Seeding – 1.10

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“‘In what order were the four kingdoms founded, and what was the name of the individual primarily responsible for the original settlements?’”

Ruby frowned in thought as Weiss read off the question, confident that she could answer the first part and not at all confident that she remembered the names for the second part. “Umm… Vale, Mistral, Vacuo, Atlas!”

Weiss gave her a nod of confirmation that made Ruby beam with pride.

“And the names of the founders?” Weiss pressed, knocking the smile off of Ruby’s face.

“Uh… Vale was founded by that guy that sounds like Ozpin but isn’t!”

“Ozran, yes. Ozran Oaks. And Mistral?”

Darn. Her partner was pushing her really hard with this… Maybe Ruby could distract her with cookies! “I need a snack! You want some cookies?”

She moved to stand up but Weiss’ cold hand flashed out and clamped around her wrist. “Sit down! No cookies for you until go through the review questions!”

Ruby pouted at her partner, though Weiss pointedly looked away from her, biting her lip. “But Weiiiiiss!” Ruby whined. “I’m sorry! I’m dumb, I don’t remember!”

It sucked having to sit here and not be able to answer these questions. She felt so dumb and useless, and Weiss had probably memorized all the answers before she’d even read the chapter.

But Weiss shot her a disapproving glare. “You’re not dumb, Ruby. It’s okay if you don’t remember, that’s why y–we’re studying. To help you learn this stuff. Now sit down for a few more minutes and get through these questions with me!”

Ruby sank back into her chair, her pout slowly fading away. It was pretty nice that Weiss was willing to sit here and help Ruby learn stuff that she didn’t need to study herself.

Weiss tapped the spot on the page in the book in front of Ruby where the question they were on sat taunting her. “Now… founder of Mistral?”

“W…We–something with a W? Winter?”

Weiss pursed her lips. “Winter is my sister’s name, Ruby.”

“Oh, right.” Ruby scratched the back of her head nervously. “Wesley? Wimbledon? Wendell?”

“Yes!”

Ruby’s eyes went wide at Weiss’ apparent excitement, but the girl continued.

“Wendell. Do you remember his last name?” As Ruby stayed silent in an effort to remember, Weiss gently reminded her, “Mistral was named after him.”

“Oh! Mistraliesin!” Now she remembered! It was such a long and clunky name, but it was easy to remember it once she was reminded of its relation to the kingdom.

Weiss smiled at her. “And Vacuo’s founder?”

Hmm… “Vacuo wasn’t named after him, right?” When Weiss shook her head with an amused smirk, Ruby gritted her teeth. “It was… His name was something to do with deserts, right?” Weiss gave her a nod, that ever so tiny upwards curve of her lip still present.

“Dune?” Ruby guessed, lighting up when Weiss gave her a proud nod.

“You remember his first name?” Weiss asked.

“It was something with a D, right? Cuz his initials are double D, like Yang!”

Weiss did that little half eye roll she’d started doing earlier today. “Not the way I’d choose to remember it, but yes, his initials are D.D.”

“Da… Dandelion!”

Okay, getting answers like this right was really satisfying when it made Weiss smile at her like that. Maybe studying wasn’t so bad.

… As long as she wasn’t wrong. Her head still hurt where Weiss had smacked her for guessing random stuff earlier.

“And last but not least, Atlas.”

Ruby cleared her throat. She’d made a point to remember this one because Weiss was from Atlas. “Ryan Ironwood!” she chirped, earning another pleased lip twitch from her partner.

“Do you know why the Ironwood name is still important?” Weiss asked.

“Uh…” Ruby flipped back a couple pages to find the section on Atlas.

“It won’t be there,” Weiss interrupted her. “I’m just curious if you know.” When Ruby shook her head, wide-eyed, the girl smiled. “General James Ironwood, Ryan Ironwood’s descendant, is the head of the Atlesian military and the headmaster of Atlas Academy.”

Ruby blinked. “Wait, is he the ‘Iron Fist of Atlas’? Cuz there’s an Atlesian general dude with that title in HR2! Yang and I call him Ironbro.”

Weiss nodded with a snort. “Some people call him that. Anyway, next question. ‘What about Atlas’ founding makes it unique from the other three kingdoms?’”

She knew this, too! “It was just a school! But then it took over as the main city of the kingdom and now it’s the center of power up there.”

Again, another satisfied nod. “What was the name of the original kingdom?”

“Mantle!”

Their quizzing continued like this for another 15 minutes, though it felt like a million billion kajillion. Finally, Weiss let out a long breath and closed her textbook, giving Ruby a small smile.

“Good job! Work on those founder names. And the river names. And the… actually, just work on memorizing the names in general. But that was good!”

Ruby beamed at her partner. “Thanks! Does that mean it’s cookie and video game time?”

She almost laughed at the way Weiss cringed. “I suppose…” the girl practically groaned.

“Come on! It’ll be fun, promise! You can play Ironbro-whatever-his-name-is!” Jumping up, Ruby zoomed over to the drawer beside her and Weiss’ bunk and pulled out the controllers before grabbing her scroll and dashing to the door. She stayed there, hopping in place, as Weiss slowly–soooo slowly–pulled herself out of her chair and trudged over to Ruby.

It was really hard not to laugh at how dejected Weiss looked.

“Wei-eiss,” Ruby chastised in a sing-song tone, “you promised.”

The princess sighed heavily as her gaze forlornly fell to her feet. “I know I did,” she murmured.

So dramatic! You’d think she was about to get executed or something!

Ruby giggled before grabbing the girl’s hand and dragging her down the hallway at a quick skip. “Rubyyyy,” Weiss whined behind her, but Ruby just giggled again and paid the girl no mind.

She pushed her friend onto the couch with a smirk and ran to the kitchen yelling “I’ll get some cookies and milk!” over her shoulder.

Two glasses? Check. One plate? Check. Eighteen thousand five hundred sixty-nine chocolate chip cookies? … Not quite. She got a lot, though.

When she plopped the mountainous plate of cookies and glasses of milk on the coffee table, she cackled at the look of absolute horror on Weiss’ face.

“Ruby, I hope you can eat pretty much all of those. I can eat maybe two max.”

Wow. That was weak sauce. Two cookies? That was, like… half of a half of a bite. She shrugged. “Worry not, fair maiden! I shall vanquish the cookies for you!”

“You’re so weird.”

Ruby beamed at her friend before turning on the tv and syncing her scroll with it and launching Huntsman Royale 2. It was happening! She was going to play video games with her best friend! She’d never played anything with someone that wasn’t Yang or Dad or Uncle Qrow. This was so exciting!

Oh no. She’d never taught anyone how to play video games, either. What if she did it wrong? What if she was bad at explaining?

‘Aaaaaaaaaaaah!’

“Ruby?”

“Hm?” She looked over to find Weiss looking at her quizzically.

“Why are you staring at me like I just grew a second head or something?”

Ruby shook her head and jumped onto the couch next to Weiss. “Sorry! Was just thinking about… stuff and things.”

“Stuff and things.”

“Mhmm! Now this is yours.” She pushed a controller into Weiss’ hands–it was actually Ruby’s controller, but she decided to give hers to Weiss because it was in better shape than Yang’s (Yang always hit the buttons way too hard–this was like her fifth controller ‘cause she broke all her other ones!). “Do you remember any of this game from watching us the other night?”

Weiss shook her head slowly. “I wasn’t paying too much attention. I remember what it looked like, but I didn’t really understand what was going on.”

“That’s okay! We’ll do some practice stuff first!”

