, her voice small.

That can’t be right.

“Yes?” Blake repeats, just to make sure she heard right.

She didn’t just spend an entire night bonding with a Schnee.

“Yes, Schnee,” Weiss replies, and Blake immediately bristles. “My family has experimented on Faunus since the outbreak, and my father hasn’t stopped. Why do you think I’m in Vale? Away from him?”

The experiments haven’t stopped?

“What do you mean he hasn’t stopped?” Blake demands, her panic and anger bubbling over. If she starts ranting now, she isn’t sure she’ll be able to stop. “And you just left? What about all those Faunus? Did you run away from them? Did you even try to save them? Can you even comprehend the severity of this? How long did you know it was happening? And what, you just sat idly by?”

“Hey, wait, this isn’t Weiss’s fault,” Ruby tries to cut in, but Weiss shakes her head.

“Blake’s right, Ruby,” she admits, her shoulders slumped and her eyes shut. She breathes in once, twice. “I stood by in ignorance as my father took the lives of more Faunus than any Grimm ever could. He’d forcibly turn the Faunus by locking them into cages with Grimm, then he’d subject them to pointless horrors just to find some cure in their half-turned bodies. And when I found out, I tried to save them. Of course I did.

“But by the time I opened the cages for the Faunus, my father opened the Grimm ones, and I lost my entire family to the chaos. That doesn’t absolve my family of guilt, and I am… certainly not a victim. I’m well-aware that I lived a life of blissful ignorance while Faunus suffered through the actions of my father. I did nothing to help them then, but I won’t do nothing anymore.”

Blake’s eye twitches. She’s not sure how to react or think or breathe. She doesn’t want to look at Weiss or Ruby or Yang. She doesn’t want to face this conversation right now, but at the same time she wants to yell, to cry, to stand her ground and fight. Instead, she does what Adam always told her is her most common trait.

Like a coward, she turns tail and runs.

Chapter Text

Yang doesn’t know what to make of what just happened. First, Blake and Weiss were arguing over a last name, then they were talking about Faunus experiments, and then Blake just ran.

Yang glances at Ruby, and they nod simultaneously. Just like that, they’re in agreement.

The brunette turns to Weiss, grabbing one of her hands and whispering something into her ear. Weiss just shakes her head and rests her temple against Ruby’s chest, tears forming in her eyes. In turn, Ruby hugs her, fingers flitting through her strands of hair soothingly.

Yang turns away from the private moment, trusting Ruby to handle that side of the argument. Now to find Blake…

She runs in the direction that the Faunus went, glazing over unfamiliar faces, searching for black pointed ears. When she nearly crashes into someone, she turns to apologize, then stops in her tracks when she recognizes it’s Sun.

“Hey, Sun!” she greets hurriedly.

He flicks his tail and grins good-naturedly. “Hey, Yang! How you guys enjoying Vale so far? My parents told me you came into the res-“

“Sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush,” Yang intervenes. “Have you seen Blake?”

He shrugs off the interruption and nods. “Yeah, actually. She brushed past me. I think she was crying?”

“You didn’t go after her?” Yang asks in exasperation. “Which way did she go?”

“I tried to! But she shoved me away!” he defends, putting his hands up. “Anyway, I think she went over there.” He points in the direction of a cluster of trees.

Yang nods and thanks him briefly before breaking out into a jog, darting through the trees and glancing around for any glimpse of her. For what feels like half an hour, Yang searches endlessly, all the way to the end of the town barrier.

Groaning in defeat, she’s just about to pick her way out of the trees, when she hears something snap right above her. She looks up, and a blur disappears into the thick branches. Though the cover of orange and brown leaves would normally mask the sight, Yang manages to catch a glimpse of what it is. Or rather, who it is.

“Blake!” she calls, head tilted heavenward. “Please, just come down. We can work things out with Weiss. If you’d just be open to talk-“

Yang cuts herself off when she sees another blur of movement. She swears under her breath, then wipes her slightly clammy hands on her jeans. She really hates heights.

And then she starts climbing. Forcing herself not to look down, Yang continues upward at a steady pace, making sure her feet are securely in footholds and her fingers are secured around the next branch.

When she finally reaches Blake, the Faunus just stares at her, expression unreadable. Her eyes are puffy, which is unsurprising considering Sun just told Yang that Blake's been crying.

“Why’d you follow me?” she asks when Yang very shakily perches beside her.

“Running’s something I’m used to doing,” Yang admits, glancing through the treeline and smiling. “But before that, I was a chaser.”

“What do you mean?” From the corner of her eye, she sees Blake tilt her head curiously.

“You know, not even Ruby knows this, but… she and I don’t have the same mom. Biologically, at least,” Yang starts, turning to gauge Blake’s reaction.

The brunette just raises her brows. “What happened to your mom?”

“She left after I was born. Summer — that’s Ruby’s mom — always told me that Raven wasn’t worth going after. My uncle, Qrow, who’s Raven’s own brother, told me she wasn’t worth it. But I wanted to know anyway. I followed any clue, any lead I could.”

“Wait-“ Blake says haltingly. “Ruby’s mentioned your uncle before though. If she knows he’s your uncle but doesn’t know that Raven’s your mom, then who does she think he’s related to?”

Yang barks out a laugh. “She’s always thought of it as… he’s so close to my parents that he’s basically our uncle. Like a family-friend thing.”

Blake just nods in understanding. “So what? You spent all those years looking for your mom? Did you ever find her?”

“Nah.” Yang shrugs, wishing it didn’t ache as much as it does. It’s an old wound, but when it reopens, it’s vicious, like a knife held directly against her heart. “I never found her. And after my parents died, I didn’t bother trying so hard for someone who was clearly too selfish to wanna take her own daughter in. As far as I’m concerned, Summer Rose was and always will be my mom.”

“I’m sorry you spent so much time looking for someone who wasn’t worth it,” Blake mutters, and she glances away.

Yang understands the double meaning perfectly. “Hey,” she says, prompting the Faunus to look over. “Raven wasn’t worth it. She never wanted me in the first place. But you? You’re worth looking for, Blake. And coming from someone who’s used to searching for people, just… don’t. Don’t run from people that care about and support you. I wanna help. Weiss, Ruby, we wanna help. I don’t know a lot about Faunus' history. Hell, I didn’t even know there were any Faunus left until yesterday. But Weiss seemed really genuinely remorseful back there. Maybe if you… give her a chance, she can explain everything?”

“I’m not mad at Weiss,” Blake says immediately, ears flattening. “She acknowledged that she wasn’t a victim of her father’s racism, and I believe her when she says she did everything she could to save those Faunus.”

“Then why’d you run?”

Blake bites her lip and twiddles her thumbs. “That’s the complicated part.” Her posture deflates as though she’s submitting to some sort of internal argument. “Where you’re used to following people, I’m used to running from them. I was captured once, when I was fourteen. Put in a Schnee laboratory. That’s where I met Adam, who was twenty at the time. It’s where I got this.” Blake pauses to gesture towards her hip, where Yang remembers there to be a deep scar.

When Blake hesitates to continue, Yang places a hand in hers. “You don’t owe me an entire story if you don’t want to give one.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you,” Blake explains. “It’s just that I want to tell Weiss, too. And I want to hear what she has to say.”

Yang grins then, a sliver of triumph soaring through her chest. “Then let’s go Schnee what she has to say.”

“You’re horrible.”

“I try.”

***

Weiss doesn’t like remembering.

Remembering the faces of those tortured Faunus, remembering the smug smirk on her father’s face, remembering Winter’s accepting smile as Weiss’s blade tore through her chest.

So when Blake stares at her with emotions ranging from denial to anger to sufferance, then opts to run from the conversation, Weiss is thrown back into her unpleasant memories.

And she hates remembering.

“You okay?” Ruby asks, voice barely above a whisper, breath hitting her ear. Her hand slips into Weiss’s and squeezes once.

Weiss just shakes her head, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. She rests her temple against Ruby’s chest, only to be engulfed into warm arms. Ruby uses one hand to rub her arm and the other to stroke her hair, light knots untangling from the constant movements of her fingers.

“I don’t want to remember,” she whimpers, eyes tautly shut.

“Okay,” Ruby murmurs, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of her head. “Let’s get back to the house and sit down, alright?”

Weiss lets out a staggering breath and nods, separating from her to lead the way back to the house. She stares at the ground, though she can still feel the stares of some of the townsfolk as they continue back. Ruby hovers beside her as they walk in, and she’s quick to sit her down at the couch.

“Hey, look at me.” Weiss looks up at Ruby’s soft command. “We don’t have to talk about anything you don’t wanna talk about,” the brunette tells her, silver eyes genuine and kind. “But I know from experience that internalizing problems only makes them worse. So if you ever want to talk about it, I’m always willing to lend an ear.”

Weiss smiles despite herself. Somehow, though her mind is plagued with thoughts of the past and her worries over Blake, Ruby manages to draw her in. Ruby grins back, dimples creasing onto her cheeks.

“God, I probably look pathetic right now,” Weiss sniffs out, turning away and rubbing at her eyes.

“No, no,” Ruby hurries out, grabbing her wrists gently and pulling them from her face. “You don’t get it, you’re… beautiful. I mean, obviously I like it best when you smile, but that’s just because I like it when you’re happy. B-But you’re gorgeous in, like, every way. I’d think you’re hot even if you were puking your guts out.”

Weiss chokes on a chuckle, her previous argument now forgotten. “You have a way with words, you know that, Ruby?”

Ruby winks cheesily. “So I’ve been told.”

“Thanks, uh, for everything,” Weiss says, hoping the amount of sincerity she truly feels shows.

Ruby nods in a way that makes her think she got the right message. “‘Course Weissy.” She nudges her shoulder playfully. “So… did you wanna come help me pick my jobs for Vale?”

Weiss feels something surge up in her chest, a confidence she’s not familiar with. “We could do that.” She shrugs and tries to keep her tone light, yet suggestive. “Or we could take advantage of this time alone.”

The gears in Ruby’s brain are practically visible as she tries to make sense of Weiss’s words. Afraid that this is probably too subtle for the brunette, she opens her mouth to clarify.

Ruby cuts her off before she can even reiterate. “Are you sure?” When Weiss nods, she shakes her head vehemently. “No, I need to hear you say it. You were, like, five seconds away from hyperventilating earlier. I don’t want you to do this just to distract yourself or just because you’re, I don’t know, vulnerable or something.”

Weiss feels something clog in her throat, and she smiles wider than she has in years. Overcome with emotion, she nods again, this time more teary-eyed. “I’m sure,” she says firmly.

Ruby’s gaze flits across her face as though searching for something. Weiss figures that she’s found it when she cradles her face and leans forward, her eyes now fixed on her lips. Weiss moves in sync, the moment going by achingly slow.

She bites back an embarrassing moan at just the sight of Ruby licking her own lips, immediately wondering what else the other girl can do with that tongue of hers and where she’d be willing to put it.

And then the distance is finally closed between them. Just like the first time, Ruby is both passionate and tender with her touches. Her hands seem to be testing her, one pressed against her hip and the other still cupping her face. Her tongue skillfully draws forward, slipping into Weiss’s mouth and sliding against hers.

Weiss releases a gasp as Ruby squeezes her thigh, and she pulls away to catch her breath, face hot and eyes still closed.

“Was that okay?” Ruby questions, her voice wavering.

“Y-Yeah,” Weiss stutters out, blinking her eyes open. “That was… more than okay. Did- I mean, were you okay with it?”

Ruby’s smile is confirmation enough, but her enthusiastic nod only seals the point. “Oh yeah! Super okay. Very, very okay.”

Weiss giggles — actually fucking giggles — and kisses her again, less timid and considerably more urgent. Ruby matches the energy perfectly, their kisses long and heated. Eventually, Ruby pulls away, and Weiss tries to chase her lips.

With a chuckle, Ruby allows the white-haired girl to press another chaste kiss against her mouth before she separates from her completely. Weiss opens her eyes in confusion, mind numb.

Her unspoken question is very quickly answered when Ruby moves to pull her hoodie off, revealing a thin tanktop underneath. Once it’s thrown haphazardly onto the ground, Weiss is quick to pull her back in, her fingers drawn to any bare skin they can find.

She slips a hand under her tanktop, tracing the ridges of her abs. If her mouth wasn’t occupied right now, Weiss would be whistling in appreciation at the absolute goddess in front of her.

Ruby begins to push her back, one hand on her spine and the other teasing the button of her jeans. Weiss allows herself to fall completely against the couch, and Ruby moves to straddle her. After a final tug to her bottom lip, Ruby scatters kisses across her jawline, drawing a few lurching gasps from the white-haired girl.

Just as she sucks on Weiss’s drumming pulse point and unbuttons her jeans, the door swings open.

Weiss instinctively shoves Ruby off of her at the interruption, and the younger girl lets out a yelp as she tumbles off the couch.

“Shit! Sorry, Ruby!” she apologizes, face burning from both the kisses and the embarrassment of getting caught. She turns to the newcomers and makes eye-contact with Yang and Blake’s bewildered expressions.

And then the blonde bursts out into laughter.

“I’m sorry,” she says, still chuckling. “Oh, man, I really am sorry. But fuck, Ruby, I thought we had an unspoken agreement to comfort Blake and Weiss, not… fondle them.” With that, she barks out another laugh, tears pricking at her eyes at the situation. “Jeez, if that was the plan, I wouldn’t have gotten all personal with Blake.”

“Hey, you have your methods of comforting and I have mine!” Ruby defends, throwing her hoodie back on.

“Well then, I hope you never comfort me,” Yang says, her lips practically shaking as she suppresses another bout of laughter.

Weiss smiles nervously, taking Yang’s amusement as a sign that things would likely be okay. She got Blake to come back, didn’t she?

She’s glad that Yang’s taking it well, though. Most people don’t react too well to their little sisters being three seconds away from pulling someone’s pants off.

“So…” Ruby trails off when Yang finally stops snickering. “We gonna be okay?” She directs the question to Blake and Weiss, eyes flicking between them warily.

Weiss nods immediately, and she’s surprised to see Blake doing the same. “Blake, I-“

“No, wait,” Blake cuts her off. “I… I’m sorry for the way I reacted. And for worrying you all. And for making Yang climb a tree.”

Weiss and Ruby exchange a bemused glance while Yang just snorts. “No biggie, Blakey.”

“Yang already told me that I don’t owe you guys an explanation, but I want to. So if you’d let me, I’d like to tell you about my time in a Schnee Faunus lab, and how I became part of an organization known as the White Fang.”

Chapter Text

“I’d like to start by saying that I’m not telling you this because I want pity or anything. You three don’t owe me anything. We met, like, yesterday,” Blake says as they all lounge in the living room.

Weiss fidgets on the couch, hands shaking slightly. Ruby places a hand delicately over hers, prompting her to look up. The other girl winks and offers a soft grin, and somehow it’s more than enough to calm Weiss down.

“Hey, same can be said to you,” Yang replies to Blake. “Tell us as much as you want to.”

Blake nods and breathes in deeply. She shuts her eyes and exhales before crossing her legs. “Okay,” she starts, then turns to the white-haired girl, golden gaze piercing into blue. “Weiss, you’re not… at fault for what your father has done. And while I don’t expect any of you to fully understand my experiences of being a Faunus — the prejudice, the small comments, as well as the larger scaled aggressions — I know that you’re not void of empathy.”

“I still could’ve-“ Weiss’s guilt-ridden comment is interrupted.

“You don’t need to feel guilty, Weiss.” Blake purses her lips. “And I also don’t want you to feel like you have to be some sort of savior. You’re a victim of your father’s actions too. Maybe not the same way as me, but a victim nonetheless. And you didn’t deserve any of that.”

Weiss isn’t sure how to respond. Not five minutes ago, she was sure that Blake was going to blame her for what’d happened with the Faunus. She was sure she’d have to fight to earn Blake’s forgiveness.

But here she is, telling Weiss that there’s nothing to forgive.

Blake continues, “When I was fourteen, I was separated from my parents and — along with my friend, Ilia — captured by your father’s… forces? Team?” She pauses and chews the inside of her mouth in consideration. Then she just shrugs. “Whatever. I was put in a cage with a bull Faunus named Adam. He was… six years older than me, and even though we were stuck in a horrible situation together, I found him charming. He had a passion to protect the people he cared about, and he made it clear that I was beginning to become one of those people. I was in there with him for weeks, maybe a month. He’d sometimes give me a bit of his rations so I wouldn’t starve. When we saw other Faunus in cages being forced out, he’d distract me and comfort me.”

Blake smiles, though it lacks any joy in it. Weiss’s heart aches for her. She can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like. Days upon days in the same cramped box, with only one other prisoner for company, not knowing what might happen when the cage doors opened.

“I was eternally grateful — I-I still am grateful for how Adam helped me. I’m not sure I’d have survived without him. But then those cage doors opened, and they tried to grab him, and I didn’t want to lose him. So I kicked one of the scientists, tackled the other one. Dove out of the cage, grabbed Adam’s hand and hid. I’ve always been good at hiding. No one ever thinks to look up.”

“Tell me about it,” Yang grumbles good-naturedly, and a glimpse of mirth flashes through Blake’s eyes.

“Sorry.” She smiles apologetically.

Yang waves her off. “All good. Go on.”

Blake sighs heavily and sets her mouth into a thin line. “Right. I hid with Adam in the trees for hours, but I was getting hungry and he was getting antsy. He… blamed me for getting us into that mess. Said that he’d have figured it out and that he didn’t need my help. I’d never seen him so angry before, but later on he’d explained that he was just directing it all on the wrong person. And at the time, I’d believed his apology.

“Anyway, when we finally climbed back down, Adam wanted to take a run for it. But there were so many Faunus left in the cages, including Ilia. When he refused to join me in helping them, I separated from him and snuck back in. I don’t know how, but eventually I got to the cages, and I started opening them for everyone. Ilia wasn’t there, though, and when I asked about her, one of the Faunus said she’d been taken to the experimentation room. So I ran in to get her.

“And standing there, overlooking the experiment, was Jacques Schnee.”

Weiss shudders at the mention of her own father’s name, and she folds into herself slightly. Ruby shifts from beside her and squeezes the hand that she’s holding. Neither of them want to interrupt Blake’s story, but Weiss appreciates the wordless support that Ruby so readily gives.

“Naturally, I attacked him. Shoved him away from the cage that she’d been laying in, punched, kicked, did everything I could. If he opened Ilia’s cage and put her into the Grimm cage, she’d have turned for a pointless experiment. So I fought him. But I was fourteen, and he was a grown adult. He pulled me off and grabbed a needle. Whatever he’d used to sedate Ilia, he was going to use on me. And then Adam came in. He’d fought his way through to get into the room with me, and he shoved Jacques away, grabbed Ilia, and we took a run for it.

