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it's cooler than a knife, at least

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It begins with Ruby, as most things do. 

A sword, gifted for Julymas - a holiday they’d invented in second year, when they discovered that Menagerie didn’t have a winter equivalent of Vale’s Christmas or Atlas’s Winter Solstice, and Ruby didn’t want to wait six months to make up for Blake’s missed gifts - that is wrapped in some ungodly shiny foil paper, with a particularly odd pattern printed on top.

(“Where on remnant did you find tilde wrapping paper?”

“Snakes! It was supposed to be snakes!”)

Anyways. Ruby gives Weiss a sword for Julymas, sneakily embedded in two packages’ worth of tissue paper, both to hide the distinctive shape and to avoid accidentally causing injury in the exchange process. The weight of it nearly causes Weiss to trip into the doorframe, caught off guard by its unexpected density, but she safely uprights and proceeds to pull it from its wrappings.

Yang manages to catch the moment she holds it up to the light for inspection, which looks an awful lot like a particular meme, and comparisons between the image circulate their group chat with team Juniper for weeks.

Anyways. Ruby gives Weiss a sword, and starts the whole thing off. It’s just before their graduation date, before Ruby is set to head off for an eight month internship in Mantle with Professor Polendina, before Weiss starts her own internship underneath Robyn Hill at Vale’s government offices, before Yang begins her job as a training assistant under Glynda in the kinesiology department and Blake goes into her second political degree. It’s before all of them split ways from Beacon, three staying in Vale as the last one heads off to another continent.

“Ruby,” Weiss says, as confused as she is completely deadpan about it, “why did you buy me a sword for Julymas?”

Ruby beams at the question, a slight touch of mischief working its way into the expression.

“Because you wanted one,” she answers, magnificently matter-of fact about it, and Weiss’s brow furrows into a deeper frown.

“I didn’t-”

“Please,” Yang cuts in, from where she’s half sprawled across the second hand couch they’d shoved into the dorm, “we all saw your longing expression at Medieval Times last year.”

“You have mentioned Winter’s sword a lot in casual conversation, too,” Blake adds helpfully, not looking up from her newly-gifted novel.

“She’s a fencing Olympian, of course I-”

“And you told me when drunk two months ago that you would ‘do anything for a broadsword,’” Ruby delivers the final blow with the same grin she began it all with, and Weiss deflates in defeat.

“I would make a joke about wanting broads just as much,” Yang says, eyeing the heiress with uncharacteristic caution, “but you did just arm the one person in the room who would act on murderous intent, so-”

Weiss swings around immediately; she nearly clips Ruby with the sword, who yells in alarm and barely manages to duck in time - the curtain over the window is less gifted in its dodging abilities.

For about the eighteenth time of their duration at Beacon University, the fabric and its multitude of stitches give way neatly, and that’s how they discover that the sword is much sharper than Ruby had been told it would be.

-

The sword moves out with them two weeks later, piled into the back of the moving van with about a hundred boxes and four newly minted diplomas.

Somewhere in the months before graduation, Blake, Weiss, and Yang had all gone apartment hunting individually, and come up with absolutely nothing. After a great deal of suggesting, ridiculing, and compromising, a three bedroom apartment was found in Vale and all three of their names were signed on the lease.

(Not for the first time, Weiss had bemoaned the family fortune she’d renounced at eighteen, commenting on the condo she could have owned; not for the last time, Blake had reminded her of a moral conscience, commenting on the general ethicality of billionaires.)

Due to its status as the sharpest and therefore most dangerous item in the household, the sword is packed with care into its own moving container - Jaune’s guitar case, perpetually empty since the destruction of its contents in third year, when he’d finally gathered the courage to serenade Pyrrha on the rooftop and had nearly fallen off by accident. Jaune had been narrowly saved; the guitar had been consigned to a thousand pieces with the assistance of gravity.

In the guitar case it travels, likely slicing the internal fabric to ribbons with each passing pothole, shoved into the back of the moving van as one of the first things loaded in. As a result of its location, it’s one of the last things to be removed, leaned up next to the door of the apartment in the last trip from the van.

It’s left there as the rest of the boxes are allocated to the appropriate rooms - Blake in the smaller bedroom, Yang in the guest one, and Weiss in the master suite they’d pulled straws for thrice - and is still there when they collapse into the empty kitchen, worn out from the day’s events. 

Ruby’s boxes are all still in the moving van, ready to be driven home, repacked, and sent off to the airport in less than a week.

Someone orders pizza, due to lack of energy to cook and also because it’s hilarious to watch Weiss try and eat it politely without the cutlery that’s still packed in a box - and it shows up, to their dismay, without being cut into slices.

“What ruffian doesn’t cut the pizza?” Weiss asks, just as Yang says, “Bet you Sun works at this pizza joint.”

“It is confusing,” Ruby adds, peering at the completely singular pie, while Blake wordlessly drags her hands down her face.

“We should get the pizza slicer,” she says, after a long moment. 

Absolutely no one moves.

“I think it’s in that box,” Blake clarifies, pointing to one buried third in a stack of six, as if the location will prompt any kind of desire from anyone else to get it.

Silence reigns.

“Or,” Yang drawls, “we could use Weiss’s sword.”

“That’s unhygienic-”

“Yang, really-”

Perfect.”

Three responses chime together; all three women cut off at the same time. Used to it by now, Yang casts a glance around the room, lifting her eyebrows as she speaks.

“Well, either someone has a better idea,” she says, clearly aware of the lacking expressions on her teammates’ faces, “or someone can go dig out the pizza cutter.”

-

In the end, they use the sword.

It’s also the first gouge they put in the hardwood, when the sword cuts through the pizza, the box, and into the floor below.

