Motion Sickness Chapter 196
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“You’re also dating Miss Rose?” Glynda asked. “Aren’t you a lucky man.”
“That’s what everyone keeps telling me. Am I? With everything you know about me?"
"Well…" she didn't have a ready retort.
"Anyway, there just isn’t room in the dorm for everyone. I’ll be buying a house out at Patch and flying in to commute everyday.”
“Is your Mover rating that high?”
“Yeah. It is. And Ruby and Weiss both want kids and there’s no way that will fly in the dorms here.”
“So you’re keeping this job?”
“Looks like it. Ruby and Weiss both want me to so I don’t really have a choice.”
“It does have benefits.”
“They like how safe it is for me. Compared to the sort of work I could be doing it’s really incredibly safe. And the pay is good enough to raise our family, coupled with our savings.”
“But Ruby Rose needs a place to stay while you house shop?”
“An extra dorm, maybe? If one is free. I don’t want to impose and I can make other arrangements if I have to. I’d like her and Weiss to be close though while we shop and plan our wedding.”
“You’re engaged to them?”
“You didn’t mention any of this whenever I brought up team RWBY,” Glynda smirked.
“I… tend to keep that sort of thing private. It’s not something I run around bragging about.”
“But you probably could.”
“Look… I could also rip a person in half. Probably shouldn’t do that. Or brag about that just because I can. Probably shouldn’t brag about my relationships either.”
“Those are the same thing to you?”
“Well, they’re both something I probably shouldn’t do. Occasionally the situation merits it. I have two fiancés. That’s pretty slick. They’re both beautiful girls who want my children. They like me more than I like me. That’s nuts.”
Glynda laughed at me. “You poor, poor man. How will you survive a dual pregnancy?”
“Maybe keep my dorm open here…”
“No. You have to pay the piper,” she laughed some more. “I’m glad you have this. I was worried when you told me about your experiences that you had no good things tethering you to this world. I’m glad that isn’t the case. You lost so much. It’s good that you have some bright lights in your life to keep you strong and happy. It’s far too easy to give into despair without something like that. It did weigh on my mind. What would I really do to stop you if the worst should pass? But you have these other hooks pulling you to the world besides your work. I’m happy for you.”
“Thank you…” I trailed off. “I hope we never have to answer the question of stopping me. I hope it never comes to that. But I’m glad that you were preparing yourself. It makes me feel a little safer. That’s one of the perks of this job really. You. You probably stand the best chance of getting in my way.”
“But you don’t think I could stop you.”
“Maybe that will change. But no, I don’t think you can. That scares me.”
“I’ll get you the keys to another dorm next to yours. Best of luck with the house shopping and wedding.”
“Miss Rose’s presence won’t impede your work, will it?”
“I don’t think so. Our attempts to find a good antipsychotic are more likely to disrupt my work than Ruby is.”
“But that’s important and you should do it.”
“Yeah. It’s important and I really need to do it. But it’s hard. Have you ever been on that sort of medication?”
“No, not me. I was a little depressed after Beacon fell but not so much that I required medication.”
“Yeah. It’s difficult to describe exactly what those meds are like. They change you. They change the way you think and function. Every aspect of your life just becomes slightly twisted and wrong. The way you remember stuff and feel emotions and think in general just becomes slightly off. And that’s the goal. To find the right twist of yourself that causes you to be more stable. But it’s a fumbling and blind watchmaker. They have your genetics which can show them which meds might work. But you still have to try them and that takes months. It seriously takes a long time to go up on a given med, see if it works, and go back down. And your goal is just to survive and get through the day while that happens.”
“Well, nobody has reported any problems with your teaching ever since you started a new batch. So I don’t see that as a problem. I wish you the best of luck in finding the right medication combination.”
“Thank you again.”
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“You got an extra dorm room?” Ruby asked. “Who is going to want to sleep there? The other two will be snuggling up in this dorm and one other person will be left out in the cold.”
“He obviously planned for himself to be the odd one out,” Weiss interpreted.
“Come on. He meant for us to be together and for himself to be out in the cold.”
“That’s so like him. I want to pull my hair out.”
“It’s temporary,” I cut in. “Just while you guys find a house you like out in Patch.”
“So it’s true. You meant for you to be the one out,” Ruby glowered.
“Temporarily,” I reminded. “Come on. There just isn’t room here.”
“I don’t like it,” Ruby said.
“Neither do I,” Weiss agreed.
“Then find a house you like fast and buy all the furnishing you want.”
“What’s our budget look like for that?” Ruby asked.
“Something in the ballpark of two point five million,” Weiss informed her. “That leaves plenty for the honeymoon and wedding and a decent amount of savings. Jaune’s making something like two hundred thousand a year here.”
“Well that should be fine then. We’ll have our pick of houses. We can even build one.”
“If you want to wait that long,” Weiss interjected.
“Oh. That’s true. Jaune will insist on being out in the cold that whole time. He’s such a goofball.”
“I’m right here,” I pointed out.
“Ah? So you are,” Weiss observed. “But for how long?”
“Um…” I trailed. I looked between them.
“You dumb blonde.”
“What am I going to do? Kick one of you two out?”
“We could alternate,” Weiss proposed.
“Don’t be ridiculous. If I can’t alternate spooning you two, you have to see why I have to be the one out in the other dorm. That’s life as a guy. I just have to hold that ‘l’.”
“But I’m not wrong, am I? I have to be the one out because the alternative is one of you being the one out and that just won’t fly.”
“And why not?” Weiss pressed.
“You know why not. I can’t kick one of my ladies out into the cold. That’s not okay with me. I’m very much not alright with it. And you wouldn’t have me any other way. That’s just the way it goes. You girls get to be warm and cuddled up and I need to find a way to deal with it.”
“That’s not fair,” Ruby disagreed.
“That’s my job,” I fired right back. “I always automatically get the short straw. That’s the price I have to pay for being engaged to two fantastic girls. You two need to accept that. That’s about as fair as it gets.”
“Ugh. You make me want to hit you,” Weiss decided. “But you like it when I hit you.”
“You’re such a darling. Especially when you hit me. It’s like, wow- how can I even cope without you hitting me in that way you do? Hit me some more, Weiss. Just go to town on me. I can take it.”
“It means I’m mad at you and I want you to stop.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes it means ‘that was clever but I know what you did.’”
“We’ll have to find a house fast then. And set a date for the wedding. And Jaune and I need to get an engagement present for Weiss and Weiss and I need to get something for Jaune. Oh no, we need to get something for Jaune. What do we do, Weiss?”
“I was hoping you would have ideas…”
“He is hard to get things for because he’ll love it no matter what. What are we going to do?”
“Just get me any old thing and I’ll be happy that I’m being thought of at all?” I suggested.
“Shut up, Jaune. This is serious,” Ruby informed me gravely. “No matter what we do he’s going to treasure it.”
“That’s what I thought about you but we managed to pick something out. None of us like material things like jewelry,” Weiss pointed out. “But yes, he’s going to be impossible to shop for.”
“I’m literally so easy. Just get two rings each of which has your name or signature on it and call it good.”
“Ugh,” Ruby managed. “He’s awful.”
“He’s the worst,” Weiss agreed.
“And yet you two are marrying him. Me. Marrying me. Fucking wild.”
“Language,” Weiss chidded.
“Butt,” Ruby reminded. She thumbed her new necklace. She popped the little latch open and closed as she worried it. It clicked and clacked minutely. “Well I don’t know. I have no ideas about what to get for him. This is going to take some serious brain storming. And it can’t be his ring idea because that will just gratify him.”
“He’s seriously horrendous about it. Could you imagine if we actually have to resort to that idea?”
“What’s wrong with the ring idea?” I asked. “I’d love it.”
“You suggested it. That’s what’s wrong with it,” Ruby pointed at me with venom. “We can’t use it for sure now.”
