Ruby dreamed of strawberries and cookies and weapons. Sometimes, they mixed! Weapons that shot cookies, strawberries with cookies for seeds, cookies made of strawberries… It occurred to Ruby’s slumbering brain that strawberry cookies might be a thing.
She was enjoying a lovely moment where she was swinging a giant Crescent Rose around Beacon, chopping down buildings and watching them tumble like dominoes and break apart into thousands of cookies when they hit the ground when a noise intruded into her thoughts.
Ding ding! Ding ding! Ding ding!
“Hmmmmph?” she groaned as she rolled around, pulled from sleep by someone’s alarm. She sensed movement somewhere around her, someone getting out of bed and heading into the bathroom. Was it already time to get up? She was still so sleepy, though.
She realized she didn’t care if it was time to get up, and rolled back over into her comfy covers, hugging one of her pillows to herself and snuggling into her other one. Having two pillows was great! She drifted into the strange twilight state of being asleep but not really and time seemed to go both super fast and super slow which was really weird ‘cause Ruby usually just went super fast ‘cause going slow is for suckers…
A minute passed. Or maybe it was an hour. It was hard to tell. Ruby saw a number of cookies during that time, though, however long it was. Eventually, she was stirred from sleep again by the sound of the room’s lock clicking and the door opening quietly.
She turned and blinked sleepily to see a blurry white and blue figure entering the room and heading to the bathroom. “Mmmmweiss?” she mumbled.
The figure stopped and stepped back into view from behind Ruby’s bed. “I’m sorry, Ruby,” Weiss whispered. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.”
What was Weiss doing up, though? It was like… some super early time, wasn’t it? “Where’d you go?” she slurred as she rubbed sleep from her eyes.
“I just went for a run.”
Clearing her vision, Ruby looked down at Weiss, who was wearing what looked like high-end workout clothes, a tight fitting white shirt with what might be… air holes?… running along the sides of the short sleeves and down the back, and blue short shorts, with simple white and grey running shoes. Her long hair was pulled back in her ponytail, and sweat was dripping down from her forehead slowly.
Somehow, she still looked like a princess.
Ruby pushed off her mattress, propping herself up on her elbows. She’d missed something! Someone was already up and doing stuff, and she wasn’t there to join them! And it was running! She loved running!
Weiss ducked into the bathroom while Ruby scrounged around in her blankets for her scroll. Where had she put it? She’d been playing Grimm Crush on it before she fell asleep… Aha! For some reason it got under her sheets next to her foot.
Crap. The battery was at two percent. ‘Way to go, Ruby Rose.’
Wait, it was seven thirty in the morning! Why the heck was Weiss awake? What kind of psychopath wakes up for exercise this early? Was the sun even awake yet?
Reaching over to peek behind the curtain over the window, she found that the sky was just turning light shades of pink and orange. It looked really pretty! The buildings of Beacon Academy made really impressive silhouettes.
She stretched her hands over her head with a big yawn. She was awake now, might as well get out of bed and find some ways to have fun!
Weiss came back out of the bathroom, closing it quietly and glancing across the room to make sure she hadn’t disturbed Blake and Yang. She’d changed into a fancy looking sleeveless white shirt with silver buttons down the front and a light purple skirt that looked kinda the same color as Yang’s eyes. What had her sister called it? Lilac?
Ruby kicked her feet as Weiss tiptoed over to the bookshelf, causing the girl to glance up at her as she moved past.
“You can go back to sleep, Ruby.”
Ruby shook her head with a smile. “Nope! I’m already up! Now we can hang out and do partner things!”
Weiss’ hand stopped as she was reaching for her tiny guitar case and she looked down at the ground, causing her ponytail to swing over her shoulder like a giant pendul…pend… that thing on the big fancy clocks.
“Are you sure you don’t want to get more sleep?” Weiss asked. “You were up pretty late last night.”
Aw! Weiss was so sweet for worrying about her! “I’m okay! What do you want to do?”
Weiss picked up her tiny guitar case and hugged it to herself. “I was going to go play the violin–” oh, that’s what that is! “–if I can find somewhere quiet that won’t wake everyone up…”
Ruby hopped down from her bed and landed next to Weiss, which caused her partner to flinch slightly for some reason. Weird. Had she thought Ruby was attacking her? That’s just silly!
“How about the roof?” Ruby offered. That seemed like a great spot to play, and it probably had a great view! Ruby wondered how tiny everyone would look from up there.
Weiss scrunched her eyebrows. “Can we go up there?”
Ruby tilted her head in thought. “Well, yeah! With my semblance or your glyphs we could get up there easy!”