Weiss whines about the security deposit for almost a week, until she accidentally hammers a hole through the drywall in a picture hanging attempt, and Blake and Yang gain the upper hand in mockery for the next month.

-

The sword sits in its case for three months. In that time, Ruby moves to Atlas and immediately settles in, sending professional snapchats from Professor Polendina’s lab and less professional snapchats of her and Penny getting into all kinds of trouble.

Blake aces her entrance exams, catching the eye of more than one professor and even the notice of a few political parties in Vale; Yang takes over Glynda’s combat classes in the program, with the added benefit of free courses on teaching conflict mediation; Weiss sparks both ire and acknowledgement in Robyn Hill’s coalition, rising to the challenge with an effortless grace.

Outwardly, at least. Yang and Blake hear their fair share of troubled rants over the course of the three months, often beginning with- 

“That bigoted bastard , how he came to lead a party I don’t understand-”

(The bastard, of course, being Doctor Arthur Watts, a disgraced figure from Atlas’s political scene who had fled to Vale in search of new supporters, and unfortunately found a great many.)

“-and I know we have to work with him for the sake of the party, otherwise this labour bill will be laughed right out of the room, but how callous do you have to be-”

After three months of hearing it, there comes a day where Yang stands up from her usual spot - slumped over the back of a chair, head still as lilac eyes trail the heiress pacing through the kitchen - walks down the hall to the closet that has a guitar case shoved into it, and returns a minute later with the gifted sword.

“Here,” she says, half shoving it into the heiress’s face as Weiss cuts her rant short in surprise, “might as well make the image complete, if you’re aiming for righteous fury.”

Weiss blinks. Takes the sword in bewilderment; Yang steps back to slouch against the counter.

“I-”

That’s when Blake pushes open the front door, swearing behind gritted teeth and drawing immediate alarm from the two women in the kitchen.

“Irredeemable jackass ,” comes the angry muttering, combined with the sounds of an umbrella being shaken out and boots kicked haphazardly towards the shoe rack, “refuses to listen, and then when he finally does-”

She rounds the corner and stops dead in her tracks and her words, completely thrown off by the image before her:

Yang, leaned up against the kitchen counter, eyebrows raised as high as they go; Weiss, staring with the same stunned expression, and also with a sword in her hands.

“Um,” Blake says, “am I missing something?”

Yang snorts, waves a hand, shooting Weiss a shared look.

“No,” she answers, amusement curling at the edges of her tone, “but maybe Weiss should give you the sword, instead.”

“I was doing some ranting of my own,” Weiss elaborates, rolling her eyes, “Yang said something about needing the sword for righteous fury .”

“You were channeling, like, angry geek goddess vibes. Weapons feel necessary for that.”

But ,” Weiss continues, “Yang is unexpectedly correct. You sound like you need this much more than me, right now.”

She tips the sword forwards with an inelegant tilt - Blake and Yang both wince on the floorboards’ behalf, preemptively - but manages to awkwardly balance it before it makes contact with anything fragile, such as kneecaps or tablecloths, and holds it out, upside down, to Blake.

“Here,” she says, “your turn to rant.”

It’s uncharacteristically generous of the heiress, but they have been living together for three months straight without Ruby there to do the mediation for them, and Yang snorts in favour of a joke over a comment.

“I think most households have, like, a conch shell to pass around for speaking. This does feel more accurate for us, though.”

Blake - silent throughout the explanation, her previous anger not entirely gone from her expression, still wrought in the corners of her mouth and the furrow between her brows - tentatively reaches out, takes the sword from Weiss with a great deal of care.

Then she stands there, awkwardly, like she has no idea what to do next. Yang waves a hand in prompting.

“Go on,” the blonde says, “tell us about it! There was something about an irredeemable jackass…?”

Blake smiles half-mirthlessly at the pitched up repeat of her own words, then frowns, looking down to the hilt.

“I think I might drop out,” she says, and Yang nearly slides off the counter. 

“Shit,” she half yelps, barely catching herself, “sorry-”

“Why on remnant would you want to do that?” Weiss cuts over her, having spared a glance to make sure the blonde was fine, then refocusing her attention when she knew that she was.

Blake frowns deeper, her shoulders stiffening in defense - and both the blonde and the heiress freeze.

“What did he do, Blake?” Yang says, her tone eerily calm. 

“Nothing,” Blake answers too suddenly, and the sword slips from her grasp for a moment.

Thunk.

The tip embeds itself in a crack between floorboards; Weiss doesn’t even blink, her concern only for the woman before her. 

“Blake,” Weiss says, more composed than the blonde, but just as careful, “what happened?”

There isn’t a response at first. Blake bites her lip, her gaze anywhere but in contact with another; then it drifts to the sword, and her frown deepens in anger.

“The department head,” she grinds out, terse and underlined with an ancient anger,  an immemorial resignation, “my professor, refuses to accept any thesis proposals on the legislations surrounding Faunus rights, as he believes they are-”

“Fuck him,” Weiss interrupts immediately. Yang blinks, her eyebrows shooting back up; Blake’s eyes slowly drift up to meet that of her roommate, her teammate, her former enemy.

“I mean it,” Weiss says bluntly, “Fuck him. And any of his excuses.”

In another world, they fight here; in a third they leave it at that. In this one, though, Yang coughs, stage whispers to the heiress.

“Weiss, you don’t have the sword, it isn’t your turn to talk.”

“Shut up, Yang,” Weiss replies immediately, as all the tension in the room drops out in one even release. Blake, her shoulders finally loosening fully, laughs in spite of her mood.

The sound draws a smile from Yang, the same with an added eye roll from Weiss. Blake’s hands tilt the sword as her shoulders shake, and the steel catches the overhead light, glinting as if chuckling itself.

“That said,” Weiss begins, and her roommates glance up, “what can we do to help?”