“She’s right. We can’t. It could have worked but because you came up with it, it just won’t fly,” Weiss agreed.
“I don’t get it. Is this just one of those girl things?”
“Kinda,” Ruby informed me.
Weiss sighed. “We can’t let you win.”
“So it’s a game?”
“No,” Ruby informed me.
“A little,” Weiss said. But somehow they seemed in total agreement.
“This is super serious,” Ruby told me. “We have to make sure our idea is original and good.”
“But we can’t take your word because no matter what we get you, you will say you like it. And we can’t take any idea that comes from you because it has to come from us. So it’s kind of a game but it’s a fun and serious game. And you keep entrapping us more and more.”
“So if I come up with more suggestions-”
“Don’t you dare,” Weiss warned.
“Got it,” I said but I didn’t really at all. “I was just trying to make your lives easier.”
“We know. But that makes our job all the more difficult,” Ruby said. “You’d do anything to make our lives easier. You’d love a crummy gift and cherish it forever. So we have no way of knowing if our idea is any good.”
“And you coming up with suggestions just limits the things we can actually do because we have to be the ones to come up with it without your help. It’s honestly a little like why you think you always deserve the short straw. It comes from a gentlemanly place but it’s frustrating to deal with and we can’t even really be mad at you for it because it’s gentlemanly. Do you see?”
“A little better now. I’ll send you guys a list of suggestions.”
“Don’t!” Weiss ordered.
“No!” Ruby begged.
“I don’t know. I sort of like this strange power I have over you.”
“I’ll give you head if you don’t,” Ruby bargained.
“You’d do that anyway. You’re such a bottom. You do whatever I tell you in the bedroom.”
“Maybe I’ll take charge and be in control for once,” Ruby threatened. But she was threatening me with a good time.
“Sure. Yeah. Go ahead,” I agreed. “Whenever you want, sweetheart.”
Ruby’s gaze wavered then fell. “You butt.”
“Don’t bully Ruby. And don’t come up with any more suggestions. You basically eliminated our ability to choose rings as a gift at all,” Weiss informed me. “Just like that. In one fell swoop you demolished so many possibilities. Don’t make our lives any harder by trying to make our job any easier.”
“So if I just started listing jewelry items you would be screwed.”
“Seriously do not. I’ll give you head,” Weiss somehow made that sound threatening. “We’ll both give you head.”
“That would seriously be a good enough engagement gift,” I told them both. “Like honestly I don’t want anything and time spent with you would be priceless. Weiss could sing for me and I would be like, ‘this is enough.’ Ruby could look at me with those eyes and it would be a job done for you guys. I really don’t want anything more than what I already have.”
“We know that too!”
“That’s why you’re so hard to get a gift for,” Weiss explained. “No matter what we do it will be ‘good enough,’ and you know what? Maybe we want to do better than 'good enough.' But we have no way of knowing if it really is better than ‘good enough’ because you belong to us so completely that all you really want is a tandem blowjob or the sound of my voice or Ruby’s gorgeous eyes. We want it to be more special than that. We want it to be something you carry around and always feel to remind you of us. A blowjob just isn’t it. Or Ruby looking at you. Or listening to me sing just won’t cut it.”
“I think that depends on the blowjob. And therapy costs money but listening to you sing is priceless.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere. Don’t ‘aw’ that, Ruby. That’s how he gets you. He’s just trying to flatter me.”
“Yeah. I am,” I agreed. “And you can’t take that away from me. Because you’re my darling and I want to flatter you. I would be honored if you were flattered by me. It would be my special, privileged pleasure.”
“You’re such an asshole,” Weiss decided.
“It’s shameless how you flirt with me,” I swooned. “Insult me. Hit me. Abuse me. It only shows that you care.”
“I can’t win with you,” Weiss decreed. “No matter what I do you get to walk away from this the victor. I can’t reward you. I can’t punish you. There’s nothing to be done because you take it all in stride.”
“You could come give me a hug,” I suggested. “Let me scoop you up in my arms and kiss your neck.”
“I bet you would like that wouldn’t you. I bet you would just love that.”
“Yeah. I would. I really would. And so would you. Don’t rebel against your desires, Weiss. Would it really be so awful to get swept up into my arms and kissed around the ears.”
“You plague me. Just because I told you not to bully Ruby, you harass me instead.”
“But you’re so adorable when I trap you. It’s like when Ruby blushes. I want it so bad. It ought to be criminal how you enslave me. But no, you walk around as a totally free woman to tease and taunt and make me into a dog. That’s what is really not fair.”
“You give me that power over you. Of your own free will.”
“You give me this power over you. You could deny me. You could deny me and shoe me off. But you don’t. You like it.”
Weiss’s cheeks turned rosy and she looked at Ruby for assistance.
“What? I would also like to kiss your neck. I’d like to watch him eat you for lunch. Don’t expect me to bail you out. Tell us, Weiss.”
Weiss sighed resignedly.
“Look how red she got around her ears,” I pointed out to Ruby.
“Careful. You’ll melt her, Jaune,” Ruby agreed.
“I told him not to bully you and this is how you repay me? You’re supposed to have my back,” Weiss demanded.
“I do have your back. Just not how you want me to.”
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Motion Sickness 35
Jaune’s life goes bad in this one.
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We marched in Leonardo's empty stronghold, Qrow in front and with legs that were only getting stronger. And Oscar was in the back. We rolled up on Haven in force and fully expected things to go sideways. I hadn’t allowed my friends to go in thinking anything but. Anything else would only get somebody killed.
Not this time. Not my friends. Never again.
We pushed our way in through a set of double doors into a large atrium. It was huge and in Mistrali style. It had plants and art lining the walls all of which ran up to a set of double stairs around a single central statue.
“Why hello.” Lionheart greeted from the top of the stairs. He wasn’t waiting for us in his office like last time. Alarm bells went off in my head. My instincts screamed at me. Ruby walked beside me and her careful patience held me in check. Her own instincts had always been more on point than mine where non-Grimm were concerned. “Thank you for coming. There seems to be more of you than last time.”
“Yeah well you know what they say, the more the merrier,” Qrow inclined his head. “So what’s going on with the council.”
Lionheart appeared to be armed, for all that he was alone in a vast empty room. I suppose we were too.
A portal, same black and red swirling mass that I'd seen Yang and Weiss emerge from, opened beside Leonardo. Out started to step people. People I recognized.
"Raven…" Qrow murmured. "Jaune and Oz were right. It's a set up."
I witnessed the enemy line up. I started with the Scorpion, his eyes and mine met and he licked his lips. His gaze went past to Ruby and he glared, mechanical tail writhing in the air behind him. He looked fairly pissed. No doubt he wanted revenge for the missing appendage.
I went down until I stopped at a huntress with tattoos and claw-like weapons. I recognized her as Vernal from when we fought.
"You!" She recognized, looking at me. "You're that huntsman." She was the bandit from GaiLong with the wicked semblance. Or...
"Jaune?" Ruby asked from beside me, not recognizing the blue eyed girl.
"Vernal." I cleared the air, pieces fitting in my mind. "You're the spring maiden."
"You and I have unfinished business," she said, glowering. She'd have to get in line. I stared beyond her at Cinder. The two groups of hunters stood, sizing each other up in the middle of the atrium. Then out came Cinder's accomplices. Emerald and Mercury.
Raven herself never came through the portal. Instead it collapsed and Vernal's eyes flared with maiden power.
It seemed I indeed had unfinished business with two of the four maiden's if you counted Cinder.
"Steady Jaune," Ruby murmured. Easier said than done. I wanted to activate my semblance and fling myself at Cinder. But she had two lackyes beside her. They'd get in the way. If I wanted to do this right I'd need to be careful. If I wanted Cinder to die I had to play things straight.
Anything else and it would be my friends who suffered.
"You killed Pyrrha. I'm going to take you apart for that," I whispered.
"Who?" Cinder asked. "Oh the would-be maiden. You can hardly expect me to remember everyone but she does stand out to me."
