“Stupid! Lady… stilts–stupid! Why wou–aaahk!”
Weiss rolled her eyes as her dolt of a partner clung to her arm for dear life. She’d convinced Ruby to practice walking in her new heels as they continued shopping, and the pain in her shoulder socket as her arm was yanked around was reminding her of the price of being Ruby’s walking coach.
“Weiss, save me!”
“Ruby, you’re being ridiculous.”
“These shoes are ridiculous!”
“No, they’re classy and pretty.”
She looked down at the black, box-toed heels Ruby was stumbling around in. Ruby hadn’t wanted to get box-toed heels, saying they weren’t “pointy and princessy” like Weiss’, but they fit the shape of her smaller feet better, and Weiss had finally convinced her into them.
Of course, it took them five times longer to walk anywhere, and Ruby spent every breath on cursing her “stupid lady stilts”.
In a display of extreme empathy, Weiss was carrying five of the six bags of clothes and jewelry they’d gotten. Each bag was from a different store, with a variety of styles. One had a formal black dress that Weiss had insisted on despite Ruby’s protests that she wasn’t “princessy enough” for a dress. Ruby held the last bag in one hand and the box of cookies, half of which Ruby had shoved in her mouth before they’d even had lunch, under that arm. Her other hand was cutting off the blood flow in Weiss’ hand, close cut fingernails somehow managing to dig into Weiss’ wrist.
Weiss was also carrying the bag with the three canvases, the paint palette, and the table easel she’d gotten from the art supply store. Nothing too fancy–she wasn’t a good enough artist to warrant spending a lot of money on that hobby. But they were nice to have.
“But they’re all… stubbyyy!” Ruby whined. “Look!”
For the third time, Ruby kicked one of her feet up into the air and wobbled as she tried to hold it there. She would have fallen on her butt if she wasn’t holding on to Weiss.
“It makes my foot look like a rectangle!”
“You’re a goof.”
Weiss sighed. “Ruby, give yourself a couple years to let your feet get a bit longer and the… pointy princess shoes won’t look as strange in your size.”
“But they don’t!”
Weiss rolled her eyes again. “Just focus on walking. Keep your posture strai–”
“My calves hurt!”
“If you’re gonna keep whining like this then you can just walk barefoot.”
“Really?” Ruby asked, looking up at Weiss hopefully.
“I–no! You’re not supposed to want to take your shoes off, Ruby!”
Ruby pouted. “Oh.”
“You kn–fine.” Weiss stopped and pulled Ruby toward a bench next to the sidewalk. Their dorm was only another minute walk away, but any more of this ridiculous whining and she was liable to explode. “Put your boots back on. Which bag are they in?”
Ruby flopped onto the bench with a groaning sigh of relief. “Oh thank Dust! Get these evil fiends off my feet!”
She kicked off the heels like a baboon, sending them scraping across the concrete. Weiss quickly rushed over to pick them up and shot her partner a glare.
Of course, Ruby didn’t notice, yanking out her scruffy boots from her bag and quickly shoving them on her feet.
“So, like, these boots are great ‘cause they don’t try to CRUSH MY TOES!”
Weiss crossed her arms and glared at Ruby even harder. “I let you take the heels off and you get even louder?”
Ruby huffed and crossed her arms back. “I let you mrah hrah rah rah rere rah,” she muttered to herself in a mocking, bossy tone.
“Stop that!” Weiss demanded.
Ruby huffed again.
“Brat,” Weiss grumbled at her, though she had to resist smiling at the image of childish, pouting Ruby in dress pants and a dress shirt and a designer vest. It was a weirdly amusing juxtaposition.
Still with a grumpy face, Ruby held out a hand to Weiss.
“I can carry more bags now at least.”
“Yes,” Weiss agreed, sliding three bags onto Ruby’s arm. “Yes you can.”
“Darn, was hoping you’d be nice.”
“Never,” Weiss teased with a grin. “Now come on, we’re almost back at our room. We can put these bags down and spend a couple hours relaxing before we go to dinner.”
Ruby half-gasped and gave her a smile, mouth half open in excitement. “You wanna play some vidya games?”
Weiss sighed. She’d wanted to play the piano, and maybe do some sketches for a painting she might do later. But that face…
Ruby picked something up in her expression, though. “Do you wanna, like, play music or something first, maybe?” she asked.
