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The Foxtrot

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She could taste the traces of wine on her lips as she sat, legs swaying back and forth, on the ledge that overlooked the city of Atlas settled beneath the cascading hill that the Schnee manor stood upon.

Growing up, Weiss Schnee felt like a princess in a castle up here. Of course it was a dangerous place to be, so high up on the tallest tower of the manor, but the view was magnificent. She could see the entire city and yet nobody could ever see her.

She was untouchable – a trait her father would claim as a gift. One Weiss soon realized was far from.

The rain continued to fall above her, though she was protected by the cover of the roof just above her as it sloped overhead. The air was cold, but Weiss never much minded – it was isolated and serene up here, a far cry from the party going on a floor below.

They'd purchased one of their competitors today – won another big fight against a young, upstart dust company that had used some dirty tactics to try and make Weiss' company look bad.

Weiss enjoyed the competition, she liked having other dust manufacturers out there to push her – so she was reluctant to flex her muscle (money) and stomp them out. But when they started to slander her and her past, she put her foot down and drove them out.

As a crack of thunder sounded overhead, Weiss sighed and picked up her glass for another sip. The wine was delicious. Though after her third glass she really wasn't tasting it anymore. Instead it slid down her throat just like the rain off the roof above her.

She found herself feeling dramatic and wondered what might happen if she slipped off this balcony and plummeted to her death. That's not to say she wanted to die, she absolutely didn't – but she wondered what would become of her world if she did.

Certainly Winter would be furious and that was reason number one why Weiss would never jump. They had a lunch coming up in two days and Winter would kill her if she missed it. They so rarely got to spend time together anymore – these rare meetings were the highlight of Weiss' weeks, months…years.

The company would most likely be broken apart and sold, because Winter had no interest in running it and after their father passed away it was all given to Weiss. She had her partners, certainly, but she'd put it in writing that only a Schnee could ever control this company as long as their name was on the front of the tower in Atlas. So it would deconstruct, probably splitting into smaller companies meant for specific things – not the power it was now.

There were days Weiss considered doing just that. Minus the death of course, but splitting the company simply because it would make her father roll over in his grave.

Of course if she did die then the hardest part would be her team finding out. That would be awful. Blake would be the first know because Blake was always the first to know everything. That girl had a knack for information, even if she struggled to keep it from her partner. So Yang would know next and Yang would be a disaster. As often as they clashed, Yang loved Weiss just as much as Weiss loved Yang.

If their time during the war taught Weiss anything, it's that Yang did not handle loss well.

That left Ruby and Weiss had no idea how Ruby would learn of it – or if she would at all. Weiss hadn't spoken to Ruby in six years and that number alone was enough to warrant Weiss downing the rest of her drink.

The pounding rain only increased as she sat her glass down and leaned back on her elbows. Soon enough someone would realize she wasn't downstairs with the others and they would come looking for her.

Violet would know where she was, Violet always knew – that's what Weiss hired her for. So long as Violet came alone, that'd be well enough. Perhaps she would even join Weiss for a drink.

It was if some of the higher ups came with her that Weiss would be in trouble. The last thing she needed was her business partners seeing her out here. The sad and lonely CEO, drinking by herself and teetering on a high balcony thinking about what the world might be like if she died.

The thought made her chuckle out loud as she picked up her empty glass and twirled it in her hands.

It was time to go back and be the person everyone needed her to be.

Carefully, she pushed to her feet and peered down over the edge to the ground below. Yep, the fall would absolutely kill her – at least then she wouldn't have to shake anymore hands or deal with anymore sexist old men who thought they could control her with intimidation or flattery.

That was one of the perks of the job, actually, putting them all in their place and showing them that she was still a Schnee and still better than them.

"I'm Weiss Schnee and I don't need any of your bullshit." She said to no one before chucking her glass over the edge and listening for the shatter as it hit the ground below.

"Are you having fun, Miss Schnee?" The voice made her jump and Weiss nearly slipped on her but before a hand grabbed her shoulder to keep her upright.

Looking up, she met the purple hair and light green eyes of her assistant. "Violet, you startled me!"

"Not hard to do, ma'am. It's raining pretty hard and you're, well…drunk."

Weiss scoffed. "I am not, Violet. That's nonsense!"

"Oh?" Violet lifted one leg up onto the step that led to the balcony so she could help Weiss get down. "Does a sober Weiss Schnee throw her expensive wine glasses away with no care at all?"

"Of course I do," she stumbled through the window and into her bedroom where the temperature was much warmer. "I'm Weiss – hic – Schnee. I do whatever I want without a care in the world!"

Violet nodded as she guided Weiss to sit down on her bed. "Is that right?"

"Yes." Weiss nodded for emphasis as she eyed Violet who began digging through Weiss' drawer and pulled out a robe before moving to the adjoined bathroom.

"So that's why you danced with Mr. Paddington? Because you wanted to?"

Weiss curled her lip at the memory of dancing with that old codger and his wandering hands. "I want his shipment vehicles to get my dust through Vacuo safely, so yes – it was my choice!" She spoke with pride and raised up her chin for good measure.

Violet merely chuckled and brought Weiss a towel before returning to the bathroom and starting the tub. "Semantics, Miss Schnee."

"I built my life around semantics, Miss Young. Means to an end, if I can reach that end then I will do whatever is necessary." Weiss then watched as Violet stood at the bathroom door, tub running behind her and smiled. "What are you doing? Are you taking a bath right now, in my room? There's a party going on."

Violet rolled her eyes. "You've been up here, drinking, for an hour. The party is over and guests are all gone."

"What?!" Weiss stood up in a rush, only to have the room spin around her. "I—I didn't mean to…be gone so long. What did you tell them? Did they ask questions?"

"No," Violet was at her side, as she always was, and helped Weiss sit back down. "I told them you were worn down from the hectic day and overwhelmed with all the support and needed to rest. They understood. Everyone understands that you work hard. So when you decide to drink your night away by yourself, those kinds of lies work pretty well."

With a heavy sigh, Weiss rested her head on Violet's shoulder and nodded. "Th—thank you, Violet. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Hire someone else, probably. I'm quite replaceable."

Weiss shook her head sharply. "You're not – you're important."

"My vacation package says otherwise."

Weiss pouted and pulled back angrily. "I offered you more days and you refused!"

Violet smiled at that and stood back up. "I was kidding, Miss Schnee – you're very easy when you're drunk."

"I am never easy." Weiss crossed her arms and looked away. "So what are you doing?"

"Well," Violet picked up the robe. "I've gotten out your favorite robe, I'm running you a very exquisite bath and the staff are cleaning and the cooks have began making you a meal to help soak up the alcohol. You're going to take a bath, and not drink anymore –" Weiss pouted and Violet ignored her. "Then you'll eat, go to bed and hopefully be up early enough for your morning meeting."

"Is Paddington going to be there?" Weiss asked as Violet guided her to the bathroom and started to undo the countless pieces of jewelry Weiss was wearing.

Violet plucked the earrings from Weiss' lobes and set them gently on the sink. "I'm certain – probably with bells on considering how friendly you were."

Weiss rolled her eyes. "I'll dropkick him in the funbags before I let that man near me again."

"Funbags?"

"Yes," She shrugged. "I learned it from an old teammate of mine. If you get the tip of your boot right between both the little peas you can really put them down for the count. And I'm certain that Paddington doesn't know a damn thing about aura so he wouldn't be ready for it."

"Well, you are the only billionaire CEO I know with combat training and actual military service."

One thing Weiss always appreciated about Violet was how non-judgmental she was. Weiss' past was often frowned upon by most people in the business world. They heard the stories of the war and of Weiss' part in it. The battles she'd been a part of, the things she done and tragedies she'd seen. It was unsettling to people who were raised in high rise buildings and went to fancy, quaint academies.

Weiss had seen war, she'd taken lives and watched loved ones die – it was what set her apart. She intimidated a lot of them and unsettled the rest.

Violet though, she never backed away from talking about it and when Weiss told her stories, Violet listened intently.

Violet was, in fact, a wonderful girl. She was built like Yang with the personality of a very docile Blake Belladonna. Her hair was a shimmering purple, almost a color of it's own that Weiss couldn't define. Her eyes green, so much so that they reminded her of Pyrrha.

She was beautiful and she was here in Weiss' bathroom and – maybe…

"Violet," Weiss reached up and thought about touching her assistant's shoulder, but hesitated. She didn't touch anyone without permission – given how much she hated it (unless she was about to fall off a balcony). Instead she decided to be blunt. Weiss never received anything by being shy. "Join me." She said and Violet pursed her lips, clearly understanding the statement.

"Miss Schnee," the way she spoke said everything – she was not interested. "You are my boss and you are lonely and also, you were the one who told me not to sleep with anyone you work with."

Weiss frowned and nodded, suddenly feeling very embarrassed. "I—I know, I apologize and I certainly hope I haven't made things awkward. I just…I'm lonely."

"Couldn't be because you isolate yourself from everyone and sit on your balcony throwing things into the garden."

With an irritated glare, Weiss shakily sat down on the edge of the tub. "Listen, I asked you sleep with me, not psychoanalyze me."

Violet chuckled. "Well I am flattered, Miss Schnee, but I'm afraid psychoanalysis and running baths is all my salary covers." Weiss looked up at her assistant and smiled – glad that there was no discomfort between them. "Your bath is nearly ready, I'll lay some clothes out for you and there should be food waiting for when you finish. If that's all, I'll take my leave and see you tomorrow?"

"Yes, enjoy your night and I'll only need you in the morning so you can take the afternoon off tomorrow."

"Thank you," Violet nodded before taking her leave and Weiss exhaled.

She was lonely, incredibly so and as great as Violet was, she had zero interest in anything that wasn't physical with her. Violet wasn't even the point, it was just another body – another heartbeat to make the night less empty.

Weiss traced her fingers through the warm water before standing up to remove the constricting dress.

Her eyes fell to the jar of rose petals sitting on the edge of the tub and she reached across to pick it up (nearly falling over as her jelly legs wobbled a bit). She opened it, met with the scent of roses and smiled. It was such a familiar and welcoming smell – one she missed dearly.

Picking out a few, Weiss scattered them in the water before turning off the faucet and climbing inside. One day she'd confront the memories of Ruby Rose that haunted her so much. One day she would settle it. For now, she would lie in the water, get lost in the aroma of roses and try not to think about tomorrow.


Weiss woke up with a scowl as her alarm blared and she tried to break it when she turned it off. To the surprise of no one, including herself, she was woken with a headache and a disposition that if anyone made any loud noises in her home they would be fired immediately.

She slowly opened one eye and groaned as the sunlight poured in through the window directly onto her face. Quickly, she jerked the blankets up over her head and tried to shield herself from the treacherous light.

Last night was a mistake – one she'd made a bit too often these days. Weiss was not a fan of drinking but lately it had become a bit of an escape from the usual doldrums of her role as SDC CEO. It was easier when she had the parties at home, she didn't have to drive anywhere and her staff along with Violet were quick to send everyone home when Weiss grew tired of them.

It was a role she still hadn't mastered, being the boss. She was, in fact, the face of the Schnee Dust Company and anyone and everyone who came to her parties were there to impress her. She would admit that she enjoyed the power just a little – growing up a Schnee she was taught to be a leader and to command respect. Yet, when it came to placating all those people who expected so much of her, Weiss was quick to revert back to the crowd and let them speculate.

She'd done more than enough in her short time as CEO to garner admiration. The company had thrived and with better business practices and a slightly improved relationship with the Faunus, Weiss was moving things in a direction that made working at the SDC more bearable.

Still, she found herself drinking to replace the emptiness of this mansion and the mundane of her every day – in a sickening sort of way she almost missed the war. At least then she had people she cared about around her all the time.

"Oh that's just depressing." Weiss groaned as her head throbbed before she sat up and let the sun beat down on her.

Weiss did love mornings – more so than she did when she was younger. The morning used to be a time when Weiss would attack anyone who looked at her funny before she'd had her coffee. While she still needed the coffee, mornings had been changed for her because that was Ruby's favorite time of day.

The first thought of Ruby on this day hit her hard, but she decided to go with it considering that today was, in fact, Ruby's twenty-fifth birthday.

She could remember Ruby's eighteenth like it was yesterday. It was a morning, just like this, one of the many that they shared together that made this Weiss' favorite time of day.

During the war there wasn't much free time at all. Except early in the morning before anyone else was awake. There was never a moment. No sit down to discuss true feelings. It just built from a quiet need to be in the same room together. At first it was just because they were teammates at Beacon, but when the chance came to partner up with someone else, as more and more people joined their fight – Weiss and Ruby never broke away from each other.

In fact, it took Weiss a long time to learn how to sleep alone again after Ruby left.

Running a hand through her hair, Weiss reached to the bedside table and grabbed her scroll. She didn't actually have Ruby's number, the one she did have had been disconnected years ago. It had been offered to her multiple times but unless it was offered by Ruby herself Weiss was never going to take it.

She was too damn stubborn to be the first one to reach out.

Still, she had means to contact Ruby in a roundabout sort of way. Pulling up Yang's contact, she quickly typed out a message.

Do you think your sister would

"No," she muttered to herself before erasing and starting over.

Tell Ruby that I am thinking about her on her

Again she deleted and groaned in frustration. There was just no proper way to do this – no right way to tell Ruby that she hoped her birthday was good. That her life was good.

With a self pitying sigh, Weiss turned off the scroll and dropped it on the blanket before lying back down with a whimper.

Chapter Text

With another sniffle, Weiss shook her head to try and stop the tears from coming. She'd demanded that her secretary not let anyone near her office for the next thirty minutes because she needed time to let all this out and no one could see Weiss Schnee crying.

She was a woman who commanded respect and intimidated those who needed it. Because of that, she couldn't be seen as weak within her company. She was much gentler than her father, she cared about people – but she was still a Schnee with an iron fist.

That's the person she wanted everyone to see – the same person who had just fired a sixty-five-year-old employee because he was no longer able to keep his work rate up to match those around him. He'd been with the company for twenty-five years but he was slowing down his department and because of his time at the company, Weiss felt it was her responsibility to break the news to him.

It would have been easier if he'd been upset – if he'd yelled and screamed at her for being a monster.

She could play that role.

Instead he thanked her for the opportunity. Thanked her for taking the time to meet with him and for all the loyalty. He was losing his job and she knew he had a family – she knew about all her employees and even still she fired him and he thanked her.

Weiss felt like garbage – the lowest of the low. She could have let him stay on – maybe moved him to an easier role within the company but then that would merely set a precedent that you could be kind and get away with being unproductive.

No, she had to let him go and she knew it was the right move for the Schnee Dust Company. Still, she needed this time alone to feel it and to feel human for taking away the livelihood of a kind old man. Money was never something Weiss would ever have to worry about – but she knew how much it mattered to most people.

People unlike her. People who had earned it.

Wiping at her eyes again, she was startled by the sudden ringing her computer was making. There was a call incoming and she was all set to absolutely berate her secretary for deliberately ignoring her instructions – only to realize it was her personal line going off. The one she handled herself without any help from her poor, overworked secretary.

"You're a mess today, Weiss." She chided herself before seeing Blake's face pop up on the screen. Suddenly remembering she'd been crying, Weiss rubbed her eyes.

"Oh, hey Blake. Didn't expect a call from you in the middle of –"

"You're crying." Blake said without even giving Weiss a chance to finish her hello. "What's wrong?"

Weiss sighed. "It's nothing. Just…a long day. Being the boss sucks."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I can call back?"

"No, please don't. It's wonderful to hear from you – especially after what I just dealt with. Though the daytime call is alarming. Is everything okay?"

She saw Blake's smile grow and any worry she might have had faded. "Actually, um…she asked me."

"She didn't?" Weiss' eyes went wide. She and Blake had speculated for months during all their calls that Yang was planning something. "She asked you to marry her? Finally?!"

"Finally," Blake held up her hand to show off the ring and Weiss was genuinely impressed.

"Wow, did she steal that?"

Blake frowned. "She didn't…I mean, I didn't ask but she didn't steal it! Yang makes good money at Beacon!"

"I'll say," Weiss examined the ring in the monitory but it didn't shine nearly as much as Blake's smile. "I didn't know professors made that much considering Oobleck wore the same crummy shirt and tie to work every day." She noticed the blank stare Blake was giving her. "Alright, sorry I was sidetracked. So she asked you, how'd she do it?"

"Nothing fancy, very Yang. We were just together and I was cooking her dinner and she said something about how I always put her silverware on the left side and I just do it because I know she doesn't like to use her prosthetic arm to eat and she just…she told me she loved me more than anything in the world and she got down on one knee and…she asked me to spend the rest of my life with her."

Typically, one to tease and antagonize Yang at a moment's notice, Weiss found herself all but swooning at the story of the proposal. "Wow, that's…Yang did that?"

Blake's smile somehow grew even more. "She did that." She saw Blake's ears twitch atop her head and rolled her eyes.

"Look at you so smitten. Blake Belladonna, one of the heroes of The Remnant War turned into nothing more than a love struck teenager."

"I defy your comment with every fiber of my being. I am a cold, distant warrior who sheaths her emotions because they make me weak and vulnerable." Weiss didn't need to say anything, just continued to stare Blake down. "Alright I'm a big mess of goo, but I love her so much, Weiss."

Suddenly feeling so much better, Weiss shook her head with a smile. "I can't complain about that. Even if it is odd to see you smile so much." She sat up a bit straighter. "So, have you guys set a date yet? Want me to book you anywhere in particular? I know of a few five star resorts I could book entirely for a few weeks."

"No, Weiss – no I'm not going to have you pay for our wedding. We're not even planning to do anything too big or fancy."

"Blake, it's no trouble. I've made enough money during this conversation to rent you two an island for a week to honeymoon on."

"No I –" Blake stopped and tilted her head, her ears perking up. "Wait, really?"

Weiss shrugged. "We make money despite ourselves here at the Schnee Dust Company." She said as if it were the company slogan – which it honestly could be.

"Well I don't want your money, though you may have to buy a few meals before the wedding." Weiss snorted with laughter before nodded. "I was actually hoping you might…want to be up there with me during the ceremony? As…" Blake was clearly nervous and Weiss thought her chest might implode. "As my maid of honor?" Weiss knew the shock was colored all over her expression – that was the absolute last thing she ever expected. She and Blake had grown very close. They talked every single week and had shared so much during and after the war. But she never thought it would be at that level, mostly because – "I know it might not look good for you to be so prominent in the wedding of a Faunus, given your standing with the SDC, I just –"

"I'll do it." Weiss cut her off quickly and matter-of-factly.

"Really?" Blake beamed.

"Yes, are you kidding me? Blake Belladonna I don't care what these stuffed shirts think – I would be privileged to be your maid of honor!"

Weiss noted the tears in Blake's eyes and immediately realized that she had blurred vision of her own. It hit her hard in this moment just how far she and Blake had come – how foolish she had been to believe Blake was anything but wonderful. They had their differences, they were both wounded by their childhoods, but they were friends – best friends and Weiss wouldn't trade it for anything.

Taking a deep breath, Blake wiped at her eyes and sighed. "I did not intend to get this emotional and I probably shouldn't make you cry at work."

"It's no problem," Weiss waved her off. "I was already crying."

"You never told me why?"

She hadn't and the truth was she couldn't. Yes, firing that old man felt terrible, but these tears felt like so much more – as if she'd been holding them in for days. "It's been a rough few days." It was true, the problem was that she could replace days with years and still be telling the truth. "I could really use this to get away and be with you guys. Though you still haven't told me where you're having the wedding?"

Blake seemed a bit hesitant to respond and Weiss figured it out almost immediately. "Patch."

"Blake…" Weiss frowned deeply.

"I know."

"Blake," Weiss whined.

"Weiss, she's Yang's sister and she won't come if we don't go to her. Ruby's…"

"No," Weiss cut her off. "I don't want to know. I told myself a long time ago that I wouldn't worry myself with Ruby Rose." She shook her head furiously and sat in the silence between them. She waited and when she opened her eyes Blake was looking at her through the monitory with her lips pursed. Blake was insufferable. "Fine, Ruby's what? Tell me?"

Blake rolled her eyes. "She's pretty isolated. We'll go weeks without hearing from her. She hunts on long missions and if Yang wasn't so persistent I don't know if she'd check in at all. Taiyang lives close to her, but he can't keep up with her all the time and there are times when he gets really worried because Ruby will be away on missions for months and she comes back and locks herself away in her home. We talked to her this morning and she's excited about the wedding – she's going to be a part of it and…" Blake sighed. "Yang wants to ask her to move to Vale with us. She misses her."

There was not a single day that passed where Weiss didn't think about Ruby. Some days those thoughts were anger and others they were memories of how insanely happy Ruby made her. Usually one led to the other and sometimes they intertwined into one giant mess of emotion that drove her to drink.

Regardless, she hadn't had any contact of any kind with Ruby for almost three years now and their last conversation ended with the word 'hate' being thrown around freely by the both of them.

Weiss never knew if Ruby meant it, she certainly didn't – but she was so stubborn and angry that when all of their unspoken problems came to a head, neither of them handled it well.

"Blake I –" her voice caught in her throat and she took a breath. "I don't know if I can be around her. I don't know if she'll even want to be around me."

There was a look Blake had, one Weiss had come to deem as the 'I'm about to tell you something you don't want to hear' look. She was wearing it now and Weiss was prepared to be defeated "I love you, Weiss and I know your history with Ruby is messy. That being said, this is Yang and I's wedding. It's not about you two. We want you there, I want you there but Ruby has to be there and we want her there too. I know it might be hard but I'm asking you to try for us."

Weiss and Ruby might tear down the entire island of Patch when it was all said and done, but she wasn't about to say no to Blake. "Of course…of course I'll be there."

Blake grinned. "Good, I really should get back to work but it's great to see you, Weiss. And remember, two weeks from tomorrow we'll be heading to Patch so start planning for that.

"Way ahead of you," Weiss held up her scroll and showed off the calendar. "Taking two whole weeks."

"Awesome, it's going to be a lot of fun." Blake seemed confident, even if Blake Belladonna and fun were about as common as Weiss Schnee and fun. "See you soon."

"Bye, Blake. Congratulations!"

When the call ended, Weiss was left with a swelling and good feeling in her chest. She was, despite everything, excited to see Blake and Yang again. It would be fun to be around them and to have something other than the Schnee Dust Company to look forward to.

Yes, the thoughts of Ruby and the presence of Ruby were scary – not to mention the unsettling picture Blake painted of Ruby's life now. It was something she couldn't dwell on, she had no control over it and no right to tell Ruby how to live her life.

Shaking her head furiously, Weiss tucked away the thoughts of Ruby as she had for years now. It was as Blake said, this was not about she and Ruby. After all, she was going to be Blake's maid of honor. That meant helping with planning and decorations and parties.

Oh.

The bachelorette party – Weiss had never considered such a thing and now would she be in charge of throwing one for Blake? What would that even consist of? All she knew of them was from trash novels and television programs she'd seen.

Most of those involved…

Weiss stared at her monitor and chewed on her bottom lip. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to inquire.

Strippers. She typed into the search bar and let her fingers linger over the enter key. It hung there for a few moments before she backtracked and tried again. Expensive Strippers.

After all, it would only be the best.

She hit enter and peeked over the monitor to make sure no one was coming – as if anyone would barge in unannounced into the CEO's office. Still, better to be safe than sorry as she checked the high rise window behind her as well to make sure the washers weren't out.

Once she was safe, she pulled up the tab only to be met with an onslaught of nudity and crude images that made her immediately slam the power button on her computer.

"No, no no no." She said with a shake of her head. "No bachelorette party thrown by Weiss Schnee will have anything like that. What in the world would you even need a banana for?" She would be sure to clear her search history later, for now, she had a brunch to get to.


Her big sister had always been stoic – even as children Winter rarely spoke out of turn. She was less emotional than Weiss and much better at feeling out their father's moods. Even still, Weiss couldn't help but notice that her big sister was being even quieter than usual.

She'd been polite of course, saying hello and embracing Weiss as she always did, but the conversation was mostly one sided and when the meal came, Winter barely said a word.

So Weiss continued to pick at her coffee cake and peek up at Winter on occasion to see those blue eyes looking back at her.

When Winter's scroll went off and she didn't even look down to check it before ignoring the message, Weiss caved.

"What is it, Winter?"

"I beg your pardon?" Winter said with narrow eyes.

"You keep staring at me, you're quiet and you've been watching me the entire time we've been here."

Winter shrugged. "We are sitting across from one another, are we not? Would you rather I stare at the bearded man sitting behind you playing with this eggs?"

Weiss peeked back to see exactly what Winter had described, a young man with an enormous red beard who was merely poking his eggs with his fork and swirling them around. Frustrated, she turned back to her sister. "No, I want you to tell me what's on your mind? Why are you so quiet? Is everything okay?"

"Everything is fine, Sister. I'm more worried about you."

"Me?" Weiss was surprised. "Why me? I'm fine."

"You're always fine."

Weiss frowned. "Well what do you expect me to be. I have my work, I have the manor, I'm –"

"A Schnee through and through." Winter commented before sipping her coffee. "You've certainly fallen right into exactly what father wanted for you."

Oh…this was what they were doing.

"Someone had to take over the SDC, Winter. I don't know why you're bringing this up now."

Putting her glass down, Winter rested her hands on the table. "It's no secret that you've done tremendous work in bringing the Schnee Dust Company to new levels and doing it without the questionable business practices that our father mastered."

"Which was like running through a cornfield backwards and bare bottomed, but yes, it was the only way I would take over."

"And you've done well, but Weiss I only ever see you here – at these meals. You never come to visit me, you never take me up on my offers for weekends to the coast or vacations to get you away from that place. You live in father's old home, alone – just as he did. You're twenty-seven and sometimes I feel like my sister is somehow ten years older than me. I worry about you."

The words struck Weiss hard, like body punches from a beowolf. She constantly refused her sister's invitations, mostly because she worried if she grabbed a taste of freedom she might never go back to the SDC. That was her life now, it was what she had poured the last six years of her life into and only recently had she really seen growth and results and change. It would be wrong to leave now and she would feel like a failure if she did.

Yet, that didn't make the days any easier, or the nights any less lonely.

Today however, Weiss had a card to play. "Actually, I do have a trip coming up that I am quite excited about."

"Oh?" Winter picked at her slice of cake.

"Yes, Blake and Yang are getting married and Blake has asked me to be her maid of honor."

Winter snorted, actually snorted out loud and Weiss had never imagined such a sound could come from her sister. "A Schnee is going to be the maid of honor in a wedding between a Faunus and a human and you're the maid of honor for the Faunus? Oh father would have a fit." Winter continued to laugh and Weiss cracked a smile at the truth of her words. Their father was such a bigot when it came to Faunus and after letting Blake into her life and other Faunus like Velvet and Neon during the war, Weiss could never forgive him for the hateful things he'd said about them when she was younger. "Weiss I think that's great – if anyone can draw you out of this funk you're in, it's Blake and that lunatic girlfriend of hers."

"I am not in a funk!" She was met with a blank stare. "I'm not!"

"When was the last time you went out before today? Not to go to work, but actually out of the house to do something for yourself."

Even as she pretended to rack her brain for an answer, Weiss knew there was no good one and she lowered her head. "When was the last time we had a meal together?"

"My point exactly! You must take advantage of this trip, Weiss! Make the most of it and have fun! Where is the wedding? A beach in Mistral? Are they staying in Vale? I know Yang's position at Beacon has been well received – Glynda has mentioned her teaching methods are both unconventional and very successful."

"Actually," Weiss let the word hang and looked away. "They're having the wedding in Patch."

When she looked to Winter again, there was disgust in her expression. "Patch? That…backwoods village? Is there even a place to have a wedding in Patch? The local community center?"

"Patch is beautiful, Winter. Yes, it's…small and doesn't have a lot to offer beyond it's views but it's also where Yang grew up and where—" her voice caught in her throat and she suddenly wanted to run away. The sentence snuck up on her so quickly she didn't have time to divert it fast enough. "Where her…father is."

Naturally, Winter pounced. "It's where your ex-girlfriend is too, isn't it?"

"Winter," Weiss warned though she knew it was pointless.

"Funny, I seem to recall you saying that you never wished to see her again – after you finished crying for a week straight on my couch."

Weiss held her head up high. "It's been years, I have moved on and I'm sure Ruby has as well. Our teammates are getting married and we can easily be in the same place together and be there for them."

"That, or you two will fuck the moment you see each other."

Dropping her fork onto the table and then hearing it bounce off the plate and onto the concrete floor of the outdoor eating area they were out made Weiss jump as she stared, wide eyed at her sister. "What did you say?!"

"I said that, or you two will fight the moment you see each other." Completely flustered and frustrated, Weiss picked up her fork off the floor and laid it on the table before Winter stood up. "I'm afraid I must be going, but I am glad that you're taking the time for this wedding, Weiss. Take extended time, okay? Give yourself a break." Weiss stood up, still a bit shaken but she sank into Winter's embrace nonetheless. "We need to do another meal before you go, oh and could you give me Yang's number so I can call and congratulate her?"

"Why do you want to call Yang?"

"To congratulate her – we spent a few months close together in Vale years back. I owe her a phone call." Weiss was suspicious – Winter never did anything without motive and she had a…look in her eye.

Still, she couldn't say no and she took Winter's scroll that was extended out to her and punched in Yang's number before giving it back.

"Don't work yourself too hard, okay? The company won't go under if you rest a little."

Weiss fought the urge to say it might because she was doing it all on her own, but she didn't. Instead she smiled and nodded and looked as if she could take on the world. "I won't, drive safe Winter."

As she sat in the backseat of her chauffeured car, Weiss couldn't get the sentence she thought Winter had said out of her mind. The last thing she wanted was a confrontation with Ruby – if all went well, they would hardly interact at all.

Certainly not enough to fight or…the other thing.

They'd done that before, on both accounts.

"Dammit," she cursed as she was suddenly feeling the heat of the day and undid the top button of her shirt and turned the music in the back up as loudly as she could. Perhaps the most accomplished tenors in all of Atlas could rid her mind of the memories of her nights with Ruby.

It was working well enough, until the hum of the car made her eyes slip shut and she was suddenly met with images of Ruby above her, beneath her, behind her.

Opening her eyes with a fury, she turned off the music and glared out the window.

Weiss hadn't misheard at all the first time Winter spoke and she knew it.

Chapter Text

It was moments like these where Weiss hated her conscience. You see, it was some voice in the back of her head that told her it was too flashy to fly her own private jet to Patch for this wedding. No, she wanted to be a normal person going out to see her friends. She would fly on (a still expensive) civilian flight and travel like a normal person.

The problem was, normal people were slobs who cared nothing about comfort or convenience and instead crammed themselves into one building and walked through lines like sheep to go from one destination to another.

Weiss sat in the terminal as she waited for her flight. She had brought books to read and had a music on her scroll, instead she was just sitting with her sunglasses on and watching these people go about their lives. She didn't want to call herself better than them, she certainly wasn't. But as she eyed an older man holding a vanilla milkshake in one hand and a cigar in the other, she couldn't help but wonder how they were both the same species.

"After this, the humans have no right to call Faunus beasts or any other derogatory terms." Weiss said as she spotted a pair of teenagers practically swallowing each others faces by one of the exit doors. "This place is disgusting."

"It's the best transportation terminal in all of Atlas, Miss Schnee."

Weiss glanced over at Violet who was nose deep in a book and sitting on her own, rather large suitcase. Despite what Violet said, she was not sitting on one of the many disgusting and dirty seats that littered the waiting area haphazardly.

"Well then I fear for the health and wellbeing of the rest of Atlas if this is the best we have to offer." Weiss raised her nose up as a boy came scampering towards her at full speed and nearly ran right into her before turning at the last second and running to the large windows that overlooked the runways. "People just let their children run without restraint! I have never—"

"Miss Schnee," Violet sighed and Weiss knew she was complaining too much. The surroundings and her never ending nerves were getting the better of her. "If you would like we could get back in the car, go back to your manor and take the jet to Patch."

"No," Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose. "No…I'm okay – there would be nowhere to park a jet in Taiyang's yard I'm sure and…I can be a normal person."

"Right," Violet stood up and put her book face down to keep her place. "I'm going to get something to eat. You want to corn dog or something?"

Weiss curled her lip at the two words that were just thrown at her. "A…corn dog?"

Violet smirked almost devilishly. "I'll bring you one." She said before walking away. Weiss loved her assistant and Violet was quick to accept a free vacation to Patch, but sometimes Violet loved to push her. Not that Weiss minded, she never doubted that Violet did her job well and had Weiss' best interests. Still, she could be a real pain in the butt sometimes.

Weiss watched Violet walk away and pulled out her scroll – she had one message from Blake asking if she'd boarded yet and quickly typed out a response.

Not yet, might not make it due to incompetence of the human race. The White Fang were right, we're all idiots.

Putting her phone down, Weiss flipped her ponytail and continued to stare at the mass of people around her. Eventually, her gaze shifted to a couple sitting on a row of seats across the room. Through the sea of people and luggage, they almost seemed lost in their own world. A well built and cute brunette with a tall and elegant beauty next to her as they both watched something on a scroll. Through the chaos of this place, they were completely lost in one another – laughing in sync and when one seemingly made a joke, the other rolled her eyes and kissed her cheek.

It was an adorable thing to see and even as Weiss felt herself grinning at their happiness, she kind of wanted to run over there and tell them that eventually it would turn to crap and they'd end up hating each other.

She didn't, of course – she wasn't about to leave her luggage unattended. Still, Weiss had had that kind of love before. The love where you shut off everything else and only focus on that one person who completes you. It's encompassing and magical – but dangerous and fragile.

Perhaps she was jaded, but she wanted to believe that if she and Ruby couldn't make it last – nobody could.

"Here," Violet broke Weiss' train of thought and she was met with some kind of fried, flaccid shaped item on a stick. Weiss eyed it for a moment before glancing up to watch Violet take a bite out of her own. "S'good." She said and Weiss winced.

"Are you talking with your mouth full?"

"Sho it would sheem," she swallowed. "Just take the thing!" Violet pressed it at Weiss again who tentatively grabbed the stick and held it.

They served a lot of questionable food at Beacon, but never anything on a stick. "I really should fire you for this." Weiss said though she was still staring at the corn dog.

Violet shrugged without a care. "Go for it, then you can fly to Patch by yourself and handle all your phone calls and hotel bookings and –"

To shut Violet up, Weiss chomped down on the corn dog and let the offending food sit in her mouth. Violet had a small smile on her face that grew when Weiss started to chew.

The moment the flavor hit her tongue, her eyes lit up and she stared at this weird concoction on a stick and then back at Violet. "This…" she swallowed and continued to let the amazingly heavy flavors settle over her. "This is…good?"

"Told you," Violet pulled a small container of something red out of the bag and held to Weiss. "Dip it in this, makes it even better."

Weiss wanted to argue, but after this discovery she had no leverage to question her assistant. Instead, she dipped the corn dog into the sauce and took another bite. The combination of flavors was, in fact, even better and she still could not believe it. Even as she was dipping into the sauce again, she felt like she was somehow being tricked.

"How is this happening?" She asked mid bite and heard Violet chuckle.

"Finally found a wiener worth putting in your mouth, huh?"

Weiss scoffed as she swallowed, nearly choking before setting a dangerous glare on her assistant. "Yes, well this one is not attached to any useless man."

Violet snorted. "Fair enough…you want another one don't you?"

"That's ridiculous – this thing is gigantic and I'm not even finished with it yet." Weiss said with a dismissive wave of her hand. Until she glanced down and saw that she was nearly finished. "I suppose I could take another for the flight."

"I don't think you can take food on the airship, Miss Schnee."

Weiss took the last bite and handed her stick back to Violet. "Then I had better eat the second one quickly. I am on vacation after all, I can be a bit reckless."

With a wry smile, Violet rolled her eyes and went to retrieve another corn dog.

Weiss Schnee was going to have fun on this trip, even if that meant two airport corn dogs.


"Is she still out there?" Yang's voice was the first thing Weiss had registered in the last five minutes.

The rain continued to fall outside and Weiss stood over the sink by the window and watched Ruby. She was sitting on a wooden swing, covered by the overhang as rain poured down in front of her. She'd been out there for almost an hour.

"Yeah," Weiss quickly resumed her long forgotten task of washing dishes. "Yeah she is."

Yang sighed and walked up to the sink next to Weiss. "Not gonna go talk to her? I know you want to."

"I don't have anything of value to say to her, Yang. None of us know what she went through –what she saw."

It was true – none of them could truly understand the trauma Ruby had endured when she faced off with Salem. The battle to reach her was so intense and had driven them all in different directions. Ruby was determined and even as they said their goodbyes on the battlefield without reassurance that they'd ever see each other again – Weiss knew Ruby wouldn't fail.

She would end Salem as she had promised years earlier. She did, but it came with a steep price. Jaune was with her and was as he had always been; their shield. He vowed to keep Ruby safe, he told Weiss he would, and he did. However, when Ruby returned, she was alone and shaking – Jaune had kept her safe with his very last breath.

Ruby muttering quietly that she should have saved him.

Lie Ren had called Jaune a hero just two hours earlier at his service. That was when Ruby had enough and left the room, despite Weiss' pleas for her to stay. She was in the car waiting when the funeral ended and they all came back here.

Ruby found herself a spot on that bench and hadn't moved since.

"Are you going to talk to her?" Yang prodded again and broke Weiss from her thoughts.

Looking back, she saw Yang unbuttoning her jacket and shedding it carefully before laying it across one of a wooden chair. "What would I say?" Weiss asked genuinely and Yang clearly wasn't expecting that.

Which was even more evident by the grimace on her face. "I—I don't know."

Weiss smiled sadly. "Exactly."

"Might help if you just sit with her?"

The truth was, Weiss didn't want to face Ruby right now. She was scared that Ruby might push her away – more so than she had in the last two weeks. "I—I'll see what I can do tonight."

Yang frowned, but nodded all the same. "I know you don't want her to slip away. You don't want to see your girlfriend hurting just as much as I don't want to see my sister hurting."

The day dragged on without much excitement. Ruby finally came inside but quietly sat on the couch while a few shows and movies played. None of them were really watching any of it. Blake had curled up with Yang and fell asleep while Yang continued to sort through things on her scroll.

As night fell, Weiss finished brushing her teeth and stepped into the small bedroom she and Ruby were sharing.

Ruby was already in bed, watching something on her scroll. At least it was on and she was staring at it – whether any of it was registering was up for debate.

Weiss shut the bathroom light off and quietly slipped into bed beside the love of her life and hurt so much at the complete lack of response she received.

Unwilling to let Ruby suffer in silence, Weiss reached up and put her hand over the screen Ruby was staring at, some cooking video suddenly shut off and she was finally met with a pair of silver eyes.

"Sorry," Weiss said as she took the phone and sat it aside before reaching up and running a hand through Ruby's hair. It was soft from an earlier shower that Weiss had practically dragged her into.

The feel of Ruby's skin on her palm was still enough to make Weiss' skin feel like it was on fire. They'd officially been a couple for almost three years now, since Weiss returned to the war and Ruby practically tackled her in a flurry of hugs and one stray kiss that changed everything.

That was the best day, one Weiss would never forget.

Even now, the relationship felt surreal. That she could touch Ruby like this. That they casually shared a bed and everyone they knew accepted it.

Ruby was Weiss' girlfriend, and right now she was hurting and Weiss was struggling to fix it.

"Talk to me, Ruby. You've been so quiet."

Ruby swallowed thickly and leaned into Weiss, her head on Weiss' shoulder. "Do you think they're together now?"

Weiss didn't have to ask who Ruby was talking about. "I think…it's a good thought to have, yes. Assuming Jaune didn't get lost trying to find his way to her."

It was an attempt at humor and Ruby actually laughed just a bit and for a moment Weiss thought she'd scored a major victory – then Ruby sniffled.

"It's my fault."

"Ruby—"

"No," Ruby pulled away slowly and Weiss let her, trying to search Ruby's eyes for answers. "I—I was so focused on Salem and he just…."

"Ruby…wh—" Weiss continued to search and was only met with steel silver and unshed tears. She wasn't good enough at this. "What happened on that mountain?"

"Miss Schnee?" she was jolted from her nightmare by a hand on her shoulder and nearly fell out of her seat when Violet touched her.

A wave of nauseating anxiety struck her as images of Ruby flashed through her mind. This was a plane going to Patch. Where Ruby lived. She was going to see Ruby again. After all these years and all that eventually tore them apart.

Her stomach turned and she winced as a rush of bile climbed her throat.

"I'm going to be sick," she said as she struggled with her seatbelt.

"No, you can't get out of your seat, the seatbelt light is on."

Weiss knew she was about to throw up and she was in a public plane, surrounded by strangers and headed to see a girl she was certain would hate her. She needed out of this seat and out of this plane and out of this situation immediately.

"I—I'm going to—"

Suddenly, a bag was thrust into her hands and Violet helped hold it up as Weiss emptied the contents of her stomach with wretched sounds and violent shakes. She could feel the eyes of everyone on her but she forced herself to focus on breathing and getting out of this situation.

She was Weiss Fucking Schnee and she was not going to lose her mind like this on a public plane in front of strangers and her smart ass assistant.

Another bout of vomit came and she felt the tears spill from her eyes as it burned in the back of her throat.

After a few minutes, she knew she had done all she could and retracted the bag and threw her head back. Immediately, there were two flight attendants at her side with a glass of water and a cool cloth. Weiss had flown first class and everyone knew who she was and how much money she had. They did not want to be the company that didn't pamper Weiss Schnee during a first rate panic attack mixed with some kind of wild stomach ailment from who knew—

With a wet towel on her forehead and the horrendous taste of vomit in her mouth, she turned to Violet with a glower.