I wanted to rush her. I wanted to charge my semblance and backflip up there and take her the fuck apart. Ruby reached out and grabbed me by my hand and my heart rate slowed down. I felt our aura's overlapped and the tension I felt in my heart eased slightly.
I remembered the words she gave me at the top of the Gold Saucer carnival ride. If I wanted to have that, if I wanted to be hers, I had to wait. I had to approach it like Yang had mentioned to me, slow and careful. I'd have my chance at Cinder's throat.
I heard a noise from behind me, the great double doors on the atrium closed as an enormous man shut them. "The Whitefang are setting up the charges. No one's getting in, an' no one's getting out."
"Leo I have to say I'm enormously disappointed in you." Oscar or maybe Ozpin said.
"That boy is Ozpin, he must be." Lionheart said.
"Ozpin is here?" Cinder asked.
"That's not a problem, is it?" Vernal interrogated.
"No. Leo, open the passageway to the vault." Lionheart pranced over and did something to the statue in the middle of the room. The dais began to descend, no guesses where it was heading.
"Ozpin?" The enormous man growled. "You're the boy from the train station." He growled and surged forward. Ruby got in his way and shot him. There was a whorl of petals and she blocked his approach.
I began to move forward as our two sides clashed in combat. The moment breaking like glass.
I approached Cinder, sprinting over the ground with a scream. She blocked with a summoned sword and we clashed again and again. She smiled at me, sharp calm in the face of my jagged anger. Vernal only stood off to the side.
I brought my sword down on her hard enough to crater the floor but she only stood firm, one sword turned sideways, her eye flaring up with maiden power.
“You better mean it,” she whispered.
“Boy do I.” I hit her with the diagonal forward slash where I whipped my blade and my hips into it and leaned back. She blocked it with a casual smirk.
"Stop messing with me!" I shouted.
"But it's so easy." She laughed. I charged a little and activated my semblance, bringing the sword to bear against her as wisps of blue flame clung to me.
"I'll show you," I growled.
We flew at each other, she was on a platform of red flames which carried her forward and I was propelled by my will with one arm stretched forward and the other back, holding the massive weight of Crocea Mors.
I surprised her by backflipping at her and I hit hard enough to send her sliding back. My strength doubled, my speed increased.
I struck out holding onto the mobility and muscle improvements.
She held out a palm and a torrent of flame shot at me but I skirted around it without traction and front-flipped at her bringing my sword down in a massive stroke.
I slammed her and her weapon shattered like, well, like glass. She fell back. Her aura flared as I bit deep into it. Then I finished the trick and Limit broke, a whirling of blue attacks stormed her as I went for the finishing touch and tried to take her down. I knocked her back into the statue hard enough that pieces of it shattered off her face.
She whipped to her feet, eyes narrowing as I stood stock still, flexing and charging my next semblance. She let out a scream and a torrent of air whipped over us all flinging us and her own allies about.
Without my semblance she put me on the back foot. She came at me spinning like a top with her glass weapons. She slashed at my stomach then tried to take my head off with a swing of her opaque weapon.
She summoned a series of molten arrows and the pieces stabbed my stomach and penetrated my aura hard enough to do some real damage to me. They were hot enough to leave welts behind where they struck.
She rolled over my back and dragged me down in a choke hold with her weapon around my neck. Getting choked hurts for those unaware. The blood in your head throbs in time with your heartbeat and it's a bunch of pressure on your neck.
The person doing the choking can control how much it hurts based on how hard they do the choke and you have one guess which decision she made about how to choke me out.
She made it hurt. A lot.
I kicked back at her and she dragged me to my knees. I managed to get my center of mass under my legs again and dropped my sword. I picked her up and slammed her into the statue. I did it again. And once more before she slid to the side and kicked off me, pushing me into the statue.
The back of my head rang like a bell against the hard stone.
When I got my bearings I slid baseball style and picked up my weapon. When I got back to my feet I faced another opponent.
I just had to trust that my friends had found their own opponents and we’d be fine. Together we can do this.
He gave me a leering grin. "Jaune, right?"
I said nothing, leveling my broadsword at him. I finished the last bit of charge and turned on Limit Breaker. It was faster to charge now than ever before. The result of practice or something more? I was unsure.
I wanted to get past him and fight Cinder again but she was descending in the elevator on a flux of wind and magic. Her eyes met mine and she gave me a beautiful smile, only marred by her half face. She blew me a kiss, promising vengeance.
Black kicked at me and pushed stepped towards me but I had my semblance activated and outmaneuvered him by hovering.
He tried to breach my space again but I timed him out with a tremendous swing of Crocea Mors. He blocked it with his legs but the blow sent him reeling. He stumbled back a few steps.
He reengaged me more cautiously the second time, without the arrogant smirk.
I struck Mercury back with my sword with a falling aerial attack. It was devastating and it rocked him on his feet.
We clashed again and he bounced off my massive blade. I rolled my wrists and another flying kick was met with the edge of my sword. He kicked off of it and tried to force me into the ground.
I was nimble with my semblance, though. I just rolled away from the pressure.
I spent my semblance while in mid air and hit him with all five hits of Cross Slash. He blocked them all arms and feet dancing about but I could tell the experience wasn't comfortable. I saw him wince, especially at the tremendous last hit. He tried to punish me but I hadn't over extended. It was all safe pressure and I punished his own jump kick by bringing my sword all the way around my body as I glid through the air.
Even without my semblance I had grown fast. Not fast enough to escape another snapping round kick. Then another from the opposite side. He'd penetrated my range and was seeing fit to make it hurt like hell.
He kneed me in the face and I managed to stumble back.
He tried to approach me and I swiped upwards. The move caught him and launched him airborne. I did it again and launched him a little higher. The tip of my blade tearing into him.
I bench pressed Mercury, juggling him with the massive sword. I hit the ground and swept the blade upwards, knocking him into the air again and I bench pressed him one more time.
It felt like a bad matchup for him and I seemed unstoppable. He backed off when he finally hit the ground and shot at me with his legs. I had range on him and I was brutally strong. Even without my semblance I was fast enough to combo him.
I countered with a blade-beam. We found ourselves staring the other down, our projectiles canceling out.
I heard Nora cry out somewhere to my side but I couldn't let my focus waiver. I had to have faith. Ruby let out a grunt behind me as I continued to glare at Black. When I last got a peek, Ruby was engaging the tall man with Yang and Qrow. I heard him let out a bellow as he fought my friend and girlfriend and mentor.
I supposed that left Weiss, Nora, and Ren fighting the Scorpion and Lionheart with Oscar. Oscar being one of the weaker members of our own squad I felt a flash of concern for him but I could ill afford the distractions.
I stood still charging my semblance, my aura flaring as I approached the tipping point. Black got the memo. He had to approach me or I would become an even bigger threat.
I'd kill him too. Black deserved it for what he put Yang through.
He came at me pushing off the ground with a flare of his boots. He kicked at me high which I deflected, then he tried low and I punished him with a rising aerieal attack. I side-flipped at him bringing my sword around my body in a massive swing. He was forced to block it and I had him trapped beneath me.
I backflipped in place, threatening Mercury the entire time I was airborne. When I hit the tile I reached out and grabbed him where he was blocking, picked him up off his feet and slammed him into the ground.
He leapt back up to his feet but I was already airborne and threatening another devastating landing aerial attack the entire time. He watched me with a wary look in his eyes, he knew how dangerous my falling attacks could be and while he wasn't quite scared he was over respecting me.
I hit the ground once more and reached out and slammed him into the ground again. If he thought he could just block against me, he'd have another thing coming.
I backflipped in place and was seriously going to do it to him a third time in a row when he boost-kicked off the ground and hit me in the face.
I fell back but caught myself on the tile, flipping back to my feet.