“What?” Ruby thought maybe Weiss was agreeing with her, but her eyebrows were still scrunched together.
“We can get up there easily. You’re describing how we’re doing an action, so you have to use the adverb. Easily.”
“Oh… Okay.” Did she have to, though? She said ‘easy’ and the universe didn’t smite her for it. Weren’t all words made up anyway? Did it matter if what she said was proper if the point came across?
Weiss seemed to realize that Ruby wasn’t convinced she should care, and cleared her throat. “Sorry. Um… Anyway, I meant are we allowed to go up on the roof? I don’t think we are.”
Ruby chuckled. “I haven’t seen any signs that say ‘No going on the roof,’ have you?” Boom! Perfect logic.
“No…” Weiss admitted, “but–”
“C’mon! It’s perfect! It’ll be a nice open space where nobody will get woken up and there won’t be anybody there to bother you!”
Weiss narrowed her eyes. “Are you coming with me?”
“Well, yeah!” Of course! Why wouldn’t she?
Weiss frowned at something Ruby had said, but then she sighed and nodded at the floor. “Okay, I suppose that will work.”
Confused, Ruby tried to figure out why Weiss seemed so bummed. Was the roof not a good place? Did she not like heights or something? She hadn’t seemed all that bothered when they’d hitched a ride on that Nevermore in the forest, but maybe she’d just been really good at hiding her fear…
“If the roof isn’t a good idea, we can–”
“No, no.” Weiss raised a palm to stop her from continuing. “The roof is actually a really good idea. As long as we don’t get in trouble.”
It was a good idea! Woo! Ruby bounced happily. “They’d have to catch us for us to get in trouble!” she laughed.
“Ssssh!” Weiss hissed, eyes flashing over to the sleeping forms of Blake and Best Sister.
“Right,” Ruby whispered. “Sorry.”
Weiss rolled her eyes. How did she so that so well? Whenever Ruby tried to roll her eyes she couldn’t make the full circle and it kinda just made her face hurt.
“Are you going to change?” Weiss asked.
“Right! Be right back!”
She dashed to the closet and quickly stripped down, grabbing a random shirt of hers off the rack and throwing it over her head.
Weiss had reorganized and refolded pretty much all of Ruby’s clothes last night without even saying anything, which made Ruby feel really bad. She had said she’d come in and fix anything she’d messed up, hadn’t she? Instead, Weiss had taken the time to fix everything herself and hadn’t even asked for any recognition for it. If Ruby hadn’t already thought that Weiss was secretly a nice person, that would have sealed it for her.
Also, Weiss had so many clothes. Like holy heck, how did she fit all these in a plane, much less a few suitcases. And all of the clothes were really pretty. Weiss seemed to have a cold/wintery color scheme going on, but Ruby could understand that with how light her hair and skin were.
Ruby had also noticed Weiss’ jewelry box on the dresser and really really really wanted to see inside it ‘cause she was curious what rich-fancy-people jewelry looked like, but figured it would be rude to look without asking. Right? She was pretty sure that was right.
She hastily pulled on her jeans and then dashed back out to find Weiss waiting patiently out in the hallway. When Ruby came out, Weiss gave her a small nod and walked down the hallway.
Closing the door–quietly!–behind her, Ruby skipped after her partner. “So, what do you do, Weiss?”
“Yeah! Like, I know you play the piano–really good, by the way–”
“Well,” Weiss interjected.
“Nothing.” She waved her hand for Ruby to continue.
“So yeah, you play the piano, and apparently the violin, so I guess you’re like super musical. Do you do anything else in your free time?”
Weiss was quiet, her lips pursed and skewed to one side while she thought about her answer. Ruby wasn’t really sure what there was to think about, but maybe Weiss had so many hobbies she couldn’t remember all of them!
“I like to sing,” Weiss said softly.
‘Wow. Super musical!’
“I bet you sound amazing!” Ruby chirped.
A shy smile flashed across Weiss’ face, and she briefly met Ruby’s eyes before looking back at the ground.
“I have been told I have a nice voice,” she admitted.
They passed through the communal area, which was empty of people but the living room was littered with trash–potato chip bags, empty soda cans, dirty napkins, etc. Ruby noticed Weiss scowl at the mess. She understood that. Their dorm was great, and already people were just leaving garbage lying around! That seemed… rude.
Shaking her head, she turned back to Weiss. “Anything else?”
Weiss nodded slowly. “Well, once I get more comfortable with the violin, I want to pick up the cello, too. Maybe the viola, but that’s really similar to the violin, so it wouldn’t feel too different.”
Holy heck, this girl loves music!