Weiss nodded quickly.
“Yes!” Ruby cheered, pumping a tiny fist in celebration.
Confused, Weiss cocked her head to the side. “You’re… happy I want to play music?” That was… nice. If Ruby enjoyed her music, this partnership would be a lot easier to manage. And having a fan was pretty neat too.
“Oh, I meant, like, I was happy I guessed what you wanted right. But I also do like listening to your music!” She rushed out the second sentence, as if worried Weiss would be offended by her first answer.
She hadn’t been. She was also happy Ruby guessed what she wanted correctly, and was okay with it. It was easier than having to ask and worrying about feeling guilty for not wanting to do something Ruby wanted to do.
Not that that mattered! Making sure Ruby was happy wasn’t a main priority or anything.
Ruby hopped to her feet. “So what was your favorite thing we looked at today?”
Weiss thought for a moment, tilting her head to the side. “I actually really liked that Cerise Moran blouse on you. I bet when it’s actually the proper color it’ll be perfect on you.”
Ruby gave that goofy flattered smile she had, a little one-sided grin that show the barest sliver of teeth, to her feet. “Heehee, thanks. But I meant what was your favorite thing for you?”
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Weiss gave Ruby a frown. She knew what her partner was doing, trying to figure out what she could get Weiss as some sort of unnecessary ‘thank you’ gift. When Ruby had said she’d get Weiss those earrings, it had been amusing and cute enough that Weiss hadn’t felt the desire to inform the girl of the price tag, but Ruby had spent the entire day asking her what she liked in every store. It was pretty obvious she was trying to figure out what to get Weiss.
“I really liked those earrings,” Weiss answered. Instead of trying to convince Ruby not to get her something, she’d just say she wanted something Ruby couldn’t hope to afford. Problem solved.
Ruby nodded at her feet, silent. Something in the way her brow slowly creased felt like a buildup of determination, and that very much worried Weiss.
“It’s a bit expensive though,” she added, trying to drive the point home. “Even for me.”
Ruby nodded at her feet some more.
Okay. A tactical distraction was needed. This was Ruby she was dealing with, so there was a foolproof one to go to.
“So did you like the bakery?”
Ruby jump-skipped and turned to her with a big gasp and smile.
“I did! It was so awesome! There were so many awesome cookies and muffins and cupcakes and what the heck even are those gold cookies and holy crappoli they were all such pretty colors and Mister Wafer Baker was so nice and his hands were huge, like, how the heck does he make such tiny, delicate cookies with those big ol’ Ursa paws? And and and that muffin was awesome, and I really liked the fountain, that bench was such a nice spot to snack.”
She paused to take a breath, and Weiss quickly cut in.
“I like it too,” she said simply.
Ruby smiled and nodded, whatever rambling thoughts she’d been about to continue derailed by the voice of another person.
They made more small talk on their way to their room. When they got there, Weiss set her bag of art supplies with a satisfied sigh. That had been an overall satisfying shopping trip. It was actually surprising to Weiss how much she had enjoyed shopping for someone else. And having a shopping buddy again had been nice. Even if it was Ruby.
Actually, that wasn’t fair. Ruby had made it especially enjoyable. She was a cheerful bundle of excitement and gratitude the entire time, and had been willing to go along with everything Weiss said, trying on a ton of different things that she clearly hadn’t personally liked simply because Weiss asked her to.
Weiss turned to her partner, who had unceremoniously plopped the shopping bags she was carrying and the box of cookies onto Weiss’ bed. “Yes, Ruby?”
“Can I–whatchu you smiling about?”
“What? Nothing. I’m not smiling.” Weiss focused on blanking out her expression to make sure she actually wasn’t smiling.
“You were totally smiling.”
“No, I wasn’t.”
“What do you want, Ruby?” Weiss snapped, a bit of annoyance creeping into her tone.
Ruby just gave her a grin. “I was gonna ask if I could put the clothes away later.”
Weiss looked at where the bags sat on her bed, then at the bags she was holding in her own hands. “I’m not your mother, Ruby.” As soon as the words came out of her mouth, she realized what a red flag they were, and the flicker across Ruby’s eyelids at the words reinforced that. “I mean! Uh. Sure. Just, maybe put the bags in the closet?”