Cinder was back up the vault shaft, Vernal wasn't with her, and she had what I could only suppose was the Relic in her hand. A dangerous sly smile on her face as she flexed a hand and blue power flared around her one remaining eye.
A sniper shot struck Cinder's hand and the relic went flying. Her gaze snapped to Ruby who must have fired the shot. Her eye flared with power. Vernal was dead, then. I wanted to stand between her and Ruby but I held my position against Black.
Leonardo Lionheart picked the lamp up.
"Jaune stop him!" Ruby called out, she had her eyes on the prize. I was closest to acquiring the relic. The relic was what mattered.
I disengaged Black, hitting him with a triple sword swing, the first two attacks holding him in place before the last, blinding fast, flung him away.
"I got him!" Yang called out, communicating with me that Black wouldn't be free to harass one of my friends in the back.
I activated my semblance and chased Lionheart. I slashed at his shield-like weapon with Crocea Mors.
I chased him down the school corridors, the swings of my sword tore up the hallways as I sprinted after him. He fired dust back at me which I narrowly dodged again and again. I hovered in place and threw a blade beam at him but he blocked with his shield.
He retreated down a narrow passageway away from the rest of the fighting, the relic still in his free hand.
I kicked him back and threw him into a room and inside there was this glowing, hovering, Grimm, thing. It had long sweeping tentacles beneath a large orb. Before I could spend my semblance on either it or Lionheart a woman's voice boomed from it. The voice was quiet and calm but it seemed to come from inside my head as well as the orb. I collapsed as my forehead pulsed with pain.
"Now what's this?" I heard the voice say. I felt it too within my head. It was a woman’s voice and I heard it all the time.
I recognized it intimately. I knelt on the ground in front of the Grimm and looked up through my throbbing eyes.
"What have you brought me, Leo?"
"M-m-m…" I stuttered out. "Mother!?"
I'd heard that voice in my dreams and beyond. In my worst nightmares that voice terrorized me. I recalled a thousand horrible dreams as I crouched on the floor of that room.
"Oh you must be Merlot's." The voice purred. I could see her face through the orb. "And haven't you done well for yourself. For us. Hush now. Don't speak."
The voice in my mind commanded me and I bit down on my tongue rather than utter a word. Blood welled up from it in my mouth. I couldn't fight the compulsion. No matter how hard I tried to speak or move I couldn't. I had to obey the thing on the other side of the Grimm. I tried to scream out, the agony in my head far worse than the middling pain coming from my mouth yet all I managed was a quiet moan.
"We expected you to fail. I expected you to be thrown out by Ozma when he discovered you didn't even have aura. Yet here you are," Salem's voice went on. "You will bring the relic to me." She decided.
"But your grace…" Lionheart tried, he'd regained his footing. The Grimm thing lashed out with one of its tentacles and ripped his throat out. Blood poured out over the room as Lionheart choked on nothing but blood and his own gore.
"Bring me the relic, child. My child. Long have you and your sisters filled my dreams. Jaune Arc, was it? Yes, I know your name."
I could still say nothing. Blood poured over my lips as I trembled beneath the thing. She was reaching out through it and controlling me so thoroughly I managed not a single other thought.
Obey me. The compulsion demanded. It shook something loose inside my mind and I thought I was going to go mad. I reached out and picked up the relic. With trembling hands which slowly grew smoother I strapped it to my waist by a belt.
"Jaune!" It was Nora at the door. "Ruby did something to Cinder, she and Emerald are-" she broke off. She looked down and saw me with Lionheart's corpse, kneeling before the tentacled Grimm. Ren stood behind her, shocked looks on both their faces.
"Kill her," the voice purred from the orb and in my mind. "And the boy."
I couldn't help it. I whipped to my feet and struck against Nora. I spent Limit with intent to kill. I caught her by surprise and blew her off her feet and through the adjacent wall.
Ren cried out in fear. He drew his blades against me but I swept them aside. I charged Limit between our clashes and soon I would have it again. We collided and I laughed madly in his face. Soon I could kill these two and be on my way to Mother. Nora lept from the crater I'd put her into and tried to bring her hammer down on me.
"Jaune why are you doing this?!" Nora screamed. "What's going on?!" I slashed at her with the long edge of Crocea Mors. She ducked and backed off, spinning away from me with her hammer in hand.
I choked on blood and my own mangled tongue worked in my mouth. Parts of it were hanging on by threads of flesh. "Because Mother told me to," I cried out, voice warbled by my destroyed tongue. The words were indecipherable as they exited me. I couldn't stop my movements anymore than I could stop the sun in the sky.
It was something ingrained in me. Deep in my bones. I slashed at her twice before I chased after Ren. I knew he would give me the greater trouble. I brought the sword down on him in a massive overhead slash which slammed him into the ground. Nora's hammer pinwheeled and caught me center of mass and threw me into a wall but she was holding herself back.
I could feel her holding herself back. She clobbered me again and once more. Around the shoulders and chest. She was still not giving it her all, though. If she kept that up I'd win and kill them both.
She had to stop me.
She had to kill me.
"Jaune what did that thing do to you?"
I gargled blood and babbled out something unintelligible. I laughed and tried to scream at the same time. I was sure I was frothing at the mouth besides. All I could think of, all I could focus on, was the desire to kill my friends and if they kept holding back I'd succeed.
I hit Nora like a ton of bricks. I slashed into her aura and bit deep. I cut at her again with a horizontal slash that flung her to the side.
"No!" Ren cried out.
He slashed at me and rained bullets as he jumped over me. I caught one of his blades and hit him like I was swinging a home run. It caught him in the chest and I saw his aura flare up.
"That Grimm must have done something to him. Jaune you have to snap out of it! How do we help him?!"
I knew all their weaknesses. I slashed a golf swing at Ren which nearly put him through the ceiling and ripped a long cut in the paper walls besides.
I was all over him with my sword. Swinging away and chipping at his defenses. I'd break through eventually and then… and then… and then…
I muttered madly under the pressure I felt in my thoughts. They were going to die. They must die.
"I don't know," Ren grunted under my assault. "Jaune please," he begged.
I brought my sword down on him tearing up the thin papery walls. He blocked again and again but he wasn't fighting to kill me like I was him. Instead he tried to disarm and subdue me but I backed off. Warding with the long blade, I swept it at his face.
I flew at him like I was a monster and slashed low then high then back and forth in front of my body. I brought the blade all the way around my body and down on him, trying to crush him if I couldn't slice him.
Nora came at me and I caught the handle of her hammer by my free hand and threw her into Ren. They collided and went tumbling down, over the headmaster's office desk.
Nora jumped up at me but I met her in the air with a massive helmsplitter and knocked her through a few walls with an expenditure of Limit Break Braver.
I stood in the middle of the room then. Just charging and waiting for Ren to rise. He came at me low, having seen what kept happening to Nora when she went high but I knew all his moves and never let him get close enough to grab me. I side-flipped and slashed him into a wall. Then I hammered him into it again with a giant swing.
Nora came at me again and I ducked under the swing. She reversed it and tried to catch me up in it but I blocked with the side flat of my blade and swept down towards her fingers. It forced her to back off and I climb-hazard her up onto the next floor and slammed her back down again. My blade flashed and sung through the air as I pounded her.
Ren came at me screaming and I kept him off me. I was fighting to kill him and he was fighting just to stay alive. It showed. I backflipped over him, jumped off one of the narrow walls and Limit Break Cross Slashed my friend in the back as I hung upside down in the passageway.
I hung in place as I delivered the terrifying attack. There was nothing he could do being caught up in it but grunt under the weight of the blows.
One. A slash to the side. Two. An ‘x’ across the legs. Three. A blow to his ribs. Four. A horizontal slice across his chest. Five. The last of the kanji hung in the air.
Each of the five hits struck true. The second to last one shattered his aura and the last one cut him so deeply at the stomach I knew he would die. I severed his spine and he nearly fell into two gasping halves.
