Chapter 1: Fine
The black sky that watches over Vale was usually illuminated by the endless stars, and the broken moon of Remnant. Tonight though, the white of the moon was replaced by the bone white of grimm, and instead of stars, there was the blood red eyes of the swarm. The gods surely could not see through the thick blanket of living fear, masking their view from wherever they lay perched beyond the sky, and without even their eyes,
Weiss was alone.
It had only been three minutes since she had used the last of her aura to send Ruby up Beacon's broken clock tower, there was no reason to worry. Ruby was going to be fine.
Ruby had been accepted into Beacon two years early for her display of martial skill in live combat, worthy of someone beyond her years. In her time at Beacon she had time and time again proven she deserved to be here, that Ozpin was right about her. In Goodwitchs class she had yet to lose a match, and she had gone up against the entire body of first years twice at this point in the semester.
As far as Weiss was concerned, there wasn’t a soul on Sanus who was capable of beating Ruby in combat, so even in her tired state she had to be fine.
She had to be fine, because no matter how much Weiss pushed and shoved against the cold stone of Beacon's pavement, she could not convince her body to get up.
Tonight had pushed her body to its physical limits, and after those limits were exceeded, Weiss pushed her body even further. Now she was nothing but a sweaty, sore, and bruised pile of flesh. Stranded on her knees in front of Beacon tower.
So Ruby had to be fine, because Weiss couldn’t help her if she wasn’t.
The only thing she could feel was the burning of her lungs, as she silently begged her body to get up. The only thing she could smell was ash, blood, and rose petal. The only thing she could hear was the piercing screechs and constant growls of grimm above, as well as the deafening raspiness of her breath, as it struggled for air.
Despite these omnipresent and unwelcome sounds, without the constant tick and tock of the now broken clock tower, it felt as if the silence would consume her until nothing was left.
So Ruby had to be fine, because if she wasn’t what would she fill that silence with? What would she want to hear again if not her voice, the grating way it would ask for something she knew she shouldn’t have, the smug way it knew it would get it anyways. The firm way it could call herself, Blake, and Yang to attention. The slow and tired way it would speak with Pyrrha after a sparring session. The mischievous giggles it would haunt the halls of beacon with as her and Nora got up to no good. The light and airy giggles and hums it would let out to the tune of whatever song was stuck in her head as she baked. The soft and low way it would speak truer than anyone else was allowed to hear, as it told Weiss stories of a childhood long past, as it told Weiss fears of grimm and leadership, as it told Weiss that she loved her.
Black started to appear at the corners of Weiss’s vision, and a figure that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere approached what was left of it. Qrow, Ruby's uncle.
She had met Qrow once before and she had hated him. Hated his all too familiar reek of alcohol. Hated how confidant he was in his lazy and uncaring attitude. But that was before she and Ruby had started dating, before she had seen in him the light of Ruby's stories of her childhood. Before those stories acted as a comfort for the both of them. In Ruby the comfort of familiarity, of sharing a piece of her past with someone trusted. in Weiss, the comfort of a promise of a family she had never had, in being trusted.
So Ruby had to be fine, or who else would fulfill the promise of affection that was so new to her.
Ruby had to be fine. Qrow was here now.
All of a sudden Weiss felt nervous, her heart started to beat just a tad faster than before, and that's saying something. Ruby had told Qrow the two were dating a few months back, but they hadn’t met in person since.
Qrow had no issue voicing his distaste for anyone wearing the Schnee crest, and Weiss at the time of their first meeting, was fine with that vile in his voice whenever he had to address her, at the smugness in his eyes as he looked above her. She was fine with it, because she had learned early on in life that if she cared about the opinions of those who hate her, she would crumble under their weight, and wouldn’t be able to recover.
But after nights of Ruby excitedly regaling her of tales of her idol hunter, Weiss had inadvertently grown to respect him through Ruby’s words, even if she suspected the tales might have been embellished. Sure he had initially set the bar in hell, but Ruby had raised it to a sea level town for him.
So her distaste for him was no longer the issue, the issue was now in fact his distaste for her. He had already met Winter, and was apparently not a fan, and Winter wasn’t dating one of the nieces he seemed to treat like daughters. Weiss didn’t even think she was good enough for Ruby. So how was she supposed to convince Qrow she was good enough for Ruby?
Qrow finally reached her after his slow approach, and looked down into her fading eyes. Crimson sent shivers down Weiss’s spine, reminding her of all the times she had earned Yang's deserving fury. A rough hand reached out and touched Weiss' shoulder, breaking her free from her thoughts. Stopping her spiral and bringing her back to reality.