Ruby nodded, picking up the bags and grabbing the ones Weiss held out to her and heading into the bathroom closet.
‘Damn it, Weiss. Why did you say that?’
What should she do? Should she apologize, or would calling it out like that just make it worse? In a vacuum she hadn’t said anything wrong, it was just Ruby’s personal history that made what she’d said an issue, and she might not want to have this shoved in her face.
But if she didn’t apologize then she was basically saying she didn’t know or care that she’d made a mistake and hurt Ruby, and she did.
Was there a way to address the issue without apologizing and putting Ruby on the spot? A way to–
“You mind if I come listen and draw again?”
Weiss blinked at Ruby in the bathroom doorway. “Oh!” Right, piano. “No, not at all.” She gave Ruby a smile, though it felt awkward and forced and not at all like it would make Ruby feel better.
The subdued smile Ruby gave her in return reinforced that she was failing.
She hated failing.
“Hey, uh…” she cleared her throat, trying to figure out what to say. She’d decided to speak up and fix things but had opened her mouth before figuring out how.
Ruby looked at her quizzically. “Yeah?”
“… If you want, we can just go straight to playing Huntsman Royale.”
It wasn’t a perfect solution. It didn’t address the fact that she was sorry for bringing up Ruby’s mom. But maybe it would cheer Ruby up enough that she’d forget the insensitive thing Weiss had said.
“Are you sure? I don’t wanna take you away from your music time if you’d rather do that.” Ruby was clearly trying to hide her excitement, though. She’d clasped her hands behind her back and was shifting her weight from foot to foot, like she was trying to restrain herself from running or jumping or whatever hyperactive expression of joy she wanted to do.
“I’m sure,” Weiss nodded.
Ruby bounded forward and wrapped her arms around Weiss, squeezing her and lifting her into the air.
“Come on, we still gotta beat level four!” Ruby cried, her voice trailing away because she’d run out of the room and down the hallway during the sentence.
‘Well… at least she’s cheered up now.’
Not that Ruby’s happiness was a priority or anything. It was just… ideal team building, right?
She straightened out her covers where Ruby’s bags had caused some wrinkles, then walked out to the living area to join her teammate.
“You think Yang’s set the library on fire yet?” Ruby asked, tilting her head backwards over the couch cushions to look at Weiss upside down as Weiss got herself a glass of water from the kitchen.
“I’d be surprised if the place didn’t just blow up from proximity to her,” she answered, straight faced.
Ruby giggled at that. “Blake would be so maaaaaad.”
Seeing her at dinner tonight would be… stressful. She’d been mad and nasty and vindictive when Weiss had run aw–… left… this morning. Weiss hadn’t had an issue with Blake’s naive views on faunus–she just didn’t know any better. But being accused of “just being a Schnee”?
What was that even supposed to mean, just a Schnee? A Schnee wasn’t just anything. Schnees were more intelligent, educated, capable, and, in Weiss and Winter’s case, powerful than any other single family Weiss knew of in Remnant. Just a Schnee was still far beyond anybody else.
And the implication–probably the intending meaning of the barb, honestly–that Weiss herself was nothing more than a…
Than a what? A Schnee? What did that mean? What did Blake view as the “standard” Schnee?
Probably the same as most people. She probably thought of Weiss’ father as what it meant to be a Schnee. Even though he married into the family.
And Weiss’ views on faunus weren’t because of her father’s. Yes, she’d grown up listening to him rage at the dinner table about the White Fang and the atrocities they were committing against the company and, though he raged less frequently about it, the rest of Atlas. But she’d found out herself about all the other faunus crimes, watched the news and searched online for faunus hate crimes and saw herself what they’d done. She’d come to the same conclusion her father had, that faunus were evil and animalistic and wanted to hurt the world, on her own.
So really Blake was just ignorant. She didn’t know anything about faunus or the Schnee family or Weiss, and she was trying to act like she had the moral hi–
“Weiss? You okay?”
“What? Oh, yes, I’m fine.” She cleared her throat and walked over to the couch, glass in hand.
“You had a couple glyphs spinning around you really fast,” Ruby informed her curiously.
“I did?” She hadn’t noticed doing that, though she could feel that her aura was a bit drained, now that she focused on it.