"Corn dogs."

It was the first time Weiss had ever seen Violet look the least bit intimidated by her.

Chapter Text

The first thing Weiss registered was the tickle of hair against her face. It didn't make sense; she went to bed every night with her hair tied back to avoid this. Instinctively, she reached up to brush the it away only to find herself suddenly restricted by the cocoon of blankets around her.

It wasn't right, none of it was right. Weiss never tucked in, she hated the constraint. She needed to be able to freely roll from side to side. However, when she tried to force the blankets free, a tight clench in her chest made her wince in pain as her eyes flew open.

"What the—" the words died on her lips as she took in the sight of the room surrounding her. This was not the dorm at Beacon—nor was it her home in Atlas. The ceilings were too low; the bed was too soft.

Again she tried to free herself from the blankets, ignoring the pain in her body as they finally gave way. Weiss curled into her own body as the pain shot through once more, not as bad as before but still discomforting. Why was she in pain? Why was she in this strange bed? Where was…

Ruby.

It all came back to Weiss in a flash. The glyphs she'd put leading to the top of the tower for Ruby to help Pyrrha. The sound of Ruby screaming, the sudden flash of white and then everything went dark.

Ruby, I have to find Ruby.

Weiss knew it was going to suck, but she had to try and sit up. The pain worsened as she planted her elbows on the mattress, only now it had spread to her back. Still, she powered on and pushed up as best she could. It was hard to breath but eventually she found enough balance to sit and scan the room.

Modest was the first word that came to mind, but it still felt comfortable here. Quaint is something she'd imagine Winter saying, or perhaps 'meager' would be more precise. Still, Weiss had no idea where she was and that was unacceptable.

As her scan continued, she looked to her right and saw a bed beside her. A bed that was currently occupied by her partner.

"Ruby!" Weiss cried out as she tried to swing her legs off the bed only to be overcome with pain again. "Ah!" She clutched her side but willed herself not to fall back down. She wouldn't go through the pain of sitting up again. "Ruby, can you hear me?"

"She can't," a voice came from the door and made Weiss jump. She turned sharper than she should have only to find Ruby's uncle standing in the doorway. "She hasn't woken up yet."

"Yet?"

Qrow took a few steps inside and sat down in a chair by the dresser. Weiss noted the flask in his hand and the bags under his eyes. "It's a word generally used when you know something will eventually happen."

Weiss' gaze moved to Ruby again. She looked so small in her blue pajamas, curled up in bed. She knew something was wrong by the way Ruby was lying. No, Ruby Rose never laid still on her back. She was always strung across her bed like a slew of messy papers. Limbs all in different directions and drool on the pillow. Ruby wasn't sleeping, she was unconscious.

"What happened?" Weiss asked as she started to move to the edge of the bed again—trying to ignore the pain.

"Will you stop? In case the pain hasn't told you enough, you have a pair of broken ribs. You need to rest."

"I need to check on my partner."

Qrow sighed and stood up from his seat. "You listen as well as your damn sister."

Weiss shot him a glare. "I'll kick your butt just like she did too."

This made him smirk.

She wanted to snap back at him, but all she could see was Ruby who wasn't moving and somehow that made the world far too quiet.

It was such a strange thought. That the lack of Ruby's bouncing and excitement would somehow be a bad thing. It had driven Weiss nuts for so long now. Things being knocked over, food being spilt on the floor, on her skirts, on their beds.

There was a time when that high pitched way Ruby called out her name would drive Weiss crazy. Now she'd give anything to hear it.

"Ow," she groaned when one of her legs made it off the bed. How badly was she hurt? Everything hurt, it was terrible.

"Will you stop, get back in bed, you're in no condition—"

"Listen here, I don't know what's going on, I don't know where my friends are or where I am. I just know that Ruby is over there and I'm going to her. Now you can either help me get there or you can watch me crawl and keep drinking."

He glowered at her for a moment before taking a drink from his flask. Weiss was shocked that he'd chosen to let her crawl to Ruby's bed. However, he finished his drink and put the flask down before stepping over and offering a hand.

"You Schnee's are a stubborn bunch."

Weiss huffed but saved her strength by choosing not to say anything else. Instead she took his hand and moved her other leg off the bed. Once she was on her feet the pain returned but she fought it off. Her aura would heal it all soon enough, for now she just needed to make sure Ruby was okay.

The climb onto the bed was easy enough, given a target Weiss could do almost anything.

She reached out tentatively to touch the soft features of her partner, instead she recoiled and looked to Qrow watching her. "You didn't answer my question. What happened? Where's everyone else?" The following silence was terrifying. "We were going to save Pyrrha."

Qrow shook his head. "She's gone. I didn't see a trace of her when I found you and her."

Weiss felt the heat strike like fire in the back of her eyes. "What about Blake and Yang. Yang was hurt, her arm—" She kept talking, unsure of what she was even saying. Her mind reeled from the thought of Pyrrha being…gone. Was she dead? The look on his face told her as much.

It was hard to breathe.

"She's here, I don't know about the other one but Yang is here, she's across the hall." Weiss fought the urge to rush and check on her. Instead staying still and hoping Qrow would tell her more. "She's…struggling."

"Her arm was gone. Just…I can't—"

"Me either, kid." Qrow said sadly before sitting on the now empty bed and picking his flask back up. He must have picked up on how hard she was struggling because he stood back up. "You need to relax. Lay down with your partner there and focus on her. You can't fix anything right now."

Weiss looked back down at Ruby and frowned. "I can't…lie down with her…she's tucked in so tightly."

He let out a sigh before stepping over and pulling the blanket down and holding it open for Weiss to slip inside. He covered her back up when she carefully laid down and stared at Ruby.

"Don't be surprised if you wake up and Taiyang is in here, I finally had to drag him out and make him sleep."

She barely heard a word he said, instead focusing on Ruby. At some point Qrow had left the room and Weiss found herself ignoring the pain as she reached up and gently touched her partner's cheek with the tips of her fingers.

"How do you stay so warm, Ruby Rose. You're like a walking space heater." It wasn't right, to talk to Ruby and hear nothing in return. Ruby was such a constant voice, a source of enthusiasm and life, no matter how dark the world became. Right now, the world had never been darker. "Please wake up soon, you dolt. You know better than to leave me here to deal with all this. I can't talk to Yang, I don't know how to find Blake. I won't be able to support Jaune if Pyrrha is—" a catch caught in her throat and Weiss swallowed the thick lump in her throat. "I need you."

Unable to finish her thought aloud, Weiss curled up next to Ruby, sought out her hand under the covers and cried. The tears were silent, her sobs nothing more than mild shakes that barely rocked the bed. Eventually, they carried her to sleep.


Two minutes off the airship and Weiss was already miserable. Even ignoring the fact that she'd vomited not twenty minutes ago – Patch was smoldering hot this time of year. Weiss had spent the last few years in the always mild Atlas kingdom and this…this was torturous. Not to mention the humidify made her sweat and her mouth tasted like puke and she was wearing her worst pair of shoes.

You're a hot mess, Weiss Schnee – the perfect guest for a happy occasion. She thought with a bit of self malice before plastering on her best smile when something caught her attention in the lobby.

In what Weiss could only describe as adorable, she caught sight of Blake's ears first, carefully poking up over the book she was reading in the airport lobby. Weiss noted the outfit Blake had on and smirked – a far cry from the stealthy huntress Blake used to be. Now she had on sneakers and jeans and sat cross legged and casual on a bench without a care in the world.

Racing over with Violet not too far behind, Weiss reached out and plucked Blake's book from her hand only to be met with a smirk.

"Heard you coming." Blake said before uncrossing her leg.

"Of course you did, you have two sets of ears."

Blake rolled her eyes. "True, but nobody stomps in heels quite like Weiss Schnee."

Weiss groaned but didn't hesitate when Blake stood up to quickly pull her into an embrace. Weiss was quick to accept and it felt so good to be around Blake again. It was almost surreal how just the presence of one of her Beacon teammates made Weiss feel whole again.

She was almost afraid to let go, like she might wake up in bed alone again in that mansion.

When she finally did, Blake was smiling as brightly as Weiss could remember.

"You look like crap," Blake said and Weiss huffed, knowing fully well that she did.

"Yes well…it was a very long flight."

"I made the mistake of offering Miss Schnee a corn dog."

Blake gave a quick glance to Violet standing in the back and then pursed her lips to fight off a smile as she found Weiss' gaze again. "You ate a corn dog?"

"Two actually." Violet spoke up again and Weiss raised a hand to shush her.

"I was being spontaneous and trying new things and it was a mistake that I have paid for dearly. No doubt poisoned by whatever swill they make those abominations out of."

Blake tilted her head a bit. "Pretty sure they just deep fry them."

"Yes well…my stomach is far too sensitive for anything…deep fried." Ready to change the subject immediately, Weiss quickly grabbed Blake's hand in search of the ring. She found it comfortably placed on Blake's left hand and still couldn't believe it. "It's really real huh?"

"Really real," Blake confirmed and sighed contently.

"How in the name of Remnant did she afford this? Are you sure she didn't—"

"She didn't steal it. This is Yang we're talking about. She has all the tact of a bull in a china shop." Weiss nodded – it was a fair point. "She's been saving and just…put a lot of consideration into it."

Weiss looked up to see the goofiest look on the once stoic and cranky Blake Belladonna's face. "Look at you, you have actual heart eyes and it's disgusting."

Blake nudged Weiss in the shoulder. "Stop it, stop being you and tell me who this is." Blake pointed over Weiss' shoulder at the purple haired girl behind her holding four bags and dragging another.

"Oh! This is my assistant, Violet. Violet, this is Blake Belladonna."

Blake waved but also gave Weiss a very curious look. "It's nice to meet you, Violet."

Violet smiled and extended her hand for a shake. "You as well, Miss Belladonna. I've heard a great deal about you and read about you in a few texts. Also I noted the way you looked at Miss Schnee and would like to quickly point out that we are not sleeping together in any way."

Weiss felt her face go hot and turned furiously on Violet. "Why in the world would you say that?! Who said that?!"

"Actually," Blake spoke up. "I mean you brought your cute assistant all the way out here with you. The thought did cross my mind."

"What?" Weiss scoffed. "I am simply an insanely busy person, Blake. I need her here to handle my phone calls and help keep me organized."

"It's true," Violet spoke up and Weiss was prepared to give her a raise then and there. "She's only come onto me once in the last two years."

Oh she was fired – absolutely fired. "Violet!"

Blake snorted. "You turned her down?"

"I very politely declined." Violet said professionally before giving Blake a wink that Weiss absolutely saw.

"Alright!" Weiss' voice cracked as she raised it. "I was just on a very long flight, I threw up and I have sweated through my vest. Can we please go find my hotel room?" Blake froze in place and Weiss knew something was wrong immediately. She glowered at her best friend and wondered if she'd be calling Blake that in the next ten seconds. "What?" She asked, dreading the answer.

"About your hotel room…"


"What in the world is a Folk Festival?!"

"Something that neither Yang or I knew about when we planned this wedding."

Weiss groaned – apparently there was some kind of music festival in town and all the hotels were booked solid. Because Weiss hadn't booked in advance, because this was Patch and why the hell would anyone want to stay here – she assumed getting a room would be easy.

Of course, the powers that be decided that was too convenient so now she had nowhere to stay.

With Violet in the backseat still prattling away on her scroll, Weiss sat up front with Blake and pouted profusely.

"It'll be fine, Weiss. You can stay with us."

Weiss suddenly had war flashbacks of Yang's bathroom habits and snoring. "D—do you guys have a spare bedroom."

"Just one," Blake shook her head. "It's Taiyang's place so there's the room Ruby and Yang shared and then his room. He's out of town for the next week. He has a really good couch though."

"Oh," Weiss sulked and quickly forced herself to dismiss the disappointment. "Great!" She was far too chipper. "That's great."

Blake turned the corner, Weiss noting the way her ears would move as she turned, as if trying to pick up sounds of traffic on the new road. "Yeah, Sun's been sleeping on it, I'm sure he'd be wiling to take the floor for a few days until you can find a room."

For a moment, Weiss thought maybe Blake hadn't actually said those words. Perhaps it was just more of the corn dog sickness making her delusional. "I'm sorry, did you say…Sun?"

Blake nodded, still focused on the road and acting as if this wasn't a big deal at all. "He's here for the wedding – Yang's best man actually. They've become pretty good friends."

"And he's staying with you guys?" Blake nodded. "And sleeping on Mr. Xiao Long's couch?"

"Yeah, though that was his plan from the beginning – he didn't want a hotel room. He and Yang have been having a lot of fun making a mess of Tai's home. Thankfully Yang takes time to clean up before I see most of the damage."

"So you expect me, and my assistant, to stay in that very…quaint house where you only have one spare bedroom –"

"Not really spare, It's Tai's room." Blake corrected and Weiss felt her eye twitch.

"And if I remember correctly…only one shower?" Blake nodded and Weiss was considering jumping out of this car and hoping for the best.

"It'll be fine, Weiss." Blake gave Weiss a good-humored smile. "It's only for the first week during the festival and then we'll get you a high end hotel with all the space and fancy towels you could ever want." Weiss was certain she was wearing a pout on her face, because Blake laughed when she looked at her. It was kind of them to offer her a place to stay, she knew that – but she also knew that it was going to be miserable in such tight quarters for someone who had spent the last few years being alone so often.

"I'm sure we'll manage – Violet is that alright with you?"

Violet shrugged, still tapping away at her scroll. "Just give me a few blankets in the corner of any random room you've got and I'll be fine. I slept on a pool table for six months in academy so this is nothing."

Weiss grimaced. How was this the woman who helped her manage a multi-billion lien company?

Blake seemed satisfied with that answer and Weiss was glad Violet was okay with it. Though that didn't make her feel any better.

"You know, Taiyang isn't the only person with a home here in Patch." She felt her chest constrict and gave Blake a dangerous glare. The Faunus shrugged, her ears dancing atop her head as they rolled to a stop. "Just a suggestion."

"A terrible suggestion. Awful, simply awful. You were one of the best scouts and strategists we had during the war and you come up with ideas like this? That girlfriend of yours is rubbing off on you."

Blake smirked and Weiss knew what was coming. "No doubt about that," she winked and Weiss groaned. "Ruby is going to be coming around, you're not going to be able to avoid her forever."

"Ruby," Violet spoke up from the backseat and Weiss whipped her head around furiously.

"Don't," she threatened but Violet didn't seem phased.

"Ruby is a person?"

Blake looked through the rearview mirror and nodded. "Weiss' ex-girlfriend. Our teammate, team leader actually, at Beacon."

"Oh," Violet stared at Weiss and her smile grew large. "So we have 247 delivery reports named after your ex-girlfriend?"

"What?!" Blake cried and nearly drove the car off the road. "What does that mean?"

Weiss contemplated jumping into the backseat and suffocating her assistant.

"In order to keep our delivery reports discreet we use a code name for them. It's mostly just a safety measure for our computers. The "Ruby Report" is 247 files deep. 248 goes out tomorrow morning and I had no idea that's why you named them that."

Weiss buried her head in her hands and heard Blake cackle like an old woman from a horror film. "The Ruby Report – oh Weiss you are still in love with her."

"I am not!" She cried, slamming her hands on the dash. "They told me we needed a code for the reports and that's what I came up with. She was on my mind 247 weeks ago is all!" Weiss turned back to Violet again. "You are so fired!"

Still laughing, Violet held out her scroll. "Okay," she said through a laugh. "You've got five messages that need a response by the end of the day."

Her glare deepened as she did not take the offered scroll. "Fine! But we are changing the name of the Ruby Report!"

"To what?" Blake snorted. "The Ice Flower Files?"

Weiss was not going to survive the next two weeks.

Chapter Text

"Okay," Ruby's voice drew Weiss from the beautiful view she had on the exit ramp. It was stationed near the beach and overlooking the ocean. "I found some snacks."

This was the most well constructed safe point in all of Vale and when they finally made it here, it was a chance to take a breather.

They'd made the most of it – having just come back from a long two months of scouting in Vacuo in a failed attempt to locate Cinder Fall or any traces of the damage she'd caused there. Nights spent sleeping on the ground or not sleeping at all. Eating military rations and running on nearly depleted Aura for hours at a time.

It was exhausting, but they'd survived and Winter demanded they come here to rest while the powers that be strategized their next step from Haven. It would be three days here to relax, then reconvene and plan the next move.

As much as she hated being sidelined, Weiss couldn't deny the relief at being here, with no responsibility.

With Ruby.

Even as Ruby came to her with a glass of milk and a sleeve of cookies.

"Ruby…I asked for something light and healthy."

Ruby scoffed and sat down next to her, her legs hanging over the edge of the exit ramp as the sun continued to set. "Weiss, we've spent the last two months running for our lives and fighting Grimm and eating literal dirt."

"We never ate dirt."

"We ate food that had dirt on it and you stole some fruit that one time that I think was growing other, more disgusting fruit."

Rolling her eyes, Weiss picked at a chocolate chip cookie. "First of all, I did not steal anything. I do not steal. I bargained for that fruit with some of our medical supplies and you thanked me at the time."

"Yeah, that's before I got food poisoning and got sick."

Weiss grimaced at the memory. It was a long, frightening and…icky night of vomiting. "Well I did get us that water which you greatly appreciated."

"Cause I was dehydrated from the bad fruit!" Ruby nudged her with her shoulder and Weiss sighed. "Look, it doesn't matter. We're here now and Winter gave us a few days and we're gonna enjoy it. We've got actual fluffy, comfy beds waiting for us and you had to know I wasn't going to turn down cookies and milk."

Glancing over at Ruby, Weiss couldn't resist any longer. It was so nice to see Ruby with a spark of happiness. Throughout it all, Ruby had worked so hard to keep her hopeful spirit. After Pyrrha died and Yang lost her arm, they came back together and started fighting again. The world only grew darker and more people lost their lives, but Ruby kept fighting and kept trying to be positive.

To anyone else, Ruby Rose seemed like the epitome of hope. She fought every day and smiled at anyone who was struggling. It was only in the quiet of the night that she let it all settle in, and as her girlfriend and partner – Weiss was the one who bore the brunt of that.

Though it didn't upset her, not at all – she felt that it was a privilege to be the one Ruby trusted in her weakest moments. She felt the same and together they kept each other afloat.

So tonight, with a smile on her face and a cookie in hand, Weiss was going to enjoy it.

"Very well, is there some kind of special…etiquette to this? Do I dip the cookie?"

"Do you –" Ruby guffawed and shook her head in disbelief. "Weiss tell me you've had cookies and milk before? Please tell me you're not a cookies and milk virgin."

Weiss rolled her eyes. "You're so dramatic," she sighed. "Ruby, I have never had cookies and milk before." The gasp Ruby let out made Weiss laugh.

"Weiss I just…I can't believe—all those years at Beacon together, I could have helped you!" Ruby clutched onto Weiss' vest and drew closed the distance between them. "I could have taken your cookies and milk virginity."

Leaning in, Weiss kissed Ruby on the nose and then tousled her hair. "I couldn't get anywhere near you and your cookies back then. You ate them all before any of us could get any."

"Well I was growing! I needed all the nutrients and stuff."

"Oh yes, there are so many nutrients in these cookies."

Ruby held up her glass. "The milk though!" Ruby took a big drink and let out a content sigh when she swallowed. "It's so tasty, but you…you need to dip that cookie."

Sitting the glass down between them, Weiss held up her cookie and inspected it. It did smell good, though she was never a big fan of sweets – she'd certainly kissed Ruby after enough of them to acquire a taste.

Giving in, she settled the cookie into the milk just as a nice breeze fluttered in from the ocean, it's sounds echoing behind them to set a wonderful mood.

Weiss looked up at those silver eyes watching her contently and smiled. Unsure of how in the world she was so lucky to find Ruby Rose and keep her through all this mess she called life.

Even as Ruby stared at the cookie, Weiss leaned in once more and kissed her forehead with a smack of her lips, making her girlfriend giggle and blush beautifully.

"W—Weiss! Your…your cookie is gonna break."

Satisfied with making Ruby flustered, Weiss pulled the cookie from the milk and inspected it. It looked mostly the same, only dripping with milk and soggier. She had no idea how this would improve the cookie eating experience but Ruby was the "expert".

Biting the cookie, Weiss mouth exploded with flavor and she saw Ruby's eyes light up at her reaction and knew she was sunk.

"You're feeling it aren't you? The vibe of the cookie is taking over now. It's amazing, isn't it? Tell me it's amazing!"

It was amazing, but Weiss wasn't about to give up so easily. "It's very unhealthy."

"Weiss!" Ruby went full pout and Weiss didn't stand a chance.

"Fine! It's delicious, is that what you want to hear, Ruby Rose? It tastes wonderful and all I can think about is how you only brought me five cookies and I want ten!"

With a hearty laugh, Ruby laid back and clutched her stomach as she kicked her legs in delight. "It sounds even better than I imagined! Weiss Schnee, cookie addict."

"I am not an addict!" Weiss reached over and swatted Ruby's arm playfully before pulling back and grabbing at the sleeve of cookies on Ruby's side. Just as she was about to drag it to her end, a hand caught her wrist.

"Oh? Not an addict? This from the girl who says she doesn't steal, suddenly stealing from her girlfriend?!"

Weiss crossed her arms with a scowl. "I am not stealing! We share things!"

"You don't have to steal, Weiss." Ruby picked up her cookies and held them out to Weiss with a smile. "I'd be happy to give them to you." Her giddy expression suddenly changed – not to one of sadness, but of reflection. She seemed to be pondering something, cookies still in hand, and Weiss waited for her. "I'd give anything to you." She said in a more serious tone and Weiss felt her heart begin to race.

Their relationship had come about fairly naturally. From partners to bedmates to kissing bedmates to kissing all the time mates. They were a couple and they told people they were partners in every sense. It was wonderful and exciting and terrifying with all the chaos around them – but it was theirs and moments like this were what kept Weiss going.

Still, to be in the middle of what she was sure was about to become a big moment was wreaking havoc on her nerves.

"I—I'd give anything to you." She said in return though it sounded lame in her head.

Ruby didn't seem to notice, merely grinning slightly. "I know, that's why I…love you."

It was the first time Ruby had said those words to her. Weiss felt so unprepared for them. She suddenly found herself trying to memorize everything around them. The color of the sky and the temperature of the air around them. How hard the metal ramp was beneath them and how she could still taste the cookies on her tongue.

Instead she found herself focusing on what was in front of her – a pair of worried silver eyes and slightly shaking hands holding out cookies for her.

Careful not to spill, Weiss moved away the two milk glasses between them and took the cookies from Ruby's hand and sat them aside. She then scooted a bit closer and put Ruby at ease when she cupped her face and used her thumb to brush against Ruby's cheek – just the way Ruby liked.

With a smile in her voice, she answered. "I love you too…dolt."

Suddenly she was wrapped up in Ruby's arms and dragged onto the ground.


Even Weiss couldn't deny the fact that being out here in Patch, away from the chaos of the city, was relaxing. Instead of tall buildings lining the road, there were trees and mountains in the distance for as far as she could see.

Traffic was lighter the further out of town they were and by the time they reached the road to Taiyang's home, there wasn't another car in sight.

That is, until they actually reached Taiyang's home and a red truck was backing out of the driveway.

Weiss didn't have to ask, in fact, she didn't even need the sidelong look Blake gave her as the truck approached them. She knew it was Ruby almost immediately and in an act of pure panic, she unlatched her seatbelt and slid out of her chair onto the floor.

"Oh my gosh, Weiss!" Blake called out as Weiss suddenly had her knees in her chest and her ankle twisted painfully against the floorboard. In that moment, the idea of seeing Ruby's face in any way was terrifying.

So much for being able to handle it.

"Miss Schnee, are you alright?!" Violet asked and Weiss merely held up her hand in a thumbs up because she was far too embarrassed to speak.

Instead she tucked her chin against her knees and decided not to move until Blake parked.

By the time Violet came around and opened the door to help her out, Weiss was covered in vehicle dust and her ankle hurt but not nearly as much as her pride. She had never had a reaction like that, not since the battlefield but that was instinct, this was…fear. She was scared of Ruby, terrified and what made it worse is that she didn't even really know why.

For so long, Ruby Rose was Weiss' safe place – the one person she could trust with everything. Now, the thought of seeing her again made her…well made her do things like that.

As she stumbled out of the car, Blake's snickering in the background, Violet dusted off her pants and Weiss could see the hint of a smile on her lips.

"Not a word." She threatened even though it was pointless.

Violet held up her hands in defense. "I won't, not yet anyway. I'll be saving this for later."

"Weiss," Blake called her name with a mixture of worry and derisiveness that only Blake could have. "What was that?"

Defeated, Weiss limped to the car and pulled out her bag. "I—I don't know. I panicked!"

"Clearly, you do realize that Yang's sister is going to be around a lot for this whole process?"

Weiss pouted. "I do! I do and I thought I was prepared for it but I just…freaked out when I knew she was right there. I wasn't prepared."

Blake stared at her for a few moments before taking a breath and walking over to her. She threw her arm over Weiss' shoulder and squeezed. "Are you sure you're up for this?"

"I am, Blake – of course I am. It's your wedding and I want to be here. I just have to…ready myself for interactions with Ruby. It's been a few years now, right? We should be okay." Blake nodded but Weiss wasn't satisfied. "Is…is she going to be okay?"

"Weiss," Blake laughed softly and started guiding them towards the house. "Just say it like you want to."

"Ugh," she groaned and lowered her head. "Does she…ever talk about me?"

"No," Blake said bluntly and Weiss felt like her heart was literally breaking in her chest. The reaction to Blake's comments was both devastating and infuriating. She was supposed to be over it – she was supposed to not miss Ruby anymore. She'd set her focus on work and had moved on. That's what she told herself every single morning when she woke up – that she didn't' miss Ruby anymore.

"No?" She pleaded and hated how broken her voice sounded.

Blake smiled. "No, she doesn't talk about you. In fact, she's never said your name once in the last few years. Yang and I both agree that she is afraid to say it or let herself say it at all."

"Oh," Weiss stopped and suddenly felt like perhaps the world wasn't ending after all.

She wanted to ask more questions, she wanted to know more about Ruby and how she'd been or what she was up to or why she was driving that death trap truck Weiss had seen.

Instead, she decided to shelf talk of Ruby for the time being. This was not about her or Ruby – she was here for Blake and Yang and their wedding.

"Okay, I—I'm sorry, Blake. No more talk of Ruby. I'll deal with it in my own time. We're here for you and your wedding. What do you need me to do?"

"Uh," Blake frowned and opened the door to Taiyang's house. "Everything? I have no idea what I'm doing."

Weiss chuckled. "Have you ever been to a wedding before?"

"No," as they stepped inside, Weiss couldn't help but notice the mess in the kitchen. It was the first room you saw across the way and the sink was packed with dishes and the counter was covered in boxes and empty plates. "I was invited to Coco and Velvet's but Yang and I were still doing work in Vacuo."

Weiss was listening, half listening as she took in the damage of this house. Blake was always a respectable and clean person – she seemed to enjoy a tidy living space. Sure Yang could be messy but she wasn't this bad and she was a teacher for crying out loud – an adult. Why had this house become so trashed? Who was responsible for—

"Oh hey, Weiss! You made it!"

Wearing nothing but a pair of track pants, Sun Wukong stepped out, tail waving back and forth and a bowl of something in his hand as he scooped out the last bite before haphazardly sitting it down on the counter without a second thought.

"Sun?" Weiss bit out his name with venom that he either didn't notice or ignored.

"You had better clean this up, Sun. Taiyang is going to throw you out." Blake threatened and he waved her off.

"I'm going to, I always do, don't worry." She would have believed him if he didn't just stand there over his dirty bowl with the sink right in front of him and do nothing. "Oh, Yang wanted me to tell you she went to get dinner with Ruby. They're bringing back pizza."

Bringing back…

Weiss glanced at Blake who didn't notice - too busy talking to Sun. When she tried a look to Violet, her assistant was buried in her phone. Nobody seemed to notice or care that they were bringing back food. They as in Yang and Ruby.

"Blake!" Weiss cried out and the Faunus turned to her with confusion. "Can you…show me where the bathroom is?"

Blake nodded. "Of course, it's at the far end of the hallway past the bedrooms. Haven't you been here before?" There was a memory – one Weiss had buried deep in the back of her mind. Blake seemed to catch on when Weiss' expression dropped and she grimaced. "Right, sorry. I—I it's down the hall.

Weiss nodded and on instinct, walked up and gave Blake another hug. The embrace was reciprocated in kind, neither of them needing to say anything.

Memories of war were invisible scars that all of them shared.

Fortunately, the bathroom was far cleaner than the kitchen and when Weiss heard the sound of bowls clanking around in the other room, she knew Sun was actually doing something.

Finding solace on the closed toilet seat, Weiss sat down and exhaled. She could do this, she was here and she wanted to enjoy it and Ruby Rose was not going to ruin that for her.

It would be easy. They would share their hellos and maybe a handshake or something and then split off and talk to the others. Violet was here and she could always run to Violet if she needed an escape.

But she wouldn't, because she was Weiss Schnee – the ice queen and one of the Vale Valiant (she never understood why people named war heroes such dumb names). She'd stared down Grimm the size of buildings and had stood toe to toe with the likes of Adam Taurus, Cinder Fall and even Ozpin himself. She could handle Ruby Rose. Yes, she could – she absolutely could.

"Miss Schnee?" Violet's voice at the door startled Weiss. She jumped up to her feet and reached for the door knob, only to hesitate before opening.

"Y—yes?"

"You've been in there a while – is everything alright?"

Weiss sighed appreciatively. Despite her sarcastic nature and strong desire to never let Weiss have her way – Violet cared about her. Perhaps it was just in the job description, but Weiss liked to think Violet enjoyed her company a little.

With a smile, she took a deep breath. "I'm fine, Violet. I'll be out in a moment. Are you okay?"

"Uh," Violet sounded confused by the question. "I mean, I don't know any of these people but your friend Blake brought me a cocktail that tastes like orange juice and shirtless boy challenged me to a game of Beowolf racing, which I spent the bulk of my childhood disgracing my brothers at. So yeah, I'm doing okay."

"Okay," Weiss laughed, it would be nice to see Sun get put in his place. "Listen, Violet I know you're here to help keep work organized for me and keep things running but…don't spend too much time on it, okay? We have people in Atlas who I think can keep the company afloat for the next two weeks. Enjoy yourself. You didn't have to come and you did and I appreciate it."

There was an extended silence on the other end of the door and Weiss worried for a moment that Violet was already gone to play video games and she'd been talking to a door.

However, a moment later she heard the delighted exhale of someone who'd just drank a large amount of refreshing liquid. "Does that mean I can have another cocktail?"

"Of course."

"Awesome! Blake can I have more of that riot punch?"

Weiss grimaced and pinched the bridge of her nose.

Not Yang's riot punch…

When she finally built the courage to step back out of the bathroom, Weiss was met with the yellow eyes of her best friend. Blake seemed genuinely concerned, even as she held out a glass of Yang's yellow death drink towards Weiss.

"I shouldn't," with Ruby coming…she really shouldn't.

"You're on vacation, Weiss. We don't start planning any of the wedding stuff for two days – drink with me tonight. Please?" Defeated, Weiss shook her head and took the drink. Blake smiled but still carried a bit of concern in her expression. "You gonna be okay?"

Peeking over her cup, Weiss nodded slightly. "I'll handle it, I'll be good."

"I know it's hard," Blake kept her voice down as the sounds of Violet and Sun playing games and screaming at one another nearly drown them out. "But it is Ruby and she's still…Ruby. She'll probably keep her distance and cling to Yang but just…try with her – at least to be friendly."

"We're home!" Yang's voice rang through the home over any other sounds and Weiss felt her stomach tie up in knots. Blake put a hand on her shoulder and gave a comforting squeeze before heading towards her fiancé. "Where's the ice queen?!" Yang cried and Weiss rolled her eyes but smiled despite herself.

She missed the big oaf after all.

Yang was always the center of attention – with bright blonde hair and lilac eyes and a frame built for drawing fire, she was hard to miss.

However, Weiss had no time to notice Yang in any way at all. Instead, the first thing she saw was Ruby Rose. Not just Ruby Rose, but Ruby Rose carrying four pizza boxes.

The boxes were insignificant; it was her arms that drew every bit of Weiss' attention. They were so…defined and strong and…

"Wow," she muttered just loud enough that a pair of silver eyes landed on her.

Ruby was wearing a checker patterned black and red shirt with the sleeves rolled up just enough to show off a pair of biceps that would live in Weiss' dreams until the day she died. The more she examined, the more differences she noticed.

Ruby's hair was longer; nearly halfway down her back. She looked strong but tired and when their eyes finally met, she immediately looked away and carried the pizza into the kitchen.

Weiss glanced at Blake who gave her a reassuring smile that did nothing to lift the tension Weiss felt in her chest.

Quickly, she drank the rest of her riot punch and winced as it burned all the way down her throat.

A moment later, Yang lifted her off the ground with an enormous hug.

Chapter Text

Recon missions were always Weiss' favorite – mostly because it was the only real downtime they had these days.

This mission was unique because they were simply scouting and were told, multiple times, that they could not use any kind of force.

Reports of Grimm activity increasing throughout Forever Falls was troublesome simply because Forever Falls was home to one of the most vital shipping lines left in Remnant. The supplies that kept their army going were coming straight through this area. So Weiss and Ruby had been pinned to see if there was any truth to the rise in Grimm activity and to see if those Grimm were being led there by anyone.

So far, the results had been mild, at best. The last three days had been spent at the campsite with Ruby. Weiss hated camping – she hated it with every fiber of her being. It was messy and uncomfortable and despite Ruby's constant reassurance that the food would taste "even better by campfire", it did not. It tasted like ass, burnt ass.

Still, Weiss tried her best not to complain. Because this was still a solo mission with Ruby away from everyone else. It was almost like an accidental honeymoon – the first time they'd really had a few consecutive days (and nights) alone.

So Weiss kept her mouth shut and enjoyed it.

Curled up against a tree, Weiss leaned against Ruby as the sun continued to slowly dip beyond the horizon. It made the surrounding trees a darker shade of red and the way the sun would blast through the branches and shine down on them was beautiful.

Weiss pulled her leg up, bringing red leaves and dirt with her as she reached to adjust the buckle on her boot. These boots were her best pair for extended walking and even they were taking a pounding from the mission. Her feet hurt and her body was sore – in any other circumstance she'd be whining to go home for a bath and a queen sized bed.

Neither of those places, however, could let her curl up with Ruby and not worry that anyone would say anything or tease them.

Glancing to her right, she saw Ruby sitting up next to her, using a stick to carve into the dirt. Ruby's hair had started to grow and Weiss couldn't help but admire – she loved it and thought it really framed her face well.

She enjoyed a lot of things about Ruby that she would never say about anyone else. The way Ruby always smelled of roses because of her semblance and how Ruby would constantly blush when their eyes met.

The fact that even though Weiss knew Ruby was a tiny ball of energy, she would sit like this in the quiet just because Weiss asked her to.

It was why Weiss cared for her so much.

Reaching out, Weiss tucked her fingers under Ruby's chin to turn her head. She noted the wide eyed look in her girlfriend's face but before Ruby could even ask what was going on, Weiss pressed their lips together.

Ruby squealed slightly against her before exhaling through her nose and reciprocating. Kissing Ruby was an entirely different experience than anything she'd ever done before in her life. No amount of money, no victory over her father and no new skill on the battlefield could compare to the sensation of this.

However, when Ruby reached up to touch Weiss' face, she noted the stains of dirt on Ruby's hand out of the corner of her eye and quickly snatched Ruby by the wrist.

"Ah," she pulled back and stared into curious, silver eyes. "Were you really going to touch my face with your dirty hands?"

Ruby looked at her hands and then back at Weiss. "You kissed me," she said perplexedly.

Weiss held Ruby's hand in front of her. "How in the world did your hand get this dirty?"

"I was playing in the dirt." Ruby returned with a hint of sarcasm that made Weiss scowl. "Come on, Weiss – don't you want to get dirty with me?" She asked with a wink.

Weiss merely rolled her eyes. "You're all talk, Ruby Rose."

"No I'm not!" Ruby gasped dramatically. "I can be dirty!"

"Is that so?"

"Yes! I'll uh…I'll take you! Right here and right now!"

Weiss smirked. "Take me where?"

Ruby seemed to panic a little – her brain wracking for what to say. "To…to the sex! I'll take you to the sex right here in the dirt!"

"Oh please," she let Ruby's hand go and laughed. "We both know we're not ready for that – especially if you're still calling it 'the sex'."

"Well what am I supposed to call it?" Ruby asked genuinely and Weiss ignored the hammering in her chest.

"Wh—when you figure that out, then we'll talk." It was a silly answer, one meant to keep the charade up and when Ruby pouted Weiss knew she'd won.

She had not been able to process the idea of doing anything like that with Ruby, not yet. Though the fact that it was even a part of conversation was terrifying – if only because Weiss didn't entirely hate the idea.

"Well then what can we do?" Ruby was looking at her again and Weiss knew this was coming. A bored Ruby Rose was a handful and she'd given Weiss a good amount of quiet cuddling time. The least she could do was return the favor.

"What do you want to do?" Ruby shrugged. "That's so helpful."

"I don't know! Uh…um…" Ruby stuck her tongue out as she thought and Weiss had to internally hide her desire to groan about how cute it was. "Oh!" Ruby jumped and nearly smacked Weiss in the jaw with her head. "Teach me something fancy!"

Weiss' eyes narrowed. "Ruby we're in the middle of the woods – what could I possibly teach you?"

"I—I don't know! Why am I the only one coming up with the fun ideas?"

"Because sitting here and cuddling was my fun idea."

Ruby frowned. "But it's so quiet! We don't have another scheduled patrol for two hours! We need to pass the time with something fun. Teach me something fancy that you know that I wouldn't."

With a sigh, Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to think of something. Fancy was such an annoying word – it was one step up from pretentious when the truth was Weiss grew up very…classy.

Yes, that was a much better word. She was given ample opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills that would do her absolutely no good in normal, every day life.

She had to smile at that – at how little she missed any of it.

There was one skill that she could remember enjoying quite fondly – one that would fit this situation well and keep Ruby close to her.

Pulling out her scroll, Weiss quickly went to her stored music and shuffled through her songs before finding the proper one and letting it play. From there, she sat her phone down on the pouch she carried her dust in and let the soft music play around them.

"Do you think that's too loud?"

Ruby shook her head, clearly perplexed. "I can barely hear it. What is it?"

Weiss pushed to her feet, dusted off her skirt and extended a hand out to Ruby. Gently, Ruby took the proffered hand and Weiss pulled her to her feet. Suddenly, they were face to face again. That was when Weiss decided to press her hand to the small of Ruby's back, making her eyes go wide.

"It's the closest thing I have to dancing music."

"Oh!" Ruby squealed, making Weiss jump. "You're going to teach me how to dance?!"

Ruby's excitement made her smile. "I'm going to teach you my favorite dance. The foxtrot."

"Aw," Ruby cooed and clapped her hands together. "That sounds so cute! Is it like this?!" She watched in both admiration and horror as Ruby put her arms in front of her and started to hop up and down like a rabbit. "Is this a foxtrot?"

Rolling her eyes, Weiss again pulled Ruby in closer and this time she took Ruby's hand in her own to still her. "No, as cute as that was, it was not a dance of any kind and if you did that at a Schnee event you would be quickly removed and banned from future Schnee events."

"Oh," Ruby didn't seem the least bit deterred. "Well Schnee events sound boring and rude!"

"They are, without question, the most important and illustrious extravaganzas to happen to Atlas each year." Ruby quirked a brow at her and Weiss sighed. "They're dreadfully boring."

Suddenly, Ruby was pressing against her and leaning in well into Weiss' personal space. "Guess it's a good thing I stole you away, huh?"

Weiss didn't answer for fear her voice would give away just how lucky she was for that.


Yang Xiao Long was a very persuasive person. That was one of the first things Weiss ever learned about her back at Beacon. When she wanted something – she could make it happen. Didn't matter who you were or what you wanted out of her, she could convince you that she had a great idea.

Weiss would be lying if she said part of it wasn't Yang's obvious beauty. She carried herself with such confidence (even if it had been temporarily lost after the fall of Beacon) and such charisma that she could control a room and everyone in it.

Tonight was no different. The night fell over Taiyang's home and despite Ruby's constant pleas to return to her own home and Weiss' whining about how tired she was, Yang had somehow managed to make them all agree to drinks and a bonfire in the back yard.

The smell of smoke permeated in the air as a light chill ghosted over them. Weiss was bundled up in an incredibly soft (and very white) sweater that shielded her from the cold but was also vulnerable to the dirtier elements around her.

She was curled up in a folding chair near the fire, trying to stay warm while Yang and Sun were sharing stories of some of their adventures together.

Weiss was genuinely surprised to see how good of friends they were – considering the fact that they had once been dueling suitors for Blake's affection. Granted, Sun bowed out fairly easily, but the tension remained for a while shortly after Blake and Yang gave in. To see now that Sun had not only accepted it but supported and seemingly promoted it, was a pleasant surprise.

Still, the two of them telling stories of some bar fight they had in Vale a year earlier was a little hard to handle for Weiss as they obviously stretched the truth with just how many people they "demolished".

The only person who seemed less interested in the story than her, was Ruby. Weiss hadn't said a word to Ruby and the favor had been returned in kind. They stayed on opposite sides of the room and even now the fire was between them. It was surreal to be this close to her again but it almost didn't feel real at all.

Ruby felt disconnected and Weiss could tell she didn't want to be here. She was obviously putting on her best face for Yang's wedding and being support and all the things a sister is supposed to be.