Blake frowns, caught off guard; Yang tilts her head in question.

“I mean-”

Weiss, looking slightly embarrassed before she commits and turns to determination, waves a hand in lieu of a full explanation.

“If you want to drop out,” she elucidates, “or if you want to fight it. What can we do to help?”

Amber eyes blink; the sword shifts again, and light flickers across the floor. Yang’s expression shifts as well, to something softer and understanding, more earnestly supportive. 

“I,” Blake says, and her brow furrows in the pause, “I don’t know what I want to do.”

Weiss hums, purses her lips, shifts her stance to something more akin to her usual power pose. Yang hides a smile; for all her faults and fury, Weiss is unstoppable when she has the chance to help.

“Then we’ll wait until you know,” Weiss says, her pose now fully empowered, “and, well.”

She grins, and it’s akin to the same flash of steel seen before.

“We can see how well tenure matches up against all the connections of team RWBY.”

Yang hums in agreement, waves a hand towards Blake as she catches the faunus’s eye.

“Such threats,” the blonde says, “and she doesn’t even have the turn to speak.”

Shut it, Yang.”

-

Blake decides to defer the rest of her year, get a part time job as a TA, and file a formal complaint against the university board a week later.

Yang’s reaction to her message in the group chat is eighteen sword emojis in a row.

-

🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡

-

Two months after Blake files her complaint and defers her thesis, a week before Glynda hands off more responsibility to Yang, Doctor Arthur Watts mysteriously steps down as party lead without any kind of explanation. In his place is elected a bumbling man who Weiss forgets the name of two minutes later, which kind of kills off her ranting fodder and her rage towards her enemies.

With the inevitable collapse of the opposition and no longer a need for an intern, Robyn Hill thanks Weiss for her support in passing the labour bill, and asks if she would like to apply for a full time position with the party.

This time, Yang comes home to a kitchen with Weiss pacing the floor and Blake watching evenly from a chair in the corner. The conversation goes much better than the last, and they walk away with a game plan to get Weiss ready for her interview.

The game plan doesn’t originally involve the sword, but it ends up there anyways.

“Here,” Blake says, brandishing the sword with a recently acquired familiarity, “practice with this.”

Weiss takes it, bemused and clearly forming a rebuttal on the tip of her tongue.

“Trust me,” Blake affirms before she can argue, “it will help.”

“Mistake number one is telling Weiss she needs help,” Yang says, swinging around the doorway to her room to see what is going on, “also, what is happening?”

“I’m practicing for my interview,” Weiss says dryly, “Blake says I sound unsure.

“Blake apparently needs hearing aids.”

“Blake has two sets of ears ,” says Blake, “and Weiss does sound unsure, with her clear crush on and intimidation from Robyn Hill.”

“I am not intimidated,” Weiss snaps immediately; Yang rolls her eyes.

“I see we chose to argue that point, and not the crush.”

“I don’t have a crush on her either!”

“Now, now. Who raises their voice in an interview? Clearly unprofessional.”

“Yang, maybe don’t threaten Weiss when she has a sword.”

“Please, she won’t maim me. That would kill off the last of the security deposit for sure.”

Weiss makes a noise of suppressed frustration; Blake sighs tiredly.

“Weiss, try walking with the sword as you speak,” she says, choosing to completely move on before the situation can turn homicidal, “it brings a sense of power.”

Weiss shoots her a look.

“And you know this how?”

Blake’s mouth shuts far too fast, the game truly given away as red rises to her cheeks; Yang squints discerningly.

“Blake Belladonna,” the blonde wheedles, “have you been engaging in power play with Weiss’s sword ?”

“Don’t be crass.”

It’s surprisingly Weiss who interjects, sharp and short. All it does is call attention to the blush on Weiss’s own cheeks, a fact that is not missed by Yang. Before the blonde can comment, though, Blake remembers how words work.

No, ” the faunus says, “but I walked around with it when I was mentally drafting the formal complaint.”

At the reminder, Yang and Weiss both perk up.

“Have you heard back about that at all?” asks the blonde.

“No,” Blake says, somewhat morose, “last they told me, they were launching an investigation into the head’s other thesis rejections and previously lodged complaints.”

“That’s… good, then?” Yang says, casting a wayward glance to Weiss, who looks just as inquisitive.

“I don’t know. I think there will be repercussions that come out of this, but…”

Blake trails off; Weiss, quick on the uptake, finishes the thought.

“But you’ll be known as the student who caused it,” she says, and Blake nods.

Dust motes swirl into eddies as Weiss shifts her grip on the sword; Yang moves her jaw left and right, left and right.

“Anyways,” Blake says, after a long moment, “back to you, Weiss. Walk with the sword. Just try it.”

Weiss frowns, but concedes, lifting it high and returning to her earlier strides across the kitchen.

“I graduated from Beacon with honours as valedictorian,” she starts, her voice clear and powerful, “and worked under Robyn Hill as her-”

She cuts off suddenly, stopping dead in her tracks and lifting the sword higher as she stares at it in awe. Blake smirks knowingly; Yang hides a smile behind her hand.

“Oh, my god,” Weiss breathes, “it works.

-

Weiss gets the job. Robyn sends her a professionally curt email the day she officially signs her contract, simple and effective.

Just so you know, it was unanimous.

R.H.

-

After that, the sword is pulled out of the guitar case every time one of them needs to rehearse for anything important. After a month and a half of it, Yang gives in and drives to the hardware store, returning with about a dozen wall bracket types.

“I have no idea what will hold this thing up,” she says to her roommates, “but we’re sure as hell going to figure it out.”

(It takes them a full day, a wall that needs six patches when they’re done, and a lot of swearing and laughter, but they do indeed figure it out.)

