“Uh! Okay, bye Yang! Bye Blake! We’re going–”
The door to the coffee shop swung closed as Ruby was waving back to the two, Weiss dragging her by her hand. Well, ‘wave’ was a loose term–she was mostly just swinging her cup of apple juice from side to side.
“Wei–” she stumbled a bit, off balance because Weiss was dragging her and hadn’t slowed down at all as Ruby tried to finish her goodbye. “Weiss, what’s going on? Why are you and Blake mad at each other?”
She ended the question with a little yank on her partner’s hand to get her to stop, or at least slow down.
“I’m not mad,” Weiss retorted defiantly. She did slow down, thankfully, though she blatantly avoided looking at Ruby.
“Yes you are!”
“No I’m not!”
“Weiss!” Ruby yanked her partner’s hand a little more forcefully this time, and Weiss begrudgingly stopped.
Ruby took a second to figure out what to say. She was a little mad: she’d been having a great day and been having a ton of fun with Yang, and now she was getting dragged away from her sister and her pound cake by a stomping Weiss that she needed to cheer up again. Not that she minded that last part, but losing out on her own good morning for it kinda sucked.
But that wasn’t what was important.
“Please tell me what’s going on. What is with you and getting into fights at breakfast?”
Weiss wrinkled her nose. “I don’t–that’s not a thing!”
“Tellmewhat’swrong!” Ruby blurted out. She just wanted to help and Weiss was making that incredibly difficult.
Locking the fingers of her free hand around each other and giving Ruby’s hand an unconscious squeeze, Weiss struggled through some of her super complicated smart person thoughts. “C-can we forget about it?”
Ruby huffed in exasperation. “W–”
“Please?” Weiss quickly cut her off. “I just wanted to have a nice coffee with my team and then go clothes shopping with my partner and everything’s ruined now and I just wanted to… I want…” She trailed off and looked away, but Ruby had already seen the pain in her eyes.
‘You just wanted to have a fun day with your team.’
Ruby’s grumpiness immediately dissipated, and she pulled Weiss into a hug. Weiss was surprised at it for some reason and stiffened up–because of course she did–but Ruby just gave her an even tighter squeeze before pulling away. Weiss gave her the tiniest of grateful smiles, so tiny that maybe Ruby was just imagining it.
She probably was.
“Okay. Okay, sure. Let’s go shopping.” She gave Weiss a smile of her own, and Weiss responded with a nod.
They started walking again, side by side. The streets were clogged still, but the sidewalks were mostly empty. Silly people! With this traffic, running–or even walking–would be much faster than driving!
Maybe that was Ruby’s semblance talking.
“You know where we’re going, right?”
Weiss nodded absently, clearly lost in thought. Tiny indications of emotion were running across her face, too subtle for Ruby to really figure out what the emotions were. She definitely looked unhappy, though.
“Hey!” she chirped, bumping her partner’s shoulder with her own. She needed to distract Weiss. Weiss had basically asked to be distracted just now, but if Ruby didn’t follow through then she’d just end up wallowing in her thoughts.
“Hm?” Weiss blinked rapidly and looked over at her.
…. Darn, she hadn’t actually figured out what to say to distract her.
“Uh… I realized a little bit ago that I got you paints but nothing to paint on!” Weiss’ eyes went wide with the change of direction. “You wanna go get a painting… thing? What is the special paper thing you paint on called?”
“Yeah! You wanna get one of those today?”
Weiss seemed taken aback by the suggestion. “But-but we’re shopping for you today.”
Ruby shrugged happily. “We can do both!”
Weiss frowned, considering. After a moment, she nodded slowly, a small smile touching her lips. “Sure, that sounds nice.”
Woohoo! Ruby – 1, Weiss’ Sadness – 0.
They reached the street crossing and Weiss hit the button to tell the light on the other side that they were there. Ruby pressed it right after her, and then kept pressing it a bunch.
“Pressing it multiple times doesn’t make the light turn green any faster, Ruby.”
“Whaaa? That’s literally the opposite of what Yang says!”
“Well Yang’s an idiot.”
Weiss’ lip twitched.
Mr. Stoppy, the red hand on the light across the street, turned into Mr. Walky, the little green walking dude. Weiss started forward, and Ruby quickly reached out to grab her hand while following, wrapping her fingers around Weiss’ pale palm.
Man, her skin was so weirdly cold. It actually felt pretty nice! Like how the cold side of a pillow is the comfiest.
Weiss frowned down at their hands as they walked, then at Ruby.
“What?!” Ruby protested. “You have to hold hands when crossing the street!”
Weiss rolled her eyes. “That’s a rule for children, Ruby.”
“Nuh-uh! It’s not a child rule, it’s a… regular rule! Dad says so.”
Weiss raised an eyebrow at her. “Does he make Yang follow that rule too?”
“Well, I’m usually holding Yang’s hand.”
“And when you’re holding your dad’s, does he still make her hold hands?”
Ruby took a moment to try to remember such an occurrence. “… Nooo?”
Weiss nodded like she was expecting that answer. “Hm.”
“What?! What’s that mean? What’s ‘hm’?”
“Oh, nothing.” Weiss looked at her with an amused smirk that made Ruby super grumpy, ‘cause it clearly wasn’t nothing.
They reached the sidewalk and Ruby let go of Weiss’ hand with a huff. Weiss’ dumb grin got even bigger.
Ruby was, like, eighty percent sure Weiss was laughing at her, which was totally not cool ‘cause she hadn’t done anything worth laughing at. But at least Weiss was smiling.
“So where would you like to go first?” Weiss asked her.
“Oh, I get to choose?”
Weiss nodded. “Today is for you,” she said, giving Ruby’s shoulder a bump.
Wow, Nice Weiss was awesome.
“Hm. What are my options?”
“Well, there’s the cookie sho–”
“Cookies!” Ruby immediately cheered. “Cookies first.”
Weiss rolled her eyes and shook her head to herself. “Hold on, dolt. The cookies won’t be ready when we get there. I had to ask the baker to custom make that batch I brought you before.”
“Wow, really? You did that for me?”
Weiss tilted her head and looked at her quizzically. “Of course. They were… apology cookies. They needed to be perfect.”