Weiss couldn't understand why Yang was so insistent on her sticking around. Usually Yang was first to make sure that her baby sister was comfortable and right now, she was far from it.

Unfortunately, no one around them was able to grasp that because they were all more than slightly intoxicated. Weiss had stopped after her one drink for Blake's sake and even though she and Blake had spent a good amount of time going over the details of the wedding, Weiss never took another sip while Blake continued to slowly chase after her fiancé in consumption.

Beyond that, Violet was drunk and Sun had enough to drink that he was singing odes to his own abs.

So when Ruby stood up and excused herself to go to the bathroom, Weiss felt that old pull drawing her in to need to make sure that Ruby was okay. It wasn't fair, really, how much of a hold Ruby still had on her. It had been years and yet Weiss felt the same tug of responsibility that she'd had the day they met.

Unsure of what to do, Weiss decided she could at least go back inside. She wouldn't stalk Ruby into the bathroom but maybe if she was in the kitchen and away from everyone else, she might at least have the chance to ask Ruby if she was okay.

So she stood up and waited to excuse herself, only to have no one even give her a second look when Yang suddenly started explaining her finishing move of the bar fight – completely with red eyes and flickering hair that made Sun clap in delight.

Not to mention that Blake was practically clinging to her fiancé at this point.

Weiss rolled her eyes, at least happy that they were all enjoying themselves.

The quiet was welcome as she walked back into the home and shut the door behind her – now barely able to hear Yang's boasting. Though once in the kitchen, she had no idea what to do with herself so she merely opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. She should probably get it to someone out there, perhaps Violet, to make sure they didn't get too sick or hungover in the morning.

With water bottle in hand, she stood in the middle of the kitchen like an idiot and just…waited. Ruby had slunk off to the bathroom and she could hear the sink running when she suddenly realized she was staring right at it.

Not wanting to look like every bit the stalker she was, Weiss turned to stare at anything else only to have her toe catch the corner of the counter.

Pain radiated through her big toe and into her foot and ankle. It hurt so badly and she cried out, clutching the counter to stay upright.

"Weiss?" A soft voice called to her and she locked up, still feeling the pain but also realizing that Ruby had just spoken to her. She turned to respond but her foot let out another pulse of pain and she winced before stumbling.

In a burst of speed, there was a pair of hands on her shoulders holding her up and she swore her heart stopped.

Ruby was right next to her, touching her and it felt so familiar. She smelled the same and up close, those silver eyes were still as stunning as ever.

"Ruby," she whispered, forgetting the world.

However, the hands on her shoulder dropped away and Ruby took a step back. "Are you…okay?"

"I—I think so," she tried to curl her toe only to have it hurt more. "I kicked the counter and I think I've done something to my toe."

Ruby glanced down at her foot and nodded to herself before taking a deep breath and clearly steadying herself for something. "Can I take a look?"

Weiss' eyes went wide. "Ruby," she tried but earned a shake of the head.

"You might have broken it."

"And you're gonna determine that?" She raised a questioning brow.

To her surprise, Ruby grinned. "I've learned a few things about injuries in the last few years." Weiss' expression must have been concerning. "I am a full time huntress."

"R—right," Weiss said like she didn't know that already and Ruby's smile fell away.

"You just have to sit down and take your shoe off, I'll look really quick and that will be that."

Then we can go back to ignoring each other.

Instead of saying that, Weiss merely nodded and limped around the counter to the couch where she plopped down as Ruby knelt in front of her.

Ruby had grown…in so many ways. The first thing she noticed and the last thing she'd remember on her death bed, was Ruby's arms. They were…magnificent – which sounded dramatic but also the only way to describe them.

Weiss knew first hand how strong Ruby was. She wielded a giant scythe that weighed a ton and did it with such ease. Now though, it was like that strength had blossomed as the baby fat went away and Ruby was left with strong, well sculpted arms.

Her hair was longer than Weiss had ever seen it before – far longer than she ever wore it during the war.

It suited her and Weiss knew she was staring but it had been so long. She just wanted to take it in, because she knew it wouldn't be the same but Ruby was always so…

"Ow!" Weiss hissed as Ruby pulled her shoe off too fast and hooked the injured toe she was supposed to be checking on. "You dolt! You know what my injury is!"

Ruby grimaced. "Sorry! Your shoe came off easier than I expected! You usually wore them so tight!"

"Yes, and I'm on vacation – these are my vacation shoes!"

This earned her a smirk. "Your…vacation shoes?"

"Yes," Weiss glared at her. "I wore my boots tight during combat and my sneakers tight during school because they were functional. I don't want to suffocate my feet while I'm relaxing."

With a shake of her head and a smile still lingering, Ruby studied Weiss' foot carefully. It wasn't until Ruby touched Weiss' second toe that reality set in and the haze of the moment went away.

This was her ex-girlfriend. The same girl she had loved for so long and missed for even longer. The same girl who drifted away from her and started sneaking out at night and stopped talking to her at all.

Weiss could still remember how scared she was when Ruby wouldn't be there in the morning. How upset she was when she knew Ruby was blatantly lying to her and how it was even worse when she started lying to Ruby as well.

The war brought them together and its end tore them apart.

"You broke the nail a little, but it's mostly just jammed, put something on it and try not to, you know, hit it on anything." Ruby looked up at her with those gray eyes and Weiss couldn't help but feel that old tug in her chest.

"That your expert advice?"

Ruby smiled. "More or less – probably shouldn't have hit it on anything to begin with."

"You're such a brat," Weiss said in a teasing tone and Ruby's smile grew. "I am not used to kitchens this…"

"Small?"

"That's not what I was going to say!" It was, but that was before she remembered that this was Ruby's childhood home.

Ruby clicked her tongue. "Uh huh."

"It's not!"

"Then what were you going to say?"

Weiss stared at Ruby with every bit of anger and frustration she could muster – which wasn't much given the adorable look on her face. "I was going to say that it's more…cozy than what I'm used to."

"Funny," Ruby's smirk grew. "I didn't think you were familiar with kitchens at all."

With a roll of her eyes, Weiss gently kicked Ruby's shoulder with her injured foot. "Quiet, you."

"It is small, even compared to the group rooms at Beacon." Ruby stared off at the kitchen beside them with a wistful look on her face. "I used to sit on that counter while mom cooked. Some of the earliest memories I have."

Oh…

Weiss was never great at talking about Ruby's mother with her – Summer Rose was the one subject she had zero personal experience with. "I'm sorry, Ruby. I didn't—"

"It's fine, Weiss." Ruby brushed her off but something about those words sunk deep into Weiss' skin and irritated her.

"All these years later, and you still say you're fine even when you're not?"

Ruby's smile faded and she turned back to face Weiss. "I am fine – why do you do that?"

"Do what?" Weiss sat up a little straighter. "I'm only making sure you're okay!"

"And when I say I am you call me out for it!"

"Because you're not! You never were! I asked you so many times over and over again and you would say you were yet I'd wake up in the night and hear you crying!"

Ruby groaned and stood up in a hurry, nearly knocking over the table behind her. "Are we really doing this again? Picking up this argument right where we left it?"

Weiss couldn't stop herself. "Might as well…you're still just as childish as ever."

"You know what…" Ruby stepped back with her hands in the air. "I'm not doing this, Weiss. Tell Yang I wasn't feeling well. Tell her whatever you want."

Tears brimmed in Weiss' eyes as she watched Ruby leave – it was all too familiar.

 

Chapter Text

The moment Weiss woke up, she regretted it. Her head was throbbing. It felt like a Nevermore was standing on top of her with it's talons sunk into her skull. Her body felt stiff and heavy – like after a hard training session but hadn't moved in hours.

Opening one eye, she was met with the disgusting light of the early morning and groaned as it tried to burn through her cornea.

"Ugh," she muttered only to be immediately shushed. The sound behind her made Weiss' eyes open a bit more in confusion. Slowly, she rolled over to find out who was next to her and was met with a pair of yellow eyes staring back at her. "Blake?"

"Why are you talking so loud?" Another voice spoke, this time behind Blake and suddenly Weiss noticed the messy puff of Yang's golden hair behind her.

Somehow, they had all ended up in the same bed last night. After her encounter with Ruby, Weiss decided to let loose and take her mind off things. Also to try and alleviate some of the guilt after Ruby quickly left Taiyang's home to spend the rest of her night alone.

One drink let to another and that led to five more and the rest of the night was a blur that lead to this moment right now. In bed, with Blake and Yang.

"What…what happened?" She asked tentatively – unsure of how to even word the question.

Yang lifted up on her elbow and stared over Blake's shoulder at Weiss. She darted her eyes back and forth between the two, waiting for an answer.

"You don't remember?" Yang asked with a bit of a frown.

Blake pursed her lips together and quickly rolled over, burying her face in Yang's chest. Weiss was suddenly wishing she had a cliff to dive off of.

"R—remember what?"

Yang sighed. "You said it was all you ever wanted, to be the cream of our cookie."

Weiss thought her eyes might fall out of her head. "I—what?! Did we…what?!"

Blake let out a sound, it was either a sob or a laugh but she couldn't tell because it was muffled against Yang's chest. Yang only hugged her fiancé tighter and nodded. "Yeah you practically begged for it, you asked us to call you Mistress Schnee."

Another sound came from Blake, this one much clearly and clearly a laugh. The façade was broken even more when Yang couldn't bite back her own smirk and Weiss quickly hoisted a pillow and slammed it into the blonde's face.

"Yang Xiao Long! You nearly gave me a heart attack! Now I'm yelling and making my own head hurt, how dare you?!" Weiss screamed into the bedroom before burying her face into the mattress and pulling the comforting over her head.

"Aw come on, Weissy, it's not so bad. You'd be lucky to have us!"

Weiss let out another groan into the mattress and suddenly felt a hand on her back. "Sorry, Weiss – you really are an easy target." Blake tried to sooth her and Weiss turned slowly to glare at her best friend.

"I expected better from you," she mumbled and Blake grinned.

"What can I say, she's rubbing off on me."

Yang chuckled. "In more ways than one." Weiss saw Yang ponder what she'd just said. "In more places than one, actually."

"Yang," Blake spoke up this time. "You're not helping."

"I wasn't trying to, love." She said before kissing Blake on the temple. "You two sort this out, I'll go check on the others and make waffles!" As Yang all but bounced out of bed, Weiss began to plot the many ways to kill her teammate and hide the body.

"How is she not hungover? She drank all night?" Weiss was nearly whining as she spoke.

Blake continued to rub her back. "Yang can hold her liquor pretty well, and she didn't drink that much." Blake sighed. "Not as much as you, anyway."

Weiss glanced up at the concerned tone in Blake's voice. Her beautiful best friend was giving her a look of pure worry and it made Weiss feel terrible. She'd really cut loose last night – in the worst way.

Cutting loose was an excuse Weiss was making for herself a lot these days.

"I just wanted to have some fun."

"And that's fine," Blake nodded. "You can and we did have fun, it's just…you didn't start until after Ruby left."

Weiss shook her head. "I promised myself I would not bring any of Ruby and I's drama into this trip. It's about you, not me."

"I appreciate that, really, but I can spare a few minutes to listen."

With a sigh, Weiss closed her eyes and let Blake run a hand through her hair. It reminded her of when Ruby used to do it. Everything reminded her of Ruby.

"She looked…really good." Weiss couldn't help but laugh.

Blake matched it. "Yeah, Ruby's put on a lot of muscle with her work."

"I knew she was strong, she used to carry me around all the time and that…monsteruous weapon of hers, but I just…it never really showed like that." Weiss pushed away the thoughts of Ruby's muscles aside. That wasn't what was on her mind – at least not right now. "I panicked."

It took Blake a moment to speak. "How so?"

Weiss swallowed the lump in her throat. "I—I stubbed my toe in your kitchen and she was right there, like always, trying to take care of me. She looked at my foot and I…freaked out. It was too much. I could not be around her a moment longer because it was just…too much."

"What was too much?"

"Everything!" Weiss raised her voice, making her head throb again. "I miss her, and I hate that I miss her because I was the one who ended it – or at least, I beat her to it. We fell apart so fast and so…messily that I just wanted the tie to be severed. I thought I could see her again and it would be okay. That the feelings would be gone and we could be…friends."

"But?" Blake asked, already knowing the answer.

"But Ruby and I aren't meant to be just friends. We couldn't be friends when we became teammates because it was just…tension. I've always felt it with her – the way she challenges me. She drove me nuts in school but I just…kept going in for more. I would miss it on days when she wouldn't irritate me. After Beacon fell and we got back together I missed her so much that I just…gave in and we fell hard, you know?" Blake nodded. "During the war it was easy, we just did our jobs and spent our downtime together. We had purpose and we needed each other and the world was on hold because we were fighting. When it ended, we both had to pick up and move on – then everything with Jaune happened and Ruby was just…not the same after that. You remember don't you? She kept shutting us out and when we'd try to help her she'd push us away. She'd leave for days without telling anyone and it was just…awful."

"Ruby saw a lot of death, Weiss. More than the rest of us – at least with people she cared about. I don't think she was equipped to handle it. Not that any of us were but…we all wanted to protect Ruby more."

It was true – something inside of them all made protecting Ruby a priority over everything else. They tried, for months after the final battle, to drag Ruby away from it. Yet, after the dust settled and it was time to start rebuilding their lives – Ruby only wanted to continue hunting. For Weiss, that life was gone and she didn't want to see anymore monsters. She wanted to fix the world through the influence of the Schnee Dust Company.

Except Ruby never wanted that life. The more Weiss pushed for it, the more distant Ruby became whenever the future was brought up. A future Weiss once imagined the two of them having together was suddenly a matter of contention.

The day she realized Ruby wanted nothing to do with that future was heartbreaking.

"We were never the same after Jaune passed."

Blake again nodded and adjusted on the pillow so one of her ears was unpinned and popped upright atop her head. She seemed contemplative, but also comforting in the look in her eyes. "My advice?" Weiss remained silent as a way of telling her to continue. "You need to talk to her."

"Blake…"

"I'm serious, Weiss. I'm not telling you to get back together with her or even try and clean up what happened with you guys years ago. But…you were her partner and the two of you have been through so much together. It can't be easy not having her in your life. Partners bond and that bond is forever. We all did when we worked together. Maybe it won't be what it used to be but that doesn't mean it can't be something good, right?"

As Blake's words settled over her and the knowledge that Blake was probably right sank in, Weiss could only nod close her eyes.

"Can I borrow your car?"

"You're going to go talk to her?" Blake asked and Weiss nodded. "Good, but…no, you can't borrow my car."

Weiss' eyes shot open. "Why not?"

"You don't drive."

"I do too! I have a license!"

Blake scrunched her nose. "You are literally chauffeured everywhere – you're not driving my car."

Weiss reached up and flicked Blake's nose. "I am a great driver! I was trained by the best Atlas has to offer!"

"Did you just…flick me?" Blake looked absolutely aghast and Weiss smirked.

"Yes, I did, you insulted me and I flicked you. I'll do it again too."

Suddenly it was Blake who was grinning devilishly. "Is that so?" Weiss felt her confidence waning. "Yang! Weiss just flicked me! She's threatening to do it again!"

"Blake Belladonna!" Weiss whisper screeched and Blake giggled. "Don't you—"

"Did she?" Yang was suddenly in the doorway. "Do I need to kick her ass?"

"Yang, I am warning you." Weiss was suddenly sliding off the bed and onto her feet. She could see the bathroom door between where she and Yang stood. It was just a bit closer to Yang, but Weiss felt like she was fast enough.

"You'll never make it in time, princess."

"Sneak attack!" From out of nowhere, Blake smashed Weiss in the face with a pillow and suddenly all bets were off.


True to her word, Blake did not let Weiss drive. She did however, let Violet drive and while Weiss found that a bit annoying, she wasn't about to argue because Blake still let them use her vehicle.

As the drive took them closer and closer to where Ruby lived, Weiss found herself appreciative that she wasn't driving. It probably wouldn't have been to safe behind the wheel given how nervous she was with each mile they drew nearer.

Though she wasn't sure what her ultimate goal was with Ruby, she knew for the most part that she just wanted to try and create an environment where they would be around each other.

It was no different than working with someone who had different business views – she'd done it a dozen times since taking over the SDC. You reach an agreement to disagree and you accept that your difference will not stand between you.

Granted, Weiss had never pledged her love to anyone she worked with and had certainly never slept with anyone she worked with – but it was still the same principal.

At least that was how she chose to see it.

The guidance application on her scroll told them to turn on the next road and Weiss watched as the tiny blue line shrank to almost nothing – they were close. When she looked up, she was surprised at how isolated this area was. There were a few houses scattered around but none that close to the other. The hills and roads went up and down; each surrounded by trees and tall bushes.

Ruby's home was…humble, to say the least. Just a small wooden cabin really, but nicely kept and with a pretty green layer of grass surrounding it. There wasn't much in terms of decorations or anything to really set it apart. Just finely crafted and stained wood with one lone chair on a porch that looked out to the road.

Weiss' hands were clammy – she had a building knot in her stomach that terrified her and her throat felt like it might clamp shut at any moment.

When the car stopped, Violet looked at her. "What do you want me to do, Miss Schnee?"

Part of Weiss wanted Violet to come in with her – make it easier and maybe even pretend to be Weiss' girlfriend so they wouldn't have to deal with any drama. A clean cut, letting Ruby know she'd moved on and found someone else. It would be a damnable lie, but it would serve its purpose.

No, she couldn't do that – she wouldn't do that to Violet or Ruby.

She could never lie to Ruby.

The other option was to have Violet wait out here, which would indicate a short visit. A quick pop over, a quick conversation and a quick exit. That made the most sense – but could she really just come and go so quick? Was Ruby not worth a genuine effort and conversation?

"Miss Schnee?"

Weiss shook out of her trance. She was overthinking everything. "You can go back to Taiyang's home. I really should make an honest attempt."

Violet glanced at the home and then back to Weiss. "You're sure?"

She hesitated. "Yes," Violet gave her a look. "I'm sure."

With a nod, Violet put the vehicle back in drive but held her foot on the brake for Weiss to exit. She opened the door and was hit with the warm air of summer against her skin. There was a breeze, but even it was dry and heavy.

"Call me when you're ready to be picked up." Weiss nodded and stared over the car at the house which seemed far more intimidating now – even if it was still pretty small.

With a slight wave, Weiss stepped back and let Violet drive away, making a U-turn at the end of the road.

Once Violet was out of sight, Weiss realized she was simply standing outside and not moving. Her hands were ringing together as she tried to steady her breathing.

It was just Ruby – she kept telling herself that over and over again. She'd battled Grimm and humans that were even worse than monsters. She could handle her ex-girlfriend.

Taking a deep breath, Weiss steeled herself and strode up the few steps to the front door. She tried to peek through the window but couldn't really see much because there was a dying plant stuck right against it. Weiss could only assume Ruby thought the sun might save it, but it was dried out and probably desperate for water.

Rolling her eyes, she knocked three times and put her hands behind her back. She flipped her hair as the wind picked up again and squinted back at the sun as it was just starting to rise fully over the tall trees in the distance.

This place was so different than anywhere she'd been – it was quiet and calm. Not a rustle of traffic for miles.

Until she heard a thud on the other side of the door and a soft "darn it!"

Ruby had probably stubbed her toe, or hit her funny bone, or knocked over something valuable.

Regardless, the door opened and moment later and Weiss found herself being completely disarmed, again, at the sight of Ruby.

This time, it was a black tanktop that exposed nothing but strong arms and rounded shoulders. Weiss knew her eyes were wide but Ruby looked so…good. She had her long hair in a ponytail that hung over her right shoulder and a bit of it had escaped and was cascading down her face. Those big, silver eyes were staring at Weiss with confusion and worry and it took all Weiss had not to lick her suddenly dry lips.

"Weiss?" Ruby spoke and Weiss forced herself to stop staring. "What—is everything okay?" Ruby looked past Weiss to the emptiness behind her. "How did you get here?"

"My assistant brought me – and everything is fine. Well, it's not fine, but it will be. That's why I'm here."

Ruby tilted her head a bit. "To kill me?" She said and Weiss felt her fists ball. Then Ruby smirked and Weiss wanted to hit her even more.

Hit her or kiss her – probably the former.

Probably.

"Of course not, you dunce." Weiss shook her head. "You and I both know that what happened last night was unacceptable."

"You mean you snapping at me?" Ruby pushed back – Ruby was always the one to push back at her.

Weiss huffed and stood up straighter. "I did not snap at you! I was simply trying to be a friend."

"We never really worked as friends, Weiss."

That was a painful truth. "We can try. We should try – for Yang and Blake's sake, if anything."

Ruby crossed her damn stone chiseled arms and gave Weiss the once over. "Why?"

"What?"

"Why do you want to be friends? You haven't spoken to me in years and now you're here for a few weeks and you want to be friends again. I don't get it." Ruby had a sudden sadness in her eyes that didn't go unnoticed. "You told me you didn't want to see me again and after this wedding you probably won't have to."

She remembered. Those words had replayed in her mind a thousand times over. "I said a lot of things that night, Ruby. I was upset."

To her credit, Ruby seemed to ease her stance a bit. "I remember – I'd never heard you use curse words like –"

"Ruby," Weiss cut her off as another gust of warm wind pushed up her back. "Can I come in, please? It's sweltering out here."

Again Ruby smirked at her and Weiss glared before watching Ruby step aside and welcome her in.

The interior of the house was far cleaner than Weiss expected – though that could be because according to Blake and Yang, Ruby was hardly ever home.

Still, it was pretty cozy in Ruby's tiny home. There was a cream colored couch in the middle of the room that stared directly at a large monitor display and beyond the couch was a tiny kitchen hidden away behind a tall counter. Directly above the kitchen was a second floor balcony that looked to be Ruby's bedroom.

There was a string of lights hung along the ceiling and she could see a bed against the wooden railing.

It was suddenly strange being here – this place was so…tidy and so real. Ruby really lived here on her own. Weiss felt silly for thinking that Ruby couldn't take care of herself – it was just that she had been so chaotic when they were growing up. To see now that she had stability and a true home was jarring.

Weiss couldn't help but wonder if Ruby imagined them being together here at all. The way Weiss had countless times at her mansion.

"Can I get you anything?"

Weiss looked to see that Ruby had moved to the kitchen and opened her fridge.

She quickly shook her head. "No, I'm fine."

"Good," Ruby chuckled. "I don't actually have anything."

Weiss couldn't help but smile. Perhaps Ruby wasn't as self sufficient as she seemed to be. "You should have food and beverages in the home, Ruby."

"Well I don't have a personal shopper to buy me things – and I just got back from a mission last week."

"Ah," Weiss bit her lip. "Still hunting I see?" She asked and watched as Ruby moved around the couch and sat down. It caught Weiss' eye how slowly Ruby sat – how gingerly. She wondered why that movement was so careful but nothing in Ruby's expression seemed to say anything.

"Yep, it pays the bills and I still enjoy it. Yang won't leave me alone about it but I'm not going to become a weapons designer in Vale anytime soon so she can just deal with it."

Weiss quirked a brow. "Weapons designer?"

Ruby sighed. "Yeah, Yang wants me to give up hunting and move to Vale with her and Blake. She says I could live with her and have a job and all this stuff but she doesn't realize that I don't need her to take care of me anymore. I can take care of myself."

"So it would seem," Weiss said even though she fully related to Yang. There was something about Ruby – even if it was different for Weiss than Yang, that brought out the protector in her.

Still, during the war, Ruby was the one on the front line more than the rest of them. Ruby was the one who saw the most combat and violence and carried the most scars.

Maybe that's why they all tried so hard to help her.

Maybe that's why she pushed them all away.

"I'm sorry, Ruby." Weiss pushed the words out – words she needed to say years ago and had wanted to say for so long.

Even if Weiss felt they were a long time coming, they were met with confusion. "Weiss,"

"No, I – can I?" Ruby nodded and pursed her lips together. "I know that the two of us have a lot of history and…our relationship was as amazing as it was chaotic. But I do miss you and…I would really like for us to be able to be friends. To at least be able to be in the same room and not have it be so awkward." As true as the words were, they were hard for Weiss to say. If she had ever doubted her love for Ruby, it was impossible to deny now.

However, she still wanted Ruby in her life – as selfish as that might seem she wanted to be able to talk to Ruby and be around her. Even if romance between the two of them truly was off the table, she wanted to have the chance to call Ruby on the scroll or send her messages. Even if it was only friendship, Ruby Rose was still the person Weiss cared for the most in this world.

Ruby seemed contemplative – if not a little hesitant. Weiss had no real idea where Ruby stood with her. She didn't know how Ruby felt about her or how long Ruby spent after their breakup thinking about her. The pessimist in her was quite certain that Weiss had pined far longer and hurt much deeper.

Not because she doubted Ruby's feelings for her, simply because she suffered for so long after it ended.

"How do we…do friend stuff?" Ruby asked and seemed nervous but still wore a smile that helped Weiss relax – as it always had.

"I'm not entirely sure. The only friends I have are Blake and your sister and whenever we've met up it's the three of us going to dinner and me being the third wheel."

Ruby chuckled. "Same."

That was when something unexpected happened. If Weiss wasn't so used to paying attention to every little detail about Ruby, she might not have noticed how gingerly Ruby pushed herself up off the couch. It was such an odd thing to see – Ruby Rose, the fastest girl in all of Remnant, was genuinely struggling to stand.

Weiss wasn't sure what to think of it and she didn't feel comfortable asking why it was such a chore. When Ruby didn't bring it up, she decided to let it go.

Perhaps ask the protective big sister when she returned.

"Weiss Schnee," Ruby extended her hand. "I accept your friendship request."

This lightened the mood immensely and Weiss shook her hand. Ignoring how the contact made her fingertips spark. "Should it really be this easy?"

At the question, there was a sudden maturity in Ruby's face. Those silver eyes seemed to darken a bit and she shrugged. "Life's too short to hold grudges, Weiss. We both know that."

"So what do we do now?" Weiss asked and realized they were still holding hands. At the realization, she pulled away and caught the glimpse of a smile touch Ruby's lips.

"Are you hungry?"

Weiss narrowed her eyes. "You don't have any food."

"Nope, but I know a place we can get some. As my friend, I think you should come with me."

"I…highly doubt there are any five star restaurants here."

Ruby stepped around Weiss and lifted a set of keys off the table by the door. "You don't need five-star food to have a five-star meal!"

"That doesn't even make sense!" She cried as Ruby dragged her out.

Chapter Text

From her seat on the long bench at the entrance of the lobby, Weiss watched as Ruby hopped over the check in desk and started rooting around through whatever she could find.

It was good fortune that they'd found this abandoned hotel with a few busted windows – far from the sounds of battle that raged on a few dozen miles south of here. For Weiss and Ruby, it wasn't their battle but one they had been tasked with scouting. So far, all they'd learned was that the Grimm in this area far outnumbered the hunters and a quick report to Winter would have Ironwood sending soldiers to help out.

That was the hardest part for Ruby, to see a battle that needed fighting and telling her no. It wasn't anything they could do – there were too many Grimm and two huntresses, even ones as skilled as them, couldn't change what was happening.

No, they had to let the military and those running this war do their thing. Weiss and Ruby would go where they were told and do what they needed to do. They were already given missions on their own and eventually the fight would come to them – for now they waited and tomorrow they'd return.

Tonight though, Ruby was struggling because she couldn't do anything when she knew something needed to be done.

So Weiss said nothing as Ruby rummaged through the abandoned hotel lobby.

Only when Ruby knocked something over loud enough to make Weiss jump did she finally decide to speak up. "Ruby? What are you looking for?"

"I don't know," Ruby said as Weiss continued to stare at her back and watch her pull things out of drawer after drawer. "I thought there might be some cookies or something."

Weiss rolled her eyes. "This hotel has been abandoned for months – no chance there's any food left." Ruby's shoulders slumped. "Besides, why would there be cookies in a hotel lobby?"

"I don't know," Ruby gracefully hopped over the counter again. "Maybe they give you a cookie with the key to your room. That's what I'd do."

She watched Ruby slowly pick up her pack and carry it over to lay next to Weiss' at the foot of the bench. Ruby then gingerly sat down and Weiss felt the tug of compassion course through her.

Without even thinking – she reached out and started to gently rub the back of Ruby's neck. "Your hip still bothering you?" Ruby answered with a non-committal grunt. "I'll take that as a yes." Weiss knew Ruby hated admitting she was in pain – she hated admitting she was injured or upset or…anything.

Still, Weiss was not afraid to push the subject. It made no sense to her for someone to suffer in silence. Not when she was so willing to help.

Silence fell over them for a while as Ruby settled in a bit closer to Weiss on the bench and laid her head on Weiss' shoulder. It was comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. The closeness and Ruby's presence was as calming as ever, but this bench was brutal and the silence was unsettling.

Without thinking, Weiss lifted the cover off the grand piano in front of them – a truly amazing instrument – and admired the pristine condition of the keys.

"Play something," Ruby spoke through the quiet and Weiss glanced down to see her eyes barely open.

"It would be far too loud."

Ruby scoffed. "No it wouldn't. We haven't seen any Grimm for miles, let alone people. Play for me."

"Ruby," Weiss sighed. "I don't want to risk it."

"Just play a quiet song,"

This girl was painfully persistent. "I only know one quiet song."

"So play it," with that, Ruby looked up at her with those damn silver eyes and smiled. "I wanna hear you play."

Knowing that Ruby wasn't going to let it go, Weiss felt compelled to explain her one quiet song. "It's my bad day song, Ruby."

This made her girlfriend sit up a bit – worry in her eyes. "Your what?"

Weiss chewed on her bottom lip. "You know…those days when I wake up and I don't say much? Back at Beacon when I would study hard and focus and not really talk to the team. When I would go to bed early or be in the library all night?"

"Your frowny days." Ruby said and Weiss quirked a brow in confusion.

"My…frowny days?"

Ruby nodded slowly. "That's not the official name, obviously – but that's what I called them. I would always notice them because you would hardly even scold us for things. The first day you had one at Beacon scared me cause I thought you were broken. I didn't like it, but once I figured out it was just you having a rough day – I used to do what I could to make you feel better." Now Weiss was even more intrigued and she kept silent to let Ruby continue. "I'd clean the coffee pot for you or make sure your shampoos were easy to grab in front of all Yang's hair things. I never—I never really knew what to do to make you feel better so I'd try everything. Fluff your pillows or make sure we had fresh ice cause I knew how much you liked ice in your drinks…even though you can like…make ice with your glyphs – but you didn't want frozen drinks so you only needed a little ice and I –"

Weiss cut Ruby off with a firm kiss that made Ruby gasp a bit in her mouth. It was the best feeling. To kiss Ruby and silence her, yet excite this bubbly girl even more. Weiss could feed off of Ruby's energy for the rest of her life and never need anything else.

When Ruby's hands touched her sides and then quickly pulled away, Weiss grabbed them and put them back. Ruby giggled a bit against her lips and they pulled away, both panting for air and Ruby looking up at her shyly.

"That's still so cool,"

Weiss felt herself flush. "You dolt," she quickly kissed Ruby again. "It's just kissing."

Ruby shook her head. "Huh uh – it's kissing Weiss! That's like…stealing from the most expensive cookie jar and getting away with it, only better!"

"Glad to know I'm better than cookies," Weiss smiled as Ruby's thumb ghosted across her cheek. "So you still want to hear my sad song?"

"O—only if you want to play it. You never told me why it's your sad song."

Pulling away from Ruby, Weiss situated herself more towards the piano and settled her hands on the keys. She knew which ones to press by heart. "When things would become hard – if my father would lash out or…simply ignore me and Winter was around, this is the song she would play for me." A lump caught in Weiss' throat and she swallowed it down like poison. "It was a song my mother taught her."

Weiss' mother was a subject Ruby never dared bring up. Weiss knew Ruby was curious, of course – it was only fair. However, Weiss had no real interest in getting into the subject simply because she was almost as in the dark as Ruby was.

The truth is – Weiss simply never knew her mother. Only stories from Winter, and a dark look in her father's eyes at any mention of her.

"I suppose you could say," Weiss looked over at Ruby and reached out to pick up a bit of her cape. She then held it up and tucked it into Ruby's arms. "It's the only thing of hers I have left." Seeing the look of understanding in Ruby's eyes and the way she held her cape so tightly – Weiss felt sincerely understood. "Still want to hear it?"

"Yes."

Weiss smiled and draped her fingers across the keys – they were cold and slightly dusty, but felt familiar. The moment she pressed down, it felt like the world slipped away.

"You are my sunshine

My only sunshine

You make me happy

When skies are gray

You'll never know, dear

How much I love you

Please done take…my sunshine…away."


Weiss sat, as she always did in a restaurant – with her napkin in her lap and her elbows off the table. It was the acceptable posture for public dining and the way she'd been taught her whole life.

However, when she looked over at Ruby she was met with the sight of a girl who had pulled over a chair from another table to put her feet on, that was also thumbing through her scroll and chewing on a straw.

She set in a deep glare at Ruby, hoping that her partner would realize the error of her ways and shape up. However, when Weiss looked around this restaurant Ruby had chosen – she realized she was the one out of place.

The tables were misaligned and the place was loud, far louder than any Weiss frequented in Atlas. There were monitors showing various sporting events and even a few screens on a station dedicated to showing classic Vytal Festival Tournament matches from years and decades past.

Weiss felt out of place, extremely out of place and she couldn't help but be nervous at the boisterous patrons and the fact that the menu had so many pictures on it.

"R—Ruby?" She called out and was met with silver eyes. "What did you say the name of this place was?"

Ruby grinned. "Boarbatusk's Breath." Weiss' nose crinkled involuntarily. "They serve the best barbecue in Patch!"

Looking down, Weiss noted the button down white shirt she had chosen and realized it was the first of many mistakes. "Ruby," she said in that tone she always saved for when Ruby's antics pushed her just a bit too far.

To her credit, Ruby seemed to pick up on this. "You want to go somewhere else?" She asked and Weiss was granted the gift of seeing the kind heart she fell in love with years ago.

Now the kind heart that is your friend. Your friend. Just your friend.

"N – No. I can do this. It's fine." When they were together, Ruby was always quick to make sure Weiss was happy. Now they were just friends and Weiss didn't want to be coddled or treated with any special care. Mostly because she didn't want to let Ruby do things for her.

She was having a hard enough time denying the fact that she was still insanely attracted to this girl.

When Ruby nodded and smiled just a bit, her hair falling over her face ever-so-slightly – Weiss' throat caught. Ruby seriously needed to stop being so cute.

Another perk of the meal was that Weiss was fairly certain Ruby wouldn't be as attractive covered in sauce and stuffing her face with whatever slop was coming.

"So…" Ruby spoke up as she picked at the table with her fingernails – a habit Weiss tried and failed many times to break her from. "Your um…your friend is cute."

Weiss looked up at Ruby – her mind racing at the words that she just heard. "Violet?"

"Yeah, she's cute – kind of young though." Ruby shrugged.

"She's three years younger than you."

Ruby wouldn't look at her. "Five years younger than you."

"Are you jealous?" Weiss couldn't believe she actually had to ask but the way Ruby was acting – she'd seen before and it was both adorable and irritating. Jealous Ruby was…a unique experience. Though it was different when they were dating – now it was just strange.

The question seemed to upset Ruby. "Of course not, Weiss. I'm glad you've found someone."

Oh for the love of…

"Ruby I'm –"

"Good afternoon, ladies – Ruby!" The older gentleman, with his tight fitting white apron and incredibly baggy black pants, lit up like a firework at the sight of Ruby. Before Weiss could even register what was happening, he was picking Ruby up out of her chair and squeezing her.

Weiss was a moment away from throwing this giant space intruder on his ass with a glyph when she heard the delightful sounds of laughter coming from Ruby.

That was when she saw Ruby hugging him back. "Petrie! It's good to see you!" Ruby said through a laugh as she was put back down in her seat.

"You too, kid – you look good. Way better than the last time I saw you."

Weiss noticed the way Ruby looked at her, and then back to this man – as if he was sharing some secret that Ruby didn't want shared. "Yeah, well…I uh…I'm glad I haven't had to do any business with you other than eating your amazing barbecue!"

Petrie grinned from ear to ear. "We've missed seeing you here, Ruby. Your Uncle was in a few weeks ago – said you were hunting."

"Yeah, Death Stalker nest, nothing major."

Nothing major? A nest of Death Stalkers?!

Ruby refused to look at Weiss while she spoke to this man.

He patted her back boisterously. "Well you know your meals are covered here."

"Petrie…" Ruby threatened weakly with a finger point. "I'm paying and that's that – we've had this discussion a thousand times."

Weiss watched this large, joyous man, give Ruby one of the most appreciative looks she'd ever seen.

"Some day you're going to have to let me and my family properly repay you, Ruby."

In turn, Ruby surprised Weiss even more by how graciously she waved him off. "It's my job, Petrie – you paid for my services and I did my job. You make amazing food and you treat me well whenever I show up – that's all I need."

With his hands suddenly behind his back, Petrie bowed at Ruby and Weiss saw her flush a bit. "It is my honor, Ms. Rose. Now, what can I get you and—oh?" That was his reaction the first time he actually noticed Weiss sitting across the table. That was also when Weiss noticed the cat ears perk up atop his head. "A companion?"

The suggestive look he gave Ruby made Weiss want to tackle him to the ground – or try to – he was a large man.

"This is my friend, Weiss." Ruby introduced her and the word friend sounded like a cat barking, but Weiss shook the man's hand nonetheless.

"Hello, Weiss – it's a pleasure to meet you. Any friend of Ruby's is considered a special guest in my restaurant."

Weiss wondered if this man knew who she was – who her father was or where she worked. Then a part of her saw how happy he was with this life. How easily he showed affection and how often she smiled and suddenly she realized that even if he did – he probably wouldn't care.

More often than not, Weiss worried about the weight of her name more than others. "Thank you," she gave her best smile and Ruby seemed happy with the interaction.

"So, what are we having?" Petrie asked and Ruby never even looked at her menu.

"Give us two racks. Oh! And a chocolate shake for me! Weiss, you want a shake? They're ridiculously awesome."

Weiss sat up a little straighter in her chair. "I'll pass on the shake, thank you. Lemonade please, and go light on the sugar if you can." Weiss gave the man her menu and ignored the snicker she heard from Ruby across the table.

"Of course," he bowed and gave Ruby a slight wink. "Your beverages will be here shortly." She watched him give Ruby's shoulder a squeeze before taking his leave.

Weiss couldn't help herself – that interaction and the way he looked at Ruby, spoke to her, it carried so much history. She wanted to ask, she had a thousand questions – before she could get to even one, her scroll buzzed.

You okay? Need me to come pick you up? Hide a body? Buy you a dozen pairs of shoes?

"Violet," she sighed and shook her head. As she started typing her response, she looked up as Ruby's chair scooted back.

"I'm going to uh…go use the restroom. Don't drink my shake." Ruby tried to smile but it was faded and empty. That's when Weiss connected the dots of what Ruby thought with Violet and now the message and…

"Dammit."


The fortunate thing about eating messy barbecue was that it left very little time for conversation. So that meant the awkward silence that filled the entirety of the meal was easy to ignore because they were both eating. However, in the car on the way home – the only excuse for the silence was that Weiss was on her phone. Except she wasn't doing the "work" she'd said she was doing – instead she was merely scrolling through her photos without really paying attention.

Weiss wasn't entirely sure why they weren't speaking. Mostly because Ruby had seemed upset when talk of Violet came up – but Weiss couldn't help but wonder why it mattered. They'd been separated for so long now, why would Weiss having a new woman in her life affect Ruby so much? Did Ruby still love her? Did Ruby think about her as much as Weiss did?

First of all, Weiss – you don't have a new woman in your life. You have a smart ass assistant who turned down your creepy offer to bathe together.

It was strange to see Ruby driving – to see Ruby as this adult who lived her own life and took care of herself. Not that Weiss doubted Ruby's ability to take care of herself, but Ruby had always just…had someone watching out for her. Whether it was Summer and Taiyang, or Yang and then Weiss herself.

Now Ruby was an adult, who drove and went on solo missions and had weird…emotional connections with random chefs at local restaurants.

Ruby had her own life, and Weiss felt pretty miserable that she wasn't a part of it.

With her window down, the air whipped Ruby's long hair back and she slipped on a pair of sunglasses to shield from the rays shining in the clear sky. It was a beautiful day, but also insanely hot and Ruby had mentioned on the way to the restaurant that her air conditioning didn't work – so the window was open which let in the loud roar of the truck engine and made conversation nearly impossible.

Not that either of them were really trying.

As they reached a stop light, Weiss watched out of the corner of her eye as Ruby shifted in her seat. She noticed a slight grimace on Ruby's face and turned to look at her. The movement made Ruby freeze up and quickly clear her expression.

"What's wrong?" Weiss asked on instinct. She knew it probably wasn't any of her business, but seeing Ruby in discomfort made her react.

As expected, Ruby brushed her off. "It's nothing." Ruby glanced up at the streetlight and sighed – clearly hoping for an escape from this conversation.

Undeterred, Weiss took advantage of it. "I'm not with Violet." This got Ruby's attention. "She's only my assistant – nothing more."

Weiss watched with uncertainty as Ruby gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and still wouldn't look at her. When the light changed, Ruby hit the pedal again – a little faster than Weiss would like.

"Ruby," Weiss called out and Ruby immediately slowed down. "Please talk to me."

Ruby had been so carefree before – she smiled at Weiss and teased her. She was even the one who proposed this friendship experiment. What changed?

