“Weiss?” came Blake’s muffled voice, followed by two soft knocks on the bathroom door. “Can I come in?”
Weiss didn’t respond. She didn’t want to talk to anybody right now. She just wanted to be alone. She thought Blake of all people would understand that.
With a small squeak she heard the bathroom door open. “Weiss?” Blake called out. “You in here?”
Weiss held back a scoff. Of course she wasn’t. A Schnee doesn’t hide in a bathroom.
Hiding in a closet, though? That was okay.
Dreading the sound of footsteps getting closer, Weiss looked up to see the shadows of Blake’s feet in front of the closet door.
Still, Weiss didn’t respond. She wanted to tell Blake to go away, to leave her alone, but… that would be mean, wouldn’t it? She was trying really hard to not be mean. Like just now with Yang, she’d really wanted to say something back at the arrogant blonde, to tell her…
‘No. Stop it, Weiss.’
Besides, responding to Blake would require her to use her voice, something she wasn’t totally sure she could do right now.
The handle turning quietly, the door creaked open slowly. “Weiss?”
From the silhouette of her teammate, it was hard for Weiss to see Blake’s expression, but Blake very clearly saw her, despite the closet lights being turned off. She was tucked into the corner of the small room, arms around her knees.
“Hey,” Blake said quietly. “Can I join you?” She gestured to the floor next to Weiss.
Weiss still couldn’t find her voice, so she nodded almost imperceptibly.
Crossing the space between them with two long strides, Blake sat and leaned back against the well beside her teammate. She gave Weiss a light bump on her shoulder with her own.
“You doing okay?”
Weiss huffed. Was she okay? No, not at all.
Being accused of trying to buy Ruby’s friendship? That wasn’t what she was doing. She’d just gone through a crap ton of emotional turmoil and introspection to come to the realization that she should be friends with Ruby, with her entire team. She was trying to be nice to Ruby, and she had a lot of money that she was happy to spend on things to make Ruby happy. How was that a bad thing?
Was she just trying to buy Ruby’s friendship? When she’d been trying to figure out how to apologize to her partner, she had thought “Schnees are good at buying things.”
But… if her intentions were good, what did it matter? How else was she supposed to make friends? What else did she have?
She didn’t even know what she was supposed to make of the fact that Ruby didn’t want nice clothes until she met Weiss. Didn’t that mean Weiss was being a positive influence?
And when Yang had slammed her hands onto the table and growled at her out of nowhere… Weiss couldn’t help but feel like she was sitting across from her father as he flew into a rage in the dining hall back home. They were such different people–her father’s anger was a much colder, much more calculated and cutting thing–but the mannerisms were scarily similar.
Weiss hated that, in that moment, she’d been scared.
A slight movement from Blake pulled Weiss from her thoughts as she realized her teammate was waiting for an answer.
“I’m fine,” Weiss croaked weakly.
She was fine. She was always fine. She was a Schnee. She had to be fine.
It was nearly impossible to see Blake’s expression in the low light coming in from the bathroom, but her amber eyes almost freakishly glowed, and Weiss could tell that Blake didn’t believe her at all.
Blake sighed. “I don’t think you’re trying to buy anyone’s friendship,” she stated simply.
Weiss gave her an appreciative nod, but didn’t say anything. Blake clearly had more to say.
Blake’s hands fidgeted nervously, and Weiss realized that Blake probably wasn’t any better at these kinds of talks than she was. But she was still here, still trying. That was nice.
“I don’t really know Yang too well, but–”
“She’s a bully,” Weiss cut her off. Her anger at the ignorant blonde came rushing into her veins with an ice cold frigidity.
Blake shook her head. “I don’t think so. I just think she’s… very protective of Ruby, and she doesn’t know you well enough to understand you mean well.”
Weiss raised her eyebrow at the girl beside her.
Clearly, Blake understood her meaning. She shrugged lightly. “Okay, I don’t know you too well either. But… I believe you mean well.”
Weiss dipped her head. “Thank you,” she whispered. It was another small vote of confidence from a relative stranger that she wasn’t sure she deserved, but that she was grateful for nonetheless.
Blake nodded. “I just think you need to make Yang see that, too.” She turned to Weiss, leaning forward to try to make eye contact that the heiress refused to give. “Talk to her.”
Weiss scoffed at the idea. “You think she’ll listen to anything I have to say?” she asked, disbelieving.
Another light shrug. “I think she will. But we won’t know until you try. And you haven’t yet.”
Weiss bristled at the implication that this situation was somehow her fault. Yang was the only one responsible for her hatred and cruelty.
“Try,” Blake stressed again. “You think Ruby is a nice person, right?”
Weiss sighed and nodded. Yes, Ruby was an incredibly sweet person. Foolish, immature, irresponsible, but she was also the most wholesome and genuine person Weiss had ever met.
“Well Yang and Ruby grew up together,” Blake continued. “And from what I can tell, Yang basically helped raise Ruby. So she must be a nice person too, right?”
Weiss turned away from her teammate and laid her cheek on her knee. The logic was there, but she couldn’t see it being true at all. Where Ruby’s faults were in her naivety, Yang was violent, rude… unhinged.
And she certainly wouldn’t listen to Weiss.
“Hey.” Blake nudged her shoulder, prompting Weiss to turn and meet her eyes. “She’s your teammate too, Weiss. You’ve figured out how to make things up with Ruby. Now you just need to do the same with her hotheaded sister.”
Weiss smiled tightly at that. “Do I have to make amends with you after that?”
Blake let out a little laugh. “We haven’t had any problems yet.”
‘Yet?’ Weiss worried about what that implied. Was Blake just assuming that they’d have problems eventually? Knowing herself… yeah, Weiss figured that might be fair.
Both girls’ heads jerked up to see Yang peeking around the open bathroom door toward the closet, squinting into the dark space in Weiss’ general area. “Weiss, you in there?”