Ruby smiled at that. She totally would have forgiven Weiss if she’d just said sorry! She hadn’t even felt like she was owed an apology. Instead, Weiss had gotten her special made cookies and was taking her clothes shopping.
Of course, Ruby would never say no to cookies. And new fancy Weiss-y clothes were awesome too…
“Okay, what else is there?”
“There’s a clothing boutique in the plaza where the cookie shop is that we need to go to. They’ve agreed to look at your cloak–” she gestured towards Ruby’s favorite adornment “–to color match it and custom make a blouse like the one I have that you liked and import it in. We can come back and pick it up when it arrives, which the employee told me would take a couple weeks.”
Holy CRAP, Weiss went all out with all this custom specialty awesome stuff.
“Wow, thank you.”
Weiss gave her a small smile in response. “And we can visit some other stores if you’d like. There’s a lot of good ones in this area that I didn’t even check out.”
Ruby nodded vigorously. “And we gotta go get you some canvases! Canvaseses? Canvi?”
Weiss rolled her eyes. “Canvases is correct, you dolt.”
Nice! She got it on the first try.
“I still wanna get cookies first,” she admitted timidly.
Weiss sighed. “I figured. We can go ask the baker to get started on them and then pick them up after we go get some clothes.”
“They’d be okay with that?”
“Yes, that’s what I did the other day.”
“Oh, neat. So… cookie place, clothes, back to cookies, then painting canveese?”
Weiss burst out in laughter at that last word–which made Ruby feel awesome–then quickly clamped her hand over her mouth. “Sounds good,” she agreed, a hitch in her voice like she was ready to laugh again.
Ruby – 2, Weiss’ Sadness – 0!
It only took them a few more minutes to get to where they were going. A big stone sign had the words ‘WESTRUN MALL’ carved into it at the entrance, flanked on both sides by sidewalk. It was a super awesome looking outdoor mall, set up to where the fronts of the stores and restaurants were facing a central plaza with a pretty fountain and stone walkways that cut across really bright green grass. The storefronts themselves looked sparkly and new.
This was definitely where rich people shopped.
Ruby could smell the faint scent of vanilla deliciousness wafting through the air. Her tummy loudly informed that it most definitely wanted to follow the smell.
When Weiss snorted in amusement, Ruby realized she’d heard her stomach too. She felt her cheeks light up like Angry Yang’s hair.
Weiss pointed to a store on their left. Wafer’s Treats. The cookie bakery. “Shall we?” she asked.
Ruby was already skipping ahead. She got to the store and pressed her nose to the front window, peering inside.
“Whooooa,” she breathed.
There was a display case at the counter filled with the superest cookies Ruby had ever seen! There were chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies and that looked like chocolate-and-peanut brittle and mint swirl bark and–
“Come on, you buffoon,” Weiss grumbled, dragging her by the arm into the store.
“Is that cookie made of gold?!”
Weiss chuckled and brought her up to the counter. There was a big man behind it, with vibrant red hair and beard and a big ol’ round nose that reminded Ruby of the little dough character on the cinnamon roll packages that their family got at the grocery store. Appropriate, really.
The man immediately recognized Weiss, and burst into a big smile that Ruby definitely approved of. Maybe big happy smiles was just something that you did a lot when you always had cookies.
“Welcome back, Miss… White, was it?” He had a deep, booming voice that matched his size, and he sounded genuinely happy to see them.
“Weiss,” Weiss corrected. “My first name.”
“My apologies, Weiss.” He looked at Ruby. “Is this the cookie aficionado friend you told me about?”
“It is indeed,” Weiss answered while Ruby beamed happily at the baker.
“So how were the strawberry shortbread cookies?” he asked, eyes twinkling.
“Amaaaaaaaaaazing!” Ruby replied. “They were the best cookies I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of cookies.”
The baker chuckled. “Well that makes an old man proud.”
“You don’t look that old,” Ruby chirped.
He got pleasantly flustered. “Well thank you, little miss.” He held out a hand to her. “I’m Wafer the Baker, at your service.”
From the way his lip quirked, he was clearly quite pleased with the little rhyme.
Ruby shook the hand, eyes going wide at just how tiny her hand was in his. Her fingers barely reached the far side of his palm!
“Nice to meet you, Mister The Baker. I’m Ruby the… Dooby?”
Weiss smacked her forehead. “Please don’t call yourself a dooby.”
Ruby blinked. “Why, does it mean something?”
Weiss let out a slow breath through her nose and shook her head at Ruby slowly, like she’d just missed a really obvious question on a homework assignment. “Just… don’t.”
“Okaaay,” Ruby grumped with a pout.
Mr. Wafer chuckle again. “Nice to meet you, Miss Just Ruby.” Ruby giggled at the joke. “What would you ladies like today?”
Weiss spoke up. “We were wondering if we could get another dozen of those strawberry shortbread cookies, if that’s alright.” Mr. Wafer’s eyebrows shot up, and Weiss quickly rushed out, “Same deal as last time!”
Something about the way she said that caught Ruby’s attention. “Deal? What deal?”
“Nothing, don’t worry about it,” Weiss replied, shaking her head. “And don’t mention it to your sister, either.”
“What? Why not?”
Weiss didn’t answer her, intently keeping her eyes on the baker. Ruby turned to him, super confused.
Mr. Wafer’s eyes narrowed as he glanced between Weiss and Ruby, like he was figuring something out. But Ruby didn’t know what! He smiled at Weiss.
“No need for that, dear. We’ve still got the rest of the mix we got for you a few days ago. I’d be happy to bake those for you at normal cost, if you’re willing to wait again.”
‘Normal cost. Weiss paid extra last time.”
That’s what Weiss didn’t want Ruby to tell Yang. She wasn’t sure why–like, Yang didn’t like when other people paid for them, like when they’d gotten lunch with friends from their old school and stuff, but she wouldn’t make a big deal out of this, would she?
Ruby had no idea, actually. Yang had been extra weird and angry about this kinda thing with Weiss, for some reason.
“You’d still have to bake a new batch of special order cookies,” Weiss argued. “I’d be happy to compens–”
Mr. Wafer cut her off, waving one of his big ol’ hands. “Nonsense! I don’t mind at all. I’m due to make some fresh batches anyway. I’d happy to make one for you young ladies.”