Because it is the largest shared space between them, and because they spend most of their time thinking and talking and practicing there, the sword is mounted horizontally on the wall in the kitchen. It’s a strangely fitting place of honour, and when Weiss remarks that it looks too much like a shrine or offering, Blake frames a portrait of Athena and tacks it to the wall below.

In the name of righteous fury , Yang scrawls on a piece of masking tape, and sticks it underneath.

-

One evening, Weiss drops by the apartment on her way to drinks with a coworker, one of Robyn’s direct assistants, a woman named Johanna. The heiress rushes through the kitchen, yelling something about waiting there for a moment - Yang, halfway through a bowl of noodles, just blinks as her roommate races by.

A few seconds later, Johanna wanders into the kitchen, clearly observing the strange decor that has adorned the walls in their six or so months of living together.

It takes her only about thirty seconds to find the sword, and her gaze stays on it for about a minute and a half. 

Then it slides to Yang, who has said nothing, and is still eating her noodles.

The blonde shrugs, waves a hand in gesture towards the weapon.

“It’s cooler than a knife, at least.”

Johanna stares, then nods, either at a loss for what to say or holding her tongue in the name of professionalism. Weiss reappears about ten seconds later, apologizing for the delay and sweeping the pair out of the apartment as quickly as they came in.

Yang gets a text about three hours later.

weiss weiss baby: For fuck’s sake.

Another one follows it up a minute and a half after.

weiss weiss baby: Johanna says it is, in fact, cooler than a knife.

-

The sword becomes a strangely central part of their lives, after that. Hauled off the wall for impromptu speeches, featured disruptively in several games of charades, used as a makeshift ruler here and there.

It is even used as a pinata bat at one party, before Nora nearly beheads Jaune with a wild swing and they have to ban the option forever. 

The shrine to Athena becomes a running joke and competition between them; Yang wedges flowers stolen from the mean neighbour’s garden between the hilt and the wall, Weiss prints out wikipedia articles and diagrams on sword fighting stances and tapes them up above, Blake writes snippets of poetry on post it notes and spatters the wall with neon squares.

By the time their sixth month anniversary of living together has come and gone, Christmas and Winter Solstice and Decembermas (another holiday creation of Ruby’s) passed all the same, the sword is less an unwelcome sight than it is a familiar and comforting one, to the point that family members and friends have stopped commenting on it and instead look forward to seeing it.

Six months after living together, the sword is no longer a concern.

Unfortunately, something else is.

-

“Blake, would you like a job working under Robyn Hill?”

Weiss asks it one weekend afternoon, when all three of them are lounging at the kitchen table, wrapped up in sweaters because Weiss is a cheapskate when it comes to the heating bill.

Yang, playing some mobile game, stills her thumbs; Blake looks up from her book, blinking like she wasn’t sure if she’d heard the question correctly.

“What?”

“A job,” Weiss repeats, still looking at her own phone, “under Robyn Hill. There’s a position for a community outreach rep, and I think you’d be a good fit for it.”

Blake blinks again, Yang shoots her a glance, lifting an eyebrow. 

“I, um,” Blake says, her thumb slipping from where it keeps her page, “sure?”

“I’ll let human resources know,” Weiss says, as if she hasn’t just rocked the boat and caught the pair completely off guard.

“Weiss,” Yang finally speaks, “a little more context might be helpful, before you do that.”

The heiress pauses, her phone lowering as she catches on to the words. Then the full realization kicks in, the light from her phone catching on the sword’s steel on the wall opposite the table, and her expression clears with embarrassment.

“Oh,” Weiss says tersely, as her cheeks go red, “Right. I was, sorry, I got caught up in-”

“Let me see the posting, Weiss,” Blake says, now smiling with amusement, her book fully closed and resting on her lap. Weiss, still tripping over the realization, hands her phone over silently for the faunus to scroll through.

“This actually looks good,” she continues, after reading it for a minute; Weiss huffs in offense, ignoring the still-pink tinge on her cheekbones.

“Well, yes. I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t. And it is directly reporting to Robyn, not some stuffy lower management, so-”

“Thank you, Weiss,” Blake interrupts gently, taking a second to reread before handing the phone back, “I’ll put together a resume. Can you send me the link to the posting?”

Weiss agrees, begins chatting about interview processes, references, the whole nine yards of political pursuit. Blake, her book now fully abandoned and her own phone out, listens and nods, asking questions as needed.

Yang, sitting between them and fully left out, swallows and glances without meaning to at the sword on the wall. Blake and Weiss, grinning wide, reflect back alone.

-

weiss weiss baby: I know you’re working late today, so for your amusement, here is Blake practicing for her interview:

weiss weiss baby has sent a video [ninth_groove_in_the_floor.mp4]

-

Blake takes to the job like a fish to the sea. That is to say, she blows all of Robyn Hill’s expectations clear out of the water, to the point that by the time her probation period ends, six weeks later, Johanna swings by Blake’s desk with a stack of paperwork and a promotion.

The promotion - and pay raise, and increase in responsibilities - ties her together with Weiss, their roles meshing together naturally and playing off one another evenly. It means that Blake’s attention drifts away from her university complaint to progress and politics, and Weiss’s evenings lengthen at the office alongside Blake.

It’s a good thing, and it’s hard to be upset over it, but Yang finds herself being so anyways as she eats dinner alone and gets sent snaps from Weiss and Blake individually. 

It’s not that she knows why she’s so unhappy - because she is happy for the both of them, she’d been there when Weiss had walked away from her family and warred with her desire to fight in politics anyways, she’d watched Blake give up hope on so many systems, she knows what it means to the both of them to be doing good, gaining good from it all.

(And if she sometimes picks up the sword and imagines fighting Robyn Hill with it so her roommates would come home more often, that’s something she keeps between herself, god, and Athena.)