To her dismay, Weiss found she’d lost her voice again. Blake seemed to realize this, because she responded in the heiress’ place.
“Yeah, she’s here.”
Yang rubbed an elbow nervously. “Can… can we talk, Weiss?”
Weiss wanted to stay in her corner and never talk to anybody ever again, but Blake turned to her with her eyebrows raised expectantly. Sighing, Weiss pushed herself to her feet and slowly crept over next to the doorway, leaning sideways so her face was half revealed behind the frame.
She opened her mouth to say something, but words continued to fail her.
Something about the way Weiss looked right now made a flash of guilt cross Yang’s face. That was fair. Weiss probably looked pretty pathetic hiding behind a wall. She just… couldn’t unsee those burning red eyes.
“Weiss, please come out,” Yang said softly. “I’m… I’m sorry. Can we talk? I wo–I’m not going to hurt you. I promise.”
A hand rested on Weiss’ shoulder as Blake came up behind her, though she instinctively flinched away from the physical contact. Blake pulled her hand back quickly, but stayed behind her. Weiss supposed her teammate was trying to show her some support, but all it made her feel was trapped and surrounded.
Then Ruby poked her head into the bathroom. After a brief moment of looking around, the girl met Weiss’ eyes and flashed her a big smile.
Weiss did her best to return the smile and took a hesitant step toward her partner.
Yang noticed the exchange and backed into the bedroom, leaving Ruby standing alone beckoning Weiss over.
“Hey,” Ruby almost whispered as her partner stepped to her side, hands clasped in front of her and fidgeting nervously.
Weiss glanced over at Yang, who’d set herself down at the edge of Blake’s bed and was staring down at her hands like she’d never seen them before. “Is she going to eat me?” she asked the somber-but-smiling brunette beside her.
Ruby giggled. “No, silly! You’re not a piece of bacon!… Are you?” She poked Weiss’ side jokingly.
Weiss rolled her eyes and looked at the girl beside her. She was fairly certain she had set her impassive mask back on, but when Ruby met her eyes she frowned and looked down at her feet.
“For real, though. She’s calmed down. And I gave her a patented Ruby Scolding about how much of a jerky-jerk she’s being, so she’s gonna stay calm, promise.”
There was a lot Weiss wanted to question there–patented Ruby Scolding? Jerky-jerk? The idea that anybody could promise that Yang would stay calm?
Instead, she nodded, trusting that Ruby wouldn’t send her to get beaten up by a dragon-child when they’d just started getting along. She walked into the bedroom and sat down on her bed opposite Yang, inspecting her crossed fingers much like the blonde across from her.
Ruby and Blake followed her, Blake crossing the room and sitting at her desk as her eyes flicked between Weiss and Blake, Ruby bouncing in and inviting herself to sit beside Weiss on Weiss’ bed.
Yang took a breath and looked up, meeting Weiss’ eyes for an instant before switching over to Ruby. “Alright, Munchkin. Scram.”
Ruby’s eyes went wide. “What? No!”
“Yes.” Yang demanded. “Go finish your breakfast.”
Yang closed her eyes in exasperation. “Go finish your breakfast or you’re not getting any Super Special Saturday Yangcakes this year.”
Weiss was amused to see that the threat gave her partner pause, her face scrunching up as she weighed her options. It really did seem like the way to Ruby’s heart was through her stomach.
“Fine,” she huffed. She stood and stomped to the door and yanked it open. “Weiss,” she said, turning, “if she’s anything other than super nice and sweet you just let me know and I’ll come beat her up for you.”
Weiss couldn’t help but smile at the mental image of Ruby beating her fists fruitlessly against Yang’s abs. She nodded to her partner, and Ruby marched off with a huff.
Yang turned to her own partner. “Blake, can you make sure she doesn’t try to drop some eaves on us while we’re talking?”
Blake’s eyes widened as they darted worriedly between the other two girls in the room. Weiss felt the same. Just her and Yang in a room together? She wasn’t entirely certain she felt… safe.
Myrtenaster was leaning up against the bookshelf next to her bed, just within arm’s reach. That was reassuring.
Blake eventually nodded and stood, following Ruby out the door.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the room. Weiss fidgeted some more. “Getting rid of witnesses?” she asked, trying to joke like she expected Yang would. Jokes were good, right?
From the pained look Yang gave her, she was definitely wrong.
‘Damn it, Weiss. Don’t try to make jokes. Not with her.’
Silence settled back over them.
Weiss ran her fingers through her ponytail.
Yang spun the bracelets that housed her gauntlets in circles.
Weiss slipped one foot in and out of its heel, using the other foot as leverage.
Yang cleared her throat. “So who talks first?” she asked, shattering the silence.
Weiss gestured lamely with her hand for Yang to speak. She didn’t like having to have important conversations like this without getting time to prepare herself and figure out what she wanted to say. She’d always had “talking points” prepared whenever she spoke to her father. She’d been able to prepare herself before apologizing to Ruby last night.
She wasn’t ready for this.
Yang sighed and looked back down at her hands. “I’m glad you’re getting along with Ruby better.”
Weiss nodded. Not ‘you and Ruby are getting along better,’ she noted. Yang had said ‘you’re getting along with Ruby better.’ It hadn’t been a mutual issue. Weiss had been the problem.
Yang ran a hand through her hair and continued. “And it was kind of you to get her cookies. She likes cookies.” The simple and glaringly obvious statement made Weiss frown. “But she doesn’t like clothes. She’s never cared about fashion.” Yang huffed a laugh. “She still wears the cloak Mom gave her seven years ago.”
Weiss felt her heart tighten at hearing that bit of information. She’d thought that Ruby’s infatuation with her cloak was frankly ridiculous, but now? Weiss couldn’t really fault a little girl for wanting to carry a memory of her dead mother with her wherever she went.