Ruby gave him a beaming smile. She really liked this guy! He was super nice!
“Th-thank you,” Weiss said, a confused look on her face. She glanced at Ruby.
“Would you two like anything else?” Mr. Wafer asked.
“Ye–!” Ruby cut herself off and looked to Weiss for permission. Weiss raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“You want more than a dozen cookies?”
Ruby stammered, “I–well, you dragged me out of the coffee shop and I had to leave my pound cake behind and I didn’t have breakfast and and and–”
“Oh no!” Weiss cried out, regret and worry taking over her expression. “Ruby, I’m so sorry! I forgot about your–I… why didn’t you say anything?”
Ruby shrugged lightly. “You were upset and wanted to get away. I didn’t want to make you stay any longer.”
“Ruby, you have super speed. It would have taken you half a second to go grab it.”
“But you were holding my hand and I didn’t want to let go.”
Weiss’ surprise came back in full.
“J-just ‘cause, like, I didn’t want you thinking I was leaving you alone. Or… whatever.”
Weiss’ eyebrows slowly lowered while the edges of her lips crept up.
They just looked at each other for a while, Ruby shuffling her feet nervously but not wanting to break eye contact. She wasn’t really sure why. It felt like Weiss was having one of those “wow, Ruby’s actually my friend” moments, and Ruby wanted to make sure she believed it.
Ruby and Weiss both turned to the baker, shaken from their moment.
“Pardon the interruption,” he said with a genuine smile, “but what would you like, Miss Ruby?”
Ruby looked at Weiss for permission again and got a quick nod.
She inspected all the various treats in the case–and oh my Grimm there were so many awesome options!
The case seemed to be divided into two sections: normal treats and fancy-rich-person treats. In the first half there were chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, white chocolate cookies, chocolate chip muffins, blueberry muffins, peanut butter brittle, fudge squares, and more awesome, stuff that Ruby had seen before. In the other half were pastries with labels she wasn’t as familiar with or had never even seen before, like ‘Lemon-lime Shortbread’, ‘Raspberry-Almond Rugelach’ (which looked like a raspberry filled croissant), ‘Rosette Vanilla Bean’ (which seemed to be a fancy name for a regular cookie with soft pink frosting on top in the shape of a flower), and a puffy little thing that read ‘French Toast Muffin’, among other things.
Oh yeah, and almost all of the ones on that side had flakes of what looked like gold paper on them. You know, for Fancy Points.
No price tags on any of them. She wondered if the gold ones were, like, a bajillion lien. She definitely didn’t want to make Weiss pay a bajillion bucks for a cookie, so she focused on the ‘normal’ half of the case.
“So many yummy looking cookies,” Ruby breathed, getting a pleased chuckle from Mr. Wafer. She instinctively raised a hand to press it to the glass of the case, but Weiss quickly reached out and grasped her wrist, jerking her hand back down and giving her a pointed look.
Ruby gave her a small pout but didn’t argue. Dad was always chewing her out for doing that too.
“What do you think?” she asked her partner. “I can’t choose.”
Weiss turned to inspect the case. “I don’t know. I kind of want a banana nut muffin because I didn’t have any breakfast either…”
Ruby gasped. “I didn’t even see those! I love banana nut muffins!”
Weiss tilted her head at her. “Really? I would have thought they weren’t sweet enough for you.”
Ruby shook her head. “Nope! They’re super yummy. And they’re still pretty sweet. And nutty. Although I’ve always wondered what the heck a banana nut is.”
Weiss opened her mouth to say something, then closed it. Then opened it again, then closed it again. She turned to Mr. Wafer with a “you see what I have to deal with?” look that Mr. Wafer answered with a suppressed grin.
“Two banana nut muffins, please,” she said.
Ruby was happy with that. Banana nut muffins weren’t her absolute favorite, but she did like them, and if Weiss did too then that was even more awesome!
She had to double take when she saw the price that rang up on the register, though, as Weiss swiped her scroll to pay. Sixteen lien for two muffins? What in the heck? They weren’t even gold leafed!
No wonder the guy didn’t have price tags on his stuff. Nobody would even be brave enough to order anything if they knew how much it would cost before asking for it.
Weiss apparently noticed her reaction, giving her a pat on the back. “Don’t worry about it.”
She worried about it. She felt quite a bit guilty about it. Sixteen bucks was about what Dad spent on a meal for the whole family when they went out to eat at fast food restaurants, which is mostly where they went when they went out. And usually Dad and Yang cooked, which would be even less. And now Weiss was dropping that much on a breakfast pastry for her. And…
“Um, how much are those cookies going to be?” she asked Mr. Wafer nervously.
“Oh, uh…” he looked at Weiss, unsure if he was supposed to answer. Weiss shook her head at him.
“Weiss, I’m gonna see it when we come back anyway!”
“Not if I leave you outside,” she retorted.
Weiss turned to her, exasperated. “Ruby, please. Yang gives me enough grief about spending money on the team already. I don’t need you doing it too!”
Ruby scrunched her nose. “But–”
“It’s okay!” Weiss cut her off. “This is literally no big deal for me, okay? Please just drop it. I want to get this for you.”
“Here you go, ladies,” the baker said, passing them both their muffins and giving them heart-warming smiles.
“Thank you!” Ruby chirped.
“Thank you,” Weiss echoed. “We’re going to go to Cerise Moran’s. We should be back in an hour or two?” She ended on a question directed to Ruby, who nodded. She couldn’t imagine taking two whole hours to find clothes.
“Wonderful!” Mr. Wafer exclaimed. “Your Strawberry Rubles will definitely be ready for you then.”
Ruby let out a little gasp. “Did you just name those after me?!”
Mr. Wafer gave her a wink and a smile.
“Come on, doofus,” Weiss said with a smile of her own, hooking a hand around Ruby’s bent elbow and pulling her to the door.
“Weiss, the best cookies in all of Remnant are named after me!”
Weiss clearly tried and extra clearly failed to hide a pleased grin.
Ruby let herself be guided over to an intricate white stone bench, which was decorated with pretty swirls and flower patterns. Weiss sat down with her elegant sweep-one-hand-to-tuck-her-skirt-under-her movements and looked at Ruby expectantly.