‘Play. Split screen. Training arena.’

“Okay! Pick your character!” The faces of the sixteen huntsmen and huntresses on the screen were arranged in alphabetical order, all with super serious fighter faces that always made Ruby laugh. If she got put in a video game she’d be smiling like crazy! Though she supposed that was up to the game artists, really…

“Is that General Ironwood?” Weiss asked, pointing at one of the blue-backed huntsman pictures.

“Yeah! You want to play him?”

Weiss was wide-eyed and, in Ruby’s opinion, looked a little excited. “Wow, he looks really young. Sure, I’ll play him.”

Ruby watched the screen expectantly, but Weiss’ character selection box didn’t move at all. She glanced over and saw Weiss just sitting there, her controller resting in the palms of her dainty princess hands. “Okay!” Ruby prompted her. “Go ahead and select him!”

Weiss’ eyes flicked from the screen to Ruby to the controller in her hands and back to the screen. “How?” she asked timidly, like she was scared of admitting she didn’t know how to do something.

‘How? Crap, I gotta teach her everything!

Ruby immediately felt bad. “Sorry! I forgot you haven’t–yeah, sorry.” She scooted closer to Weiss and held her controller out to exaggerate everything. “‘Kay, hold the controller in both hands like this. Yep! Now this thumb will move this joystick around–yeah, just like that! And this one will move this joystick and press these buttons.”

Weiss frowned. “Why does my right hand have to do more, though? I’m left handed!”

A wide grin appeared on Ruby’s face. “Me too! I wish they’d make a special controller for southpaws. But they don’t ‘cause they’re fat and dumb. So yeah, it’s just something we gotta deal with.”

A huff escaped Weiss as she made a grumpy face (Ruby decided she’d refer to that expression as ‘the Princess Pout’ from now on). “This is unacceptable! Who do I have to talk to to get left-handed controllers made?!”

Ruby scratched the back of her head. “I dunno. I guess Optix Gaming? They made these controllers. But don’t worry! You can still select the southpaw control scheme in-game, and that makes things a little better.”

Weiss’ frown didn’t go away, but she nodded in acceptance.

“Okay, and then your pointy fingers go around here and you use them to hit these buttons on the back.”

Weiss tilted the controller toward herself to get a good look at the bumpers and triggers. “Oh, there’s two of them,” she remarked in surprise.

“Yep! That’s pretty much it. Oh, this is the d-pad–it stands for ‘directional pad’, though Yang made me believe it stood for ‘douche-pad’ for years.”

The incredulous look Weiss gave her made Ruby giggle. “Why would you believe this would be called a douche?”

“I have no idea! I just believed my big sister, okay! That’s not a crime!”

Weiss arched one of those perfectly thin eyebrows at her. “With your sister it might be.”

After a brief moment of exaggerated though, Ruby shrugged. “Fair.”

Turning back to the screen, Weiss gestured towards Ironbro. “So how do I select him?”

“Oh, right! So that blue box on the right is the character you’ve got selected right now. See it? You’re on the first character, Axel Mars, right now.”

Weiss nodded in understand. “Yes, I see it.”

“Cool! So just use that left joystick and move to the right until you’re over Ironbro’s portrait, then hit ‘A’. That bottom button there.”

Flicking through the characters one at a time, Weiss finally got to her character–James Ironwood, the Iron Fist of Atlas–and pressed the select button ever so gently. “Like that?”

“Yep! Don’t be afraid of breaking the controller, by the way. You can press a little harder.” Seriously, Ruby thought she was really careful with her controller compared to Yang, but Weiss was being a whole different level of light-fingered.

“Sorry,” Weiss said. “Used to being really gentle with piano keys.”

‘That makes sense.’

“No worries! So now… well now I need to pick a character… Do I want to play our professor or the Grimm Reaper?”

Weiss gave her a wide-eyed shrug. “I suppose seeing our professor would be… cool?” The way she said that last word made Ruby giggle. It was like she wasn’t used to saying it at all!

She locked in Nidas. “You can change outfits and colors with these bumpers if you want.” She demonstrated the buttons with her controller. “The pink Ironbro outfit is really funny.”

“But… General Ironwood doesn’t wear pink.”

“I know, but it looks so–wait, have you met him before?”

With a curious tilt of her head, Weiss looked over at Ruby. “Of course! I met him several times at Atlas Academy while visiting Winter, and he’s been visiting the manor for years to speak with Father about projects and business deals.”

‘The manor,’ Ruby thought with a grin. Most people have houses, but Weiss? She had a manor. Though she seemed like she belonged in a castle or a palace more than anything else. Maybe, like, an ice palace with lots of snow and pretty snowflake designs and a throne of–

“Why are you smiling at me like an idiot?”

Weiss’ condescending tone pulled Ruby back to reality.

“I’m not!”

“You are.”

“No, I’m smiling like a Ruby!”

“That’s what I said.”

Wait, was that a joke? Ruby squinted at her partner and noticed the upturned corners of her lips. It was a joke! The Pyrrha joke wasn’t just a one-off!

Another proud smile pulled at Ruby’s face as she turned back to the game with a happy wiggle. “You’re gonna pay for that,” she threatened teasingly. She grabbed a cookie and dunked it in her glass of milk, shoving the whole thing in her mouth and munching contentedly as she pressed Start to load them into the training room.

“You know, you’d be a lot more scary without a face full of chocolate chips.”

“Mm hmf hmm–” Ruby stopped to swallow when she noticed Weiss glaring at her. “Yeah, but then I wouldn’t have cookies!”

With one of those half eye rolls–that Ruby was starting to realize was Weiss smiling without smiling–Weiss sighed. “And I suppose you care more about having cookies than being scary?”

“Of course!”

“Wonderful. I’m sure the Grimm will find it adorable too and decide to leave us alone.”

Giggling, Ruby bumped Weiss’ shoulder with her own. “That’s what you’re here for! You’ll just give them that grumpy princess face and they’ll run away screaming!”

Weiss narrowed her eyes at Ruby in a playful glare.

“Yeah, that one! Ooh! We’re in!”

Their game had loaded, the tv now giving them a split screen view of both of their characters from behind.

Ironbro stood in his straight-backed military fashion, a revolver in one hand and while his other was empty–but robotic! It was super cool.

Nidas stood far more relaxed, twirling a single edged blade in each hand. Ruby had selected the black and red color scheme, so he actually looked like a grown up, dude version of her! Black leathers and a long red cape. (She always picked this outfit for him. Now that she thought about it, she couldn’t actually remember the normal colors of his outfit.)

“Okay! So this is the training arena. If you press ‘Select’ you can see a list of your abilities.” Weiss took a moment to glance at the controller and find the right button, then her half of the screen was filled with a pop-up with ability and controller icons with some text descriptions. “Yeah! So Ironbro’s actually pretty simple to play. His semblance is a passive–Danger Sense. Whenever an enemy is planning to attack you, they’ll glow red. It also shows you the paths that enemies are on to move towards you. That only works against computer enemies, though, cuz the game doesn’t know what other players are going to do. So when you’re against enemy players it shows you the cooldowns of their abilities instead.”

Weiss gave a contemplative “hmm”. When Ruby looked over at her, she gave that head tilt that was her version of a shrug. “I never knew that’s what his semblance was,” she explained.

“See! You learned something from a video game!” Ruby chirped with a big smile.

Weiss rolled her eyes. “Yes, we might as well just not study and play video games all day,” she drawled sarcastically. “Basically the same thing.”

Ruby perked up, but Weiss shot her a suspicious and knowing glance. “I’m kidding.”