“Ruby’s young,” Yang said. “She thinks that because she swings her scythe and snipes like a pro that she’s all grown up, but she’s still just a kid. I mean, you see it. All you have to do to get her to do something is threaten to take away her cookies!”
Weiss’ lips curled up on one side and she nodded.
“And she tends to… forget who she is when she tries to make friends. She tries too hard to be someone the other person will like.” Yang met Weiss eyes, something close to sadness lurking in her gaze. “So when she asked for clothes like yours… When she said you wanted to take her shopping… I blew up. It feels like you’re trying to change my sister into somebody she’s not and I overreacted. I’m sorry.” She looked back down at her hands. “I never meant to scare you.”
Weiss took a deep breath, surprised at how remorseful and torn Yang looked. She let the air out slowly and worked to find her voice.
“May I speak?” she asked quietly.
Yang nodded quickly at her, looking relieved that Weiss was finally saying something.
“I… I don’t know how to make friends, Yang.” Weiss frowned at her words, at the admission that she was less than perfect, but it was true. “I’ve never really had any.”
Yang’s eyes went wide at her words, but she stayed quiet.
“I knew a couple of other kids of business partners of my father or kids of security guards, but… none of them were really my friends. I don’t… I don’t have anything good to offer. I’m not funny like you. I’m not sweet like Ruby. I’m not insightful and helpful like Blake. I don’t have anything to offer, as a teammate or a friend. At least, not off the battlefield. But I do have money.”
Yang frowned. “You’re more than you’re fortune, Weiss.”
Weiss huffed, annoyed that Yang thought she knew anything about her from the three days they’d known each other. “Yes, but none of it’s good. I’m not someone that anybody would ever want to be friends with… Anybody but Ruby…”
Once again, she was glad that Ruby had ended up as her partner. She’d hated it when it first happened, but in just three days she’d come to the realization that if it had been anyone else she would probably have ended up miserable.
Yang’s expression softened at Weiss’ words. She opened her mouth to say something, but Weiss needed to say more. She barreled forward.
“And I’m not trying to change Ruby. I just… she expressed an interest in clothing, something I like, and I wanted to share that with her. And it would go both ways! I’m happy to share the things she likes with her, too.”
Yang raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Really?”
Okay, that wasn’t fair. Weiss eyes steeled into a glare at the insult. Wasn’t she showing that she was trying? Why did she deserve this skepticism?
Yang’s dubious expression didn’t change, though. “You’re willing to join her in her silly eating contests? Play video games and board games with her? Watch her superhero action movies with her? Jam out to her music with her when she’s supposed to be doing her homework? Dive into the endless pit of her comic books to try to hold conversations with her about them? Geek out about weapons with her for hours on end?”
That… sounded awful, but…
“If that’s what it takes.”
Yang’s eyes widened in surprise at that response before she nodded to herself and looked back down at her hands.
Another long silence stretched between the two girls.
“Fine,” Yang said.
Weiss frowned. “F-fine?”
Yang straightened up and met Weiss’ eyes again. “Yeah. Fine. Honestly, I don’t know if I should believe that you’re so… eager to be good to my sister.” Weiss flinched at that, both offended and disappointed. “But Ruby believes you, and I trust her. So… I won’t get in the way.”
Weiss blinked in surprise.
“So… I can take her shopping?”
Yang pressed her knuckles into her thighs and leaned forward in a strange display of nerves. “You promise you don’t mind paying? You’re not gonna hold it over her later?”
Weiss bristled. “Of course not!”
Yang nodded quickly. “Okay, okay. Good. Then… yes. Just… could you bring me back the receipts?”
Unsure of why Yang would make such a request, Weiss nodded hesitantly.
Yang waved a hand when she noticed Weiss’ confusion. “It’s just for my own peace of mind. I just want to know how much you spend on her.”
Nodding more forcefully this time, Weiss cleared her throat. “Sure, I can do that.”
“And Weiss?” Yang’s eyes met hers again, the regret from earlier back in full force. “I really am sorry for scaring you. I… I know I’ve got a bit of a temper, but that doesn’t make what I did okay. If I ever do that again, just… call me out on it, okay?”
Weiss nodded. “Thank you,” she whispered. It must have been difficult for Yang to admit something like that, just as it had been hard for Weiss to admit she’d never had a real friend.
Yang clapped her hands on her knees. “Well–”
Both girls jumped as the door slammed open and they were showered with rose petals. Ruby materialized next to Weiss, her cheeks crammed full of food.
“Mm mhmm mff mm-hmm!” she declared to Yang, putting her hands on her hips proudly.
Yang failed to hold back a smirk. “What was that, Ruby-Roo? We don’t speak chipmunk.”
Ruby held up a finger and closed her eyes, lowering her chin as she chewed furiously. Five seconds passed. Ten. Twenty.
Blake slipped back into the room and shot Yang and Weiss an apologetic grimace. “Sorry, I tried to catch her but… she’s fast.”
Ruby gasped loudly after she finally swallowed. “Ah! Finished my breakfast!” She turned to Weiss. “Here to beat up the jerky-jerk for you if I need to!”
Weiss pursed her lips in a grin while Yang huffed. “Gee, Ruby,” Yang complained, “should I be offended that you’re so willing to try to beat me up?”
Ruby raised her fists up in an adorable fighting stance, setting her mouth in a determined line. “Do or do not, Yang Xiao Long. There is no try.”
Yang rolled her eyes. “Sit down, you ridiculous sugar addict. We’re fine… I think?” She directed the last statement at Weiss, who nodded eagerly.
Yes, they were… better, at least. Yang had clearly said she doesn’t believe that Weiss was actually interested in being a good friend and teammate, but she was willing to give Weiss a chance. That was all Weiss needed. She was determined to be the best teammate ever.
Ruby looked at Weiss questioningly for confirmation. Weiss gave her what she hoped was a warm smile. “We’re good, Ruby.”