“You don’t wanna go shopping now?” Ruby asked.
Weiss shook her head. “Not with food. They’d probably just kick us out. Even if they don’t, it’s bad manners.” She said that last part with a look like Ruby should know that already.
Ruby plopped down next to Weiss and scooted her butt a bit to get comfy. She took a big bite out of her muff–
“Mmmph! Rish ish dericious!”
Weiss rolled her eyes. “Were you never taught to not talk with food in your mouth?”
Ruby quickly chewed so she could swallow and respond. The buttery, nutty deliciousness stayed in her mouth even after the muffin wasn’t. “I was, but some things are too important to say to spend time waiting to finish chewing.”
Weiss rolled her eyes again, this time also shaking her head. “You’re hopeless,” she mumbled, taking a tiny, princessy bite out of her own muffin.
Her eyes went wide.
“I know, right?!” Ruby laughed. “It’s soooo good!”
Weiss slowly chewed and swallowed, nodding in agreement just as slowly. “Okay,” she finally said. “It’s a bit more forgivable in this case.”
Ruby laughed again and bumped shoulders with Weiss.
“Hey,” she said softly, waiting for Weiss to look at her before finishing. “Thank you.”
Weiss pressed her lips together and looked away. “Thank you, too,” she replied, just as softly.
“What the frickity frack are you thanking me for?” Ruby asked incredulously.
Weiss didn’t answer right away. “… For… being here, I suppose.”
“Being h–Weiss, you’re the one that brought me out here to buy me things! Thank you for being here!”
“I just m–I… nevermind.” She took another bite of her muffin and watched the fountain.
Ruby considered pressing, but it didn’t seem like an angry or frustrated ‘nevermind’. It seemed like she just wanted to think about something else.
A comfortable silence passed over them as they munched on their pastries. Weiss watched the fountain, and Ruby sneakily watched Weiss.
It was really neat to see how… peaceful Weiss looked right now. The same way she’d looked when they were looking out over Beacon from the roof of their dorm. The same way she’d looked out the window when they were crossing the bridge earlier today. People seemed to stress her out, but pretty places? They relaxed her.
It was good to know these things, as a partner, team leader, friend.
Speaking of being a good leader…
Weiss smiled, still watching the fountain. “Yes, Ruby?”
“About Yang being upset about you paying for the team and stuff…”
Weiss frowned and turned towards her. Ruby felt kinda guilty for ruining her good mood, but this would be quick! And hopefully it would make sure this thing wouldn’t ruin Weiss’ mood ever again.
“Please don’t be mad at her for that. I… I know that you have a lot of money and it’s not really a big deal to you, but it is to us.” Weiss opened her mouth to say something, but Ruby rushed forward. “Wait! Let me finish, please.”
Weiss closed her mouth slowly, then nodded.
“So… so you know how we’re not all that rich, right? Well, it’s ‘cause all we have is Dad on intermediate academy professor income. We… we used to have more, back when Mom was around. They were huntsmen, and that made a lot more money. Then Mom… you know. And Dad gave up Hunting, retired and became a professor. So… we haven’t had much. We had to move into a smaller house after Mom… yeah. And Yang basically filled in for Mom when it came to raising me, started taking care of , like, cooking and getting us both ready for school and stuff. And so she was a lot more aware of our, like, money problems or whatever.”
She was having trouble figuring out how to word this. She didn’t want to say they were poor, ‘cause they weren’t. There were a lot of people out there that had less than their family did. And it would feel like she was saying Dad wasn’t doing enough, and that definitely wasn’t true either.
“Yang used to skip lunches, you know.”
Weiss blinked at her, wide-eyed.
Ruby cleared her throat and continued. “At school. The cafeteria lunches got more expensive one year. Something about budget cuts. And Dad didn’t realize, and kept giving us the same amount of money for lunch each week. And it wasn’t enough. So twice a week Yang would skip lunch so that I could still eat and Dad didn’t need to give us more money. Dad and I didn’t even know she was doing it until she graduated and went to Signal.”
“You didn’t notice her not eating anything at lunch?” Weiss asked.
“We didn’t have lunch together. I was two grades behind her, we had different schedules.”
“Oh. Right.” Weiss huffed a little laugh. “Hard to picture you two not being in class together.”
Ruby smiled at that. “I definitely prefer this.”
Weiss nodded absently.
“It’s just… a sore spot for her, you know? The money stuff?”
Weiss sighed and nodded more actively. “I’m sorry. I didn’t…. I don’t even know how to… I’ve never had to skip lunch before. I’ve never had to… worry, I guess?”
Now Ruby was nodding. “I know. And you d–”
“I feel guilty and I don’t know why,” Weiss cut her off. She was staring at the fountain again–or rather, past it, through it, a thousand yard stare that accented by a slightly furrowed brow. “Or I know why, but not what could have been differently. I don’t–”
Weiss snapped out of her inner turmoil and turned to Ruby.
“Don’t feel guilty. Don’t worry about it. I wasn’t telling you this to make you feel guilty about growing up rich, I just wanted you to understand why Yang is so sensitive about taking your money. It’s a pride thing. But please don’t… We’re happy, and growing up the way we did shaped who we are, and we both like who we are. So don’t feel guilty, okay?”
“Okay,” Weiss quietly replied, though the crease between her eyebrows didn’t go away.
“Sorry,” Ruby grimaced. “I didn’t mean to… let’s just go back to enjoying our muffins, yeah?”
Weiss nodded absently again and went back to staring at/through the water fountain, nibbling on her muffin periodically.
Hmph. Ruby – 2, Weiss’ Sadness – 1.
Ruby still wanted to ask about that thing with Blake, and what Blake had meant about Weiss “being a Schnee”, but now was definitely not the time.
She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to talk about something else or not though. Weiss had wanted to be distracted from her sad thoughts, but on the other hand she looked like she was zenning out again while looking at the fountain. If that made her relax, then would Ruby jabbering about something random hurt more than it helped?
When Ruby finished her muffin, Weiss was only halfway through hers. Ruby spent a couple minutes playing with the muffin wrapper, trying and failing to fold it into cool shapes. It was too soft to hold any form for very long.