Weiss hugged her violin case again. “I used to draw and paint when I was little, but I wasn’t as good as I was at music, so Father made me quit. I remember enjoying working with the paints and the charcoals. It was… messy, but it was supposed to be.”
Her eyes seemed to go somewhere far away, and Ruby wanted to let her enjoy whatever memory she was slipping into, but something Weiss had said confused her. “But… why’d your dad make you quit if you enjoyed it?”
Weiss blinked in surprise at the question. Her mouth opened and closed as she struggled to figure out how to answer.
“I… well, he wanted me to focus on things I could be successful with.”
Ruby guessed that made sense, but… “What does it matter if you were happy?”
Weiss sighed and gave her a sad smile. “Being happy isn’t the only thing that matters, Ruby.”
Ruby got kind of offended at the implication, like she thought life was only about having fun. “I know! You should also make sure you and everyone else is safe and… good to each other. But… I’m sure you were safe at home and that your family was good to you, so why would they not want you to be happy?”
“I don’t know, Ruby,” Weiss sighed. “My f-father values success more than happiness.”
That sounded sad. And Weiss looked sad right now. At least, Ruby thought she did. It was hard to tell. Weiss’ face didn’t really reveal much about how she was feeling. But why would talking about family make her sad?
“Is he successful?” Ruby asked. Weiss’ dad was some super important Dust guy, right?
Weiss laughed, but it didn’t sound like a happy laugh. “He’s the richest man in the world, so yes, I’d say he’s successful.”
Richest man in the world? No wonder Weiss seemed like such a princess! She basically is the Princess of Dust!
They’d reached the lobby now, the only noise in the giant room the clicking of Weiss’ heels on the tile.
“Is he happy?”
Weiss almost flinched at that question and looked off to the side. “He–I… I don’t know, Ruby. Can we talk about something else? Or better yet, can we just not talk at all?” Her voice had grown angrier as she talked, and Ruby worried she’d messed up.
“I’m sorry!” she cried quickly, trying to salvage the conversation. “I didn’t mean to upset you!”
“I’m not upset!” Weiss snapped at her, clearly upset. She seemed to realize her princess composure had broken, because she “ahemmed” and ran the back of her hand across her already super straightened skirt. “Just forget it,” she grumbled.
“Okay,” whispered Ruby, afraid if she said anything else she might make things worse. Maybe she should leave Weiss alone? But no, right? She couldn’t let her partner be by herself on their first full day as a team! Especially when she was the team leader.
She needed to figure out how to get Weiss to be her friend. Ruby had made plenty of friends at Signal with the power of positivity! She just needed to do the same here. Weiss might need some super positivity, though.
What could Ruby do to get Weiss to relax? She loved music… What could Ruby do with that? She could… link Weiss to her playlist! Share her own music with her. She might like that. Or Ruby could learn an instrument herself, so they could play together! She and Yang had messed around with Dad’s guitar when they were little, but they’d both ended up quitting ‘cause it was so hard and no matter what the did it sounded gross. Maybe she could try again?
Or! Or she could get Weiss some paints! Painting made her happy, and her dad wasn’t here to tell her no anymore. So then Weiss would be happy with her, right?
That was great! Now, how to get paints?
Last night, Yang and Blake had agreed they should go into the city today to shop for some stuff they’d need–snacks and food for their section of the fridge in the kitchen, toilet paper because nobody had thought to pack any, and Yang wanted to get one of those memory foam cover things for her mattress, which sounded like a good idea to Ruby, too. Maybe when they were shopping Ruby could convince Yang to get some paint supplies!
Should she tell her what they were for, though? Yang didn’t really seem to like Weiss. Maybe she wouldn’t want to spend money on a present for a girl that could probably buy the entire world. Hmm…
Weiss stopped, and Ruby realized they were standing outside, her partner looking up to the roof of their dorm building. Ruby blinked as she realized she hadn’t even noticed they’d walked out into the chill morning air while she was deep in her super awesome best partner thoughts.
Weiss glanced at her briefly before summoning one of her super cool glyphs underneath herself, the white glowy lines emanating a soft hum as they launched her into the air with a small jump. Her ponytail fluttered as she flew up, and she stepped lightly onto the roof like she was just taking a normal step.
Weiss had just jumped two stories in the blink of an eye and hadn’t even looked like she had needed to put in effort. How freaking cool was that?!
Now it was her turn!