The brunette beamed. “So we can go shopping this weekend?”
Weiss nodded again. “Though I’ve been told I’m only allowed to buy you yellow clothes,” she joked.
“Wha-?” Ruby whined as Yang erupted with laughter.
“Alright, Weiss,” the blonde said, standing, “that was good. Now come on, babes, let’s get going. Don’t want to be late for class, right?”
Weiss smiled and stood as well. That joke had been okay! That was… neat.
Ruby did a goofy little hop. “Alright Teeeeam RWBY! To class!” She jabbed a finger into the air, turning the declaration into an official order.
As they headed to class together, Yang walking beside Blake with Weiss and Ruby trailing behind them, Ruby leaned over and bumped Weiss’ shoulder.
“You were just joking about the yellow thing, right?” she whispered.
Weiss glanced over and then quickly turned to look back ahead, trying to hide her pleased smirk. “I don’t know, was I?”
She chanced another brief look at Ruby to see the girl’s eyes going wide. “I don’t know!” the girl whispered, sounding far too serious and worried. “I can’t tell!”
Weiss laughed at that. “Yes, Ruby, I was kidding,” she reassured her partner.
Ruby visibly sagged her shoulders in relief. “Phew. Having to wear Yang Yellow would suck!”
“You suck!” Yang called over her shoulder, announcing that she could hear them perfectly fine.
Ruby made a face and stuck her tongue out at her sister’s back.
“You should take away her cookies,” Weiss stage-whispered to her partner.
Ruby giggled. “No, that wouldn’t do anything. Dad takes away Ember Celica when she’s bad, or her SongBox, or her scroll so she can’t game, or if she’s really bad–”
“Uh uh uh uh!” Yang cut her off, turning to walk backwards and waving her arms wildly. “Nope! That doesn’t happen. None of it! Not a thing. At all.”
Weiss shared a sly grin with Ruby. Good to know the raging fire dragon had weaknesses too.
Ruby scratched the back of her head. “Hey, Weiss?”
Weiss smiled lightly. “Yes, Ruby?”
“Where are we going again?”
Weiss had assumed that Ruby would mentally check out during History the same way she had for their previous two classes, but she was pleasantly surprised to find that wasn’t the case. Perhaps it was because Ruby had well and truly decided to throw herself into her studies, though Weiss suspected it was more due to the fact that Professor Oobleck was basically an older, taller, male version of the girl–excited, overly energetic, and loud.
He talked so fast Weiss was tempted to just abandon any attempt at note-taking whatsoever. As he lectured he would “pace”, which looks more like him darting from one side of the room to the other so fast it was practically teleporting, pausing to machine gun fire some words at the class, and then darting back across the room.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the professor had a giant thermos filled with what smelled like coffee, and there was a giant coffee machine and pot plugged in at his desk that he used to refresh his supply whenever he ran out (which happened alarmingly, almost freakishly fast).
Ruby sat enraptured, leaning forward with her chin propped in her hands, her eyes flashing wide in excitement every time Professor Oobleck zipped around or raised his (already incredibly loud) voice to accentuate a point. She wasn’t taking any notes–to be honest, Weiss wasn’t even sure Ruby was registering the words the professor was saying–but at least she wasn’t doodling either.
The curriculum for this semester seemed to be pretty standard: starting with pre-kingdom history, followed by the formation of the four kingdoms, then the going into the beginning of the faunus conflict and the struggle for faunus rights (it seemed this school was full of fools that thought the violent animals deserve rights), and ending on the Great War. Oobleck’s syllabus involved a lot of reading–mostly from the three textbooks he’d assigned the class, but some extra passages from other sources as well. Apparently they were going to have to read excerpts from a published diary of some faunus slave from a hundred years ago that Blake got all excited about because she’d already read it for some reason.
When the last five minutes of class came around Weiss’ hand was aching from writing at the ridiculous pace she’d needed to keep up with Professor Oobleck. Luckily, the lecture ended early as the professor gave an announcement.
“Bytheway, class! ProfessorRustheartwantedmetoclearsomethingupforyou!” He cleared his throat and blinked behind his desk to look at a paper. “Heapologizesforyour…. Incompleteschedules! HefailedtoturninhisclasstimeblockstoProfessorGoodwitchbeforethedeadline, sotheydidn’tgetprintedonyourschedules!”
Blake turned and gave Weiss a satisfied smirk at having been right that Weiss returned with a narrow-eyed glare.
Yang raised her hand, blurting out her question before Professor Oobleck had even noticed that she had one. “We’re meeting with him twice a week?” she asked.
The professor pointed at Yang as if to call on her for her raised hand but then quickly dropped it. “Yes! WednesdaywillbeDirectedCombatTraining! FridayswillbeTeamBattlePractices!”
Team Battle Practices? Did that mean the freshmen teams would be fighting each other? Would Weiss get to try to match up against Pyrrha?
“Awwwwesoooooome,” Ruby breathed out.
Professor Oobleck clapped once, startling Weiss. “Alrightclass! That’sitfortoday! RemembertoreadchapteroneinbothRemnant:AHistoryandAStudyoftheFourKingdoms! Seeyounextweek!”
The sixteen students all filed out of the small lecture hall, Ruby skipping ahead of her team happily as they headed toward their room. “Professor Oobleck is so awesome!” she whooped, turning to skip backwards and look at the rest of them.
Yang chuckled at her little sister. “Why is that? Do his energy and coffee obsession remind you of a certain hyperactive cookie addict you know?”
“Yep!” Ruby replied cheerily, not at all phased by the apt description of her. “Do you think he ever even sleeps? Do you think he has coffee instead of blood in his veins? Did you see he doesn’t take cream or milk or sugar? How does he even drink that stuff?! It’s so nasty!”
Weiss rolled her eyes, deciding to not even bother trying to respond to the onslaught of silly questions.