“For a second, I thought we were going to make it relatively unscathed. But Jacques’s people tried to get a hold of us again, I was shot straight through the hip, Adam lost one of his horns. We’d have been doomed if my parents didn’t find us. They’d been searching for me since we lost each other. When they saw a sudden crowd of Faunus running away from something, they decided to investigate. It was… sheer dumb luck that we made it out of there. That my bullet wound wasn’t fatal. That Ilia hadn’t been harmed or turned.”

“Shit,” Yang curses, lilac eyes wide. “Blake, that’s… fucked.”

Despite herself, Blake chokes on a chuckle, and even Weiss has to admit that it’s humorous that her entire experience in the Schnee Lab could be summed up in one adjective.

“Yeah,” Blake agrees. “It was really fucked.”

“I thought you said Adam killed your parents,” Ruby says, voicing Weiss’s own question.

Blake’s face falls. “Yeah. He’s killed a lot of innocent people.” She stares at the fists that she’s tentatively placed on her own lap. “So have I.”

When she doesn’t elaborate, the three don’t push. Grimm knows that Blake’s told them more than enough.

Weiss swallows dryly before finally deciding to say something. “I’m so sorry, Blake. I know you said you don’t want to hear it, but you were tortured by my family, by a system. A system that I benefit from. So maybe I didn’t directly harm you. But if I’d… done things differently, I could have helped. I could’ve-“

Blake shakes her head. “‘Could.’ You could have discovered your father’s experiments before. You could have gotten those Faunus out without your father knowing. You could have prevented your family’s death. But that’s not the word to focus on. It’s ‘if.’ If this happened, then this could have happened.”

“That… makes absolutely no sense,” Yang says bluntly. Weiss is inclined to agree, though maybe not in so many words.

“Okay, okay,” Blake says hurriedly. “It’s not your fault, Weiss, because all your solutions to this problem lie in one big ‘if.’ If the Salem Virus never existed, we could have lived equally. If the government hadn’t blamed the Faunus, the mass genocide of my race wouldn’t have ever even occurred.”

“But that’s not in our control-“ Weiss attempts.

Exactly. ‘If’ scenarios are uncontrollable. So why bother blaming yourself?”

***

Yang has to admit, when Blake starts spouting off all this random wisdom, she becomes, like, five times more attractive.

Which is completely not the point, but Yang feels the need to acknowledge it anyway.

Weiss looks like she wants to argue further, to blame herself more, but there aren’t any points to counter Blake’s. So she acquiesces, places her head in her hands and sighs out.

“Fine,” she relents. “I guess the only choice now is to move forward.”

“Then onward we go!” Ruby announces, bouncing to her feet and pointing to the front door. “I’m starving, but I wanna choose our jobs first, so the sooner we get that done, the sooner I can eat!”

Yang leans closer to Blake and lowers her voice so the other two can’t hear. “As great as… whatever you said before sounded, I’m gonna be totally honest with you. I have no clue what you were trying to say there.”

Blake turns and smiles, clearly amused. “I have no idea what the fuck I was going on about either,” she admits. “I find that if I sound like I know what I’m doing, then other people believe it. If I sound poetic enough, people will follow my advice.”

Yang is pleasantly surprised at the confession, and a startled chuckle bubbles from her throat. “You… are somethin’ else.”

“I try,” Blake says, throwing her a wink before following Ruby out the door. “We should hurry before Ruby’s stomach implodes on us.”

“Yeah, just give me a sec,” Yang calls back, then swiftly grabs Weiss’s elbow and drags her further into the house. “Not so fast Schnee.”

“What’re you-“ Weiss’s bewildered demand is cut off by Yang forcing her back onto the couch, and something akin to fear shines into her expression.

“Calm down, I’m not gonna murder you.” Yang rolls her eyes. “I just need to talk to you.”

Weiss seems to already know where this is going. “If this is about the… incident earlier with Ruby-“

The blonde interrupts her again. “Look, Rubes is an adult. I trust her, and I trust her judgement in people. If she sees you as a good person, then I believe it.”

“Oh…” Weiss’s stiffened posture relaxes. “Okay, then what’s this about?”

“You two have known each other for less than two days, Weiss,” Yang says. When Weiss doesn’t respond, she groans. “Do I have to spell it out for you? Are you sure about this? My sister is the sweetest person on the planet, and I know she’d treat you well because she’s just that kind of person. But you guys need to make sure you’re on the same page about your feelings. And even though this is mostly my fault because I’ve never stuck around in an area long enough for Ruby to really connect with anyone, she tends to fall in love fast and hard. Just want you to know what you’re signing up for.”

“So… you’re looking out for me? This isn’t a speech about how if I hurt Ruby, you’ll hurt me?” Weiss asks slowly, as though she doesn’t believe what she’s saying.

“Yeah. I love Ruby, and if she trusts you then so do I. But if you aren’t sure, or you need to talk to Ruby about whatever situation you guys have going on, then you should probably do that soon. ‘Cause we’re a team, and I want us all to be comfortable. That includes you.” Yang affectionately nudges Weiss’s side then stands, offering a hand.

Weiss dithers as she places her palm in Yang’s and allows her to help her up, still peering curiously at her. “Thanks, Yang.”

Yang laughs then smiles wide. She flicks Weiss’s nose playfully. “No need to act so nervous. I’m Ruby’s sister, not some overprotective father. If y’all like each other, then more power to you! It’s a given that if you hurt her, I’ll destroy you,” she says casually, ”but if she somehow hurts you — which I doubt — then I’ll give her a good scolding.”

“So you’ll destroy me, but only reprimand her?” Weiss asks. Her expression is albeit still confused, but she smiles more at Yang’s words.

“She’s my sister, and you’re someone I met yesterday. There’s a little bit of a difference there.” Yang squints one of her eyes and presses her index finger to her thumb. Weiss chuckles, any nerves seemingly dissipated.

Yang’s glad. She wants the whole team to be at ease. After all, they’re all going to be living together for an indefinite amount of time. And they all shared her bed just the night before. She isn’t sure if that’s going to be a regular occurrence, but if it is, it’d probably be best to keep everyone in high spirits.

“What’s taking you guys so long?” Ruby yells as she stomps back into the house, then stops in her tracks when she sees Yang’s crossed arms and the way Weiss looks like she’s just recovered from falling onto her own ass. “Yang,” she groans, “what’d you say to her?”

“Nothing!” Yang chirps, putting a spring in her step as she grabs her sister’s forearm and drags her outside. “But I wanted to talk to you real quick.”

“I don’t care if you disapprove of Weiss!” Ruby blurts out, not even waiting for Yang to continue. “I’m not sure what it is, but I really like her, and we’ve really connected, and I’m gonna be with her even if you-“

“Slow your roll, kid.” Yang snorts then throws an arm over her shoulder heavily. Ruby’s face pinkens at the old nickname. “You’re a big girl and you can make your own choices. But for the sake of my own sanity and innocence and purity-“

“All things you don’t have-“

“Please let me know if you want alone time with Weiss. I don’t care what y’all do behind closed doors, but I really don’t wanna see it. This is my house as much as it is yours. It’s not like I enjoy interrupting. So all I’m asking for are, you know, boundaries.”

“Oh.” Ruby halts in her steps long enough for Yang to nearly trip over herself. “I can do that. Thanks for not making it weird.”

Yang beams down at the brunette’s pleased expression. “Just want the best for you, Rubes.”

Chapter Text

Ruby squints her eyes at each of the job descriptions. She honestly has no clue what she wants to pick, and though Weiss already assured her that she could change primaries if she wanted, she doesn’t want to consistently change.

“My primary is patrolling,” Weiss tells her. “I have a secondary in electrical, which basically means that I work on keeping the power up anytime I’m not on a scheduled patrol.”

“Coooooool,” Ruby coos. “You’re… the coolest person ever.”

Weiss blushes adorably, but Yang crosses her arm and throws her a faux offended look. “I remember when you used to think I was the coolest person ever.”

“Well I sure don’t remember that!” Ruby says cheerfully. “It’s always been Uncle Qrow.”

Yang gasps and clutches her chest as though she’s been severely wounded. “Bested by a creaky old man!”

Ruby just giggles and turns back to the sheet of paper in front of her, then pauses in the middle of one of the descriptions.

“Wait,” she starts, then rereads the words. “Weiss! I just had a great idea! The hunter description says I need to be skilled with a bow, which I am. I have to know how to track, which I do.”

Weiss tilts her head. “Okay?”

“Hunters and patrollers accompany each other, which makes sense because, you know, zombies. So what if I become a hunter and join you during your patrols?”

The white-haired girl smiles then, face slightly pink. “That would certainly be… nice. Sun and Neptune do it all the time.”

“Exactly! So you can use your Brunswick to protect my poor defenseless self as I stick some arrows into eyeballs!” Ruby pantomimes.

“Being ‘poor and defenseless’ and also having the ability to stick arrows into eyes is a little contradictory,” Blake comments, raising a brow.

“She’s clearly overplaying the damsel role to inflate Weiss’s ego to make her more susceptible to agreeing,” Yang replies.

“Since when did you know what susceptible means?” Ruby asks, only slightly genuine.

“Since when did you become an insufferable dick?” Yang counters before grabbing her by the neck and ruffling her hair with her knuckles. The blonde pauses long enough to whisper, “Plus, Blake’ll be impressed by my vast vocabulary.”

“Gay ass,” Ruby shoves her sister off of her, receiving a boisterous laugh in return.

“Anyways.” Weiss clears her throat, and Ruby straightens her spine to salute the girl. Her eyes seem to crinkle in amusement at Ruby’s antics. “I’d be more than happy to ask Ozpin to add you onto my patrols.”

“Awesome!” Ruby cheers, not giving a second thought before she throws her arms around Weiss’s neck and practically tackles her onto the ground. She releases her just as quickly and places her hands onto her shoulders to steady her. “Sorry!”

“No need to apologize.”

“I think she was actually saying sorry to me,” Yang says performatively, placing a hand over her heart. “My baby sister was just hugging another girl. Right in front of me! That’s borderline voyeurism!”

Blake nods solemnly. “Indeed. Traumatizing. At this point, it isn’t even borderline.”

Yang looks like she’s about to jump out of her boots in excitement that Blake is following along, deadpan as it is. Her grin is huge and her eyes are wide, as though there are hearts flying out of them, and Ruby is almost scared her face is going to split open.

“No need to be so dramatic.” Weiss screws up her nose. “Let’s hurry up. The less time spent dawdling means more time for you to actually explore. Vale’s much larger than you’d think.”

“I already chose mine,” Yang announces, bouncing her shoulders into a shrug before placing both her hands behind her head. “Ruby here is the slowpoke.”

“What?” Ruby cries. “You already chose yours?”

“Yup,” Yang answers, popping the p. “Blake has too, which you’d have noticed if you weren’t making googly eyes at our little snow princess here.”

“I’m not making googly eyes!” Ruby protests the same time Weiss indignantly sputters out, “Snow princess?”

Yang grins her usual grin, and she’s about to respond when Blake mercifully interrupts her. “Okay, I think they’ve taken enough from you, Yang.”

Yang shuts up so quickly that Ruby’s taken aback by her easy compliance. She stores the absolutely necessary teasing-ammunition for the near future.

“Thank you, Blake.” Weiss sniffs. “What’d you choose?”

“Primary’s in medical,” she says simply, not offering any further explanation as to why. “Secondary in gardening.”

“Gardening sounds boring,” Ruby says, faking a yawn. “But medical stuff sounds useful!”

“She can stitch me up when I get impaled by rebar,” Yang says.

When? Uh, why would you get impaled by a rebar?” Ruby asks cautiously, a little concerned that her sister is thinking of doing something she may regret.

“Because my secondary is construction!” she announces.

“Oh.” Well, that’s a bit of a relief. “And your primary?”

To Ruby’s surprise, Yang blushes. Her voice is a bit higher than usual as she tries to casually answer with, “Uh, you know, giving guns to kids.”

Huh?” Ruby almost gets whiplash at the blonde’s words.

“She’s gonna teach the younger kids to fight,” Blake elucidates. “I have no idea why she worded it like that. I think it’s cute.”

Ruby expects Yang to grin lazily and respond with something cheesy like, “I think you’re cute.” But instead, she shocks her yet again by blushing deeper. “I’m not cute. I’m a badass!”

“A total badass,” Blake agrees, though her tone is mocking. “A badass with a soft spot for kids,” Blake teases further, and Ruby cannot believe what she’s seeing. The ever unflustered, unbothered, insufferable Yang Xiao Long is flustered, bothered, and suffering. Who knew all she needed to do was meet a hot cat Faunus? Blake hardly even seems like she’s trying!

Yang clears her throat. “Anyway,” she manages. “I also have a secondary job in the stable. Horses are cool.”

Ruby snickers, excited to reveal a piece of information that would further embarrass Yang. “When we were younger, our mom read us this book about a girl bonding with her horse, and ever since, Yang insisted that she be allowed to ride our uncle’s. But Qrow’s horse, Harbinger-”

“Harbitcher, more like,” Yang grumbles, crossing her arms and staring at the ground.

“Harbinger didn’t like anyone except Qrow. He was super jittery and nervous, and he… kind of had diarrhea. And Qrow promised Yang that she could ride on Harbinger only if she dealt with his manure.”

“Oh jeez,” Weiss says, seeming to sense where this is going.

“I don’t think Qrow realized just how determined Yang was to ride his horse, and he thought she was just gonna stop asking once he said that,” Ruby continues. “So one day, while he and Harbinger were out riding, she started shoveling horse shit, and when they came back, Harbinger panicked after seeing someone messing with his shit, so he kicked Yang into the shit. The only reason there wasn’t any serious damage done was because Uncle Qrow jumped off the horse and took the brunt of the damage. Still, he knocked over Yang, and she fell face first into his manure. It took weeks for the smell to go away!”

Weiss bursts out into laughter while Yang pinches her nose, groaning. Blake, for Yang’s sake, seems to be stifling her chuckles, but by the trembles of her lips, Ruby can tell she can hardly contain it.

“Was your uncle okay?” Weiss asks when she settles down. She’s still wearing an amused smile, lips curled upwards and eyes crinkled. Ruby forces herself not to spiral into a trance just looking at the gorgeous girl in front of her, and insteads opts to register the question she asked.

Ruby nods after a moment, pride soaking through her chest. “Uncle Qrow was the toughest person I know!”

“He was pretty cool,” Yang agrees, her face less red than before and now wearing an awkward smile. “After that, he asked me if I still wanted to ride Harbinger, even though his ribs were probably broken from taking a horse kick in the gut for me.”

Ruby smiles in agreement, a slight ache residing in her chest at the absence of her uncle. Even though he wasn’t related to her by blood, he went out of his way to protect her and Yang. He’d been the one to teach them how to be resourceful, to use anything they could put their hands on as weapons, to survive for as long as they did.

In her reminiscence, an idea floats into her head, her eyes brighten. “Holy shit! I’ll do a secondary in…” Her eyes flit back to the paper, hoping that the job she’s thinking of will be on there. She grins when she finds it. “Weapon assembly and distribution!”

“What a mouthful,” Blake mutters dryly.

Yang snorts from beside her. “Guns, then.”

“Weapons,” Ruby corrects, rereading the job description then giving a firm nod. “It’s not like we’ll be able to mass produce guns. Yang, remember you tried to make me a bow, but it was the right size for you and too big for me? I could make a bunch’a bows of varying sizes, and on top of that, make incendiary arrows. Blake, if you can teach me that Molotov trick from earlier, then we can make a bunch of those too.”

“Well,” Yang drawls sarcastically. “You’re becoming quite the little arsonist.”

“That sounds… really smart,” Weiss praises, and though she seems impressed, she doesn’t seem surprised. In fact, she looks like she’s been expecting Ruby to make some grand plan for her job the whole time.

Ruby beams down at her, her fingers playing with the hem of her hoodie. “Thanks, Weiss!”

She’s probably been staring a second too long at the white-haired girl because Yang clears her throat to snap Ruby out of her trance. “Now that that’s settled, why don’t we give these to Ozpin so he can fit us into a schedule, then we can go eat.”

“It’s certainly been an eventful morning,” Weiss agrees, chancing a glance at Blake, who’s caught doing the same thing.

Blake gives her a single nod, as though to cement the fact that everything between them is now resolved. “Here’s to an uneventful rest of the day then.”

Chapter Text

The following days are a strange transition period, but Blake is grateful that Jaune and Ren are helpful in getting her adjusted. She reshapes her usual daily life well, happy to be safe behind the walls of Vale while helping heal people at the infirmary or helping feed people by maintaining the town garden.

Before Vale, Blake has always been skillful in nursing injuries, scrapes, and cramped muscles, but she’s never had to work with a wide variety of different kinds of injuries on so many different people.

Two weeks after her arrival to Vale, Jaune gives her her first unsupervised patient. Considering it’s an easy one — Nora sprained her ankle (and she fixed Nora’s sprained wrist not a week ago) — Blake figures this is a good start.

“Ice and elevation,” she mutters to herself as she bounces around the infirmary to grab her supplies. “Ice and elevation.”

On the other hand, gardening with Ren gives her a few more areas to mess up. If she wrapped someone’s gash incorrectly, it’d reopen the wound and there’d be a problem on her hands. But if she messes up with one of the plants, she has a chance to retry with several others.

“Since it’s almost fall, we’re gonna harvest the remaining tomatoes and check on the progress for the broccoli and carrots. We started on the lettuces and radishes just before your arrival, but that’s because they’re quick to grow and easy to maintain in the fall,” Ren explains as he and Blake get to work with picking the tomatoes. “After the lettuce and radishes are all grown and picked, we’ll start preparing the garden for the winter.”

“How long will it take for the lettuce and radishes to grow?” Blake asks, plopping a deep red tomato into her basket.

“Hm, we planted them earlier in September, so…” He hums to himself as he thinks. “I’d say mid-October.”

Blake is content with having limited social interactions for her jobs. It’s usually just her and Ren, and when he isn’t training her, they work side-by-side in a comfortable quiet. She communicates well with Jaune, and the patient she treats the most tends to be Nora from some sort of construction accident. Seeing Nora come from her primary in construction to the infirmary almost everyday worries Blake. What if something bad happens to Yang?

The blonde reassures her whenever they return from their jobs back home. Tells her that Nora’s just naturally reckless, and she takes unnecessary risks.

Blake spends whatever free time she has with her housemates. Ruby and Weiss seem to be on some sort of honeymoon period, glued to each other’s sides, giggling softly and kissing any chance they get. Yang doesn’t seem too bothered by it; she even looks happy that Ruby’s spending time with someone besides herself.