“Aww…” Ruby deflated slightly, but only for a second! “Anyway! Your weapon’s pretty boring. It’s just a pistol. You look around with this guy–” she wiggled the right joystick “–then when you want to shoot you hold down the left trigger to aim down the sights, and the right one to fire.”

Slowly, with lots of looking between Ruby’s hands and her own and the screen, Weiss followed the steps Ruby had demonstrated. A loud gunshot came from the speakers on the tv, and Weiss jumped.

Yes. She jumped.

Ruby laughed. A lot.

Weiss blushed furiously and looked away, muttering, “I didn’t think it would be that loud!”

“Okay! Okayokayokay!” Ruby managed to huff between giggles. “Just like that! But without the whole getting-scared-of-the-loud-noise bit.”

Weiss shot her a glare before turning back to the game. She turned Ironbro towards Ruby’s character, aimed… and shot Ruby in the head!

It didn’t do anything.

“Why didn’t that do damage to you or something?!” Weiss whined adorably.

“Because we’re on a team, you jerk!” Ruby giggled. “Why you tryna shoot me?”

Turning to her with the Princess Pout, Weiss replied, “Because you’re a dolt!”

Ruby couldn’t help but giggle again. She’d never heard anyone call anybody a “dolt” in her life before meeting Weiss, but it had to be one of the cutest words ever! It was like “dummy” but way cuter.

“Well there’s no friendly fire, so hnn!” She stuck her tongue out at her partner who turned away with a huff.

“Whatever! What else do I do?”

“Hit ‘Select’ again,” Ruby instructed while grabbing another cookie. “Okay, so your regular attack–that right trigger–is just a punch. It doesn’t have a whole lot of reach but it hits really hard ‘cause Ironbro has a robot arm!”

Weiss frowned thoughtfully. “I never did learn how that came about,” she mused.

Gulping down some milk to wash the cookie from her mouth, Ruby nodded. “Yang and I were wondering about that, too. It’s not in his codex entry, so we never found out.”

“Codex?”

“Yeah, it’s got short little bios of all the huntsmen in the game, plus descriptions of the maps and stuff. It’s in the main menu.” She pointed back to the screen when Weiss nodded. “Anyway, the other basics are ‘A’ for jump and ‘B’ for roll. Save your roll for when you need it, ‘cause they nerfed it from Huntsman Royale One. It has, like, a five second cooldown so you can’t just spam it and avoid all damage forever and ever anymore.”

“What’s a cooldown again?”

Ruby blinked in surprise and turned to Weiss, who was looking at her confused. “Oh! Sorry. A cooldown is… it’s like a timer that says how long you have to wait to use an ability again. So, like…. you see those numbers on the little clock symbol next to all your ability icons? Those are the cooldowns. So you have to wait eight seconds after using your ‘LB’–that’s that button–before you can use it again.”

Weiss nodded slowly. “Okay, got it. And my… ‘LB’… is this ‘Precision Shot’?” She leaned forward to read the small text next to the ability.

“Yeah! You automatically headshot all bad guys in a cone in front of you, and it one shots that weak minions like Beowolves and Atlesian Knights and White Fang mooks.”

Weiss straightened up at that. “Wait, why are Atlesian Knights bad guys?”

Shrugging, Ruby explained. “The enemies depend on what map you’re on. And if you’re in PVP, which side you’re on. In the game’s campaign, the Atlesian dudes are actually your buddies for most of it, until some bad guys hack the robot ones and then you gotta fight ‘em with what’s left of the human squad. And if you lose the last human soldier you lose the level. It’s really cool unless the AI starts acting stupid.”

“Oh.” It didn’t really look like Weiss understood most of that. “And the White Fang are bad guys?”

“Mhm! Well they are in the campaign. In PVP they’re your buddies if you spawn red side.”

Weiss crinkled her nose. “Why would anyone want to be on the White Fang’s side? They’re evil terrorists!”

Ruby shrugged. “Dunno. They needed another faction in the game cuz the only other faction is Grimm, which are the map neutrals.

“Anyway! That’s your ‘LB’. Your ‘Y’ is a short charge forward that uppercuts the first enemy you hit and knocks them up. It combos into your ‘RB’ really well. That’s a punch that knocks all nearby enemies back and slows them for a bit. If you’re really good and fast you can knockup, knockback, headshot an enemy player and take out like half their HP without them being able to react.”

“O…kay…” Weiss looked down at her controller and all mimed pressing all the buttons, looking pretty overwhelmed.

‘Crap. I’m doing this wrong,’ Ruby scolded herself.

“Don’t worry too much about that! Just try moving around and using your abilities on these training dummies over here.” Leading the way with Nidas, Ruby walked over to the straw dummies in the center of the arena they’d spawned into.

“How do I move?”

‘Ruby, you officially suck at teaching.’

“Left joystick! So move with this–” she wiggled the left joystick “–and look around with this–” she wiggled the right joystick.

For the next minute Weiss did nothing but walk around and turn in random directions, getting the feel for the controls, and Ruby forced herself to patiently wait–which was really hard ‘cause she really wanted to blow up pixelated Grimm with her partner!

“You can also sprint if you click the left joystick down,” Ruby explained once Weiss seemed to get the hang of the movement.

After another little bit of experimentation, Weiss asked, “If I jump while sprinting, do I go farther?”

Ruby beamed a smile, ecstatic that her partner seemed to be getting the game mechanics. “Yeah! And if you time it right, as long as your roll is off cooldown, you can roll right when you land the jump and it doesn’t put the roll on cooldown. It’s really hard, though–the window’s like eight or ten frames.”

Weiss tilted her head. “What does that mean? Eight or ten frames.”

“Oh!” Ruby repositioned a bit on the couch. “So the game has an fps rate, just like the tv or our scrolls do. It’s sixty fps–frames per second.”

“Oooh,” Weiss breathed with a nod. “So if it’s ten frames, that’s one-sixth of a second to land the roll?”

“Yep!” Ruby bounced excitedly. “Like I said, it’s pretty hard. Yang still screws it up most of the time.”

“Do you?” her partner asked quizzically.

Ruby gave a proud grin. “Nope! I’m pretty quick with my fingers. Yang likes to complain that my semblance makes me faster ‘cause she doesn’t like the alternative explanation–that she just sucks and I’m better than her.”

That made Weiss giggle! It sounded amazing, like a super clear wind chime just rang out from a winter breeze. “I’m sure you are,” she agreed as she tried to roll cancel herself, her eyebrows scrunched in concentration. After six or seven tries, she got it! Then she got it again! … And again!

“What the frickity frack?” Ruby wondered aloud. “How’d you get so good so fast?”

Weiss gave her a sheepish grin and princess shrugged. “You just have to wait for his right toe to hit the ground,” she explained simply.

“Yeah, but…” It was one thing to know the trigger to watch for, but Weiss was pressing the button at the right moment every time. “Okay, maybe I don’t want to teach you anymore.”

“What?!” Weiss turned to her with a worried and offended expression. “Why? What did I do?!”

Giggling, Ruby patted Weiss’ shoulder. “Nothing! I was kidding. It’s just that roll canceling the landing animation is one of the hardest mechanics in the game, and you seem to have mastered it in, like, thirty seconds. If I keep teaching you, you’re gonna get better than me!”

“Oh.” Weiss blushed, looking embarrassed either about her little freak out or the compliment. “Thanks… So what next?”

Grabbing another cookie, Ruby gestured back at the screen. “Try some of your abilities! Use your ‘RB’ on those training dummies.”