“Forget all that noise!” Yang said with a wave of her arm. “We get to meet with Professor Awesome twice a week!”
Ruby somehow lit up even more. “Yeah! Team Battle Practice sounds super awesome! Do you think we’ll be fighting the other teams like the Vytal Festival Tournament?”
Blake nodded at that. “Most likely. I wonder why our class tomorrow is six hours long, though.”
Yang grinned widely. “Six hours of awesome!”
Weiss scoffed at the baseless assumption. “You’ve never met the man and you have no idea what we’ll be doing tomorrow. How can you possibly know it will be awesome?”
Yang gave her an ‘are you dumb’ look that Weiss really did not appreciate. “Because he’s Professor Awesome? Besides, ‘Directed Combat Training’ sounds super sweet!”
“Yeah!” Ruby agreed right before she bumped into a wall that she couldn’t see because she was still moving backwards. Righting herself with a blush, she fell in step next to her sister. “You think he’ll think Crescent Rose is cool?”
Yang draped an arm around the little brunette’s shoulders and pulled her into her side. “Of course! Crescent Rose is awesome!” When Ruby beamed up at her, Yang gave her sister a smirk. “Not as cool as Ember Celica though.”
“Whateverrrr,” Ruby grumbled dismissively. “Just a couple of dumb gloves. Scythe rifles are way cooler!” When she flashed her sister eyes full of giggles, Yang laughed and tousled her sister’s hair.
She turned to her partner them and gave Blake an elbow to invite her into the conversation. “What about you, Blakey-Blake? What’s your weapon’s name?”
The girl rolled her eyes at her ridiculous nickname. “I named it Gambol Shroud,” she answered simply.
“Oooooh!” Ruby’s eyes went wide. “That sounds so cool! … What’s a gambol?”
Blake chuckled and shook her head lightly.
“It means ‘to leap about playfully’,” Weiss explained to her partner, regretting speaking up when all eyes turned to her.
“That’s really cool!” Ruby repeated with a chirp.
Yang narrowed her eyes at Weiss. “Are you, like, a human dictionary or something?” she asked with a playful smirk.
Weiss gave a nonchalant tilt of her chin. “I have a good memory.”
It was an understatement. She and her siblings had perfect eidetic memories when they were younger–Whitley still had it, to a large degree. Though their ability to perfectly recall anything had mostly faded away, Weiss and Winter still had incredibly accurate memories. It was a trait that was incredibly helpful in their studies, for obvious reasons.
“What about you, Weiss?”
Ruby clarified with a small skip. “What’s your weapon’s name?”
“Ah. Myrtenaster.” Weiss waited for the question she knew was coming.
“Neat!… What’s that mean?” Ruby eyed her curiously.
An amused little grin snuck onto Weiss’ face. “It’s a type of white flower that’s only found in Atlas near my grandfather’s first Dust mine.”
A happy gasp came out of her partner. “Both of our weapons are flowers!”
Weiss gave a small nod with a light smirk. It didn’t seem like much more than a coincidence to her, but the bubbly brunette next to her seemed to think it meant a lot.
“And and and mine’s named after roses, which are red like me! And yours are named after flowers that are white like you! Our name theme fits with our color schemes too!”
They’d reached the dorm building now, Weiss taking another brief moment to appreciate the beauty of the architecture. Ruby raced through the doors with a burst of rose petals, coming to a full stop in front of the piano in the lobby. She leaned over it and looked down like she was inspecting a strange animal, pursing her lips thoughtfully and scrunching her eyebrows. After slowly lifting the fallboard, she poked a sequence of three seemingly random notes (B flat, A, D, Weiss could tell from the sound) with her pointer finger. Ruby raced back to the team and bounced in front of Weiss with a sheepish grin as flower petals rained around them, flooding them with their trademark scent.
“What did you think of my song?”
Weiss blinked with a dubious frown. “I don’t think that qualifies as a song, Ruby.”
The girl pouted jokingly. “You don’t qualify as a song!”
Weiss nodded slowly. “Correct. I am a person, not a song. Well spotted, Ruby.”
The dry response made Ruby giggle for some reason as Yang rolled her eyes and headed towards their room with Blake. Ruby wound up to run away with her semblance again.
“Hey!” Weiss called out to her partner before the girl could disappear again.
Ruby turned, wide-eyed, looking exactly like a girl being caught with her hand in a cookie jar. “… Yes?”
Weiss pointed back to the piano. “Go put the fallboard back down, you dolt!” The piano was beautiful and probably Weiss’ favorite thing in this whole school, and she wanted it to be cared for and respected.
Weiss rolled her eyes. “The wooden cover for the keys!” she explained, pointing emphatically. “Go put it back!”
Ruby glanced towards the piano and her eyes flashed with recognition. “Ooooh!” There was another whoosh of air and roses followed by a loud thunk as Ruby lowered the fallboard with way too much force.
“Be gentle!” Weiss yelled towards the piano before realizing Ruby was already standing in front of her again. She turned to the brunette with a scowl. “If there’s so much as a scratch on that piano I’m going to introduce you to the business end of Myrtenaster!”
It was an empty threat. She had no intention of ever attacking Ruby, but it was dramatic and hopefully got her point across.
In response, Ruby giggled, which was possibly the most grating reaction Weiss could have imagined. This was serious!
“Sorry,” Ruby said. She shuffled side to side. “I’ll be more careful.”
Her expression seemed sincere, even if she’d been laughing like the situation was a joke. Weiss decided to let it go, rolling her eyes again for good measure. “Good!” she muttered as she walked after Blake and Yang, Ruby falling into step beside her.
“Does Myrtenaster have a non-business end?” Ruby asked with a blinding grin.
Weiss gave an unsure tilt of her chin. “I suppose the hilt…. Though, that is where the Dust capsules are housed, so… no. It’s all business.” She shot a sideways glance at her partner and was pleased to find the girl’s smile was even brighter now.