She closed her eyes fell into that inner flower, marvelling in the feeling of her physical body peeling–no, blooming–away. She jumped up, and her increased movement and coupled with the way physical laws like air resistance and gravity seemed to affect her less in this form meant the action carried her almost ten feet into the air. She tensed her super ripped abs and swung her feet out in front of herself and run up the wall, her pumping legs beating out the force of gravity to bring her up to the second story. Passing the edge of the roof with a mighty push, she spun up into the air and landed in a super sweet kneeling pose like a bad-a. She pushed herself out of her semblance as she was landing, bringing herself back with an awesome whoosh of her cloak. Rose petals spun around her, some floating away on the breeze.
Upon standing, she found Weiss a little ways away, her eyes transfixed on a single petal that was drifting down toward her. She hold out a hand, and the petal floated into her palm, where she stared at it for a long while with an unreadable expression.
This was weird, right? “Uh, Weiss?”
Weiss’ gaze snapped to Ruby’s as she came back to reality from… wherever she just went.
“You okay?” Ruby asked.
“Yes,” her partner stated matter-of-factly, flicking the petal away and marching off toward the center of the roof.
Shrugging, Ruby decided to let it go. Everyone was entitled to a little weirdness, and Weiss was already pretty different as it was. She skipped after Weiss, who strutted over towards the center of the roof where there was a raised bit of concrete to sit on.
Wow. Ruby hadn’t been wrong about the view either.
Just a couple hundred feet away, Beacon Tower stabbed into a now soft blue sky. In the other direction, she could see the sprawling city of Vale extended as far as she could see, buildings pinpointing the landscape all the way to the mountains that superimposed a blood orange horizon.
“Huaaaaah,” she gasped in wonderment.
“Was that a word?” Weiss asked, a bemused eyebrow raised at Ruby.
Ruby just spread her hands out towards the dawn-lit city beneath them. “Look at this vieeeeeew!” she squealed.
Not squealed. She didn’t squeal. It was more a… loud exclamation! Of passion! Yeah!
Weiss turned and looked out where Ruby was pointing, her regal expression softening as she scanned across the horizon. “It is quite beautiful,” she agreed, tucking her skirt to her legs and sitting in one graceful motion.
Ruby sat cross-legged on the ground in front of her partner, head tilting side to side happily as she prepared for her own personal concert. She was with her partner, the weather was great, the view was beautiful, they were on the freaking roof which was so exciting! Today was starting off pretty great! She was a little sleepy, but that was okay. The chill morning breeze and the excitement of getting to hear Weiss play again was like an adrenaline shot straight to her veins.
Last night Weiss had been amazing on the piano. She sounded like a concert maestro. Admittedly, Ruby didn’t actually know how grand master pianists sounded, but it was probably like Weiss. They obviously couldn’t sound any better, ‘cause that was impossible!
She’d felt terrible when she interrupted Weiss and upset her, but it had seemed like she’d been forgiven when they walked back to the room together. Ruby made a mental note to not interrupt Weiss this time.
Look at her, becoming a better partner already!
When Weiss set her case down next to her and popped it open, Ruby craned her neck curiously to see. First, Weiss pulled out what Ruby guessed was the bow, which actually had a ton of strings–Ruby had always thought they just had one. Next, Weiss pulled out some weird tiny box and rubbed it up and down the strings of the bow. Ruby desperately wanted to ask what she was doing, but she had already vowed to herself that she wouldn’t disturb Weiss from her Music Mode.
Finally, Weiss pulled out the violin itself, and man was it awesome. It had swirly patterns carved along the outer edges, and the twisty things at the end looked like they were solid gold. And Ruby had no idea wood could be so shiny. It was a dark wood that reflected the sunlight in bright oranges. All in all, it was pretty awesome. It wasn’t, like, a super cool weapon awesome, but it was pretty up there.
Plus, it was Weiss’, so that made it even cooler.
The way Weiss handled it reminded Ruby of the way she handled Crescent Rose, and that more than anything told her it was special.
When Weiss tucked the violin under her chin and brought the bow up, Ruby perked up, excited to listen. The movement seemed to remind Weiss that Ruby was there, because she paused and looked over, regarding Ruby with another one of those unreadable expressions. Ruby flashed her a big smile.
Weiss returned a small, hesitant smile before lowering her bow. “Have you ever heard a violin before?” she asked. From the way her fingers were rubbing nervous circles in her bow, Ruby suspect she was having a little bit of stage fright.
“Yeah! There’s violins in quite a few of my favorite songs. Although, I’ve never heard one in person before. But I’d never heard a piano in person before last night, and that was awesome!”
That got another small smile from her teammate. “Fair warning, I’m not anywhere near as good at the violin as I am at the piano.”
Ruby gave another one of her patented Makes Everything Better smiles (that’s what Mom and Dad always called them). “I’m sure you’re still awesome!”
The way Weiss’ brow quickly pulled together made Ruby think she didn’t believe that, but then Weiss brought the bow back up and started playing.