"No!" Nora called out. "Jaune how could you?!" She kept at me with tears in her eyes. She brought the hammer down on me and I bounced off the floor. I slashed at her while she stood guard over Ren and relentlessly whaled on her while all she could do is block.
Some hits got through. She couldn't block everything and, even with Ren dying behind her, she still wasn't fighting back to kill me.
I reared back, took aim and thrust forward with Crocea Mors. It slid through her crackling pink aura and blood welled up in a fountain as I ran her through.
She softly touched my face as I speared her all the way to the base.
I slid my sword into her small body all the way to the hilt and with a last shudder, she died.
She fell back onto Ren and they passed together.
Like that I was the last member of team JNPR.
I wanted to claw my eyes out, I wanted to scream, all I could do was start walking in the direction I knew, knew, Salem to be. I snuck out of the school through the entrance we'd come in on that day we met Lionheart, tearing my way through the walls. I snuck away from the rest of my friends.
She'd looked so much like the blonde woman I knew to be my Mother… but her skin was ghostly white like Grimm bone and her eyes were red instead of pale blue.
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Summary: Ruby has wonderous, fantastical dreams. And in all of them, by her side is a steady and supportive presence of white and blue that she keeps finding herself reaching for.
However, despite what she may believe, that person may be closer than she thinks.
White Rose Week Day 5: Reincarnation
Sometimes Ruby had fantastical dreams, like something from a fairy tale.
They took place in a world of magic and mayhem, of people with strange powers that could do practically anything. It appeared to be a world of wonder, but there was darkness as well.
It seemed like she was some kind of hero, cloaked in red, hunting and killing creatures of darkness and blood. Sometimes, she fought other people, too, with manic grins and fire and dripping poison. A figure larger than life with veins of black and a condescending smile.
Others fought by her side, standing against the darkness as well. Out of all of them, three of them stood out the most. A golden fire that punched through any obstacle. Their own personal shadow, flitting in and out of the battlefield to take out unaware targets. A steadying presence of white and blue, supporting her and the others, wherever help was needed.
Their enemies were strong, but together they were stronger.
In her dreams, she cut through everything in her path. Sometimes with a scythe, sometimes with a gun. Almost always with these three by her side. She never gave up and kept moving forward, no matter how much she wanted to crumble and fall, no matter how much it hurt as people, her allies, fell around her.
Ruby never quite knew what to make of them.
As a child, the dreams had frightened her. Sure, her being a hero and fighting monsters was cool, but there was so much sorrow, so much pain. It was unbearable.
She always ran to her sister Yang whenever one of these dreams overwhelmed her. Ruby thought about going to her parents and waking them, but it just didn't...feel right. So she'd climb into Yang's bed and let her older sister sooth her.
Especially when Yang whispered that she had dreams, too, and Ruby realized why the golden brawler in her dreams had been so familiar.
But recently, something about the dreams changed.
Ruby woke up once more with tears in her eyes. She heaved a shuddering breath before wiping the tears away and sitting up. Even then, it didn't stop the yawning gap that spread throughout her chest.
For some reason, the dreams now filled her with a deep yearning. Like something was missing. She'd woken a few times with her hand outstretched, reaching for something or someone, but she had no idea what it could be.
Ruby groaned and flopped back down. She was getting sick of this.
However, she couldn't stop her grin as soft barking preceded Zwei hopping up onto her bed. "Aw, did you sense I needed a friend?" She asked, smushing his cute dog face and giggling when he licked her cheek.
As she pet him, Ruby went over her options.
Part of her wanted to go to Yang over her worries, but at the same time, if she was being honest…
Things changed after Ruby met Yang's new girlfriend, Blake.
She wasn't sure why that would've changed anything. Blake was super nice, if a bit quiet compared to Yang's usual tastes, and always seemed to have a book on hand. Ruby really liked her and she'd never seen Yang as happy as she was now. Blake seemed to ground her a lot and she helped Ruby reign her in before things got too wild when they went out together.
Ruby was really happy for Yang.
Maybe she was just lonely. She mused on the thought as she finally got up to feed Zwei, who happily followed her to the kitchen.
It was true that it had been forever since she'd been on a date. She hadn't really done that since she and Penny had decided they were better off as friends back in high school, and though they usually would hang out, Penny had been caught up in a robotics project with her club lately.
And Yang hadn't been spending much time in their shared apartment lately, frequently out with Blake when she didn't have class or work.
That was another reason she didn't want to bring this up to Yang.
"One week." She promised herself. "I'll give it one more week to get better before I tell Yang."
Though even if she did figure this out, Ruby had a funny feeling that whatever she was reaching for was getting closer and closer.
Ruby groaned and thumped her head on the wall.
Not only had she had another dream last night, but this just had to be the week where the owner of Yang's usual gym would be on a trip.
Given that Yang currently fought MMA tournaments to earn her part of the rent, she had to keep in shape. And Ruby had fallen for her puppy eyes when her sister had asked if she could use her student pass to gain access to the university's recreation center.
Ruby knew for a fact that the community college Yang went to had a perfectly good gym for her to use, but apparently, the padding here was better for her and Nora to spar on.
Ruby sighed and slumped against the wall. Without her pass, she had to wait for Yang in the rec's lobby and waiting area, but at least Yang had agreed to give Ruby rides to and from the university in exchange for its usage. And Ruby preferred a ride on Bumblebee over the bus any day.
Besides, she didn't really use the rec center much. She'd always been more into running cross-country as well as track and field sports when it came to athletics, and she could run pretty much wherever she wanted.
She was debating whether or not to get out her headphones with how long Yang was taking when she heard the clash of metal upon metal.
Perking up, she followed the noise to one of the windows overlooking a training room. At the sight below, her eyes began to sparkle. "Whoa."
Two fencers faced off against each other in full regalia. Ruby vaguely noted a cluster of similarly dressed people standing to the side, but just like them, her eyes were trained on the fighters.
They jabbed and deflected each other's foils, dancing back and forth as they tried to get the better of each other and score a point. They were moving a lot more quickly than most fencers she'd seen before. There was something mesmerizing about their fight, but the one to Ruby's right drew her attention the most.
There was something in their stance, their movements that seemed almost familiar. As if she'd seen them before. After Ruby's chosen fencer scored a point, they briefly withdrew and as they shook off the round and readied themself for the next, Ruby knew she'd seen these fighting forms before, but how—
Ruby jerked away from the window, and turned to see her sister emerging from the closest locker room accompanied by Nora.
"Hey, have a good spar?" Ruby asked.
"It was awesome!" Nora gushed, her gestures as big as her grin. "Especially since the loser has to pay for pancakes for supper!"
"Ugh, I don't even know why I took that bet." Yang rolled her eyes. "Besides, don't you like Ren's pancakes the most?"
"Well, Ren got called in to teach yoga tonight, so he can't make me some. You," she pokes Yang in the chest, "on the other hand, have promised me some. And after that workout, I could use the carbs."
"I thought you were supposed to stock up on carbs before a workout."
"And I need them afterward to help recover from the workout."
"Whatever." Yang huffed. "Hey, Ruby, I'll pay for you, too. Wanna come with?"
"Sure!" Ruby responded now that she knew it was safe. Everyone in their friend group had learned not to get in between Yang and Nora's bantering, especially when a bet was in the works.
Yang turned to her again as they walked out of the recreation center. "By the way, what were you looking at? You seemed pretty intense."
Ruby thought back to the fencer that had caught her eye, but now she couldn't tell what had caused that sense of familiarity. "Don't worry about it."
"Oh ho, got an eye on someone!" If Ruby had been looking at her sister and friend, instead of stuck in her own thoughts, she would've noticed how the others had suddenly tensed.
"Don't be ridiculous; I just saw something kinda neat." Ruby brushed it off and instead chose to focus on what sort of pancakes she'd get instead.
Nora and Yang relaxed.
That night, for the first time, Ruby noticed that the person in white who was always by her side jabbed a rapier the same way the fencer did in order to release a burst of magic.