When she did, Weiss let out a little yelp as the heads on the training dummies exploded and the things despawned. “Where’d they go?” she cried over Ruby’s laughter.

“You killed ‘em, silly!”

“But where’d there bodies go? Did they teleport or something?”

Realizing what was confusing her partner, Ruby laughed again. “No, when things die their bodies despawn. Otherwise the map would get way too cluttered. Plus, Grimm do that in real life already.” As she spoke, the training dummies respawned.

“They’re back! Where’d they come from?”

Ruby actually had to bite her lip to keep herself from laughing again. She supposed this confusion was a little understandable since it was Weiss’ first video game ever. “They respawned. They didn’t come from anywhere, the game just loaded them in at that spot.”

Weiss frowned. “Oh. So enemies can just spawn right behind you if they want to?”

“Well… no. When you’re in actual matches the AI only spawns at certain spawn points, and they won’t spawn at them if you’re within a certain radius of a point. Now try your ‘Y’.”

Weiss hit the button, then frowned as Ironbro dashed forward a little bit and uppercut nothing but air. “That was… lame.”

“You gotta get closer to the bad guys.”

Weiss walked right up to a dummy and pressed the button again, scowling when nothing happened.

“It’s on cooldown right now, Weissy-Weiss.” Weiss shot her a glare, but Ruby ignored it and tried really hard not to smile. “Look, that icon down there with the little dashing dude that looks like it’s ticking like a clock is the cooldown indicator for your ‘Y’. The crosshair icon is your ‘LB’ and the punchy fist is your ‘RB’.”

She studiously kept her eyes on the screen as she felt Weiss continuing to glare at her, but it was getting difficult to not grin.

“Did you just call me… Weissy-Weiss?”

Unable to contain it any longer, Ruby burst out laughing. The way Weiss had said it was just too funny! ‘Weissy-Weiss?’ like it was something gross and icky.

“Sure did!” she chirped with a grin. “Whatcha gonna do about it?” She walked her character up to Weiss’ and started spamming jump tauntingly.

Weiss narrowed her eyes, glancing between the screen and Ruby a couple of times before her gaze drifted down to the plate of cookies on the coffee table.

Eyes widening in horror as what Weiss was thinking clicked, Ruby tried to tackle her partner before she could–

It didn’t even matter. Ruby successfully knocked her partner into the armrest of the couch, both of them squealing, but Weiss summoned a white glyph underneath the plate and launched the cookies into the air.

“Noooooo!” Ruby yelled as she pushed herself from the couch and tried to jump up to catch the plate as it fell… but it didn’t!

Another glyph appeared above the cookies, this one black, and the snacks and plate both hung suspended in the air a couple feet out of Ruby’s reach.

“Weiss…” Ruby said slowly like she was trying to calm an angry dog. “It was just a joke. I’ll never call you Weissy-Weiss again. Just… please, have mercy on my beautiful cookies.”

The princess pushed herself up with a huff, straightening out her skirt before folding her hands in her laps and trying to look innocent. Her lips pursed as she suppressed a smile, but the twinkle in her eyes seemed like the Weiss equivalent of hysterical cackling.

“What are you two doing?” a familiar voice sounded from behind them.

They both turned to find Blake standing in the entrance to the living clutching her book, a bemused look on her face as she eyed the floating cookies.

“I was teaching Weiss how to play Huntsman Royale Two and everything was going great but then I called her Weissy-Weiss and now she’s being mean and holding my cookies hostage!” She took a deep breath as she finished her rant and pointed a finger accusingly at her partner.

Blake arched an eyebrow at Weiss. “Didn’t you say you wouldn’t take Ruby’s cookies as punishment because that would be cruel and unusual?”

Princess Pout. “Crap, I did, didn’t I?” Weiss grumbled.

“Y-yeah!” Ruby shouted. “So give me back my cookies!”

“Fiiiine,” Weiss sighed. “Catch.”

‘Catch? Wha-’

“EEEEEP!” Ruby dove forward as Weiss dissipated her glyph and the cookie plate fell, getting her hands under it just before it crashed onto the table, the cookies staying piled cleanly while some crumbs bounced over the lip of the plate.

“Weiss!” she cried out, but Weiss didn’t hear over her… laughter.

Weiss was laughing. Like openly, happily, loudly laughing.

Blake’s other eyebrow arched up and she met Ruby’s eyes with a small grin.

“You–hahaha–wha–what was that noise?!” Weiss asked through her laughter.

Her cheeks instantly flushing pink in embarrassment, Ruby sat back down and hugged the plate of cookies to herself and leaned over it protectively. “My precious cookies were in danger!” she snapped back at Weiss as the girl doubled over gasping and wiping tears from her eyes.

It wasn’t that funny… Was it?

Blake wasn’t laughing at all, just smiling in amusement at Weiss’ reaction. So it couldn’t have been that hilarious of a sound.

Ruby could feel her cheeks growing redder and redder as she pouted and tried to glare at her partner. (She failed–it was impossible not to smile at the sound of Weiss’ laughter.) She watched Weiss’ face closely, wanting to commit this smile to memory so she’d know what to aim for in the future.

Weiss finally took a deep breath and let it out with a laughing huff, rubbing the back of her hand across her face one last time. “Why are you grinning at me like that?”

“No reason!” Ruby put the cookies back on the table–popping one into her mouth–and pointed at the tv. “Wanna play a mission?”

“Is–would we be on a team?” Weiss asked as she glanced nervously at the game.

“Yeah!” Ruby answered with an encouraging nod.

Weiss pursed her lips. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

‘YES!’

“Okayokayokayokay!” Ruby bounced up and down and gave Weiss a shoulder bump. “We’ll just do the first level and you can get used to it, ‘kay?”

Weiss nodded.

“Alright. The game starts with a White Fang attack in Argus, and we have to defend the comm tower.” She navigated through the menus to get them started, before glancing back at their other teammate. Blake was frowning and looked… Ruby wasn’t sure what to think of her expression.

“Blake?” she asked. “You wanna play with us?”

Blake slowly pulled her gaze from the level select screen with the image of a group of masked White Fang mooks stood in front of a tall radio tower. “No thanks. I’m gonna… go to bed.”

“Oh. Okay! Sweet dreams and stuff!”

Weiss chipped in with a soft “Good night” as Blake quickly walked away with her head down.

“Is she okay?” Ruby whispered to Weiss once their teammate was out of earshot.

Weiss princess shrugged. “I wasn’t really paying attention. Did she do something strange?”

Ruby turned back to the game. “I guess not. You ready? Lock in General Ironbro and we can get started.” Tabbing down to her own huntsman, she selected Nidas and tapped start when Weiss was ready. The loading screen popped up and set Ruby’s knee bouncing in anticipation. This was going to be awesome!

“Okay, so the level starts off pretty slow. It functions kinda like a tutorial, so it’ll have us just walk around and look at stuff while we’re ‘on patrol’ around the tower.”

“Okay…” Weiss replied quietly, looking way too nervous for someone just playing a video game.

“Relax, Weiss!”

Shifting her worried gaze over to Ruby, Weiss voiced her concerns. “What if I mess up and we lose?”

Okay, it was kinda adorable how serious Weiss was taking this. “Don’t worry about it!” Ruby reassured her partner. “It’s a really easy level. I can beat it myself even on two player difficulty. And even if we do lose, it’s okay.” She grinned widely. “We don’t die in real life if we die in game.”