“What about Crescent Rose? Which side is the business end when it’s in scythe mode?”
Weiss frowned at what seemed like a question with an obvious answer. “Wouldn’t it be the blade?”
Ruby nodded excitedly. “Yeah! But there’s blades on both ends!”
“Mhm! There’s a spike on the back for stabby-stabbing!”
Weiss snorted out a laugh. “Stabby-stabbing?”
Somehow, Ruby’s smile went even wider. “Yeah! It’s like stabbing, but more stabby.”
Weiss resisted the urge to smile at the ridiculousness, managing to roll her eyes instead. “Then I suppose Crescent Rose is all business too.”
Ruby put on another playful pout. “But she likes cookies!”
Weiss wasn’t sure what to respond to there. The idea a weapon could like food? The idea that a weapon had a gender? “You can be business-y and still like cookies,” she decided to argue.
Ruby raised a skeptical eyebrow at her, though the girl didn’t seem to have super fine control of the muscles around her eyes because she ended up slightly raising the other eyebrow as well, while squinting goofily. “Really?”
Weiss recoiled haughtily. “Just because I don’t inhale a ridiculously unhealthy amount of deserts doesn’t mean I don’t like them! I actually really enjoyed that strawberry one.”
Ruby skipped a little spin. “Me too! They’re the best!” She grabbed Weiss’ arm and gave it an excited little shake. “Thank you again, by the way!”
Resisting the urge to proudly smile again, Weiss rolled her eyes and gently pulled her arm away. “It was a gift, Ruby. You don’t need to keep thanking me.”
“I know, but I like to!” Ruby chirped with another skip. “So we’ve got the rest of the day to ourselves! What do you want to do?”
Was Ruby inviting herself to spend the day with Weiss? That… didn’t sound terrible. But Weiss had been planning on reading the chapters for history, and she was doubtful that Ruby would sit through that–at least not quietly.
“I was going to do the reading for Oobleck’s class…”
There was a brief pause, but just as Weiss turned to inspect Ruby’s expression, a smile flashed on the brunette’s face. “Okay! Do you remember what chapters we gotta read? ‘Cause I don’t.”
‘That was too easy.’
“You… want to spend the afternoon reading textbooks?”
Ruby smiled at her. “With you? Yeah, of course! I gotta be a better huntress and leader, right? And that means reading boring textbooks for some reason!”
The subtle complaints did nothing to dim the girl’s megawatt smile, a smile Weiss returned lightly. This was… good. Weiss felt strangely… proud of Ruby.
“Okay. Let’s do it.” She gave her partner a small nod.
It took her a moment for all of what Ruby had said to register. ‘With you? Of course!’ Weiss didn’t know what to feel or think about that. Hyperactive Ruby Rose was willing to sit around and read textbooks for a subject she hated as long as Weiss was with her? Why did that make Weiss feel so… special? Accomplished?
She couldn’t name what she was feeling.
With a pleased “whoop!”, Ruby bounced through the door of their room, almost crashing into Blake as their teammate was walking back out, a book in hand.
“Eep! Sorry Blake!” Ruby cried out. “Where you going?”
Blake held up her book (which sported a stylized chess piece on the front and had the title font of one of those teen romance novels that Weiss wasn’t able to read from this angle). “I’m going to go find a tree to sit under and read. Weather’s really nice. Yang’s getting dressed to go to the gym.” She gestured towards their bathroom. “Something about how she wanted an arm wrestle rematch with Nora and wanted to trounce her.”
Amusement flooded through Weiss when she and Ruby both rolled their eyes at the same time.
After Blake stepped past them, Ruby turned to Weiss with a low voice. “Don’t ever go to the gym with Yang. She goes from Best Big Sister Ever to hyper-competitive weightlifter faster than I can eat a snickerdoodle.”
“I can’t imagine you gave Yang all that much competition as a bodybuilder,” Weiss replied.
Ruby shook her head with a grin. “Oh no, she didn’t compete against me. She competes against herself. She’ll keep doing reps with more and more weight until she’s out of Aura and collapsing in a pile of blonde hair and floppy muscles.”
That was an amusing image. “I’d pay money to see that…” she murmured, eyeing the bathroom door behind which they could hear the blonde ape stomping around.
“It would be a waste of money. It’s pretty sad and embarrassing.” Ruby glanced over at Weiss thoughtfully. “Though I suppose you can afford to waste a little money.”
Weiss nodded. “It’s true,” she agreed simply, inducing a little giggle from her partner.
She took a seat at her half of the double desk as while Ruby plopped down beside her with a sigh.
“Why can’t this be a rolly chair?” the goofy girl griped.
“Would you get any work done if it was?” Weiss asked with a raised eyebrow and tiny smirk.
Ruby threw her hands up. “Who cares?! I’d be spinning!”
Shaking her head, Weiss pulled out “Remnant: A History” and flipped to the first chapter.
Ruby scooted her chair over and leaned into Weiss’ shoulder. “Can I read with you?”
Weiss wrinkled her nose at the casual physical contact and the idea of sharing a textbook. “Don’t you have a copy?” she asked.
Ruby scratched the back of her head with a sheepish grin. “Yang and I have one copy of all the textbooks, and I’m pretty sure they’re in the suitcase in her closet…”
As if on queue, Yang bursted out of her bathroom in… very skimpy workout gear. Somehow her shorts were even shorter than her normal ones. Weiss wasn’t even sure if they could classify as legwear anymore. And Yang’s shirt… it was much too short and much, much too tight.
“Alright, nerds! I’m gonna go get jacked!” She randomly flexed and inspected her well defined bicep.
‘These two are so weird…’
Weiss was scared to even imagine what their father was like to raise such buffoons.
“Yang, if you pull every muscle in your body again I’m not gonna come down there and drag you back here,” Ruby snarked at her sister as the girl walked out.