Before Weiss knew what was happening, they turned off the main road and onto a secondary road that had a few small buildings and businesses all lined up. Ruby pulled into an empty parking lot and stopped her truck halfway in an open spot. She turned off the engine and suddenly a silence unlike any Weiss could remember loomed over them.

"Okay," Ruby said, finally and Weiss wanted to smack her for being so dramatic. "Okay – so my dad used to always tell me to take things head on. It's only a problem if you let it become one. So…we're going to take this head on."

Weiss was suddenly contemplating whether or not she should run from this truck. Head on was…not her style. "Uh…"

"Do you still have feelings for me?"

Yes, her face was absolutely on fire right now. The only explanation for how hot it felt. "Ruby I—"

"Wait!" Ruby waved her hands. "It's okay if you do, you can tell me. I won't be mad or glad or sad or anything!"

Weiss frowned. "You won't be anything?" Ruby only smiled more and Weiss decided to turn the tables. "Do you still have feelings for me?"

"No," Ruby said simply and for a moment Weiss thought she misheard or that her mind was playing tricks on her.

However, the silence that followed confirmed that Ruby had actually said that and said it so quickly and casually that Weiss swore her heart broke in her chest.

"Oh," she must have sounded sad because Ruby quickly spoke again.

"I mean of course I still care about you and miss you and all of that stuff! But we didn't work out in the romantic way and it was hard. But seeing you now, I missed you, Weiss – and I realized that the romantic stuff shouldn't get in the way of what we had before! We were partners first right? Partners and friends – that bond we had at Beacon can't be broken. That's what's important! I—is that okay?" The question was as serious as Ruby had ever asked and Weiss could feel that weight in those silver eyes staring back at her.

That didn't make it hurt any less.

Years and years of learning how to shield off her emotions and hide how truly in pain she was served Weiss well in this moment. She steeled herself and sat up a little straighter, putting on her best smile – the one she'd practiced for years – and nodded. "Of course," she answered as believably as the day she told her father she loved him before he passed away. It wasn't the truth, but it was what he needed to hear. "It would certainly make things easier for Blake and Yang and this wedding."

Ruby seemed quite pleased at this response and nodded. "Yes! Oh I'm so glad you understand! It's been so awkward and I thought we could just…push past it, but we needed to figure it out. I—I think I learned that from you," she grinned. "Planning and preparation always lead to success." She finished the sentence with a wink and Weiss dug her fingernails into her palm.

"I used to tell you that in the library back at Beacon."

"At least once a week." Ruby said with a laugh and Weiss rolled her eyes. "You were very persistent."

Weiss pointed a finger at her. "You were very good at procrastinating."

"I learned that from Yang." As she fired up the truck again, Weiss was grateful for the noise. "Come on, let's get you back to my dad's and see if the rest of team RWBY wants to do anything fun tonight before wedding stuff starts tomorrow." Ruby clapped her hands. "We're finally all back together!"

"We should text ahead and make sure those two are properly clothed and not…touching one another."

Ruby grimaced and Weiss hated how easy it was to play this game. "Oh good idea. You really are a genius, Weiss."

She didn't respond, just watched the road and let Ruby continue to chatter on as she always did.

Apparently she was wrong – she could lie to Ruby.

Chapter Text

"Listen," Weiss nearly growled as she sat at the kitchen table and tapped her fingers against the wood – having abruptly cut off the annoying man on the phone. "If I wanted second rate flowers for this wedding, I would have ordered second rate flowers for this wedding."

After the barbecue fiasco with Ruby a day earlier, Weiss had decided to bury herself in wedding preparation to gently remove herself from any romantic drama that didn't even really exist anymore. One reason being that she was actually here for Blake and to make Blake's wedding the best it could be.

The second reason being that Ruby had made it very clear the "romantic" drama was all very one sided and Weiss needed to tune out all of her feelings and focus.

"Ma'am, the order you've placed – we simply can't accommodate that in the time you've asked."

His trembling voice only irritated her more – Weiss didn't want to be rude to this man from the flower shop, but he was pushing her last button. One of the claims on his business card was how great he was for weddings and yet she'd come to him with an order for a wedding and suddenly he couldn't do his job?

"That's unacceptable. I have paid you a very large sum of money – enough that you could probably hire more men to make this happen. Now are you going to or am I going to have to get my money back and go somewhere else? Because I can guarantee you that you will never have as valuable of a customer as Weiss Schnee and my name and my word carries weight." She hated using her name to get things, but it worked so well.

It was just this once, and the only person around was Yang who was currently buried in a video game, in her underwear, on the couch.

There was a silence on the other end and Weiss was ready to keep threatening. She'd pay to have her name carved into the side of his flower shop if she had to.

"W—we'll make it work, Ma'am."

Weiss smiled. "Excellent, thank you. I'll expect to hear from you within the week for an update."

"Of…of course."

With that, Weiss hung up and put her scroll down before jotting information into her notebook. This was the first of many tasks she had to start today.

"You think if you called and ordered me a pizza and threw that name of yours around I might be able to get free breadsticks?" Yang asked from the couch without looking away from her game.

Weiss glared at her to no avail and put her pen down. "I didn't throw my name around."

Yang scoffed. "Oh please, you were one step away from sending him a picture of that death stare you're giving me."

"He was failing at his job."

"He owns a tiny flower shop on the coast of a small island town and you've asked him to supply hundreds of flowers for our wedding."

Weiss rolled her eyes. "It says on his business card that he services weddings! If he can't handle this one, then he should change his qualifications."

"I'm sure he will after this." Yang said before sticking her tongue out and hammering on her controller. "Are the flowers good to go or not because Blake wants nice ones. She would never say it but this wedding is pretty important to her."

Pushing up from the seat at the kitchen counter, Weiss sauntered into the living room and watched Yang scoot ever-so-slightly to the side on the couch to make room for her.

Weiss plopped down gently and smoothed out her skirt. "The flowers are coming, yes. Next on my list is the dresses for the bridesmaids and I hope your…best man has his suit situation planned out."

"I'll handle Sun," Yang chuckled. "If I want him to make it to the wedding in one piece I know better than to send him with you."

"A good plan."

Yang's game made a very distraught sound and she sighed before setting the controller in her lap with defeat. She ruffled her hair a bit and pushed it off her shoulders before looking to Weiss. "You're taking Ruby to get her dress altered?"

Weiss' stomach twisted with regret at agreeing to do that before she ran away from Ruby's truck like it was on fire. "Yes, as her friend I agreed to go with her. You know how she hates fancy places like dress shops," Weiss rolled her eyes. "Or five star restaurants."

"What?"

Weiss sighed. "Never mind."

They were quiet for a moment and Yang started her game back up. Weiss watched – or tried to, but it moved so quickly she started to wonder whether she might throw up or get a headache first.

Thankfully (or not) her attention was diverted by Yang finally breaking the silence. "So…as her friend?"

Oh here we go…

She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Yes, Yang – as her friend."

"So you're cool with that?"

Aggravated by both the question and constantly watching Yang fall into the same pit over and over again on this game Weiss had once seen Ruby beat in record time, she took the controller away and restarted the level.

Yang reached to take it back but Weiss swatted her away. "Yes," she started to play and Yang glared at her for a moment before watching. "I'm…cool with it – of course I am. I can be friends with Ruby. It's all she's asking for in our relationship."

"What about you?"

Weiss shrugged. "What about me? I'm happy to have a bridge mended."

"Even if it's not the same bridge it used to be?"

Yang earned herself a sideways glance. "Can we drop the bridge metaphor?"

"You started it." Yang again reached for the controller and Weiss kicked at her. "Hey! This is my game!"

"Yes, and you were failing miserably at it. Frankly, I was tired of hearing that same, sad game over song." Weiss refused to give the controller back as she tried to remember the moves Ruby made at this part. "To answer your question – I'm fine with Ruby and I being friends. Honestly, it's a weight off my chest."

There was a small silence that followed, Weiss merely listening to the annoying soundtrack of the game and waiting for another sarcastic comment.

It didn't come. "That's not what Winter told me."

Weiss' character on screen died as she whipped her head at Yang. "Winter spoke to you about…"

"Your sad, depressing life? Yeah." Yang finally took the controller back.

"My life is not depressing!" Weiss barked and thought about storming out to call and yell at her sister immediately.

Though it seemed unnecessary where there was another big sister here for her to scream at. "I'm just telling you what I heard – Winter told me to keep an eye on you. Make sure you had fun."

It would be easy to scream and yell and assure that she as just fine with how her life was.

It would be easy to lie – she'd done it her whole life.

Yet, one of the best things about Yang was how understanding she was. Yes, Yang could be intolerable and loud and obnoxious – but she took everyone as they were and Weiss felt safety in that.

Lowering her defenses, she spoke the truth. "I'm not depressed…I'm just…very lonely."

The air was quiet for a moment and Weiss wondered if perhaps Yang wasn't paying attention. When she looked up as the sounds from the game stopped, she watched Yang put the controller down and look at her. "You did kind of…take yourself away from all of us once you and Ruby broke up. I know it was probably easier because you two had such a tough end but…Blake and I can only do so much from Vale."

"I just…I was never good at making friends – as you know!" She cut Yang off right before a sarcastic comment. "I just thought that I might be a little better at it after the war. People seemed to care about me and I for them and it just…wasn't as easy in the real world. Eventually I stopped trying and the only real friend I have is a woman I pay to be at my side constantly."

Yang sighed and shifted so that her feet were suddenly in Weiss' lap. Weiss scoffed and was about to push her feet off but Yang held them steady. "Relax, I'm your therapist today – the least you can do is be my footrest."

"I am a Schnee," Weiss threatened, knowing it would only make this worse.

"Weiss, I've heard you fart in your sleep."

Weiss' face felt like it was on fire. "I do not!"

"You do, and it ain't dainty." To prove her point, Yang crossed her feet on Weiss' lap and stared her down. Defeated, Weiss laid her hand across Yang's ankle and was given a smile. "Alright, talk to me. What can I do to help?"

She sighed heavily. "Build me a time machine so I can go back to that day on the mountain and stay with Ruby so I could know what happened."

"Okay," Yang rolled her eyes. "You have to fund it though." Weiss didn't answer and this pushed Yang to poke her with a toe. "Weiss, real talk – do you still love my little sister?"

Again, it was pointless to lie. "I do – I maybe had convinced myself it was just the loneliness but being around her again is just…" no end to that sentence would properly convey how she felt.

"Have you told her this?"

Weiss smacked the bottom of Yang's foot. "Of course not! It's been years – I can't just tell her I'm still in love with her! Besides, we talked about whether or not either of us had lingering feelings and she said she didn't, she just wanted to be friends."

Yang was quiet again and Weiss studied her. She seemed perplexed, though that was Yang's expression more often than not, but she shook her head and eventually sighed. "That's odd," she said. "I'll talk to her."

"You most certainly will not!" Weiss squeezed Yang's ankle. "Just…let us have this. It's simpler and won't cause any sort of unnecessary drama. We can get through the wedding and then I can deal with it."

Weiss felt like she was being reasonable. She spoke in a very calm and comfortable tone. Yet, Yang was suddenly wearing that nightmare fueled smirk that meant she was about to do something annoying.

"You know, Weiss – my dad's gonna be coming home tomorrow night and…I think he's gonna want his room back, which means I—I'm not sure we'll have enough room for everyone."

"Yang," Weiss was ready to fight if she had to.

"I'm just saying – my dad will be tired from his trip and will want the comfort of his bed while his oldest daughter is getting married."

She knew where this was going, she knew exactly where it was going and a part of her wondered if Yang had this planned all along. "Please don't say it."

Yang lifted her foot and touched her big toe to Weiss' nose. "Ruby has a very comfortable couch."

"You are the worst person in all of Remnant."

A boisterous laugh filled the room. "I mean; I suppose Sun could crash at Ruby's until your hotel is ready."

"Like hell Sun Wukong is going to stay with her!" She burst out and immediately felt her face go red. "I uh…I mean—why do you hate me?"

Suddenly, Yang sat up and planted a big kiss on Weiss' cheek. "I'm doing this because I love you, Weiss. Both of you, and I am still really scared of your sister."

Winter Schnee had hell coming her way.


Weiss sat angrily on the swing in the backyard and and let her foot tap against the concrete below.

She refused to swing, she was too angry to swing this stupid swing and take any sort of joy in it. No, she had no time for joy right now – not when Winter Schnee was about to be verbally eviscerated.

The line rang twice, and then a third time – each ring poking at Weiss' frustration.

When it finally clicked, she was ready to burst, but Winter beat her to it.

"Calling to thank me, Weiss?"

Oh it was on now.

"Thank you?! Is that what you really think? That I want to thank you for ruining my vacation by scaring that coward Yang Xiao Long into throwing me out of this place so I can stay with my ex-girlfriend who just told me not a few days earlier that she had absolutely no interest in a romantic relationship with me or that she had any lingering feelings for me at all?! Am I supposed to thank you for that? Am I supposed to thank you for putting me in the most uncomfortable situation of my life?!"

She nearly lost her breath by the time she finished. Inhaling sharply, she knew her face was probably as red as Ruby's cape but she didn't care – she was furious.

Waiting for Winter to respond felt like it took forever and Weiss though (hoped) that perhaps she'd actually scared Winter with her reaction.

"Oh I'm sorry, Weiss – I was drying my hair and didn't catch that." Weiss nearly threw her phone over the wooden fence in front of her. "Regardless, you are welcome."

"Winter!" Weiss screamed and swore her scroll started to crack under her grip.

"Oh will you stop being so dramatic. Yang has kept me up to speed on all your romantic endeavors and I know all well that Ruby has told you that she has no feelings for you. I'm merely suggesting that you don't throw in the towel because of it."

The anger subsided a little – at least Winter knew the circumstances, even if she was being a pain in the butt about it. "Winter, she told me that she didn't have feelings for me and I've accepted it. I won't force my presence on her in hopes of her changing her mind. I don't want to make her care about me."

"I would never suggest this if not for Yang convincing me that Ruby is, in fact, hiding behind her false admission."

Weiss growled. "Will you and Yang stop plotting! This is not a battlefield strategy, it's my personal life."

"I will not stop plotting, Weiss. I am tired of worrying about you and how lonely you are in that mansion. You have not yet gotten over Ruby, you love her and I know it's true. You are near her for the first time in years – I will not let this opportunity go to waste."

Winter could be so irritating. Even when she meant well, everything was still about her. Even this, it wasn't so much about Weiss' happiness as it was about Winter not wanting to worry anymore.

"I don't want to scare her away. There's already a lot of distance between us." She spoke softly and hoped that Winter would understand that she meant it. Weiss was terrified of ruining what fragile truce she and Ruby currently had.

"Yang has told me," Weiss rolled her eyes. "That the two of you are working to become friends. Even if there is nothing romantic there – would it really be so bad to spend time with your friend?"

Weiss glared out into the nothingness in front of her. The trees and the clouds in the sky – just hoping Winter could feel it. "I know what you're doing."

"I'm not exactly hiding it, Sister." Weiss had nothing left to say. "Listen, Weiss…just keep an open mind for me, all right? If you go through with this and it's terrible, I will pay for your therapy myself." Weiss was prepared to decline. Prepared to tell Winter that it was never going to happen. She was prepared to do a lot of things before the guilt came. "I want you to be happy. I want you to find something that makes you smile the way you used to when the two of you were together. No person or thing has come close since her."

Weiss shook her head, frustrated and sad and knowing full well that this was going to end badly.

Yet, there was no getting out of it now. "I'll…make the most of it."

After a few empty goodbyes, Weiss closed her scroll and was about to put it away when it buzzed in her hand.

A message from a number she didn't recognize.

Our siblings are trying to play matchmaker! If it's uncomfortable for you, I'll tell Yang you can't stay.

Oh...

Weiss hadn't expected Ruby to pick up on it. She hadn't expected Ruby to contact her directly about it either. Ruby was so upfront about all of this.

Because, unlike you, she's truly over it.

Throwing her head back in agony, Weiss typed out her response.

I'm okay with it if you are, your father's house is already crowded.

She hated how even these message back and forth with Ruby made her heart race a little.

Sounds like a plan! I'll get your bed ready!

Weiss responded with a quick thank you before laying down completely on the hard, wooden bench and hoping a bolt of lightening might end her suffering completely.

"Miss Schnee?" Violet broke through the serenity and Weiss opened one eye to see her assistant standing over her with her hands behind her back. "We closed a deal with that pesky shipping company in Vacuo today – your staff was able to get 80% of what was requested and they'll be supplying their own ships."

The information processed and Weiss was suddenly drawn back into her job – which felt surreal as she had almost forgotten it with all this nonsense. "Very well – I wish we had pushed for at least eighty-five but I'm sure Hardwick and his lawyers were too meek to challenge Vacuo's bullies."

"Hardwick is more concerned with keeping face then turning the best profit."

Weiss nodded – Hardwick was an idiot. "It's too late to do anything about it now and them supplying their own ships will save us on the return. Have Hardwick message me a copy of the documents and I'll review them, then we can start prepping the delivery and hope all goes well."

Violet was already tapping on her scroll. "Should we up security? Vacuo shipments have always been notorious for trouble."

"Wouldn't hurt, especially if it's their ships – I'd like more people under the Schnee lien than anyone else through this. If it goes well then we'll have quality supply lines to Vacuo and can start helping them clear out their infestation."

"Of course," Violet finished on her scroll and nodded. "Hardwick has been notified and I'll find a good security force to hire for the journey."

Weiss closed her eye again and actually found a strange bit of comfort in the familiarity of her work. "Might as well put in a call to Flynt and Neon, I'm certain they could use the work. We'll let them head up the security team."

"You know armed guards don't like having hunters telling them what to do."

She knew, all too well. "They may not like it, but if you pay them well enough then they will listen, regardless."

"Very well," Weiss waited for Violet to leave…and waited…and waited – yet the shadow she cast over Weiss stayed and eventually she had to open her eyes again.

"Is that all?"

Violet shrugged. "You tell me? Miss Xiao Long informed me that you would be staying at your – at Ms. Rose's home for the remainder of the week. Until the hotel we reserved is ready."

Oh right…she'd forgotten about Violet in all the craziness.

"Um…it is…a situation that I am currently trying to—"

"Miss Schnee," Violet gently cut her off. "Miss Xiao Long said I was welcome to continue sleeping in the den. In fact, she was quite insistent that I not accompany you at all."

It was official, Weiss was going to kill Yang. "I'm sorry you're being put through all of this – I didn't expect Yang to plot so much with Ruby and I."

"She's cute," Violet said more personally than professionally and Weiss opened her other eye. "I've never seen you act the way you do around her."

Weiss now had to sit up a little. "How do I act?"

Violet grinned. "Like a smitten teenager." She set in a very deep glare at her assistant. "It's not a bad thing, Miss Schnee."

With a heavy sigh, Weiss laid back down and covered her face. "It might be – if you're fine staying here then it's probably for the better – Ruby and I might kill one another."

"Or perhaps you might—"

"Violet, please do not finish that sentence."

She could almost hear the smirk in her voice. "Well at least you're considering it."

"I'm not, why do you all keep thinking that Ruby and I are going to jump into bed – you and Yang and my sister, you all think it's so easy. You don't know the first thing about…" when she finally sat up, Violet was gone. Weiss glared at no one and clenched her fists. "I hate this fucking place."

Chapter Text

"Hey roomie," Ruby – holding a dress over her arm – was leaning against the door frame at the entrance of the seamstress (the only seamstress in the entirety of Patch) and was doing her best to make Weiss question the meaning of friendship.

Not that Ruby had to do much – she was wearing a t-shirt and jean combination that hugged her perfectly fit body and Weiss was suddenly victim to Ruby with her hair down. It framed her face so well, a few strands tucked away behind her ear and the rest cascading like a black and red waterfall.

She was so grown up now. Fully the woman she was meant to become and Weiss, well Weiss was a Schnee and was strong enough to endure it.

After all, she did spend two hours getting ready for this, so she could only hope that Ruby was suffering at least a little. "Don't start," Weiss threatened and stepped past Ruby into the shop. "Your sister and mine will be the death of me. I certainly hope you have better accommodations than your father does for guests."

"Uh, I have a couch?"

"Does it random lunch meats stuffed between the cushions?"

Weiss glanced back to see Ruby grimacing. "No?"

"Then you're one up on your father."

"Wow," Ruby seemed legitimately concerned and confused – and the accompanying face she made drew a laugh from Weiss. "I mean I knew he was a bit messy but…what kind of lunch meat?"

It was Weiss' turn to grimace. "I honestly do not know."

"Bleh," Ruby stuck her tongue out for a moment before drawing it in for a smile. "Well no worries about lunch meat in my couch! My home is very clean…mostly because I'm never really there."

They stood by the main desk, still waiting for anyone in this tiny shop to actually notice that someone had entered. Apparently the jingling bell over the door wasn't enough so Weiss began to tap her fingernails against the granite counter as loudly as she could.

There was someone here – she could see their shadow in the back room. Another minute and Weiss was prepared to start throwing her name around again.

"Did Yang bring over my things?" Weiss glanced back to see Ruby picking at a few dresses on the rack, running her fingers through the material. Ruby loved contact, she loved to experience the world through touch and smell and sound. It was part of her charm – the vigor she lived her life never changed, not once through all the battles.

"She did," Ruby answered without turning away. "You have more items in your bathroom bag than I have in my entire bathroom."

Weiss glared. "It's a lot of work to pull off being a proper Schnee." She said with a bit of self-deprecation. Her father would always prattle on about being a 'proper Schnee'. She hated it, even if it was the life and lie she lived almost every day now.

The lie she never had to live around Ruby. "That's nonsense, I've seen you covered in blood and dirt and you still looked great. I've heard you fart in your sleep—"

"I do not fart in my sleep!"

A throat cleared and Weiss was prepared to turn into a puddle of embarrassment and slide right into the floor. Ruby covered her mouth with her hand to hide a laugh as Weiss could only hope her death glare might actually murder because this was the single most embarrassing moment of her life.

Lifting her chin, Weiss steadied herself and turned back to see a very confused and slightly offended older woman with fading red hair and glasses so thick Weiss wondered how she stayed upright wearing them.

"We're here to make adjustments to the dress for the Belladonna, Xiao Long wedding."

"Oh!" The woman's expression changed in an instant. "You're Miss Schnee! I should have noticed with the hair and elegance, my dear."

Weiss could feel Ruby rolling her eyes. The word elegance meaning very little after screaming about releasing gas in her sleep. "I am – but the dress is not for me. It's for my…friend." She gestured for Ruby to step up and when she did, Weiss patted her on the shoulder. It was a friendly gesture – certainly not so she could see how firm those shoulders were. "The sleeves are too tight."

Too tight because Ruby suddenly had boulder shoulders.

"Well of course!" The lady boasted. "Look at those arms – you must be in the military!"

Ruby merely smiled. "Nah, just a huntress who carries a giant weapon."

"My goodness! A true huntress! I've bet you've got some stories to tell!"

Weiss was a bit surprised this woman didn't know who Ruby was. Though knowing Ruby, she was probably thankful for it. The celebrity of being a war hero was never something Ruby enjoyed.

Even if her bank account was most likely enhanced by it.

It was something that changed in Ruby with each year they spent fighting. This was a girl that grew up wanting to be a heroic huntress who saved lives and changed the world. She did that – all of it. Ruby Rose was a hero to be remembered and adored for generations. Yet, the more she did, the less and less she wanted that spotlight.

Weiss knew why, because Weiss felt it too. There was nothing glamorous or romantic about that war. The spent nights sleeping in ditches to avoid being seen by passing packs of Grimm. Going days without showers or proper hygiene.

They'd been cut, stabbed, bitten, shot, thrown off cliffs and burned by any assortment of things. It was awful.

Watching as Ruby went with this woman, Weiss couldn't help but wonder if Ruby had spent months with a therapist as Weiss had. As Weiss knew Yang had.

All of them carried scars from the war.

Feeling a pair of eyes on her, Weiss saw Ruby looking back with a bit of a 'help me' expression and Weiss remembered why Ruby asked her to come in the first place. This was not Ruby's forte, to say the least. So with a smirk and a roll of her eyes, Weiss quickly followed in pursuit of the determined older woman who was dragging Ruby to the back room.

It smelled of linen now, stronger than in the main room. There were shelves packed with materials of all different colors and cloth. Weiss quite enjoyed this room – well lit and cozy. There was a seat right in the middle and mirrors all around. Then a small sofa in the back corner near a closet that was slightly ajar where Weiss found purchase and had a good look at Ruby.

"So what's the huntress life like?" The woman asked and Weiss carefully watched Ruby's expression. "Probably a little more exciting than this, I'd imagine!"

Ruby took the question in stride. "It can be a bit chaotic – but it's all I know."

"Ruby is the finest scythe wielder in all of Remnant." Weiss said. Friends could brag about their friends.

Besides, seeing a friend blush the way Ruby was, was always nice. "Well…my Uncle—"

"Is no longer better than you," Weiss cut in with a proud smile. "She's exceptional." Weiss spoke this time to the seamstress and earned a nod.

"Well I don't know what a scythe is, per se, but I imagine it's something meant for hunting monsters."

Ruby smiled bashfully. "It's been through a lot with me."

As she worked on the dress – occasionally measuring Ruby's arms and shoulders before returning to her seat – the woman continued to ask questions about Ruby's job.

Thankfully, she was not very well versed in what it meant to hunt monsters, so none of her questions ever really reached beyond simpler things that were easy to talk about.

Weiss still listened intently though – enjoying hearing about some of Ruby's more casual adventures. She'd apparently spent a week living by (and bathing in) a river while she waited out a Nevermore that had taken to haunting a nearby village from time to time.

Just as she was about to get into another story about a recent hunt with her uncle, the seamstress came over and asked Ruby to lift her arm for a measurement under the arm. When she did, Ruby's shirt rode up her back and Weiss was prepared to either look away or greedily take in the sight of some bare skin. Instead, all she noticed was a deep and dark bruising that started on Ruby's lower back and disappeared underneath of her waistband.

Suddenly, all thought left Weiss and all she could see was that bruise and remember how Ruby had trouble sitting and how she shifted in her seat.

Ruby was hurt and Weiss had confronted her on it and been shut down.

It took everything she had to fight her initial reaction to race over there and check the injury.

Ruby was not fifteen anymore – Weiss couldn't play medic and check her for injuries. They were no longer lovers, let alone partners in the battlefield.

Tears burned in the back of her eyes and she was thankful Ruby couldn't see her. This girl she cared for was hurting and hiding it from all of them and Weiss knew if she asked, Ruby would only push away even further.

Biting her tongue, Weiss stood up in a flurry. "Excuse me, where is your bathroom?" Ruby looked back at her but Weiss kept her focus on the older woman – listening for a response.

"Back corner, around the rentals. Everything okay?"

Weiss nodded quickly. "Yeah, I think some dust flew into my eye – I'll be right back." With a quick smile at a curious Ruby, Weiss fled the small room for the safety of the bathroom.

She stepped inside and shut the door behind her, angry when she found no lock to latch it shut.

"Because of course there would be no lock." She muttered before sitting down on the toilet and pressing her toes against the door to hold it shut. "Get a hold of yourself, Weiss. You can deal with this."

How?

That was a question she didn't have any answers for. How could she deal with this? She knew that if she asked Ruby about it, it would result in Ruby pushing her away. The one thing Weiss had realized was that Ruby enjoyed her freedom – something she didn't have a lot of at Beacon or during the war. Ruby was a soldier, often times the youngest of the group and because of that, she was coddled by everyone.

Now, she was an adult with her own life who had isolated herself so she could be free to do what she wanted. So Weiss couldn't press – she couldn't force the issue and become someone else Ruby wanted to drive away.

She's a grown woman, she can take care of herself.

If that was true, Weiss couldn't help but wonder why she wasn't. The bruising was so bad and Ruby was clearly in pain. Yet Weiss had asked her if she was okay and Ruby had said she was fine.

Because Ruby was always fine.

Reaching into her pocket, Weiss pulled out her scroll and quickly found Blake's number. She tapped a quick message about meeting up to discuss food and sent it away. She would discuss food – Blake's wedding came first. But Weiss needed someone to talk to.


By the time Weiss reached Taiyang's home, it was quiet save for Blake sitting at the kitchen table delectably running her tongue over a chocolate covered spoon. Weiss couldn't help but notice two very unique things about her best friend right now. One – her hair was a mess and two – she wasn't wearing any pants.

Weiss hadn't knocked, it was the middle of the day and no one in their right mind would be involved in carnal activities at this hour. Yet, here Blake was looking as if she'd just spent the last hour rolling around in bed.

"Um," Weiss froze at the entrance and pondered if she should leave.

However, when Blake saw her, she grinned. "Hey –" she said and her tone was soft and without care. "You're a little early."

"And you're a little nude."

Blake chuckled. "I have underwear on – besides, it's too hot."

When the shower suddenly kicked on, Weiss didn't even have to ask. "She's not waiting for you, is she? Because I can come back another time."

"You're fine. We're…all caught up."

Weiss sat her bag down and rolled her eyes before pulling out a chair across from Blake to sit. "You two have no control."

"Listen, we canceled round two for you so don't push it."

"Oh Blake, can we please not talk about your sex life." She watched Blake crack her neck and shrug before eating the chocolate off her spoon. "I just wanted to ask you about Ruby."

"So you want to talk about your sex life?" Blake grinned.

"Blake…" Weiss hoped the seriousness conveyed in her tone. It must have, because Blake nodded for her to go on. "Is she…injured?"

"I mean…she's always got some bumps and bruises from her work. Nothing serious as far as I know. Why?"

Suddenly, Weiss wondered if it was her place to even bring this up. If Ruby hadn't told them, it was her right not to. "I…was just curious. Being a huntress is very dangerous." She was backpedalling and hoping it was enough to throw Blake off.

Weiss had only assumed that they would have information on this. Yang was Ruby's sister and despite the distance, it didn't seem logical that Ruby would keep anything like that from her.

"Weiss," Blake put her spoon down. "You didn't rush over here to ask me a simple question like that. What's going on?"

As curious as she was, Weiss knew it wasn't her place to prod into Ruby's life. Yes, she cared – but it felt wrong to bring Yang and Blake into this, knowing full well that Yang would freak out if Ruby was hurt. It might take away from the freedoms and distance that Ruby had created for herself. The same distance that Ruby seemed to enjoy.

She knew full well that Ruby was keeping this to herself because she was tired of everyone trying to protect her.

Still, she had to make some kind of a cover. "It's nothing serious, I promise. Ruby's just very quiet when it comes to talk about her hunts – I worried something might have happened." It wasn't really a lie. Ruby had been very tight lipped when talking about her job. The same job that Ruby would go on and on about for hours if it was ever even remotely brought up in conversation.

"That's because she knows her sister will try and convince her to give it up if she talks about it."

Weiss tilted her head to the side. "Why?" She had never known Yang to be anything but supportive of her little sister.

"There's been some…late night phone calls that haven't sat well with Yang. About two years ago Ruby called us up from a small town in Vacuo. She said she was out of money and needed someone to come pick her up. Yang took a week off, went to get her and when they came back Ruby was a mess. She'd come down with a horrible cold and hadn't been taking care of herself. She had run out of money and just…it was bad. Yang basically demanded that Ruby stop hunting and they had a huge fight." Blake seemed genuinely upset by even rehashing the story. Weiss felt even worse for not being around for any of this. She'd missed a pretty intense and important moment between her team and she hated it. "They apparently talked it out and Ruby was back hunting a month later. From then on they just…don't talk about Ruby's job anymore. I've asked Yang about it and she tells me 'it's not her business' and that's that."

With a sigh, Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose. "Those two." She shook her head. "I'm sorry I wasn't here to help through that. Apparently I've been more out of the loop than I previously thought."

"Sometimes I think Ruby would be happy if we left her out of the loop."

As the shower cut off, Weiss knew it was time to leave before Yang came out. Who knew what these two had planned with the house all to themselves.

Wait

"Where's Violet?"

Blake stood up and took her dishes to the sink. "She went with Sun to go pick up Neptune."

"With Sun?" Weiss cringed a bit at the thought of poor Violet being stuck with that…boy.

"She insisted, actually," Blake said with a gleam in her eyes and Weiss felt like she'd been hit with a truck.

"No…"

Blake shrugged. "I think she's into him."

"No." Weiss said matter-of-factly. "No, Violet is a graduate from Haven's finest university. There's no way."

"Weiss," Blake peeked over her shoulder. "I didn't say she wanted to marry him. Just a little fun on a vacation. I mean, her boss is shacking up with an ex – why can't she try something fun?"

Sighing in defeat, Weiss stood up from her chair and sauntered over to give her friend a hug. Blake laughed and reciprocated. "Fine, I won't pester her. Just…don't let your fiancé influence her too much, okay? I still need a competent assistant when this is all said and done."

It was true, as easy as it was for this place to strip away the rest of the world. Once Blake and Yang were married, Weiss would return home and go back to her old life.

Though not before making sure her friend was okay.


Chapter Text

Weiss knew it wasn't real.

She knew this pain in her hand wasn't real. The visions that she'd seen in her nightmare – they were real, but she'd long since dealt with them. No, this was just carryover from bad memories and being in a new bed in a new place and she was fine.

So fine, that she was sitting up on Ruby's couch in the middle of the night – slowly rocking back and forth trying to calm down.

Nightmares were nothing new. As a child she had them all the time. About monsters and scary people breaking into her home to attack her. As she grew up and learned more about her father's enemies – she would dream of them coming for her or for him. Despite growing up in a house armed to the teeth with security – the fear of Schnee enemies was always there.

Those nightmares were different from the ones she had now though. Those were based on possibility and imaginings of a young girl who had yet to experience the world.

Now twenty-seven, Weiss had seen just how dark the world could be and experienced the pain of it first hand. She'd seen loss and felt true pain. She'd watched innocent people die and had mornings where she'd felt hopeless.

The nightmares she suffered through these days felt more like memories.

This was the first bad one she'd had in a long time. Of course it would happen on her first night here – with Ruby sleeping just above her on the upstairs balcony.

Tonight had been a revisit to the day she had her hand broken. A sneak attack by some members of the White Fang while stationed in Vale trying to find Blake. It was one of the first true missions she and Ruby had gone on. After Ruby came for her with the remainder of team JNPR – it was priority one to bring RWBY back together.

So they'd set out to find them and ended up stumbling right into a White Fang hideout where Blake had been scouting for Adam. They were overrun and barely escaped. But not before a few of them caught Weiss and promised to break her to pieces. They didn't even know her – not really. Just that she had the look of a Schnee and that was enough. Weiss had been needlessly hated before, but she'd never felt as though her life was truly in danger because of it.

Not until that day.

Blake had saved her, because Blake always seemed to be in the right place at the right time – though Weiss did not escape unharmed. Her hand had been stepped on and broken in what was going to be the first of many pains they wished to inflict on her.

She'd never felt quite so helpless as she did in that moment. It was a feeling she despised and one she'd only went through a small number of times in her life.

Sleep would be hard to find now.

Still, Weiss knew she needed it. Tomorrow was a big day of cake tasting and planning with Blake. She had to start preparing the seating chart and sorting out meals for everyone. It was a busy day and she'd be useless if she didn't fall back asleep at this hour.

Perhaps a quick drink of water would be enough to take her mind off the haunting nightmare and lull her back to sleep.

The small home was dark, but there was a nightlight in the kitchen that shone over the tall counter and guided Weiss as she climbed off the couch and carefully made her way to the sink. The wood of the kitchen floor was cold on her bare feet and she actually quite enjoyed the sensation. Patch was painfully hot this time of year, so any respite from that was welcome.

Weiss found herself in another predicament as she reached the sink, she had no idea where Ruby kept any of her glasses.

Or if she even had any.

She could remember many times having seen Ruby drink straight out of the faucet. A soft smile played at her lips at the thought. As happened so often with Ruby now – those memories of things that once drove Weiss crazy, now made her feel warm and happy.

Just friends, Weiss. You can't crush on your friends.

With a frustrated sigh, Weiss pushed aside those thoughts and began scouring Ruby's kitchen for a glass or anything that might be able to hold enough liquid to give her a proper drink. The only thing she could find was a pan. A single pan that had bits of rice still stuck in it from the meal Ruby cooked for them. Not that the food was bad – it certainly was the simplest thing Weiss had eaten since her corn dog in the airport.

The only thing was that it was all Ruby had to cook. She'd suggested going out to eat, but Weiss hadn't felt up to it and she'd eaten enough take out food the last few days to fill her quota for the rest of the year.

Ruby caved and offered to make rice.

"Back for seconds?" Weiss jumped and nearly slipped before catching herself on the counter. She looked up just in time to see Ruby coming down the stairs. It was dark, but the nightlight shined just enough to show her long, tousled hair and those damn bare legs of hers. Those shorts didn't do much for covering up anything.

The world was so quiet; Weiss swore they were the only two people in existence right now.

"Was looking for a glass of water, actually."

"Oh," Ruby stepped into the kitchen, her feet sliding across the ground before she stepped up on her tip toe and pulled a glass from the cupboard next to the fridge. "Here you go." She offered it with a smile and Weiss accepted it graciously.

Turning her back to Ruby, she poured a drink and swallowed the entire thing in one gulp before filling it up again to have a glass to sip.

She kept her back to Ruby, giving her a chance to race back to bed and perhaps avoid any unwanted conversation. After a few seconds passed, she turned around only to see that Ruby had pulled up a stool at the counter and sat down.

Even worse, Ruby was staring right at her with genuine concern.

"What?" Weiss asked under scrutiny of Ruby's big, silver eyes.

The touch of a smile. "You only get up for water at this hour when you've had a nightmare."

Weiss bit back a curse. Of course Ruby would know that – they shared a bed together for years. Sometimes it felt like someone else's life – those years spent with Ruby. Though it was nice to know that Ruby hadn't forgotten them entirely.

"It's nothing."

"Sounds familiar." Ruby said with a smirk. "I still get them too; you know?"

Setting her glass down, Weiss decided to lower her defenses. It was late, she was tired and Ruby was sitting across from her offering support. She wasn't strong enough to turn it away. "How do you deal with it?"

Instead of answering the question, Ruby stood up from her seat and moved to the fridge. Weiss watched her lean in, making sure to not stare at Ruby's ridiculously perfect backside as she bent over and began rummaging. Instead, Weiss stared at her glass of water and tried not to think about Ruby's ridiculously perfect backside.

Her haze was broken when something was sat on the counter with a thud. Looking up, Weiss was suddenly staring at a bottle of amber liquid.

"Seriously?"

Ruby shrugged. "It takes the edge off."

"Ruby Rose," Weiss chided and watched as Ruby smiled even more.

"Relax – it's not like I carry a flask around. I have one glass when I can't sleep and it does help. It slows my mind down. Plus you focus on the burn in your throat and that takes away the—" Ruby stopped herself and Weiss watched her sink down in her chair a bit. "You want some?" She asked, trying to quickly change the subject.

"You do realize that's not actually a solution to the problem, right?" Her question was met with silence.

Weiss knew this night was an opportunity. She needed to know about those marks on Ruby's back and they were already diving into personal conversation. Perhaps, if she played this right, she could find answers.

Quickly drinking down her water, Weiss extended her glass and shrugged. "Very well – I'm sure it's disgusting compared to the fine wines and liquors I'm accustomed too."

"Is that so?" Ruby said with a snort as she poured. "You're giving me grief about drinking yet you're in your mansion drunk off wine and cheese."

"How does one get drunk off of cheese?"

She shrugged. "I don't know – you soak it in the wine and eat it."

Weiss curled her lip. "That's disgusting. Wet cheese is hardly edible." Ruby only laughed more before sliding Weiss' glass back to her. She stared down at the dark liquid, taking in the strong scent before making eye contact with Ruby again. "I can't say I ever imagined us doing this."

"Drinking?"

"Well…that…but also just being around one another again."

Ruby frowned and swirled her glass. "Oh…yeah me too, I guess. I didn't think you would ever want to."

Now was as good a time as any to open up. "For a while, I didn't. I…I told myself that I didn't want to see you again. That I was done with you and better off without you." She could see Ruby visibly sinking into her chair. "I'm pretty sure I was just simply hiding the fact that my heart was broken."

"I wasn't," Ruby said and Weiss chanced a look up at her only to see that Ruby was still staring at her glass.

"You weren't what?" She pressed at Ruby's silence.

"Hiding," she began running her thumbs across the rim. "I was a pain in the butt. I know because Yang told me. I was…cranky and mean and not at all myself. I don't really like to think about it too much because it makes me feel like poop. But I said and did a lot of things that I regret when we broke up. I was in a really dark place after Jaune died and Salem fell and just…all of it. I—I don't think I was prepared to handle losing you too. You were kind of my first…everything."

There was no person Weiss had ever met who made her want to be a better person more than Ruby Rose. There was something about this girl that drew out every bit of good Weiss had in it. Even when she didn't think she had any at all, Ruby made her believe she could be kinder and more giving. Ruby was everything she wasn't. A hero without the need for praise. A patron, without anything to spare.

Weiss loved Ruby more than anything in the world.

She loved her enough, that she could put her own heart aside.

"Ruby," Weiss smiled as best she could. "It doesn't matter if we're only friends…the time apart from you was awful and unnecessary and I refuse to let it happen again. If…you ever need anything or anyone to talk to or confide in or…trust. I promise you that I am here."

Weiss wanted her words to be comforting. She wanted to assure Ruby that they could still talk and care about each other – even if it was only as friends. She was prepared to be just friends if it meant Ruby would let her back in.

However, instead of gaining any sort of joy she was expecting – Ruby only seemed more upset. "You saw, didn't you?"

Weiss was suddenly confused. "What?"

"The bruises on my back. You saw them at the seamstress. That's why you raced off to the bathroom and were so quiet the rest of the day. You were gone—did you tell Yang?!" Ruby seemed almost frantic as she slammed her glass on the table.