The blonde is a social butterfly, which Blake pretty much expects from her. She’s made herself known throughout the community rather quickly, and even has a secret handshake with every kid in Vale. She picks up any spare jobs that she can and comes home exhausted almost every night, but she seems to enjoy running herself ragged.

The four of them haven’t all slept in the same bed since the first night. Weiss has been caught sneaking into Ruby’s room on more than one occasion, but Blake and Yang don’t have any reason to stop her.

Blake’s okay with that. When she was in the White Fang, Adam would always try to have her spend the night, but she finds that she doesn’t like being crushed into a cuddle. So, when they’ve been at Vale for nearly four weeks, she’s a little reluctant when Yang knocks on her door at the dead of night (or maybe it’s early enough in the morning that it’s still dark out).

“Yang?” Blake asks groggily as she widens the doorway to look at her. “Don’t you have an early shift tomorrow? You should be asleep.” That’s when she notices the blonde’s trembles, and the drowsiness vanishes from Blake in an instant. “What’s wrong?”

Yang just shakes her head, lips parting as though she wants to speak, but only a whimper escapes her.

Blake feels her throat tighten at the uncharacteristic response, so she steps out of the way to invite her into her room. Yang sways as she ventures in, eyes glassy, like she isn’t really present.

Yang sits on the edge of Blake’s bed and looks up at her. The hard ridges of her face soften, her brows now unfurrowed and her downward-tilted lips untwist from their scowl.

And then she’s crying. A harsh sob bubbles out from her throat, and she frantically wipes at her face with her knuckles, but it does nothing to stop the flow of tears.

Blake isn’t entirely sure what to do. For one thing, she doesn’t know if touching Yang will help or hurt her. For another, she doesn’t know what’s wrong, so she doesn’t know how to reassure her.

She stands awkwardly for a few seconds, reaching towards her for a second before stopping midair. She startles when Yang releases a watery chuckle.

“I’m so fucking pathetic,” she says, her smile strained as she gazes at Blake. “We’ve known each other a month and you’ve already seen me have a breakdown twice.”

“That’s not pathetic. It’s human,” Blake tells her softly, flexing her fingers once before deciding to reach forward this time. She tucks a strand of hair behind Yang’s ear and allows her hand to linger questioningly.

Yang answers it by leaning into her palm, shutting her eyes. “Sometimes I think that I feel so much that it’s not even human at that point,” she admits, her voice low.

Blake thumbs a tear away and cups her other cheek with her other hand. “Sometimes I think that I feel so little that it’s not even human,” she replies.

Yang’s eyes open, boring into hers, and then she sighs. “Opposites attract, you know?” she comments, a hint of a smirk tugging onto her mouth.

“That explains Weiss and Ruby then,” Blake says, brushing past the fact that Yang’s contextualizing that statement to her, not their housemates.

“Right,” Yang sighs, and she clears her throat. When there’s a slight lull to the conversation, Yang licks her lips and wipes her palms on her sweatpants. “Sorry.”

“For what?”

“Uh, it’s the asscrack of dawn and I invited myself into your room just to cry on your bed?”

“That’s nothing to apologize for,” Blake tells her. “You had a moment, and I’m more than happy to help you when you’re down.”

So she’s not the most poetic person in the world, but Blake’s sure she’s got her message across.

“I, uh…” Yang swallows, and Blake finds herself following the movement of her throat a little too intently. “Thanks.”

“Anytime,” Blake whispers, and she smooths Yang’s hair once more before letting go. “You should get some sleep.”

“Right.” Yang nods, chewing the inside of her cheek as she stands. Her knees gently knock against Blake’s, and then she’s towering over her.

Blake isn’t sure if she should give her some space, but Yang wraps her into an embrace before she has a chance to think about it. Blake’s arms automatically find their way around her broad shoulders, and Yang nuzzles into her neck, squeezing just the right amount around her waist.

Yang inhales deeply, her body warm and comfortable around Blake’s, before she finally lets go. “Good night, Blake.”

“Do you wanna stay?” Blake blurts out before she can stop herself.

Yang’s eyebrows raise. “Oh - um, I don’t wanna bother you…”

“I want you to stay,” Blake says, firmer this time. Though they’ve only lived together a month, Blake can catch onto Yang's lying.

She smiles, and though it isn’t wide and full of teeth, her dimples still pop and her eyes still gleam, and Blake thinks that there’s nothing more beautiful than this. “Okay.”

***

Blake wakes up a few hours later to the sound of light snores and a warm weight draped across her body. She allows the sleep to wash away from her completely before she opens her eyes, only to be met with the sight of a freckled face.

Yang is sleeping on her stomach with her head turned, half of it smooshed against her pillow underhead. Her hair is a tangled blonde mess, covering the majority of her back and falling in front of her face. One of her arms is under her pillow, and the other is loosely wrapped around Blake.

Despite the crust growing near her eyes and the very slight line of drool coming from her cracked lips, Yang manages to look heavenly. She seems so at peace when she’s resting, her usually tense posture is completely deflated, her worry lines make themselves scarce, and — despite her huge build — she looks completely harmless.

Blake remains in place, content to count Yang’s freckles, to trace her gaze across her strong jaw. She only stops her staring when Yang’s snores halt, and the blonde hums to herself. Her arm shifts, though it doesn’t venture far, and her eyes finally open, albeit half-lidded.

“Mornin’,” Yang murmurs lazily, smiling. “How’d you sleep?”

Blake’s heart stutters at the domesticity of it all. Somehow, even though they’d never done this before, it feels like they’ve woken up beside each other every day of their lives. As though Blake’s hand finds a home in Yang’s. As though they’re meant to be beside each other, always sharing a smile or a bed, sharing a life.

Maybe in another world. One without the Grimm or the endless loss that they’ve faced.

Besides, it’s too soon to be thinking these types of things.

“Better than usual,” Blake confesses, too swept up in the moment to think about how soft the lilac in front of her looks.

“Me too,” Yang whispers back, like it’s a secret, or maybe a promise.

The rest of the week blurs past Blake. Yang doesn’t mention how she cried earlier, so Blake doesn’t either. They carry on with their jobs, and every evening, they share a lingering look as they bid each other a good night and head to their respective rooms.

“Blake, you’re free this evening, right?” Ruby asks, just a week after that night. She and Weiss just returned from a patrol, and though the brunette is covered in dirt and bruises, she’s as cheerful as always.

“Yeah, Jaune let me go early. Why?”

“Weiss and I were thinking that it’d be good for us all to get some dinner together. Our schedules clash so much that I feel like I barely see you or Yang anymore!”

Blake can understand that. The most she sees of Ruby nowadays are in passing, when she comes into the infirmary, and when it’s time to sleep.

“That’s a great idea,” Blake says. “Have you checked with Yang yet?”

“Not yet,“ Ruby answers. “Wanna join me?”

At Blake’s nod, they set off towards the school’s courtyard area, only to see five kids completely dogpiling the blonde, throwing little punches and laughing as she dramatically squirms underneath them.

“No!” she groans. “I’ve been defeated by the gremlin army!”

Ruby and Blake snort at her theatrics, and they allow her a few more minutes to make a fool of herself before they make their presence known.

“What a softie,” Blake teases, and Ruby grins in agreement.

“The big bad Yang, taken down by a bunch of five-year-olds,” Ruby tuts. “What has the world come to?”

A chorus of kids screaming “I’m five and a half!” or “I’m six!” erupts from the crowd, and they all jump off of the defeated girl, who quickly sits up when she notices her audience.

“Oh, hey guys!” she greets, rubbing the back of her neck. “I was just helping these guys out with their hand-to-hand, you know how it is.”

Sure.” Ruby rolls her eyes, clearly unconvinced. “Blake, Weiss, and I were wondering if you wanted to hang out this evening. Dinner?”

Yang frowns. “Oh, sorry. I actually told Jaune’s sister that I’d help her repaint the walls in her house. But you three should still definitely hang out.”

“I am not third-wheeling.” Blake shudders at the thought of seeing Ruby and Weiss being sickeningly sweet, whispering and feeding each other like they’re high off their love.

“Why don’t we all help you?” Ruby suggests. “Four hands is better than one. The faster you can get it done, the faster we can all eat together. It’ll be great!”

Yang visibly brightens at the proposition. “That sounds good. I’m sure Saphron would appreciate the extra help too.”

Yang finishes her lesson up quickly, and the three of them inform Weiss of the new plan. She doesn’t look thrilled at having to work more, but all it takes is Ruby to grab her hand and squeeze before she caves.

“So,” Yang starts as they all shuffle into Saphron’s house. The furniture is all removed, and there’s tape all around the edges of the walls. “I spackled and sanded the walls already, and now we just need to get these two rooms painted today. I’ll do the trimming and the door frames a different color tomorrow. Just, uh, try not to waste the paint.”

“You’re the boss!” Ruby says, picking up one of the rollers and dunking it into the tray. Unsurprisingly, she works incredibly fast, yet fairly efficiently. She splatters some of the paint across her shirt, and (seemingly forgetting that she has paint on her fingertips) tries to push her bangs out of her face. She only succeeds in spreading gray splotches into her hair.

Weiss, also unsurprisingly, paints slowly and heedfully. Just like every other task, she executes this task properly, keeping her lines of paint straight, careful not to overlap the layers. Her peace is quickly disrupted, however, when Ruby accidentally flicks some paint onto her cheek.

“Ruby!” she scolds.

“I’m sorry!” The girl hurries to her side, dropping her roller into her tray. “Let me get that for you.” She holds Weiss’s chin with one hand and wipes at the paint with her thumb. Her eyes widen, and her jaw drops slack as she squawks. “Shit! I just smeared it! Wait, wait, let me just…” Ruby trails off as she tries to rub the paint off.

Stop, stop.” Weiss slaps her hand away and scowls. “You’re just gonna make it worse.”

“I’m sorry!” Ruby repeats. “Totally thought the wiping thing was gonna be, like, cutesy and romantic.”

Weiss’s glare doesn’t last long. “You’re lucky I like you.”

“Do you like me enough to forgive me?” Ruby’s silver eyes shine, and she gives Weiss such an innocent pout that even Blake falls for her charm for a moment.

Weiss doesn’t look like she can help herself. She raises herself up on her toes and kisses her, and Ruby enthusiastically returns it. Her hands come up to cup her face, but then Weiss draws away to yell at her again.

“You have paint on your hands, you dolt!”

“I’m sorry!”

As the two return to their conversation — Bantering? Bickering? Flirting? — Blake glances at Yang.

The taller girl is biting her lip as though to keep her mouth shut. But then her lips part, and she’s about to say something idiotic, Blake knows it.

She jabs her in the side with her elbow, and the mischief dies out from her eyes. Blake shakes her head vehemently.

“But-“

“Don’t even think about it, Yang.”

For an ephemeral moment, Yang looks ready to protest, but when Blake raises her brow further, she snaps her jaw shut and turns away. She juts her bottom lip out adorably, and Blake knows that if she keeps that up, then she’ll succumb to the puppy look. Those two sisters have a seriously crippling weapon, and Blake’s not even sure that they realize it.

Fortunately for the brunette, Yang acquiesces, “Fine.” She grumbles to herself as she continues painting, and Blake can only hear it because of her Faunus traits. “But they’re so easy to make fun of.”

Blake chuckles to herself, flicking her ear and finishing up her side of the wall. She’s missed spending time with the other three, and she silently applauds Ruby’s proposal to work together.

“Ruby, we’re not gonna get anything productive done if you insist on painting my face instead of the wall,” Weiss reprimands.

“But this is way funnier!” Ruby argues, though she listens to Weiss anyway.

Before they know it, the two rooms have been completely painted, and there’s still time to eat dinner. Blake can’t help but be impressed at their quick progress, even with Ruby’s short hindrances to Weiss’s side of the wall.

“Alright.” Yang stretches her arms upwards, her delectable muscles straining against her sleeves. “We all cool to go?”

“I’m not going out in this hideous condition,” Weiss says.

“But Weiss, you look gorgeous!” Ruby exclaims, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and kissing her temple.

“Half of my face is gray,” she deadpans. “And all of your hair is too.”

“Weiss, you fight Grimm almost everyday. I don’t think a little paint is gonna be your social undoing,” Blake points out. “You’re almost always covered in blood.”

“I take showers before I face society, Blake,” Weiss says. “I will be damned if they ever see me with a single hair out of place.”

“You are so fucking hot,” Ruby blurts out.

Blake can’t stop Yang this time. “Keep it in your pants, Rubes. Or at least wait ‘til y’all are alone.”

Fantastic idea.” Ruby grabs Weiss by the crook of her elbow and starts marching out of the house. “You guys eat dinner, and - uh, take your time! Like an hour or two! We’re gonna go get cleaned up!”

And then they’re gone.

Yang blinks at the doorway as though she can’t believe that final exchange. She turns slowly to Blake as though to ask, did you just see that?

“You know, I think I’m just gonna listen to Ruby and… eat some food… and pretend that they are very innocently getting cleaned up in separate showers.”

“Our house only has one shower,” Blake says, reveling in the utter mortification on the blonde’s face.

“That is not helping.”

Chapter Text

As the two hurry back to the house, it’s clear to Weiss that Ruby’s intentions are… less than pure.

Ruby sets up the shower as Weiss pulls her hair out of her ponytail and undresses. By the time her shirt is over her head, Ruby turns to her and hurriedly unbuttons her jeans.

“Impatient, are we?” Weiss teases, but her grin falls short when Ruby’s silver gaze meets hers.

The desire is palpable. Weiss isn’t sure she’s seen Ruby this spurred on, and with every layer of clothing removed from her body, the more Ruby’s hands roam. Her pupils are blown out, and her chest begins to rise and fall in anticipation as she thumbs Weiss’s underwear.

“I want this off,” Ruby says, like a command, and Weiss would’ve been embarrassed at her willingness to obey in any other circumstance. The taller girl jerks her thumb towards the shower. “Get in. Don’t wanna waste any water, do we?”

Weiss shakes her head and steps in, the sound of the water drowning out the rustle of Ruby undressing. There’s a wetness between her legs that has less to do with the shower, and more to do with the girl on the other side of the curtain. She rubs frantically at the paint on her face, and it slowly scrapes off.

Weiss surges forward the moment Ruby steps in, capturing her bottom lip between her own, nibbling and tugging. Ruby releases a groan against her mouth and pushes her backwards until she’s pressed against the wall.

Weiss tangles her fingers in Ruby’s hair as the other girl traces the shape of her body, pausing at the sides of her chest. She brushes her thumb across the peak experimentally, and Weiss gasps, nipples hardening.

Ruby licks into her mouth, and Weiss lets her, surrendering to her touches, arching against her hands. One of her thighs slips between Weiss’s, and she immediately grinds downward, desperate for contact.

“You okay?” Ruby asks against her mouth, and it’d be sweet at literally any other time, but Weiss is too high-strung in her lust to register it properly.

“If I wasn’t okay, I wouldn’t be grinding against your leg, waiting for you to fuck me,” she growls back harshly.

Ruby chuckles, her voice low and the curve of her lips dangerous. “Just making sure.” She kisses Weiss’s neck, nips slightly, earning a squeak in return. She bites again, this time harder, then soothes it with her tongue.

Weiss is a moaning mess, her hips jolting down, bucking against Ruby’s leg. “Please,” she manages, as Ruby’s teeth scrape against her collarbone. “Please,” she repeats feebly as her mouth continues down, tongue swirling around a nipple. She kisses across her chest towards the unattended bud, then pulls it into her mouth and sucks. “Fuck-”

By the time Ruby’s on her knees, kissing up her thigh and towards her slit, Weiss is panting. Her fingers tug Ruby’s head closer to her cunt, and a groan erupts out of her as Ruby flattens her tongue against her.

One of her legs is draped over Ruby’s shoulder, and the other is barely keeping Weiss’s weight up as Ruby wraps her lips around her clit, then goes back to prodding her with her tongue.

She slips inside of her, and one of her hands squeezes her ass. Weiss moves her hips in tandem with Ruby, and she’s so taken by the sight of her head bobbing between her legs, so taken by the pleasure building up.

Her head knocks back against the wall as Ruby sucks her clit again, and not a moment later, she cums, a moan ripping from her throat. Her thighs clench around Ruby’s head, and she keeps her there for a moment longer to ride out her orgasm.

Once her body stills and falls limp, Ruby slips out of her and wipes her cum off her chin. She helps Weiss stay upright, her expression smug. Weiss can’t even blame her. She’s too dazed to think of anything except Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.

“I’ve always wanted to taste you,” Ruby says almost too casually, lips against her ear. “To touch you. To feel you clench around me. Have you moaning my name until it’s the only thing you remember.”

Weiss feels the pleasure building within her in an instant. In the back of her mind, she wants to return the favor first, make Ruby come undone around her fingers, but the thought is fleeting. Ruby’s already circling her clit again with two fingers, watching raptly as Weiss’s jaw slackens.

“You’re so beautiful,” she murmurs against the shell of her ear. She presses a kiss against her jaw. “I wanna see you when you cum.”

Ruby slips inside her easily, first with one finger. Weiss presses down against her, rubs her own clit against her palm.

“More,” she groans out, and Ruby complies, slipping in her second finger. Weiss bucks, following the pace of Ruby’s thrusts, taking in every touch she receives, pushing her hips forward so that Ruby is knuckle-deep in her. She grunts, each thrust faster and harder than the last. “Ruby, don’t stop - keep - fuck, fuck me-“

She has no idea what she’s even blabbering as she cums, feels her walls tighten around Ruby’s fingers, thinks she screams her name, but she honestly can’t remember. Blood rushes to her head, and the sound that releases from her chest is guttural, until Ruby finally slips out.

Weiss wobbles in place and rests her forehead against Ruby’s shoulder. She holds onto Weiss as she catches her breath, the orgasm and the steam from the shower making it difficult.

She kisses her shoulder, slides her tongue against the water on the hard ridges of Ruby’s collarbone. A droplet from the shower hangs on a nipple, and Weiss licks it away, tugs it into her mouth.

Ruby moans unabashedly, her hands against the slippery walls of the shower as though it’ll be enough to keep her steady. Weiss runs her fingers against Ruby’s abs; she’s wanted to touch her ever since she saw her.

Her hands wander down, traces the V of her hips, and then her palm presses against her clit. Ruby’s silver eyes widen, and Weiss smiles cruelly.

“Your turn.”

After their eventful shower, they dry off and wander into Weiss’s bedroom, too exhausted to put any clothes on.

“I’m hungry,” Weiss says as she curls up against Ruby’s side, eyes squeezed shut.

“But you just ate,” Ruby teases, her arm wrapped around her as she lazily draws circles onto Weiss’s back.

“Shut up,” Weiss grumbles, nuzzling into her neck and biting gently. “It was your idea to have dinner with Blake and Yang, and then you ditched them before it even started.”