It was awesome.
The violin itself sounded really pretty, the notes pure and smooth. And the song Weiss played was also awesome, a slow and majestically building song that fit so well with the landscape. When Ruby noticed Weiss close her eyes and start to rock with the music, her shoulders moving with the bow, Ruby knew she was in Music Mode.
She smiled. She wasn’t sure she understood how or why Music Mode made Weiss the Grumpy relax so much, but it was nice to see, and it was nice to know that she could.
For a long while, Ruby relaxed and enjoyed the music and the skyline. It was nice! Very calming and soothing. Ten minutes passed. Then fifteen. Then twenty. Still… still relaxing. But…
Ruby started to get bored.
What should she do? She could try to keep staying still and silent, but she didn’t really trust herself to not blurt some random thought out if she kept having to contain herself.
Aha! She could do what she always did when she had to sit around and wait for her turn when Yang and Dad were sparring. Play videogames!
She pulled out her scroll and opened Grimm Crush. It was a pretty boring match-three puzzle game, but it passed the time. Plus, watching the tiny Nevermores squawk when they get squished was pretty funny. She remembered just before the app intro music to mute her volume! Phew, that was close.
She spent a few minutes making cute little Grimm pop–a part of her brain wondered if trivializing killer demon monsters like this was good for society. Suddenly, Weiss’ violin let out a screechy noise and Weiss stopped.
“Damn it!” she growled.
‘Language!’ was Ruby’s first thought, but she stopped herself from saying that. Instead, she asked, “What’s wrong?” she asked, worried that noise meant something had snapped or stretched or… Ruby didn’t actually know what kind of things could go wrong on a violin…
Weiss huffed angrily at herself. “Nothing! I just–I always miss this damn note!” She put the bow down and pinched her other arm. It looked like she was pinching it hard.
“I don’t know why! I keep… I think my pinky’s just too weak to hold the string down when I have to stretch that far across the frets. I just–ugh!”
She picked her bow up and started playing again, though angrier and louder this time. This time, Ruby payed attention, and saw Weiss’ pinky kind of spasm when the screech happened.
Weiss clenched up this time, closing her eyes, lowering her head, and taking deep, frustrated breaths. She put the bow down and pinched her arm again. She was gripping the neck of the violin so tightly Ruby could see her knuckles pale–which seemed extra scary considering how pale she already was.
“Weiss, it’s o–”
“Don’t!” Weiss interrupted her, keeping her eyes pressed shut. “Just… don’t, Ruby.”
Snapping her mouth shut, Ruby stared wide-eyed and worried at her partner. Why was she so mad at herself for missing one note when she’d played so many so amazingly? She stayed quiet, though. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to make Weiss feel better, and Weiss didn’t want her to say anything.
She waited patiently while Weiss’ breathing lightened and her muscles slowly untensed. Ruby was getting anxious though, watching where Weiss’ fingernails were digging into her skin. How long before they broke skin and Weiss started bleeding?
Thankfully, Weiss let go of her arm just before Ruby was about to say something. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled before opening her eyes and meeting Ruby’s.
Ruby, for her part, did her best to give Weiss an encouraging smile, but she began to think her patented Makes Everything Better technology was broken because Weiss only gave her one of her weirdly sad smiles in return before looking at the ground.
Was she allowed to speak now?
“Sorry,” Weiss whispered. “I didn’t mean to yell at you. I just get…”
“Intense?” Ruby finished for her.
Weiss let out a light exhale that might have been a laugh. “Yeah, I suppose ‘intense’ might be a good word for it.”
“I thought you sounded really good,” Ruby offered hesitantly. When Weiss frowned and looked down at her hands, Ruby decided to change tactics. “Thank you for letting me listen.”
Weiss’ brought her eyes back to Ruby’s, the piercing blues looking shy and unsure. Ruby tried her super smile tech again, and this time it seemed to work. Weiss gave her another one of those small, tight smiles, but this time she looked like her eyes were smiling too.
Weiss took another deep breath and roamed her eyes across Vale again. Ruby watched that peaceful, serene expression come back to her partner’s face, a look that was subtly different from her stone-cold impassive mask.
Weiss turned back to Ruby with a smile. “How about some breakfast?”
Ruby through her arms up in the air. “Woohoo food!” she cheered. T
That got a light chuckle out of the Weiss (which Ruby tallied as a win), and they both stood to leave, Weiss packing her instrument away.
“You think the cafeteria’s open?” Ruby asked excitedly. Those were some pretty good cookies yesterday, and she hoped they’d have some for breakfast, too.