She switched to watching the fountain like Weiss was, trying to see what her partner was so captivated by. It was pretty, a white stone statue of the Lady of Light as the centerpiece, hooded and blindfolded, a lantern held high in one hand serving as the spout. The water itself was also pretty; crystal clear, spraying up in a wide arc and falling down into the pool with a relaxing pitter-pat sound. It was neat to think that somebody made this statue. They’d have to be super talented to be able to make such a pretty statue and make it shoot water. How did that even work? How do you get a statue around the pipes for the fountain? Maybe they, like, made the statue in two halves and then stuck them together with the pipes in between? Or may–
“You ready to go?” Weiss asked, standing up and folding her muffin wrapper meticulously.
“Sure!” Ruby hopped up and looked around for a trash can. Aha! There was one a little ways away. She held her hand out for Weiss’ wrapper. “Here, gimme. I’ll throw there away.”
“Thank you,” Weiss replied, dropping the paper in Ruby’s hand.
“Yep!” Ruby slipped into her semblance and skipped over to the trash can. Skipping in this form was still way faster than other people could sprint, so she was back at Weiss’ side in a flash.
Weiss watched the petals that Ruby spawned around her float down to the ground for a long moment, tracing the path of one petal in particular that Ruby wasn’t sure if or why it was special. When that petal touched the grass, Weiss looked up.
“Shall we?” She waved a hand in a very princess-y manner towards a store that read ‘Cerise Moran Clothing’.
“Yeah! Who’s Cersei Moron?”
Weiss rolled her eyes at the (deliberate) mispronunciation. “You two are both ridiculous,” she mumbled to herself, leaving Ruby to wonder who the other person she was talking about was. “She’s a fashion designer from Atlas that started her own clothing line, that then evolved into her own franchise.”
“Indeed. She’s actually the one that designed that blouse you liked.”
“Whoa! That’s awesome!”
They got to the door, a big glass thing that matched the shop windows, and Ruby could make out a really fancy looking open space. There were shiny things and shoes and stuff on tables spaced around, and pretty shirts and skirts and dresses around the walls.
It looked awwwwesome!
Weiss reached out to the door handle, then held it closed and turned to Ruby.
“Yes?” Ruby asked, bouncing excitedly.
She said it like a command, and her super serious glare made Ruby take a step back.
“That means no yelling, no running around, no semblancing, no touching everything in the store. I know you’re excited, but behave.”
“I will!” Ruby protested, slowly deflating. She didn’t do all that stuff! She just… expressed her happiness when she was happy.
… Which usually involved yelling and running and semblancing and touching stuff and hugging.
“I will,” she repeated, more assuredly. Weiss looked up and down her face for a couple seconds before giving her a nod and pulling the door open.
The place smelled flowery–not roses, but something lighter. Ruby didn’t know enough about flowers that weren’t roses to be able to place the exact scent, but it was nice. The place looked even more spacious without the tinted glass in the way, and it had soft yellow lighting that made it feel cozy and warm, matched by the dark wood flooring and walls. And all of the clothes looked fancy and awesome.
Behind the counter on the far side of the store there was a pretty, platinum blonde lady in a grey suit jacket with a pink button down shirt and a high-waisted darker pink skirt underneath. A bell on the door chimed as Weiss and Ruby walked in, and the sound caught her attention. Her eyes went wide when they saw Weiss.
“Miss Schnee!” she cried out nervously.
Ruby noticed Weiss subtly cringe at her last name, but… what was that about?
The worker lady bustled toward them, smoothing out her hair and skirt as she approached. “Welcome back! How can I help you today?”
“Hello,” Weiss said. “This is my friend that I mentioned earlier this week.” She gestured at Ruby.
Haha! Weiss called Ruby her friend!
“Ah yes,” she said, giving Ruby an up-and-down inspection that looked really disapproving. “Welcome. And is this the cloak we’re color matching?” the lady asked, looking at Ruby’s hooded cape like she was trying to either dissect it or burn it with her eyes.
The look the lady gave Ruby made Weiss’ turn stone cold, but Ruby decided to ignore it.
“Yep!” Ruby chirped happily. This was so cool!
“It is. We’d like to browse a little bit before that.” Her voice dripped acid.
The blonde lady quickly backed away. “Of course! Please, take your time.”
From how terrified the lady looked talking to them, Ruby guessed she really did want them to take their time.
The lady returned to the counter and Weiss turned to Ruby, crossing her hands in front of her and waiting for Ruby to take the lead.
Ruby whispered with a smile, “What did you do to her? She looks like she thinks you’re gonna eat her or something!”
The joke made Weiss frown, though. What the frick? “I didn’t… I just told her my last name.” Apparently she didn’t realize Ruby meant her glare and mean voice just now.
“Oh. Why would that make her scared of you?”
Weiss gave her a sad, ‘oh you silly girl’ smile and didn’t respond.
“Uh. So… where should I start?”
Weiss smiled at that. “Wherever you’d like. If you want to see the blouse I was talking about, it’s over here.”
“Oooh, yeah!” Weiss lead her over to the left wall. Ruby started skipping, but then quickly stopped because she remembered Weiss had just told her to behave.
It was just like Weiss’ shirt. A pretty white, with light blue bits decorating it, silver buttons down the middle. There were some doily-looking bits coming out of the frocket that looked nice. She pointed at it. “I like this stuff! The one you have doesn’t have that, does it?”
Weiss shook her head. “Lace.”
“Huh?” That seemed like a weird response.
“That type of fabric. It’s called lace.”
“Oh. I thought lace was what adult ladies wore when they wanted to look, you know…”
Weiss quirked an eyebrow up. “Sexually attractive?”
Ruby’s cheeks went red. “Yeah, that.”
With a small smile, Weiss nodded. “Lots of lingerie does have lace. They’re not mutually exclusive, though.”
“Yeah. I just thought lace was only a term for sexy lady stuff for some reason. I dunno.”
Weiss half rolled her eyes. “Anyway, this color palette was what I was looking at before.” She pointed at a card thing that was embedded in the wall that had a table with color scheme names and boxes of colors to their right. Was that all the different colors the shirts came in? That was so cool!
“This is the one I wanted to get you, but with red adornments instead of green.”
Ruby looked at where Weiss’ finger lined up, a row with black and green and silver. She frowned at the color scheme name. “What’s a Slytherin?”