“Hey, you were the one that refused to go to dinner after you got a bit of paint on you!”

“And that only happened because you are the messiest painter in all of Remnant,” Weiss argues.

“And what if I wanted you all to myself?” Ruby asks, turning her head and kissing Weiss’s nose. “What if this was my plan all along?”

“If you wanted to fuck me so hard I could barely stand, then all you had to do was ask,” Weiss drawls, her sentence breaking off at the end as she yawns.

Her eyes open when she doesn’t get a response. She looks up to find Ruby gazing down at her fondly, her hungry stare having transformed into the softest look.

“You’re pretty,” Ruby whispers, pulling Weiss into a slow kiss, licking her bottom lip. Weiss opens her mouth to allow her in, her tongue poking through gently. “Especially when you’re cumming for me.”

Weiss presses her hand against Ruby’s chest and pinches her nipple warningly. The other girl inhales sharply, likely from the unexpectedness of it. “Please don’t get me wound up again, I’m not sure my body can take it.”

“Not even one more round?” Ruby asks, and Weiss feels the bud harden under her fingertips.

Weiss likes knowing that she has this effect on her, that she can just touch the other girl, and she’ll immediately want her.

She flicks her tongue out, presses it against her jaw, feels Ruby’s abs clench from under her arm. She smooths a palm against her hard muscles, delights in the feeling of her stomach twitching under her feather-light strokes.

“I suppose we could go one more time.”

***

“See you two later,” Yang says, waving at Weiss and Ruby as they head out of the stable. Ruby adjusts the saddle on her horse, Crescent, while Weiss mounts Whiterose, rubbing her neck affectionately. “I’ll see you guys tonight?”

“I promise we’ll be at dinner this time,” Ruby swears. “I’m really, really sorry about last night.”

Weiss’s cheeks flush in embarrassment when she recalls how Yang accidentally walked in on them. “The door locks, you know!” Yang said before she whirled on her heel and shut the door.

Yang rolls her eyes. “Don’t sweat it. But seriously, if you’re gonna… you know — bang — at least do it in a bedroom that isn’t connected to the only bathroom in the house.”

“To be fair, I did warn you to stay out of the house for, like, an hour,” Ruby says, but her jaw snaps shut when Yang levels her with a glare.

“Blake and I came back two hours later.”

“We took breaks in between,” Weiss says feebly, but she knows that it’s more her and Ruby’s faults than it is Yang’s.

“My sister and her girlfriend. Victim-blamers. I cannot believe this.” Yang just shakes her head mournfully. “My therapist is going to be hearing about this.”

“If you had a therapist, Yang, you wouldn’t have half as many issues that you have,” Ruby points out.

“Okay you little shit, get out of the stable.”

Ruby cackles as she and Weiss head out, nodding to Pyrrha as she opens the gate for them. They trot onwards, following their mapped out area and making casual conversation.

“So…” Ruby starts when the conversation seems to dull down. “What’d you think about last night?”

Weiss turns to her quizzically, surprised to see that she’s actually nervous about this conversation. They’d slept together once before, and it was Weiss’s first time. That time had been gentle and slow, Ruby gradually building her up, showing her where to put her fingers, asking more than once if she was sure.

Weiss has so much to say about this time, but there aren’t enough words to describe it. So she opts for a simple response. “It was wonderful, Ruby.”

“Yeah?” Ruby visibly perks up, eyes shining and dimples showing. “I-I had a really good time too.”

Weiss’s chest feels like it’s expanding, her heart thudding against her ribs as though it’s trying to escape. She smiles wide, no hard ridges or coldness in her expression.

“I’m…” Weiss’s sentence is cut short when she seems a gleam of red in the distance, and she pulls Whiterose’s reins back. “Wait,” she whispers.

Ruby halts immediately and readies her quiver while Weiss quickly loads her shotgun. Weiss squints, trying to spot the red eyes again through the undergrowth, but she’s so focused on the area she’d seen it before, she keeps her back wide open.

“Look out!” Ruby shouts, nocking an arrow into her bow and quickly releasing it. Weiss turns to see a huge black beast lunging at her, its pale face focused on her.

The arrow hits true, sticking into its eye and knocking it right out of the air. Its maroon blood squirts out as it screeches, writhing on the ground. Weiss winces at the pained sound, and she hastily silences it with a pull of her trigger.

The forest suddenly grows quiet, though the atmosphere feels eerie and unsettling. A chill runs up Weiss’s spine as she swirls her head around back and forth. Usually there’s more than one Grimm prowling around, traveling in packs as though they’re hunting together.

Weiss doesn’t tremble in fear. She hasn’t been afraid to face Grimm in several years. But there’s always that chance, that uncertainty that she won’t make it. She breathes out evenly, concentrating on the task at hand, not the worst case scenarios.

Beneath her, Whiterose shuffles around on her feet, clearly nervous. But Weiss is almost sure that if her horse sees another Grimm, she won’t take off. Weiss would never place her in any unnecessary dangers, and if she wants to run, then it’s for a good reason.

Beside her, Ruby’s face is scarily neutral, silver gaze hard and fingers wrapped tightly around her next arrow. She meets Weiss’s eyes, and they communicate wordlessly, only nodding once before lowering their weapons and ushering their horses on. Though they’re both still on high alert, they know that their top priority is to finish the patrol and for Ruby to catch something for the town.

Several long minutes pass of further inactivity, and the tension gradually ebbs from their shoulders. Weiss releases a breath that she didn’t know she was holding, and Ruby’s determined look is wiped away.

“What the hell was that?” she asks, turning to Weiss. “Have you ever seen a Grimm wandering on its own before?”

If Ruby, who’d ventured through the entire continent on foot for the majority of her life, isn’t familiar with a circumstance like this, then Weiss knows something is wrong.

“I’ve never seen that,” she answers, but Ruby looks like she already knew that. “That was… incredibly strange. Where’d the other Grimm go?”

Chapter Text

When Weiss and Ruby return, Yang is still working at the stable. She notices three rabbits tied to Crescent’s saddle, and she whistles appreciatively.

“Nice catch!” Yang compliments, petting Crescent’s nose as she leads her into her designated stall. She unbuckles her saddle and whispers some encouraging words to the horse, as though she’d be able to actually understand Yang. She locks the stall and turns to take Whiterose from Weiss, when she notices her sister’s slightly disturbed expression. “Did something happen?” she asks, unable to force the concern from her voice. “Are you guys okay?”

She reaches towards her sister and rakes her eyes over her face, and when there doesn’t seem to be any scars, Yang does the same with Weiss.

“We’re okay,” Weiss answers, giving her a grateful smile. “I appreciate the concern, but it isn’t necessary.”

“Yang,” Ruby says, her voice lower than usual, troubled. “There was only one Grimm.”

Yang tilts her head. “Isn’t that a good thing? The less Grimm the better.”

“No.” Ruby shakes her head and finally looks up at her, eyes urgent. “Every single time we’ve fought Grimm, there’s been a horde of them. This one was wandering around on its own.”

Yang blinks slowly. “A-Are you sure?” she asks. “Because that’s… never-“

She cuts herself off when she hears footsteps outside the stable door. Sun soon appears through the doorway, and he grins when he sees them, tail flicking around behind him.

“Hey Yang! You’re free to go now, sorry I’m late,” he greets, gathering Whiterose’s reins with one hand and patting Yang’s shoulder with the other. “Oh, so actually!” He reaches into his hoodie pocket and pulls out a container. “My mom wanted to thank you for last week, so she told me to give you this.”

Yang takes it from him with a smile, and it widens when she opens it. Inside, there’s rice along with an assortment of vegetables and chicken. “Oh, tell her I said thanks!”

“Sure thing. See you later, Yang!”

She waves goodbye as she leads Ruby and Weiss out of the stable. They trudge their way back to their shared house, and Yang has to force herself not to collapse on her couch.

“What was that all about?” Weiss asks as Yang sets the container on the table.

“Oh, that was nothing.” Yang motions her hand uninterestedly in the air. “Mrs. Wukong came to visit Sun at the stable, but it was a pretty shitty time ‘cause Bumblebee was acting up. I pulled her away from getting trampled.”

“That’s awesome!” Ruby gapes at her older sister, clearly impressed. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Well, um, I don’t know.” Yang knows exactly why. Sun’s mom hugged her tightly afterward, called her a sweetheart, and told her that she was proud of her. Those were all things Summer used to do, once upon a time. It’s also the reason why Yang broke down in Blake’s room the night of. “Felt pretty trivial. I mean, I save myself from getting trampled all the time. Why’s it different if it’s someone else?”

“‘Cause it makes you, like, a hero.” Ruby says it like it’s the most obvious thing. “I’m proud of you, Yang.”

And there’s that word again. Proud. Besides Mrs. Wukong, Yang can’t remember the last time she made someone proud; or at least prompted someone to tell her that they’re proud of her.

Yang smiles genuinely, feeling her insides soften up. “Thanks, Rubes,” she says, barely above a whisper. She clears her throat so she doesn’t get ridiculously choked up. “A-Anyway, tell me more about the singular Grimm.”

“There’s not much else to say,” Weiss replies, shaking her head. “We’re not sure if we should report it to Oz. It’s nothing we’ve seen before, but what if it’s nothing?”

“What if it’s something?” Yang counters. Weiss and Ruby look as though they’re letting her words sink in. “You should tell him. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, the dude’s like seventy. He might’ve seen this before.”

Ruby nods slowly. “You’re right. Do you wanna come with?”

Yang rubs the back of her neck and shrugs. “I don’t know. I gotta shower, eat, and then get to the courtyard. I’ll meet you guys after?”

Ruby and Weiss exchange a glance, then nod in unison. “See you then.”

***

“You need to lower your elbow,” Yang tells one of her students, Adrian, as he pulls his arrow back. He does as instructed, but she shakes her head again. “Too low. Just keep your elbow leveled right…” She pauses to gently raise his elbow a little more. “…there.”

He releases the arrow, and it soars straight into his target, lodging itself into the red bulls-eye. He jumps up in excitement and lets out a whoop, eagerly high-fiving Yang. “That was awesome!” he exclaims, hugs her, then releases her just as quickly.

“It was!” she responds, his energy contagious. “Keep that up, and you might become as good of a hunter as my sister.”

“I’ll be even better!”

Yang tousles his hair with a grin, then leaves him for her next student, when someone else catches her eye. She waves at Blake, who’s leaning coolly against the fence, watching the training session in slight amusement.

“Howdy, Belladonna,” Yang greets, voice carrying through the yard. The children all turn their heads to look at the Faunus, and they whisper amongst themselves when she waves back. “Care to join us? Maybe show these kids a few tricks?”

Blake steps closer, her smile small and a little nervous. She’s clearly not used to the attention; her eyes flit back and forth between the kids and her ears flatten slightly.

“Alright guys, get back to your shooting or I’ll make you do an extra lap around the courtyard,” Yang commands, and they all immediately turn back to their targets.

Blake stuffs her hands in her pockets, her eyes drifting down Yang’s body slowly, before she snaps them back up. “Hey,” she says when she’s close enough that she doesn’t have to shout.

“Hi.” Yang waves again dumbly. She leads Blake towards the back, where all the weapons are. They sit under the shade of the half-enclosed shed, where Yang can keep an eye on the kids, but still focus on her conversation with Blake. She grabs a small towel and wipes her forehead with it. “What brings you here?”

“Well, Ruby wanted to know when you’d be back, and I volunteered to check. But then Weiss told me to just come back whenever you’re ready.”

“Aw, so you’re just keepin’ me company?” Yang drawls, tone lilting. She lets the towel rest on her shoulder and grabs a half-filled water bottle, downing the rest of it immediately. When she lowers the empty bottle and places it back down, she finds Blake peering her with a strange expression.

“I have yet to see the great Yang Xiao Long in action. Ruby tells me you’ve never missed a shot of any weapon you’ve fired,” Blake says, her tone a little teasing.

For some reason, Yang feels a bit flustered at the assessment. “Oh, ha, I don’t know about all that.”

Blake stands suddenly and offers her a hand. “C’mon. Show me what you got.”

“Only if you show me first,” Yang bargains, taking her hand and allowing her fingers to linger a moment longer than necessary.

Blake shrugs. “I’ve never used a bow,” she admits.

“Then why don’t I teach you instead? If I can get children to do this shit, I’m sure I can teach you.”

“I’m a visual learner,” Blake says, and Yang can barely even register what that means before she continues. She gestures to Yang’s outfit, which is just a sports bra and sweatpants. “Aren’t you cold in that?”

“It's only fall,” Yang replies simply. “Besides, I run hot.”

“Yeah…” Blake trails off, eyes drifting back downwards. She shakes her head. “Anyway, how about that lesson?”

Yang smiles wide and rubs her palms together, picking up one of the bows to see if it’d be easy for Blake to handle. She pulls at the string, tests its tautness, then nods to herself absent-mindedly.

“This should work!” She hands it to her cheerfully then brings her back to the yard with the kids. She leads her in front of an open target and gives her a thumbs-up. “Alright, I’m gonna demonstrate the correct form first, then I wanna see you copy it, okay?”

Yang doesn’t wait for a response as she nocks the arrow and draws the string back. “Look at my fingers first.”

“I’m looking,” Blake says a little blatantly.

Yang blinks twice at her before biting her lip to force a chuckle back. “I’ve got one finger above, and two below. You pull back… make sure it’s straight ahead… reach the anchor point… and release.”

Her arrow strikes the bulls-eye of the target effortlessly, and Yang turns back to Blake, a little smug.

“Impressive,” Blake compliments.

“Your turn.” Blake mimics Yang’s previous move, and it looks… nearly perfect. “You sure you haven’t done this before?”

“I’ve used only guns my whole life,” Blake tells her. “I take it my form’s good then?”

“Almost.” Yang steps forward to hold her elbow. “Just lower this,” she murmurs, becoming increasingly aware of their proximity. She steps behind Blake and places her hands on her shoulders. “Don’t tense up so much.” Blake breathes out, but her body still feels stiff under Yang’s palms. Yang chews the inside of her cheek and runs a finger up to Blake’s hand. “Your hand needs to be a little lower here.”

Blake shivers, her ears perked up more than usual. “Is this… um, good?”

“Relax, Blake. You’re so tight.” Yang widens her eyes at what she just said. “Your shoulders!” she corrects hastily. “Y-Your shoulders are tight!”

Blake chuckles, and her posture loosens. “It’s okay, I got what you meant.”

“Okay, and um, just one last…” Yang doesn’t finish her sentence, instead opting to just show Blake. She places her hands on Blake’s waist and gently urges her to change her stance. “Looks great,” she whispers, her breath against the back of Blake’s neck.

Blake releases the arrow from the nocking point, and it wedges right next to Yang’s. “I did it!” she cheers, dropping the bow and turning to face Yang. She’s grinning from ear-to-ear, the gold in her eyes shining more than usual.

Yang couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She tucks Blake’s hair behind an ear and lets her hand rest on the curve of her neck. “You did,” she says warmly, pride welling up in her chest.

The moment is ruined when Yang is reminded that she has children to teach. She feels someone tug on her finger, and she realizes she’s still staring at Blake. She snaps her gaze away from the Faunus and clears her throat awkwardly.

“What’s up, Adrian?” she crouches down on her knee to look him in the eye.

“My moms are here,” he announces. “Thanks for the lesson!”

“No problem!” She raises her hand up to do the handshake he made up for them, and then waves to his parents as they take his hand and leave with him. “Cute kid.”

“That entire exchange was cute.” Blake punches her shoulder playfully. “How much longer will this take?”

Yang scans the area, counting the amount of kids, and shrugs. “The rest of the parents should start coming soon.”

The moment she says that, the rest of the parents begin to trickle in and trickle right back out, taking their kids with them. With the help of Blake, Yang quickly closes up the courtyard, returning the targets to the shed and placing the bows back in their designated spots.

“Hey, whatever happened to the painting stuff?” Blake asks. “Thought you said you’d finish it up today.”

Yang shrugs. “Saph and Terra told me they were handling it themselves.” There’s a pause in the conversation; there isn’t much to say. “So did Ruby and Weiss fill you in?”

“Yeah. It’s pretty weird, but maybe it’s just a one-time thing?”

“Maybe.”

But Yang has an itching feeling in her gut, like a hunch, that things will only get worse from here. And from Blake’s troubled expression, she can guess that Yang’s not the only one.

Chapter Text

When Ruby and Weiss return from their talk with Ozpin, Weiss tells Ruby she’s going to take a nap until Yang and Blake join them. Ruby shrugs and lets her lay her head in her lap, and the brunette decides to read one of Weiss’s books as she waits.

Only about half an hour passes before Weiss stirs, and at first, Ruby thinks that she’s about to wake up from her nap. But then she turns and releases a whimper so quiet that Ruby thinks she’s imagining it for a moment. And then she murmurs something in her sleep, indistinct but clearly distressed.

Unwilling to startle her, but also not wanting to let her nightmare go on, Ruby gently prods her, one hand brushing her bangs away from her face and the other trying to rouse her.

“Hey,” she whispers. “Weiss.”

Please.” Weiss’s voice is clearer now, the hurt so evident now that Ruby thinks her own heart is about to shatter. “Don’t make me, please.”

“Weiss,” Ruby repeats, her voice a little more firm and her shake a little more forceful. “Hey, you’re okay, Weiss.”

“No.” Weiss curls into herself, as though she’s trying to make her body smaller, and the sight fills Ruby with dread. She sounds so much weaker than Ruby is used to, so unlike the demanding and confident version of her that she always seems to be.

“Weiss.” Ruby sits further up and tries to pull her from her nightmare.

“Winter!” she screams, her voice cutting through the air like a knife, the agony of what she’d done laying still within the moment. Weiss’s eyes fly open, and she sits up, scrambling away from Ruby.

“Weiss…” Ruby scoots forward and reaches for her hand. “Baby, it’s okay. It’s just me. We’re here, a-and you’re safe.”

“B-But Winter’s… She wants me to…” A strangled sob escapes her throat, and she shakes her head. “I didn’t want to, Ruby, I-I didn’t want to.”

“I know,” Ruby responds, pulling her closer and kissing her cheek, tasting the salt from her tears. She wraps her arms around her and allows Weiss to tuck her head under her chin. “I know you didn’t, baby. It’s not your fault.”

“If I had just-“

“It’s not your fault,” Ruby cuts in. “None of this would have happened if your father hadn’t done all those horrible things. To the Faunus, to your family, to you.”

“I could have… I could have done things differently. If I’d just been smarter, none of this would have happened.”

“Hey,” Ruby says, though her prompt doesn’t succeed in making Weiss look up. “Look at me.”