"Ruby of course not! I—"

"You would, just like before you'd go to her and Blake to tell them that poor Ruby couldn't take care of herself!"

Weiss was ready to recoil but suddenly realized she had no reason to. She hadn't told Blake or Yang about Ruby's back but that didn't mean those injuries weren't real. "Ruby, I did not tell them anything, but you are injured and you're keeping it a secret from your family. Why?"

"It's not their business. I'm a grown woman and I can take care of myself!"

Weiss scoffed. "Yes, you seem to be doing a bang up job."

"Shut up!" Ruby screamed viciously and Weiss recoiled. Seeing it, Ruby lowered her head in her hands. "Weiss…I…."

"Why are you hiding this?" Weiss tried, her voice beckoning Ruby to just look at her. "Ruby, why not tell anyone? You're clearly in pain – I've seen it. Your back is covered in bruises."

That was when Weiss noticed the tear streak down Ruby's face. "I am in pain…e—every day." She took a deep breath and wiped at her cheek. "But if I tell Yang, she'll make me stop. She'll make me leave my home and move to Vale with her." She shook her head, her hair swaying from side to side. "I don't want to stop hunting, Weiss. I don't want to stop doing the only thing I really enjoy doing."

It was brutal to see Ruby cry and know that she couldn't just jump out of her chair and comfort her. Years ago, when they were together – she would already have Ruby in her lap and those tears would be wiped away in an instant.

Now, they were simply friends and Weiss didn't know what her limitations were. "Ruby, you're an adult. She can't make you do anything."

"She can though! You know how family is!" Ruby was yelling again, but Weiss knew it wasn't at her. "I love my sister, Weiss – but after everything that happened during the war she's so protective and it took everything I had to get away from her so I could have a little freedom. This is my life, and it's not perfect and it's hard. Yang tells me all the time that I can't keep going like this – but I make it work. This is my life, it's mine and I like it. I am one of the best huntresses in all of Remnant. I make good money and I get to see so much of the world and help people. It's great that Yang has her job at Beacon. She loves it, I mean she goes on and on and on about it all the freaking time! But that's not for me – you of all people have to understand that."

She did, she did understand how much Ruby loved being a huntress. It was her dream growing up and that never changed. No matter how hard the war was on them – Ruby's passion for fighting monsters and helping people never wavered.

That didn't make any of this okay though.

"Ruby, I know…I know how much this means to you – but you can't keep this up. You're in pain and it's only going to get worse. You need to see a doctor or a healer. You need a proper medical examination. Aura can't heal broken bones and that's—"

"It is," Ruby's bottom lip was trembling. "It's my hip…I damaged it a while back and my aura can barely hold it together through missions. I use so much of it that when I get home I'm drained and it…it hurts so much."

"Is it broken?"

Ruby's hesitation answered the question – but she needed to hear it. "I—I think so."

Weiss was furious. She wanted to yell and scream and tell Ruby how damned irresponsible she was being.

Then a tear streaked down Ruby's cheek and the anger evaporated like melting ice.

Weiss stood, drink forgotten, and moved around the counter to quickly pull Ruby into her arms. She was shocked when Ruby sank into the embrace and started sobbing. Weiss was met with the weight of Ruby pressing against her and she steadied her legs to hold them both up.

She ran her hand through Ruby's hair. Offering soft promises that things would be okay as her mind continued to race on how she could make this happen. That was her job, after all. Yang had given it to her years ago – when the first inkling of feelings sparked between them.

Yang told Weiss that it was her job to make sure Ruby was okay. Seeing the way Ruby lived – Weiss had failed.

It took her a while, but Ruby eventually calmed down and Weiss carefully ran a hand down her back. She slowed when Ruby stiffened underneath of her touch and Weiss let her fingers linger where Ruby's top cut off. She waited and felt a hand grip the material of her nightshirt a little tighter and a part of her knew that was permission.

With that, she slipped her hand underneath of Ruby's shirt and traced her finger over the sensitive skin. She'd been here before, the feeling was both familiar, and as exciting as the first time. This was different though – not meant to be intimate. She was searching and hoping to bring comfort. When she lowered to Ruby's hip, she heard a breath hitch and stopped. Her fingers were barely touching and yet it was enough to draw a reaction.

She was in very bad shape.

Weiss grimaced and quickly pulled her hand away. When she drew back and met Ruby's eyes – they seemed completely defeated.

"Ruby…" Weiss spoke in a tone that she knew Ruby would recognize. It was the same tone she used when she knew she was right and wouldn't allow Ruby to be stubborn.

The message clear and Ruby lowered her head. "I know." Ruby blew out a shaky breath. "I should have let you get your stupid water and stayed in bed."

This drew an unexpected laugh to Weiss' throat and that was when she realized she was still cradling Ruby in her arms. Carefully, she untangled herself from her friend and put her hands on Ruby's shoulders. "Tomorrow night, after the stuff with the wedding, we'll start looking for a proper physician to evaluate you and we will get this sorted out." Ruby remained stoic and Weiss moved a hand under her chin and drew her face up. "Hey, it's going to be okay."

She could tell that Ruby did not believe her.

Chapter Text

It was the cold that woke her – an unfamiliar circumstance but a catalyst nonetheless.

Weiss swallowed, her throat dry and scratchy. It was enough to drew her eyes open and feel for the consistent presence next to her. However, that presence was gone and Weiss suddenly started to re- familiarize with her surroundings.

They'd been here, in the middle of nowhere, for four days and had spent the entire time fighting. Only now, when they stumbled across a fleet of Atlesian soldiers, did Weiss and Ruby finally have time to rest.

Their bodies were a mess – aura having been drained multiple times as they battled bandits and monsters.

The end of this war was close. They both knew it. It was only a matter of time before they would rejoin with the rest of their team – with Winter and Ironwood. Then they would push into the desolate mountains and find Salem.

It was horrifying and yet Weiss had said over and over again that she just wanted it to be over. No matter what happened, she was tired of this war. Of the things they'd lost in this fight. If they survived, then they could rest and rebuild.

If not, then they would still be able to rest.

Still, that didn't excuse the fact that Weiss had woken up in this horribly thin sleeping bag alone. The soldiers had all been very good to them – not that Weiss expected any less considering her sister was the one in charge of them all. They'd given she and Ruby a nice spot in their safe house. They'd fed them and offered them the showers for any amount of time and warm water they needed.

Of course, they'd agreed it would be polite to shower together, lest they waste these poor soldier's clean water.

Everything was as good as it had been in weeks – yet Ruby was suddenly not beside her and Weiss had no other choice but to find her.

So she sat up and winced as the sleep in her eyes lingered. Her back cracked as she stretched and felt the cold air strike the bare skin of her legs that her shorts didn't cover. White hair fell all across her face and the tiny flickers of light from the small window to her left shone through just enough to help Weiss find purchase on an end table to stand up.

Her shoulder was still sore from the fighting – she'd taken a nasty hit against a very unforgiving tree. It would heal in time, most likely by tomorrow night. For now, it was a hindrance as she pushed up to her feet and stumbled in the dark

Weiss wasn't sure what the layout of this place was like at this hour. Who was on patrol or where anyone slept. All she knew was that she didn't feel like seeing or speaking with anyone that wasn't named Ruby Rose.

She respected every soldier here and the fight they were fighting. But Weiss' only priority was her partner. As selfish as it sounded – Ruby's well being came before everyone else. Her family and herself included.

Finding that the door was nothing more than a cloth strung over and opening, Weiss pushed it aside and poked her head out. From where she stood, she could only see more shacks set up along the hard dirt. This safe house was clearly meant to be portable. Just dividers and items that could be stowed away and moved. There were dozens of small setups just like the one Weiss stood in now. She could see few lights and some soldiers pacing in trained patterns as they stayed alert for any dangers.

She narrowed her eyes to try and see through the darkness – wishing Blake were here to find Ruby for her.

Worry started to set in and Weiss was prepared to set out when she was suddenly touched on the shoulder. She jumped, ready to strike, when another hand held her steady and she suddenly stared deep into a pair of tired, silver eyes.

"Ruby," Weiss sighed and quickly pulled Ruby through the makeshift door. "You scared me half to death."

Ruby let out a soft chuckle. "Sorry – I didn't plan to be gone so long."

Weiss nodded, watching as Ruby gestured for them to return to the blankets. It was very cold, through Ruby was still in nothing but her shorts and tank top. Not that Ruby cared much for modesty – certainly not over comfort.

As they climbed back in, Ruby let Weiss in first and Weiss moved against the wall as Ruby climbed in after. It was customary for Weiss to be against the wall wherever they slept. Ruby liked to hold her and Weiss liked to be pressed in on both sides. It was comforting and something she could never explain.

What made it work was that she never had to explain it to Ruby – it just…happened.

Still filled with questions and concern and the overall anxiety that they'd carried for days on this mission, Weiss pressed her head into Ruby's chest the moment Ruby settled in next to her. She wrapped her arms around Ruby's back and held on tight.

"Weiss?" Ruby asked, clearly concerned.

Pulling back a bit, Weiss stared up at Ruby through the cover of darkness. "Where'd you go?"

There was a slight hesitation. "I had a nightmare."

"Oh," Weiss frowned. "Why didn't you wake me?"

"You needed rest for your shoulder and I didn't want to take that from you."

Weiss shook her head. "Unacceptable," she whispered. "Next time you wake me up – shoulder be damned."

Ruby laughed softly into her hair. "Okay, it wasn't so bad though. I just needed some air."

Still clinging to Ruby, Weiss contemplated pushing it further. She wasn't sure this was the right time to have any sort of conversation like this, but she was curious and wanted to help if she could.

The longer she waited, the more she worried Ruby would fall asleep and take the chance to ask away from her.

Closing her eyes, Weiss let the words fall out. "What was your nightmare about?"

Time passed with silence and Weiss was fairly certain that Ruby had, in fact, fallen asleep. She was ready to give in and drift away as well when Ruby suddenly spoke.

"My mom."

Oh…

Summer Rose terrified Weiss. The thought of her, the memory, the fact that Weiss knew absolutely nothing about her. It was terrifying. For a girl like Ruby, who was so open and outspoken about everything – she almost never spoke of her mother.

Weiss knew there were factors behind it. She hadn't known her mother very long and it was probably not that easy to bring up. Yang was always more apt to bring up Summer in conversation, but Ruby never did. Not that Ruby would run from the mention of her name or break down at a memory. It was just…an unspoken understanding that Ruby didn't bring up her mother.

So for that to come up now almost made Weiss regret asking in the first place.

"I'm sorry," she said and felt like an idiot.

Ruby again chuckled. "It's okay – I have dreams about her from time to time."

"I thought you said this was a nightmare?" She unhooked her grip on Ruby's shoulders and found her hand under the blanket to hold. It was silly, but she wanted to offer at least a little physical comfort since she was so certain she'd fail to say anything that would make Ruby feel better.

Ruby shrugged. "Any dream about her leaves me feeling pretty rotten – so I just call them nightmares. Mostly it's just me wondering how she died."

"Ruby…" Weiss knew better than to bring this up.

"It's fine, Weiss. I've dealt with it my whole life."

"It's not fine." She said and then again felt regret. She was so bad at this. It wasn't her place to tell Ruby how to feel about any of this.

To her credit, Ruby didn't bite back at all. Instead, she squeezed Weiss' hand and inched just a bit closer to her. "I accepted the fact that my mom was gone years ago and it sucks big time, but that's never been what really bothered me. It's just that I don't know how it happened, you know?" She spoke so softly, but so steadily that Weiss genuinely believed that Ruby was the strongest person in the world. There was no way she could handle this the way Ruby did – the way Ruby always handled everything.

"Nobody ever told you?"

"No, I don't think anybody really knows. I mean if they do, they've never mentioned it to me and I…I'm always too scared to ask. My dad might know, or Qrow, but neither of them really like to talk about her."

Weiss suddenly understood. "So you're left to wonder?"

"Yeah," Ruby sighed and Weiss instinctively pressed her face into Ruby's neck. Only in the middle of the night like this, did Weiss let herself be this affectionate. Only Ruby Rose had ever earned this side of Weiss Schnee. "I like to hope it was more peaceful than the ways I usually imagine it." The way she said it, Ruby didn't believe for a second that it was. "I guess I'd just like to know so I could stop imagining all the different ways it could have happened."

So many different emotions coursed through Weiss as she listened to Ruby speak. Almost all of them were fueled by love. She knew it was the situation – it was the war and the fighting and the impending unknown that was driving her. She just wanted to pick Ruby up and carry her away. Take her to a remote island, one she could buy with her family's money and the two of them could grow old together and not worry another day.

But she couldn't, she wouldn't – so she had tonight and this safe house with hundreds of soldiers all around them.

"I could ask them for you if you want." She said, knowing full well Ruby would never let her.

The words did, in fact, make Ruby laugh and kiss her forehead. "Weiss, don't be silly."

"I would," Weiss said as her eyes started to well up. She was tired and feeling every emotion amplified times ten. "I would do anything for you. Absolutely anything you asked me, I would do for you."

"Weiss," Ruby's voice was soft and breath brushed against her skin. She felt a fingertip touch her chin and her head was drawn up to a pair of lips that suddenly met her own. The kiss was gentle and easy – not meant to do anything but give much needed contact. When they broke apart, Ruby's hand was stroking her face. "I love you."

Weiss didn't want to sleep anymore. She wanted to lay here in the dark forever, holding Ruby. "I love you." She returned and settled into Ruby's arms.

Weiss stayed awake long after Ruby fell asleep. She was almost completely at peace when the siren sounded over them and the world started catching fire.


Weiss woke early, wanting to be up before Ruby so she could do something nice for her.

If there was one thing she knew Ruby couldn't resist, it was food and though Weiss was not the most talented cook in Remnant, she felt as though she could throw together a few things for breakfast.

That, or burn down Ruby's little cabin – in which case Ruby would just have to move in with her back in Atlas.

A win regardless. Weiss thought with a playful smirk as she stared at the stove knobs in front of her. They were rather complex and there were four of them. The symbols next to them seemed to indicate which knob controlled which burner. She expected the usual settings – low, high, medium. Instead, all she saw was numbers and a little fire at the very end.

Putting the pan down on the burner of her choice, she cautiously turned the little dial to five and hoped for the best. It sparked with fire and she jumped a bit before cursing herself and focusing on the packet of sausage she'd found buried in Ruby's freezer and covered with ice.

It seemed like a good idea until she opened it and realized she'd have to…touch it. Weiss was not a spoiled rich girl – not entirely – but that didn't mean she enjoyed getting dirty.

Still, she wanted to do this for Ruby and etiquette be damned. After all, friends regularly went out of their comfort zone on the off chance their friend would maybe smile at them and thank them and perhaps hug them.

Yes, literally all the time.

Pulling out a few of the sausage patties with her index finger and thumb, Weiss laid them on the pan and jumped again when they started to sizzle.

"Get ahold of yourself, Weiss!" She whispered sharply into the air and quickly fished out a spatula to prod the offending meat circles. As they started to cook, Weiss made sure to keep herself close to avoid any kind of catastrophic fire, all the while she drew a few slices of bread out and stuffed them in the toaster.

It was yet another kitchen item with another set of stupid dials that meant nothing to her. Why wasn't there just a toast button? Why so many settings and numbers and dials? She wanted toast – shouldn't she be able to just request toast and have there suddenly be toast? How many different variations of toast were there? And why was there a setting on this toaster for donuts?

Frustrated, Weiss pushed the toast down with the current settings and hoped that Ruby had them set for the kind of toast she wanted.

With that, her attention shifted back to the sausage and Weiss knew what came next and despite the fact that she was one of the most gifted huntresses in the world who could, literally, slice through a dozen Grimm in a matter of seconds – she was seriously doubting her ability to flip these sausages.

Taking a deep breath, Weiss drew up the sleeves of her shirt and nodded before moving the spatula under the first one.

Except she couldn't make the spatula go under the stupid meat circle. Instead, it just stuck there and she pushed harder – only to make the entire pan almost fall off the burner.

"Why you despicable little—" Weiss held the handle of the pan and pushed again, this time she made progress, but the sausage started to break under the pressure. "Don't you dare." She chided before adjusting to try again. When she finally did manage to get under the stupid thing, Weiss lifted it up off the pan and flipped it.

When it landed, the splatter and sizzle made her jump and her spatula fell to the ground with a clank.

Suddenly, a throat cleared above her and Weiss looked up to see Ruby leaning over the balcony with a grin. "What are you doing?"

Weiss sighed before picking up her spatula. "Trying to understand why anyone would want to cook for themselves."

"You're such a dork." Ruby said and Weiss bristled – ready to defend herself. However, she stopped at the admiration in Ruby's face. In this case, dork was a term of endearment and Weiss gripped her spatula a little tighter. "I don't think that sausage is any good." Ruby said and Weiss looked at the offending food.

Had she messed it up? It wasn't even finished cooking yet.

"I did everything I've seen on television, Ruby. I put it on the pan, I turned the knob. I'm certain I haven't had enough time to ruin it just yet."

When she heard Ruby laugh, she looked over to see her coming down the stairs – a hand on the railing as a stark reminder of Ruby's injury. "Not that, it's just really old. You should probably throw it out and…like…wash your hands or something."

Weiss frowned. "Ruby, it was all you had in your freezer that wasn't ice cream. I was going to make eggs because I've seen Klein make those before but you had none. There's no food in this house."

"There's food all over Patch. We can go out; I know a place that makes great pancakes."

"Ruby, this isn't a proper way to live. There's nothing edible in this house besides bread and water and sweets."

Ruby's smile faded and Weiss knew she'd crossed a line. "That's pretty rich coming from you."

"Excuse me?"

"I understand when Yang does this – runs me down about it, but you have no right."

"No right to—Ruby I'm simply pointing out that—"

"What do you know about any of it, Weiss? Your food is made by other people and delivered to your door. Don't act like you're some kind of every day woman when you literally can't drive yourself to and from the store."

It was Weiss' turn to prickle as she crossed her arms in defiance. "I can drive!"

"But you don't! You couldn't even come here by yourself! You brought your assistant all the way to Patch with you!"

"I have a very busy life, Ruby. We're not all freewheeling huntresses who can live our lives any, disgusting way we want." She emphasized her statement by picking up the pan of old meat and tossing it into the sink.

"I do fine on my own, Weiss. I've been fine since the day you left."

"Your wounded hip says otherwise." She barked back just as sharply as Ruby had and they stood in silence, staring at one another. This morning that was supposed to be calm and meant to maintain the closeness they'd shared the night before was falling to pieces. "I'm only trying to help you, Ruby. I—" she sighed in terror at what she was about to say. "As your friend, I can't let this go. You're not okay and I'm going to get you help for your injury – but I won't keep it from your family. It's not fair to them."

She felt it was her responsibility to look after Ruby in this situation. If Ruby was unwilling to take care of herself, then Weiss was going to step in. Ruby may hate her for it, but she loved Ruby enough to be okay with that.

She was ready for a fight – ready for Ruby to yell and scream and maybe even tell her to leave.

Instead she was met with silence. Only when the toaster dinged did either of them even move. Weiss turned, seeing that the toast was, in fact, finished and she looked back to Ruby.

"Is the toast okay?" Somberly, Ruby nodded and Weiss carefully pulled it out and sat it on a plate. "Do you want a piece?"

"I'm not hungry," she said before moving to the living room to sit down.

Weiss picked up the plate and carried it to Ruby instead. "You're always hungry," she said before setting it down in front of her. Ruby remained silent and Weiss slipped onto the couch next to her and curled her knees up. She sat, staring at Ruby and trying to think of the best course of action to approach this.

Taking a chance, she reached up and brushed a bit of hair from Ruby's eyes to get her attention.

It worked, and a pair of silver eyes found her – though the shine in them was seemingly gone.

"I'm not trying to take your life away from you – I'm hoping to make it better and pain free."

Ruby looked away again and Weiss studied her. The way she lowered her head and how her hands were shaking as they clasped together in her lap. She knew Ruby was on the verge of crying again – holding it in with everything she had.

"Yang will never let me stay here once she finds out. I'll ruin the wedding and they'll make me go to Vale and build weapons." She sounded completely defeated and it broke Weiss' heart.

"Ruby I won't let that happen." Weiss said and meant it. She wasn't sure exactly what she could do to deter Yang, but she would try. "Your life is still your life. You just have to let others help you."

She was given a small nod and Weiss took it as a victory. That is, until Ruby spoke again. "Can we just…keep it between us for now? I'll do the doctor thing and I'll get it fixed but…after the wedding? I don't want to be a distraction."

"Your hip—"

"Will survive another two weeks." She smiled, actually smiled and Weiss felt her defenses crumble. "I'll be careful and I've got you to help me now. It's not as big of a secret. Just two weeks and when Yang and Blake are married, I'll tell them and we can plan from there."

Weiss didn't want to strip away Ruby's right to choose. She had agreed to tell Yang, after the wedding and agreed to have her hip fixed. It was all she wanted and she didn't want to push anymore.

"All right," she nodded and took Ruby's hand between her own. "I'll keep your secret, Ruby Rose. For a little while." Ruby squeezed her hand and Weiss was prepared to say something else when her scroll started buzzing on the table.

She jumped and looked to see an alarm going off reminding her of the cake tasting. "Oh that's right," she sighed. "Blake and Yang are probably headed there already." She turned off the alarm and picked up her scroll. "I assume you're coming to the cake tasting?"

"Are you kidding? I plan on cleaning up the scraps while the rest of you nibble on your little bites."

Weiss chuckled. "Well we'd better hurry up and get ready then, before Yang beats you to it."

 

Chapter Text

"I win." Yang spoke through a groan and Weiss looked over the table and the array of empty plates that were covered in various frostings and rolled her eyes.

"No way, I ate the one with coconut and you didn't." Ruby countered and Weiss turned to her left to see the woman she loved so dearly sitting with her stomach pushed out and a smattering of chocolate on her lips. She looked lethargic and miserable but at the same time, content with all the choices she'd made.

Meanwhile, Weiss could only focus on that chocolate and how badly she wanted to wipe it off. When they were dating, Ruby had a habit of being very…messy. These were things that Weiss did not enjoy and she made it her mission to ensure that Ruby maintained a certain level of cleanliness. Ruby was never unclean, just happily unaware of the mess she could become.

Before, Weiss would have reached over and cleaned the chocolate from her lips without care. Now, she had no position to do such things – so she could only sit and watch with frustration as the chocolate taunted her.

"That's a negative for you because coconut is disgusting." Yang returned and Weiss could hear Blake sigh to her right. "I won because I didn't have to endure coconut."

Blake cleared her throat. "So what happens if I choose coconut as the cake for our wedding?"

Weiss smirked as she watched Yang pale slightly. "I uh…did you like it?" Blake shrugged – as she liked to do to antagonize her fiancé. "Do you want the coconut cake?"

"It was pretty tasty. Though I don't want to make any choices on my own but we can't make the choice if I'm the only one that's tried it."

"Oh," Yang's face visibly fell and Ruby started to snicker. "Well uh…it's all gone. Ruby cake-hose Rose over there inhaled it all."

"Hey!" Ruby cried and it was Weiss' turn to hide a grin.

"That's not entirely true," Weiss spoke up and Yang's eyes shot at her like a dart. "I didn't finish my entire piece and it somehow escaped Ruby." She then held up her plate and Yang glowered at her. "You should try it and see if you like it." Weiss gave her best, most obnoxious smile that she knew Yang (and most people) detested. It was exactly the reaction she wanted as Yang looked over at Blake.

"I would like to cover all our bases." She said with a tone that Yang couldn't turn down and Ruby merely started to laugh as Yang sat up and reached across the table.

She regretfully took the plate from Weiss and stared at the coconut and chocolate covered cake with as much disdain as Yang could muster. She stared at it and then looked back to Blake who had an expected grin on her face that drove Yang to pick up her fork and take a breath.

Weiss was impressed at Yang's ability to do anything for Blake. It was who Yang Xiao Long was. She'd take any hit for those she loved – even a coconut flavored one.

Just as Yang's fork started piercing the frosting, Blake reached out and plucked the piece of cake from the plate. Yang, jumped and they all watched as Blake devoured the piece of cake in one bite – her cheeks now full and a smile on her face.

"Blake!" Yang cried with a laugh bubbling in her throat. "What was that?!"

"Mmff…lurve you."

It was a wonderful moment and one Weiss had truly missed. This team – they were her family. There was Winter, but beyond her, Weiss had never really connected with anyone who shared the same last name as her own. So when she went to Beacon – she'd merely expected to rely on herself and survive.

She never imagined she would find love there. The kinds of love that withstood all forms of hate and evil.

This drew her attention to Ruby, who was giggling at the sight of Blake trying to deal with a mouthful of cake and Yang helping clean off her face.

Weiss was jealous. There was no need to sugar coat it – that was exactly what she was feeling. It was jealousy and frustration and want. She wanted this. She'd been alone for so long that she had forgotten what it was like to have someone you saw every single day that was as excited to see you as you were to see them.

It made her feel complete – even in a time of great hardship. It was warm and inviting and the only person she wanted that with was sitting right beside her and not even noticing how hard Weiss was staring at her.

She knew there was no time to bring this up, though. Not now, not with Ruby dealing with an injury and trying to keep it a secret while planning a wedding for her two other teammates. No, it would wait – Weiss was used to putting her own wants aside for the benefit of progression.

Right now, she would make sure Ruby was okay – make sure Yang and Blake were happy…then she'd consider taking a leap.

"All jokes aside," Blake said as she'd finally cleaned herself up. Her face still had the hint of a blush from the attention Yang had given her in helping remove the stray frosting from her lips. "I believe the red velvet cake will be our choice. Yang enjoyed it and so did I and I loved the look of it."

Weiss nodded and quickly tapped the information into her scroll. "Perfect, I'll make the arrangements."

"Can the little figures of us at the top be like…modified?"

Weiss peeked up at Yang dangerously. "Modified…how?"

Yang shrugged nonchalantly. "I was just talking about making sure you got my prosthetic and Blake's amazing ass."

"Oh," Weiss nodded to herself and heard Yang snicker.

"What'd you think? I wanted us banging on top of the cake. Weiss Schnee, get your mind out of the gutter!"

"I never thought that! I would never—"

When Yang suddenly burst out laughing, Weiss glared as hard as she could. "Weiss, gosh I missed you." Yang stood up from her seat and raced around the table to hug Weiss around the neck and kiss the top of her head. "Alright, now that we've sorted out the cake – I have to go find Sun and Neptune and get their suit situation figured out."

"I should probably go with you and catch up with Violet since she, apparently, has become enamored with the rapscallion."

Blake rolled her eyes. "I told you, it's just a fun thing – she's far from enamored."

"Even still, if you don't mind me tagging along, Yang?"

"Not at all. Rubes can you take Blake home?"

Ruby nodded but not before licking off her fork that she'd used to scrape a plate that had just a bit of frosting left. "I'd love to," she smiled before licking the bit of chocolate on her lips that made Weiss' knees weak.

She wanted to lick it off – she wanted to tackle Ruby (carefully) and lick the cake from her lips.

In a friendly way, of course.

As Ruby stood up and Weiss watched Blake go to Yang to say goodbye (because they needed a long goodbye now that they would be apart for at least a single hour), she leaned in close to Ruby. "Are you all right?"

Those silver eyes glanced up at her with a hint of frustration. "I'll be—" she stopped herself when Weiss frowned. "I'm okay – I'll probably hang out with Blake for a while."

"Good," Weiss nodded – she didn't like the idea of Ruby sitting in her home by herself and stewing in the worry of what was inevitable. "I won't let Yang and the boys take too long."

Resisting the urge to hug Ruby, Weiss gave a small wave that Ruby returned before Yang practically dragged her out of the cake shop.


"So did your father enjoy having his bed to himself?" Weiss asked, looking to Yang who was adjusting her sunglasses as her hair whipped in the wind. While Ruby was a much more attentive driver than her big sister – Weiss preferred this simply because Yang's car was so much quieter.

"Huh? Dad's not—" Yang's eyes widened and she looked away. "Oh yeah…he loved it."

Weiss glowered at her. "Your father didn't come home early, did he?"

"What?" Yang drew the word out and Weiss could see her leaning away. "Of course he did, I wouldn't lie to you to try and drive you to my sister's arms."

"Yang Xiao Long!" Weiss stomped her feet on the floorboard. "What is it with you and my romantic life! You've been barging in on it for as long as I can remember!"

Yang chuckled as she turned onto a much busier road and rolled her window down the rest of the way. "Listen, you thanked me years ago when I first barged in on it and practically dragged you and Ruby together."

"I was inexperienced and busy and had no idea I even liked your sister. Things have changed. We're adults and we can handle our personal lives."

She expected the back and forth to continue. She expected Yang to throw out some kind of witty or sarcastic remark about Weiss not being able to find her ass with both hands (as she'd told Weiss before). Instead, Weiss saw Yang frown and grip the steering wheel a little tighter.

"How is Ruby's personal life?" Yang asked, almost sadly.

Weiss was not prepared for that. "I…um…excuse me?"

A small smile tugged at Yang's lips. "I have to ask because I wouldn't know. Ruby keeps me out of her day to day."

Given how sure Ruby was that Yang would drag her away at any sign of Ruby's injury – Weiss wasn't surprised that Ruby kept her sister in the dark. "She does fine. Her home is clean and she…is also clean." Weiss was trying very hard not to tell any lies.

"Ah," Yang nodded and sounded very disappointed. "She told you not to tell me anything too, huh?"

"No, Yang…she didn't. I'm just not sure what you're after."

"I just want to know she's okay, you know? I'm really trying to get her to move in with me and Blake. I've spoken with the headmaster at Beacon and the staff would love for her to come on. She could build weapons and teach students how to maintain their own. It's good money and she wouldn't have to live with us, just near us and she could—"

"Yang," Weiss cut her off carefully. "I—I think Ruby is fairly settled here. She seems to enjoy her life in Patch. Her life as a huntress."

There was a bit of silence as Yang slowed for a light and leaned back against into her chair. She swallowed harshly and exhaled. "Again…I wouldn't know. She doesn't tell me anything." Before Weiss could say anything else, Yang's scroll went off and she pulled it from her pocket and tossed it into Weiss' lap. "It's probably Sun, I don't talk and drive so you handle him."

Weiss crinkled her nose and stared down at the goofy smiling face staring up at her on the screen. With a roll of her eyes, she answered.

"Hello, Sun." She said as courteously as she could.

"Weiss?" He all but screamed at her. "Hey! What are you doing? Did I call the wrong number?"

"No, Sun, you didn't. You don't even have my number."

"Oh yeah, that's a good point! Where's Yang! We're here at the place and it's like…super hot out here. I think Neptune might be thinking about jumping in the lake it's hot."

"Not on your life!" Neptune shouted in the background and Weiss pinched the bridge of her nose.

"We're nearly there," she said and looked to Yang for confirmation – earning a nod. "Yes, nearly there. I assume my assistant is with you?"

"Oh yeah," she could hear the smile in his voice. "Vi's right here – keeping us in line and constantly sending messages to all your fancy business partners."

…Vi?

"Good to know," Weiss never doubted that Violet would keep working. "Tell her I would like to go over a few things while you three buy your suits. Also, I will be approving all purchases so tell Neptune that he must get something that goes with the decorum. No purple."

Sun chuckled. "Whatever you say, Weiss."

"And you will be wearing a full suit as well. Not a tie over your bare chest."

"Aww," he whined and Weiss couldn't help but grin.

"We'll be there shortly." With that, she hung up and placed Yang's scroll on the console between them. "So Sun Wukong is really your best man, huh?"

Yang laughed. "He really is – I know you two never really saw eye to eye but he's a good guy who has done a lot for me and Blake."

"I never doubted that and I don't dislike him. He's just…very loud and obnoxious and has a tendency to break things." She decided to poke Yang a little. "He's like you but with a…" Weiss nearly choked on her own words while Yang quirked her eyebrow into the air and smirked. "A tail." She said, recovering gracefully.

"Uh huh, that's what you were going to say."

"You're the worst."

"You've missed me," Yang grinned and reached over to pat Weiss' knee.

She really did.


"You're sure everything is going smoothly?" Weiss asked as Violet pulled Yang's car up to Ruby's house and stopped just outside.

Violet, wearing a smile that Weiss hadn't really seen before, nodded. "Things are fine, Ms. Schnee. The company is running smoothly, that shipment made it without any trouble and Neon was beyond thrilled for the work and the hefty payment you gave them."

"Good, we should look into hiring them more often for the more dangerous trips."

"I'll see if they're interested in more consistent work."

Weiss stared off at Ruby's place as the sun continued to set. The day was incredibly long and getting Neptune and Sun to actually pick a tuxedo they liked proved to be harder than Weiss could have ever imagined.

Still, it wasn't all bad and she had time to catch up with Yang and see that Violet and Sun actually did have fun together. Even Neptune seemed on his best behavior – only making a single pass at her and when she turned him down he accepted it and made a pass at the lady behind the register who completely ignored him.

"I was thinking…I know the hotel is set up for us next week but…perhaps you could cancel my room and merely take one for yourself."

Weiss Schnee did not have to explain herself to anyone. She ran a multi-billion lien company and was a true to life hero of Remnant. She was a full grown adult who made her own decisions.

Yet, telling Violet that she wanted to stay with Ruby instead of getting away from her ex-girlfriend as fast as she could, was quite terrifying.

"Very well," Violet answered easily and Weiss gave her a look. "Was that not the response you wanted? Did you wish for me to ask you why? Perhaps some girl chat? Sex advice? I've never gone down—"

"Violet," Weiss raised a hand to silence her. "I am simply keeping you informed of the situation."

Her assistant was suddenly wearing a sly grin. "For what it's worth, I cancelled the hotel two days ago at Ms. Xiao Long's request."

"You what?!"

Violet shrugged. "She assured me you wouldn't need it and I'm beginning to think that woman can see the future."

"Well then she's seen her own demise because it's coming for her in the form of my fist." Weiss growled. "I swear that girl." There was no use fighting it now. "Very well, I'm going to see if Ruby has a bathtub fit for a Schnee."

"Or a bathtub fit for two." Violet didn't look at her, but she was clearly waiting for some kind of reaction. Weiss huffed as she opened the door. "I apologize, Ms. Schnee – but you really set yourself up for that one."

"So it would seem. Have a good evening, Violet. We'll speak in the morning about rescheduling those meetings."

"Goodnight."

The trek to Ruby's front door was quiet, just the sound of her feet brushing against the dirt road. She knew Ruby was home because she'd sent her a message an hour earlier to make sure she didn't come back to a locked door with no key. Once they'd purchased the tuxedos, everyone went back to Taiyang's and Violet offered to drive Weiss. They'd all be meeting in the morning for breakfast.

The door was not locked when Weiss opened it and the cool air inside was like a blessing as it hit her. She shut the door and leaned back against it, her feet sore and her legs aching – a bath sounded wonderful.

"Ruby?" Weiss called out, surprised by the lack of greeting upon her entrance. Ruby's home wasn't very big, so there was no way she hadn't heard the door open.

After a few moments, her call was met with silence and Weiss pushed off the door and took a few steps inside.

She noticed Ruby's scroll on the table by the couch, sitting face up and with a blinking green light for unread messages.

"Huh, perhaps she's napping," Weiss wondered before kicking off her shoes and carefully putting them next to the door.

It only took two steps for Weiss to see her – Ruby was lying face down on the floor at the foot of the staircase.

"Ruby!" She screamed and jumped over the couch in one fluid motion before landing gently at Ruby's side. "Ruby," she said again, touching Ruby's back and shaking her shoulders to wake her. There was no response and Weiss examined the scene. Ruby was in a red tank-top and a pair of shorts, but nothing more.

Blood had pooled just a bit next to her head, she had a cut along her forehead that was spilling all over. Weiss tried to stop it with her hand, but it wasn't working. She was terrified and shaking – angry at herself for not being able to think clearly and do something.

There was a towel by Ruby's head that she might have been using to dry her hair, Weiss grabbed it and pressed it against the cut. Looking up the steps, Weiss noticed that one of the railing posts had been broken off. If Ruby had fallen down the stairs, she might have struck it on the way down.

Fear pulsed through Weiss' body – it was an unimaginable fear and one she hadn't felt in years. The thought of Ruby being hurt was Weiss' greatest weakness, at times it felt like her only weakness and now she was reliving it.

Quickly, Weiss pulled out her scroll and called the most recent number. She wasn't sure what to do with her free hand while she waited. She couldn't roll Ruby over, not if she was severely hurt – Weiss knew well enough to know that she was no medic.

"Ms. Schnee?" Violet answered and Weiss lost control.

"Call an ambulance right now! Ruby's hurt and I don't know what to do! Violet come back and help me!"

The line hung up and Weiss stared at her scroll for a moment in absolute disbelief. However, before she could even process a coherent thought, the door flew open and she turned to see Violet stepping in with her scroll pressed to her ear.

"Yes, we need an ambulance at 2195 Ebony Court, it's at the far end of the road."

"She fell down the stairs!" Weiss cried out, stroking Ruby's hair as her stomach tightened like a vice. "She's hurt; I shouldn't have left her – I should have told Yang. I should have…"

There was so much she should have done.

Chapter Text

They didn't care about her name. They didn't care about her money.

No matter what she said or how threateningly she said it – the doctors would not let Weiss go with Ruby into the emergency room. No, she had to wait. She would only get in the way.

It was Violet, the girl she had literally paid to be here, that finally grabbed Weiss by the arm and pulled her away.

Only when she said Yang's name, did Violet assure her that Yang and Blake had been notified. Weiss was thankful not to have to make that phone call, but she knew they would be here soon – as fast as Yang could get them here.

Though Blake may not let Yang drive, not with fire in her eyes and fear in her heart for her baby sister. No, Yang wasn't steady when she was scared. Weiss knew that all too well. Yang had trouble handling her emotions in situations she couldn't control.

It would mean terrible things for anyone who stood in her way – or anyone who had kept this from her.

Yang…Yang was going to hit her, Weiss knew it. Weiss had known Ruby wasn't okay and said nothing. Yang might hurt her, but she didn't care. She was too numb to care. Too numb to think straight – the whole world revolved around Ruby now. Ruby needed to be okay, she needed –

"Ms. Schnee?" Violet broke through the uncontrollable train of thought as Weiss resettled and the florescent lights above her shone down, the noise of the others waiting for strangers came into focus. Then Violet, watching her with genuine concern. "You're very pale. Maybe we should take a quick trip into the bathroom and splash some water on your face."

Weiss shook her head. "If they have news about Ruby –"

"It'll only be for a second, okay? Your hands are shaking."

"Because I'm terrified."

Violet smiled – not a smirk or anything sarcastic. This was genuine and strangely comforting. "I know, but you're no good to her like this. You need to relax."

That sounded almost impossible. Her stomach felt like it was being stepped on by an Ursa Grimm. She could barely move without a tightening pain her chest and the way her throat was closing felt like suffocation.

"Come on, Yang and Blake will be here soon." Violet said as some sort of reassurance, but Weiss knew better.

Still, she let Violet take her hand and practically drag her from the chair she was sitting in. Like a small child, Violet guided her into the bathroom and the door clicked behind them.

The bathroom was large, but very quiet. There was a long mirror that overlooked three sinks all stuck into one large, marble countertop. Behind that were four stalls, each with the door slightly ajar.

Nobody else was in here but them and Weiss took that opportunity to exhale.

Nearly stumbling, she moved to the mirror and looked at herself. The first thing she noticed was the blood – there was blood on her top.

Ruby's blood.

A moment later, bile rose into her mouth. She bent forward and vomited into the sink.

A pair of hands were immediately pulling at her hair and tucking it away behind her head. The liquid burned in her throat and made tears stream down her face – some of it escaped from her nose and made it hard to catch her breath.

Trying to swallow, Weiss felt something pat against her back and a moment later, more came out and splashed into the sink. The faucet turned on gently, to help clean out the vile release and flush it down the drain before splashing some onto her face to clean.

Taking a deep breath, Weiss begged her stomach to settle down and ate a mint from the small bowl next to the sink to remove the taste from her mouth.

This was only going to get worse, long before it was ever better. She needed to be able to handle it, as she had with every other challenged that had been thrown her way.

"We should return the the waiting room," she said and started for the door.

Ever dutiful, Violet trailed along behind her and Weiss felt a pang of guilt to go on top of everything else. Violet never asked for this – to be in a hospital and dealing with vomit and all of this.

Yet she never said a word. Just followed Weiss and helped when she could.

Violet was getting a massive raise when things settled down.

As soon as they left the bathroom, Weiss heard the shouting.

"Her name is Ruby Rose! Where is she?! I know she's here, she's my sister and I want to see her right now!" Yang could be incredibly scary and Weiss saw her blonde hair swaying, arms flying around and Blake trying to keep her grounded.

"She's being evaluated right now," the woman at the front desk said very carefully. "I've been told to restrict anyone from seeing her at this moment – the doctors need space."

"What happened to her? Is she going to be okay?!"

"She's taken a fall and has a deep laceration along her forehead, I don't know anything other than that."

As much as she hated to admit it – Weiss was terrified of saying anything. She was afraid of what Yang's reaction might be. Would Yang be mad at her? Would Yang attack her? There was no kinder or protective person in the world than Yang Xiao Long – but when it came to her sister she could be…unreasonable.

An awful thought of racing out the door and running back to Atlas crossed her mind. She hated it, hated the very thought of it – but fear was burrowing into her mind like a poison.

Still, she dug a little deeper and found her courage.

"Yang," Weiss finally spoke and a pair of deep red eyes darted to her.