“Mhm. Like, really fast. You looked… agitated?” She seemed unsure of the description.
“Sorry.” Weiss wasn’t entirely sure what she was apologizing for.
“Everything okay?” Ruby asked again.
Weiss nodded. “I’m fine,” she repeated.
Ruby frowned, unconvinced. “Everything okay between you and Blake?”
“I don’t want to talk abo–”
“Dang it, Weiss!” Ruby exclaimed, looking both grumpy and concerned.
“I’ve given you, like, six hours to think about it and talk to me, but I’m not waiting any longer! As team leader I’m ordering you to tell me what’s wrong so I can be team leader-y and try to help!”
“I… no!” Weiss didn’t like being ordered, especially by this underage dolt.
“You have to I’mteamleaderit’stherules!” She bounced on the couch and slid a leg under herself, turning to face Weiss head on.
“If you have to yell ‘I’m team leader’, are you really much o–”
“Just tell me!”
Weiss looked at Ruby for a long moment. There wasn’t any anger there. Just worry. Knowing her, she likely did just want to help make things better between Weiss and Blake.
Sighing, Weiss resigned herself to this conversation. She had no idea what Ruby’s own views on faunus were, but she supposed she was about to find out.
“We just had a fight.”
Ruby blinked. “What about ‘em?”
Weiss waved a hand at nobody and nowhere in particular. “She just doesn’t seem to know that they’re… you know…” Ruby blinked at her again, uncomprehending. “Terrible?”
Ruby’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Which faunus are terrible?”
“All of them?”
Weiss stayed silent, trying to figure out how to explain this.
“But how can you say all faunus are terrible if you haven’t met all the faunuses? Faun… faunusi? Faunseese? Wait, what’s the plural of faunus?”
“Just faunus,” Weiss answered impatiently.
“Oh. Alright. But yeah, that’s like… that’s like saying all people with black hair are terrible. Or like–”
“But faunus aren’t people, Ruby!”
“They aren’t people. They’re faunus. They’re literally a different species!”
Her voice rose in volume and pitch at the end, and she physically clamped her hands down in her lap and lowered her chin to force herself to calm down.
“They’re not human. They’re less. They’re animals.”
Weiss raised an eyebrow and looked at Ruby, whose eyes were wide. “Oh?”
“I just… always thought of them as humans, but they had something extra added on.”
Weiss shook her head. “Not extra. Less.” It wasn’t that hard to understand. Humans were the greatest species on the planet, and the faunus were an aberration of humans that had the DNA of lesser species in them, so that made them less than humans.
“They are thieves and kidnappers and rapists and murderers. Do you not see what the White Fang do in this child’s game you love? That’s based on real life, Ruby!”
“But… but not all of them!” Ruby seemed shocked. “I had a bunch of faunus friends growing up in Patch. They were nothing but nice! Except for Burly. Burly was a jerk. But all the other ones were nice! And there’s Velvet! You met Velvet! She’s super nice!”
Weiss rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’m sure she acts nice.”
“I… I don’t understand.”
“What don’t you understand?”
“Do you really think all faunus are… those bad things you said?”
“I… It’s not a matter of me thinking they are, Ruby. They are. That’s a fact. I just recognize it, and Blake doesn’t, and apparently you don’t either!”
“B… but… Okay, why do you think so?”
Ruby’s face wasn’t angry like Blake’s had been. She just looked confused.
“I know so because I am actually informed about all the terrible things they do! They’ve attacked, mugged, raped, kidnapped, and murdered people I’ve known and people my family has known for my entire life!”
Ruby’s lower lip puffed out in a half pout. “But they don’t–they’re not all… Weiss, human people do all those things too, sometimes. You don’t think all human people are all bad, do you?”
“Are we going to play this stupid game or not?” she asked, picking up her controller.
“So Blake was mad because, what, she doesn’t think all faunusooses are bad?”
Weiss bit down on her lip to keep from laughing at that utterly ridiculous word. She was angry and impatient, and this was not a time for laughter.
“I will walk away and go play the piano instead,” she threatened.
“Okay! Okay fine! Fiiine! I was just trying to help.”
“Well… stop it.”
“You stop it.”
“You… ugh, just play the… whatever.”