Blue pierced crimson, trying to read Qrows tired face, trying to find the answer to her question in his weary face. He had to know if she was okay, if he didn’t know he wouldn’t be wasting time on her. She found nothing but a tired expression she could not read. Blank determination bearing down on her from the Hunter's old and damaged face.
As his grip on her shoulder tightened, She allowed herself to fall into the silent comfort she did not expect to receive from the man, letting herself fall into the sleep her body demanded. One final thought drifted her to sleep like a lullaby, reassured by the man's presence.
Ruby was fine.
Chapter 2: A taste not disimlar to soap
In which Qrow has feelings and Weiss takes a nap.
Weiss’s body lightly rattled as it sensed that it was being moved. She felt the hug of low quality cloth drenched in sweat, filth, and blood clenched to her skin.
Forcing her eyes open, Weiss found that her vision was blurred and shaking, along with the rest of her body.
She managed to piece together the fact that she was on a gurney, slowly moving along broken ground, and as her vision slowly came back to her, she managed to look around at the carnage of the battle.
Beacon tower, a monument to society's perception of safety, reminding all that looked upon it of the small army of those committed to the hunters ideal training right beneath it, had collapsed in on itself.
The cafeteria that she had shared meals and light hearted comforting conversation with friends in, was now nothing but rubble.
The dorm rooms, the place where she had lived with her first true family for the past year, was riddled with giant holes compromising the structure.
Her first home was gone.
But these broken structures were far off in the distance, painting the landscape of tonight's tragedy. That's not where Weiss was. Weiss Schnee was at the air pads of Beacon, along with the other wounded of the night's event.
Considering the night, wounded was synonymous with survivor.
She searched desperately for any other fragments of home. What she found was just as destroyed as the buildings. She saw Jaune in a tearful shouting match with an equally upset Nora, standing over an unconscious Ren. Coco was unconscious on the ground next to a battered and bloody Velvet, whispering silent prayers to her. Yatshashi and Fox were nowhere to be found. Team SSSN was missing their leader and looking dazed for it.
No signs of her.
She looked desperately for her team, her family, and what she saw reminded her of what she found earlier that night, a sight she had pushed to the back of her head to deal with later.
Later was now.
Waves of worry and grief washed over her as she saw a pale Yang being taken onto an unmarked bullhead on a stretcher, missing an arm. Blake, who was by her side before, was now nowhere to be found.
Still no sign of Her.
Qrow was by Yang’s side, talking to the pilot of the ship. He looked just as tired as before when he had found her, if not more so.
He began to look around, seeming lost. Before he made eye contact with Weiss, and for the first time that night she saw his expression shift. The shift was slight, his absent minded weariness was still present, but upon eye contact with Weiss, his eyes had shifted, his cheekbones and mouth had fallen.
Weiss, who had only ever seen indifference and smugness on the mans face before, along with brief judgement whenever he looked upon her or her sister, thought she saw grief in the old man's eyes…. worry?
But who was he worried for? He had no reason to worry for her, yet the expression was pointed right at her? She followed his shifting gaze to whoever was pushing her gurney, her eyes finally starting to fully fall into focus.
She was expecting to find Blake since she was not with Yang, and where else would Blake be?
She was hoping for her .
She found no family though, as she looked upon someone she had never met before, a young man with a fearful expression dressed in Schnee Dust Company uniform.
Her mind shifted into gear as her heart started beating so fast it left no room for her to breathe. A sudden and desperate focus overtook her mind, as Weiss began to analyze everything she could, looking for anything, though she knew not what. In her brains borderline delirious state she could not focus on anything other than her need to get out of here .
Here where the facts. The air was too cold for Vale summer, the night was too dark for a full moon, and she was being taken towards a private airship. Not a bullhead belonging to the academy or to medical personnel, but a sleek white ship, branded with the Schnee Dust Company logo.
In front of this ship, gazing upon her with an aura of superiority was her father. His barely hidden snarl grew slightly as they made eye contact, as Weiss grew ever closer.
No, No, NO!
She hadn’t even seen her since she sent her up the tower, Yang was alone, and Blake wasn’t by her side, which meant she was hurt as well. Jaune, Ren, and Nora were hurt and Pyrrha was nowhere to be found. Her family needed her, and as her heart robbed her of what little air she could gulp in, she knew that she needed them.
That man was not family.
Weiss began to thrash around in her gurney, ripping the I.V cords from her arm and trying to get out while struggling against her sheets. The nameless employee guiding her tried to hold her back, and was rewarded by a slap across the face as she finally got free.
The second her feet touched the ground, every inch of her body protested the small amount of strain it took to stand up. She spent every ounce of her concentration on keeping steady, as her aura kicked into overdrive trying to support what her muscles could not.