Weiss blinked, clearly not getting the reference. “I didn’t think we would…”

Ruby inwardly groaned. Of course Weiss wouldn’t get a reference to one of Ruby’s silly cartoons. Weiss was grown up and mature and stuff–she didn’t watch kids shows.

“I… nevermind. We’re in!”

Her announcement made her partner clutch her controller a bit harder. “I’m ready,” Weiss declared, sounding anything but.

“Alright! Follow me. The AI captain takes forever to get through the boring dialogue stuff. We can just run to the forest and trigger the attack.”

Ruby lead the way, showing off Nidas’ dashes and Fire-Dust-enhanced-double-jump and swapping between his twin blades and hardlight bow modes as she ran. Weiss followed slowly behind, panning her camera around and staring slightly open mouthed at the game’s environment.

“I want to get in the airship!” she said, running up to the vehicle that had just landed in the air strip and deployed the rest of the patrol they were supposed to walk around with.

“You can’t,” Ruby told her gently.

“Aww. Why not? It’s right there!”

Ruby giggled at her friend. “It’s just a model. The game doesn’t have any vehicle mechanics, unfortunately. Though apparently in a couple months they’re adding a DLC that lets you pilot the Paladins!” That was going to be super awesome. She and Yang had already challenged each other to epic mech 1v1s–or, as Yang called it, Pallid-offs.

“That sounds… cool,” Weiss said as she had Ironbro follow Ruby’s character toward the forest.

“It will be! But anyway, you ready? As soon as you cross this line–” she jumped up and down at the edge of the road they were on “–there’s gonna be an explosion behind us and the White Fang will attack!”

“Sounds about right,” Weiss grumbled darkly.

That was true. The White Fang were pretty big meanies from what Dad told them about the news.

“Okay. This line?” Weiss asked, standing Ironbro in front of Nidas, looking down at the grass (which had insanely good graphics) that marked the trigger box.

“Yep!” Ruby’s leg was bouncing at, like, superlight speed. Which, as everyone knows, is just like regular light speed, but superer.

Weiss stepped across the line and Ruby’s half of the split screen flashed red and yellow and orange as a giant explosion went off on the other side of the tower.

And Ruby’s leg stilled.

‘It’s happening!’

With a click she sprinted toward the explosion as the game’s HUD prompted them to ‘Defend the CCT Tower!’, Weiss following close behind.  “Don’t worry about the missiles,” she advised. “They’ll damage your Aura a bit, but it’ll regen before we get into combat. They’re just for immersion.”

On cue, trucks with the White Fang logo spray painted on the side in red came tearing in on the other side of the air strip, missiles arching out from launchers mounted in the truck beds. Weiss let out an audible gasp as the projectiles crashed into the pavement around them causing dust to obscure their shared screen and making the cameras shake while their characters stumbled.

Their health bars both flashed red and dipped down a bit, but soon started recharging. “That’s our Aura?” Weiss asked, pointing toward the top of the screen.

“Yep! You have a lot ‘cause they made Ironbro really tanky to make up for his low mobility.”

Weiss frowned. “Okay… but why is it coming back so fast?”

Ruby smiled at the logical question. “They sacrificed realism for good gameplay. Your Aura starts to come back if you stay out of combat for a few seconds.”

“I see. That would be nice,” Weiss remarked with a dry chuckle that Ruby echoed.

“For real! We would never need to stop killing Grimm! You and I could save the world by ourselves!”

Weiss turned and gave Ruby a quirky little smile.

“Watch out!” Ruby cried out–Weiss didn’t see the bullets start flying at them ‘cause she wasn’t looking at the screen.

Entering Gamer Mode, Ruby focused as she dove into the rush of sword and gun toting baddies. Fighting the White Fang troops always made her a lot sadder than fighting the Atlesians, even though she knew the Fang were the bad guys. But some of them had cute bunny ears or floofy puppy tails! And now that she’d met Velvet killing the bunny faunus made her extra sad.

She had to remind herself that the cute bunny faunus in the White fang were bad guy bunny faunus. Velvet was a good guy, and even if the bad guys were as cute as her they still needed to be stopped.

Still, blowing them up in a video game was pretty sad. At least most of the Atlesians were just robots. Blowing robots up was okay, right? Not that she’d want to blow up Atlesian Knights in real life! They were good guys.

Her messy train of thought distracted her as she played on autopilot until Weiss let out a surprised squeak.

“That guy hit me into a wall!”

Ruby glanced over at Weiss’ screen–screen peeking is a super capital crime when playing against someone (that Yang did all the time ‘cause she’s a dirty, rotten cheater!), but it was totally fine in co-op. Weiss had just been smacked by the heavy hit of a bear faunus wielding a giant hammer (bigger than Nora’s, but nowhere near as cool ‘cause it didn’t turn into a grenade launcher!).

“Yeah, you gotta watch out for when the bear faunus charge up their big swing–it’ll knock you back and stun you if you hit terrain.”

“Oh.” Weiss was playing really slow, pressing the buttons deliberately and one at a time, clearly not comfortable with the controls. She was also running away a lot, especially whenever an enemy flashed red from Ironbro’s semblance. As a result, she was taking quite a bit of damage but not really dealing a whole lot in return.

And Ruby was off by herself doing her own thing! ‘Ruby, stop being a terrible friend!’ She was playing like she was playing with Yang or Uncle Qrow, not someone that had never touched a video game before twenty minutes ago.

She double jumped over towards Weiss’ Ironbro, activating Nidas’ charged up semblance when she hit the ground. The resulting shockwave killed or knockback all the enemies that were conglomerating around Weiss. “Don’t worry, fair princess!” she chirped with a grin. “I will save you!”

“You’re a dolt.”

Ruby giggled as she helped Weiss, who was tunnel visioned on slowly lining up headshots on all the distant shooters, scrunching her eyebrows cutely as she concentrated. That meant Ruby should take out the melee guys! That made the most sense anyway–Nidas was a bit better at close combat.

“Focus the gunners on the trucks!”

Weiss listened to her, turning her attention and aim on said targets. When she pulled the trigger, though, Ironbro went into his reload animation, and Weiss frowned in confusion. “Why can’t I shoo–oh, is he reloading?”

Crap. Yet another basic thing Ruby hadn’t thought to mention.

“Yeah! Ironbro’s revolver has six shots before you have to reload. You can reload early by pressing ‘X’–that one.” She quickly pointed to the button when Weiss looked down to find it.

“Okay.”

Weiss’ character was just now finishing reloading. “Yeah, Ironbro has a really long reload time ‘cause it’s a revolver, but it’s balanced ‘cause it hits really hard. Like his regular shots hit harder than Fuchsia’s sniper rifle, and its headshots hit almost as hard.”

Nodding absently, Weiss put on her concentrating face again as she lined up her shots. She was going really slow, but she was getting headshots every time!

“Come stand on this capture point! Once we get it the airships will bring in some Knight reinforcements.”

Ruby waited until Ironbro was standing within the glowy projected circle before she dashed Nidas off. They only needed one person to capture the objective, and it would be more efficient for Ruby to keep the melee attackers well away from the point so they wouldn’t interrupt the countdown.

Weiss seemed to be focusing really hard. And she was doing pretty good! Wayyyy better than Ruby had expected someone to do their first time holding a controller. But she also seemed really confused by a lot of the things happening on the screen, and she wasn’t asking any questions… Ruby was worried that maybe it was because Weiss thought she was just a bad teacher, but she’d also noticed that Weiss didn’t really like to ask questions in general. She seemed to not like admitting not knowing something.

“Remember to use your roll!” Ruby advised her. “And take cover behind stuff when people are shooting at you.”