One evening, Yang gets home early from work and finds Weiss and Blake at the kitchen table, huddled over paperwork and giggling like the teenagers they once were.

“Oh,” Weiss says, catching sight of the blonde, her voice pitched higher from what Yang knows is alcohol and giddiness, “welcome home!”

“Welcome home, Yang,” Blake echoes, smiling more loosely than she usually does, the rocks glass beside her arm giving the game away. 

Yang smiles, more tightly than usual, crosses the kitchen to the fridge and pulls out a beer herself. She pops the tab, turns back to the pair, and tilts her head towards the table.

“I thought we left homework with Beacon,” she says, earning an eye roll and an atypical giggle.

“We did,” Blake says, “but then someone found a loophole in Baskin’s proposal, and someone wanted to spend all night finding ways to exploit it.”

Yang frowns.

“Baskin?”

“Watts’ replacement,” Weiss clarifies, leaning back and stretching her arms, the usual tension completely gone from her frame, “remember?”

The blonde frowns; she didn’t remember, but then, she didn’t think Weiss had ever told her. The name had always escaped the heiress before.

“Right,” Yang says anyways, pausing to take a sip, “so I take it you two have your night all planned out, then.” 

“Not quite,” Blake says, propping her head on her hand, fixing the blonde with a slightly lopsided stare, “not if there’s something bothering you?”

She never means to wear her heart on her sleeve, but there it is anyways, beared to her roommates and Athena and the stupid sword mounted on the wall. Weiss, fast on the uptake even when past tipsy, swivels her head to join Blake in staring at the blonde.

Yang swallows, putting on what she hopes is a convincingly genial smile.

“No,” she answers, quirking an eyebrow in response, “what makes you think there would be?”

Blake hums thoughtfully - and Yang curses internally; this is her partner, who she spent four years working with almost every day, who knows her inside and out, from her posture to her expressions to the way she phrases her feelings - and lets it go.

“Nothing,” Blake says, “I just wanted to make sure.”

Somehow, worse than everything else, Blake’s failure to catch on hurts the most.

“Are you sure ?” Weiss cajoles, seemingly more to Blake than the blonde, though her eyes are still on Yang.

“Super sure,” Yang affirms, swallowing her pride and what she’s sure is hurt shining in lilac.

Weiss tilts her head, hair following the motion a second later; Blake narrows her eyes. Yang feels more like she’s under scrutiny than solicitude, and tips her can towards them both.

“Well,” she says, somewhat blithely, “I’ll leave you to the riveting proposal.”

Weiss pouts - yes, pouts - which does nothing but indicate how much alcohol she’s had.

“You’re not going to stay?”

Yang shrugs, halfway turned to the doorway of the kitchen.

“Nah. I’ll take this, go unwind. It was a long day of work.”

Blake frowns.

“You don’t want to talk about it?”

The faunus’s hand sits resting next to Weiss’s, nearly touching as if they’d pulled away on short notice. Yang pulls her gaze from it; the sword offers a place to look instead.

“Nah,” she repeats, “it’s all good. I won’t interrupt; you two have fun.”

She says the last part quickly, cutting off whatever pity protests the pair might have thrown her way about not interrupting. Blake’s frown deepens, but a nudge from Weiss’s shoulder pulls her attention from the blonde.

Yang takes it as a chance to escape, turning the rest of the way to the door and raising her can in lieu of a proper farewell.

“Have a night night,” Yang says, “and Weiss, drink some water.”

-

-

-

When Yang wakes up the next morning and sees Blake’s bed empty through the open door, hears the sound of two sets of breathing coming from the master suite, she tries to be happy for them.

“Shut up,” she says to the sword, which does nothing but reflect her expression, and heads off to work.

-

Glynda takes that day to drop the truth, because of course she does.

“Yang,” she says, curtly from the opposite side of the gym, where she’s watching the blonde set up mats for the next session, “I’m retiring.”

Yang nearly drops the mat on her foot, whirls to face her former teacher-turned boss-turned mentor-sort-of. 

“What?” she says, which is not her best possible response, but she’s also been having a day , and it’s only ten in the morning. Glynda huffs, but elaborates.

“Not this year,” the woman explains, stiff in a way that indicates discomfort, though Yang has no idea why, “but next year will be my last.”

The clarification doesn’t do much.

“Oh,” Yang says elegantly, “congratulations?”

Glynda rolls her eyes, which is much more in line with the woman who had been more of a drill sergeant than a teacher for the four years of her kinesiology degree.

“I’m retiring,” Glynda says, “and I want you to be there to take my place.”

Yang does drop the mat, this time.

“I can’t,” are the first words out of her mouth, before she even thinks them through, “I don’t have a teaching degree.”

“And that is why,” Glynda parries back evenly, as if she’d expected the response, “I have steadily been increasing your responsibilities this year, to cover the equivalent of the first year of a teaching degree, so that you may study in school next year to get the rest of it.”

If Blake took to her job like a fish to the sea, Yang gapes at the news like a fish out of water.

“But,” she starts, and then stops. For the first time she sees the age on Glynda’s face, really sees it, worn in with what she now recognizes as kindness. 

“Why?” Yang asks instead, and Glynda smiles, as if she’d known the response would come.

“Because,” her teacher informs her, “since day one of you being at Beacon, you have taught your peers. And when your peers no longer needed teaching, you taught your juniors. And you taught them in a way that they taught their juniors, and I still hear students telling each other how to pass ‘ Gladiator Glynda’s Quest of a Quiz.’”

Yang winces; the knowing look on Glynda’s face is revenge enough.

“The point is,” Glynda says, and straightens up to speak, “that I see such potential in you, Yang, as a teacher and a mentor, and someone who is fit above all others to guide people to what is best.”