They were gone a moment later, replaced with purple and worry as Yang leapt over a pair of bench seats and pulled Weiss into her arms. "You found her! You brought her here! Weiss, thank you." Yang pulled back, holding Weiss by the shoulders. "What happened to her? Did she say anything? Your text only said you were coming here – she hit her head." Yang pointed back at the receptionist desk. "The lady said she hit her head."

Weiss swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. "She fell down the stairs and struck her head, yes." Yang's grip on her arms tightened. "She was unconscious when I found her."

"But…her aura…why didn't it protect her?" Yang asked – though it wasn't directed at anyone.

That was when Weiss realized Blake was glaring at her. She locked up under the scrutiny of those piercing yellow eyes and took a step back.

"Yang," Weiss couldn't look at her – but she had to say it.

"Ruby Rose?" A voice called and all of them turned to see a doctor coming towards them with sweat on his brow and a very tense face.

In that moment – Weiss feared the absolute worst. Her mind seemed to move in slow motion. It was as if she could see her life flashing before her eyes. A life without Ruby in it and it made her want to sink into the darkness and never come back. It was the scariest feeling. One she'd never forget.

"That's me," Yang blurted. "I mean, I'm her sister. She's my sister. Is she okay?"

"She's stable, and we've stitched up the cut on her head. Though she probably has a concussion from the impact. We've got her on stimulants to regenerate her aura – it was dangerously low and…why was no one informed of her fractured hip?"

Weiss could see Yang's face curl up in confusion. "Fractured…what?" Worse than that, she saw Blake shake her head in disappointment. "She has a fractured hip?!" Yang's eyes flickered again and the doctor took a step back. She must have noticed. "I—I…" taking a breath, she drew back. "I'm sorry – this isn't directed at you, at all. I didn't know she had…" Yang turned as tears spilled down her cheeks and Blake pulled her into an embrace.

Yang's emotions had a tendency of going into overload.

"Can we see her?" Blake asked over Yang's shoulder.

The doctor nodded. "We're moving her to a room now, but I don't see why not. She's still asleep from the fall and the medication but we'll have someone take you to her."

Blake smiled and thanked the doctor. Weiss was ready to follow him to Ruby when someone grabbed her wrist.

Turning back, it was Blake – who had a death grip on her. "Violet, can you go with Yang to see Ruby. Weiss and I are going to let her father and uncle know what's going on."

Blake's eyes never left her own and Weiss heard Violet hesitantly move behind her.

"O—of course." She said before slowly guiding Yang through the waiting room and down the hall where a nurse was waiting.

Before Weiss could process another thought, she was being dragged away.


True to her word, Blake did put in calls to both Taiyang and Qrow. It was quite the sight to see her talk to them and handle them. Blake really had grown to be a part of this family. From comforting Taiyang to calming Qrow, she managed to settle them both down enough to safely make there way here to be with Ruby.

Ruby was going to be so upset when she woke up and saw all of this attention and worry.

Not that Weiss could deter it now – the truth was out.

Which was clearly evident by the very angry cat Faunus currently pacing back and forth in front of her.

"This…this was what you were talking about that day, wasn't it? When you asked about Ruby and if she was okay? It was this. You knew she was hurt."

Taking a deep breath, Weiss nodded. "If you recall, that was only a few days ago and that's when I saw the bruises on her back. I didn't find out about her actually injuries until just last night."

"Weiss, why didn't you tell us? Clearly you wanted to or you wouldn't have come asking questions. We could have helped."

"That isn't what Ruby wanted!" Weiss said with an elevated voice.

Blake did not deter. "Ruby doesn't know what's good for her!" Blake screamed and Weiss was the one to reel back. Seeing this, Blake pinched the bridge of her nose – ears pressed down atop her head, and sighed. "Ruby pushes herself too much – to the brink. When Yang had to pick her up that one time, it was because Ruby had physically drained herself and could barely get out of bed. She wants so badly to be on her own that she is terrified of asking for help with anything. Even though Ruby lacks so many day to day skills, she won't ask for help – she won't take help. She is stubborn and terrified and inconceivably frustrating."

"She doesn't want to lose the life she's built!" Weiss felt her voice crack as she pleaded for Ruby.

Unfortunately, it didn't seem to tempt Blake's sympathies. "What has she built, Weiss? Yes, Ruby has money – but she doesn't even know how to manage it. She's got no food in her apartment. She keeps all of her money in a safe in her home. Everything is in lien bills and she bought that house with it. Entirely up front. We trained, for years to become soldiers – Ruby two years earlier than the rest of us. Not once during out time at Beacon or the war did anyone ever teach us how to live as normal, every day people. We adjusted." Blake gestured to herself and Weiss. "I learned how to live when I was on my own before Beacon and I'm certain you had dozens of etiquette teachers showing you every day." Weiss could only nod – it was true, she grew up with every sort of instructor to teach her how to handle expenses and dealing with people. She had to be proper from the moment she was born. "Ruby and Yang didn't have that. Their parents were hunters – Yang's mom abandoned her and Ruby's died. I love Taiyang but we both know he's not the best example of a functional adult and don't get me started on Qrow."

Blake was going on and on so much so that Weiss wondered exactly what buttons had been pushed to upset her this much.

"Blake, where are you going with this?"

Exhaling, Blake suddenly wouldn't look Weiss in the eyes. "I'm saying…that I helped Yang adjust. I was here for her when the war ended and we got through it together. You had your company and your responsibilities and you've done well with them. Ruby…she didn't have anyone and when she drove Yang away she was truly alone and now…this." Blake took a shaky breath and wiped at her eyes. "Yang and I have discussed this and we knew that if Ruby couldn't take care of herself that we'd…"

"You'd what?" Weiss asked, though she already knew what was coming.

"We're going to have Ruby move with us to Vale. There's a job for her and Yang and I can help her sort her life out and get back on her feet. After this – she'll be in no condition to live on her own while she recovers anyway."

Weiss felt her pulse start to race and her blood start to boil over. This wasn't right – it didn't feel right. She was angry for Ruby, angry for herself.

"You can't do that! You can't make her do anything! She's a grown woman!"

"Is she?" Blake didn't raise her voice. It was as if she didn't have to to levy her point. "Weiss, if you hadn't been here – if you hadn't shown up and Ruby fell down those stairs on her own – she would have died." Those words hit her like a punch in the stomach. "We're not trying to stop her from living a life, Weiss. We're just going to try and help her make a better and safer one. Ruby has to grow up at some point. She has to learn how to adjust and take care of herself. It's not like we'll trap her in a cage and never let her leave. We just want to be closer so we can help her."

Weiss had no return. There was nothing she could find to say or even felt like she had the right to say. Blake wasn't wrong. If the hotel had come through and Ruby had fallen without Weiss being there…

"Come on," Blake spoke quietly as she walked past Weiss. "Let's go see how they're doing."


By the time they returned to the room Ruby was in, Weiss was just glad to see that the blood was gone from her face. She looked peaceful – clean and comfortable. It was calming to Weiss who had spent the last two hours holding Ruby's hand and screaming at paramedics to make sure she was okay.

She was exhausted, but as she sat and watched Yang lingering by Ruby's bed, Weiss had no intention of sleeping any time soon.

It was painful to watch Yang. She sat by Ruby's bed with her prosthetic arm resting against the wall by the door. She'd taken it off and was holding Ruby's hand with her left and gently stroking a thumb against the back of it.

There were still tears pouring down Yang's face, but she seemed more composed than she had been in the hallway. The guilt that sat in Weiss' stomach made her feel physically ill. If she hadn't thrown up earlier, she would probably be doing that right now.

"Ms. Schnee," Violet spoke softly and Weiss jumped – having forgot her assistant was still there. "Sun is coming to pick me up and take me back to Mr. Xiao Long's home. This is a family matter and I don't wish to intrude."

Weiss could only nod, she knew it had to be extremely uncomfortable for Violet to be here. She was still basically a stranger to all these people. "Okay – I'll keep you updated and speak with you this evening."

With a soft smile, Violet started for the door, stopping momentarily to give her best to Yang who thanked her, but couldn't find the strength to look Violet's way.

As she watched Violet leave, her eyes found Blake outside the room, speaking with a nurse in the hallway. Blake was always insistent on gathering as much information as possible, no matter the situation. Being with Yang required it – Yang was so unpredictable at times, Blake liked to maintain as much control as she could.

Weiss had a sinking suspicion it was because Yang was the only force in the world that could make Blake lose that control – so she made up for it in every other aspect of her life.

"I messed up so bad," Yang finally spoke through the silence, though Weiss was certain the words weren't directed at anyone but herself. "I should have come for her sooner – I should have tried harder."

"Yang," Weiss couldn't help herself. "This isn't your fault. We all know Ruby puts everyone and everything before herself – that's why she was always our leader."

Yang nodded, but Weiss could tell she didn't agree with the sentiment. Looking back to the door, Weiss watched Blake step back inside with a tentative look on her face. She stood nervously behind Yang, one hand running up and down her other arm and her ears matted down.

"Hey," Blake called and Yang turned to look up at her. Weiss watched two of her best friends interact so effortlessly as Blake knelt down next to the chair Yang sat in and reached up to brush the tears from under Yang's eye. "She needs surgery. She's needed surgery for a while now – but they're going to schedule it for tomorrow."

Weiss knew it was coming, she knew the minute they were in the ambulance that this is where it would go. Ruby would have the surgery and the world would be put on hold for her and she would hate it.

Yang seemed to barely react to the news, but she again nodded in understanding and leaned into Blake's palm against her cheek. "The wedding…" Yang said and Weiss could see Blake smile at her.

"It'll keep."

"Blake," she sniffled and this earned her a kiss on the forehead.

"Yang, it's okay. Family comes first – always."

The moment between them was so intimate that Weiss wondered if she should have left with Violet. After all, she was still a bit of a stranger here – having not been around her team much in the last five years. The past couple days hadn't really washed away all that time and distance.

Still, Weiss felt the need to speak up. "I'll cover the cost," she said because it was all she had to offer. "Whatever it may be, don't worry about it."

"Weiss, you don't have to do that – we make good money and so does Ruby."

She was defiant. "It's the least I can do, Yang. I don't want Ruby to—" she stopped herself as she realized what was happening and what they were doing.

Exactly what Ruby didn't want them to do – they were making decisions about her life without her. Ruby couldn't speak up for herself and Weiss was just assuming she would pay for this and that would be that. It wasn't fair to Ruby, who was an adult now.

"Weiss?" Blake spoke up at her silence.

"I—I'll speak with Ruby about it when she's awake. We'll discuss it with her."

Yang turned back to Ruby. "It'll help – at least while Ruby is making the transition to Vale she can have some money saved up."

She tried so hard to bite her tongue. "She doesn't want to move to Vale."

"It's for the best," Yang said – almost dismissively and Weiss clenched her fist.

"Yang, you can't make her leave her home."

That grabbed Yang's attention. "She can't stay here by herself, Weiss. I think she made that pretty clear today."

"She does not want to move to Vale. She's told me. In fact, the idea of it is why you didn't learn about her injury until today!" She'd crossed the bridge already – there was no going back.

"What does that mean?" Yang stood up from her seat and Weiss could see Blake holding onto her arm.

"It means that every time you talk to her you bring up Vale and this magical job you have for her and it makes her feel bad!"

Yang shook her head in confusion. "I—how does that – I want her to move to Vale to be closer to us. So we can be closer to her! Her life here is so alone and she's driving herself into the ground!"

"Yang," Weiss kept her voice calm and stayed seated. "I'll agree that Ruby is not living the best life here. She needs a little help learning to be…functional and take care of herself. But she's an adult – a grown woman and if she wishes to live here…you cannot force her otherwise. What you want doesn't matter."

"Weiss," Yang closed her eyes and ran a hand through her hair. "Why do you even care?" There was a flicker of anger in her voice and Weiss swallowed the lump in her throat. "You'll be gone in a week and go back to radio silence. Ruby won't be your problem anymore – that's what you wanted…wasn't it?"

Taking a breath, Weiss uncrossed her leg very meticulously and rose to her feet. She could see Blake inching slightly in front of Yang – prepared to step between them if necessary.

The thought of smacking Yang across the face and trying to knock some sense in her did cross Weiss' mind – but she restrained herself.

"No," she spoke evenly and put her hands behind her back. "You're wrong, Yang. I won't be gone in a week…because…I'll be staying in Patch and seeing Ruby through this."

Both girls in front of her looked shocked. Yang's defensive position settled and Blake's ears perked up.

"You…what?" Blake stammered and Weiss nodded.

"You're right, I've neglected my duties as Ruby's partner and friend. If she's going to go through something like this, she's going to need help. Moreover, if Ruby really does wish to stay in Patch then she'll need someone to help her sort her life out a little. I…I would be extremely unproductive back at the Schnee Dust Company if I knew Ruby was dealing with this alone or living in Vale because she had no other choice." Yang looked even more confused, so Weiss drove on – touching parts of her past she'd long wished to let go. "You think you failed Ruby? Get in line. I left her when she was at rock bottom because I was too scared admit that…I didn't know how to help her get over what happened on that mountain. Jaune died and she killed Salem and I think a part of her never left that place." Unwavering, Weiss took a step towards Ruby's bed. "Look at her, she's done so much on her own and it isn't perfect and it's most certainly in need of tidying up but Ruby suffered so much and still rebuilt her life as best she could and now…now we have to help her maintain it."

The fire in Yang's face was gone, replaced now with contemplation and perhaps…regret. She looked back to Ruby in the bed and started chewing on her bottom lip. Blake was still close – still ready to step in when needed.

When Yang cast her head down, Weiss knew she'd broken through. "Why didn't she tell me?"

"Because she was certain that you would only make her move with you," Weiss turned to Blake. "Both of you."

Blake winced and hugged herself slightly. "She was…afraid to tell me?" Weiss nodded in confirmation and Yang seemed so utterly defeated at that. "I'm such a stupid…jerk."

"You're not," Blake cut in. "You were only doing what you thought was best."

"Best for me," Yang shook her head. "Best for us so we could stay in Vale and keep our lives."

"Well now you know," Weiss knelt moved closer to Yang and smiled as best she could. She saw a flicker in Yang's eye and rolled her own. "Now we know and we'll do better. Ruby…carried all of us through the war – now it's our turn."

Yang was wearing a very pretty pout. "How long are you going to hold winning this argument over me?"

With a beaming smile, Weiss hugged Yang tightly. "Oh Yang," she sighed. "Until the day I die."

Chapter Text

Weiss could never remember laughing so much. Her stomach hurt, her throat felt dry but she couldn't stop laughing.

It was a celebration – Ruby's twenty-first birthday and they had been lucky enough to have the entire team together for it. More importantly, they were all safe for the night as they bunkered down in a safe house protected by countless friends and comrades.

To celebrate Blake's twenty-first, Yang had decided it was only necessary that Ruby take her first drink. Weiss didn't have the heart to tell Yang that she and Ruby had indulged before while traveling together – trying to get through cold nights in Atlas was made easier with a little Atlesian wine.

Still, this was different because Yang wasn't giving her wine. No, it was whiskey from Menagerie, which meant it had a higher alcohol content and burned all the way down.

Weiss had only braved to try a shot; she was content with her wine. Ruby on the other hand, well she took quite nicely to the burn she felt and three shots later, she was standing on a table top and dancing like a fool.

As she watched Ruby hop off the table, intent on teaching Yang the only dance she knew, Weiss suddenly felt something tickling her ear and turned to see Blake leaning over against her and flicking her ears in Weiss' face.

"What are you—" they fluttered so softly across her cheeks. "Will you stop that!" She cried with a laugh in her throat and Blake drew back with a soft smile and carefree eyes.

"Sorry, just think it's funny that I can do that to a Schnee and it makes you smile."

"Well it tickles!" Weiss swatted Blake on the arm just as raucous laughter filled the room and they both looked to see Yang and Ruby tangled up on the ground.

"Weiss!" Ruby called out dramatically. "Your rose is down! I repeat, your rose is down!"

Sighing, Weiss looked to her "rose" and saw Ruby with a leg in the air, hair a mess all over her face and combat skirt crooked around her waist.

She took another sip of her drink before sauntering over to Ruby and standing above her. "You're a mess."

"I'm your mess," she said with a giggle.

"You're drunk."

"I am not, Weiss. That's nonsense!" Ruby said with offense. "If I'm drunk then so are you."

"Okay,"

"No!" Ruby threw her arms out. "You're supposed to say 'I'm not drunk'."

Weiss put her hands on her hips. "I am delightfully buzzed and staring at my girlfriend on her back with her legs in the air."

Slowly, Ruby lowered her legs to the ground and stomped her feet on impact. "Better?"

"You're still on the floor."

Ruby nodded, swallowing sharply. "I'm not sure I can get up on my own." She reached up. "Help me?"

Weiss knew what was coming. It showed how far she'd fallen that she didn't even care. She took Ruby's hand and in an instant, her arm was tugged and she was falling face first directly to the floor.

However, as she prepared for impact, the landing was soft and an audible 'oof' came from beneath her.

Weiss was suddenly buried in Ruby's breasts and rolling her eyes so hard that they might stick.

Pressing her hands to the hard floor on either side of Ruby, she pushed herself up and glared down at her girlfriend. "You're a disaster, Ruby Rose."

"I'm your disaster." Ruby craned her neck upward and pecked her lips. "I think I'm drunk."

"You don't say?"

"It's fun."

"For whom, exactly?"

Ruby lifted her leg and pressed it between Weiss' "I can make it fun for you."

Weiss bit back the sensation and repositioned so Ruby no longer had a leg between hers. "We're not doing that on this floor with other people in the room."

"There are other people in the room?" Ruby lulled her head back and started looking around. "Huh, there are," Weiss peeked up to see Velvet staring at them with her lips pursed in discomfort.

"My apologies, Velvet. She's drunk."

"I'm drunk!" Ruby echoed and Weiss knew it was time to take Ruby to bed. Pushing back up to her feet, Weiss knelt down and cradled Ruby in her arms. As she plotted to lift Ruby off the ground, she wasn't entirely sure she had the strength to actually do it. She'd gained a lot of muscle during the war, but she was never going to be as strong as Ruby or Yang. Still, using her legs and her back, she managed to lift Ruby up off the floor and earned a "whoo!" from the girl she loved as a pair of arms wrapped around her neck.

"Wow!" Ruby cried out with a laugh. "You're so strong! Little Weiss so powerful!" Ruby flexed and for the hundredth time that night, Weiss questioned why she dated this nutcase.

"Yang," Weiss called out to her other friends who were gathered around a table playing cards. The blonde turned back, suddenly and randomly now only wearing a bra. "I'm taking this one to bed."

"Yang where's your shirt?!" Ruby hissed and covered her own eyes.

Weiss saw Yang smile, a knowing look on her face and nod at Weiss. "Probably should have cut her off, huh?"

"Just a little," Weiss sighed before boding everyone goodnight and re-hoisting Ruby in her arms. The one good thing about a party was that it left the sleeping barracks nearly empty and wonderfully quiet.

Once Weiss found their room, her arms suddenly weakening from carrying Ruby, she found the bed and dropped Ruby onto it. Ruby bounced and giggled again, hair flying from side to side and a bright smile on her face. It had been a while since she'd seen Ruby so unabashedly happy. It was the alcohol, but Weiss was pleased by it nonetheless.

"Oh…ohhhhh," Ruby sat up with her eyes wide as saucers, and stared up at Weiss. "Are we having…sex?" She whispered the last word and Weiss rolled her eyes.

"First of all, one day you'll have to learn how to say that word without acting like it will get you grounded."

"I don't want anyone to hear! Yang doesn't know we do that!"

Yang absolutely knew.

"Regardless, we share this room with six other hunters, so no…no sex." Ruby winced at the word and Weiss couldn't stop herself from smiling. "You're such a dolt."

"But I'm your—"

"You are," she cut Ruby off before climbing into bed with her and lying down. "You're also very drunk."

"I am," Ruby nodded in confirmation – hair falling into her face. The perfect opportunity for Weiss to brush it away and initiate more contact.

Those silver eyes were staring a hole through her and Weiss felt nothing but admiration from the girl beneath her. It shook her sometimes that Ruby could make her feel so special – having grown up feeling like a disappointment for so long.

"When this war is over…" Weiss was suddenly speaking and not sure where it was coming from. "I wish to marry you."

Ruby's mouth fell open. "Wh—what?"

Weiss nodded. "The whole thing – big ceremony and all our loved ones. I want to see you in a beautiful dress and I want to kiss you in front of everyone and tell them how much I love you."

There was silence between them for a moment and Weiss wondered if her confession was a bit too much. She wasn't even entirely sure where it came from. She was at once rolling her eyes at her drunk girlfriend and then suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of how safe Ruby made her feel.

It was something she didn't want to lose – something she wanted to claim forever.

"Are…are you asking?" Ruby's voice was quiet and suddenly very sober.

Weiss nodded. "I am – after all this. Marry me?" Suddenly, Ruby started to scramble away from Weiss and towards the other side of the bed. Weiss watched in both horror and annoyance as Ruby began to fumble with the shelf next to the bed. "Ruby Rose, what on earth are you doing?"

"I just," Ruby was quick scribbling something down on a piece of paper she'd found – her tongue hanging out of her mouth as she wrote in big swoops. "I've been drinking and Yang told me that I might forget stuff when I drink the fancy hot liquor she brought and…I don't wanna forget this part." She then held up what she'd written.

WEISS ASKED YOU TO MARRY HER! YOU SAID YES!


Weiss could barely keep her eyes open, but she cracked her neck and repositioned herself on the horrendously uncomfortable couch that had been brought into Ruby's room and continued thumbing through her scroll.

It had been an insanely long night as they all waited for Ruby to wake up. Only a stroke of luck that a nurse on staff recognized Ruby had they been allowed to stay. Though Taiyang and Qrow wanted to, it was agreed that they were a bit too old to be sleeping on couches and destroying their backs. Taiyang gave in easily enough but Qrow continued to rail about how young he was and how he could handle it. Still, Yang had a way with her Uncle and convinced him that things would be fine for a night.

Apparently, Ruby had a pretty outstanding reputation in Patch as a trusted huntress and gift of the community. Weiss knew that Ruby was good at her work – it was no secret that Ruby was a Remnant renowned hero – but in the smaller circle of Patch she was a point of pride.

So when they found out that this was Ruby's team from Beacon, they were given the right to stay the night and wait for her to wake up. There was still a lot they needed to do before her planned surgery that following day – including gaining her consent. Weiss knew that if Ruby didn't wake up before the scheduled time tomorrow that the surgery would probably go on as planned, but it would give her peace of mind to have proper permission.

Ruby's aura was recovering well now that her hip was stabilized and she wasn't using all of it to keep it from completely falling apart on her. Still, she'd been in pain for so long that her body had almost forgotten how to heal itself properly.

To her left, Blake was curled up on the couch, covered in a small blanket and reading a book. Weiss knew that Blake would be awake as long as Yang was awake and given how Yang had yet to move away from Ruby's bed, it was going to be a very long night.

If it weren't for the circumstance, Weiss would almost consider this fun – being with her team again on a long stakeout. They'd done it more than once during the war and those were the nights that kept them all sane.

"What are you looking for?" Blake's voice broke through Weiss' train of thought and she looked over to see the book now on Blake's lap and those eyes on her.

Weiss shrugged. "Just…doing a little research."

The sudden shift next to her was Blake suddenly invading her personal space. "Weiss," she chided.

"What?"

"Weiss." She laid back down with a roll of her eyes. "Are you really doing research on Ruby's surgeon?"

"I'm simply being thorough," Weiss waved her off. "It's good to know all you can before going into something as big as this. I'd like to know more about the man. So I can properly thank him when the surgery is successful or sue him if Ruby experiences any discomfort at any point for the remainder of her life."

"Weiss," Yang spoke with a chuckle and she looked to the bed to see Yang still holding Ruby's hand. "I know this surgeon. He did my dad's surgery when he broke his leg on a mission. He's good."

"He's also sixty-four now. I need to be sure his eyesight and mental faculties are intact."

Yang quirked a brow in her direction. "You're going to learn these things off your scroll?"

Weiss scoffed. "Of course not, Violet is going to put in some calls to some people I know who can get information on anyone and I'll just do a quick scan of his medical records."

"Weiss," Yang spoke a bit firmer. "Put the scroll down."

"But I—" Suddenly, it was taken from her and Blake tucked it behind her back. "Hey!" Weiss reached towards Blake but was met with a foot pressing into her chest and holding her off. "Give me that!"

"No," Blake held her back with relative ease. "We're not sending your creepy 'people' after the nice doctors who let us stay here."

With air quotes and all, Weiss was ready to attack Blake to get her scroll back. Though it was fun to see that bit of mischief in her eyes and the thought of tickling Blake's sensitive feet did come to mind, but it seemed highly inappropriate given the circumstances.

It was quite strange, it felt so comfortable around them – more so than Weiss had been in years. She'd missed her team immensely.

As if on cue, Yang jumped in her seat and they turned to see her hovering over Ruby. "She squeezed my hand," Yang said almost absentmindedly. "Ruby…come on, Rubes…we're all here." Yang was gently stroking her cheek and brushing her hair with the softest touch her robotic hand could have.

Weiss moved from the couch, her scroll forgotten as she stepped over to the other side of the bed.

Ruby was fidgeting, her eyes moving around but still closed. Without thinking, Weiss reached out and stroked Ruby's cheek with the back of her hand. "Wake up, dolt." She whispered and a moment later Ruby rolled her head towards Weiss and those silver eyes made an appearance.

"Yang?" She rasped and then started to cough.

"Easy," Yang said and Ruby turned to look at her sister who was being handed a cup of water by Blake. "Take a drink." Yang was so gentle that Weiss was almost in awe. She'd never seen Yang move so precisely – those robotic fingers moving with such accuracy as the cradled Ruby's head.

Blake left – most likely to find a doctor as Ruby took a few small sips before settling back onto the pillows.

Only when Ruby looked at her again did Weiss realize she was still touching her. Weiss slowly pulled away and clasped her hands together.

"What happened?" She asked as her eyes blinked slowly.

Weiss had to fight the urge to shove Yang aside and climb onto the bed with the dolt.

"You fell," Yang answered and glanced up at Weiss. "She found you and brought you here."

Ruby's eyes met Weiss' and she smiled.

It faded a moment later and Weiss had a front row seat to watch the realization dawn for Ruby that her big secret was out. Ruby's bright, silver eyes trailed up to her older sister and she rasped out Yang's name.

"I'm sorry," she said and Yang smiled.

"I'm sorry," Yang countered, gently stroking Ruby's cheek. "I'm sorry that I made you ever think you couldn't talk to me. I never wanted that." Yang shook her head and leaned down to give Ruby a kiss on her forehead. "You're in bad shape though, doctors have you scheduled for surgery tomorrow."

Alarm struck on Ruby's face. "Ruby," Weiss knew a Ruby panic attack when she saw one. "It's okay, I've researched the surgeons here and I've told Yang that you have no intention of moving to Vale. We're going to work it out."

Ruby blinked slowly, taking in what she'd been told and looked to Yang again. "I won't ever make you do something you don't want to, Ruby. I just…really want to be here for you – I want you to want me to be here."

"I do," Ruby whispered while tears poured down Yang's face.

"That includes telling me when your hip is broken." Yang tried to tease her but her voice strained and Ruby winced and neither of them were very good at this.

Weiss decided to intervene. "We'll settle this when Ruby is more alert, all right?" They both looked to her. "The doctor will be here soon and we need Ruby's permission for the surgery." She refocused on Ruby and smiled. "I didn't want to make any decisions without you. I—I was planning to pay for it."

"Weiss," Ruby started but was cut off.

"I know, and if you say no I'll defer – but trust me when I tell you that my pocketbook will barely feel it and I won't pay for your second full hip replacement so don't get any ideas."

She made Ruby smile and despite the paleness of her cheeks and the circles under her eyes, Weiss swore it was as beautiful as Ruby had ever been.

"Okay, thank you, Weiss. I'll owe you a batch of cookies."

Weiss rolled her eyes – despite the intense fluttering in her stomach. "I'll hold you to that."

As the doctor came in and started explaining the next steps to them, Weiss made to step away and give them room. However, she was stopped when Ruby's eyes met hers and she held out her hand as best she could with the IV stuck into it.

Weiss took the few steps towards the bed and grabbed onto it, giving a soft squeeze as Ruby refocused on the doctor.

She wasn't sure what to make of it – this silent request from Ruby to hold her hand. The only thing it confirmed was that Weiss would be spending a lot more time in Patch than she originally intended.


The surgery itself was fairly routine and didn't even take as long as Weiss had expected. Though the time waiting with Ruby's family was stressful – if only because Qrow seemed to distrust everyone taking care of his niece and Taiyang wouldn't stop pacing. They made Yang seem tranquil with how jittery they were. Though, if Weiss were being honest, she was a bit jealous of how much Ruby's family truly cared.

Now they were simply waiting on Ruby to wake up, again.

Always waiting on our fearless leader.

Which led to their current arrangement of Blake reading in a chair by the window, sunlight pouring in over her shoulder which made her so content she was on the verge of purring. Yang was on her scroll having finished a conversation with Sun about their wedding plans. It was something they'd have to discuss with Ruby but they didn't want to postpone too much with everyone still planning to be here. If Ruby could somehow make it, even in a wheelchair – it would be nice to have the ceremony relatively soon.

Still, they were going to leave it to their leader – Yang wasn't about to have her wedding without Ruby present.

Meanwhile, Weiss was focusing on her favorite thing in the room – Ruby herself. She was perched next to Ruby's bed and gently filing away at Ruby's nails. There was no reason for it, other than wanting to hold Ruby's hand with a natural excuse. Weiss had always marveled at how hard and callused Ruby's hands were from years of wielding her giant weapon. It never ceased to amaze her how those rough hands could be so soft and gentle in more…intimate situations.

A laugh escaped her at the thought and drew Yang's attention.

"She tell a joke?" Yang asked, pointed at Ruby's sleeping figure.

Weiss rolled her eyes. "Don't be a pest."

"You giggled."

"I was just reminded of something,"

"What?" Yang pushed on and Weiss sighed. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Yang staring at her intently. "Also why are you filing my sister's nails? I'm pretty sure she chews on them when she's nervous anyway."

"She does and it's barbaric. I spent months breaking that habit for both of our sake."

Yang raised an eyebrow. "What does my sister having trimmed nails do for you?" It was only when the question was asked that Weiss realized what she'd said. As she stared at Yang, she could only hope that the realization remained a mystery to her.

It might have, if not for Blake's laugh from behind her book.

"What?" Yang asked, suddenly frustrated. "Why do you both keep doing that?"

"Yang…why do you trim your nails?"

Yang's brow furrowed and Weiss contemplated leaping over the bed to throw Blake out the window.

"Because I don't want to hurt you when we're…oh…oh!" She turned to Weiss with wide eyes and her mouth hanging open. "Oh my gosh, you…and…WHAT!" Yang cried and threw her arms in the air.

"Will you calm down! I dated Ruby for years, you can't tell me you thought I put up with jagged fingernails the entire time."

Wincing, Yang covered her ears. "I'm not having this conversation—wait." Suddenly, Yang was staring at her again. "Why are you trimming her nails now? Are you finally going to make a move?!"

"No!" Weiss chided, suddenly very aware that Ruby could wake up at any moment. "I have no plans to make any sort of move and there are no moves that need to be made."

Yang pouted. "But you love her."

Weiss groaned and looked to Blake for help. She was met with a pair of yellow eyes staring over the top of a book. "You do,"

"Blake!"

"Weiss, you love her. You're dropping everything to stay with her so she can keep her life here."

"Will you two stop!" Weiss spoke a bit more aggressively than she intended but it did the trick. "Look," she took a breath. "I appreciate the concern – really – but I asked Ruby when I first arrived if any of the feelings we shared were still there and she told me they weren't. It hurt, yes – but I accepted it and I've moved past it and while I still love her, it's never going to be the way it was. So I need the both of you to respect that – especially you, Yang. Just…please…leave us to figure this out on our own." Through every word she spoke, Weiss' grip on Ruby's hand grew tighter.

Yes, she still loved Ruby. It wasn't a secret she could keep from the rest of her team. That didn't change the fact that if Ruby never said otherwise, Weiss would continue to believe that those feelings were no longer reciprocated. She had said it herself the day before – Ruby changed on that mountain during the war. Perhaps the future they could have had together was lost up there as well.

If that was the case, then Weiss would accept it and do what she could to make sure they both had a good future.

Chapter Text

Despite the fears that telling her business partners and trusted co-workers that she would be taking an extended leave from her post at the head of the Schnee Dust company would be the hardest part of all this, Weiss found that to be easy compared to where she was currently.

Today was the day Ruby would be released from the hospital. She had a brand new, artificial hip that would eventually be even sturdier than the one it replaced. For now, Ruby was still very much in recovery and very much in need of help with…well…everything.

Weiss had spent the days Ruby was still laid up learning about all the ins and outs that awaited her in the coming weeks as far as taking care of Ruby's needs. She had eagerly agreed to be the caretaker, despite Yang's teasing and Blake's knowing looks, Weiss saw it as simply being the best partner she could be and Ruby seemed glad that it was her and not Yang or Taiyang or Qrow that had taken on the job.

Still, the nurse that helped teach Weiss about all the things she'd have to do was very detail oriented and there were a lot of details. Most of them Weiss expected – helping Ruby from room to room, from her bed to the living room (Ruby's bed was moved to the bottom floor because Weiss was not walking her up the stairs every night). The ones Weiss was not prepared for were things like helping her dress and bathe.

It wasn't as if Weiss hadn't seen every inch of Ruby before – they dated for years and in that time shared many nights together. Still, it was…awkward and scary and Weiss wasn't entirely sure how she'd react the first time it happened. Still, Ruby seemed comfortable enough with the arrangement and Weiss was determined to be the best partner she could be dammit!

Your breasts will not stop me from doing my job, Ruby Rose!

However, none of the preparation could prepare Weiss for this. It was, without question. Walking into the Patch Supermarket felt like walking into Salem's Underworld.

"Are we just going to stand in the doorway all day, Miss Schnee?"

Weiss glared at Violet beside her and crossed her arms. "Why does this place smell so terrible?" She asked as she watched Violet pull a shopping cart from the rack and push it towards her.

"Because they're constantly wiping the floors down with cheap soap. Plus, you mix together this many people and foods, it's bound to create some kind of an interesting odor."

"It's barbaric," she muttered as she began walking alongside Violet through the store.

"You didn't have to come."

"I did, I need to know how to do this. You'll be heading back for Atlas tomorrow and won't be here to do the shopping. I must learn."

Violet smirked before pulling out her scroll to check the list that had been made for them. Yang had put together the list, including a bunch of Ruby's favorite meals that she was going to teach Weiss to make over the course of the next few days.

"I could always stay a few more days." Weiss heard Violet say as she stared at two cans of condensed milk.

What in the world is condensed milk?

"I'm afraid not," Weiss said before putting the cans in the cart. "I need you back at headquarters to relay things to me and make sure things run smoothly. Besides, you're the only one competent enough with technology to properly put me into the video conferences while I'm here."

As they continued through the store, Weiss found herself standing alone in the cookie aisle. Yang hadn't put them on the list, but Weiss knew Ruby would appreciate some and she wanted to do something nice for her. The problem was, Weiss had far underestimated just how many different types of cookie there were.

The shelves were filled with cookies. They came in different shapes and sizes, flavors and colors. Even when she narrowed it down to chocolate chip there were variations on that. Some of them were thicker and chewy, some were thin and crispy. Even a brand shaped like rectangles that were called "dippers".

"I refuse to by anything referred to as a dipper," she grumbled to herself before reaching out for a brand in a shiny gold package with very little flash on the branding. If anything, they were the most expensive package of chocolate chip cookies in the aisle. "I bet they're the best ones," she again said – hoping nobody would hear her talking to herself.

Violet was off at the deli collecting meat and Weiss had no idea how long that took. Her father used to complain that his meats were always old by the time they were delivered – but he complained about everything.

"Of course that's the brand you'd pick," Weiss nearly screamed as the raspy voice invaded her ears. She jumped and turned, reaching for her rapier that wasn't there and glared as she saw Qrow smirking at her. "Relax, kid. I didn't mean to spook ya."

"You cannot sneak up on someone like that! I could have killed you!"

This made him laugh. It was the first time she could remember hearing him laugh this much. She hated it. "You're tough, but if your sister couldn't finish the job, I don't think you've got a shot."

Weiss sighed, her heart racing in her chest and decided not to test that theory today. Ruby would be upset if she dropped her Uncle in the middle of the grocery store. "Why are you stalking me?"

"Stalking? I'm here to help. You're not the only one who wants to see Ruby back on her feet." He then lifted up that flask he always carried around and twisted the top off. Weiss was strongly considering throwing the package of cookies at him. "Also she doesn't like that brand."

She looked down at her golden bag of cookies and then back up at him. "They're the most expensive ones."

"Expensive doesn't mean better, snowflake."

"Don't call me that," she spat.

He took a drink and put his flask away. "She likes the soft ones. Big brown box at the top. Comes with two packs of twenty-four. Your expensive ones only have eighteen and cost almost twice as much." He was so smug. As if his knowledge of Ruby's cookie preferences somehow gave him the high ground in this ridiculous situation.

Frustrated, Weiss tossed the expensive bag of cookies in his direction and let him catch them. She then turned to find the others and sure enough there was a brown box on the very top shelf.

Weiss picked it up and put it in the cart, not even bothering to check the price, she grabbed a second for good measure and tossed it in as well. "There, now she can have her soft cookies and you can leave me alone."

"Actually," Qrow walked over to the cart and pulled the milk out she'd chosen. "I'm gonna go replace this with real milk."

"Fat free is better for you!"

Qrow continued to walk away from her. "Unclench, Schnee – you'll have more fun."

Weiss was fuming as she watched him walk away. Sure, it would be nice to make sure Ruby had the right cookies and maybe she was a bit off on the fat free milk, but did he really have to be a part of this? Did he have to be here at all – she could take care of Ruby just fine on her—

"Ms. Schnee?" As another voice snuck up on her, Weiss couldn't contain her startled shout.


Shopping was a disaster but Weiss felt well enough having completed the task and checking everything off the list as she and Violet returned to Ruby's home. Qrow had followed them the rest of the way through the market, making smart ass remarks that drove Weiss crazy and made Violet chuckle. Weiss knew she was wound up and she knew that Qrow had Ruby's best interest at heart, but Weiss was merely trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle for Ruby. She wanted all of this to be perfect and that included the foods she brought into the house.

Still, Qrow managed to pack their cart full of junk and spend more of Ruby's money. Ruby had insisted that she pay for these things and Weiss wasn't going to deny her that. Still, she was certain that Ruby did not need a giant box filled with various flavored chips and a twelve pack of bright orange soda.

Thankfully, Qrow did not come back to Ruby's home with them. He had…something to do – Weiss hadn't listened nor cared, she was just glad to be rid of him.

As they pulled up to Ruby's home, Yang and Blake's car was still parked which meant that they were still rearranging. Weiss stepped out as it stopped, again hit with the sweltering heat and wiped the sweat from her brow. She was not used to having to wear so few layers. No jacket, no tights, even her boots were too hot. Instead it was a pair of something called "sandals" she'd borrowed from Ruby and the only sundress Blake had that would fit her.

Her clothes and a few other belongings would be sent this way soon enough, probably in the next two days – for now the only thing she had on that was her own was her underwear.

Just as she started for the door, she was met with Violet thrusting a handful of shopping bags in her direction.

"Do you…need me to get the door?"

Violet sighed. "These are for you," she held them out again.

Weiss eyed the bags like they might set her on fire. "Uhm…"

"Miss Schnee."

With a glare, Weiss took the bags and felt her arms constrict under the weight. "What in the—what's in here?"

Violet didn't answer, instead taking her own handful of bags and marching up the steps to the front door. She knocked with her foot and Weiss stood waiting and wondering why they didn't call ahead of time. The whole process of shopping seemed so inefficient and off the cuff – the entire time they were driving home Weiss couldn't help but feel like they'd forgotten multiple things.

When the door opened, Yang stood with a grin on her face as she eyed Weiss up and down. "Hey Weiss – you're sweating like a boarbatusk in the slaughterhouse."

"What a horrendous image," Weiss chided but couldn't even muster much anger in her voice. She stomped towards the door and quickly unloaded her bags onto Yang. "Here, you're half metal, you carry these."

Yang laughed. "Aww, did you two have fun at the store?"

Violet answered as she followed Yang inside. "It was…an adventure. We ran into your uncle."

"Oh boy," Blake chimed in and Weiss glanced over to see her making Ruby's bed that had been moved downstairs.

Yang was pulling items out of the bags and setting them up in the kitchen while Violet went out to bring in the last few bags. Weiss, exhausted from the trip, made to sit down on the couch but stopped herself when she realized what was missing.

"Where's Ruby?" She asked, trying not to sound too desperate and failing. After all, it had been almost two hours since she'd seen her and that was, apparently, too much to handle.

Blake pointed down the hall. "In the bathtub."

"So soon after surgery?" Violet asked as she came back inside.

"Yeah, with aura as strong as hers and the boosters she got from the doctors – the scarring has all but healed. There's no risk of infection. It's all the interior stuff that's healing now and that takes time. So she can soak in the bath, she just can't get out of it." Yang answered and finished putting away the groceries into various places around the kitchen. "I'm making noodles for dinner tonight, Weiss – you're gonna watch and learn, okay? They're one of Ruby's favorites."

Weiss sighed. "Very well," she then decided to wait before resting. "I um…has anyone checked on her in a while?" Weiss asked – again failing to sound casual.