Ruby scooted closer to her, to the point their shoulders were touching, and nudged her. “Sorryyy. Let’s kill some Grimm, yeah?”
“Heyyyyyy,” Ruby whined at her. “Cheer up! You’ll get to blow up some White Fang dudes in this level too. That’s good, right?”
“Oooooookay, shutting up now.”
“You think Yang will even recognize me in my fancy dudette vest?”
“I hardly do and I’ve been around you all day.”
“Awww, thanks… Wait–”
“Hand,” Weiss directed as the crosswalk light turned green, holding her own. Ruby distractedly grabbed hold and they crossed together.
Needing to hold a fifteen year old’s hand as they crossed the street was, of course, completely ridiculous, but that was apparently more Ruby’s father’s fault than her own, apparently. Weiss wondered just how much of Ruby’s childish nature was because she’d been treated like a child by her father and sister for so long.
This wasn’t a good time to bring it up, though. Blake was already mad at her, and Yang took any excuse she could to blow up. Bringing up her only friend’s issues was definitely off the table right now.
She wasn’t here to make friends, of course, but it didn’t hurt to have them. Ruby was even kind of nice to have around, at times. Tolerable at the very least.
“By the way, you’ve had sushi before, right?” she asked, more to distract herself than Ruby. They were coming up to Bento House, where Yang and Blake had apparently gotten a table already, according to Yang’s message to Ruby a few minutes ago. It was a large standalone building, with a curved, red-shingled hip roof and red painted wooden pillars along the outside, giving that authentic Mistrali vibe.
Being the fan of architecture that she was, Weiss liked the place from its look alone.
“Yep! Twice.” Ruby held up two fingers just in case Weiss didn’t know how many ;twice’ was.
“Did you like it?”
“Yeah! It was yummy and colorful. That’s, like, a double whammy.”
They reached the sidewalk and Weiss let go of Ruby’s hand. The restaurant was less than half a minute away now.
“What constitutes a whammy?” Weiss asked, bemused by the word.
Ruby scrunched up her nose in thought. “Hmmm. That is a good question. I must… postulate this.”
“What?!” Ruby turned her way, big silver eyes distraught. “Doesn’t that mean, like, ‘think really hard about’ something?”
“No,” Weiss grinned. “It means… to assume something as true for the purposes of a discussion.”
Ruby scrunched her nose again. “Oh. What word was I thinking of then?”
“I don’t know. Do you think I’m psychic or something?”
Shrugging lightly, Ruby grinned at her. “Dunno. Your semblance is kinda ridiculously overpowered.”
Weiss smiled at that, pleased. She thought for a moment. “Contemplate.”
“Contemplate! Yes! That was it, thank you!”
They got to the doors of the restaurant and Ruby held one open for Weiss. Inside, the place was packed. There was a couple and two families sitting on cushioned benches near the entrance, waiting for tables most likely.
Weiss pitied them. She’d never had to wait for a table in her life. Her family always had reservations when they went out to eat, usually set by her father’s slut secretary. And she wouldn’t have to wait now either, as Yang and Blake were seated at a circular table far in the back.
Yang was easy to spot.
There was a host at a podium in front of them, and Weiss and Ruby approached together. He was dressed in a formal suit jacket and slacks, the professional attire making Weiss appreciate this restaurant even more. A brief look around confirmed that all the waiters were similarly dressed, though without the jackets, just black slacks and crisp, white button down shirts.
“Hi!” Ruby greeted the man happily.
“Hello,” he replied graciously. “Welcome to Bento House. Table for two?”
Ruby shook her head. “My sister is already here with our other teammate. Blonde, ripped, gravity-defying boobs?”
“They’re over there, Ruby,” Weiss cut in, pointing and trying very hard not to laugh at that description of Yang.
“Oh, hey! Yeah, that’s them.”
The host nodded. “Right this way, then.”
He lead them to the table, a long walk–the restaurant was surprisingly spacious–that seemed to get harder and harder as Weiss’ feet felt heavier and heavier. Blake was already glaring at her and she hadn’t even made it to the table yet.
There would be an argument here at some point during dinner, she could feel it. And Weiss hated heated arguments–she always went silent and shorted out trying to figure out the best thing to say and ended up losing, and she hated losing.