She only barely noticed Weiss blush and frown beside her. “Sorry, that sounds like really obvious stuff, huh,” her partner sighed.

‘Man, she has such a pretty voice,’ Ruby thought for definitely-not-the-first-time. It was like crystal bells and a winter breeze at the same time. She reeeeeally wanted to hear Weiss sing, but that was probably something she needed to be more comfortable around Ruby for. And for whatever reason Weiss seemed like she really didn’t want Ruby to watch videos of her singing at the RCG, which Ruby didn’t totally understand. It would be so awesome to see Weiss around a bunch of celebrities! She probably looked prettier than all of them anyway, and Ruby was a hundred percent positive her singing had been awesome, so she wasn’t sure what there was to be nervous or embarrassed about.

But then again, she didn’t know. And Weiss must have her reasons for not wanting to Ruby to watch it. So Ruby should respect that, ‘cause that’s what good friends and partners do, right? She was pretty sure that was right.

“Don’t worry about it!” she said, pulling herself away yet another distracting tangent. “You’re just not used to video games! You gotta get used to how to think and move and stuff. It takes a while.” She leaned over and dropped her voice to a whisper. “Yang still sucks at it sometimes.”

“WHAT DOES YANG SUCK AT?!”

Ruby and Weiss both screeched and jumped a solid thousand feet into the air.

“YANG-UH!” Ruby whined before her butt had even fallen back onto the couch, hitting ‘Start’ to pause the game and turning to glare at her obnoxious big sister.

Yang was standing there, hands on her hips, with a massive grin plastered across her dumb jerk-face. “Wow, jumpy much, scaredy-cats?”

Weiss scowled and shot a glare at Yang. “You’re insufferable!” she spat as she straightened her skirt and tried to regain some of her princessy posture.

Yang’s grin only widened even more. “Nah!” she disagreed, wrapping an arm around Ruby before the totally innocent girl had a chance to react and playfully (and evilly) rubbing a fist into the top of her head. “Ruby’s been suffering me for years!”

Grunting with effort, Ruby tried quite unsuccessfully to pry Yang’s arm from around her collarbone. “Yang, you suck!”

That only got her a cackle from the big dumb brute. “I know. I heard. But what do I suck at?”

“No, you just suck!” Ruby clarified as she tried to throw all of her weight down and make Yang’s grip slip. It didn’t work. Not that she’d been expecting it to. Yang was way too strong. All those dumb pushups.

“Hmm. Eloquent,” teased Yang.

Weiss huffed at that. “I’m surprised you even know what that word means.”

Yang narrowed her eyes and raised her free hand to point a finger at Weiss, clearly about to dish out some super mean insult, but then… it never came.

Confused at the silence, Ruby twisted around to see Yang’s face had turned thoughtful, her eyes shifting between Weiss and Ruby’s red controller in her hands and the tv where their game was paused.

“So… whatcha two doin’?”

Weiss rolled her eyes and muttered, “Isn’t it obvious?” while Ruby beamed.

“I’m teaching Weiss how to play HR2! She agreed to play with me if I read our history chapter and answered the questions and stuff, and I did!” She was really proud of herself for getting through all that boring studying. But it wasn’t too boring with Weiss! And it was way easier! She still remembered the names of all the founders!

Ozran Tree.

W-name-that-wasn’t-Winter-’cause-that’s-Weiss’-sister Mistraleisin.

Double-Dune. Wait… It was a flower, like her name! Uh… Dandelion! Dandelion Dune.

And Ryan Ironbro, great-great-grandsomething of General Ironbro, Iron Fist of Atlas.

… Okay, maybe she still needed to do some work on that. But still! She actually read through an entire history textbook chapter! She’d never done that before!

Yang glanced curiously down at Ruby–whose head was still poking out awkwardly from under Yang’s shoulder–than back at Weiss. “Really?” Her eyebrow raised in surprise.

For her part, Weiss seemed to find the carpet really interesting. “It seemed fair,” she mumbled quietly, almost to herself.

Slowly, the pressure around Ruby’s neck slackened as Yang’s grip eased up, the girl still squinting at Weiss thoughtfully. As soon as the grip was weak enough that Ruby was confident she could break out, she did, reaching up and yanking her sister’s arm away and using a short burst of her semblance to dash and hide behind Weiss so Yang couldn’t grab her again.

Weiss blinked in surprise at the sudden movement, her eyes latching on to one of the several rose petals Ruby’s semblance had created and following its lazy path to the ground.

“So who ya playin’?” Yang asked, though Weiss didn’t seem to realize she was being talked to.

“Ironbro!” Ruby answered for her partner, her voice making Weiss snap back to reality. “Apparently she knows him!”

Yang pushed out her bottom lip and nodded slowly, her eyes interested and impressed. “Really? That’s pretty neat.”

“Yep!” Ruby agreed eagerly. Weiss was pretty neat. “And after tomorrow we’ll all know Nidas!”

“Professor Rustheart,” Weiss corrected her softly but sternly.

“Right. Professor Rustheart.”

“So how do you like the game, Weiss?” Yang asked, watching Weiss’ face closely.

Weiss seemed to notice how weirdly attentive Yang was being and sorta squirmed away, turning her body towards Ruby while she put her impassive Ice Queen face on.

“It’s fine,” she said tersely.

Fine? She’d been having fun!… At least… Ruby had thought she was.

Weiss glanced up through her lashes at Ruby and gave her a reassuring lip twitch.

Okay. She was having fun. So why wouldn’t she say that?…

Ruby looked at the way Weiss was standing–one hand grabbing her other elbow, the controller clutched tightly in her free hand, shoulders turned towards Ruby… and away from Yang. And Yang was leaning on her hands on the back of the couch, being all weirdly hyper observant.

“Yang, go away.”

As soon as they came out of her mouth, the words surprised Ruby almost as much as they did Yang. But Yang was making Weiss uncomfortable! Heck, she was making Ruby kinda uncomfortable with how intensely she was watching Weiss.

Yang looked more shocked than hurt and Ruby’s order, but Ruby immediately felt guilty anyway. She loved Yang! Telling her to go away felt so… off. But Weiss clearly wanted Yang to not be there. There was some really weird… weirdness going on between these two, and Ruby want Weiss to go back to happy, laughy Weiss.

“I-jus-w-we were having fun,” she stuttered lamely in explanation. “And y-you’re bein’ weird. Plus, you stink!” That last part was definitely true. Yang smelled like Gym Yang, sweaty and kinda smoky–she tended to get worked up when she worked out (especially when she was listening to music) and her semblance kicked in and made her sweat steam and left her smelling weird as frickity frack for hours.

You stink,” Yang grumbled in awkward embarrassment, backing away to run to their room.

Self consciously, Ruby took a subtle sniff toward her armpit. She definitely didn’t want to smell bad next to Weiss, who seemed to always smell like oceans and vanilla cakes and princess castles.

“You smell fine,” Weiss whispered to her, another tiny lip twitch lighting up her face, her eyes sparkling in amusement at Ruby’s sniff.

“I do?”

Her partner nodded. “Of course. You always smell like roses.”

Smiling widely, Ruby stuck her tongue out at her sister. “Ha! Here that, Yang? I smell like flowers. And you smell like Zwei! After he went swimming! In a pool! Full of… beer!”

Ha! Take that, Yang! Beer already smelled bad enough (and tasted even worse–Uncle Qrow let her try a sip once while he and Dad were watching the windball game, and… never again). But beer on wet dog? Yang couldn’t top that insult! Huehuehuehu–

“Yeah, well… you’re short!” Yang snarked back with a cheeky, playful sneer before running away.