Would they, though? Dad and Yang let her have cookies for breakfast all the time, but apparently that wasn’t “normal” or something. Pfft! If you had to choose between breakfast with cookies and breakfast without cookies, why the heck would you ever pick breakfast without cookies?
Weiss nodded. “The schedule says it opens at eight AM on the weekdays.”
Ruby glanced down at her scroll. 8:20 AM! What the heck, they’d been out there for almost an hour!
Wait, that meant Ruby had been mostly quiet for almost an hour! Ha! Take that, Yang! Her sister always teased her for being unable to stay still and quiet for longer than a breath. She’d just stayed quiet for way longer than a breath. Like, at least… a hundred breaths!
How many breaths did she take in an hour? She should find out! She started counting.
One. Two. Three.
“I was thinking of going into town to do some shopping today,” Weiss cut through her highly important task.
“Oh! We were saying last night that we wanted to do that too! I forgot to tell you. When should we go? After breakfast?”
Weiss nodded. “That sounds good.”
They reached the edge of the roof. Ruby jumped off without any hesitation, falling into her semblance and to the ground. When her feet hit concrete she tucked into a roll, the whole experience feeling like she was getting squished by giant sponges. Normally that fall would wreck her knees and the roll would scrape her up pretty bad, but her body seemed to be immune–or at least, super duper resistant–to getting hurt while she was in her semblance. She hoped one she’d get fast enough with it that she could mitigate attacks by slipping in and out of Rose Form.
Beside her, Weiss dropped down, pressing her skirt into her leg with the hand holding the violin case. Right before she hit the ground, she reached up with her other hand and summoned a big black glyph above it that pulled her up. Once her momentum was stopped, she cut off the glyph and dropped the last couple of feet to the ground.
“That’s so cool!” Weiss turned to Ruby at the words, slightly confused. “You could probably fall like a billion miles without a problem with that trick!” Ruby elaborated.
Weiss smiled at that. “Perhaps, though I hope I’m never in a situation where I’m falling a billion miles.”
“That’s fair,” Ruby admitted. “Let’s go see if the other two are awake!”
Weiss seemed unsure about that for some reason, but followed Ruby back into the dorms anyway.
When they got inside, Ruby noticed the big guy across the lobby, heading toward them. What was his name? Karen? No! Cardin!
“Goooood morning, Cardin!” Ruby called with a little wave.
It was hard to tell ‘cause he was still a bit of a ways away, but it seemed like Cardin scoffed in response, which confused Ruby. Didn’t he know he was supposed to say ‘good morning’ back?
When the guy got closer, Weiss spoke from Ruby’s side. “Did you clean up the mess you and your team made in the living room last night?” she asked in her Ice Queen voice.
Cardin scoffed again. “Sure thing, girly,” he drawled in his deep, dumb sounding dude voice. “It was right on top of my to do list this morning.”
Instead of walking to the side to get past them like any normal person would, the big dumb brute pushed his way between them, making them both stagger to the side. The rudeness made Weiss gasp in shock, and just confused Ruby, really. Why was that… necessary?
As Cardin walked out, Weiss turned to Ruby with a scowl. “Are all men just insufferable cretins?” she hissed.
Ruby wasn’t really sure what a ‘cretin’ was, but it sounded like a bad thing. “Not all of them! My dad’s awesome! And Professor Ozpin is pretty cool… Oh, and there’s also your dad and brother!”
Weiss looked away and started walking again.
She seemed really upset. Her fist was clenched and she was walking–almost stomping–a lot faster than she was before.
Time to distract her!
“Hey, what did you want to get while we’re shopping?” Ruby asked, skipping to keep up with her partner’s angry walk.
“Hm? Oh, I kind of want to get one of those mattress covers for my bed. It’s incredibly uncomfortable.”
“Hey, Yang said the same thing!” Ruby bounced. “I want one, too. And maybe Blake will want one when she sees the rest of us with them. Oh! And we have to get some snacks. Cookies and strawberries and Blake wants something called sockeye salmon and Yang wants protein bars ‘cause of course she does. What kinda snacks do you want?”
Weiss blinked at Ruby. “Well… I suppose I’d like to get some granola bars. Maybe some grapefruits. Or stuff for prosciutto cranberry crostini…”
Now it was Ruby’s turn to blink in confusion. “What?”
Weiss smirked. “It’s a… fancy appetizer. I’ll show you.”
Hey! Weiss was going to teach her some fancy people stuff! And it was fancy people food! Ruby loved pretty much every kind of food!
Except vegetables. Eff vegetables.
Uh-oh. What if Weiss’ fancy food had veggies? Fancy people like veggies, don’t they?