“Ruby…” Weiss gazes up at her, eyes rheumy and bottom lip quivering.

“None of that was on you. What happened to you… no one deserves that. You’ve lost so much, felt so much. I’m so fucking sorry, Weiss. But there’s nothing you can do now to change what happened, except move onward. You’re allowed to give yourself a break. You shouldn’t blame yourself for your father’s wrongdoings, especially when you tried so hard to stop them, and you lost so much as a consequence.”

“They should be here, Ruby. I’m the only one who survived, when it should’ve been them.”

“That’s not true, Weiss,” Ruby replies quickly. “You’re here because you’re meant to be. You deserve to live a-and be happy, and you’re so strong. So fucking strong for getting through this. Like seriously, how the fuck are you even standing?”

“Well, I’m actually kind of sitting…”

Ruby chuckles despite the situation, and she kisses Weiss gently, drawing it out a moment longer, letting their breaths linger, then she pulls away.

“Weiss,” Ruby murmurs. “I say this all the time, but fuck, you’re the coolest person I’ve ever met. You’re… probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’d be so devastated if you were gone. So please don’t say it should’ve been you. Because these past weeks — months — getting to know you, memorizing your laugh, seeing you smile, hearing you talk. It’s, like, I don’t even care that there’s Grimm on our doorstep everyday. As long as I get to face it with you.”

Weiss’s mouth parts and another sob pours from her as she hugs Ruby. Ruby returns the embrace and smiles softly, her hands fisting into Weiss’s shirt desperately, almost afraid that if she lets go then she’ll slip away.

“Ruby, I have loved every minute I’ve spent with you. Thank you. So, so much. For all of it.”

“You don’t have to thank me.”

“Fuck you, I’m going to anyway,” Weiss snaps, her usual bite returning. “You’re everything.”

Ruby grins and pulls away just enough so she can cradle her face. She captures Weiss’s bottom lip between hers, tugs gently, lets go. She kisses her again, this time letting her tongue slip in, and Weiss eagerly lets her.

Ruby pulls away after a few moments, face flushed lightly. She kisses her forehead and scoots backwards, outstretching her arms in an invitation.

Weiss accepts it, and soon she’s tucking herself against Ruby, head against her chest, one of her hands slipping under her hoodie. It’s not sexual, really. They both know that Yang and Blake will be returning soon, and they just had an emotionally draining conversation.

Ruby finds comfort in Weiss’s venturing hand, as though the white-haired girl is always curious to explore Ruby. It grounds her, in a way. Like Weiss’s hand reminds her that they’re both there, together. That nothing can separate them.

***

“We’ll have to wake them up sooner or later,” Blake’s muffled voice reaches Ruby’s ears, pulling her from her doze.

“But they look really cute when they’re all cuddly like that!” Yang not-so quietly gushes. “Besides, Ruby gets annoyed when I interrupt them, which is fun sometimes, but I don’t want her to, like… hate me.”

“Ruby’s your sister. I doubt she could hate you,” Blake replies.

Ruby wants to speak up now, let them know that she can hear them, but Yang’s response leaves the words lodged in her throat.

“Well that’s debatable,” her sister sighs out sadly. “There’s so much I wish I could tell her, tell you all.”

“Then do it. We’re, you know, kind of like a family now. You can tell us anything, and I’m sure we’ll understand. You don’t have to burden yourself with secrets you clearly don’t enjoy keeping.”

“You are so wise. And hot. The whole package.”

Blake chuckles. “Stop deflecting. Honestly, sometimes I can’t stand you.”

“I can’t stand either of you,” Weiss pipes in, and even Ruby startles at the fact that she’s been awake the whole time too. “Honestly. We’re in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A little sleep would do us all some good, you know.”

“Yeah!” Ruby agrees immediately, courtesy of being Weiss’s girlfriend. “Go find your own bedroom to flirt in!”

“Oh fantastic, you’re awake,” Blake says dryly, earning a snort from the blonde beside her.

“What’d Oz tell you guys?” Yang asks, getting right to the point.

“He said it was rare, but probably nothing,” Weiss says, waving a hand dismissively in the air.

“Yeah. He said we should let him know if it happens again, but it might have just been a one-time situation.” Ruby grimaces, absolutely despising the fact that the lie slips so easily out of her. In truth, Ozpin told Weiss and Ruby to keep their mouths shut about the situation while his kind eyes darkened dangerously. He clearly has a theory on the circumstance, but he can’t disclose any further details until he knows for certain.

Until then, however, the pair of girls were told to keep everything he says a secret, even from Blake and Yang.

“I… guess we can just hope it’s nothing then,” Yang says, ever-optimistic. “I mean, it was just a lone Grimm. It’s weird, but it’s probably not serious, right?”

She sounds less sure of herself than any of them would like, and Blake’s concurrence seems half-hearted at best.

“Do you guys all wanna sleep on the same bed again?” Ruby blurts out. She can’t stand the awkwardness of the moment, can’t stand the fact that she’s lying to Yang, who she’s always told everything to. “Like we did that first night?”

“It has been getting colder,” Weiss adds on, as though she can tell exactly what Ruby’s thinking.

“Yang’s also just naturally a space heater!” Ruby continues.

“And as much as I hate to admit it…” Weiss begins.

“Here it comes!” Yang exclaims.

“I enjoy your company. All four of us haven’t gotten time to spend time together in several weeks now.”

“Our little snow princess has such a warm heart,” Yang cooes, the lilacs in her eyes shining.

“How did you tolerate her for all twenty-four years of your life?” Weiss asks Ruby, her tone genuine.

“Because I’m just as intolerable as her!” Ruby chirps. “I’m just cuter, and that’s why you like me better.” Ruby winks and pinches her cheek, earning a giggle from her girlfriend.

Yang pretends to vomit while Blake rolls her eyes. “I’m not staying here if you two are gonna be all…” Blake gestures vaguely to their position. “That.”

“Okay, okay!” Ruby doesn’t move to separate from Weiss, but she pulls her towards one side of the bed so Yang and Blake have room for the other side. “There’s room now.”

Yang practically dives onto the bed, her sudden weight making Ruby and Weiss jump up a little. Blake follows suit, clearly trying to put distance between herself and the rest of them, but failing miserably.

Ruby pulls Weiss so she’s pretty much on top of her, and she rests her head on Yang’s bicep; while Blake, on the other side of Yang, curls an arm around her waist and rests her temple on her shoulder.

Yang smiles lazily, her eyelids almost immediately drooping. Ruby can’t blame her; she’s been working nonstop all day, and with kids no less.

“Hey guys?” Blake starts, voice gently permeating the silence.

“Yeah?” Ruby lifts her head up to look at the Faunus.

“What’s your least favorite thing about Grimm?”

Now there’s a question.

Ruby isn’t quite sure how to respond, and she’s tempted to say everything. There’s nothing about Grimm that she particularly enjoys, but she’s sure there’s one thing above it all that’s the absolute worst.

Yang is the first to respond, her voice growing huskier as she grows sleepier. “Their eyes. They remind me of mine. I mean… why does my entire behavior change when I’m around them? It’s like I react to their presence, or some shit. Weird as fuck.”

“I don’t think there’s anything about Grimm that isn’t weird,” Weiss points out, and there’s a hum of agreement that passes through them. “I hate that we’ve had to reshape our entire lives just to survive against them. That, no matter what, they control the outcomes of our actions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got to control what happens to us?”

“I never really thought about it that way,” Ruby says. “I guess since we’ve been born with Grimm around us, having no control is just normal.”

“I hate…” Blake hesitates slightly. “I hate how the longer a Grimm lives, the more animalistic it becomes. I hate that when I look at a Grimm, I see so many similarities between myself and it.”

“You’re nothing like the Grimm,” Yang replies immediately. “They’re mindless beasts that hurt everything in their path. You can feel and think.”

“But we look similar,” Blake argues. “They grow fur and fangs and claws, and those are all traits that Faunus can have.”

“They also bleed and cry,” Yang says. “Those are traits that humans have.”

“I think you’re both forgetting that every Grimm used to be a person,” Ruby interjects. “I hate that we can’t save who they once were. Like the rest of us, they all had hopes and hobbies and families. And they were stripped from that the moment they were bit.”

“We save and protect who we can,” Weiss states. “I wish we could do that for everyone, but…”

“We just can’t,” Yang finishes with a defeated sigh.

Ruby wants to disagree, wants to yell that they’re giving up on the world too easily. But she knows that realistically, they’re right. There’s only so much that they can do. Saving the world isn’t one of them.

“I guess you’re right,” Ruby acquiesces.

A long silence brings about the end of their conversation, and soon, Yang’s snoring beside Ruby, and Weiss is fast asleep on top of her. With the weight of their conversation still tugging at her heart, Ruby soon slips into a slumber with the rest of her family.

Chapter Text

“You owe me,” Adam growls from behind her. His chest is pressed against her back, his fingers clenched too tightly around her bicep, his breath too hot against her neck. “I saved you. I protected you from Jacques Schnee. You. Owe. Me.”

“I’m sorry,” Blake cries, feeling her body go limp. “I won’t resist anymore, I’m sorry.”

“You’re mine,” he drawls, the poison lacing through his voice, protruding from his lungs. “Say it.”

Blake’s lips wobble as she keeps her mouth shut. She doesn’t want to say it. She doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life repaying him for losing his horn for her, for starving himself for her, for giving her joy in the worst moments of her life as they rotted in a cage together.

“You’re so selfish,” he tuts, then twists her around violently so she has to stare at him. “Say it!”

She flinches at the bark, and her lips part. She’s selfish, she knows. She just wants to be away from him, but he’s sacrificed so much for her.

“You’re nothing without me. You’d be dead without me. You’re mine. Say it.”

“I’m nothing without you,” Blake repeats, feels a hot tear roll down her cheek. “I’d be dead without you. I’m… yours.”

His cruel blue gaze immediately softens, and he smiles. Adam is gentle, all of a sudden, and he releases her arm in favor of cradling her face. His fingers wrap around her neck and he tugs her forward into a kiss.

“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

Blake gasps as she wakes, ears flat and sweat clinging to her curves uncomfortably. She sits up and tries to kick her sheets off of her, when she suddenly feels an arm snake around her waist and pull her closer.

“Five more minutes,” a voice beside her murmurs, but Blake’s already panicking before she can identify the speaker.

She shrieks and elbows herself away, the tears welling up in her eyes. Blake falls on her ass, but she doesn’t really feel it, too busy trying to scramble away.

“Blake?” Yang’s head pops up from the bed. “What the f- Are you okay?”

Blake shakes her head, though she isn’t even sure if it’s in response to Yang’s question, or if she just feels like she needs to reject reality. She pulls her knees up to her chest and attempts to hide herself. Maybe if she tries hard enough, the floor will pull her down and no one will have to see her again.

“Will you keep it down?” Weiss demands, prying herself from Ruby’s arms to take in the scene. Her irritated expression immediately vanishes, and she joins Yang as they both approach Blake carefully.

“Blake…” Yang tries, reaches a hand toward the Faunus questioningly.

Blake stares at it blankly, can’t wrap her mind over why it hasn’t hit her yet. She just elbowed Yang. She should have been reprimanded by now.

Why isn’t Yang angry? Why is Weiss so concerned for her when Blake ruined her sleep? Why is Ruby getting her a glass of water right now when Blake’s never done anything for her before?

Why do they all care so much?

Yang shifts towards her, and Blake instinctively shuts her eyes, awaits the impact.

“I’m sorry!” she squeaks out, pulling her hands up in surrender. “Please, I won’t hit you again, I’m sorry. I was dreaming, and it was an accident, and I’m really really sorry.”

A long moment of silence passes with a bated breath, but when nothing comes, Blake blinks her eyes open. Yang’s hand has withdrawn, and her eyes are soft and wide. Nothing like the piercing blue of Adam’s.

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Yang says slowly, eyebrows creasing. “Are you okay?”

Blake shivers as Weiss tucks her hair behind her ears, and Ruby places a hand on her shoulder, offering her a glass of cool water. She accepts it gratefully, fingers trembling slightly, and she takes a tiny sip.

“I’m…” She’s not sure how to respond. “I’m okay.”

“No offense, Blake, but you look like you’ve gone through hell,” Weiss deadpans.

“I feel like I have,” Blake says honestly, pulls the glass back up to her lips, and takes a longer sip.

“What was that all about?” Ruby asks, silver eyes sympathetic. “You don’t have to tell us, but I’ve found that talking really helps.”

Blake chews at her cracked bottom lip, the memory of Adam flashing through her head for a moment, before she releases a shaky sigh.

“I’m sorry,” she repeats. “For… For hitting you. And waking you two up.”

“Don’t worry about it!” Ruby chirps the same time Weiss sniffs, “It’s no big deal.”

Yang just shakes her head. “You don’t need to apologize. It’s completely okay.”

Blake slowly feels her knees lowering, and for a moment, she allows herself to be vulnerable and unguarded. She reaches for Yang’s hand and traces her fingers over the lines of her palms nervously.

For some reason, even though Yang’s palm looks like every other person’s palm, Blake finds comfort in memorizing the details. She feels every callous, every ridge, every bit of dried or peeled skin. Her hands are large, Blake notes, and they’re rough with years of experience of fighting.

But somehow, they’re gentle when it matters. Just like Yang.

Blake finds herself spilling everything. As the four of them all sit in the corner of Weiss’s bedroom floor, she tells them everything.

About how Adam changed after losing his horn, told her that she owed him for his loss. That he’d hit her if she disobeyed, or if she didn’t apologize for something she did. That, despite his constant anger at her, he somehow also had room for his rage against Jacques. Through his spite, he created the White Fang.

At first, Blake’s parents hadn’t the slightest clue about her situation with Adam. They believed he was passionate for the Faunus and their rights, and they even joined him when he sought out Jacques Schnee’s labs all over the country and raided them. Any Faunus they could save, they’d recruit to their group, and soon, there were about two dozen of them.

They were like a family, always caring for each other.

“Like us,” Weiss says, her head on Ruby’s shoulder.

Blake smiles. “Like us.”

She continues, feeling the dread set into her chest at this next part. The White Fang’s original goal of bringing the Schnee Labs to justice was now contrived into revenge against all humans for allowing the Faunus to be experimented on in the first place.

Any passing traveler was jumped and killed with no warning, and Adam somehow manipulated them all into believing that what they were doing was right. He’d even tried to convince Blake to enjoy it. To see someone innocent squirming helplessly beneath her, and to be the one driving her knife into their chest.

She never did see the appeal, though. All Blake saw was pain. Some of it was inflicted to her, by Adam. But most of it came from her, towards all those unassuming humans that she’d somehow believed deserved it.

Her parents’ view on Adam changed in an instant. They turned hostile, argued against his means of “survival.” And for that, just a year ago, their protests were answered with death.

Blake shuts her eyes tightly, wishing she’d never seen the way her parents had been forced down to their knees in front of Adam. How he’d made an example of them in front of the other members of the White Fang, in front of Blake.

“So I finally ran,” Blake concludes. “I didn’t even tell my friend, Ilia, that I was gonna go. My parents were dead, and then I left.”

***

A week passes, and there’s no word from Weiss or Ruby regarding the rare occurrence of just a singular Grimm. For a moment, Blake relaxes. Perhaps it had just been a strange coincidence and nothing more.

A few days prior, Yang came in with a dislocated elbow, and left with a sling and a promise to exert herself less for at least two weeks. However, Blake knows how restless the blonde is. It comes as no surprise to her when Yang comes into the infirmary today, her grin sheepish, and her elbow dislocated once again.

“I swear, I didn’t do anything that bad. But all of my jobs require me to do something physical! I was bound to get hurt again.”

“You had a note,” Jaune scolds, then swiftly pulls her forearm upwards, and her elbow cracks into place again. Blake cringes at the sound, and the sight of Yang wincing in pain.

“I know! But what was I supposed to do? Sit around?”

“Yes!” Jaune throws his arms up in the air in exasperation. “I swear, you’re just like Nora.”

“Except you love me,” Nora says from her place on her own bed. Blake sees her there so much, she’s a little afraid that it’s actually her bed.

Jaune pinches the bridge of his nose. “Everyday you make me question marrying you.”

“Ouch.” Yang chuckles. “How’s it feel to be divorced now, Valkyrie?”

“How’s it feel for your only committed relationship to have been with a horse, Xiao Long?” Nora shoots back, sticking a tongue out defiantly.

“Ew!” Yang gags. “You make it sound like I wanna fuck a horse.”

Blake rolls her eyes at their antics. Unfiltered, hyper extroverts. She’ll never understand them.

“Jaune!” Sun’s panicked voice cuts through the light-hearted teasing, and they all swivel to the doorway to see the blonde Faunus shouldering in with a wounded Neptune under his arm. “H-He… He was bit! Please, you need to save him somehow. Please,” Sun sputters out, his lips wobbling as he cries.

Dismay clouds the room as Sun practically throws Neptune onto a table. With his bloodied hands, he grabs Jaune and pulls him towards a convulsing Neptune. The blue-haired man screams in agony, and Blake’s ears flatten at both the sight and sound.

“Please!” Sun demands, voice cracking with emotion. “Please, please, please, please.”

Jaune’s eyes are wide, and his lips part. He shuts his eyes and shakes his head. “Sun, you know we can’t…”

No,” Sun breathes. “No, there has to be a way. Please, Jaune, what if this was Nora? Or Ren, or Pyrrha? You’d do anything! Please, you have to try! I-It was only his finger. Maybe the infection isn’t in his system yet, a-and you can amputate it off. J-Just do something, please, Jaune. I love him. I can’t lose him.”

As Sun continues to sob, Jaune escorts him out of the room solemnly. Neptune stops screaming, though his whimpers fill the horrified silence of that moment.

“I…” Neptune wheezes out, and Blake snaps out of her stupor.

She rushes to his side and hushes him. “Hey, let’s just try to keep this painless, okay?” Her throat clogs up with tears, but she swallows them down in favor of keeping him comfortable. It’s the least she can do for his final moments.

“I need to tell you something important,” he manages. The infection’s only been in his system for maybe a few hours, but his veins are already blackening and his face is whitening. It’s strange that some people can take a week to turn, and some can take a mere day.

“Nep-“

“No,” he cuts her off. “You need to hear this. Sun’s not gonna be too responsive after I go, so I guess I gotta leave the dire warning.” He chuckles, as though something about this scenario is actually humorous. “Always leaving me to do the tough shit.”

“You don’t need to say anything, Neptune,” Blake soothes, gently brushing his bangs back from his sweaty forehead.

“I do, though. The future of Vale might be at risk.” He pauses for a moment as though he’s allowing the information to sink in. “It’s the Grimm. They acted strange. After I was bit… realistically, they should’ve gone for Sun right after. But they perked up, like they were, I don’t know. Alerted? Scared?”