Ruby snorted at her sister’s pathetic attempt at a comeback. Ruby-1, Yang 0. Well, more like Ruby-1, Yang-10,000, but we weren’t counting all the insults from before thirty seconds ago, right?

Although Ruby was pretty short…

Weiss gave her a grateful smile, clearly relaxing again now that Yang was gone. “You’re not short, Ruby, you’re just younger than us,” she reassured Ruby gently after seeing the frown on Ruby’s face. She looked down at herself. “Me, on the other hand….”

“Whaaat? You’re not short! You’re, like, eight inches taller than me!”

Weiss raised an eyebrow at her with a smirk. “Either you don’t know how to count or you don’t know how long an inch is. I’m maybe three inches taller than you, and only because I’m wearing heels.”

Ruby glanced down at the offending shoes. She still had no idea how Weiss balanced in those things, much less fought in them. “How tall are you without them?” Excitement seeped into her as she considered that maybe she and Weiss were the same height! That would mean that Ruby was the perfect height!

Weiss pursed her lips, contemplating whether or not she wanted to find out how they compared without her cheater shoes on. She reached some sort of decision, though, because she kicked her heels of with a sigh.

Ruby pulled her own boots off with a grin, almost falling over in the process, but Weiss reached a slender arm out and grabbed her shoulder to stabilize her.

“How are you so fast and yet so klutzy?” she wandered aloud.

“It’s my super power!” Ruby chirped, flinging her shoes to the side and straightening up with a smile.

“I thought that was your super speed. Or your super stomach.”

Ruby frowned. She had said that, hadn’t she. Darn. “Well, it’s my third super power!”

“You’re a super klutz?”

Ruby pouted. “Stop changing the subject! We’re trying to figure out how tall I am compared to you–or how short you are compared to me!”

Weiss smiley-eye rolled and straightened her already super straight back, trying to be sneaky as she raised her chin ever so slightly.

Narrowing her eyes playfully, Ruby did the same.

Weiss slowly started raising up on her toes, and Ruby followed suit–until she tipped forward and sent them both crashing into the couch.

“Aah! Rubyyyy!”

“I’m sorry!”

“You’re such a dolt!”

“I know! I’m sorry!”

Ruby jumped back up to her feet and reached down to pull Weiss back up, but her partner’s gaze had flickered back to the tv screen where their game was still waiting for them.

“Oh, you wanna keep playing?” Ruby bounced excitedly as she jumped back to her spot next to Weiss on the couch.

“Actually…” Weiss turned to her with apologetic eyes.

Nooooooo! Weiss hated it. She wasn’t having any fun at all and she’d never want to play video games with Ruby ever ag–

“It’s getting a little late. It’s almost eleven. I’d like to go to bed, if that’s… okay?” she seemed a little confused as she finished the sentence, like she wasn’t sure if she was asking for permission or not.

“Oh.” That wasn’t too bad. Weiss didn’t say she hated video games or playing with Ruby…

“I’d be happy to play some more tomorrow!” Weiss quickly rushed on, smiling when the words made Ruby’s face light up again.

“Really?!” Maybe Weiss could be her second gaming buddy! Yang was great, but having Weiss to play with too would also be great! Twice the greatness!

“Sure,” Weiss confirmed with a confident nod. “This is fun. And… cool.” Ruby bit down on her lip to keep from snickering at the way Weiss said that word. “We can play some more tomorrow? After homework?”

Darn. Ruby pouted at that last qualification, but she supposed that was good. That was what Dad always told her and Yang–no games until your schoolwork is done! But they never listened to him. He was just a big dumb adult that was trying to be needlessly responsible like all the other big dumb adults!

Weiss wasn’t big, or dumb, or an adult, though. In fact, she was small (like Ruby!) and super smart and only a couple years older than Ruby! So… maybe being responsible wasn’t always lame and boring. Or at least, it was a lame boringness that Ruby needed to learn to deal with?

It shouldn’t be too hard if Weiss was there with her!

“Deal!” she agreed happily.

They stood from the couch. Ruby picked up her boots and unsynced her scroll from the tv while Weiss gathered her shiny white high heels, then they started walking back to the room.

“Wait, we didn’t compare our heights to each other!” Ruby realized. She’d gotten distracted! How did that happen? She was smarter than this!

“Oh really?” Weiss remarked, doing a terrible job at trying to sound nonchalant. “That’s a darn shame…”

Stamping her foot, Ruby stopped in the middle of the hallway. “Weiss! Come stand next to me!”

Weiss turned and flashed her a teasing grin. “Never!” She skipped a small step, playfully increasing the distance between them.

“Hey! Get back here!” Ruby dove forward to try to tackle her partner, eliciting a squeal from the girl as she took off down the hallway.

Slipping into her semblance, Ruby chased Weiss down, Weiss cackling adorably as the wave of rose-scented air brushed by her. She reached Weiss just as the girl managed to scan her scroll across the electronic lock on their door, wrapping her arms around her waist to tackle her.

Unfortunately, while in her semblance she had barely any effect on the physical world, and as angelic and beautiful and awesome as Weiss was, she was still just a physical person. When Ruby slammed into her she was barely knocked back a step (with another squeal), but Ruby bounced off of her and went spinning and rolling down more of the hallway.

Weiss dashed into their room with a giggle. Ruby pushed herself back up and leapt forward just in time to get a face full of door as Weiss slammed it shut in front of her.

It didn’t hurt–in fact, Ruby barely felt it at all–but it did stop her in her tracks.

“Frickity frack!” she muttered to herself as she pushed herself back into the world so she could pull out her scroll and unlock the door.

“Rawr!” she shouted as she burst into the room, only to find a wide eyed Blake blinking at her in surprise from her bed, a book resting on her knees.

Ruby blinked.

Blake blinked.

Ruby blinked.

Blake’s eyes flickered over to Ruby and Weiss’ bathroom, and Ruby got the message.

“Weiss! I’m coming to get you!”

She tried to shove open the door, but it was locked!

No, s’op!” Weiss’ windchimey voice squeaked from behind the barrier. “I’m ‘rushing ‘y teesh!”

How the heck had she gotten her toothbrush so fast?

“Weeeeeiiiiiiss! Get out here right now!”

No!”

“… Please?”

“…”

The bathroom behind Ruby opened up and Yang stumbled out in her cotton sleeping bra and pajama shorts, drying her hair with a towel. Ruby was way used to seeing Yang without a shirt on by now so she didn’t freak out like she had when she’d seen Blake without one. She did just barely noticed Blake blush and look away from Yang out of the corner of her eye, though. What was that about?

“What in Vytal is going on?” Yang demanded, fixing Ruby with a bemused glare.

“Weiss is hiding in the bathroom!” Ruby chirped, assuming that would explain everything.

“Why?”

‘Oh. Uhh…’ Why was Ruby chasing her again? Did she need a reason? It was pretty fun… Oh, right!

“She won’t let me see how tall I am compared to her when she’s not wearing her dumb heels!”

‘y ‘eels are not du’!” Weiss yelled behind the door.

Yang’s eyes widened in surprise at Weiss’ playful reaction. She turned and looked questioningly at Blake, but the girl just shrugged. With a heavy sigh, Yang shook her head as she tossed her towel onto the floor in her and Blake’s bathroom.

“You really are something else, Rubes.”

“What did I do?” Ruby asked, confused.

“Just melted the iciest heart ever,” Yang answered as she floofed her hair out with her fingers.

‘What in the world is she talking about?’