“That sounds great!” she bounced instead of voicing her devastating internal vegetable drama.
When they passed through the living room, Weiss again scowled at the mess still littering the place that Ruby now knew was Team CRDL’s doing.
They got to the door and Weiss swiped them through. Yang was still snoring from her top bunk, though Blake was awake, looking pretty cute in her jammies propped up on her pillows reading a book.
“Hey,” she greeted them. “Where’d you two go?”
Ruby shrugged casually. “Oh, you know. Just the roof.” When Blake’s eyebrows arched in surprise, Ruby giggled. “You want to go get breakfast and then go shopping in Vale?”
Blake gave a quick, longing glance at the book in her hands before sliding a bookmark into place and closing it. “Sure, that sounds nice.”
Ruby bounced over to her sister’s bunk and hopped up to shake Yang’s shoulder. “Yang! Yang wake up you big, dumb Ursa! We gotta eat food and go shopping and eat food!”
She was ready when Yang sleepily swung a hand at her. Giggling as she hopped down out of the way, Ruby kept needling her sister awake. “C’mon! Weiss wants to buy prosho cranberry croties!”
“That’s not at all what I said,” came Weiss’ haughty voice from their bathroom.
Ruby just giggled again.
Yang sat up and rubbed her eyes groggily. “Ruby,” she mumbled, “Weiss doesn’t really seem like the type to make up nonsense words like you do.”
“But she did! I swear!”
“I most certainly did not!” Weiss stalked out of their bathroom, wearing a small smile and a pair of silver earrings and necklace with a pretty blue stone in it that she hadn’t been wearing before. “Prosciutto cranberry crostini is a delicious appetizer or snack and is absolutely not made up.”
Ruby crossed her arms and looked at Yang with an “I told you so” face.
Yang ran with the joke. “Holy crap. You’re right. She does make up words.”
Weiss scoffed loudly and rolled her eyes in that impressive way she had. It made Ruby and Yang laugh, and Ruby noticed Blake was pursing her lips in amusement too.
“I don’t really know what crostini is,” Blake said, “but I do know what prosciutto is, and I can confirm it is both not made up and very delicious.”
“Yes! Thank you, Blake!” Weiss said with a dramatic wave of her hands. “At least someone here has some culture!”
“Alright, settle down there, Ice Queen,” Yang chuckled as she climbed down from her bunk. “Let us get ready and we can head out. Blake, you want to change first?”
“Oh! Sure.” Blake slid out of her covers and entered their bathroom with no more noise than a soft click.
‘How is she so quiet?!’
Ruby saw an opportunity to tease her sister. “Well, Weiss, we might as well go hang out on the roof for another hour. We’re going to have to wait for Yang to get ready.”
“Alright, c’mere, you,” Yang growled. Before Ruby could react, Yang’s hand snaked out and wrapped around her wrist, pulling her into the inescapable grasp of Worst Sister as she began the most brutal tickle campaign ever.
“Listen here, you little pipsqueak!” Yang shouted as Ruby fell into a fit of squeals and giggles. “Just ‘cause you’re ‘team leader’ now doesn’t mean you get to go around sassing your big sister! You will treat me with love and respect of so help me I will tickle you into oblivion!”
Ruby couldn’t breathe, and she couldn’t escape. There was never any escaping Yang’s hold. “Yang!” she whined through her brief gasps of air that were the only thing keeping her alive through this inhumane torture. “Yang stop! I was jus–Yaaang! I was joking! Yang! No! Stooooop! Ya–please!”
Yang let go of her with a satisfied laugh. As soon as she was free, Ruby jumped across the room and squeezed her ribs as she struggled to breath.
“Yang-uh!” she whined. “You can’t–*gasp*–you can’t just tickle me in front of our teammates like that! It’s unprofessional for a team leader to be tickled!”
Yang grinned wickedly at her. “Oh, I can’t?” She took threatening step forward.
Ruby was ready this time, and used a burst of her semblance to put herself behind Weiss.
“Weiss, protect your fearless leader!”
Her partner crossed her arms. “What part of you hiding behind my back from your own sister is fearless?”
Ruby shook her head quickly. “I’m not hiding behind you, I’m strategically using you as a meat shield!”
That got laughs from both of them.
Yang and Blake’s bathroom door opened and Blake poked her head out. “Is everything okay? It sounded like someone was dying.” From the way the corner of her mouth was pulled up ever so slightly, though, Ruby suspect she knew exactly what had happened.
“Oh, nobody’s dying,” Yang responded as she inspected her fingernails. “Just Ruby’s dignity.”
“Oh, she had some?” Weiss commented flippantly.