She managed to raise her head, and saw her father slowly walking towards her, with the urgency of someone walking towards business they would rather be late to attend to. Her aura flickered as it tried to soothe every damaged piece of her for the second time that night, it completely broke on her.
Broken as it might be, it gave her enough energy to not completely fall back onto the ground, and she was able to raise her head high to meet her fathers eyes, sending him the best Weiss famous death glare she could muster.
She found nothing in her fathers eyes but unbothered contempt. And just like that, her beating heart fell to her stomach, and her spine couldn't quite match the posture she wanted.
Jaquess Schnee words were slow and uncaring for how they existed in a war zone.
“What are you doing Weiss? You are embarrassing yourself, pretending to be stronger than you are. Lay back down”
Weiss pushed her nails into her palms, grounding herself with the pain, and summoning as much certainty in her voice as she could.
“I’m not going anywhere, people here need me.” She tried to give Jacques Ruby's steely glare, knowing all she could ever give her father on her own was fear, “I'm a huntress.”
Jaques Schnee met her misty quivering eyes with a scoff, “Huntress? Please Weiss, you're a student. A student I bribed the school to let in, one with barely a year of whatever half assed training you gave. Furthermore, who needs you?" he stated with a showy gesture, as if challenging anyone to stand up to the question. "The battles over. No one here needs someone so weak they can barely stand. Your time playing huntress is over. You’re not wanted here. I know it’s hard for you to admit I was right, but you would be nothing more than a nuance to anyone here, come now. I am done entertaining your delusions”
Tears began to well in Weiss’s eyes, as the shakiness of her words betrayed her conviction.
“No. I’m staying.”
“Staying? Staying where? In the gutters? Or have you imagined your way into a five star hotel along with your belief you're some sort of huntress." He said with mocking sincerity, though his next words reeked of false comfort, "You have no home here. You belong in Atlas, with your family. I recognize you can’t think clearly in your state, but wandering around and burdening those with help you think you can provide, but can’t, is not where you belong. You belong in Atlas, by my side, just as I always said you one day would be. Now come, I don’t want to stay here longer than I have to.”
Weiss voice was broken, the determination her girlfriend had inspired in her was now pointed directly act the floor, but still, with all the determined defeatism of Blake, believing that you must fight even when its hopeless, she went on, “You’re right. I do belong with my family. And my family is right here.”
Jaquess did not even bother to turn around fully, only turning half his body to face her again. He looked her over once, surprised but still mocking, “Really now?" he spoke before taking a moments pause, calculating his next words as he filled them with as much sadness he could pretend to muster, "Your mother will be disappointed, and I would simply love to be the one to relay this conversation to Winter, though I am sure news as shocking as that is the type you would rather tell her yourself.”
Turning around fully now, a hint of humor entered His entire demeanor, “Besides where will you go, who amongst these people would want you." Unfiltered harshness took his next words, " Look around Weiss, and don’t be selfish for once. You’re unhurt, standing upright in luxury where a Schnee belongs. Barely a scratch on you. I doubt anyone else here can say the same, the real hunters are dead or injured. They know you for what you are now. A selfish kid trying to demand respect in a field she does not deserve it in.”
Pity, and “care” as comforting as poison radiated from Jaques Schnee now, as he gave a slow shake of his head and put a hand on her shoulder.
“I was hoping now you would finally see them as the fools they are. The reason you're unharmed, and they all are clinging to their wounds, is because you are the only one smart enough to be selfish. Everyone here put their lives on the line for nothing, I thought I might be able to be proud of you for being above that, but I see your as stupid as the rest of these hunters.”
Her shoulders tensed, a tinge of fear ran down her spine at the feeling of her fathers hand, tears began to streak down her face. However, she kept on trying to keep that steely glare she could find in Ruby when she had needed it most before. Her shoulders where squared and her body shaked, but she could still raise her head, and fill her next sentence with as much vile and steadfast defiance as her broken body could muster, filling her lungs with the defiant fire of Yang,
“No. I don’t care if no one here wants me. I don’t care if it is selfish. I'm not going to leave anyone here. You’re right, I failed them once," Tears now struck down her face unabashedly, "but I won’t stop trying, not when they need me most."
Jaquess Schnee grabs Weiss by the wrist, and starts walking away. He doesn't jerk her, he doesn’t tug, he just starts to walk. Certain she can do nothing but follow. So when Weiss pulls back against his hand, the shock is enough to break his perfect expressionless face. The previous emotional distance now makes way for pure anger, all pointed at Weiss, and she can do nothing but pale in fear at the face that has come to her in nightmares as much as it has in reality. A face that can only be followed by one thing.