It’s a lovely compliment, but it doesn’t ring true the way it should; instead it brings up memories, of Blake’s smile as Weiss offered her the job, of Weiss’s confidence as she marched across the kitchen floor to Blake's direction, reciting accolades with a fistful of steel. Yang’s smile is bitter and doesn’t reach her eyes.

“Thank you,” Yang says, “but I think you have the wrong person.”

“Nonsense,” Glynda states, blunt and all-knowing, the way she was when Yang was her student, “I know who deserves this, and it’s absolutely the young woman who danced across her kitchen floor, swinging a sword to the song Since U Been Gone.

At Yang’s completely, utterly unhinged expression of how, why , Glynda’s smile is palpable in its glee.

“Weiss emailed me a picture, and the context.”

-

yangarang: @weiss weiss baby

yangarang: you absolute fuck

-

Yang takes her time leaving work that night. Part of it is a desire not to run into Blake and Weiss at the table again, pouring over paperwork and making bedroom eyes at each other and Athena knows what else, and part of it is because she’s stuck dwelling on Glynda’s offer.

Or demand, if she’s being honest with her vocabulary.

Either way, she stays late at work cleaning mats and taking twice as long to clean equipment; it’s a Friday, and she doesn’t have to be at work tomorrow, so there’s no downside to staying so late. The entire time though she has the sense that she’s forgetting something - a sense that is dispelled when Weiss texts her around seven, just as she’s packing up to leave.

weiss weiss baby: ????

weiss weiss baby: Whatever that’s for aside, Blake and I are out with Robyn tonight, so we’ll be home late.

weiss weiss baby: This is your chance to take out the garbage as is written on the roommate responsibility board, and also to not get drunk and lodge the sword in the bedroom doorframe.

weiss weiss baby: Again.

Yang goes to a bar a block from home, parking her motorbike in the apartment lot and walking the rest of the way. She doesn’t get hammered, just kills time, and it’s well past eleven when she gets home.

The lights in the apartment are on when she walks up to the building, slightly less balanced than she’d left as, and it brings both a sense of joy and apprehension in equal parts. 

She walks up the stairs, down the hallway to the apartment door, and is both surprised and confused to see a different set of keys lodged in the lock; they’re the landlord’s keys, she takes a second to realize, and wonders how on earth Blake and Weiss both forgot their sets.

Thinking nothing beyond that, Yang pushes open the door, blinking in the light streaming from the kitchen, and then realizing - belatedly beyond repair - exactly what she’d forgotten.

“Well,” Ruby says, standing in front of the sword and the shrine to Athena, “I was really hoping for an explanation on why you forgot to pick your sister up at the airport, but I think one for what on earth I’m looking at will do instead.”

-

weiss weiss baby: Blake and I are staying over with Johanna tonight, don’t wait up

weiss weiss baby: Also, I hope you remembered to pick up Ruby, her flight got in at seven. 

-

“So let me get all of this straight,” Ruby says, seated at their kitchen table like she’s always belonged there, the sword and shrine behind her, the notched doorframe to her right, the gouge from Blake at her feet, “basically Glynda offered you her job, a chance at a teaching degree, Blake got a job with Robyn Hill while waiting to hear back from her university, which made her work with Weiss more, and now the two of them are supposedly together?”

The redhead - with the fresh and rather brazen haircut - squeezes her eyes shut, then pops them open, staring at her sister dead on.

“Did I get all that right?”

Yang groans, leans back in her chair enough to prop it onto two legs. Ruby reaches out, yanks her back down before she can lose her balance.

“Yup,” Yang says dully, popping the p , “that about sums it up.”

Ruby stares her down for a long moment - Yang refuses to make eye contact - then turns to her tea, sitting in front of her on the table. 

“Well,” the redhead says, “that sucks.”

It’s so stark, so quintessentially Ruby when it needs to be, that Yang’s laugh is far louder than either of them expect it to be.

“Yeah,” reiterates Yang, ignoring the concern steadily building in her sister’s eyes, “just a bit.”

Ruby hums, moves her glance over to the sword and smoothly changes the subject.

“On another note,” she says, evidently amused, “I know you sent me some pictures of it, but I didn’t realize the shrine was quite this impressive.”

“Oh, that,” Yang answers, resting her head in her hands, “yeah, that started as a joke and just… became a thing over time, I guess.”

Ruby nods thoughtfully, lifts her tea to sip at.

“Kind of like Blake and Weiss, right?”

Yang shoots her sister a glare; the young woman doesn’t return it, busy staring at the sword, at the framed picture of Athena and the swordfighting stances and the post it notes that grow strangely in sapphic intensity over time.

“No wonder you’re so upset about it,” Ruby muses, “you always have been head over heels in love with them both.”

Yang’s head, at max capacity for the number of realizations one can have in a day, slips completely through her hands and nearly shatters her jaw on the table.

She narrowly catches it an inch from the surface, reeling backwards with the change in momentum and staring wide-eyed at her sister, who is still looking at the sword, at the flowers kept fresh daily and the sword stances that are named things like fool and plow .

“Then again,” Ruby continues, apparently not done with statements quite yet, “they’ve both been ass over teakettles in love with you, too.”

Yang’s expression, at this point, is nothing short of overcome. Ruby sips at her tea.

Then she looks at her sister, catches sight of the blonde’s expression, and her own furrows with bewilderment.

“What,” Ruby says, light and amused, “you didn’t know?”

A pause, and realization sets in.

“Oh, my god,” Ruby says, serious and disbelieving, “you didn’t know?”

“Blake and Weiss are in love with me?” asks Yang, which more or less clears it all up.