They got to the table and Ruby glanced at Weiss, a nervous worry on her face. The reason was clear: seating. The table was a circle, with Yang and Blake sitting at what was effectively twelve and nine on a clock. So Weiss would have to choose between sitting next to Blake or sitting across from her.
She was already freezing.
Weiss stood stock still and just stared at the table, trying to figure out what to do.
“A waiter will be right out to give you menus and get your drink orders,” the host said, before giving a small bow and walking away.
Weiss was still frozen.
Ruby cleared her throat and pulled out the chair across from Blake, directing a jerk of her head at Weiss to indicate the seat.
Ruby sat down at the empty seat across from Yang and smiled nervously.
“Heh, soooo….” she said to break the silence. She unwrapped her silverware from the cloth napkin in front of her and started fiddling with the napkin itself, folding and unfolding the corners.
Blake’s cold glare was still boring into Weiss, and Weiss noticed Yang’s eyes were also narrowed at her.
Of course Blake had talked to Yang about their fight, probably completely ruined Yang’s view of Weiss with whatever misconceived issues she had with Weiss herself.
This was bad. Weiss had tried so hard to fix things with Yang from the damaged place they had started from, and Blake had undone all that work in one afternoon.
“So how was the library, Yang? Weiss and I were trying to guess how long it would take for you to burn the whole place down.”
“Mm,” Yang grunted, still watching Weiss and not paying any attention to Ruby at all.
A brief moment of awkward silence before Ruby registered that she’d been ignored.
Ruby balled up her napkin and lightly lobbed it across the table. The cloth smacked Yang in the face and then plopped down onto the table in front of her. One of the corners dipped into the glass of soda she had in front of her and splashed a couple drops onto the blue table cloth.
Yang slowly turned to Ruby and pursed her lips grumpily. “I disown you.”
Ruby scrunched her nose. “Wat?! But you never owned me in the first place!”
Yang smiled, and the conversation with her sister seemed to ease the tenseness in her shoulders. “Uh, yeah I did, Rubes. I was given the title deed to Ruby Rose a long time ago.”
“Dad would never give you that!”
Yang chuckled, and if Weiss was less wound up at the moment she might have done the same. Ruby didn’t contest at all that the ‘title deed to Ruby Rose’ was even a thing.
“Not Dad, Ruby,” Yang grinned. “Zwei.”
Ruby blinked. “Z–what? Why did Zwei own me?!”
“Because Zwei is king of the world, Ruby,” Yang answered with a tone like this was obvious. “He owns everything.”
“…. Darn, I have no argument against that.”
Yang was clearly pleased that Ruby was running with the joke. “Mmmmmmhm!”
Weiss sighed. “You’re both idiotic buffoons,” she said with a small smile to make it clear she was joking. She hoped the little attempt at humor would be a good way to get of this thin ice she was on.
It wasn’t. Yang glared at her.
Ruby didn’t, though. “Nuh-uh!” she squeaked. “I’m a way smarter buffoon than Yang!”
Weiss let her face fall into her hands, in part as a reaction to Ruby’s ridiculous statement and, in larger part, to hide her face from Yang and Blake. The glares were making her skin itch and she didn’t know what to do.
“I double disown you,” Yang said to Ruby.
“You can’t do that!”
“I don’t think ownership works that way, Yang,” Blake said quietly. Weiss lifted her head up cautiously to see that Blake had turned to her partner.
The itch faded.
“Pfft, whatever,” Yang dismissed her. “I do what I want ‘cause a pirate is free.”
“Yar har, fiddle dee dee!” Ruby chirped. Yang extended a fist to her across the table that she cheerfully bumped with her own.
The sisters shared a smile at what Weiss assumed was an inside joke, Ruby letting out a little titter.
“Good evening,” someone said behind Weiss. She turned to find a short waitress–like, Ruby-sized short, even though she was clearly in her early twenties–with shockingly blue hair behind her. Weiss was so, so glad she had an excuse to turn away from the table.
“My name is Amethyst–you can call me Amy, though–and I’ll be your server for today.” Amethyst handed Ruby and Weiss a pair of menus. “Do you two know what you’d like to drink?” She turned to Yang and Blake before either of them could answer. “And did you two cuties decide on anything? Appetizers, maybe?”
“I’d like a water,” Weiss said.