A shiver runs up his body and he writhes violently. Blake places a hand over his unbitten one, and though he’s sweating profusely, he feels ice-cold. She tries to give him as much strength she can just by squeezing his fingers, hoping that she can bring some semblance of security for him.

“The Grimm ran away, Blake. That’s never happened.”

Blake tries to process that information, shoving it in with the fact that her friend is dying right in front of her. How can Neptune be strong enough to deliver this to her, when he likely won’t see her again?

Tears prick at the corners of her eyes, but she forces them back when the door opens again. Jaune returns, though Sun is prominently absent.

“Thank you, Neptune. For everything.” She squeezes his hand once more before letting go.

“Blake.” Jaune beckons her towards him, the corners of his lips pulled downwards. “You can take the rest of the day off. I sent Sun to his parents. Neptune will stay here overnight, and we can say our goodbyes tomorrow.”

He pats her shoulder warmly, but his gaze remains distant. Blake knows exactly why. She’s never seen it before, but as lead medic, Jaune tends to also be the one to kill the patient before they fully turn. He can do it painlessly and quickly, but the burden must be heavy nevertheless.

Blake hugs him tightly, not sure if it’s to comfort herself or him. “Make sure you get some rest too, Jaune.”

She releases him, and Yang hesitates just a moment before following her out. The two walk aimlessly for what feels like hours, the sky graying and the lively chatter of the town feeling dead.

“You okay?” Yang asks, being the one to cut through their prolonged silence.

“I don’t know.” Blake hugs herself, trying and failing to blink away her tears. “I mean… I don’t know? I wish I knew him better? I wish I never knew him at all? I thought that losing more people would make it easier, but it hurts so much. Every time.”

Yang swallows thickly. “Yeah. I guess it just shows how much we care despite ourselves. I can’t imagine how Sun feels right now, though.”

Blake exhales shakily, her chest still feeling like there’s a weight pressed against it. “What do we do now?”

Yang only takes a moment to think before responding, “We need to talk to Ozpin.”

That throws Blake off. “What for?”

“You heard Neptune. We need to figure out what the fuck’s going on with the Grimm.”

Blake’s eyebrows knit in partial concern and partial confusion. How can Yang be thinking about duties when their friend is just a day away from his death?

She concedes anyway, biting her lip and nodding. “Okay. Let’s go then.”

***

Ozpin invites the pair into his house the same way he had during their first day in Vale. They sit in the same living room, and they watch as he pours tea out for them.

“So what brings you girls here?” he asks as they settle in.

“Neptune’s infected,” Yang says, and her jaw clenches visibly.

His face falls, and he sets his teacup down. “That’s… horrible. I’m sorry to hear that. How are you two feeling?”

“We’ll be okay,” Blake says gently. “Before we left the infirmary, though, he told us that the Grimm acted strangely.”

He raises a brow inquisitively. “Strange in what way?”

“They heard something and ran away.” Yang crosses her arms. “Grimm don’t fear anything.”

“On the contrary,” Ozpin says. “They feel fear, though they don’t respond to it.”

“Then why’d they run?”

Ozpin sighs and pushes his glasses up his nose. “What I’m about to tell you is not to be uttered to anyone. Understand me?”

Yang and Blake exchange a look, both clearly not expecting a command like this.

Yang frowns. “Why not?”

“I have reason to believe that the Grimm are responding to something.”

“Responding to what?” Blake asks.

“I can’t tell you anything until you promise not to tell the rest of the town about the Grimm’s behavior.”

“Why would you keep this a secret from everyone?” Yang demands. “If there’s some sort of danger, they deserve to know!”

“The same reason you’re keeping secrets from Ms. Rose,” Ozpin replies coolly. “To protect the people I care about.”

“That’s different. I’m keeping it from her because I know what she’d do if she found out. You’re letting these people believe they’re safe, when they’re clearly missing out on a lot of important things! Things that’ll endanger their lives!”

“Ms. Xiao Long, I don’t expect you to understand why I keep the things that I need to keep. Vale is not under some false guise of protection. I can guarantee these citizens’ safety.”

“Just like you guaranteed Neptune’s?” Yang growls, hand cracking into a fist. “You’re lying about something. I’d know. I lie about a lot of things.”

“If you tell the safe citizens of Vale that they’re in danger, then I’ll tell Ruby about her eyes. Her immunity.”

Shock ripples through Blake, and she whirls towards Yang in bewilderment. She had to have misheard him. There’s no way someone could be immune, right?

Yang’s face is suddenly extremely pale. “How would you even know that?”

“An old friend, Maria. Her eyes were silver, like your sister’s. They were taken from her around twenty-five years ago. From a certain… Raven Branwen, I believe?” Ozpin’s clearly toying with Yang now, his tone condescending and his eyes narrowed. Yang tenses at the name he mentions, and he clicks his tongue. “She has red eyes, not unlike your own. I’m sure this all rings a bell to you.”

“Don’t you fucking dare-“

“You know all about this, I’m sure. Otherwise, why else would you be so protective over Ms. Rose? I know much more about you than you’d think, Yang. So you’d do well to keep your mouth shut. Or my tongue just might slip a mention of your mother to Ruby.”

Chapter Text

The days following Neptune’s death are nebulous to say the least. Weiss isn’t quite sure whether she wants to curl up into a ball and let it all out, or if she should just suppress it because she’s tired of crying over death.

Her housemates don’t seem to be faring any better than herself. Ruby’s… oddly quiet, her silver eyes perpetually focused and her mouth downturned. Blake doesn’t seem affected by it, but Weiss knows she heard her muffled sobs through the wall of her bedroom earlier. And Yang seems to throw herself into her work as much as possible, taking every open job she can, so much so that Weiss doesn’t even see her come into the house sometimes.

Weiss is worried for them, so she does her best to be the support they all clearly need.

“Hey Ruby?” Weiss whispers, turning around in bed to look at the other girl. Moonlight filters in through the window, enough that Weiss can see her eyes open, gaze sad.

“Yeah?”

“You know, someone really important to me once said that… if I ever need to talk, then I can turn to her,” Weiss starts, feeling a little awkward. She isn’t accustomed to blathering about emotions, not in the way Ruby is. “I just want her to know that she can do the same for me.”

Ruby’s expression softens considerably, and she shifts forward to kiss Weiss. Her fingers weave into her white hair, and she lingers for a few long moments before finally pulling away.

“Well, I think that person would really appreciate you saying that,” Ruby murmurs, kissing her chastely.

“Are you okay?” Weiss asks, catching a tear from the corner of Ruby’s eye.

“Yeah,” she sighs out, her voice tremulous. “I feel so bad for Sun because I know what it’s like to be in love with someone. I just keep imagining myself in his shoes, and the thought of losing you like that… It kills me, Weiss.”

Weiss can feel her brain do a backflip as she registers Ruby’s words. “You’re in love with me?”

“Pretty sure,” Ruby replies, tone slightly amused. “But now you’re making me question if that’s what it is because I thought I was being obvious. I mean, heart palpitations and utter devotion and shit. That’s love, right?”

Despite the way she seems to be laughing the moment off, Weiss can tell Ruby is nervous. She’s spent the better part of the past few months memorizing everything about her, and from the way she chews the inside of her mouth, Weiss knows that she feels a little timid.

“If that’s the case, then I love you too,” Weiss whispers back, her heart ripping apart and repairing itself. For a moment, with the knowledge that they just professed their love for each other, Weiss feels just about strong enough to do anything.

“Yeah?” Ruby breathes, and for the first time in a few days, the usual light shines back into her eyes.

“Yeah,” Weiss confirms. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

The brunette smiles gently and captures her mouth again, and Weiss tugs at her bottom lip with her teeth.

“I love you,” Ruby repeats as she pulls away. She pecks her mouth again. “I love you.” Another kiss. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“You’re such a dork,” Weiss says, giggling as Ruby continues to pepper her entire face with kisses. For a minute, Weiss allows herself to enjoy being unbound and happy, but as their shared laughter dies down, she feels her grin falter. She tucks a strand of hair behind Ruby’s ear. “You’re not losing me anytime soon, Ruby Rose. Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Ruby leans forward until her nose is pressed against Weiss’s collarbone. She kisses the area between her neck and her shoulder and sighs. “I’m holding you to that.”

***

The next night, Weiss knocks on Blake’s bedroom door, only to have it creak open from the slight pressure of her knuckles.

“Hey Weiss.” Blake’s voice is laced with exhaustion as she greets her. Weiss is about to ask how she knew it was her, but she quickly remembers that Faunus can see in the dark.

“Hi Blake,” she replies, rubbing her arm absentmindedly as she stands in the doorway. She isn’t completely sure how to approach this situation. Emotionally, Blake is a lot more closed off in comparison to the people Weiss is attuned to. And considering their slight spat from months ago, she isn’t sure that she’s the right person to be talking to Blake about this.

Blake welcomes her in anyway, opening the light, sitting up, and patting the spot next to her on the bed. Weiss joins her and crosses her legs nervously.

When it becomes apparent to her that Blake isn’t going to be the one to break the silence, Weiss decides to speak up. “How are you?”

“Good, you know, considering.”

“Yeah…” Weiss trails off, her thumbs twiddling.

After another bout of elongated silence, Blake’s voice cuts through the air. “I know you’re worried about me,” she says, and she chuckles when Weiss’s eyes widen in surprise. How’d she realize her concern so quickly? “You keep glancing at me like you’re scared I’m gonna break.”

“Well… are you?” she asks bluntly. Weiss knows she isn’t one to beat around the bush, and Blake only laughs again at the unfiltered response.

“I’ll be okay, I think. It’s just a lot,” Blake says, and Weiss can tell there’s a lot unsaid behind those words. She remains silent until Blake finally cracks. “I was there, you know, in the room. When Jaune had to be the one to kill Neptune before he fully turned. Jaune was shaking so much, and then he told me he’d only done it a few times before. His first one was a kid, Oscar. Apparently, he was like a little brother to him. And every time Jaune had to kill someone, he’d see Oscar in front of him instead.”

Weiss feels her heart break for their head doctor. She knows a thing or two about having to kill a younger brother, and with every Grimm she kills, she sees his terrified blue eyes on the verge of turning red. She’d never realized Jaune had been mulling through his thoughts this much about it, and she can relate.

“That’s really tough,” Weiss says sympathetically.

“I can only imagine,” Blake says wistfully. “I felt bad for him, you know? And… I’ve killed innocent people before, so I guess I’m more desensitized to it. I told Jaune I could do it instead.”

Weiss’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. She would have never thought Blake would volunteer for something like that, but she also supposes she could understand. Blake just wanted to ease Jaune’s worries.

Blake shakes in place, and she audibly swallows as she continues. “I hate looking at people’s eyes when I kill them, but… I always force myself to. I don’t know why. Maybe because I feel like I need to punish myself for it?”

Weiss frowns. “That’s not being fair to yourself, Blake.”

“Why not? I wasn’t being fair when I killed random passersby.” The real reason for her utter fatigue is at light now; Blake clearly blames herself for her past, and Neptune's circumstances are just a reminder of what she once was. “Why should I be fair to myself?”

“Because you need to take care of yourself, Blake Belladonna. You already feel guilty enough about things in the past. You don’t have to constantly beat yourself up for it. You can… learn to forgive yourself, you know? You can be happy.”

“I don’t know how,” Blake says, shoulders sagging. “But being around you guys has… helped me a little. Helped me feel something besides remorse.”

Weiss hugs the Faunus before she can think to stop herself. Blake returns it almost desperately, breath warm against the back of Weiss’s neck. “We’re gonna be here for you, Blake. I’m going to help you however I can.”

“Thanks, Weiss. I-I really appreciate that.”

***

Weiss forces herself to stay awake on the couch of her house as she waits for Yang to return from whatever duty she’s thrown herself into tonight. If Weiss can get Blake to open up, she’s confident she can get Yang to as well. Hell, she's confident she can get anyone to.

She feels herself nodding off when the front door opens, and she blinks rapidly to shake the sleep off. Yang kicks her boots off and looks just about ready to collapse when Weiss stomps her foot indignantly. Yang startles in place and stares at her wide-eyed.

"Weiss? Why are you awake? It's the asscrack of fucking dawn."

"Yang Xiao Long. We need to have a talk," she demands as haughtily as she can muster, hoping it comes off as authoritative.

Clearly, because this is Yang, it doesn't. The blonde raises an eyebrow and bursts out into laughter. "You about to break up with me, Schnee? 'Cause if that's the case, then you've severely read too much into our friendship."

Weiss massages her temple and counts to ten in her head. "It's way too late at night for this," she mutters.

"I agree. Don't you have my sister's bed to 'sneak' into or something?" Yang grins, and Weiss despises the air-quotes she used around "sneak."

"I'm serious, Yang." Weiss feels a bout of dread sink into her. "I need to talk to you."

Yang's amusement dies down almost instantly, and she steps closer to Weiss. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"

Weiss, bemused, stares up at her. She dimly notes how fucking tall Yang is for a moment, how she seems to be the perfect build to support the weight of so many people. "Why are you assuming that I'm not okay?"

"Oh, uh, well this is a wild guess, but maybe because our friend just died? Do you need something? I can cover your patrol tomorrow. I do have a little bit of free-time around noon-"

"Stop!" Weiss raises her voice, enough to get her point across to Yang, but not loud enough to wake the others. Weiss shoves her slightly, and Yang clamps her mouth shut. "I'm worried about you! I know you like to work, but this is... too much, even for you. You were about to work during your lunchtime for a patrol I hadn't even asked you to cover."

Yang hesitates for a moment, like she's waiting to make sure Weiss is completely finished before responding, "Weiss, I'm fine, okay? I appreciate it, really, but there's nothing to worry about."

"You overworking yourself warrants my concern, Yang," Weiss snaps, stepping forward so she can level her with a glare. 

Yang's eyes narrow as she seems to bring herself up into her fullest height, towering over Weiss intimidatingly. Her voice is low as she says, "I don't need you to worry about me. Now go get some rest."

Weiss doesn't shrink away from the uncharacteristic solemness of her posture or words. She squares shoulders and scowls at the obvious scare tactic. Too bad for Yang, Weiss isn't afraid of her friend. "If you don't start coming home before twelve, then I'm staying up every night until you do. Get some fucking rest, Yang. You don't have to try to carry everyone on your back."

Yang's jaw visibly slackens at her words, and for a moment, Weiss thinks she'll continue to be her stubborn ass self.

But then she drops her angry expression and grimaces, before stepping closer to embrace her. "Fucking fine," Yang says, voice filled with exasperation and exhaustion. "You're lucky I'm two seconds away from passing out, or I'd be arguing 'til the sun comes up."

Weiss allows herself to be wrapped completely up in Yang's huge frame, her face buried just above her chest and her arms coiled around her waist. "The sun's about to come up in like an hour."

"Shit," Yang swears and steps back. "Okay, I kinda see why you'd be worried. It's really late."

"You better fucking come home earlier because I'm dead serious about staying up."

"Careful there, Weiss. Ruby'll start thinking you're in love with me."

"Trust me. I remind Ruby just how much I love her extensively every night. There's absolutely nothing she needs to be worried about."

Yang cringes, but waves it off. "Okay, I brought that one on myself."

"Oh, so you've learned to admit it? Evolution is possible."

Yang throws her head back and laughs before nudging her. "Oh, fuck off. You're gonna have to learn to tolerate me eventually. You're stuck with me at this point."

Weiss smiles genuinely at that. She wouldn't have it any other way. "I'd be disappointed otherwise."

Chapter Text

“See you tomorrow, Penny!” Yang hears Weiss call as she exits the electrical building, fixing her ponytail. She raises her eyebrow as her gaze falls upon the cheerfully waving blonde, and she rolls her eyes before approaching. “What’re you doing here, Yang?”

“D’aw, you make it seem like you hate me,” Yang says, before scooping Weiss into a crushing hug, more for laughs than anything else.

“I do hate you,” Weiss wheezes out. When Yang finally places her back down, she sighs in relief. “Seriously, what do you want?”

“Just wondering where my sister is,” Yang answers. She has plans to meet Ruby for lunch because their schedules aren’t clashing for once, but the brunette’s nowhere to be found.

“Oh, she’s working with Ozpin today. Something about testing out a new weapon idea.”

Yang feels her blood run cold, and a scowl unintentionally slips onto her face. “She’s with Ozpin?”

Weiss arches a brow before hesitantly drawing out a “yes?”

Fuck. Yang clenches her jaw and spins on her heel. There’s no way in any fucking hell she’s going to leave Ruby alone with that asshole.

“Hey, wait!” Weiss demands from behind her. Yang storms on anyway, but she’s quickly pulled to a stop when Weiss’s fingers wrap around her elbow and tug her backwards. “Is Ruby in trouble?”

Yang isn’t sure how much she can tell Weiss. She knows for a fact that she can trust her, as much as she can trust her other two housemates. But after Yang’s deal to keep her mouth shut with Ozpin, she just can’t risk anything.

So she settles with a half-truth, something she knows that Weiss already knows. “Rubes can handle herself. I just don’t trust Ozpin.”

Weiss furrows a brow. “Why not?”

Yang chews her bottom lip and shrugs as nonchalantly as possible. “Bad vibes, I guess.”

Right, and that’s why you’re two seconds away from marching into his house and dragging your sister out. Because of the vibes you get from him.”

Yang narrows her eyes at the irritatingly perceptive girl in front of her. No wonder Ruby’s enraptured.

“We don’t have time to hash this out right now,” Yang settles on. “You gonna come with, or are you busy?”

“If my girlfriend is in any form of danger, then I need to be there for her.” Yang rolls her eyes at Weiss’s clear eagerness to refer to Ruby as “her girlfriend” any moment she can.

“Okay, okay. But if your little legs can’t keep up with me, I’m leaving you behind.”

As soon as Yang and Weiss arrive at Ozpin’s, the blonde raises a fist to knock when Ozpin pulls open the door. He smiles, as though he was expecting their arrival, and it only unnerves Yang more.

He opens his mouth to greet them, but Yang slides past him and marches through the hallway. “Where’s my sister?”

“Where are your manners?” Weiss asks, as though in disbelief that Yang would do that to an old man.

Yang wouldn’t hesitate to shove an old man, if the motive is right.

“We’re in a zombie apocalypse, Schnee. My manners are the last thing on my mind.” She turns to Ozpin and glares. “Where’s-”

“-Ruby?” Her sister finishes for her, appearing through the backdoor from the kitchen. “I’m right here, Yang. Oz saw you from the back and came to the front to greet you. Why’re you here?”

“Because-” Yang cuts herself off, glancing at the smug old man before lowering her voice. “I don’t trust him, Rubes. I don’t want you alone with him.”