When she awoke, she decided that it must be a coincidence.
"Hey, I'm back!" Jaune scrambled to put his hat back on as he emerged from the break room.
Ruby laughed. It was still early afternoon, in that lull between the lunch rush and the after school/work crowd, so she hadn't been too worried about him being late. "Too busy talking to your girlfriend?" She teased.
Jaune's face erupted in red, which only confirmed her suspicions.
Pyrrha was actually super sweet, so Ruby was glad that Jaune had found someone who truly appreciated him. Jaune was nice, if sometimes a bit fumbling yet over-the-top in his affections, but Pyrrha seemed charmed by it. Ruby wasn't sure if they were officially together yet, but it was clear to anyone that they thought the world of each other.
Part of Ruby still wondered where exactly that goddess of athletics had emerged from, but apparently Yang had met her through MMA tourneys and decided she and Jaune would be a good fit. Ruby cared for Jaune, he was a beloved friend and a comrade at their jobs at the coffee shop, but she never would've thought of pairing the two together.
But somehow, it seemed to be working out.
"You going on your break?" Jaune asked, looking way too invested in the checkout's buttons, but Ruby decided to let it slide.
"Yep!" And Ruby flounced off to eat her lunch and check her scroll.
It was as she was getting to the best part of the meal, dessert, that she could hear the commotion through the door.
"Excuse me! This is not what I ordered!"
Ruby immediately tensed up.
Jaune had gained a lot of confidence since he and Pyrrha had met — he had finally started standing up for himself — but he still hated heated confrontations.
As the irate customer's voice rose higher and higher and Jaune's responding stammers became apparent, Ruby began to gather her things. She didn't want to cut her break short, but she didn't want to leave Jaune all alone when the back people wouldn't come out to help—
"What's that supposed to mean? Do you even hear how ridiculous you're being?" A new voice cut through the ruckus.
It was silent for a moment, but as Ruby leaned towards the door, she heard the conversation resume, only much quieter now and with the newcomer taking the lead. She could no longer hear the words being said, just the sharp tone of the newcomer and Jaune's more relaxed and neutral voice.
With things seeming to calm down, Ruby decided that she could probably finish her break before going out.
When Ruby left the break room, everything seemed to be back to normal. Some regulars were sitting at tables with their drinks and treats, others tapped at their laptops, no one was in line, and it didn't look as if anything had happened.
"Everything okay?" She asked tentatively as she joined him at the counter.
Jaune jolted at her words and swung to face her. "Huh?" He certainly didn't look like the anxious mess he usually was when there was a bad customer.
Ruby glanced around. "I heard…"
"Oh!" Realization lit up his eyes. "Yeah, sorry for worrying you. Luckily, someone who was in line came to my defense."
"Really?" Ruby couldn't think of anyone who'd stand up for a random barista.
"Yeah. Really cut that lady down to size and sent her packing." Jaune smiled. "I tried to offer her a free drink, but she told me she didn't need a reward for being a decent person."
"Huh." Whoever this person was, she sounded pretty great.
"Seems like that certainly hasn't changed." Jaune muttered to himself.
Ruby tilted her head in question. She wasn't entirely sure what he meant by that. It was almost like he knew that person, but in that case—
Jaune blinked rapidly. "Ah!" He smacked his forehead. "That was the perfect opportunity…"
Ruby blinked back at him. "Opportunity for what?"
"Don't worry about it." He chuckled sheepishly, slumping over the counter. "Let's just say Yang's going to be annoyed with me."
Ruby wasn't sure what Yang had to do with anything, but she shrugged it off and got back to work.
In her dreams, she heard someone calling her name.
"Thank you for joining me." Blake said as she slid into her seat.
"No problem! I don't mind getting to know my sis's girlfriend," Ruby replied, her smile widening into a grin, "especially if she's paying for it."
Blake snorts, but she still smiles back at Ruby.
In truth, Ruby was glad to have some one-on-one time with Blake. She wanted to get to know her better seeing as it really seemed like she'd be sticking around for a while.
Besides, something about Blake felt incredibly familiar. Despite how Ruby usually got nervous around new people, she'd always been at ease with Blake from the start.
"So what've you been working on in class?" Ruby leaned forward, because Blake always had some of the best stories due to all her quirky classmates. Not that Ruby could really talk, but Blake's friends were in an entirely different field.
"From my major or minor?" Blake smirked like the cat who caught the canary. It was a fair question though as the people in her environmental science major were a different brand of crazy from her literature minor.
"Environmental science!" Ruby swung her feet in anticipation, because that group was the fun kind of crazy.
"Okay, so Sun—"
The two of them spent lunch swapping stories about their classes and hobbies. Ruby really liked how attentive Blake was when she talked, and she could see how Yang found the other girl's steady nature appealing.
And before Ruby even knew it, lunch was over and Blake was getting up to settle the bill.
"I'll be right behind you!" Ruby waved her on as she struggled to get a textbook she'd gotten out to make a point back into her bag.
Blake chuckled. "Okay, don't take too long." She said as she headed to the register.
Ruby frowned down at her bag. It'd been easy enough to get the book out, so you'd think it'd be easy to get it back in.
Her efforts were interrupted by a squeal at the next table over.
"There's a new video on Snow White's channel!" A girl gushed to her friend.
"New song or…" Her companion pulled out their scroll and flipped through the apps.
The girl shook her head. "Looks like she's singing something from an opera this time."
"I heard she was actually training to sing opera." The video finally must have come up as they both leaned over it. Ruby could hear the sound of a piano playing an introduction even from where she was standing. "I wonder why she quit and decided to make a video channel instead."
"Her real name is right there. If I had a dad like hers, I'd rebel by doing the complete opposite, too."
"Wait, that guy?! They're related?! Is that why a decent chunk of her songs boil down to telling someone to go f—"
Ruby tuned them out and listened to the singer instead. Whoever it was had a voice that was clear and strong, easily hitting the heights without wavering for a second. She wasn't singing in English, but it sounded almost sad to Ruby, a lament. She didn't know much about the technicalities of music, but she knew that this person was good.
The music drew Ruby in, leaving her immobile. Part of it was the music itself, but she couldn't stand to think of this person being sad. She didn't want them to sound as heartbroken as they did in this song. It wasn't right.
Ruby blinked out of her stupor to see Blake in front of her, a worried frown gracing her face. She glanced down and saw that her book had finally slipped between the other items in her bag and she quickly zipped it up.
"Sorry 'bout that!" Ruby laughed as she swung her bag over her shoulder.
"Are...are you okay?" A wrinkle was forming between Blake's eyebrows. "You looked…"
"Yeah." Ruby reassured her, rapidly waving her hand. "My mind just kinda poofed out of here for a second."
Slowly, Blake relaxed and smiled. "Okay, if you're sure…"
"You know, I may be dating your sister, but I think of you as my friend, too." Blake said quietly as they began to walk out. "You can talk to me if you need to."
A tension in Ruby eased. "I will. Thanks."
Blake led the way out, but Ruby couldn't help but glance over at the other table one more time. The song had ended at some point as their scrolls were back on the table, but Ruby heard one last snippet of conversation as she turned forward again.
"In one of her Q&A's, she once mentioned that a good amount of her songs were actually based on her dreams…"
In her own dreams that night, there were no monsters. There was no fighting. There wasn't even that prickly feeling that accompanied the few calm dreams like this that sometimes happened, as if she was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
No, instead there was a white glow and cool fingers running through her hair. Distantly, she heard the sound of singing.
She couldn't tell what the words were but she knew it was a lullaby.
And she slept soundly through the night.
Ruby wanted to die.
Not really but it was a close thing as her head thunked on the table and she groaned.
She loved building stuff, she really did. Getting her hands dirty as she fiddled with gears, valves, pistons, wires, and pieces of metal gave her the greatest joy in her life. It was what she wanted to do with her life and she wanted to know even more about it.