Jaquess Schnee raises his hand above her, making Weiss flinch and become unable to take a step back. Years of training to be a huntress have made her so nimble that a King Taijitu rushing her at 10 miles an hour doesn't have a chance to catch her, yet this old untrained man bringing his hand against her had no chance of missing its mark.
Yet, A strong grip stops the hand from hitting Weiss right before it enters the downswing, and the smell of dust, the musty type not the recourse, and strong alcohol enters her nose. The grip is casual, yet it's almost enough to break Jaquess' hand. A slow and raspy voice drawls out from behind Weiss.
“If I ever see you around her again, i'll take this hand off as a warning to other Atlas fucks like you that think they can get away with their shit no matter where they are.”
Jaquess yanks his hand out from the grip and snarls, “How dare you lay your hand on me!? I'll have your head for this.”
The old Atlesian begins to sputter out the rest of his words, so aghast at the audacity of the man in front of him that his mind can't stay on one topic.
“Who even are you, what makes you think you can interfere with the business I have with my daughter.”
A hand hovers above Weiss’s shoulder, letting itself be known before laying itself on her. The light comforting grip of the rough hand pulls Weiss out of her fear. Through tear blurred eyes she takes a strangled breath to calm herself, and looks up to find Qrow. Confusion and a painful yet unambiguously good feeling fills her body at the sight of the man.
Qrow glances down at her and gives her his smirk. When she first met him it would have made her want to slap him, but now it just reminded her of Ruby and Yang. Who knew a smile could run in the family. Its familiarity did wonders at calming her anxiety.
Calming her anxiety had drawbacks however, the only thing keeping her standing with the immense pain her body was under, was her fight or flight instinct. Without her body being overcome by fear, she had nothing left.
After the surprise of having Qrow come to her rescue, Weiss had nothing to keep her legs from buckling, and buckle they did.
The threat of her father and Atlas, the pain of her family around her, the destruction of her home. It all slipped away at the sight of that trademark Xiao Long-Rose smirk, and Weiss passed out for the second time that night.
Qrow was attempting to put on as much of an air of confidence he could, he knew full well what the man in front of him was capable off, but he decided to push his luck anyways, never a good idea with him but that hadn't stopped him before. All of that air faltered as the girl his Niece had told him so much about began to collapse in front of him again. His confidant smirk quickly fell to panic as he scooped her up in a bridal carry before she could hit the ground.
He had failed Ozpin already, he had failed his family. If Ruby had considered Weiss family… Well he didn’t have much of that left, and he didn’t think he could survive losing what was left, even if he didn’t exactly know her yet.
Even if what little he did now he hated. Though in her defense, He only really knew her name after all, it was a shit name but it was just a name. Besides, he has a lot of practice with not liking family members. Doesn’t mean he will ever stop giving them a chance.
With that thought in the back of his head, and the certainty she was safe in one of his arms, his face hardened, as the man standing before him reminded him that she wasn't safe yet.
Jaquess Schnee opened his mouth to protest this turn of events, but before he could get a word in, Qrow simply turned his back to the man and walked away with Weiss in his arms.
Jacquees, not really knowing what to do about this man blatantly kidnapping his daughter in front of him, began to walk after him, sputtering angrily, not really knowing what he was saying just, needing to get this boiling hot rage inside of him out and at this man.
Jaques shouts into his wrist, “What the fuck am I paying you all for, get this man. He is walking away with my daughter and you're all just standing back on the ship like cowardly buffoons.”
And just like that, three underpaid Schnee security guards surrounded Qrow, untrained and full of nerves. Knowing they were up against a hunter, they raised their guns the second they had him surrounded, raised their guns and pointed them right at his chest, right where Weiss was, a child, injured, one that they just saw had her aura broken.
Seconds after the guns had been raised a rage flashed in Qrows eyes, not showing on his face, unseen by all. Without moving Weiss around at all, he took his sword in one hand, and in one fell circular swipe, cleaved the Schnee guards weapons in half.
Knowing they weren't paid enough to struggle in a losing fight, the Schnee guards simply backed off and walked away.
Jaques, more outraged than fearful of this display, placed his hand on Qrow, and with all the bravado of a fool, began to shout at him, “What exactly is your plan here. Clearly I can’t stop you from kidnapping my daughter in broad daylight, but what then. I can pay whatever ransom you desire to get back what's mine, but do you really think you can get away with stealing from the richest man in Atlas like this.”