Yang blew a raspberry at her little sister. “It would be easy if you ever put some muscle on, Pipsqueak!” she yelled back as the door swung closed behind her.
Ruby crossed her arms and pouted. “I have muscles,” she grumbled to herself as she stood and shuffled to Blake and Yang’s closet.
Weiss inspected the chapter lengths in both the books she needed to read while Ruby trudged back and plopped the three history textbooks on her desk. Only sixteen pages, each with images and maps spaced through them. Not too bad. Ruby pulled her giant red headset out of her bag and slammed it over her ears with a huff, then pulled out her scroll and started playing her music.
When her partner frowned in confusion at the stack of three books in front of her, Weiss reached over and pointed at the top two books. “These two,” she said. “Chapter one in both of them.”
“Uggggggh,” Ruby groaned. “So much readiiiiiing! Which one are you starting with?” Ruby glanced over and tried to lean under the desk to try to see the cover of the textbook in front of Weiss.
“Remnant: A History. And the chapter’s pretty short in this one.” With that, she turned back to her reading.
Ruby, as Weiss had expected, was incapable of staying still or quiet. She bounced her knee, drummed her fingers, bobbed her head, and hummed and sang along with her music.
“This’ll be the day we waited for! Hm hm hm hm hm hm open up the do-or!”
Weiss resisted the urge to sigh heavily. It would be next to impossible for her to focus on her reading like this, there was no way Ruby would be able to.
“Do you always listen to music while you do your homework?” she asked diplomatically, hoping her partner would take the hint.
Ruby shot her a beaming grin. “Yeah! I love my music!” A flash of excitement crossed her face. “Do you want to listen to?”
Weiss tried to quietly and politely protest, but Ruby didn’t hear her. The brunette flipped the switch on her head phones as she took them off, making the music default to coming out of her scroll instead. Now the room was filled with the tinny sound of guitars, drums, and female vocals from the small speakers.
Sighing, Weiss tried to continue her reading, though it was hard to concentrate with the noise and motion beside her. She was tempted to go find a quiet spot to read, but she didn’t want to just get up and walk out on Ruby. She’d promised she’d try to be a better partner, and part of that was not just walking away from issues.
“What kind of music do you listen to?” Ruby asked, jarring Weiss from her thoughts before she could come to a decision on how to handle this.
“Oh, I don’t listen to too much, and when I do it’s mostly classical stuff or piano and vocals songs that I want to learn to play.”
Ruby nodded eagerly. “Do you have a SongBox playlist to share? I’d love to lis–oh!” She bounced up and down, her hair tossing around wildly and somehow getting even messier. “Do you have any songs on SongBox? Are you, like, published or recorded or official or whatever?”
Weiss rolled her eyes in amusement at Ruby’s fumbling with words. “I am not. Though I think there are some videos online of me singing at the Red Carpet Gala a couple years ago.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth she cringed in regret, dreading the inevitable–
“No way! You sang at an RCG?! Did you meet all the cool actors? Did you get to eat giant shrimp? Can we watch the video of you-”
“Ruby!” Weiss cried, silencing the excited girl, who looked at her with lips pursed like she felt she was in trouble but with eyes that shone with wonder. “I’d like to not watch any videos of me, please.”
The Gala was, unfortunately, an awful memory for her. Her father had been furious at her all night because she’d been shaking the hands of celebrities before he had, something she hadn’t known was a breach in social etiquette until he’d dragged her by the ear around a corner and berated her for it. She’d always despised public events like that because no matter how hard she tried to behave well and proper, she always did something wrong and her father was always furious with her. And an angry Father was… terrifying.
That had also been the night when her mother had decided to abandon all social graces and got plastered drunk, making a fool of herself in front of every famous person and camera in Remnant. Father had shoved her into a car and had her driven home early, but it hadn’t stopped the deluge of speculative press about Willow Schnee, the booze abusing billionaire.
Weiss had done her best to hide from her father’s presence and wrath for a solid month after that day.
The celebrities had been cordial enough, even though they all had a nonsensical inflation of their opinions of themselves considered all they gave to the world was playing pretend in front of a camera. Some of them had even given Weiss sympathetic smiles when her mother was making her big scene.
None of them had noticed the cause, though, the real problem. They’d all been falling over each other to ingratiate themselves with the great Jacques Schnee, the actors trying to convince the tycoon of the benefits of filming a commercial with them while the directors and producers desperately tried to get the man to fund their projects.
Weiss had hated watching them worship him.
Ruby paused, and from the attentive look on the girl’s face, Weiss was afraid she’d let some of the pain from that memory show.
The moment passed quickly, though. Ruby gave her another smile. “Okay! My music’s pretty awesome anyway! Have you ever heard any Casey Lee Williams before?”
Weiss did her best to give Ruby a heartfelt smile, grateful that her partner was so willing to respect her subtle request for a change of subject. “I have not. But… would it be possible to turn the music off while we’re reading? I have a hard time focusing with the noise.”
Disappointment briefly flashed across Ruby’s eyes, so quickly Weiss wasn’t entirely sure that she’d really seen it. But it was replaced quickly with another earnest grin.
“Sure, Weiss! Sorry, I didn’t know.” She flicked the music off.
Weiss quickly shook her head. “No need to apologize. And… thank you.” She pointedly avoided her partner’s gaze at the last sentence, looking anywhere and everywhere else. “You can still listen to it yourself, though,” she said quietly, feeling slightly guilty for taking away something from Ruby that the girl clearly enjoyed. It was made even worse by how willing Ruby was to turn the music off at Weiss’ request. Maybe it should be the other way around? Maybe Weiss should be figure out how to work through the noise instead of making Ruby be the considerate one.
But it really was hard for her to focus with the stimulus.
“Naw, it’s okay,” Ruby assured her. “I don’t think it’s physically possible for me not to sing and possibly dance along with my music, which would probably still be pretty distracting for you.”