Ruby leaned forward like she was about to share a big secret. “Do you have…–” she looked both ways, then back at Amethyst “–orange soda?”
Amethyst’s face skewed in confused amusement. “Y… ye-esss?”
Ruby’s eyes narrowed. “Can I have some?” she asked, still in a pseudo-whisper.
Amethyst looked at the other girls at the table, clearly wondering what was going on. “Yes?”
Ruby nodded solemnly. “Sweet.” She leaned back in her chair.
“Ruby?” Blake spoke up.
“You’re very strange.”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?!”
Yang sighed. “Could we get a edamamama appetizer thingy?” she asked, pointing at herself and Blake.
“Sure!” Amethyst replied, jotting the order down. “Small or regular?”
“Rubes, you want some too?”
“Edamamama is the green beanie things, right?”
Yang turned back to the waitress. “Regular, please.”
Weiss’ brain froze again.
“Do you know if you’d like an appetizer, ma’am?” Amethyst asked her.
Weiss shook her head numbly, not capable of finishing a full thought because the weight of the fact that Yang had made a point not to ask her if she’d wanted anything was threatening to crush her.
“Okay!” the waitress said, annoyingly cheery. “I’ll be back with your drinks and edamame.” She left.
“See?” Blake grinned at Yang.
The blonde scoffed. “Whatever! Edemamamamama is way more fun to say.”
“Yang!” Ruby exclaimed. A noise under the table suggested she’d accentuated her exclamation with a kick at her sister.
Ruby spread her arms out wide and raised her eyebrows in a ‘look at me’ gesture.
“What?” Yang repeated.
“Don’t you notice anything… different about me?”
“Wh–oh! Yeah, sorry. You look very nice, Rubes.”
Blake tilted her head as she looked at Ruby. “Stand up,” she said. “Give us a spin.”
Ruby grinned, flashing the happiness Weiss’ way before standing and twirling around.
“Slower, goofball. I wanna see how it looks, not a blur.”
Ruby turned in a circle slowly.
Blake gave an approving nod. “You look very nice, Ruby. Sharp.”
Yang nodded. “Like ‘I could kill a Grimm with my fashion sense’ sharp.”
Ruby beamed and gave a single, happy hop before jumping back into her seat. “Thanks! Weiss picked out this outfit. And a bunch of others. She’s really good at this stuff.”
Weiss smiled at that, but when she looked at the other two, Yang’s grin had died and Blake was refusing to look at her.
Weiss’ brain froze again.
What the Crucible was she supposed to do? If this didn’t get fixed… Weiss wasn’t sure she could handle four years of being hated by teammates she was supposed to be family with.
Oh Dust, going to sleep in the same room as Blake tonight was going to be fucking awful.
But she had no idea what to do.
Ruby noticed the tension between her teammates.
“So, uh… uhhhh, Blake! Did you find any cool books at library?”
Blake nodded. “A couple books in new serieses. I’ll read them and see if I like ‘em. If they’re good I’ll go to a book store and buy the sets.”
Yang leaned forward. “One of ‘em’s a porno,” she whispered.
“It’s not–ugh!” Blake rolled her eyes and flailed an arm in exasperation. “Again, it’s a romance novel, oaf ridiculous oaf!”
Yang smirked. “Yeah, with a naked lady on the front.”
Blake huffed. “It’s a woman’s shoulder, from behind. It’s not a–”
“Yeah, a woman’s nekked shoulder.”
“I hate you.”
“What’s a porno?” Ruby asked.
Yang blanched. “Oh shit.” Blake put her face in her hands.
“What?! What is it?!”
“Nothing, something dumb,” Yang answered, trying to play things cool and utterly failing. “Don’t worry about it.”
Ruby pouted. “Fine. I’ll just floogle it then.” She pulled out her scroll.
“NO!” Weiss, Blake, and Yang all cried at the same time.
Ruby went still, eyes wide.
Weiss reached over and placed her hand over Ruby’s scroll and pushed it down into her lap, giving her a slow shake of her head.
Blake cleared her throat. “It’s just, uh… You know about sex, right?” she asked Ruby, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation.
Ruby gasped. “When people kiss really hard and make a baby?”
Weiss smacked her forehead, her cheeks probably infrared with how embarrassed she was with this conversation. Yang slumped low into her chair and groaned.