Still keeping one arm around Weiss, Qrow acknowledges the man for the first time that night, “actually yeah, I think I will get away with this, she's basically an adult, and I will do anything to make sure she can feel at home where I take her. Think of this less as a kidnapping, and more of a unofficial child services acquisition”
Before Qrow could turn away with Weiss once more, Jacques moves right in front of his face, and with a low cold voice, one that has intimidated thousands of people before he put their heads on the chopping block, whispers with icy contempt, “I have killed greater men than you for trying to steal less from me, now this is your last chance, really ask yourself, why would do something so stupid, or do you not know exactly what im capable of taking from you.”
Qrow just blankly stares at the man, before tilting his head in mock amusement, answering with a self-deprecating smile, “Why indeed? I suppose this is just bad luck on both your parts huh, sadly I haven’t learned my lesson about stepping in where I shouldn’t yet.” And with a joke only Qrow gets lingering in the air, he swings.
Qrow swings so fast Jaquess doesn't even have time to process it, all he feels is iron on his jaw, all he hears is bone shattering, all he tastes is blood in the back of his mouth, and he falls to his knees in pain.
Not wanting to waste any more time on self indulgence, Qrow reinforces Weiss’s position being held by him, and heads off to the bullhead. The ship that will take him away from this night. Back to Tai… back to Tai with nothing but bad news and ill omens.
Once he gets in the bullhead, he places Weiss down in the seat across from him, and collapses into his own. Banging his head against the wall of the ship as it begins its take off towards patch, with his family as its only passengers, Qrow finally lets himself drop his hunter mode. To stop and think for a second about what had happened tonight, stop being in constant motion.
He looks towards his left, where he sees his Niece, pale, bloody and hurt in a way even he has never been hurt before. He looks to his right, and sees the unconscious girl he had just committed himself to protecting, the only person that had not left Yang that night, and he cried.
He collapsed his head into his hands and he cried like he hadn’t since Summer left. A week and raspy voice croaked out to no one,
“I saved as many as I could… I tried…. Please believe me I tried.” He begged to no one.
He thought he could hear Summers' voice respond in the back of his head, “and that's more than enough, thank you.”
He thought he could feel Ruby's hand on his shoulder, placed in the same place as her mothers for the first time since her childhood, thanking him with a warm smile.
He knew it was all in his head.
And he weeped.
Weiss’s eyes blinked upon, groggy an dry. Her head was pounding, her body was crying to do something but not telling her what it needed. She tried to work out where she was with bleary eyes, but all she could find was….. Is that Qrow? He looks… like he was crying?
“Where… where am I?” a dehydrated voice whispered out. Bits and pieces of what was happening started to come back to Weiss, but it was not a full picture, and she was so tired.
The second she spoke, the blurry image of Qrow grew closer to her, and a raspy voice, raspier than she had remembered filtered around her, not seeming to come from any direction to her.
“Hey, hey, you're okay… get your rest.”
His eyes were puffy and pleading, and she could not rest without trying to make since of the overwhelming amount of information in her brain. A tired and confused voice barley slipped out of her moth that felt like lead,
“You.. my father? He was… and you? Helped me?... Why?”
A smile she never could have imagined on Qrows face grew on him when she asked him, it was warm and full, not a hint of of anything but care behind it,
“Hey, your family, what else was I supposed to do?”
Family? What was he talking about?
When he said this Qrow just watched with a small amount of amusement as her face scrunched up, and she seemed to stare into nothing in particular for a minute. But then something seemed to make since to her, still confused but, feeling she had picked up on some sort of weird joke, her next question came out desperate and lost.
“Ruby.. where is..”
Before she could finish her thought her body gave out on her once again, and she fell back into unconsciousness, with just one thought making its way through the unyielding currents of her brain.
Still no sign of her.
As Weiss slipped off again for the third time that night in front of him, this was the first time it didn't fill him with an overwhelming sense of fear. Not knowing if she could hear him, or if she would even remember tomorrow if she could, Qrow began to speak, tears forming in his eyes again, the type of tears only he could feel and no one could see, the type you get when you try to cry when your three levels past dehydrated. He shoved his hands over hers, unsure of what her boundaries were, remembering clearly how she had flinched upon any movement from her father, and settled on placing them right below his knees. And with his head hung low he whispered a prayer to whatever part of Weiss could still hear him.
“I did everything I could. Please believe me I did everything. I would have given everything I had and more if she could be here. I’m sorry, please believe me. I’ll do right by you, for her, it's what she would have wanted. She always talked about family like that. Just… please believe me.”
And as those last words left his lips, he punctuated his thoughts with a sigh, limply throwing his head back against the wall of the bullhead once more and shrinking into his seat. Just waiting, waiting to talk to Tai again. It had been a little over a year after all.