“Oh, undoubtedly,” Weiss replied with a small smile. She’d need to figure out a way to thank Ruby for being so considerate. Hopefully she got better at this soon–it would be really unfortunate if she ended up spending the entire Schnee family fortune on apology cookies.
A few minutes of silence passed as they read the chapter, the topic of which was a bunch of things Weiss already learned, though it did go into more detail than she’d been given from her private schooling and tutors. It was… pretty boring. Learning it was still necessary, though.
After a while Weiss began to notice that Ruby was constantly glancing over to peek at where Weiss had her finger on the page, and she would always turn the page right after Weiss. As a little experiment, Weiss put her hands in her lap, no longer using her manicured fingernail to track her spot on the page.
Less than half a minute later, Ruby glanced over, and Weiss could barely make out a little frown out of the corner of her eye.
“Where you at?” Ruby asked, making a valiant attempt at making the question sound casually curious.
Resisting a smirk, Weiss turned to her partner and feigned a look of exasperation. “Ruby Rose!” The girl’s eyes widened in that adorably amusing deer-in-headlights expression. “Are you even reading?”
Ruby sputtered nervously. “Wh-whaat? Psssh! Yeah! O-of course I am! Look at me, just your typical Ruby Rose, studying hard and learning… harder…”
A light giggle escaped Weiss’ lips before she clamped her mouth shut and put her frown of disapproval back on. The laugh didn’t escape Ruby’s notice, though, and the girl grinned proudly.
The grin disappeared. “What?!”
“You’re just pretending to read at the same pace as me!”
Ruby blinked rapidly and clutched her hands to her chest nervously. “Whaaaaaaat? That’s preposp… perspos… perspop–that’s just silly!”
Weiss crossed her arms and dubiously pursed her lips to the side, not letting Ruby’s brilliant wordsmithing draw another giggle out of her.
With a pout, Ruby jabbed a tiny finger at Weiss. “Look, Princess Bossy-Pants, this crap is boring, okay? I could be outside running around or playing something or at least listening to music but I’m not! I’m trying to study super hard and be smart like you, okay?”
The brunette seemed genuinely upset, and Weiss was smacked with another pang of guilt at the reminder that Ruby was basically here against her will. And the compliment was nice, especially because Ruby clearly wasn’t just trying to flatter her. The girl genuinely thought Weiss was smart, and that honest praise was strangely fulfilling.
She had no idea why that was. She hadn’t worked and studied and trained so hard in order to impress Ruby Rose, cookie addict extraordinaire. But she felt proud all the same.
“But Ruby, if you’re not paying attention to what you’re reading, you’re not learning anything. You’re just here spending time with me.”
Ruby turned her pout down to her hands. “What’s wrong with that?” she replied quietly.
Weiss blinked. Once again, she was sitting here speechless at how openly eager Ruby was to be her friend.
She was going to go broke buying cookies before the semester was over.
“Hey,” she said, reaching out to tap Ruby lightly on the shoulder to get her attention. She gave Ruby a smile hoping it would wipe away the sadness on her partner’s face. “How about this: we finish reading this chapter–just this chapter, and you have to really read it–and then we can spend the rest of the day… having fun.”
Silver eyes went wide at those words. “What kind of fun?”
Weiss frowned. She wasn’t really sure. There were a lot of things Ruby clearly enjoyed doing, but Weiss had no idea which one would make her feel the best right now.
“I suppose anything you’d like,” she promised hesitantly.
The mischievous glint in Ruby’s eyes immediately gave Weiss pause. “As long as it’s not ridiculous,” she amended.
Ruby squinted in thought at the new qualification, and Weiss was scared to know what plan she’d had that fit Ruby’s definition of ridiculous.
“Oh, I know! We could play Huntsman Royale Two together! I’ll even let you play Nidas so you can see how cool he is before his class tomorrow!”
Weiss frowned. “I don’t know, Ruby. I’ve… never actually played a video game before…”
The surprise on Ruby’s face was palpable. “What, like, at all?”
Weiss shook her head.
Undaunted, Ruby gave her another beaming smile. “That’s okay! I’ll teach you! They’re a ton of fun!”
Weiss had said they could do whatever Ruby wanted, and video games weren’t that ridiculous…
“I bet you’ll be really good, too!” Ruby chirped, that smile still fixed on her face.
Well it seemed like Ruby was a flatterer. When Weiss raised an eyebrow in disbelief, though, Ruby doubled down.
“No, for real! The most important thing in most games is to be able to think really fast about a lot of things at once, and you must be pretty good at that from your Dust casting! Once you’re fingers get used to it, I bet you’ll be awesome! And you already have pretty dexterious fingers from playing the piano!”
Well that was… remarkably well thought out, Weiss admitted to herself. The word goof was making her brain itch, though.
“Dextrous,” she corrected with a small grin.
Ruby’s eyebrows scrunched. “What did I say?”
“Oh, heh…” She scratched the back of her head in that nervous tick she had. “Woops. Anyway, what do you say?”
Weiss didn’t really have any desire to play video games, but she didn’t really have anything against them. Father had said once they were childish and unbecoming of a Schnee, but she’d be playing them for Ruby, and Ruby was most certainly childish…
“Fine, but you have to actually read the chapter. And we’re gonna go through the review questions at the end to make sure you remember everything.”
Ruby threw her arms in the air with a happy “woohoo!” before wrapping Weiss’ shoulders in a quick hug that Weiss didn’t cringe away from. Instead, she smiled at her excited partner and pointed at the textbook in front of her.
Ruby gave her a silly salute and a bow at the same time. “Aye aye, Cap’n Your Majesty, ma’am!”
“No no, Ruby,” Weiss said with a smile. “You’re the captain.”
The blinding grin she got in return told Weiss that was the right thing to say. Now for the ultimate test: could their fearless team leader read a book?