“I’m not alone with him, Yang.” Ruby sighs, visibly irritated. “Blake saw me heading for his place and said the same thing, so I said she could tag along. Honestly, how old do you think I am?”

Blake. Thank the fucking Grimm for Blake. Salem above, if Yang could kiss that Faunus, she absolutely would. Blake accepted the revelation of Ruby’s immunity without question, and even went so far as to express her understanding of why Yang's kept it secret for so long.

“I’m… sorry,” Yang apologizes after a moment, coming to the realization that Ruby’s probably pissed. “I trust you completely, and I know you can handle yourself. I just really don’t like that guy.”

“I don’t get you, Yang. You say you trust me, but everything you do says otherwise. How am I supposed to believe you think I’m capable of doing anything if you won’t stop… smothering me?”

“How am I smothering you?” Yang demands, her voice raising enough for Blake to pop her head through the doorway to see what all the commotion is about. “I’ve given you nothing but space since we got to Vale. Are you so wrapped up in your job that you forgot we were supposed to have lunch together an hour ago? Yeah, okay, I fucked up and got worried about you. I’m sorry if you felt like I don’t think you’re capable. But we haven’t spent any time together since you got with Weiss, and I thought you were actually excited to hang out today.”

It’s Ruby’s turn to grimace at her own actions. “Shit,” she curses. “Yang, I completely forgot, I’m sorry.”

Yang sighs and runs her fingers through her bangs before shrugging. “It’s okay,” she says truthfully, anger deflating quickly. “We can reschedule. I gotta get to the school soon.”

Ruby chews on her bottom lip and stares at her feet. “I’m sorry, Yang. I promise we’ll hang out soon.”

“I have an idea,” Blake chimes in from the doorway. They turn to her, and she smiles, one of her ears flicking. “Yang and I have a patrol tomorrow. We agreed to take over Sun and Neptune’s regular patrols, at least ‘til Sun’s okay enough to get a new permanent partner. So… Ruby and I can just trade shifts. Then you guys can kick Grimm ass together.”

“That’s a great idea,” Weiss supports immediately, stepping around Ozpin, who’s been rather silent throughout the entire exchange. “Blake and I can do the evening patrol tomorrow.”

“Oh! We should make a competition!” Ruby bounces in place excitedly. “Whoever can kill more Grimm during their patrol wins.”

“That’s only considering we actually see any Grimm,” Yang mutters, though she doesn’t want to put off her sister’s energy.

Ozpin taps his cane sharply against the floor, and their gazes all snap towards him. He pushes his glasses up his nose and narrows his eyes warningly at Yang.

Right. Their deal. Yang keeps her mouth shut in return for his silence. She scowls and crosses her arms, resentment building up in her chest. She doesn’t understand why he doesn’t just fucking say anything to the citizens of Vale.

“Everything alright, Ozpin?” Weiss asks warily, stepping closer to Ruby as though it’s an instinct.

Yang feels a warmth against her side, and her shoulders untighten as Blake squeezes her hand once and drops it.

“I suppose you all are aware of the Grimm’s recent unusual behavior,” he starts. “Why don’t we all take a seat?”

***

“Do any of you know why this sickness is called the Salem Virus?” Ozpin asks, eyes falling on each of them for a few lingering moments. They all collectively shake their heads no, and he continues, “Because of the first Grimm. Her name was Salem. And she’s the reason that the infection started in the first place.”

“What do you mean, she was the reason?” Ruby asks, taken aback. She certainly wasn’t expecting a history lesson on Grimm when she came into work today with Blake. She was a lot more eager to learn about molotov cocktails and exploding things.

“Salem was several things, but the first word that would come to anyone’s mind in regards to her personality, was brilliant. She was awe-inspiringly intelligent. Attained a degree by the time she was nineteen, and absolutely determined to work her ass off if it meant changing the world.”

Ruby isn’t quite sure where Ozpin’s going with this, and the way Yang’s knee is shaking restlessly tells her that he needs to get a move on.

Blake beats her to the punch. “Sir, why is this important?”

“Salem was incredibly sick at a young age, and though she’d managed to fight it off for several years… it caught up to her. So when she was twenty, she organized experiment after experiment to prevent its growth. Four years later, she thought she’d figured out the perfect cure. She couldn’t have been more wrong.”

“You talk about her like you knew her,” Weiss points out, her implication clear.

Ozpin smiles sadly. “She was my wife. The town of Vale is my form of repentance for being unable to kill my love after she turned. It’s my fault that the sickness was able to spread. And it’s my fault that her Grimm body still lurks in the hospital on the outskirts of our border.”

Ruby swears under her breath while Yang shuffles around uncomfortably. She opens her mouth to say something, but her jaw hangs for a moment before she shuts it, eyes glued on her lap.

“Is there something you wish to say, Miss Xiao Long?”

“You think the Grimm’s weird behavior is because of Salem,” she states, not at all in the form of a question. “She’s beaconing them? For what? How do we stop them?”

Ozpin just shakes his head. “Truthfully, I am not too sure.”

“That’s it?” Yang challenges. “Your zombie-wife is out there assembling some sort of Grimm army, you don’t know why, and that’s all? We’ll just sit on our asses then?”

“I assure you, we aren’t just ‘sitting on our asses,’” Ozpin says.

“Then why don’t the people of Vale know?” Blake inquires, uncrossing her legs just to recross them.

“If they knew, they’d deem Vale unsafe and leave. The entire backbone of our society here hinges on everyone working. I cannot allow that to stop.”

“You also can’t allow people to sit, unprepared for what might come,” Weiss says, frowning. “Ozpin, the people of Vale love this town. They’d defend it if you asked them to.”

Ruby nods firmly. “They’re right, Oz. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know what’s coming. People will die. We can’t let that happen.”

“Vale is safe. Not a single Grimm has come close to our wall. I don’t want to make the citizens unnecessarily uneasy or scared.”

“It’s better to be anxiously aware than blissfully ignorant,” Ruby counters.

The moment there’s a lull in the conversation, Yang stands abruptly. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a gun-assembling class to teach.”

Ruby quickly gets to her feet and scrambles behind the blonde, catching her hand in her own to halt her in her tracks. “See you tomorrow for the patrol?” she asks hopefully.

Yang’s expression brightens visibly, and she loops her arms around Ruby’s shoulders. “I look forward to it.”

By the time the patrol rolls up, and Yang and Ruby dismount from Bumblebee and Crescent, Ruby’s kind of wishing that Salem would call her army towards her right now.

“Got my fifth one!” Yang says casually after blowing a head off a Grimm by shooting its neck. “What number you at?”

“Third,” Ruby grunts out, kicking a larger Grimm off of her and shooting it twice in the gut. She grimaces at the maroon blood spraying out of its wound, and she wipes it on Yang’s shirt casually.

“Hey! Coco just cleaned this for me. They said they’d murder me if I messed it up again.”

“You can tell them that I messed it up then,” Ruby says, rolling her eyes.

“Aw, you’ve finally learned to take responsibility for your own actions! You’re about on the same level as Adrian right now,” Yang cooes, her demeanor all too cheerful for her to be on a red-eyed murder spree.

“Shut the fuck up, or I’ll ‘accidentally’ blow your kneecap out,” Ruby shoots back, aiming at a Grimm’s foot to trip it, then finishing it off by pressing her heel on its neck.

A Grimm screeches as it lunges for her, and Ruby realizes all too late that she’s out of bullets. Her eyes widen, and she freezes for a second, staring as it lands on her.

One moment, Ruby was vertical, the next, she’s winded as her back hits the ground. She gasps and attempts to scramble out from underneath the white-faced creature, its jaw precariously open.

She kicks at its chest, and though it’s enough for her to get away from it, the damage is done.

Yang shoots the Grimm dead, then chucks one of Blake’s molotov cocktails at the remaining ones to finish them off. She slides down to her knees, shoves the Grimm’s body off of Ruby, and tries to pull her to her feet.

“Ruby! Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

Ruby can’t stop staring at her arm, pain pulsing through it as blood seeps from a Grimm bite.

“I…” Ruby’s voice catches in her throat, horror seeping into her, clawing at her chest, gripping her heart. “I’m bit.”

Yang’s frantic movements still at her words, and her face pales.

“Well shit.”

Chapter Text

“Yang, you have to kill me.”

“Are you fucking crazy?” Yang demands, slapping Ruby’s hand away from her gun. “I’m not doing that.”

“Yang,” Ruby pleads, eyes wide, heart pounding. “Please. I can’t turn.”

“You won’t,” Yang snaps, frustration and anger visible. The blonde looks like she’s suddenly aged ten years, lilac eyes tired and bottom lip quivering.

Ruby always knew that her luck would run out eventually.

She just wishes it wasn’t happening right now.

“Yang.” Ruby grabs at her sleeve and pulls her closer, hair sticking to her neck from her sweat. “Just… Please do it.”

“I’m not gonna kill you, Rubes,” Yang sighs out. “And you’re not going to turn.”

Ruby thinks she’s joking for a moment, and in her panicked delirium, she laughs. “I know this is hard, but shit, there’s no other way.”

“You’re not gonna turn, Ruby!” Yang exclaims, grabbing the collar of her hoodie and shaking her. “You’re fucking immune!”

Ruby blinks for a moment, her heart dropping at the weight of her words. Yang releases her collar sharply and covers her face with her palms, allowing the new information to sink in.

“Wh-What?” Ruby stutters out. “How…? How’s that even possible? How would you know that? This isn’t some excuse to not kill me, right? I can’t be immune, is that even possible?”

“I don’t fucking know how, but you are,” Yang says. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you earlier, but how was I even supposed to? I couldn’t very well casually converse about your immunity with you.”

“So what? You were just gonna keep this to yourself the whole time?” Ruby demands, her emotions clashing against each other. She isn’t even sure if anger’s the right term for what she’s feeling. All she knows is, she’s overwhelmed. She simultaneously needs distance and answers.

She chooses the latter.

“I’m sorry,” Yang repeats. “Fuck, where do I even begin?”

Ruby’s jaw tightens, and she wipes away a stray tear. “Start with how you know. Then explain why you never told me. And I don’t want anymore fucking lies or secrets, Yang. I’m your sister and a grown adult. I deserve to know these things about myself.”

“You do,” Yang agrees quickly, nodding. “You deserve that. I-I’ll do my best.”

“Okay,” Ruby whispers, eyes drifting towards the bite on her arm. “You’re… sure I won’t turn?”

“If you were gonna turn, Rubes, my eyes would be red,” Yang reasons.

The logic registers, and for some reason it only makes Ruby feel worse about herself. “What am I even supposed to think right now, Yang?”

“Let me just…” Yang wipes her hands on her jeans and settles on the floor of the woods. “Okay, um, I know you’re immune because you have silver eyes. Just like Summer. She was immune too.”

“Mom was immune? But you told me she and dad turned.”

“She…” Yang hesitates, glancing away as though she’s in physical pain, then turning back to level Ruby with a stare. “Summer was killed by my biological mother, Raven. Uncle Qrow’s sister, and Tai’s first love.”

Ruby furrows her brows in disbelief. There’s absolutely no way Yang’s serious right now. “You’re joking, right? Now you and I aren’t even actual sisters because Summer’s not your actual mom?”

“We are sisters,” Yang interjects. “Tai’s my dad as much as he’s yours. And Summer was more of a mom to me than Raven, but I can’t deny the fact that… you and I are biologically half-sisters.”

“That doesn’t make any fucking sense!” Ruby throws her hands up in the air in exasperation. “Are you even listening to yourself right now? Do you know how crazy this sounds?”

“I know, it’s really insane. But I promise. I swear on my life and our parents’ lives that everything I’m saying is true. The reason I hid all this for so long is because Raven is responsible for everything. She left just months after I was born, and for years, I chased after any hint I got of her. Tai and Summer tried to warn me against searching for her, Uncle Qrow tried too. But I was desperate to know why I’d been abandoned.

“I never ended up finding her. She found us. She forced Mom to be bit by a Grimm, kept her caged for over a week just to see if she wouldn’t turn. Raven wouldn’t shut up about Summer’s eyes being the cure to the Grimm, and-and Tai tried to stop her. Then he saw me watching as Raven took Summer’s eyes out, so he forced me away. Told me to take you, find Uncle Qrow, and run.

“I found Uncle Qrow before I found you, and I told him what was happening. It was all so confusing, and Qrow handed me a bag of ammo and food, then told me to run away with you. I didn’t, at least, not right away. I followed him back, only to find that our makeshift home was on fire, and Summer was dead. Raven was nowhere to be found, and Tai was fighting off Raven’s gang.

“I tried to help him, but then he shoved this gun into my hands…” Yang trails off to thumb a line of rust along the shotgun sentimentally. “I took you and didn’t look back. Nobody made it. Raven’s group made sure of it.”

Ruby suddenly feels faint, every word feeling like a bullet wound closing and reopening, each with a harsher level of pain. She needs to respond, needs to know how she’d been kept in the dark about this for so long.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ruby sobs, her voice cracking. “Why would you lie?”

“Raven was looking for a cure. She’s still looking for one. But because her experiment with Summer didn’t give her the results she wanted… she’s forced to move onto you. To her, you’re the key ingredient to the cure.”

“I could cure the Grimm?” Ruby echoes, and suddenly, Yang’s words don’t feel quite as sour. Perhaps there’s a positive to this all.

“At the cost of your life, Ruby. I couldn’t let that happen to you. I would never let the same thing that happened to Summer happen to you. Why do you think we’ve been running constantly? Because Raven won’t fucking relent. Being in Vale has helped us avoid her, but I know she won’t rest until she has you. You’re her clearest lead. I needed to protect you.”

“Yang, I could be a potential cure,” Ruby says firmly. “I deserved to know this.”

“No!” Yang yells. “Fucking - This is why I never told you. If I told you that you were immune, you’d find out you could be a cure, and you’d get so fucking hopeful that you’d sacrifice yourself for nothing! And I couldn’t let that happen!”

“That’s not your choice to make!” Ruby barks back, scrambling to her feet. “What the fuck, Yang? You’re telling me my life could’ve mattered to the world, and you kept that from me?”

“Your life does matter,” Yang says, eyes pleading as she also stands up. Ruby marches her way over to Crescent and mounts her, and Yang quickly follows suit. “Ruby,” she calls to get her attention. “Please, Ruby, you have to understand-“

“You never gave me a fucking choice, Yang!”

“Because I already knew the choice! And it wasn’t one I could let you make!”

“I could help people with my immunity, but it’s been wasting away in me for over two decades! I can’t let it waste away any longer.”

***

“Ruby, do not go searching for Raven,” Yang says, speeding Bumblebee up so she can keep in pace with her sister. “She’ll wage a war on all of Vale, even if you do turn yourself in.”

Ruby doesn’t respond, but the fact that the two are heading back to Vale is a good sign for Yang. Crescent’s pace goes from a canter to a near gallop as she heads into town and straight for the stables, Yang hot on her heels.

They unsaddle, not a word exchanged between them as Sun takes the horses. Ruby doesn’t meet Yang’s searching gaze and instead heads for the house, where Blake and Weiss’s absence is actually quite welcome to the blonde. Maybe now she can discuss more level-headedly with Ruby.

“Ruby, I really am sorry for keeping this from you. You have no idea how much I wanted to tell you, but-“

“You’re not sorry,” Ruby spits out venomously. “You’re just upset that you were found out.”

“But I-“

The brunette cuts her off with a sharp glare, an expression that Yang’s never seen on her sister before. It chills her to the bone, and for once, Yang’s petrified by Ruby. She doesn’t want to lose her, she can’t.

“What was your plan if Raven ended up attacking Vale?” Ruby asks, voice quieter, yet colder.

“I’d take you and run again,” Yang answers easily.

“What about Blake?”

“What about her?”

“You’re in love with her,” Ruby states, as though it’s the simplest thing.

Yang’s eyebrows shoot into her bangs. “I’m not-“

Don’t lie to me again. You’d really leave Blake to keep me safe? Even if it meant separating me from Weiss? Even if it meant I’d despise you for the rest of our lives?”

Yang forces herself not to cry at the clear implications that Ruby would hate her for her decisions. But she needs to be honest with herself, and especially with Ruby.

“Yes,” Yang answers firmly, her voice thick with tears. “I’d keep you safe no matter the situation. I promised Dad and Uncle Qrow. That’s why I can’t let you go after Raven.”

Ruby hums and assesses the blonde, expression unreadable. “Fine. I won’t look for her. I wouldn’t know where to start anyway.” Before Yang can breathe a sigh of relief, however, Ruby swiftly continues. “But I need some space from you. I can’t… trust you right now. So I don’t want you coming near me until I say it’s okay, okay?”

Yang doesn’t even try to stop her tears from bubbling over at this point, her heart crumbling. “Okay,” Yang acquiesces, choking slightly. She feels her throat constrict, as though it’s being grasped by an unrelenting talon. “Meanwhile, do you want me to find another house to stay in?”

Grimm have mercy on her, Ruby shakes her head. “No, this is as much your place as it is mine. Blake and Weiss are your friends, too. I’d never ask them to pick a side.”

Yang rubs her rheumy eyes and composes herself. “I really am sorry, Ruby.”

Ruby grimaces. “Yeah.”

“I love you.”

Yang shouldn’t be surprised at Ruby’s lack of immediate response, but her stomach clenches uncomfortably as Ruby shuffles her feet.

And then Ruby’s dashing forward, hugging her, like it’s the last time she expects it to happen. “I love you, too, Yang. But I don’t know if things are ever gonna be the same.”

Yang embraces her back tightly, inhaling shakily. “I’m sorry,” she just echoes again, and Ruby eventually releases her.

Yang turns her back to the sight of her sister crying and leaves the house, knees trembling, threatening to collapse from under her.

Her relationship with Ruby, the most important staple in her life, is crumbling. And she has no one to blame but herself.

Chapter Text

Blake’s ears perk up at the sight of Yang approaching her and Weiss, but they immediately flatten when she notices the puffiness around the blonde’s eyes. She exchanges a glance with Weiss, before standing to greet her.

“Hey, Yang. Is something wrong?” Blake asks as Yang slips a hand into hers unsteadily.

“Are you okay? Where’s Ruby?” Weiss inquires. “Did something happen?”

The haunted expression on her face doesn’t disappear as she turns to address Weiss. “I’ll be taking the evening patrol with Blake,” she tells her, voice slightly hoarse.

Blake raises an eyebrow while Weiss shakes her head vehemently. “Yang, we literally talked about this a few weeks ago. You need to stop taking up so much work.”

“That’s not it, Weiss. Ruby… needs you. Go back to the house.”