But admittedly, the reading for it was drier than a desert.
"Will you put me out of my misery?" Ruby whined. "Or at least discover a way to beam the info right into my brain?"
Penny giggled as she looked up from her typing. "Apologies, Ruby, but I do not think that is humanly possible. And I have no wish to do you harm."
Ruby pouted as she turned her head towards her. "A real friend would do it," she grumbled.
"I highly doubt that."
Ruby sighed and sat up. "I know you're focused more on robotics, but are you classes as dull as mine?"
"I think the issue is that you are a more hands-on learner than that your lessons are dull." Penny pointed out. "But no, I find everything fascinating." Her eyes shone and she smiled as she turned back to her paper, finishing it off with a last few taps.
Ruby hid her smile behind her hand as she propped her book back up.
She was happy her friend got to pursue something she was so passionate about. Even if things hadn't worked out romantically between them, Penny was still one of her best friends and she wanted the best for her.
"I believe I shall go get some snacks. Would you like anything, Ruby?" Penny pushed her laptop back as she moved to get up.
"Cookies, please!" Ruby brightened at the thought.
Penny chuckled. "Of course." She walked towards the vending machines.
With Penny gone, Ruby no longer had a convenient distraction. Sure, the two of them had come to the library in hopes of getting their work done so they wouldn't have much over the upcoming weekend, but with only her readings left to do, Ruby's brain was spiralling.
She needed something to concentrate on!
"I'm sorry I can't talk louder; I'm in the library." A quiet voice said on the other side of the bookshelf behind her.
Ruby's ears perked up. She leaned back in her seat, though part of her knew it was wrong to listen to others' conversations. At the same time, she didn't want to jump back into her readings just yet.
So eavesdropping it was.
"Yes, I did hear that."
The voice sounded familiar to Ruby, though she didn't know why. Clear and feminine, Ruby could just imagine that the speaker matched it. Her posh tone was not something she'd ever been around before, so there was no reason why she'd know it. That thought made her chest squeeze a bit but she didn't know why.
Whoever was on the other side of the line seemed upset by something, just by the way they made the speaker pause before responding.
"I...I cannot speak for Father or Mother. However, I know that I will be there. I know how hard you've worked for this." She paused again, before hesitantly saying. "I...I am very proud of you, Whitley."
The tone suggested that the words were unfamiliar to her, but also that she was trying to say more. There was something quite endearing about that, and Ruby wanted to peek through the shelves to see who this was, to figure out why there was this unfamiliar familiarity.
"Ah!" The speaker stopped and Ruby could hear them pull something from the shelves. "I found the book I was looking for. Anyway, I promise you I will be there tonight…"
Her voice faded away as the speaker returned to wherever she'd come from. Ruby was surprised by the disappointment she felt.
Part of her wanted to go after the voice, but that would just be creepy. After all, she didn't even know who it was, and she'd just been eavesdropping on her. That wasn't exactly a good basis for getting to know someone.
What would she even say? "Hey, I know this is weird, but you sound familiar despite us never talking before?"
That probably wouldn't work out well.
"Ruby! I have obtained the cookies!" Penny held them up in triumph along with a bag of her favorite chips.
"Ah! Thank you so much!" The perfect distraction from her distraction. Ruby reached out to take her cookies. However, she gaped as Penny pulled them up higher than her grasping fingers.
"Apologies, Ruby, but you can only have them if you finish your reading." Her beaming smile belied the cruelty in her words.
Ruby just stared at her in horror before letting her head meet the table again. "Killing me would've been preferable.
Penny just laughed.
Her dream that night was strange. She was all alone in a grand manor of white and blue. But unlike the comforting presence of the same colors that was usually by her side, this place was cold and lonely and the ostentatious decor felt like a pressure trying to squish her down.
She hated it and didn't get much sleep.
Ruby's hands were shaking as she clasped them together. It was all she could do to keep her breathing steady, because she felt like she was on the edge of a panic attack.
It hadn't been a good day. She hadn't expected it to be after the restless night she'd had, and she was grateful that she only had one class and then her practical scheduled for Fridays.
She thought if she could get through those two things, then everything would be fine. She wasn't scheduled for work until Monday, so she'd have the entire weekend to rest and recover from the terrible night of sleep.
She should have been home free.
She hadn't expected something like this to happen.
"Hey." Yang gently touched her shoulder, prompting Ruby to take a gulp of air. "Hey," she said more firmly, "don't worry. We'll find him, okay?"
"Okay." Ruby knew she sounded weak even as she tried to smile at her sister.
Ruby had been taking Zwei for a walk through the near-by park. She'd admittedly been zoning out a bit, looking forward to taking a nap before maybe ordering a pizza for supper. But she should have been paying more attention. She should have known better.
If Zwei saw something that interested him, he'd be after it like a shot.
One moment, he'd been there, and the next, his leash had been yanked out of Ruby's slack hand as he'd gone off chasing something.
Ruby hadn't been too concerned at first. It wasn't the first time this had happened nor would it probably be the last.
The problem was, after following in the direction he'd gone, she couldn't find Zwei anywhere.
She looked high and low, all over the park. She asked everyone she came across whether they'd seen him. She even checked the surrounding streets for any sign.
After her third sweep through the park, Ruby had called Yang for help, just barely holding back tears.
Now, hours later, Zwei was still nowhere to be found and it was taking everything in her not to break down.
"What-what if someone dognapped him?" Ruby asked as Yang guided her in the direction of their apartment. Yang insisted that they stop for the day as the sun was beginning to set and they were both exhausted. "Or he ended up in the street and-and—"
"That's not what happened." Yang stopped her train of thought. "Zwei's smarter than both of us. He knows better than that."
"B-but he also knows to try not to leave us behind, and…" Ruby sniffed and rubbed at her eyes, her shoulders curling in on themselves. "I just—I'm sorry, Yang."
"Hey, it's okay." Yang soothed, rubbing her back. "It's gonna be okay. It's not your fault."
"Listen, I know you're kinda tired today and that's why you feel like crap, but this isn't your fault." She winced. "Actually, I'm pretty sure it was my day to walk him. So if anything, it's my fault."
Ruby let out a watery breath. "No, it's—"
"Nope. Not letting this fall on you." Yang flicked her forehead, making Ruby jolt back. Then her expression softened and she rubbed the back of her neck. "Listen, Ruby, I know I haven't been home much lately…"
"It's fine." Ruby dug through her pockets for a tissue to avoid looking at Yang. "I know you and Blake are still getting to know each other. It's fine."
"Well, that's not the only thing." Yang opened the door to their apartment complex and bit her lip. "The truth is—"
The sisters startled and swung around at the barking.
"Zwei!" Ruby burst out crying as she ran to hug him. "You're okay!" He licked at her tears as she cuddled him closer.
"How…" She heard Yang come up behind her.
"Miss Rose. Miss Xiao Long." They looked up to see their building manager squinting at them.
"Ah, where did you find him, Mr. Shopkeep?" Ruby couldn't help but ask, wiping away her tears. She stood up, not letting Zwei go for a second.
"A young lady found him and followed the address on his collar to bring him home," he replied, letting go of the other end of Zwei's leash. "I told her you weren't home and she wanted to wait, but after seeing that Zwei knew me, she agreed to leave him with me."
"Oh, did you catch her name?" Ruby wanted to thank her. This had been some of the worst few hours of her life in recent memory. Whoever this person was, she had practically saved her right now.
"Ah, I forgot to." Mr. Shopkeep frowned and scratched his nose. "But I don't think she'd be too hard to miss if you tried looking for her. I don't think too many people have pure white hair at your age."
"White...hair?" Ruby's head tilted at that, but Yang seemed to perk up at that.
"White hair. Did she have pale skin and light blue eyes?" She hurriedly asked. At his nod, she stopped for a moment, before continuing with, "Did she have a scar on her face?"