“I have no idea.”
“So black cloth, green lacy bits, and silver… what?”
“Oh! Nice. So they’ll match the buttons on your shirt!”
Weiss tilted her head at Ruby. “Yes. And your eyes.”
Oh yeah. That was a good point.
“Are they actual silver?” she asked, eyes wide.
“Whoa. How expensive is this?”
Weiss frowned. “Please stop worrying about the price, Ruby,” she grumbled, sounding a little annoyed.
“No no! I just meant… like, I’m just curious how much rich people spend on their clothes. Putting actual silver buttons on your clothes and stuff seems… crazy.”
Weiss actually chuckled a little bit at that. “Yes, it is a bit… extravagant. Pretty, though. And I’m sure it’ll look great on you.”
Ruby smiled at the compliment. “Aww. thanks.”
Weiss gave her a small, awkward lip twitch that was probably supposed to be a smile and looked away.
“Do you want to see some of the other things? There are some nice blouses and skirts and pants you might like.”
Ruby rocked forward and back on the balls of her feet. “Sure! I think I need some new jeans…” She looked down at her black jeans, one knee faded to a dark grey and the other with a series of tiny rips.
Weiss snorted. “Well I doubt they have anything in denim here, but I’m sure we can find another option.”
“Aw, I like jeans.”
“What about just a nice pair of slacks like this?” Weiss brought her over to a pair of pants that looked like fancy people dress pants. They flared out a little bit at the feet, looked like they were made to fit really tight around the hips, and there not one but two buttons at the waist, both covered by fabric so they weren’t visible when you put the pants on.
“Aren’t these for, like, fancy business suits or whatever?”
Weiss gave her a flat stare. “Ruby, they’re slacks. You can wear them in more than just formal settings.”
“You could be wearing them right now instead of your jeans, with that polo, and look perfectly fine. It would be the same as what you’ve got on now but a little classier.”
“Oh. Okay. Should I get them, then?”
Weiss nodded. “You can try them on in the fitting room in a bit. Let’s find some other stuff for you to try on too.”
Right. Fitting rooms. She could try on all the fancy clothes! Maybe she’d look princessy like Weiss.
… Probably not, though.
“Ooh, I like this.” Weiss stopped in front of a grey three-button vest with a faint floral pattern in a lighter grey on it. She looked at the color card thing. “Look, there’s a red version. Black slacks, maybe a black button down shirt, and a red vest? I bet you’d look great.”
Yet another compliment for Ruby to smile at! “That wouldn’t look too fancy-formally?”
“I don’t think so, though it would be significantly more formal than anything you currently have. Maybe you could do that for special occasions?”
Ruby nodded. It felt kinda like she was a dress up doll that Weiss really wanted to play with. She wondered if she’d gone shopping much with a friend before.
“Did you used to clothes shopping with other people, before? Like Winter or someone?”
Weiss’ tiny smile faded away. “Yes. With Winter a lot, before she left for Atlas Academy. Only a couple times with her after that, when she was on break.” She frowned a bit. “We used to shop with our mother, too, before… “ She trailed off.
“Before?” Ruby prompted.
Weiss took a deep breath. “Nothing. Yes, I used to go shopping with my sister. Yes, it’s been a while, and I’ve mostly shopped alone the past few years. Yes, I’m excited right now. Let’s move on.”
That was definitely wrong…
But Weiss had said she was excited right now!
“Okay! Sorry! I’ll try the vest! And the pants! And the shirt! Wait, where’s the shirt?”
Weiss looked around the wall. “Hm… Ah, how about that one?”
It was a long sleeved beige shirt, with two columns of dark green buttons down the center–one of which was just a decorative addition on the outside, because having to button up eighteen different buttons would be awwwwful. There was no front pocket, and the collars were thin and hugged the sleeve tightly, with a bit of dark green doily–er, lace, coming out from underneath it.
“Is there a black one?” was her first question.
Weiss squinted at the color card. “Mmmmm, yes! Black with white buttons and lace.”
“Would it need to be black and red?”
“No,” Weiss said lightly. “White’s a good neutral, and you can have more than two colors in your outfit, you know.”
“Pffft, I know that… now,” she joked.
Weiss smiled a teensy bit.
“What’s on the other wall?” Ruby asked, already moving over to it. She saw a few polos, a cardigan (which Ruby knew from glimpses at Yang’s fashion magazines was what a sweater with buttons down the middle), and–AAAH!!!
There was a light jacket, brown to look like leather but seemed to be some sort of fabric, with sweet looking buckles and buttons on it on the shoulders and cuffs and hem.
It. Looked. Awesoooome!
She was about to slip into her semblance to run over when Weiss’ hand clamped around her wrist, rooting her in place.
“That’s the men’s section, Ruby.”
“But! But but!”
Ruby pointed. “But that jacket is awesome!”
Weiss followed Ruby’s finger. She stared at the jacket for a long couple of seconds, blank faced, before finally frowning slightly.
“I think it’s a bit… punkish?”
Weiss rolled her eyes at that. “Either way, it’s a men’s jacket, so–”
“But maybe one of the really really small ones would fit me!” Ruby tugged.
After meeting Ruby’s eyes for a moment, Weiss sighed heavily and walked with her to the jacket, still gripping Ruby’s wrist–and kinda cutting off the blood flow to her poor fingers, but that was a small price to pay for getting to check out the jacket.
“Wonderful,” Weiss muttered, looking at the color card. “Brown, grey, and beige. Men’s fashion at it’s finest.”
“There’s nothing wrong with this brown one!” Ruby chirped. “It looks super sweet!”
She reached out to touch the fabric. It was rough, almost corduroy on the outside, but the inside was lined with something soft and silky to make it comfy to wear. The buckles were polished silver metal, probably steel or some sort of alloy.
“You really like this, don’t you?” Weiss asked, looking like she very much wanted Ruby to say ‘no’.
Weiss sighed again, her eyes moving up to the ceiling while she slowly shook her head.
“Fine. We’ll see if they have one that fits you.”
Ruby gave her partner a super tight hug from the side and lifted her off her feet.
“Eep!” Weiss squeaked, just like she had last time.
“Thank you, Weiss!”