The air around them settles as Yang’s vague message sinks in. Blake tries to hold Yang’s gaze, but she just stares at Weiss. She’s never looked so defeated, not even when she’d come to Blake’s room late one night and cried to her.

Weiss exhales after a long moment before wrapping Yang into a hug. She pulls away and pauses for a second before lifting her heels off the ground and standing on her toes to press a kiss against her cheek. “Whatever happened, I hope everything ends up okay.”

Yang just smiles down sadly. “Thanks, Weiss.”

As Weiss walks away, sparing a glance before disappearing past the houses, Yang finally turns to Blake, her posture crumbling. She takes Weiss’s previous seat as though she couldn’t be more relieved that something besides her legs are holding her up.

“Everything okay?” Blake squeezes her fingers gently, wishing she could transfer some of her energy into her.

“Ruby was bit,” Yang finally tells her, then shakes her head. “I had to tell her that she was immune.”

“Shit,” Blake swears, shock gripping her. That couldn’t have ended well for either of them. “She didn’t react too well, did she?”

Yang shakes her head and releases a humorless, bitter laugh. “She hates that I kept it from her. And that I took away her choice. And that she’s a walking potential cure who had no idea the whole time.”

“You told her what Raven did to your family, right?” Blake asks, frowning. “She should understand you did this for her.”

“Ruby’s always clung to hope in the most bizarre places, and she hates that I’ve taken some of that from her. She thinks it’s her fucking job to save the world, even if it means she dies.”

“She knows that’s not probable, right?” Blake says, slightly exasperated.

“Sure. She doesn’t care, though. Improbable doesn’t mean impossible.”

Blake has read a book with a protagonist like this. One so filled with determination to protect those around him, hoping to fulfill himself just by being helpful. In the end, he was unsuccessful in his quest, and he’d never done anything meaningful for himself during his journey to look back on and smile.

Blake can only hope Ruby doesn’t let her over-selflessness be her own downfall.

“Is Ruby… upset with you then?” Blake questions haltingly.

Yang huffs out a breath and nods. “Yeah. Can’t blame her, though. I’d hate me too for lying for so long.”

“You did what you thought was right,” Blake reassures, squeezing her fingers and allowing her eyes to bore into Yang’s. “You wanted to protect your sister in a world that wants her dead. That’s an amazing thing to do.”

She smiles, genuine enough that her dimples pop and her eyes crinkle considerably. “Thanks, Blake,” she breathes, releasing her hand to pull her into a tight hug. “Are you hungry?”

Blake shrugs as nonchalantly as she can. “I could eat.” On cue, her stomach growls, and her cool demeanor drops instantly. “Okay, yeah, I’m hungry.”

Yang chuckles — a melody to Blake’s ears. “You’re cute,” she states, so casual that it feels like she’d just been talking about the weather. “Let’s go, then.”

***

“No fucking way,” Blake laughs out, her heels pressing into Shroud’s sides to continue their steady pace in the woods. “Your dad sounds like he was wild.”

“He was a pretty normal dad, actually,” Yang says fondly, petting Bumblebee’s neck absent-mindedly. “Considering, you know, the Grimm and shit. But he’d get all protective when I crushed on a girl, and he’d make the most ridiculous puns.”

“That’s where you get it from, then.”

She grins, unabashed. “Oh yeah. Taiyang and Yang. Two peas in the Xiao Long pod.”

Blake snickers at the image of Yang’s head in a peapod. “That’s adorable. I would have loved to meet your family.”

Yang’s affectionate expression doesn’t waver as she looks at the Faunus. “Hey, you’re family now too. But… they’d have loved you.” The conversation halts slightly, and lilac eyes widen. “A-And Weiss! When I said ‘you,’ I meant, like, plural. You and Weiss. That makes the… Xiao Long-Rose-Belladonna-Schnee family.”

“Why does Xiao Long go first in the name?” Blake frowns childishly.

“Because I’m the tallest. I went by height.”

“You should go by age,” Blake argues. “Belladonna-Schnee-Xiao Long-Rose.”

“Why do you want to flaunt around the fact that you’re a senior citizen so much?” Yang wonders aloud.

“If you want your last name to be first so bad, then I’m gonna go by level of dumbass.”

“Your brittle old man bones-“ Yang’s comeback never reaches her ears as their horses skid to a restless stop, their hooves anxiously tapping in place.

They exchange a curious glance.

“Grimm?” Blake guesses, though something tells her that isn’t the case.

“My eyes aren’t red,” Yang replies. “This is… something else.”

Blake concentrates hard, one of her ears turning towards the sound of shuffling just left of her. Alerted, she swivels the rest of her body towards it, narrowing her eyes through the darkness.

“What do you see?” Yang asks quietly, pulling Bumblebee closer to Blake’s side, drawing her bow.

“Nothing so far.” Blake thumbs the holster of her gun, prepared to pull it out at the first sign of danger. “I hear footsteps, but I can’t tell if they’re people or animals.”

She gently pulls Shroud forward, rubbing her neck reassuringly. Yang follows suit, close enough that Blake can hear her breathing from beside her. Then again, her heightened senses are probably responsible for that.

Forcing her focus away from the blonde next to her, she frowns at the weight of the footsteps. “I think they’re people. Too heavy to be anything else that would roam around these parts.”

Yang exhales audibly, bringing Blake’s attention right back to her. “We should check them out before we try to bring ‘em in. Did you count how many people?”

“Just two, I think. Could be a third.”

Yang hums in thought as she dismounts, digging into her pocket and pulling out a carrot to feed her horse. She tosses one to Blake, too, nodding at Shroud to indicate that she should feed him too.

Blake pats his nose once more before leading the way towards the noise, crouching low into the underbrush. She tries to blend in as much as she can with the orange and brown leaves as she can, but Yang’s bright presence stands out way too much.

She places a finger on her lips and stares warningly at Yang, who just nods, looking slightly reprimanded.

“How long do we need to scope out this fuckin’ town?” someone voices, growing louder as Blake edges nearer. “We had a perfect opportunity when those two girls were bawling their eyes out earlier.”

“Raven made her instructions very clear, Shay,” someone else replies, her voice indicating that she’s younger, but much more authoritative. “We don’t move in until she gives the go-ahead.”

Yang inhales sharply, likely at the mention of her mother. Blake notices her fingers twitch before reaching for her shotgun and smoothing her fingers along a line of rust — something that seems to bring her comfort.

“Don’t get why Raven would ever make a deal with that asshole anyway,” Shay scoffs. “You and I both know he’s more of a hindrance than a help.”

“He has supplies that Raven has had to kill for. Yes, his… mission is a little frustrating. But if we want a cure, we’re gonna have to go along with his requests.”

Yang tugs at Blake’s sleeve, pulling her out of earshot from the two cautiously.

“What is it?” Blake whispers, one of her brows pointing upwards.

“I-we n-need to…” Yang stumbles over her words slightly, swallowing. “I need to kill them.”

Blake blinks, registers her words. “What?” she hisses out after a moment of hesitation, hoping she heard her wrong.

“Raven’s here. She’s been watching us. Vale is in danger. I need to end these two right fucking now.” There’s a desperation to her voice as it cracks, her eyes frantic. “Blake, fuck, you don’t get it. We need to protect Vale and these guys deserve it. They work for the woman that killed my family.”

“They work for a woman that they believe is going to bring them a cure, Yang,” Blake says, pushing the panic down and trying to approach this as level-headed as possible. It’s clear one of them has to be the voice of reason right now. “You said yourself. You’ve never killed someone for no immediate reason.”

“Vale’s in danger-“

“You’re not doing this for Vale, and you know it!” Blake interjects, the only thing stopping her from raising her voice being the two others in the forest with them. “Think about it, Yang. You kill these two, and then what? Raven finds out, gets mad, and attacks Vale sooner than she planned? Her group here is obviously trying to keep the element of surprise on their side. If they know we know they’re coming, it could change things completely. We need to go back to Vale and warn everyone. Prepare ahead of time so we can have the upperhand.”

Yang glares in the direction of Raven’s people, anger coming off of her in waves. “This isn’t fucking fair.”

Blake sighs. “I know, but…” She pauses to gently pry Yang’s fingers off of her gun. “Your hands were never meant to kill. I know you want to protect the people you love,” she says, fingers tracing the lines on her calloused palm, “but don’t do it at the cost of yourself.”

“I’ve killed hundreds, Blake,” Yang murmurs. “I’m built to hurt people.”

Blake only shakes her head. “I’ve met people who’ve been born to cause harm. You aren’t one of them. You wouldn’t be so… considerate if you were. When you came to this town, you were given the option to continue fighting, but you chose to help build a community instead. You volunteered yourself and your soul for people you hardly knew. And when you touch me, you’re so attentive and careful.”

The Faunus releases her fingers in favor of cradling her jaw, thumb brushing under her eye, skin smooth to the touch.

Yang’s abandoned hand reaches upward to grab her forearm, as her face presses further into her hand. Her lips graze over the juncture between her hand and her arm, breath tickling the inside of her arm. She kisses her wrist once, eyes shut as though she’s reveling in the moment.

A shiver runs up Blake’s spine at the sensation, the hair on the back of her neck standing up. She doesn’t press further, though, knowing that doing any more would likely be highly inappropriate for their mission.

“Guess we should, ah, warn the town,” she says awkwardly, the pitch in her voice an octave higher than she’d wanted. “Murderous mom is coming to take away her daughter’s sister and will likely burn down anyone in her way.”

“Oh, right. The people need to know,” Yang adds in, dropping her hold on Blake’s hand and getting on her feet. She dusts off the dirt on her knees and offers a hand down to help Blake up. “Let’s go back?”

Blake takes her hand and stands.

Chapter Text

Weiss isn’t sure what she was expecting when she got home, but it certainly wasn’t Ruby struggling to shuck off her hoodie over her head, sobs overtaking her.

“Woah, woah!” The white-haired girl rushes to Ruby’s side in an instant, her hands gently prying Ruby’s by the wrist. “Babe, what’s wrong?”

Her only response is an incoherent blubbering, her legs wobbling and more than half her weight supported by Weiss. There’s dirt, blood, and sticks all over her, reminding Weiss of the first time they met. She half-helps, half-drags Ruby up the stairs and into the bathroom to sit her on the edge of the bathtub.

“I’m gonna get you some water, okay? Just take some deep breaths and focus on that. Nod if you hear me,” Weiss says softly, crouched down so she’s at eye level with her.

Ruby grabs her arm hurriedly, silver eyes flashing in panic. “No, no, don’t leave me,” she pleads. “I just h-have some cuts on my back. Can you please look at them?”

Weiss hesitates, assessing the state that her girlfriend is in, before nodding once. Her fingers play at the hem of Ruby’s hoodie for a moment before she pulls upwards and pries it off her skin gently. Ruby clutches her arm the moment the air hits it, as though she’s hiding something from Weiss.

“What is it?” Weiss murmurs, fearing the worst. Yang’s defeated demeanor, Ruby’s uncharacteristic sobbing. Dread blossoms in her stomach, expands into her chest, suffocates her. She feels her throat tighten as Ruby slowly reveals her wrist, her bite mark, to Weiss.

“Weiss…” Ruby breathes for a moment, attempting to catch her gaze. She opens her mouth to say something, but Weiss feels a sob build up from within.

“No,” she whimpers, eyes glued to the bite. “No, no, no, no, no,” she repeats. Her head feels fuzzy as it attempts to reject the truth before her. What now? What now? What now? This can’t be happening. What now? This isn’t real. What now? She refuses to repeat what happened to her family. There has to be another way to fix this.

What now?

“I’m immune.”

Ruby’s voice snaps her from her grief, confusion and… hope replacing it.

“What?”

“Yang’s eyes would have turned red if I was actually infected. A-And I’ve been bitten for almost an hour, but there hasn’t been any changes at all. Yang says it’s my silver eyes. I’m immune.”

“You’re sure?” Weiss asks, despising how quickly she clings to the hope that Ruby’s words bring.

Ruby’s lip trembles as she nods, bringing her calloused thumbs to Weiss’s cheeks to wipe her tears away. “We can… We can quarantine me for a week just to see. But I’m pretty sure.”

Weiss can barely wrap her head around the situation, but the first coherent thought she has is how lucky she is. How absolutely fucking lucky she is to never have to experience what Sun felt with Neptune’s death. That despite the fact that Ruby could die in any other untimely manner, at least it won’t be through a Grimm bite.

Still, relief doesn’t overwhelm her every sense, not when Ruby is so clearly shaken.

“If you’re immune, then… what’s wrong?” she prompts gently, her index finger tentatively brushing around the bite mark.

“What’s wrong ?” Ruby echoes sharply, an anger in her voice that Weiss hasn’t ever heard from her before. She flinches instinctively, blue eyes widening at the unexpectedness of it all. Ruby immediately retracts, guilt washing over her expression. “I-I’m sorry, I just… How can you not understand that I don’t deserve to live? Not when so many others have died.”

Weiss’s eyes widen, and for a moment she feels like the floor from under her has completely disappeared. “Ruby, what in the ever loving fuck ?” she hisses out. “What are you talking about?”

Ruby sniffles and wipes her nose before telling Weiss everything, revealing Yang’s biological mother’s existence and her family’s true demise. Weiss can do nothing except listen in horror as her girlfriend recounts the events that occurred, her eyes puffy and drooping in exhaustion.

“I told Yang I need space from her,” Ruby finishes, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I don’t get how Yang could keep this a secret for so long. How could she not let me choose?”

“Because she knew what you’d choose, Ruby,” Weiss says gently, her fingers touching her bruised knuckles tentatively. “She’d never let you sacrifice yourself for a maybe.”

Ruby narrows her eyes and pulls her hand away with a frown. “You’re not… taking her side, are you?”

Weiss quirks a brow. This bitter Ruby is so unlike her. “There aren’t any sides. I’m just trying to help you understand her thought process.”

“I understand completely!” she snaps. “Yang’s… Yang’s selfish . All these years, people have been losing their sanity or dropping dead all around us, and she had a solution right beside her, and she didn’t even attempt to use it.”

“You aren’t a solution to a worldwide issue, Ruby. You’re her sister. She’s revolved her entire life around keeping you safe for a decade and a half. She wouldn’t give that up just for a slim chance presented by her insane mother.”

Ruby stands then, her silver eyes flashing angrily. “I can’t have this conversation with you right now.”

Weiss grabs her wrist, halting her before she even makes a move to leave. “Get a hold of yourself, Rubes. This isn’t you,” she pleads. “You’re not acting like yourself and it’s scaring me.”

Ruby clenches her jaw and tears her gaze away from Weiss’s. “I don’t know what I am anymore.”

The shorter girl cradles her face, palms against her jaw, fingers rubbing away the dirt on her cheek. “You’re Ruby Rose,” she whispers. “The most considerate, hopeful, and amazing person I know. No bite mark or weird immunity is gonna change that. I know you’re… confused right now. But don’t let that overwhelm you.”

Ruby stares down at the floor, but Weiss can tell her eyes are watering just by the waver in her voice. “I don’t know what to do now.”

“Do what you’ve always done, Ruby. Survive, and protect the people you love. It’s all any of us can do.”

Weiss feels Ruby’s tear against her thumb before she sees it, her heart shattering as Ruby breaks down again, her forehead coming down to rest against hers.

“I’m so sorry, I-I don’t know why I got so angry with you. I never want to scare you like that again,” Ruby apologizes in one breath, her voice jagged.

“It’s okay, Ruby,” Weiss says, moving her head away so she can pull her into an embrace. “You’re allowed to feel everything that you feel right now.”

“I don’t know what I feel anymore.”

“That’s okay, too. Why don’t we start with getting you cleaned up, and you can talk to me about anything. Whether it’s about this… entire debacle, or it’s just a means of distraction. I’ll be with you the whole time.”

“You’re everything good in this world, you know that Weiss Schnee?” Ruby says, a warmth creeping into her voice again.

“So I’ve been told,” Weiss chuckles and finally pulls away.

“I don’t wanna lose you,” Ruby breathes out, steadier than before. It’s a step in the right direction.

Weiss kisses her cheek adoringly. “Good.”

***

After several long hours of soothing conversation, Ruby finally falls asleep, face buried in her pillow and her arm resting over Weiss’s chest.

Weiss breathes in contentment, her eyelids feeling heavy. But she still has one more thing to do before she can fall asleep in Ruby’s embrace.

She cautiously pries her girlfriend’s arm off of her, careful not to jostle the bed. The floorboards creak and groan underfoot as she tiptoes out of her room and knocks on Yang’s bedroom door.

A smile unintentionally slips onto her face when the first thing she sees is the blonde curled into Blake’s side as they lay together, the Faunus reading Summer’s old book out loud and stroking Yang’s hair.

Weiss, though hesitant to break the tender moment, clears her throat, alerting the two. Yang raises her head off of Blake’s shoulder and blinks twice before widening her eyes and sitting up.

“Weiss! How’s Ruby?” she asks, any visible weariness on her shoulders wearing off.

“She’s resting, thankfully,” Weiss replies, shutting the door behind her and pressing her back against it. She crosses her arms and exhales. She needs to approach the topic sensitively.

“Guessing she told you then?” Yang shatters the ice before Weiss has a chance to.

Well that makes things easier for her.

She nods in response. “Ruby wasn’t acting like herself. She can get angry sometimes, sure, but not irrationally so.”

Yang hums in thought, then shifts her leg from under her blanket to make room for her. “Did you manage to calm her down?”

“Eventually,” she says, taking a seat. “And Ruby wouldn’t stop apologizing. Like I don’t understand what survivor's guilt is like or something.”

“Do you think…” Blake begins, but quickly trails off, shaking her head.

Yang nudges her. “Don’t keep us in suspense.”

“Do you think being bit changed her behavior?”

“Obviously. Why else would she be angry?” Weiss responds, resisting the urge to roll her eyes.

“No, not just that being bit is making her upset. What if Grimm bites change people’s behaviors? I’ve seen a lot of half-turned people in my life. Their rage is… almost animalistic.”

“But Ruby’s immune. She could just be agitated,” Yang says, though something tells Weiss that the blonde is only saying it to avoid the chance that Ruby actually is being changed from the bite.

“Yeah, maybe,” Blake says, tucking her bottom lip in between her teeth and sighing out of her nose. 

The three indulge themselves in a collective silence, a slight tension crackling in the air. So much has been revealed today, and something tells Weiss there’s so much that has yet to be revealed.

“How are you doing?” Weiss asks, placing a hand on Yang’s knee in concern.

She smiles weakly in return. “Just swell, Schnee. Thanks for asking.”

“I know Ruby blames you for all of this,” Weiss starts, and is hasty to continue when she sees Yang stiffen, “but I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing you did.”

“You- what?”

“Ruby is important to me. I love her, completely and irrevocably. I would damn the world before I let it take her from me.”