"I was just about to," Yang said. "Do you want to?" She asked with a raise of her brow.

Weiss felt her face heat up. "I…well not if she's indecent. That wouldn't be right of me."

Yang shrugged. "The tub is filled with bubbles. Plus it's not like you haven't seen—"

"Stop!" Weiss cut her off with a raise of her hand. "Do not finish that sentence." Weiss needed to see Ruby – the only person she didn't currently want to throttle in this town. "I'll go check on her."

She was thankful for no teasing remarks as she moved down the hallway to the left of the stairs and made her to the bathroom door.

Taking a breath, she braced for the fact that Ruby was on the other side of the door with not a single strip of clothing on.

You're her caretaker, Weiss. It is a role you requested. If you cannot do this, then you are not fit for the job.

Summoning up her courage as she would a giant armored knight, Weiss steadied herself and knocked softly on the door.

She heard the sloshing of water and waited for a response. "Yang?"

"It's me," Weiss answered. "I—I was just going to check on you. See if you were ready to get out?"

There was a long pause and Weiss suddenly realized that Ruby was probably having the same kind of internal crisis that she was. It was awkward – they were once lovers and now it had come to this. Perhaps this was a mistake. Maybe it was too much for either of them to overcome.

Maybe –

"You can come in," Ruby said and Weiss took a deep breath.

Or maybe not.

Opening the door, she peeked inside and saw Ruby with bubbles all around her and an arm crossed over her chest for good measure. Her hair was still fairly dry, mostly because she couldn't slide under the water. She looked well enough though, she hadn't hurt herself – Weiss counted that as a victory.

"How is it?"

Ruby shrugged. "I never really liked baths, especially with all the bubbles and smells and stuff. Sitting still, even in water, was kinda boring."

Weiss furrowed her brow. "You never complained when we'd—" she stopped herself as her face burned hot and saw Ruby's grin widen. "Perhaps not the best topic of conversation." Weiss sighed.

"It's fine,"

"Is it?" Weiss was genuinely curious. "I—I wanted to be here and to help you through all this but perhaps our past relationship is too much for all of…" she gestured at Ruby. "This."

"Weiss," Ruby smiled that one smile that always took away Weiss' anxiety. She had a tendency to over think and lose herself in the fear of failure and disappointment and doubt. Ruby was always so good at making her feel better. This smile, that tone she spoke with – that was her haven. "It's a little strange, but…I trust you and I know you told me to stop thanking you, but I do appreciate what you're doing for me and I—I know your intentions are good."

Weiss lowered her head, unable to properly take any sort of praise. Something that, thankfully, Ruby had learned to accept years earlier.

Her intentions were good. She had no thoughts of taking advantage of this new position in Ruby's life. That didn't mean it was always going to be easy. She was still, and would probably forever be attracted to Ruby. The feelings, all of them, were still there – but Weiss knew she could overcome them. She had to because it wasn't about her right now. Perhaps, if she and Ruby continued to rebuild their friendship, she could take a leap if she felt like there might be somewhere to land.

It seemed impossible right now, but that would be okay if she could at least help Ruby rebuild her own life.

That started with this – making moments like this one comfortable and easy by simply doing her job.

"Would you like for me to wash your hair?" Weiss asked with a quirked brow and felt a wave of relief when Ruby nodded.

"There's more of it than when you last did this."

"So I've noticed." Weiss said as she rolled up the sleeves on her white, button down shirt and positioned herself behind the bathtub and sat down on a laundry hamper. Reaching to the sink, she grabbed a cup and placed it beside her before helping Ruby to sit up as best she could. "Does this hurt?"

Ruby shook her head. "It's fine – pain medication is still working pretty well. I haven't cut my hair in months. Not since my last trip to Beacon when Yang took up her new job."

"You know, I've heard Blake talk about that, but we both know how biased she is. What is Yang like as a teacher?"

"Honestly?"

"No, lie to me," Weiss returned quickly – hoping for a laugh that she was generously given.

"And you call me a pest."

"I learned it from you, dolt."

Ruby picked up a handful of bubbles. "You know, I have a lot of ammunition and you're wearing a white shirt. We could make this really awkward."

Weiss leaned back. "Ruby Rose, I will drown you."

"Pfft, and waste all that money on my new hip. Please, you never waste money."

Weiss dunked the cup in the water and started to pour it over Ruby's hair. "I do too, I bought Yang that stupid jet propelled flying baking sheet."

"The hover board was amazing, Weiss! She just didn't take care of it!"

Weiss rolled her eyes, remembering the sight of Yang flying that death trap right into a wall, nearly killing poor Blake and completely destroying it. "It was a pile of junk." She couldn't stop the smile that spread all the way down to the warmth in her chest as she continued to rinse Ruby's hair. "You didn't answer my question. How is your sister as a teacher?"

"Just like she was as a student. Fun, she goofs off too much and makes stupid jokes – but when there's work to be done – she does it and she's really good. Oobleck, Peach – they all rave about how good she is and how much her students adore her."

"Huh," Weiss started to pour shampoo into her palm and graciously run it through Ruby's hair. She'd missed this hair a lot – it used to be one of her favorite things in the world. She'd spend almost every morning running her fingers through Ruby's hair – just trying to forget about how broken their world was. To be here again, even as just friends, felt like home. "Well I'm happy for her. I was surprised when Blake told me she'd given up hunting." Ruby nodded but didn't respond and Weiss put two and two together. "I take it you were as well?"

Ruby's shoulders slumped a bit. "Yeah, I just…always imagined we'd all be huntresses, you know? Team RWBY, killing monsters until we were too old to get out of bed without walkers." She sighed. "Then Blake stopped and you…left and when Yang quit I just…wasn't really ready for that."

Guilt hit Weiss as she slowed her washing and tried to think of what to say. She really didn't have any good response – after all, she ran away when all of this started to go south after the war. The distance between here and Atlas was a great cover so she didn't have to see team RWBY completely fall apart.

"I'm sorry, Ruby." Weiss said. It was all she could.

Ruby, to her credit, nodded and shrugged. "It's old news now and we're all here for a few days until Yang and Blake go back to Vale. Then we'll be redoing all this wedding stuff in a few weeks when I'll be able to walk a little. Even if I can't dance." She sounded a bit more upbeat and Weiss was glad for that.

"You can, I taught you!" Weiss refocused on her task, which at this point was just playing with Ruby's hair.

"I don't think I remember the dance you taught me, Weiss. It's been years and none of the Grimm I've fought have felt like dancing with me."

Weiss rolled her eyes. "I'll re-teach you then. It'll be good balance practice. When you're ready." Though she nodded, Weiss heard Ruby sigh and didn't even need to ask to know why. "You will be ready before you know it, you know that right?"

"Yeah, it's just hard to tell when I can't even get myself in and out of the bathtub. I—I never wanted to be a burden."

"You're not a burden, Ruby."

"Just because my teammates are amazing doesn't make me feel like less of a burden. I—I appreciate that you're all so willing to help but it's hard. I feel like all I've ever been was something for the three of you – for everyone – to stress about."

It wasn't entirely untrue. Weiss knew how much she worried about Ruby all throughout the war and even before that. Yang was no different and even Blake had taken up a protective big sister role with their leader. Ruby was special and everyone who knew her, knew that. She was to be protected at all costs because they all cared about her and needed her.

Still, it wasn't as if Ruby was ever a burden – nor that she didn't take care of them.

"Do you remember when I broke my hand?"

Ruby stiffened at the mention and Weiss felt a bit appreciative that the memory still carried as much weight as it did. "Of course I do."

Suddenly it was turned around on her and Weiss wished she hadn't brought it up at all. Hearing the way Ruby spoke and the tremor in her voice, Weiss remembered how strong their relationship truly was. How much they loved each other then.

Still, she had a point to prove and she was going to prove it. "I remember being unable to use Myrtenaster for weeks after that. My hand was shattered and the bones were healing and I remember feeling pretty useless." Ruby shifted a bit uncomfortably beneath her and Weiss merely continued to wash her hair. "I also remember you taking so much time out of your busy schedule as a leader and a soldier to sit with me and help me train with my right hand so I could at least be useful in the sparring lessons."

"It wasn't that big of a deal."

"Ruby," Weiss felt like smacking the girl upside the head for being so bad at taking compliments. "You taught me how to write so I could do paperwork. You would literally let me poke you with a stick so I could work on my aim with my weapon. You sat with me during every physical therapy and recovery session I had for weeks while my hand healed and not one time did you complain."

Ruby shrugged. "Why would I complain? I…I loved spending time with you."

Nope, I'm going to move past that because we are not doing this right now.

"My point is that you were not a burden. You were…are our leader. You're our friend and you've taken care of us just as much as we take care of you." Again, Ruby was terrible at hearing things like this and Weiss saw the tightness in Ruby's back as she tensed up. The only thing Weiss heard was a very soft thank you that made her heart leap in her chest. She swallowed the lump in her throat – proud of the fact that she'd made Ruby at least feel like this wasn't something they were all dreading – and stood up. "I'll go get your sister to help you out."

Ruby glanced back at her, those big, beautiful eyes looking a bit confused. "You know, Yang and Blake leave in a few days and we'll have to do this eventually."

Weiss was using all of her energy to continue to stare at Ruby's eyes and nowhere near the fading bubbles in the tub. "Ruby…it's…been a while."

"Weiss, you're my friend and I know we have history but…I trust you and I don't want this to be awkward. You've seen my bits before – "

"Ruby, I'm begging you, don't call them bits."

This earned her a smile. "Fine, you've seen me…naked before and it's not like you're going to be ogling me or anything, right?"

"Of course not!" Weiss said haughtily, crossing her arms in disgust at the mere suggestion that she would ogle anyone.

I have far too much self control for that. She thought, trying to convince herself.

"See," Ruby again smiled and Weiss really wished she'd stop doing that. "So just…help me out of the tub?"

Weiss would never openly admit defeat, but Ruby was right. Soon enough it would just be the two of them and there'd be no other options for helping Ruby with these things. It was time to be the responsible caretaker she'd set out to be and push aside the fact that the woman she'd dreamt about for years was naked and wet.

Stop it, Weiss.

Kneeling down, she reached into the warm water and found purchase with a hand at Ruby's side. With the towel draped over her neck, Ruby wrapped an arm around her and together they rose up very slowly. Ruby was slippery and her balance was a bit off. Weiss felt her grip loosen a bit and repositioned her hand for better stability.

However, as she grabbed onto Ruby's side, the once firm part of Ruby's body was now pliant and soft.

"Uh…Weiss," Ruby laughed nervously. "You're kinda grabbing my boob."

Kneeling back down, Weiss sat Ruby back into the tub ad rose to her feet with a face so red it would match the color of Ruby's cloak. "I'll go get your sister." She raced out of the bathroom before Ruby could even protest.

Chapter Text

All Weiss could see was silver. Silver eyes staring down at her and red tipped hair tickling her face. She was entranced with Ruby – every sense she had was screaming Ruby's name. Her fingertips were shaking as she touched every bit of skin she could find. This…this was the scariest moment of her life but also the most alive she'd ever felt.

Ruby gasped when Weiss squeezed her firm backside and her head lowered just enough for Weiss to lean up and kiss her. Ruby kissed back and scooted forward just enough for Weiss' fingers to find their destination. It felt so surreal to be here, to be touching Ruby in such a way but it felt like she belonged here.

As if every moment of her life had led her to this point.

Ruby's head was suddenly between her neck and shoulder, gasping warm breath against Weiss' skin as she worked. A hand landed on Weiss' breast and Ruby's thumb brushed over her.

This cause Weiss to pick up the pace, blowing Ruby's hair out of her face as the heat started to overwhelm her. A moment later, Ruby's lips were on her neck, latched on and suckling against her pulse point. Weiss cried out her name, not giving a damn who might hear them. At this point she didn't even know where they were – it didn't matter. They could be atop the desk in her father's office, she didn't care.

Ruby drew back, but only to look at Weiss again. She tried to speak, but Weiss carefully maneuvered her thumb over Ruby's skin and silenced her. Her eyes went wide and then closed tightly as she whined. Weiss could feel Ruby shaking and swaying. She used her free hand to press onto Ruby's back, lowering her down to steady her.

Once Ruby's ear was close enough, she whispered.

"You're so beautiful. You're the most beautiful girl in the entire world." Ruby continued to quiver and pant against her and Weiss never stopped praising her. "Let go, Ruby. I've got you."

She screamed.

BZZT BZZT BZZT BZZT

Weiss' eyes shot open at the blaring sound that filled the air. She sat up, suddenly awake and unaware of her surroundings. She didn't recognize these walls or the blanket she was under.

Most of all, she was alone. Ruby was not on top of her and as Weiss looked around, Ruby wasn't anywhere near her.

BZZT BZZT

"Oh you insufferable…" Weiss turned and quickly shut off the alarm before taking a deep breath and putting her head in her hands.

It slowly started to come back to her. She was in Ruby's room. Upstairs and sleeping on an air inflated mattress that she had to put air into every night before bed because the stupid thing refused to maintain the air currently in it.

Those images or Ruby were all just a dream – perhaps a flashback? She couldn't tell, they were already fading as the sun poured in through the window.

She knew she should probably climb out of bed and go check on Ruby – who might need something from her. Weiss liked to set an early alarm to be up first because Ruby was never much for sleeping in.

Yet, she wasn't quite sure she was ready to move. While the details of her dream were scarce, the feelings were still very real and still humming through her entire body.

Weiss hated it, she hated these thoughts because they were making her life so much harder. She didn't want to have to check herself around Ruby. She'd improved since that day in the bathroom. Now that Violet was gone and Blake and Yang were gone, it was just her and Ruby and she'd stepped up.

In fact, she'd seen Ruby naked multiple times and had been able to maintain her composure and do her job.

Still, these dreams kept happening and they kept tearing down all the walls of resistance she built. It wasn't fair that Ruby had somehow managed to become even more beautiful than the girl Weiss literally referred to as the most beautiful girl in Remnant five years ago.

It wasn't fair, but it was the truth and it was slowly killing Weiss Schnee.

Another buzz made Weiss jump, only this one was softer and came from her pillow. She picked up her scroll and smiled at the message on her screen.

Are you awake?

No doubt Ruby had heard the noise of the alarm. Weiss took a few deep breaths and tried her best to focus on the color of the paint on the walls and how many handles Ruby's dresser had. Anything and everything that wasn't related to the thoughts of her dream.

After a quick count of ten, Weiss climbed off the air mattress – nearly falling over twice, and made her way downstairs.

Ruby was still lying in bed, unable to sit herself up just yet (though they were working on that with Ruby's physical therapist). She'd pushed her blankets down around her knees and was perched up just a bit on her elbows. Weiss stopped halfway down the stairs when Ruby looked at her and started giggling.

"What?" Weiss asked with a curious tilt of her head.

Ruby smiled and laid back on the bed to cover her mouth. "I'm sorry – I just forgot how wild your hair can get in the morning."

Instinctually, Weiss reached up and ran a hand through her hair. "Hey! I haven't had time to properly brush it in the last few days and I am sleeping on an inflatable deathtrap your sister purchased." She held no malice as she spoke because she didn't have any. As uncomfortable as the mattress was as true as it was that there was little time to go through her usual beauty routine – she hadn't the time care.

"It's not a bad thing, I think it's cute."

Weiss huffed and looked away – hoping her cheeks didn't look at warm as they felt. "I am Weiss Schnee. I am a former huntress who fought in the war. I run a multi-billion lien company and know at least sixty-five ways to kill a person. I am not cute." She crossed her arms, set in her deepest and angriest glare and Ruby just started laughing at her.

"You are the cutest. Also I am Ruby Rose and I have to pee."

With a sigh at her failed attempt to be the least bit intimidating, Weiss went the rest of the way down the stairs and helped Ruby out of bed.

The physical contact was starting to become easy. Weiss had figured out the best places to put her hands to avoid any discomfort while also being able to do her job properly. Ruby would always try and support more of her own weight than she should and Weiss would scold her to stop. Ruby would try and not lean too much on her and Weiss would scold her that it was okay. Then Ruby would try and do things like lift the toilet lid and reach the toilet paper and Weiss would scold her to let her help.

Still, it worked and Ruby managed to brush her teeth on the toilet, spit into a cup that Weiss poured out and cleaned for her and their morning routine had begun like this the last few days.

The strangest part about it, Weiss loved it. She had spent the last years being so busy that she never had any time for this. The pure quiet and nothingness of Patch seemed so awful when she first arrived but these mornings with Ruby were ideal. The comfort of going about her day and knowing that she wasn't alone was magical. There were responsibilities – but nothing that stressed her. They were easy and welcome. They made her feel needed and accomplished. She cooked for Ruby and watched silly informative commercials with her about ridiculous devices that cost far too much lien.

Even though she could tell that Ruby was bored at times, for Weiss, it was wonderful.

As the morning came and went, Weiss found herself sitting on the couch having just finished a call with Violet. Things with the company were running well enough – all major business transactions had been put on hold for a few weeks while Weiss was down here. Anything that might come up would be directly sent to her, but for now, she had no worries.

It was liberating and had her in a wonderful mood – the best she'd felt in years. Not to mention that she was currently sharing a couch with her favorite person in the world.

Her favorite person who, by noon, was once again sleeping on the couch with the remote control on her chest and hair in her face.

Standing up, Weiss smiled down at Ruby and removed the remote before hesitating as she hovered over her. The hair was in Ruby's face and if she rolled over or breathed in too deeply it might fall into her mouth and down her throat and kill her.

Honestly, it would be wrong for her to not delicately brush it away. It was always better to be safe than sorry.

Weiss carefully placed her finger on Ruby's forehead and moved away her long, soft hair and gently let it fall down her cheeks. When they were together, Weiss hadn't noticed Ruby's hair growing – they spent every day with one another so it didn't register. Yet, after all these years apart, to see Ruby with hair like this was captivating.

It suited her so well.

That was when Weiss realized that she'd gone from moving Ruby's hair out of her face to stroking her fingers through it.

Jerking her hand away, Weiss tucked them behind her back and silently scolded herself. She was not allowed to yearn – she'd told herself very specifically that yearning was off the table. She was Ruby's caretaker and nothing more.

Yes, she'd considered telling Ruby that she still had feelings for her multiple times – but Ruby had told her that those feelings weren't mutual and making this situation awkward would only be bad for Ruby. If Weiss made their current situation uncomfortable, she'd have to leave and if she left then Ruby would have to go to Vale and she'd promised she would stay here with her.

So she held her tongue and constantly told herself that once Ruby was ready, she would confess.

Either that, or she'd find another excuse in a series of excuses that would last until she returned to Atlas.

In desperate need of a distraction, Weiss decided to do something nice for Ruby (because of course she did) and moved to the kitchen to make Ruby something to eat.

As she rummaged through the kitchen, she found a small box of chocolate pudding mix and, having never actually tasted it before, she thought it would be a nice treat.

After thoroughly reading the instructions and getting all of her supplies ready, Weiss was prepared to make pudding.

If she were being honest, cooking was actually kind of fun and had become quite rewarding. Granted, she hadn't made anything too difficult and Yang was sure to give her easy recipes. Still, the first time she made a meal and Ruby actually hummed in approval was almost more satisfying that signing a big business deal.

Just as she reached into the fridge to grab the milk, she heard a soft whine from the couch and froze. Turning back, she watched as Ruby's face grimaced, her eyes still closed and her head moving from side to side.

Stalling her task for the moment, Weiss watched Ruby continue to flail as best she could and suddenly, Ruby's left arm was punching the back cushions of the couch. "No!" She shouted and Weiss quickly moved to her side. "Jaune, no!"

Weiss froze, her feet feeling as if they'd sunk into the carpet. She couldn't move as his name fell from Ruby's lips – a name that carried so much weight.

In a way, it was his name that tore them apart.

When she realized that Ruby might hurt herself with her movements, Weiss composed herself and knelt down next to the couch before gently shaking Ruby's shoulders.

"Ruby, wake up." She spoke softly at first but earned no response. "Ruby!" She was louder this time and the efforts worked as Ruby's eyes shot open – a faint shine to those silver eyes that always came when Ruby was scared. The power she possessed always brimming at the surface, ready to protect her at a moments notice.

As the shine faded, Ruby's true eyes found Weiss and there were tears spilling from them.

"Weiss…" she whispered and quickly brushed at her cheeks with embarrassment. "I…I was dreaming."

"You don't say?" Weiss responded gently as she took the cloth from off her shoulder and dabbed at Ruby's eyes. "Nightmare?" Ruby took a shaky breath and nodded. "About Jaune?" Weiss asked, already knowing the answer. "You were calling his name."

When Ruby's eyes looked away, she could almost imagine herself five years ago when Ruby started to pull away from her.

So to ask the question again now, years later, was terrifying.

"Good thing I never did that in bed, huh?" Ruby said with a weak smile and Weiss glared at her, unamused. It was a small bit of contention between them once – Weiss' questions of Ruby's relationship with Jaune. It was only ever small jealousy and Ruby never once betrayed any feelings. Still, when Jaune suddenly became a name Ruby couldn't handle hearing – those worries clawed their way back into Weiss' subconscious.

"You're not funny."

Ruby sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "It was nothing."

"Stop that," Weiss demanded and Ruby snapped a look at her. "Stop…doing that," she softened. "I want to help you, Ruby. I've wanted to help you for years now but you always do that!" Weiss wasn't sure where this frustration was coming from. It hurt to see Ruby in pain and know that she couldn't help – know that Ruby wouldn't let her help. She didn't want to speak of all the things she dropped to be here for Ruby, but she couldn't help herself. Weiss had put her entire life on hold to take care of Ruby, to let Ruby stay here in Patch. She wasn't regretting it, she never would. That didn't make it hurt any less that Ruby still shut her out.

"You wouldn't understand." Ruby quieted and sunk into herself. An old habit, one Weiss loathed.

"You never gave me the chance!" She felt her voice break and saw Ruby flinch and all of Weiss' anger went away. Instead, she moved back to the couch and slid to her knees before reaching out to take Ruby's hand. "I'm sorry, I just…I've only ever wanted to help you, Ruby. You're right, I don't understand." Ruby looked at her and Weiss smiled as best she could. "I would like to, though."

Ruby closed her eyes and for a moment, Weiss thought she was going to shut out again. However, a heartbeat later – Ruby started speaking. "Do you remember what Ren said at Jaune's service?"

Weiss remembered every friend they buried. Some more vividly than others. Jaune, in particular, was one of the hardest.

"He spoke of Jaune's bravery and sacrifice. How…" Weiss took a breath as the memories hit her. "How he was a shield for us all. A hero who...who died protecting you."

Ruby winced at the close of the sentence and tears spilled through her closed eyes and rolled down her cheeks. "It's a lie." Ruby whispered, shaking her head. "He didn't die protecting me…he…he died because of me."

"Ruby, I'm sure –"

"No!" Ruby's shout made Weiss jump. "It's not an exaggeration, Weiss. I lost control. I was so scared and angry and tired and Salem was killing us and I just…I lost control." She hung her head, tears continuing to fall. A voice in the back of Weiss' head told her to comfort Ruby, but she couldn't move. She'd never been able to get this much out of Ruby when it came to what happened in that fight. The night that Salem fell would be told in history texts for millennium, but only one person left on Remnant knew what actually happened. "I wanted to hurt Salem. I wanted to end it…and…I let go of all my power and I burned her alive. I knew it would take all I had to finish her and I thought my head was going to explode but I did it…I finished her. I just," Ruby's face was empty, her eyes open and her cheeks wet with tears, but she looked frighteningly distance. "I forgot Jaune was up there and when I saw him again he was…" she bit back a sob and Weiss closed the distance between them.

"Ruby," was all she could say. She wasn't even sure if there was anything she could say but it felt impossible to let Ruby go.

"Weiss," Ruby said, and that was when Weiss realized that Ruby wasn't touching her. "I didn't mean to hurt him." She cried and Weiss pulled away to stroke Ruby's hair.

"I know that, Ruby. Nobody blames you – you were desperate and you did what you had to do. Jaune knew the risks of the war. We all did."

Finally, Ruby grabbed hold of Weiss and buried her face in Weiss' collar. There were tears seeping through her shirt and Weiss' knees were hurting from the hard floor – but she wasn't about to move.

This was something she'd needed to hear for years.


As the sun started to set, Weiss found herself in a much desired position on Ruby's couch. She was watching something on the screen but just barely – it was a mindless cooking show. The more important matter was the girl sitting with her. Ruby was paying much closer attention, but because she wasn't able to sit upright for long stretches, she'd decided to use Weiss' lap as a footrest.

It was both intimate and warm and Weiss was loving every second of it. Certainly her feelings were at the forefront and she fought with them seemingly every hour – but right now she didn't even worry about them. This was just her being here for someone she cared about and Weiss appreciated that Ruby was letting her be here.

They hadn't said much since Ruby's nightmare, but Weiss didn't feel like she'd been wrong by keeping silent. She definitely had some things to offer, but she didn't want to overwhelm Ruby with any of it. It was also not something she wanted to get into and ruin this moment. Ruby had cried and then calmed down. They ate lunch and settled in on the couch. After a couple of bathroom breaks, this was where they'd spent the day.

For Weiss, it was one of the better days she could remember. Even if that truth only made her realize just how hard she'd fallen again.

As the show ended, Ruby looked away from the screen and stared up at the ceiling. Her silence had been quite telling all day but she hadn't been distant. If Weiss spoke to her, she listened and when she needed something, she would ask. For Ruby it was just…sadness, but Weiss hadn't pushed because she could tell that Ruby was processing.

Weiss decided to try and help her along. "He stopped me, you know?" This grabbed Ruby's attention as a pair of silver eyes leveled on her curiously. "Jaune," his name felt strange on her tongue. "I wanted to go with you up the mountain but he wouldn't let me. Said I was too hurt after the fight with Emerald. He stopped Yang too. Jaune…he knew it would be dangerous. He was…" she took a deep breath and said something she'd held in for a long time. "He loved you."

Weiss wasn't sure what she expected. Ruby's reaction though was not anything she'd ever imagined. It was docile and relaxed – almost passive.

"He told me," she admitted and Weiss felt that familiar jealousy brewing again. Ruby and Jaune had a history – one that belonged to them and one that Weiss had never pried into. They'd never actually had any sort of romantic relationship, but Weiss knew that at some point, Jaune had developed feelings for her. Weiss stared at her for a long time through the silence until Ruby finally smiled. "Nothing happened."

"I know that," Weiss scoffed. "I always trusted you. I just…didn't know he actually declared it to you."

Ruby shrugged and started picking at the blanket hanging over the back of the couch. "I never really saw it coming. I didn't know he felt that way and when he told me he just said he wanted to get it out because he didn't the last time and I knew he meant…" Ruby sighed and bit her bottom lip. She didn't have to say the name and Weiss didn't need to hear it.

"What did you…" she started speaking before the thought processed and now she was standing on the edge of the cliff without a parachute to save her. Yes, once again, Weiss Schnee's big mouth hung her out to dry.

She flushed and hung her head when Ruby grinned at her. "I told him I felt the same." Weiss' head snapped up at her, only to be met with an even bigger smile. "We actually married in Port's den where we were staying in Vale. I think you were in the other room sipping tea with my dad."

Weiss scoffed and swatted Ruby's foot on her lap. "You're such a brat."

"Well what did you expect?" Ruby asked through her laugh. "I told him I was taken, which he already knew and understood. He just wanted me to know."

"So you've been carrying that around all these years?"

"That I murdered one of my best friends?"

"Ruby," she tried, but was cut short.

"Don't," Ruby's tone left no room for argument. "I know there were circumstances. I've played them out in my head a million times. There was nothing else – it was her or us and I made my move. Doesn't make it hurt any less."

Weiss couldn't stop the next sentence that came out of her mouth. It'd been building for so long. "I wish you had told me." Ruby looked up at her, a sadness in her eyes so deep that it felt endless. Weiss wondered if it would always be there – it certainly had been since that day. "I could have been there for you. I could have…"

"I didn't want anyone there for me, Weiss. I—I hated myself for a long time afterwards. Like why did I deserve to live and he didn't? He'd been fighting just as long as we had and for what? To die before he was able to live in the world we were fighting for? It wasn't fair."

"Life rarely is."

Ruby shook her head. "Then what's the point?"

Don't say it. There's a quote or some cheesy thing you heard Blake say from one of your books that would be far better in this situation. You keep your mouth shut Weiss Schnee or so help me…

"This isn't too bad." She said, squeezing Ruby's foot on her lap.

You're such a loser. Do better for her.

"Ruby," Weiss started again, not breaking eye contact. "I'm here for you. Not to…make you forget – to help you. I'm your personal aid right? That's what the nurses at the hospital said."

The silver eyes looking back at her were suddenly confused. "Yeah?"

"Right, so as your personal aid and the best personal aid you'll ever have, I want you to know that I'll be here for as long as you need. I…I know we have a…history." Ruby ducked her head and Weiss felt that familiar pang of gut wrenching angst sink deeper and deeper into her heart. She brushed it aside like the true emotionally stunted professional she'd become. "That doesn't change the fact that I care a great deal for you and I want to see you be happy. Whatever that might mean…I want you to be okay before I go back to Atlas."

Even if you being okay has nothing to do with me.

Ruby's sudden sniffle grabbed Weiss attention but the smile she saw on Ruby's face made her relax. She watched Ruby wipe at her eyes and nod before wiggling her toes against Weiss' hand. "You really are a great partner, Weiss. You've always been good to me."

"Well…not always." She said, thinking back to initiation day.

"You did save me from a Deathstalker."

Weiss shrugged. "Only for fear your sister might murder me if you died."

Ruby chuckled. "She would have, she mentioned it a few times after meeting you."

"I have no doubt."

It was quiet, but only for a moment when Ruby spoke up again. "What about you?" Weiss looked over inquisitively at Ruby who had an expectant look in her eyes. "Are you happy?"

I am right now.

That was what she wanted to say – it was the truth. The other answer, the one she felt obligated to give after Ruby's opening up was that no, she was not happy. She was not happy with any aspect of her lonely life in Atlas.

Unfortunately, it was her life and it was her responsibilities and her company and it was all she had.

That was the answer she felt obligated to give. That was the truth.

Fortunately, Ruby didn't specify, so she could give the easy answer and continue to make this night wonderful.

"I am."

Right now…

Chapter Text

This was it – this was how Weiss Schnee was going to die.

Not with a fight. Not heroically in battle with her enemies perishing alongside her. No, instead she was going to die in the front yard of Ruby's home with sweat covering every inch of her body.

Bent over, Weiss had her hands on her knees and was struggling not to throw up. The sun was beating down on her like fire and her legs felt like jelly.

It also didn't help that she could hear the muffled snickering of the girl who was trying to end her life so painfully.

Looking, up, beads of sweat dripped from Weiss' forehead and onto the grass below. She glared at Ruby through matted white hair and continued to pant for oxygen.

"You know," she started, her voice weak and raspy. "While I am glad that you're up and moving around so…swiftly – I really don't think it's fair for me to be competing with you in races."

"Aw," Ruby patted her head and while she did her tank top lifted up ever-so-slightly revealing a patch of toned skin. Weiss put her head back down. "I have a magical new hip, Weiss. That's the only reason I won the race."

"Oh good," Weiss sighed before finally standing upright. "That's what was missing from my humiliation – patronization."

Ruby shook her head with a smile. "I wasn't!"

"It's fine, Ruby." Weiss took an offered bottle of cold water and pressed it against her forehead. "I suppose I'm a bit out of shape from being behind a desk for so long."

That was the understatement of the century. She was miserably out of shape. So much wine and fatty dinners coupled with her pathetic exercises at the home gym were nothing compared to the rigorous training she went through while fighting in the war.

"Yeah," Ruby stretched her back and ran a hand up and down her side. "I've missed my workouts since this hip thing. I have a lot of work to do to get back into shape.

Weiss could only remember having seen Ruby's body the last month and see how defined and in shape she was. It took all of her willpower not to shove her onto the ground.

"You're so full of it." Weiss muttered under her breath.

"I'm what?"

Looking up, she was met with wide, confused eyes. "I said you are full of it."

"Full of what?"

"Shit, Ruby. You're full of shit." Weiss always kind of loved how Ruby would react to cursing. As if Weiss had just smacked a small child. "You're in tremendous shape – even after an extensive surgery. I am the one who is literally dying in your front yard."

"Aw Weiss!" Ruby screeched her name in that adorable way she had. "You did fine! My semblance is speed so of course I'm a little faster. I basically cheated."

This time, Weiss did push her. "Will you stop," she grabbed Ruby's shoulder as she stumbled and tousled her hair. "You're faster than me, Rose. Just accept your victory!"

Ruby frowned. "Fine! But you're still fast and super athletic and awesome."

Nobody ever worked harder to make Weiss fell good about herself than Ruby did. "If you say so." Weiss rolled her eyes – hoping the blush she felt didn't color her cheeks too much. "Should we go inside and make some food?"

"Yes please! I am starving!"

"Okay I'll—" her scroll started to buzz before she could finish and Weiss already knew who it was. The same call she'd been getting the last two days and the same one she'd been avoiding all day. "You go and wash up while I take this call and then we'll decide what to eat."

"Okay, at least get in the shade before you melt. You're like…really sweating." Ruby said as she turned and went inside.

Weiss glowered and wiped at her moist forehead before moving up the steps to the porch and ducking into the shade onto the swing.

Pulling out her scroll, she saw Violet's number on the screen and groaned.

She'd been gone too long and she knew it. It was her company and there were things that couldn't be done without her there. For the past two days, Weiss had put off answering her calls because she didn't want to go back. She was happy here and she hadn't felt like this in so long.

Still, a part of her knew she was living a false life out here in Patch. Being around Ruby was great, but eventually Ruby would want to start hunting again and if these workouts were any indication – that life had passed Weiss by years ago. It would take her months and months of rigorous training to even be in shape physically to hunt alongside Ruby. Beyond that, she hadn't held her rapier in just as long and hadn't fought with anything actually trying to kill her since Emerald Sustrai.

No, that life wasn't meant for her anymore. All she had was the Schnee Dust Company and a giant mansion with nobody in it that wasn't paid to be there.

That was her life – perhaps that was her place. She could go back knowing that she'd fixed things with Ruby. Maybe that would be enough. She could even take more time off and come visit. The wedding was this weekend and she'd stay for that, but Weiss knew she had to go back home.

Even if this felt more like home than she'd had in years. It was Ruby's home and she was merely a guest.

Resigning herself to this, Weiss answered her scroll.


"Weiss...I - I can't believe you'd say that to me. After everything we've been through."

Ruby looked completely devastated and Weiss knew that as soon as she said it, Ruby would react this way. "You said you wanted the truth."

Putting her drink down, Ruby ran a hand through her hair and stared at Weiss across the kitchen table. "I didn't realize the truth would be my partner betraying me."

"You're being dramatic!" Weiss rolled her eyes and stabbed a carrot with her fork. "You know as well as I do that it was never your style."

"I got better!" Ruby countered indignantly.

Still, Weiss knew the truth. "You did, but Ruby there's no way you could beat Velvet Scarlatina in a hand to hand fight."

"Oh and you think you could?"

Weiss could only shrug. "Certainly not now, but during the war I think I could hold my own. I did train for three months with Blake and Yang while you were off gallivanting across Menagerie with your uncle."

"I was on a personal journey of discovery!"

Weiss barked with laughter. "You two idiots were looking for Grimm Dragons in the mountains!"

"And we found one!" Weiss offered a blank expression. "We found the…remains of one." Weiss clicked her tongue. "Fine, we found a museum with an old guy who said he'd seen one, but it was a fun trip and we did manage to save a small village from a herd of Nevermore!"

"Yes well, while you were off doing that – I was busy learning how to deliver ready made knuckle sandwiches." Weiss dusted her fist off on her collar with a certainly smug look on her face.

Removing her napkin from her lap, Ruby pushed her chair back with a screech across the hardwood floor and stood up. "You think you can beat me in a fight?"

The logical part of Weiss' mind was telling her that this was heading down a very bad path. Yet, the playful part of her, the one that Ruby could bring out better than anyone else in Remnant, was stirring like mad.

"Ruby Rose, I think we both know that in my prime, I could take you down in three moves. Even with Crescent Rose."

Those silver eyes went wide with disbelief. Ruby moved quickly, stalking over to where Weiss was sitting. For a moment, Weiss was ready to be tackled or worse. Instead, Ruby stopped and picked up Weiss' cup of water and sniffed it.

"Thought for a second you might have snuck some of my harder stuff in there! Talking crazy like that – we both know you were never fast enough to keep up with me." She winked for good measure and Weiss wasn't about to go down without a fight.

Standing up, Weiss shrugged and picked up her glass – finishing off the water even as a small amount dribbled down her chin. "I'm sorry, I wouldn't want to beat up an old lady with a fragile hip." For good measure, Weiss patted Ruby's side where the new metal hip was and smirked.

Even though they both knew that her new hip was twice as durable as her old one.

Before she even turned around, Weiss knew it was coming.

With her back to Ruby, a pair of arms were suddenly around her waist and lifting her into the air.

Weiss let out a delightful squeal as she started kicking at the air and fighting to escape.

Ruby lifted her with such ease and Weiss practically melted at the strong arms suddenly all around her. She grabbed onto Ruby's firm forearms, trying (weakly) to pry them off, but to no avail.

A moment later, she was haphazardly dumped onto the couch and rolled onto her back to see Ruby leaning over her. She looked as boastful as she did beautiful and Weiss wanted to stare at her forever and also wipe that look off her face. She chose the latter and decided to see if she could still muster up a little of that old magic.

Concentrating all of her energy, Weiss waved her hand upward and in an instant, a glyph formed behind Ruby and smacked her right in the back. Suddenly, red hair was tumbling towards Weiss over the back of the couch and Ruby landed in her lap with a delighted squeal.

"Weiss!" She laughed. "I didn't know you could still do that!"

I didn't either. Was what Weiss wanted to say. However, words were failing her at an alarming rate because Ruby Rose was now lying on top of her.

The bodies were pressed together and Weiss could feel every bit of Ruby's firm muscles and soft curves.

Ruby lifted herself up just a bit and smiled down at Weiss – going so far as to reach up and tuck her red tipped hair behind her ear.

Weiss wanted to cry at how badly she wanted to kiss this beautiful girl.

If she did…what might happen? Would Ruby yell at her? Run from her? Be angry at her for taking advantage?

Taking advantage of what exactly? Ruby being on top of her? Ruby picking her up and playing around with her? Was Ruby flirting?

There were too many questions and as Weiss sat here with Ruby on her lap the harder it was to sort them all out. All she wanted to do was kiss her – like she had a thousand times before. The rational part of her mind told her that even if Ruby was disgusted or angered by the kiss, she was healthy enough now that she didn't need Weiss to take care of her. So it wasn't a risk of Ruby's well being.

Perhaps just her own if she was rejected.

Before Weiss could make any move, a soft jingle played through the living room and Ruby's eyes lit up. "Oh! I bet that's Yang! I told her to call before their flight! I can't believe they're coming back here to do the wedding again – she must really want to get married in Patch, right?"

The entire time Ruby spoke, she climbed off Weiss and the couch and left Weiss nearly trembling with desire.

Ruby answered her scroll with a cheerful hello, still on high from the earlier roughhousing. Meanwhile, Weiss was sat on the couch with shaky hands and a lump in her throat. She was not going to cry – not over the fact that she had one opportunity to kiss Ruby and she let it slip through her fingers.

No, she couldn't do it and she knew it. The wedding was happening in three days and Weiss had already told Violet she was coming back to Atlas – though she hadn't specified a time to give herself more options. Perhaps even that one miracle option that she would be asked to stay here.

Unfortunately, the sinking reality was that this was not where she belonged. She had promised Ruby that she would keep in touch – that they would remain in contact and the worst part was how happy Ruby seemed to be with that. It wasn't the same as what Weiss felt – it wasn't what Weiss had wanted when she told Ruby she would be leaving. She wanted Ruby to be sad and to tell her to stay. Instead, Ruby nodded and said she understood but she was glad that they'd fixed their friendship.

Friendship.

It didn't matter that they shared the bond of being partners and the history they'd both been through during the war. Yes, that was special and it carried a weight that no other relationship in Weiss' life would ever touch.

That just didn't matter because it wasn't enough. She wanted to be with Ruby every single day, in every way, for the rest of her life. She didn't want to leave the warmth of this silly little cabin and the laughter of her the girl she loved to return to an empty mansion and a lifeless job.

As Ruby continued to animatedly chat with her sister, Weiss picked up her own scroll on the coffee table and pulled up the message chain with Violet. It was a lot of Violet telling her various things that needed tending too and a few quick returns from Weiss telling her it could wait until after the wedding.

"Nah, I'm doing way better! Nearly killed poor Weiss on my run today, but she hung in there." Ruby gave her a wink and Weiss swore a knife dug into her chest. Still, she smiled as best she could and Ruby moved into the kitchen to continue her conversation.

Weiss quickly typed out a message to Violet.

Day after the wedding I will be returning. Schedule as many meetings as you can, we'll get started on moving forward with the impending mergers and things will go back to normal.

She stared at her message as Ruby said her goodbyes and let her finger hang over the send button. This would be the confirmation of her exit from Patch – one she'd told herself was inevitable but grew scarier with each passing day.

It wasn't just Ruby that kept Weiss from going back. It was the absolute disgust she felt and stepping into that mansion again. She had woken up from more than a few nightmares that she was back there and this time in Patch was a dream. Just a passing fancy she'd had that was some false escape from the actual reality.

Atlas was a future with no real happiness for her. There she had riches and power and a path set for her in gold.

This life, the one she'd been playing pretend in for the last few months was chaotic and directionless. She had no real job here, she had no real home and no purpose.