“Put me down, you dunce!”
Ruby giggled and set Weiss gently back on her feet.
Weiss huffed and straightened out her shirt and the pretty shawl/cape thing she was wearing. “That’s a good amount of things to try in the changing room. Let’s go talk to the lady.”
They approached Blonde Lady together. She looked up at them and smiled, though she still looked a bit apprehensive with Weiss glaring at her.
“Hi! What can I do for you?”
“My friend has a few things she’d like to try on,” Weiss answered curtly.
Blonde Lady turned to Ruby. “Of course! What were you looking for?”
Ruby bounced a little. “Okay, so that jacket over there?” She pointed back at her favorite article of clothing EVER.
“The… men’s jacket?”
Weiss sighed again.
“Yeah! I was wondering if you have any that are small enough to fit me.”
Blonde Lady blinked at her. “I suppose we can check. Let me measure you real quick.”
“I… uh, okay?”
‘Measure me? What?’
The lady got one of those plastic rollup rulers and walked around the desk. She started measuring Ruby’s body, wrapping the ruler thing around her shoulders, her hips, lining it down her arm, from shoulder to wrist, then her torso, from the base of her neck to her waist. She muttered the numbers to herself the whole while.
“We also wanted to see some other things,” Weiss said, looking at Ruby pointedly.
“Oh right!” Ruby started pointing across the store at the things Weiss had like. “Those pants, that vest, that fancy shirt, and… was that it? Oh! And the fancy shirt–uh, blouse–that we’re getting with this red.” Ruby gripped her cloak at the shoulder and gave it a wiggle.
“Ah, yes. We do need to do that,” Blonde Lady murmured. “And what colors on these items?”
“Ummm. Black pants, black fancy shirt, red vest?” Ruby glanced at Weiss for confirmation and got an approving nod.
Blonde Lady measured her legs now, hip to knee, knee to ankle, then around her hips. Mumbling the numbers to herself, she straightened up and walked back around the table to write them down on a clipboard.
“Alright. I’ll go get them from the back. Feel free to wait in the changing room.” She pointed toward the wall to the right–oh, there it was!, then bustled the back through a door in the back wall.
Ruby walked over to the door to the changing room, amused that she hadn’t noticed it before. It was the same material as the wall it was set on, and almost flush with it. The only real giveaway that it was even there was the small rectangle of gold where a door handle would normally be.
She glanced back to Weiss, mostly just to check on her. She was distracted. She’d wandered over to one of the tables with jewelry on them and was looking at something. Ruby walked over to her side.
It was a pair of fishhook earrings, gold hooks and cap from which dangled blue gemstones, probably sapphires, that were cut to look like Water Dust crystals.
“Those are really pretty,” Ruby said quietly.
“Mm,” Weiss responded just as softly, hooking one of her skinny fingers around one of the sapphires and pulling it closer.
“Wanna get ‘em?”
Weiss looked over at her. “I didn’t think blue was your color.”
“I meant for you, silly.”
“Ah.” Weiss turned back to the earrings. “We’re not here for me.”
Ruby resisted the urge to groan. “Wei-eiss! You’re getting all this awesome stuff for me, you should get something for yourself too!”
Weiss shook her head. “I’m not doing something awesome. I’m just making up for being shitty to you before.”
“But I already forgave you!”
Ruby stopped short. What the frickity frack was she supposed to say to that?
An awkward silence settled over them. Ruby felt like it was choking her, like she needed to say something to make it go away and make Weiss feel better. But… what? She could jabber about anything to make the silence go away, but that would annoy Weiss, not make her cheer up.
“Well… well if you don’t get them for yourself, then you’re gonna force me to get them for you!”
Weiss raised an eyebrow at her. “How are you going to do that?”
“Uh…” Ruby hadn’t thought that far ahead. Yang definitely wouldn’t agree to use Dad’s card for this, as the earrings were probably pretty expensive…
“We get paid for the hunts we’re gonna go on, even the training ones. I’ll just save up that money and buy these for you!”
Weiss looked completely and utterly unconvinced.
“I’ll do it! You just watch!”
Weiss smiled a teensy bit and rolled her eyes. “Go to the changing room, dolt.”
Pouting, Ruby turned and shuffled away.
She was gonna do it! Then Weiss was gonna be all like ‘Dang, I guess I shoulda believed Ruby ‘cause she’s awesome and the best partner ever’.
Not that Weiss would ever say those things out loud. But Ruby could make her think them!
The changing room was way bigger than she’d expected. Spacious, with hanger racks along the walls on her left and right, with benches underneath them–probably for setting stuff down on. The wall in front of her wasn’t a wall, but rather three floor-to-ceiling mirrors arranged like half of a hexagon, letting her see herself in multiple angles.
Ripped, faded jeans, a wrinkled polo whose collar insisted on folding along a random crease it wasn’t supposed to, and grungy boots with laces that had tassels so frayed they looked like hand fans.
Yeah, she was definitely out of place here.
There was a light knock at the door, then it was pushed open slightly.
“I have your clothes, miss,” Blonde Lady announced.
“Sweet!” Ruby pulled the door open and was handed four hangers, one at a time, with the things she’d asked for. “Hey! By the way!” She hushed her voice as Blonde Lady turned back to her.
Ruby swallowed. “Those pretty blue earrings that Weiss is looking at, how much are they?”
Blonde Lady turned to glance at the earrings Weiss was still inspecting.
“Ah, those. I believe they’re fifteen hundred before taxes.”
“Okay, thanks!” she squeaked, prompting the lady to leave with a nod.
That was going to take a while to save up for…
She pushed the issue from her mind and immediately plopped the three formal, Weiss-y clothes on one of the hanger racks and started pulling on the jack–
Crap. Her cloak was in the way.
She unfastened the pins Uncle Qrow had given her and laid the cloak out on a bench.
‘Not letting you go, Mom,’ she thought. ‘Just putting you down for a second.’
She pulled the jacket on and checked herself out in the mirrors.
She looked freaking bad-A.
The jacket was absolutely awesommmmmmmmmme! It was incredibly comfy and soft, the silk lining feeling cool against her bare arms. The fact that she had her goofy polo collar competing with the jacket’s foldless colar looked a little strange, but that was her polo’s fault, not the jacket’s.