He blinked. "Yes, she did. Over her left eye."
"Do you know her?" Ruby turned to her sister.
"Sorta." Yang rubbed her face. "Thanks, Mr. Shopkeep. Let us know if you ever need help." She called as she grabbed Ruby's arm and led her to their apartment.
"So, do you know who helped?" Ruby asked again once their pizza was finally ordered and she'd settled on the couch with Zwei in her lap.
"This is what I was trying to tell you." Yang sighed before flopping into an armchair. "The truth is, since shortly after we started dating, I've been helping Blake find someone. A-an old friend, I guess you could say."
Ruby connected the dots. "This was her?" She leaned forward.
"Yeah, sure sounds like it," Yang groaned. "It's just from everything we've been able to gather, she's so close! Like, everytime it seems like we've found her or about to meet her, she manages to slip through our grasp." She waved her hand flippantly. "It's like the universe is trying to taunt me."
Ruby thought of how Yang managed to track down her birth mother back when she was still in high school just to give her a piece of her mind. Considering how hard that had been, with Raven constantly moving to avoid the law, she could see how frustrating this would be, especially as this mystery person appeared to live in the exact same city.
"Do you want my help?" Ruby asked.
Yang sighed, but she seemed to actually think it over. "Maybe. We'll see." She snorted. "If anyone could find her, it'd probably be you."
Ruby wasn't sure what the basis of that assessment was, but if the time came, she'd gladly help find this girl.
At the very least, she wanted to thank her for bringing Zwei back home.
That night, the presence of white and blue laughed at her as it skated past her, but their words were as clear as a bell.
"Thank me later!"
Ruby was glad that she'd gotten a decent night's sleep, but she knew that she was going to have to talk to Yang about her dreams. This week had just been the worst with them being even stranger than normal.
However, she wasn't sure how she was supposed to bring it up.
That's why she needed some sugar and caffeine, the lifeblood of a college student.
Ruby scowled. Yang had used up the last of the coffee, so now she had to leave the apartment to get some. Sure, it meant she could go to her favorite place that also had some awesome cookies, but it was still more effort than she wanted to give due to the draining events of the previous day.
Maybe it was because the previous day was still on her mind, or maybe her dreams had primed her to notice, but a flash of white caught her eye.
Ruby automatically turned towards it, and it was like seeing the dawn after stumbling through the night.
Long white hair pulled up into an off-centered ponytail.
A light blue pea coat.
A startlingly red scarf wrapped around a pale neck.
Somehow, Ruby knew this was it.
"Hey! Excuse me!" She ran after the girl. "Uh, I know this might sound weird, but did you find and return a dog yesterday?"
The other girl paused before she turned around, saying, "Yes, but how…"
Light blue met silver.
And suddenly, this was no stranger.
This was Weiss.
The one whose eyes she had met in the Emerald Forest, cementing her as her partner. The one who had fought and cried and bled by her side as they fought against Grimm, against the corrupted White Fang, against Salem and her forces.
The one who'd always been there for her and tried to catch her when she fell.
The one who really had been the best partner she ever had.
Weiss's eyes widened. "Ruby?
"Weiss!" Ruby couldn't stop herself from pulling her into a hug. For a second, she worried that this might be weird since it's their first meeting in this life, but luckily, Weiss readily returned the hug.
"Is it weird to say I missed you, even if I didn't remember until now?" Weiss asked.
"I get that, too." Ruby chuckled as she drew back, but she kept her arm wrapped around her as she gently traced Weiss's scar. "How did you get this this time?" After all, there weren't any Grimm anymore.
Weiss huffed. "It's a long story."
"I've got time. Are you busy?" She really hoped she wasn't.
"I was heading back to the library to work on homework, but," Weiss smirked at Ruby's pout, "I suppose I can put work off this once."
"Wow, Weiss putting aside work for little old me? I can't believe it!" Ruby laughed.
Weiss rolled her eyes, but she still slipped her hand into Ruby's and tugged her along. "C'mon, dolt. Still cream with five sugars?"
"Of course!" Ruby bounced along beside her, her heart lighter than it's ever been.
Because she can have this now. She can go get coffee with Weiss while her biggest worries are just her classes. She can hold her hand just because she wants to, not because she's afraid or needs comfort or it's the only way to stop them from shaking.
In a world without Grimm or Salem, they can just be themselves without having the weight of the world on their shoulders.
"I see some things never change." Weiss sounded annoyed but Ruby could see her smiling.
"I guess not." Ruby hummed, and thought back on her dreams that'd been plaguing her all her life but especially this past week.
She thought maybe they were a sign of something wrong, that she was haunted or something.
But maybe they'd just been trying to guide her back to Weiss all along.
That would make them nothing less than a blessing.
"I dreamed about you." Ruby admitted.
Weiss looked back at her with a twinkle in her eye. "I dreamed of you, too."
Hand in hand, no longer just in dreams, Ruby and Weiss moved forward, together again.
AN: Don't know if they've reincarnated so far in the future that Grimm, Semblances, and magic are nothing more than fairy tales, or if they've reincarnated into a world where none of those things ever existed. Don't know and it's not really relevant.
Anyway, after all the work everyone put into in their past life (RWBY canon), the Brothers decided that everyone involved would get to reincarnate into new, more peaceful lives after they died. Not everyone would remember their previous life, but those who did would receive dreams of their past lives and only remember that life when they met the eyes of their partner (*cough* soulmate *cough*). So though they are pretty similar, there are some changes to their lives and their personalities may change slightly when they recover their memories (like, Jaune gaining confidence when he remembered his previous experiences as a leader but still getting used to it so he hates confrontations; or Nora and Ren didn't find each other until near the end of high school so they had time to figure out who they were as individuals in this life). So after regaining their memories, Yang and Blake decided to track down Weiss, and they helped Pyrrha and Jaune hook up.
You could also consider this a college AU, I guess. Here's a rundown of our main 8, plus Penny:
Yang is an MMA fighter and she's going to community college for business because she wants to open her own dojo and she especially wants to teach kids self defense, so she's also working on getting certified for that.
Blake is working on a degree in environmental science with a minor in literature. She's also debating going into law so she can defend the environment against corporations more directly.
Weiss was in training for opera and ballet since she was young. Jacques decided to be a full-time politician in this life and mapped out their lives so they'd benefit him. But he was still an abusive crap head. When Weiss was 16 and she started fully rebeling against him, he threw a glass at her and that's how she got her scar in this universe. However, this was the last straw for Willow and she packed her stuff, grabbed Weiss and Whitley (Winter already in the military), and left him. She checked herself into rehab for alcoholism, which she still struggles with, and left Whitley and Weiss mostly in Klein's, her childhood friend, care. Weiss started her music channel after her recovery, as composing and singing helped her cope, and she decided to go to college after high school. She's double majoring in music and chemistry.
First thing I should note is that Summer Rose is alive in their new lives. She had a very bad accident when Ruby and Yang were kids, but she lived. Ruby debated between going to trade school to become a mechanic or college for mechanical engineering. She ultimately decided to go to college so she could build newer and better engines.
Ren is a history major and he also teaches yoga classes. His family is all alive, so no worries there, and he and Nora met at a career exploration convention during a panel about history majors.
Nora also is an MMA fighter and she's majoring in exercise programming and sports medicine. She wants to look into helping people through physical fitness without pushing them past their limits.
Pyrrha is also an MMA fighter, but she did track and field as well. She and Ruby nearly crossed paths in high school, but Ruby never watched most of the field events. Pyrrha attends college on a sports scholarship and she's looking into psychology to become a therapist.
Jaune is an education major specializing in early childhood education. He still can't believe he had to put up with all his sisters' teasing in two lives now as the only boy in the family.
Penny was adopted by Dr. Polendina as a baby. He raised her with the help of his friend Maria. Pietro is still one of the foremost minds when it comes to robotics and so when Penny also decided to study robotics.
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