“Hey!” Ruby piped up, still keeping Weiss between herself and Yang.
Yang chuckled again before turning to Blake. “You done in there?”
“Mhm!” Blake stepped back inside quickly for something and then walked up, leaving the door open for Yang.
Ruby didn’t relax until Yang had firmly closed the door and was completely out of sight. Once it was safe, she collapsed onto Weiss’ bed with a relieved huff.
Blake sat on the edge of her bed and looked over at Ruby with that amused not-quite-a-smile. “Does she do that often?”
Ruby threw her arms up. “All the frickin’ time!” she whined. “She’s the absolute worst!”
“I thought you said she was the best sister ever,” Blake reminded her.
“Yeah, well if she keeps this up, I’ll happily pass the title over to Weiss’ sister.”
Weiss smiled at that. “Don’t worry, Ruby. She already has it.”
“Is she on a secret mission right now?” Ruby asked, sitting up excitedly. “Is she beating up some bad guy White Fang dudes or something in some undisclosed location?”
Ruby noticed Blake frown out of the corner of her eye, but before she could ask about it, Weiss answered.
“Well, if it’s a secret mission, I couldn’t really tell you, could I?”
“Awww, come on! We won’t tell anyone else! You can trust us, we’re your team!”
That seemed to give Weiss pause. “Well…” she said slowly, “honestly, I don’t know. She’s not actually allowed to tell me about most of her assignments.”
“Aw. That sucks.”
Weiss shrugged lightly with one shoulder, a weirdly stiff movement that made Ruby think Weiss didn’t shrug very often. “It is what it is,” she said. “Winter became a huntress and joined the military to serve and protect, not to have cool stories for her little sister.”
“Her name is Winter?” Ruby asked. “That’s so cool! My mom’s name was Summer!”
Weiss tilted her head quizzically at Ruby, and opened her mouth to say something, but then decided against it.
“What?” Ruby asked. “They were both named after seasons. I just thought that was pretty cool.” Her gaze dipped a little sadly at the end. She thought it had been a neat little thing she and Weiss had in common, but apparently Weiss didn’t agree.
Except Weiss’ eyes went wide and she stammered out a quick apology. “No! No, I’m sorry. You’re right, that is pretty neat. I just…” she trailed off, really unsure of what she wanted to say. “You… you said your mom’s name was Summer?”
Weiss’ hands fiddle nervously. “Can I ask what happened to her?”
“… Of course!” Ruby said. That all too familiar ache of emptiness and sadness that had come to take the place of her mother in her heart was creeping in, but Weiss was asking because she cared, right? And this was something important that partners should share, right?
“She left on a hunt one day when I was little and never came home,” she explained simply with a small shrug.
“I’m sorry, Ruby,” Weiss said softly, sitting down slowly next to Ruby on her bed. Across the room, Blake was watching intently, amber eyes flicking as she took in pretty much everything about Ruby’s body language.
Ruby straightened up and did her best to change the tone, smiling broadly. “It’s no big deal! Dad said she died as she lived, a hero. Which is what I always knew she was. So it’s okay. I bet wherever she was she saved a lot of people.”
Weiss was looking at her with this weird expression that Ruby didn’t understand. What was she thinking right now?
The uncomfortably personal conversation was cut short when Yang yanked open her bathroom door and jumped out dramatically.
“All right, babes! Who’s ready for some shopping?!”
Ruby jumped up, grateful for the distraction. “Woohoo, shopping! And food!” She dashed out the door and into the communal area. They’d hopefully think Ruby was just excited, but really she just needed to get out of that room. She took a breath and tried to get some control over her emotions.
Whenever she started missing Mom, she’d force herself to think about happy memories with her instead. Like going to the market to buy food and coming home with just a giant basket of strawberries, making Dad roll his eyes and go back to the market with Yang to get actual food. Or like her and Mom taking the petals from her semblance and hiding them in all of Dad’s stuff through fits of excited giggles. Or like Mom coming back from a hunt and immediately making Yang and her a big meal of pancakes, even if it was night time, even if they’d already eaten.
“You know why you’re getting pancakes, Ruby baby?”
“Because you love me!”
“You bet your little petals I do.”
Ruby smiled at the memories. A pang of nostalgia washed over her, but it faded away into a gratefulness that she’d ever had such an awesome mom in the first place.
And here Ruby was now, studying to become a huntress like Mom. Even in the same academy as Mom had. She hoped Mom would be proud of her right now.
Ruby knew that walking down the same path as her mom had meant that she could meet the same end, but she would learn from her mom’s mistake, the one mistake she ever made.
Ruby wouldn’t ever go out alone. She’d make sure she always had her team beside her.