She burst out of the room and threw her arms and legs out to the side in a ‘ta-da!’ fashion.
Weiss turned at the noise of the noisy entrance, then rolled her eyes when she saw Ruby. “Of course you tried that on first.”
Ruby just flashed her pearly whites. “What do you think?”
Weiss sighed and looked Ruby over, slowly starting to nod. “It looks… appropriate.”
She waved a hand. “It just looks like your style.”
Ruby rocked on the balls of her feet. “So you like it?”
Weiss smiled begrudgingly and nodded.
“It’s a little wide at the shoulders, though.”
“Pffft!” Now Ruby waved her hand. “It’s perfectly awesome!”
Weiss rolled her eyes again. “Go try on the other things now, dolt. I want to see how it looks.”
It took her a while to get all the other stuff on. Plus, it felt really awkward to take her shirt and pants off in sorta-kinda public. Also, there were a lot of buttons on the fancy shirt, even taking into account that she only actually had to button half of them. Figuring out which button went where was also tricky. The vest was easy, though, and the only difficulty with the pants was that it was a little tight around her thighs and hard to squeeze her legs through.
The vest was a deep red, similar to her cloak but a slightly different hue. The floral pattern on this one was a lighter red, almost pink.
Overall, the outfit kinda made her feel like one of those noble lords in the fantasy shows. House colors? Black and red! House sigil? A rose! House words? Uh… Uh…. Gotta go fast?
No, that was dumb.
She was scratching her head trying to come up with a good motto for House Rose when she walked out of the changing room.
“Tuck in, you buffoon!”
“Huh? Oh, woops.”
Ruby quickly tucked the shirt in, then had to untuck the vest because she’d accidently tucked that in too. Weiss was frowning at her with crossed arms all the while.
Straightening out the vest and pants, Ruby gave her partner a meek smile. She felt really self conscious now, standing in front of a legit princess while in fancy clothes that she probably was somehow managing to make look bad.
To get rid of her own unease, she decided to joke.
“Ruby of House Rose, first of her name, student of Beacon and defender of Vale, at your service!” She bowed.
It mostly just confused Weiss, but at least she didn’t feel so awkward now.
“Straighten up, you goofball. Let me see…” Weiss looked Ruby up and down as she walked up.
She put her hands on Ruby’s shoulders and rolled them back a little, forcing Ruby to straighten her posture. Then she put a finger under Ruby’s chin to lift it. Then she ran her fingers through Ruby’s hair, bringing a bit of order to the unruly mess.
She stepped back and looked Ruby up and down again.
“What do you think?” Ruby asked, kinda nervous. If Weiss had gone through all this trouble and effort to find her nice clothes and she ended up looking bad in them, she’d feel terrible.
Weiss smiled widely. “I think you look wonderful.”
“You do?!” Ruby squeaked.
Weiss pursed her lips, but she was still smiling as she nodded.
“I agree,” Blonde Lady added off from the side, behind the counter. Weiss turned to glare at her, but the compliment made Ruby smile even more.
Blonde Lady nodded. “You look quite sharp.”
“Heehee,” Ruby intoned happily, rocking side to side.
“Do you like them?” Weiss asked her.
“Yeah! I feel pretty and fancy!”
Weiss huffed a little chuckle. “Well you look pretty and fancy.”
Ruby blushed gratefully. “Thanks.”
“You want to try on the, uh, fancy blouse now?” Weiss both smiled and cringed as she called it a ‘fancy blouse’.
“Woohoo, Weiss clothes!” she answered, skipping over to Blonde Lady, who held out a black and green version of the blouse in question.
Whatever, it was gonna be Mom’s-birthday-gift-cloak red in the final version.
After fumbling to get out of the million-buttons-button down, she pulled on the blouse. It was really pretty, and the satin black was shiny. Some places where the light hit it just right it looked like a dark purple, which was neato. And it fit well. It was sleeveless, and armholes were low enough that they didn’t tickle or each her armpits, but not too low that her bra showed or it was too skin-showy.
The green was still yucky, though. Ruby did her best to ignore it.
She walked back out to Weiss again.
As soon as Weiss saw her, she wrinkled her nose.
“Wha?!” Ruby cried. “What’s wrong?! What’s–?” She mimicked the face Weiss was making.
“Nothing!” Weiss replied quickly. “Just… green.”
Ruby gasped. “You think green is gross too?!”
Weiss rolled her eyes. “Not gro–”
“I always said green is for grass and trees and puke!”
Weiss wrinkled her nose again.
“… I thought it was funny,” Ruby added lamely.
“Well you’re a dolt. Now turn around, I want to see how it fits across the back.”
Ruby spent a good thirty seconds getting spun around and inspected, like what Ruby did in her RPGs at character creation, but with more pokey fingernails.
“Little loose across the shoulder blades, but otherwise very nice.”
“Uh, thanks,” Ruby said.
How does one judge the fabric of a shirt across shoulder blades?
“Mm. I like it. Let’s let… her get the color match for your cloak.”
Ruby squinted at her partner. She couldn’t even remember what Weiss was mad at Blonde Lady for now.
“Go,” Weiss commanded, giving Ruby a light push toward the changing room.
Heading back to the changing room, Ruby stopped short when Weiss called out to her again.
“Hey, would you mind doing me a favor?” Weiss asked, looking incredibly self conscious.
“Could… could you change back into the other outfit, instead of your polo?” She stared intently at her toes as she ground them into the wooden floorboards.
Weiss smiled at her foot at the answer.
Ruby hurried back into the room and donned the billion-button down shirt and the vest again, then grabbed her cloak and brought it to Blonde Lady at the counter.
“Ah, thank you,” she said, pulling out her scroll and snapping a few pictures of the cloak. “A pretty red.”
“Thanks! I thought so too.” +
Weiss walked up to her side and fiddled with her collar a bit, a pleased smile on her face.
“Okay,” she said. “Now we need to do something about those shoes?”
Ruby looked down at the grungy boots that she had her nice dress pants tucked into. Then she looked at Weiss’ pretty, pointy high heels and an immediate sense of alarm shot through her.
What was Weiss’ version of acceptable shoes?
Weiss gave her a smile. “Have you ever worn heels before?”