Yet, Patch had felt more like home in the last twelve weeks than Atlas had felt in the last six years.

"I'll give it a little longer, but as soon as the docs say I'm good to go I'm going to take more missions, Yang. I miss it."

There it was. Weiss knew that was inescapable. Ruby Rose was a huntress and nothing would deter her from that. It was a life they all led once, one that the rest of them had given up. Except Ruby – and if today had proven anything, it was that Weiss was years removed from it. She couldn't fight with Ruby. She couldn't hunt and travel and live that life. Not anymore.

That was Ruby's life. A life that didn't have any room for her in it.

Weiss knew she had to send that message – even as her finger shook over the button.

"Hey!" Ruby's voice was suddenly in her ear and Weiss bounced as Ruby landed on the couch beside her – scroll falling out of Weiss' hand onto the floor.

"Ruby!" Weiss scolded. "You scared me half to death!"

Ruby winced. "Sorry," she smiled to mend the wound, as she always did. "Yang says hello and is going to send you workout videos to help get you in shape."

Weiss rolled her eyes and picked up her scroll from the floor. "I don't need workout videos. I take care of myself just fine."

"Hey I'm not arguing; you still look great. Just not like wartime Weiss."

"Wartime Weiss also ate like a boarbatusk and once ripped the back of a combat jacket in half."

A suddenly playful smirk was on Ruby's face. "That's cause Wartime Weiss was buff." Ruby then squeezed Weiss' biceps and nodded. "You've still got it a little."

Weiss ripped her arm away and stood up. "Don't do that." She said and turned her back to Ruby. Suddenly the thought of Ruby touching her made everything hurt.

"I—I'm sorry," Ruby stood up behind her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, just tired." She lied. "We did a lot today; I think I'm going to call it a night."

"Oh," through the reflection of the window in front of her, Weiss could see Ruby reach out to touch her shoulder, only to stop just before and pull her hand away. "I was actually thinking…I'm pretty good now. If you want, I could take the couch and you could use my bed down here. Has to be better than the air mattress thing, right?"

It was a kind gesture. Not that Weiss was surprised – kind was who Ruby Rose was. That was the girl she fell in love with.

Which was why she had to be strong. "I'd rather sleep upstairs." She turned back, knowing it would do her no good to mean to Ruby. She did want to maintain the friendship, after all. "You may feel good, but your hip still needs the comfort of a proper mattress. Let's not get greedy."

Ruby frowned and Weiss hated it. "Are you sure? It's still kind of early. We could watch a movie or something?"

"I'm really tired, Ruby." She was exhausted. "We have a busy day tomorrow with Blake and Yang coming and all of that…it's just…tomorrow, all right?"

Ruby stood still for a moment that felt longer to Weiss than it probably was. Eventually, she nodded and then in the same breath, Weiss was suddenly wrapped up in a very warm hug.

She stood frozen in place for a moment, unsure of what was happening. Then Ruby whispered in her hear.

"Thank you, Weiss. For…all of this. For staying with me and taking care of me and helping me keep this life I have. I…I owe you a lot."

Closing her eyes, Weiss felt the heat burning as she wrapped her arms around Ruby's shoulders. "That's what best friends do." Ruby laughed softly against her ear.

Some part of Weiss felt like this moment was the one true moment she'd have to let Ruby go. It needed to have a moment – an acceptance. She might not be able to love Ruby the way she wanted to, the way she always would.

That didn't mean she had to lose Ruby – who would always be her first, best and most important friend.

Taking a step towards her, Weiss rose up to her tiptoes and pulled Ruby's head down just enough to kiss her forehead. She let her lips linger, closing her eyes and feeling the tears build in her eyes. When she broke away, Ruby was looking at her both confused and concerned. "I love you, Ruby."

I love you enough to be okay with not being in your life everyday. So long as your life is everything you want it to be. That will be enough for me.

"I—I love you too, Weiss." Ruby tried her best to smile, but she was clearly shaken by Weiss' sudden show of emotion. It wasn't a confession and Weiss had made sure it didn't come off as such. She was simply telling her best friend, her partner, that she loved her.

"Good," she nodded and took a step back. "Now, I'm going to go to bed and you should think about it as well. We'll get in another run before we go pick up the rest of team RWBY tomorrow, okay?"

Ruby nodded slowly, watching Weiss as she went up the stairs. "G'night, Weiss." She said finally and Weiss smiled down at her.

"Sleep well," she said before ascending the stairs and ducking into the room. She didn't want to close the door, not entirely because that would draw attention. She had made a habit of keeping the door open when Ruby was less capable of taking care of herself, but to shut it now would be too much. She'd already made a scene with the kiss.

That didn't stop the tears from slowly trickling down her cheeks as she readied herself to go to bed. Though she knew sleep would most likely not come for a while, she could play the part well enough to make Ruby believe she was okay.

She washed her face and brushed her teeth and changed clothes. She fired up the little machine she'd purchased to fill her mattress with air and if she had it her way this would be one of the last nights she spent on it.

Moving to the dresser, Weiss slowly took off her apple pendant necklace and went to lay it down. Only this time it slipped from her fingers and fell into a slightly open drawer.

Sighing, Weiss pulled the top drawer open just enough to reach inside. As she did, her fingers grasped a piece of paper and she pulled it out along with her necklace.

It was folded up quite nicely, a bit worn down and dusty to the touch. It had clearly been in there a while.

Curiosity suddenly took over and Weiss was fairly certain it was a bill or some kind of record from one of Ruby's hunts. If it was anything that looked private, she'd put it away immediately.

Unfolding the paper, she was met with nine familiar words in terribly familiar handwriting.

WEISS ASKED YOU TO MARRY HER! YOU SAID YES!

"She kept it."

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that she was supposed to ascend a mountain covered in fire and fight the most powerful force that Remnant had ever seen – this task in front of her the night before felt even scarier.

That was not an exaggeration, Winter Schnee scared the hell out of her and had since the day they first met.

Of course, that fear only quadrupled like a litter of adorable puppies when she started dating Winter's baby sister. Where Yang had been accepting and even a part of bringing them together – Winter was protective and cautious. She didn't want anyone hurting Weiss and though Ruby would never, she understood the reasons for trepidation.

Weiss had built sturdy emotional walls around herself – that had taken Ruby years to break them down. She had though, she'd put in the time and the effort to earn Weiss' trust and with that came all the good things she imagined.

All of this led her to this moment – in the middle of the night – standing outside of Winter's room.

The Last Castle was the name given to the final safe haven left for them during this war. It was solid and strong, with Salem's forces depleted and their own soldiers weary and broken, Ruby knew tomorrow would be the end. One way or another – this war would be over.

Deep down, she knew they would win. That optimism she'd spent her entire life trying to master was too strong now to give into the fear of losing. There was too much left for them all to do.

Including this, her reason for being here and for the tenth time, she shook herself out of her thoughts and tried to knock on the door.

Pushing her hair back and taking a deep breath, Ruby knocked three times and waited.

There was silence that met her and for a moment she considered knocking again. Though if Winter was ignoring her and she persisted she might end up on the right side of a butt kicking. It didn't matter if Ruby knew deep down that she could defeat Winter in a fight – she was still afraid.

Suddenly, the clipping of boots on concrete sounded and Ruby knew Winter was coming. She stood upright, as upright as she could. Stiff as a rod and chin up so high she could almost see the ceiling.

When the door opened, she jumped back just a bit and was met with a pair of icy blue eyes. "Ruby? What is it? Is Weiss all right?"

Ruby smiled, because of course that's what Winter would think of immediately. "She's fine, she was sleeping like a baby when I left her." Ruby took a step into Winter's room, only to be blocked off. "Oh," she stepped back quickly. "I uh…I'm sorry. Can I come in?"

Winter did not move. "It's very late, Ruby. If nothing is wrong with my sister I'd prefer that you tell me what the meaning of this is."

"Right," Ruby tucked her hands behind her back. "R—right, you wanna know why I'm here at your door in the middle of the night."

"Looking like a scared toddler, yes."

She closed her fists, begging her hands to stop shaking. "Of course." She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. "I was…hoping to speak with you about Weiss. Specifically, about Weiss and myself. About our…recoupling." Winter quirked a brow up. "Our relationship!" Ruby laughed at herself. "Recoupling, that's not even a word!"

"It is a word."

"It is?" Winter nodded. "Really?"

"Not at all in the context that you were using it, but recoupling is, in fact, a word."

She couldn't figure out context would that word even be used? She'd heard of decoupling before, but not recoupling.

"Ms. Rose," Winter raised her voice and Ruby jumped again. "Neither this night or myself are getting any younger."

Ruby nodded, silently willing herself to just come out and say it. "After tomorrow, after everything…I want to ask Weiss to marry me."

The silence she was met with was deafening and Ruby slowly drew her head up and opened her eyes to find Winter staring intensely at her. For a moment, Ruby wondered if she should fire up her aura just in case Winter decided to drive her rapier into her chest and throw the whole war down the drain to protect her baby sister. It was not something she would doubt coming from someone as protective as Winter Schnee.

Instead, after a lingering quiet, Winter took a step back and made room in the doorway. "Come in."

Ruby was not about to make Winter ask her twice.

The room Winter held as her own was dark and quiet – save for a few candles set up around a rather comfy looking couch where Ruby saw an open book lying face down on the cushions.

Winter had her back to Ruby, walking deeper into the room and stopping just before her desk. She turned in one motion, almost as if she were on command from a general, and Ruby stood even more tightly than she already had.

"You wish to marry my sister?" Ruby nodded. "You're very young. You both are."

"I'm twenty-two, Weiss is twenty-four. Plus, we've been through so much I'm pretty sure we both feel much older."

Winter did not seem impressed. "Marriage is not a passing fancy, Ruby. It is not some gesture you can offer on a whim to make something mean more. It is a commitment beyond anything you can imagine."

"I think I know a few things about commitment." Ruby said – feeling a bit offended. "I've spent years training my body and my mind to fight monsters and control powers nobody could actually teach me about. I've never abandoned the fight or my responsibilities."

"You do not have to sell me on your abilities to work hard."

"Then what do I have to sell you on?" Ruby lowered her voice. She didn't intend to be hostile, she was just so nervous. "I love Weiss and this is something I am serious about. I wouldn't have come to you if I wasn't."

Winter's defensive stance faltered as she dropped her hands to her side and lowered her head just enough for her hair to fall into her face. She moved and walked over to the couch where the book lay and sat down next to it. Ruby thought perhaps she would be offered to sit as well.

She was not.

"All her life, Weiss has been failed by the people she loved. By people that were supposed to love her." Winter still wouldn't look up at her, she seemed lost in her own head. "Our father never gave her a chance. He never cared too. She was a means to an end. An heir to the company he stole from our family in the first place. Our mother was weak – the only word to describe her. She buried herself in booze and I often believe she died not even remembering that either of us existed. Then I –" Winter hesitated and Ruby saw her grip the cushion of the couch so tightly she swore her fingers were going to break through. "I left her behind to get away from him. I left her alone with him and she still managed to find some way to be better than me, better than him." Winter looked up and met Ruby's eyes. "If you want to marry my sister then you need to understand the responsibility. Weiss has had enough people let her down. I see how she looks at you and I hear the way she speaks of you. She loves you and you being here tells me that those feelings are mutual. You want my blessing?" Ruby nodded, her hands shaking again even worse than before. "Then promise me that you will never abandon her."

It was the easiest response of her life. "I will never abandon Weiss."

Winter stood up in a flurry and soon she was right in Ruby's face, staring down at her severely. "Then don't you dare do anything stupid on that mountain tomorrow. You come back to her, you understand me?"

"I will, Winter. She…she's the most important person in the world to me."

The eldest Schnee daughter stepped away from Ruby's personal space and seemed to relax a little. Ruby thought for a moment that she even saw the ghost of a smile on her lips. "So, how do you plan on asking her? Weiss isn't really the romantic type. Finds it all a bit dramatic."

"Actually uhm…she…already asked me."

This grabbed Winter's attention. "I beg your pardon?"

Ruby grinned. "It was a while back, we were with everyone and having fun and she just…asked me. I'm not even sure if she was entirely serious but I said yes and even made a note of it." Ruby took out the piece of paper she'd kept for far too long in the deepest pocket of her backpack and showed it to Winter. "When things calm down I'm going to show it to her and ask her if her offer still stands."

Winter strode over to Ruby again, this time with a bit more reservation, and took the note from her. She read it over for a moment and frowned. "You have horrendous penmanship." Ruby's expression must have masterfully matched her disappointment. "Your uncle is not invited to the wedding."

"What?!"


"Might as well, you're still just as childish as ever."

Ruby sniffled and wiped at the tears building in her eyes. Crying over Weiss was something she thought she'd moved on from years ago. The frustration of fighting with her was always the worst because it was not at all how she wanted to think about her. Weiss represented the best memories of her life and for so long Ruby had worked to remember those and not how hard their end was.

Only now it felt like this fighting and this anger was all they'd have left between them. Perhaps it was the way their relationship was destined to be. It made sense really – given her history.

She slowed down on the dirt road, not wanting to drive off as she cleared up her blurry vision and refocused. She was almost home. Her scroll had buzzed at some point – most certainly Yang checking on her – but she'd answer it in the morning. Tonight wasn't about her and Weiss. None of this was. Yang and Blake deserved to have fun and enjoy the build up to their wedding. Ruby would come back when she'd figured out how to deal with all of this.

Once she reached her home, Ruby parked her truck at the top of the hill and shut off the engine. The silence around her made all the anxiety in her head start to fire up again as loudly as ever. She was mostly used to it, and when she was hunting it was easy to shut off.

Unfortunately, this pain in her hip had grown worse since her last mission and she'd been putting off accepting another one until it calmed down. Each morning she would wake up, hoping it would feel better. It had been three weeks now and it had only gotten worse.

After the wedding, whether she felt better or not, she'd take a mission and get away. Having to spend the next two weeks around Weiss would require a long one.

Opening her truck door, Ruby stepped out and jumped when she realized someone was sitting on the steps in front of her door.

"Uncle Qrow?" She cried, throwing her hands in the air. "What are you doing here?"

He slowly pushed up to his feet. "Since when do you lock this?"

"Since always!" He looked back at the door and then back to her. "You still haven't answered my question."

"I was in the neighborhood." Ruby frowned and moved up the stairs around him to open the door. She let him in after her and shed her coat while kicking the door shut behind her. She watched him immediately go to her kitchen and reach for the top cabinet above the stove.

"Really?" She followed him to the kitchen and watched him take out his flask and fill it with liquor. "You were waiting outside my door to get free booze?"

He grinned up at her. "No, I was waiting to talk to you because your sister messaged me that you split from her place without so much as a goodbye. I flew over to check on you and somehow beat you here." He then tipped up his flask and took a drink. "This is just a bonus."

"Did you…literally fly over here?" He gave her a long, silent look and that was all the answer she needed. "I keep thinking one day I'll unlock my bird form."

He chuckled before patting her head. "You will one day, dodo."

"I am not a dodo!" She swatted him away and followed him over to the couch. She sat down gently, not wanting to tweak her hip and let off any sign that she was in pain. Qrow was a blabbermouth and would tell her father and sister before he even left the front door.

He didn't seem to notice as he sat down next to her. "So I'm obligated to ask, are you okay?"

Ruby nodded, even though she was trying to remove Weiss' blue eyes from her mind. "I am, it was just kind of overwhelming, you know? To be around it all again. I've probably been hunting alone for too long." She laughed and it was almost believable.

If it had been anyone else, she probably would have gotten away with it. Except her Uncle Qrow knew all about lying. "You know, you're allowed to care about them."

"Pot and kettle." She said in kind – a phrase she'd said to him more than once.

"Mine is at least true, yours is just theory."

Ruby shook her head, suddenly frustrated. "It's not theory, Uncle Qrow. I have actual blood on my hands."

"Ruby,"

"No! I'm no good for them, any of them. I'm fine with the life I have and I'm fine with it being my own. I don't want to be around them." That was a lie, she wanted it more than anything. "I can't."

"You're not cursed, Ruby."

She cast her head down and felt the tears coming again. It was something she'd struggled with for years – this feeling that pain followed her. So many people she cared about had been hurt or killed. She wasn't fast enough to save Penny and Pyrrha. Her mother was taken before she could even build any true memories of her. Yang had lost her arm.

Then Jaune…that was the one that broke her. A death by her own "gift" – she murdered one of her best friends and everyone deemed to call her a hero.

They didn't understand, no one ever could. Qrow was the closest person she could find who might even slightly understand what it felt like to be a curse on those you love.

"You can't keep them out of your life forever, Ruby. I'm not going to tell you to move to Vale with Blake and Yang. I'm not going to tell you to rekindle your relationship with the ice queen and I'm not going to tell you to forget what happened. Just…don't be like me – this lonely life is awful and it's why I'm around so much. Your sister and your dad, you…the three of you gave me stability. I may still be a mess but I've got you and that's what gives me purpose. Hunting is fine for a distraction – but you need people too. Salem was another kind of curse on this world and we fought her. That's what we do…we fight."

Tears fell freely now; Ruby was too tired to fight them. Still, she nodded and felt the couch shift as Qrow moved closer. He wrapped an arm around her and drew her in for a hug. She sank into it and exhaled, feeling herself relax.

"How is the head of the Schnee Dust Company these days?"

Ruby shook her head. "Even more beautiful than I remembered."


"I mean of course I still care about you and miss you and all of that stuff! But we didn't work out in the romantic way and it was hard. But seeing you now, I missed you, Weiss – and I realized that the romantic stuff shouldn't get in the way of what we had before! We were partners first right? Partners and friends – that bond we had at Beacon can't be broken. That's what's important! I—is that okay?" Ruby begged herself to stop rambling. She'd spent a good five minutes in the bathroom at the restaurant practicing this very speech and not once did she ramble like a fool.

She had fully intended to see where Weiss stood on their relationship because of how much history there was between them. For Ruby, it was as simple as wanting to reconnect and rebuild. Whatever they'd had before was broken now – it wasn't something she wanted to go back to because the memories of it were so painful. She wasn't sure what she wanted it to be, but it certainly wasn't a confession of love and making out in her truck.

Okay, she had certainly thought about making out with Weiss, but friendship seemed like the best jumping off point.

"Of course," Weiss said and she did that cute little nod of hers while smiling tightly. It took a lot to bring to Weiss' true smile but this one was one Ruby had memorized from seeing it a thousand times over. Eventually she learned that it was a real smile, despite how forced it looked. Weiss just didn't play fast and loose with her brightest ones. "It would certainly make things easier for Blake and Yang and this wedding.

"Yes! Oh I'm so glad you understand! It's been so awkward and I thought we could just…push past it, but we needed to figure it out. I—I think I learned that from you," she grinned. "Planning and preparation always lead to success." Weiss pursed her lips together and nodded.

"I used to tell you in the library back at Beacon."

Ruby couldn't help but laugh – thrilled that Weiss remembered. "At least once a week," she beamed. "You were very persistent."

Suddenly there was a finger in her face. "And you were very good at procrastinating."

It was banter and it was playful and Ruby suddenly felt alive again. Being around Weiss like this, to have the tension and drama gone and to just…be themselves was so wonderful.

"I learned that from Yang." She lobbed back before starting the truck up to take them home. "Come on, let's get you back to my dad's and see if the rest of team RWBY wants to do anything fun tonight before wedding stuff starts tomorrow." Ruby clapped her hands – she felt so relieved. "We're finally all back together!"

We're going to be okay. She thought. She forced herself to believe it. We're fighters. I won't let my past take them from me.

"We should text ahead and make sure those two are properly clothed and not…touching one another." Weiss said and Ruby winced at the thought before her mind slowly flashed to images of the two of them touching one another.

One step at a time, Rose.

"Oh, good idea. You really are a genius, Weiss."


It wasn't supposed to go this way. She'd spent so much time convincing herself that this hip problem would work itself out – that her aura would melt away the pain. Then weeks turned into months and months suddenly became a year and it still hurt.

The first time she damaged her hip was fighting in Haven with her team. It was years ago and back then she would only feel it after sleeping on a hard surface and the pain would subside with a bit of movement and stretching.

Now, it was constant. Every morning she woke up in pain and every night she spent hours trying to find a good position to make sleeping tolerable. Still, she kept it to herself because she wanted to be able to handle it. Ruby knew that eventually she'd have to call and go to a doctor. She'd have to have it properly checked and maybe even fixed – but she didn't want to do it now. Not with Yang breathing down her neck about Vale and Weiss here trying to maintain some kind of solidity to this new relationship they'd started.

They had just barely become friends again – she didn't want to burden Weiss with more of her trauma.

Unfortunately, that curse that Qrow swore wasn't real had reared its ugly head again and Weiss found out about her injury.

What surprised Ruby most, was that Weiss hadn't seemed burdened at all. It would have been easy for Weiss to scold her and drive her to a hospital, or tattle to Yang about it – but she hadn't. Instead she had promised to help Ruby – no only in finding proper care, but letting her do it at her own pace.

That was one of the many things Ruby always adored about Weiss – she never treated her with kid gloves. For so long, everyone swore to protecting her innocence and trying to shield her from the realities of the world.

It was something that ended up hurting her more than helping when that innocent world was suddenly torn away from her. She watched people she loved die and be torn apart and she had no idea how to process it because all she'd ever known before was heroes winning battles and good always prevailing.

A hero couldn't learn to rise if they were never shown how to fall.

That's where Weiss was different. Weiss let Ruby take in the world as it was. She didn't try to protect her, she just promised to be there for her if she needed help.

Those were the memories of Weiss that Ruby wanted to keep. The times in the darkness of war and the pain of loss that they carried each other through. Weiss was so…neat because she never tried to make anything more or less than what it was. To Weiss, Ruby was never perfect or broken. She was just growing up and learning – they both were.

Ruby knew deep down that she'd messed up years ago when she shut Weiss out after Jaune died. It could have been easier – perhaps could have saved their relationship – if she'd just let Weiss help her. Except Ruby had no idea how to even process killing a loved one. In a lot of ways, she still hadn't processed it.

Enough time had simply passed that she could function.

Perhaps enough time could pass that Ruby might be able to find the courage to openly admit just how much she missed Weiss being in her life. The courage to be selfish enough to ask Weiss if she wanted to start over. Start fresh – free of war and tragedy and maybe find a way to be happy again.

As she finished drying off from a much needed shower, Ruby tied the towel on top of her head (another trick Weiss showed her years ago) and put on her red bathrobe before deciding that a cup of hot cocoa was extremely necessary. Chocolate was always a good quick fix for the agonizingly deep thoughts that didn't seem to want to let her rest.

Unfortunately, the moment she took the first step, Ruby knew something was wrong. Her hip flared up with pain that shot down her leg and climbed up her back. She screamed and tried to grab for the railing, but her arm wouldn't move properly and her balance gave out.

She tumbled quickly, the wooden stairs rapidly approaching. Just as she was about to face plant into them, something smashed against the side of her head and the world went dark.


"I'll go get your sister!" Weiss said as she frantically ran out of the bathroom and left Ruby sitting in a quickly draining tub, naked and confused.

She grabbed my boob, Ruby thought.

It was a confusing situation because everything had seemed so professional with Weiss. When she'd agreed to be Ruby's caretaker during her recovery, it had feel like stuffy old Weiss from Beacon. Everything was by the book and proper form. She hadn't even batted an eye when the nurses mentioned helping with bathing and dressing.

"I can handle it," Weiss had said. "It's all about making sure she's comfortable."

Ruby had appreciated the thought, and had only been mildly offended that her naked body no longer had the same affects it had on her years earlier when she once literally made Weiss' nose bleed when Weiss walked in on her doing pull ups without a shirt on.

Now it was just business as usual and proper form and Weiss 'Business' Schnee.

It was…until Weiss grabbed her boob and ran away like a scared baby Grimm.

"Uh," the door opened and Yang stepped inside. "What the heck was that?"

Ruby looked up at her sister who was grinning ear to ear. "I—I don't know. Is Weiss okay?"

Yang shrugged before helping Ruby to her feet and out of the tub. "I have no idea, she said she needed air and she's just standing outside with her head in her hands."


"Sleep well," Weiss said with a smile as she climbed up the stairs and left Ruby alone.

Exhaling, Ruby sat down on the couch and put her head in her hands. She was so confused. On the one hand, she felt like she was making a good decision - to let Weiss return to Atlas and to her own life felt as if it would be for the best. Since she'd been here, the only thing Weiss had done was take care of her. It was nice to have that support, but Weiss had so many responsibilities and even more so lately because she'd been on her scroll a lot the last few days.

On the other hand, she couldn't seem to stop herself from making advances towards her. It was as if years of forgotten (or suppressed) feelings had come surging back and all Ruby wanted to do was beg Weiss to stay and never leave her.

She had a brand new hip and perhaps a little perspective on asking for help and more importantly, she had her life back. Yet, the idea of going back to it seemed far emptier than it ever had before.

When she was at her lowest, being alone was easier. It's less work to be miserable when no one is around to see it. Now though, she didn't want that. She didn't want this tiny house all to herself. She didn't want to put her bed back upstairs and not have Weiss be there.

Still, she couldn't ask Weiss to stay and deep down, Ruby knew there was no place for her in Atlas. It was a lose/lose situation and she was stuck right in the middle of it.

She was stuck and even though she hated to be a bother, she needed someone to talk to.

Standing up, Ruby grabbed her scroll and went outside. She quietly shut the door behind her so it wouldn't make any noise to draw Weiss' attention and quickly redialed the most recent number.

It rang three times before a familiar voice answered.

"What's up, Ruby?"

Yang's voice immediately calmed her down. "Hey, I…you guys still awake?"

"Yeah?" Yang seemed immediately concerned. "We're staying up for a bit cause we'll probably sleep on the airship. What's up? We just talked like five minutes ago and you were all…perky."

Closing her eyes, Ruby followed her dad's advice and jumped in head first. "I'm in love with Weiss."

"She's in love with Weiss," Ruby heard Yang mumble away from the scroll – no doubt to Blake.

"Yang!"

"Sorry, she needs to know," Yang said with a laugh in her throat. "Ruby, I don't think you were ever not in love with Weiss. You just weren't very in love with yourself for a long time."

Ruby sighed and sat down on the swing. "I know…I had my reasons."

"I'm sure you did," Yang kept her voice soft. "I hope one day you'll tell me why."

She would, she absolutely would because Yang deserved to know. "I don't know what to do, Yang. I love her but…she's leaving soon and I can't ask her to stay."

"Why not?"

That was not the response she was expecting. "Because…her life is in Atlas. Her company and all of her responsibilities."

"Responsibilities she easily put aside – for you."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean; don't you think you owe it to her to tell her how you feel?"

Ruby wanted to tell Weiss, but she was so scared because they'd just reached a place where they were fully comfortable with one another again. They'd rebuilt what the war had torn down and Ruby didn't want to lose that again. Even if Weiss left, they were at a point where she could talk to her.

It felt too risky. "I just got her back, Yang."

"For what? So you two can be miserable in the same vicinity of one another."

"Yang what if –"

"What if, Ruby? What if's are the worst and you know it. I –" Yang sighed and Ruby knew a speech was coming. She just hoped it was a good one. "Do you remember how long it took Jaune to get over Pyrrha?"

Oh no

"Yang…"

"I'm not trying to make you upset, Ruby. I'm not trying to bring up bad memories – I just want you to think about how badly those two screwed that up. Nora told us how much Pyrrha loved Jaune and when he found out, he was devastated because he didn't know and they didn't have a chance. I know it's scary and I know that it's risky but trust me when I tell you that Weiss Schnee loves you. She put her entire life on hold for you. She risked so much just so you could have your happiness and you don't do that for just anybody. You don't do that for a friend, you don't do that for a partner. You do it for the person in life that you love the most. It's what Pyrrha would do for Jaune. It's what I would do for Blake. It's what Dad would do for Mom. It's love, Ruby. The real deal and I know it's scary but life's too short. It's cliché and lame but it's true."

Tears were flowing down Ruby's cheeks faster than she could wipe them away. Yang was right – life was short and she'd certainly been on the brink of losing her own multiple times. There were still so many questions.

"How could it even work, Yang? If she loves me too and we give it another shot – I don't have a place in Atlas and Weiss has so much there that I can't just ask her to move here with me. What would she do? Yang she's amazing but she's not in hunting shape and I don't even know if she'd want to hunt again. Of course I would help her get back into shape for it but why would she? She's the boss of a huge company and –"

"Ruby!" Yang called out with a laugh. "Calm down, Rubes. You're getting way ahead of yourself. You just need to tell her how you feel. If there's something there you two can figure it out together. You know from all our missions together that Weiss would be upset with you planning out the future without her input."

Weiss always did hate it when Ruby strategized without her.

"So I should…talk to her?"

"Yes," Ruby could almost feel Yang rolling her eyes. "Don't make this decision without her. You're too old for hidden feelings and all this nonsense. Tell her, be honest with her about all of it. Your fears and concerns and your feelings. I promise you there are mutual feelings – I just…you have to trust me and yourself. Trust her."

"Ruby," there was a rustling and suddenly another voice on the line. "I love you, Ruby." It was Blake. "You know how much I love you and Weiss and I am rooting for you two – but we already postponed our wedding once and I am not upset about it, but can you at least let us say our vows before you confess to Weiss? We will be there for both of you after but…just wait another forty-eight hours, please."

"O—okay," she answered, knowing that Blake would only accept one answer. "I won't ruin your wedding."

"Thank you, Ruby and I promise you'll be fine. Weiss is my best friend and believe me when I tell you that there is something there on her end too. It's just complicated."

"Wait, Weiss is your best friend?" Yang said away from the speaker.

"Oh here we go."


Ruby latched the chocker around her neck and let her hands fall to her side as she stared at herself in the mirror. The dress fit perfectly and she was glad to have gone strapless because they never made dresses that fit her shoulders well. Apparently dressmakers couldn't understand that some people swung giant sniper scythes around for a living.

Still, it was comfortable and looked good – even though she was never the best judge of these things.

It was kind of surreal, that her sister would be married in the next hour. Not that it would really change anything – Yang had essentially been tied to Blake for the last ten years. Though the fall of Beacon tore them apart for a little while, they always found a way back to each other.

There was a time when Ruby thought the same of herself and Weiss. That nothing could ever really keep them apart. Even after Beacon and wandering around with RNJR, Ruby never doubted that she'd find her way back to Weiss.

It wasn't until Jaune died at her hand that she decided it was time to break away. Though not because she wanted to, but because she feared she needed to.

That was such a dark time in her life and one that she'd only recently started to pull herself out of. It was not a coincidence that she found the strength to climb out when Weiss suddenly returned to her life. Weiss had always had that power over her – to make her drive to be better and work harder and believe in herself.

She'd gone from trying to push Weiss away to protect her, to being scared of Weiss leaving because of how she might fall again.

The truth was, she needed Weiss – but it wasn't even for support or to keep her head above water. It was the way Weiss made her feel when she woke up in the morning and knew Weiss was around. It was the comfort of sharing a meal together and the way they could sit in a room without talking and feel like they were somehow still connecting.

Weiss completed her, in every cheesy romance novel kind of way. The thought of losing that was scarier than any monster she'd fought and nightmare she'd had.

"Ruby?" A voice came from the door and it opened slightly. "Are you decent?"

Looking through the mirror, she saw Weiss' hair as she leaned in slightly through the door. "I am; you can come in." She then watched in awe as Weiss stepped in wearing a beautiful white dress. It tied up around her neck and had a pretty decent slit going down the right leg – exposing wonderful patches of skin that Ruby forced herself not to stare at.

Her hair was down, slightly curled and rolling down her shoulders like soft clouds.

"You look beautiful," it was Weiss that beat her to the compliment and Ruby felt her cheeks heating up. "I think your arms are the best fashion accessory you could possibly have." Weiss smiled at her and Ruby was fairly certain she could take on an army of Grimm right now – even in these awful shoes.

"You look beautiful too," she said and hated that she couldn't come up with anything cleverer to say.

You shine like the sun. You sparkle like the ocean. You glow like my sister's hair when she's angry.

"Thank you," Weiss said with a soft smile. "Oh, I almost forgot." Ruby watched as Weiss lifted her hand that had been behind her back and held out a thick and beautiful red rose. "This is for you." Ruby thought her heart might explode when Weiss reached up and gently tucked the rose stem into her hair and slid it through. Weiss was incredibly close to her now and even though they'd been so close the last few weeks with Weiss taking care of her, it was suddenly painfully different and Ruby was putting all of her energy into standing completely still. It was made even harder when Weiss tucked her hair behind her ear. "Ruby Rose, are you wearing earrings?"

Reaching up, Ruby touched the silver cross hanging from her ear and nodded. "Th—they were my moms. My dad gave them to me a few years ago."

Weiss smiled even more. "I never thought I'd see the day. I didn't even know your ears were pierced."

"I kinda did it just for these. They're the only pair I have and I only wear them on special occasions."

"So this is the first time you've worn them?" Weiss asked, clearly knowing the answer already.

Ruby chuckled. "It is."

"Well they're lovely. Your mother had good taste – even if I do wish I could ask her what the cloak was all about." There was nothing but compassion in ever word she spoke and though it was rare, Ruby always loved it when Weiss talked about her mom. It was something Ruby scarcely brought up, but something Weiss always handled so well. She never balked in talking about her and she'd always ask questions and compliment a woman she'd never actually have the chance to meet.

That thought always devastated Ruby. She just knew that her mom would love Weiss and that Weiss could probably use someone like Summer in her own life.

Before Beacon, Weiss had been mostly alone. She had Winter, but Winter was working hard enough to build her own life away from a terrible upbringing. Weiss had told Ruby all the horror stories of Jacques Schnee – man who would belittle her and, on occasion, physically and emotionally abuse her.

As much as she wished her own mother was alive for Weiss to meet, she wished that man was still alive so she could kick his pasty white butt all over Remnant.

Weiss didn't deserve that – nobody did but especially not Weiss who worked so hard and cared so much. Sure she could be bristly and tough but once she let you in, nobody cared more about people than she did.

"Hey?" Weiss' blue eyes drew Ruby's attention again. "Are you all right?"

Ruby swallowed the lump in her throat and internally apologized to Blake – but no moment would be better than this.

"I love you."

The hand lingering near Ruby's ear drew back. Weiss held it close to her chest and stared wide eyed. "I—I love you too?" She said hesitantly and Ruby remembered that they'd shared these sentiments a few nights earlier. Even though Ruby's meant so much more now. "Ruby, you're kind of scaring me. What's the—"

"Can I kiss you?"

"What?!"

Ruby felt herself bouncing on her feet. "In the movies it's like a big, dramatic thing – someone confesses that they love someone else and they go back and forth and then one person kisses the other and the music goes all crazy. Usually it's too loud and the camera spins around while they're kissing. But I know that you don't like people touching you without your permission – I mean you gave me permission but that was years ago and we broke up and I didn't want to make you uncomfortable and mmmfffff!"

Weiss cut her off with a kiss. She took Ruby's face into her hands and smashed their lips together with so much force that Ruby was afraid she might have cut her lip open. It didn't matter though, because Weiss drew back only for a second before diving in again with a softer touch.

Ruby couldn't control herself, she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Weiss' back to bring them together. She drew her hands up Weiss' back before losing them in her hair.

They'd kissed before, thousands of times, but this one felt so different. It was more of a relief, like finding your way back home after being lost for years. It was familiar, but exciting and uncertain. There was a part of Ruby that didn't want to end, but another part that wanted to pull back and see if Weiss felt it as much as she did.

It was Weiss that gave in first, she always did have more self-control. She broke the kiss and tried to catch her breath. Only then did Ruby realize that Weiss was grabbing both of her arms and squeezing them. Holding Ruby in place.

"You kissed me." Ruby said and Weiss could only nod as she stared at the floor and tried to collect herself. "You…you still have feelings for me?"

"Like you wouldn't believe," she said and finally she looked up at Ruby. "You said you didn't. You said you didn't have any feelings for me."

Ruby closed her eyes as the guilt settled in. "I think…I had convinced myself that I didn't. I spent so long trying to forget about you and tell myself that you were better off without me that I finally started to believe it. Weiss…I was in such a bad place when we broke up. I wouldn't listen to you or Yang or…anyone. I didn't know how to handle that life. After Jaune and after the war I just…I didn't want to take you down with me."

"You listen to me, Ruby Rose." Weiss touched under Ruby's chin and lifted her head. "I am your partner. I will always be your partner. I don't care what happens with either one of us, that will never change. If you need me, I will be there because I told you I'd be the best teammate and I meant it. You wouldn't drag me down. I'd follow you so we could climb out together."

Tears bloomed in Ruby's eyes and she nodded. "You're better with words than I am." Ruby took a deep breath. "What does this mean?" That was the scariest question imaginable.

However, Weiss once again smiled and suddenly everything felt okay. "Well, your smeared makeup tells me that my feelings are somewhat reciprocated." She said as she reached up and wiped the running mascara from Ruby's cheek. "I spent so long trying to talk myself out of this and then I found that stupid proposal your drunkenly wrote and apparently kept."

"You found that?" Ruby knew exactly where that note had been.

"It was an accident – I dropped my necklace in the drawer and found it." She wiped at her eyes. "It felt like a lifeline. I was desperate for something, for any sign that you hadn't let go of me. When I found that, I thought that you might still—"

Ruby smiled so hard she thought her cheeks might split. "I do, still." She shook her head. "Or I do…again, but different. Like when you get sick and you tell yourself that you'll appreciate being healthy so much more if you can just get over it. It's like that – like I'll appreciate you more now because I didn't have you for so long."

It was Weiss' turn to blush. "See, you're not that bad with words."

"What about your job though? My job? We live in two different places and lead two different lives."

"Ruby, I hate Atlas." Weiss ran a hand through her hair. "I've hated it for a long time and I hate my job, I hate the people I work with except Violet and she deserves so much more than to just be my assistant. I have been dreading going back so much that I considered shoving you down the stairs and breaking your other hip just so I could take care of you for longer!"

"Weiss!" Ruby gasped saw a shimmer in Weiss' eyes that made her start laughing. "So you…want to stay?"

"If you'll have me?" Weiss said hopefully.

"What will you do?"

This gave her pause, but only for a moment. "I—I don't know. I've considered breaking up the company and selling it out in pieces. The SDC has such a monopoly on dust trade – I could almost expand the marker just by imploding my own company." She watched the gears turn in Weiss' head. "It would honestly create more jobs because dust miners wouldn't be tied down to one company. They could outsource and expand all over Remnant."

"Weiss," Ruby drew her back in, reaching out and cupping her cheek. "You're getting all shop talky."

"Right, sorry – I think I'm trying to convince myself that this is a good idea."

"Is it?"

Weiss shrugged slightly. "I really don't know. I just know that I don't want to go back. I want to stay here in Patch and be with you. I've spent my whole life doing things for others. For my father or my sister or the leaders during the war. I never did anything for me and when I think about what I want – you are at the very top of the list."

"There's still so much we need to sort out. This seems so…sudden."

Weiss leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together. "Speak for yourself – I've been wanting to kiss you since the moment you walked in carrying pizza's in that flannel shirt."

Ruby couldn't help but giggle, she had noticed Weiss staring at her arms that day. "I knew you were a fan of that shirt."

"I'm a fan of these," she grabbed Ruby's arms and squeezed them again. "I'll ask again and you tell me, okay? Do you want me to stay?"

Carefully, Ruby moved them apart and saw Weiss stare at her with confusion. A moment later, she closed the distance and wrapped her arms around Weiss' neck to hug her. It was always her favorite form of intimacy with Weiss – the simple hugs that they shared when things were hard or scary or uncertain, they always brought her comfort.

When Weiss' arms found their way around her, Ruby answered. "I want you to stay."

Apparently, neither of them heard the door open. "Oh for the love of – really Ruby? You couldn't wait until after the wedding?"

She and Weiss both turned to see Blake, in her full wedding dress, standing in the doorway and glaring at them with her ears pressed down on her head.

"At least I have a dance partner now! You don't have to stick me with Sun!"

Blake rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Yang was never going to let you dance with Sun, she had this big master plan to stick you with Weiss in hopes that you two would do, well, exactly this."

"Yang and her ridiculous schemes." Weiss groaned and Ruby couldn't agree more.

"Whatever, it doesn't matter. Weiss, we're swapping you with Sun. You sit at the table with Ruby, you walk down the isle with Ruby, you dance with Ruby." Blake turned to leave. "Also I'm taking you up on that offer to pay for my honeymoon!" She said as she quickly jogged down the hallway – her dress sashaying around her feet as she went.

Through the accompanying silence, Ruby felt Weiss staring at her and quickly turned to stare back. "You know my sister is going to make a big deal out of this, right?"

"Oh please," Weiss sighed. "My sister is going to have a field day."

Taking a step back, Ruby held out her hand. Despite a somewhat uncertain future – the present was currently as good as it could possibly be and Ruby felt like that was enough for now. "Shall we?"

Weiss took her hand, only to then take her free hand and gently lick her thumb before touching it to Ruby's cheek. "You've made a mess of your makeup."

"Ew," Ruby cringed as she dragged Weiss out of the room. "You licked me."

"I didn't not lick you." Weiss countered. "I am simply keeping you presentable – no date of mine is going to have black smudges on her face."

"Maybe I want black smudges on my face."

"You would – you remember how to dance, right?"

Ruby winced. "Uh…well…oh! That dance you taught me! I remember that one." She stopped and put her hands up by her face and started hopping like a bunny. "The foxtrot! Just like this, right?!"

"The new hip has not improved your sense of humor."

Undeterred, Ruby hopped over and threw her arms around Weiss' neck. "There's still time to back out."

Weiss kissed her.