Ruby’s mouth hangs open - makes an attempt at words once, twice, to no avail - and eventually closes, dawning understanding cresting in silver eyes alongside encompassing, all-consuming dismay.

“Yang,” she says, far more serious than Ruby is ever meant to sound, “remember when we were at Medieval Times, and Weiss gave me the idea to buy her a sword?”

“I don’t see how that’s relevant.”

“Right. Well, Weiss was slightly drunk-”

“I remember that.”

“-and Blake was, as well-”

“Remember that, too.”

“-and apparently you , because you somehow missed the context of Weiss asking if you would be her knight, and when you swooped her into a bridal carry and said you’d rescue her from the castle, Blake then said she was eternally jealous?”

Yang says nothing, for a moment.

“I remember making a Shrek reference,” she says, and Ruby nearly faceplants into the table out of frustration.

“Oh, my god -”

“In this house, we call her Athena-”

“Not helping! I thought Pyrrha was joking when she said the three of you had no clue!”

“Wait, Pyrrha-”

“Everyone knows! Pyrrha, Jaune, Ren, Nora - even Penny asked me if you three were dating yet! And it apparently turns out, the only three people who didn’t know what was going on, were the three morons in love with one another!”

Ruby’s desperate realization reaches a fever pitch in tone and volume; she cuts off abruptly like her strings have been cut, dropping her head into her hands and mumbling some kind of distressed revelations to her palms.

Yang stays frozen in her chair, shell shocked, half-hopeful at Ruby’s words and half-terrified that she’s missed her chance, and overall a little too overwhelmed to process in any way but silence the fact that her emotional anguish over Weiss and Blake getting together was, in fact, due to the reason she was hopelessly in love with the both of them.

Which, as she turns the thought over and over in her head, and thinks about all the times Blake’s laughter had filled her with warmth, or Weiss’s pertinacity had made her smile, or she’d sat with both of them in the most contented silence she’d ever experienced - oh my Athena, she was absolutely in love.

“Fuck,” Yang says, and Ruby shoots her the most relieved look since she’d appeared in her apartment without warning.

Fuck ,” Yang repeats, and her voice breaks.

“Whoa, whoa, hey,” Ruby says gently, reaching a hand out to touch Yang’s elbow; it clashes all wrong with their sisterhood, tangential from their predefined roles, and the disparity strikes an even deeper chord than the realization.

At least, it does until Ruby smiles gently, and says:

“You know it’s not too late, right?”

Yang looks up, surprised; Ruby’s expression deepens in sincerity, softening and growing infinitely wiser.

“It’s never too late,” Yang’s sister says, sounding just like their mother, “it’s never too late to try.

“I don’t know, Ruby,” Yang says, all doubt and ragged edges, “Weiss and Blake are happy.”

Ruby’s hand tightens, nearly imperceptibly. 

“Then you just have to trust,” she says, the supportive sister she’s always been, “that they’d be happier with you there, too.”

-

It takes a lot of convincing, a lot of encouraging words and matter-of-fact statements to get Yang even remotely close to being ready to tell the truth. Thankfully, it is Friday, so she doesn’t have to be at work in the morning.

By the time three am rolls around - Ruby looking exhausted beyond what jet lag can bring, Yang as hopped up as a live wire, stripped raw and vulnerable - they call it quits.

Quits means that Ruby steals Weiss’s bedroom, which is immaculately soundproof and has the comfiest bed, with the warning of, “Don’t wake me up, even with your weird making up.”

Then, “I said making up, not making out.”

Then, “I didn’t become more mature than you, Yang, you just have the mind of a sixteen year old.”

Then Ruby went to bed, and Yang pretended to be productive until Weiss and Blake made it home. She even took out the garbage, as was written on the roommate responsibility board.

When pretending to be productive failed, the sword gleamed from the wall in the kitchen lighting. She ignored it, and the all-knowing portrait of Athena, as best she could and went to take a nap. 

-

Sometime around nine in the morning - she forgot to plug in her phone, so the exact time is lost to her - the sound of keys in the front door wakes her up.

More specifically, the sound of keys being useless in the front door, followed by the comment of:

“Why isn’t the door locked?”

Yang swallows, recognizing Blake’s voice, and the same of Weiss’s reply, and pulls herself out of bed. She grabs the sword leaning against the wall - so she couldn’t fall asleep with it still in the kitchen, haunting her thoughts, whatever - and braves the doorway to enter into the kitchen.

Almost immediately, Weiss notices her.

“Yang?”

Her name catches Blake’s attention as well, who turns from puzzling out the mystery of the unlocked door, and instead faces the blonde standing before them both, sword clenched tight in her hand.

Blake’s brow furrows, at almost the same time Weiss’s own expression shifts into something resembling concern, and the faunus's tone is soft as she speaks.

“Are you okay?”

Yang swallows, tries to answer, can’t. Both the expressions of the women she loves deepen, worry quilted over confusion. Bewilderment furthers the look when notice of the sword registers.

“Why are you holding the sword?”

So maybe she’d still been unable to fall asleep with the sword beside her, and spent the next hour pacing the kitchen floor while rehearsing her speech, whatever.

Yang steels herself, lifts the blade slowly.

“I have the sword,” the blonde says, “so it’s my turn to speak.”

“What-”

“No,” Yang interrupts, “I have the sword, so it’s my turn to speak, and you have to let me finish, or I’ll never get through this.”

Concern deepens in the corner of Blake’s eyes; Weiss, ever quick on the uptake, has realization brimming in her own. Yang hurries ahead before the courage can flee.

“I-”

The courage flees. 

Silence reigns, the bravery departing Yang’s body faster than she can snatch it back, leaving an echoing void of fear and regret - then Weiss steps forward, her hand reaching to hold Blake’s arm, and Blake’s own expression is changing into something understanding, and Weiss says:

“You have the sword,” steadfastly, assuredly, “it brings you power.”