Blake grinned up at Yang from behind her book. “I thought you were the hot one,” she quipped.

Yang eyed Blake sideways through her lashes and–did she just wink at Blake? What the heck?

“Glad you think so,” she replied with that super confident Yang Smirk.

Blake blushed again and hid her face behind her book.

What in the world was going on with those two?!

Those lines of thought were instantly banished from her head when the sound of her and Weiss’ bathroom door opened made her turn. Weiss poked her head out and met Ruby’s eyes before making a soft “eep!”

Once again Ruby ended up smacking into a just-barely-shut-door. “Weiss!” she yelled, banging with her fists on this dumb hunk of wood that kept getting in her  way. “Weiss get let me in!”

“No!”

How could Ruby get Weiss to let her in. Maybe appeal to her responsible, adulty side?

“But I need to brush my teeth before bed, too!”

The long silence on the other side of the wall confirmed that the argument was at least making Weiss think about opening the door.

“… Okay, but only if you promise not to try to see how tall you are to me!”

“But Wei-iessss!” Ruby whined. “You were fine with it before! You took your du–your heels off and everything!”

Yeah, well I changed my mind!”

Ugh! Ruby just wanted to see if they were the same height! That was no big deal, right? And how cool would it be if they were?

“Okay, fiiiine!” she sighed, locking in a promise she realllly didn’t want to keep. Maybe she could sneakily compare their heights some other way…

Promise?”

“Promise.”

The click of the door unlocking allowed Ruby to jump into the bathroom, a smile on her face as she was simply excited to see her friend again.

Weiss had pulled her ponytail off, her long white hair hanging over her periwinkle nightie, her big blue eyes smirking and dancing in amusement.

This made Ruby so happyyyyy! Playful, happy Weiss was so awesome and cute and Ruby had made that happen! That made her feel way more accomplished than anything else she could remember doing, even getting into Beacon! How many people could say they’d gotten Weiss Schnee to smile? She bet the answer could be counted on one hand.

And she was one of them!

She didn’t know how to express how happy that made her, though, so she settled on giving Weiss an impish poke in the tummy, hoping the friendly physical contact would say what she couldn’t with words.

“Ow! What was that for?” Weiss indignantly huffed, a Princess Pout setting on her face as she covered her stomach with her arms.

Ruby simply shrugged, unable to provide an answer other than an even wider smile.

Weiss smiley-eye rolled. “You’re such a dolt,” she muttered.

When Ruby just nodded happily in agreement, Weiss raised an eyebrow at her.

“Well? Go brush your teeth!”

“Yes, ma’am!” Ruby chirped as she bounced over to the sink. She watched Weiss shake her head in the mirror, a small smile on her lips, before turning to walk out to the bedroom.

A couple minutes later Ruby had her teeth brushed, face washed, and pajamas on. She found the bedroom was now lit solely by the lamp next to Blake’s bed, her teammates all in their pajamas and beds.

“Well, Team RWBY!” she said with a smile, “Everybody ready for combat class tomorrow?”

“Woohoo!” Yang cheered, punching a fist into the air.

“Do you remember the time and place for it this time, oh captain?” Weiss asked (only somewhat) teasingly.

“Y-yeah! Of course I do!” She glanced desperately over at Blake questioningly, but the girl just grinned at her terrible predicament and raised her eyebrows like she was expecting an answer too.

‘Darn you, Blake, ya durn traitor!’

Weiss sighed heavily. “Noon to six, lobby of the Battle Center.”

Scrunching her nose, Ruby let out a huff that she hoped sounded as superior as Weiss’ huffs. “Y-yeah, Weiss. I said I know!”

“Uh huh.”

“Listen here, you–”

“Rubes!” Yang cut her off, rolling on her side to give Ruby a smoldering glare. “Nobody has, does, or ever will believe you remember our class schedule. Now pipe down and get in bed!”

Ruby pouted at what she knew was Yang being a teasing jerky-jerk. “What’s got your knockers in a knick?” she grumbled, referencing a silly phrase Uncle Qrow always said when Yang went all firey with her semblance.

Yang chuckled and pulled one of her pillows, resting it over her arm and laying across it as she stuck her tongue out at Ruby. “My arms are so sorrrre,” she confessed. “I went really ham showing up Nora in the gym, and then some giant third year guy came in and lifted my bench press bar with one hand like it was a freaking dumbbell!”

Blake leaned to the side to look up toward Yang. “Oh, was it that guy on Velvet’s team? Yatsushi or something?”

Yang snorted, poking her eyes and nose over the edge of her bunk to meet Blake’s eyes. “What is it with you and sushi?”

Gasping, Blake feigned being offended. “Nothing! I just correctly recognize and appreciate its deliciousness! There is nothing wrong with that!”

Ruby wondered what those two had been up to together that they were having seafood-based inside jokes.

“She’s right,” Weiss chimed in. “Sushi is quite palatable.”

Yang snorted a light laugh again. “Yes, well I find ribs and steaks to be far more ‘palatable’.”

“Yeah, well you’re an animal,” Weiss teased dismissively. Ruby noticed Blake shoot Weiss a funny look as she climbed up to her bunk. “Sushi is a food of sophistication and refinement. Right, Blake?”

Blake raised an eyebrow. “Uh, sure… I just like the way it tastes.”

Yang let out a booming laugh and reached down to give Blake a high five that the girl completed with a satisfied grin.

Ruby settled down on the edge of her bed where she could easily lean over and see Weiss, and Blake and Yang were easily visible across the room.

“Bah!” Weiss huffed, turning towards the wall. “I guess I won’t take us out to the critically acclaimed sushi restaurant in the city this weekend!” The light tone in her voice told Ruby the princess meant it as a joke, which made her smile.

“Wait, what acclaimed sushi restaurant?” Blake asked, the phrase making her eyes go wide and her bow twitch.

“… I actually don’t know of any in Vale,” Weiss admitted, turning back to the rest of the room. “I’m sure there is one, though. Would you guys like to find one this weekend?”

Wow. Weiss was inviting the whole team out to dinner? This was awesome!

“I’d love to,” Blake said with a smile.

Yang glanced at her partner, then Weiss, then Ruby and her beaming smile, then back at Weiss. “… Fiiiine,” she sighed, rolling onto her back again. “Hopefully they’ll have some nice Vacuan rub ribs or something and not just a bunch of rice and fish.”

Weiss rolled her eyes and leaned over to look up at Ruby.

Ruby smiled down at her partner, but then slowly realized there was a question in her eyes.

“Wait, what?” Ruby stammered, afraid she’d missed something.

“Would you like to go get dinner at a sushi restaurant on Saturday?” Weiss asked, a little worry creeping into her eyes.

‘Oh!’

“What? Of course, Weiss! I didn’t think that needed saying, sorry.”

Weiss’ worry disappeared, and she gave Ruby one of her signature tiny smiles.

“Yay, wooo, team bonding, fish, ra ra ra,” Yang drawled. “Can we go to sleep now?”

Blake scoffed lightly and clicked off her lamp, leaving the room in darkness but for the moonlight seeping through the windows and the blinking lights of their scrolls and Weiss and Yang’s laptops. “Drama queen,” she muttered teasingly.

“I’m too tired to fight you over that,” Yang responded with a groan.

A comfortable quiet settled over the room, interrupted only by the occasional rustling of sheets as the girls wiggled to get comfortable.

“Good night, Team RWBY,” Ruby called softly into the darkness.

“Good night, Ruby,” three voices called back to her.

She fell asleep with a smile.

 

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