It brings you courage , goes unsaid, and the portrait of Athena on the wall seems to catch light at the same time the sword does.

Yang steels herself, plants the blade at her feet between the floorboards.

“I’m in love with both of you,” she says.

It’s plain, and miles beyond any speech she’d practiced, but it’s the honest truth and she means it with her whole heart.

She expects rejection, judgment, hatred, anger - 

Anything but Weiss snorting into the back of her hand, smiling sheepishly when both the blonde and Blake cast her an affronted look. 

“Sorry,” she says, in a tone that means anything but, “but I was honestly expecting a Shrek reference.”

“You know what,” Blake concedes, astonishment morphing into agreeance, “that’s fair.”

“Hey!”

“Something along the lines of relationships have layers ,” Weiss continues, stepping closer to Yang and the blade, who are both starting to look tarnished.

“I can’t believe-” Yang begins, which is when Blake smoothly steps up behind her, breathing into her neck and making her shiver.

“Yes, you can,” Blake says, soft and low, “You are the woman who didn’t catch on to Weiss asking you to rescue her, or me saying I was eternally jealous.”

“Oh my god, did everyone catch on to that but me?”

“In this house,” Weiss says, suddenly close at her front, trapping Yang between the pair in an unbreakable place, “we call her Athena.”

It’s a step over the line of too much, and Yang breaks into laughter, bowing over slightly in a way that makes Blake and Weiss both take a step back and smile.

“You know what the funniest part is,” she half-wheezes, looking up to catch Weiss’s eye and revealing smile, “Artemis is actually the most sapphic god.”

She doesn’t need to see Blake’s eyeroll from behind, because she knows it matches Weiss’s in front.

“Shut up,” Weiss says, trying for suffering but only achieving delighted, and pulls Yang in for a kiss.

The sword hits the floor; none of them care in the slightest.

“And just so we’re clear,” Blake’s voice sounds from behind, clear despite the fire surging through Weiss and Yang, “we’re both in love with you, too.”

-

ruby gloom: oh my god

ruby gloom: I said DON’T WAKE ME WITH THE MAKING UP

-

They talk all morning; talking delves into acting, and also actually talking, and also disbelief over how oblivious Yang is, and how stubborn Weiss and Blake are in refusing to just outright say it.

Neither of them will concede that Yang is the bravest of them all, but she believes it, so whatever.

After talking - actual talking - they eventually make their way back out to the kitchen, where Ruby is waiting with a very heavily steeped cup of tea and an expression that says don’t mention it, and then Weiss and Blake devolve into hellos and we missed you and my god what did you do to your hair .

When they’re all but finished with the catching up and the enthusiasm and the silently shared deliberation to not bring up the past four hours, Weiss stands up to make coffee and discovers the enormous groove in the floor where the sword had dropped to, the tenth of its kind in the apartment.

Her screech of rage over their long lost security deposit probably wakes the dead in the nearest cemetery, five miles away.

Yang, on the other hand, is entirely unrepentant.

“Well, I’m sorry if my long overdue love confession caused physical damage to the already fairly damaged floor.”

“It’s not funny, Yang! It’s my name on the lease-”

“Weiss, it’s all three of our names on the lease. Although apparently one should be changed, since I appear to be dating the lady from the hunger games-”

“Oh, fuck off, Yang.”

“-that is mahogany -”

“It isn’t mahogany, I don’t even think it’s real wood-”

“Oh, Weiss Schnee, floorboard elitist-”

Blake cuts off their banter with bright laughter, snapping off their witty responses more effectively than a noise ban could, pulling their attention in like gravity down to land. Turning reveals Ruby also hiding her grin, both amused and probably having missed the exchanges in person.

“I’ve missed you all,” Ruby says, confirming it, and then nods to the brackets on the wall, to the shrine and the sword back in its rightful place.

“Also, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I have no idea how all three of you missed the romantic connotations in it for almost eight months.”

This prompts another wave of bickering, of laughter and delight and falsified offense, of hands held tightly as they smile and giggle and take solace in the fact that finally - finally - the truth has been said.

-

One week later, Ruby moves into the small bedroom, the guest bedroom is turned into an actual office, and Blake, Yang, and Weiss share the master. Three weeks after that, Ruby gets her own apartment in the same building, and Blake, Yang, and Weiss convert the small bedroom into a bedroom they can sleep in when they need to sleep alone.

And yes, given Weiss’s propensity to steal the blankets and Yang’s incredible body heat and Blake’s tendency to kick in her sleep, they sometimes need to sleep alone.

-

Two months later, Blake’s thesis professor is fired, and a new head of the department - a faunus themselves - is appointed. Robyn writes a brilliant reference letter accounting for Blake’s experience, earning her several work-to-study credits, and sends her a curt but kind email with the permission to continue in her role while completing her degree part-time.

-

Doctor Arthur Watts is arrested for embezzlement, three months after that, and Weiss takes them all out for drinks. Johanna drinks Yang completely under the table, and follows them back to their place for her reward, which is to pose with the sword.

Athena’s portrait frame is also updated following that night, partially because they’d been meaning to for a while, and mainly because Johanna cut it in two with an accidental swing.

-

A little over a year after the confession, Glynda retires, and Yang takes over teaching with her freshly minted teacher’s degree.

She adds a pop quiz to the curriculum called the Gladiator Gauntlet , and emails Glynda a picture of it. Glynda neglects to reply with anything other than a youtube link to Since U Been Gone's music video.

-

The sword and its shrine remain on the wall, through thick and through thin, and even move apartments with them when they do - flowers, sword stances, poetry, and all. 

-

Three years later, they use the sword to cut their wedding cake.

-

And yes, they cut through the table, too.