Blake blinked and turned to her partner. “She’s fifteen! How–has your dad really not had the Talk with her about this?!”
“He didn’t n–I–no, he hasn’t. He had ‘the Talk’–” Yang made air quotes with her fingers “–with me when I was fourteen ‘cause I needed it–”
“Oh really?” Blake cut in, an eyebrow raised precariously as she crossed her arms.
Yang’s cheeks somehow went even redder than they already were. “I–I mean–I just meant, like, there were… some guys and girls at school… I was pretty popul–” she cut herself off and shook her head. “Anyway! He had the Talk with me, and it was awful and awkward. And he said he dreaded the day he’d need to have the Talk with Ruby, and I said I’d do it for him when it was time, and he was all like ‘ermahgersh, yes please thank you thank you!’ She just…” Yang shrugged. “She hasn’t needed it yet.”
“What ‘Talk’?” Ruby asked, making her own air quotes.
Yang’s eyes went wide and she looked back and forth between Weiss and Blake. Weiss was torn: on one hand, it seemed like Yang was treating her like part of the team again, at least insofar as the awkwardness of this conversation made her forget she was mad, which was really nice, but on the other hand… Weiss really didn’t want to be part of this conversation.
Blake was just smirking at Yang, eyebrows raised expectantly.
“So… “ Yang started nervously, looking anywhere but Ruby. “Sooooo, Ruby, you know how there are, like birds and bees and stuff?”
Blake snorted, hard, and it devolved into a full fit of giggles. Weiss couldn’t help but smile and cringe.
Ruby looked at everyone, confused. “Uh… yeah?”
Yang nodded slowly to herself, like she was trying to psych herself up to keep talking. “Well, maybe just birds,” she muttered to herself.
“Uh, pretty sure bees are a thing, Yang,” Ruby said.
Yang waved a hand. “N-not for the metaphor… maybe. You do still think boys are gross, right?” She looked hopeful at that.
“Uh, yeah,” Ruby said, like it was obvious. “Gross and yucky.”
Yang nodded slowly some more, muttering to herself again. “Right. ‘Gross and yucky’. Good. Goodgoodgood.”
“Uh,” Ruby interjected.
“Ahem! So… ahem. So, like, someday, hopefully far, far in the future, when I’m, like, fucking dead–”
“Yang, no!” Ruby cried. “Don’t die!”
Yang waved her off. “So you may, somedaybutmaybenever, see a pretty girl, or maybe a handsome boy–” Ruby wrinkled her nose “–yeah, ‘kay. You may see a pretty girl and, uh, feel, like… urges.”
Ruby raised an eyebrow. “To kiss them really hard?”
“Well, yeah, but…”
“Like, on the lips?” Ruby asked.
“No. Well, yeah, but–”
“Pretty sure there are lips involved either way,” Blake quipped, grinning widely at Yang.
Yang went white. Weiss’ complexion white.
Weiss set her elbows on the table–something she never did because that was uncouth–and buried her face in the crooks of her arm, wrapping her hands around the top of her head and trying to wish this discussion away.
“Uh,” Ruby repeated.
“S-so!” Yang stammered. “So… yeah. You may feel urges to, uh, kiss said pretty girl in, uh… all sorts of places, and, uh… Well just remember that when you got those urges, you should, uh… completely ignore them because thinking about you doing that shit is grossing me the fuck out!”
Ruby blinked widely while Blake cackled. “What’s gross about kissing? You kissed people at Signal all the time!”
Yang went red again, her eyes flicking nervous at Blake for only a millisecond. Blake’s eyebrow was raised again, bursts of tiny giggles shaking her shoulders.
“Not all the time…” Yang said.
“Yuh-huh!” Ruby argued. She started counting names on her fingers. “There was Clay and Ecru and Ginger and Russell and Maya an–”
“Alright! Shut up!” Yang was so red it would probably leave some sort of burn scar.
“Well this is good to know,” Blake snidely remarked, eyeing Yang coyly.
Yang coughed. “Look, I jus–I, uh… Wait! You saw me with Maya?!”
Ruby fiddled with her napkin. “Saw, no. But I got home from detention early and heard you two kissing all noisy and stuff when I was watching cartoons.” Yang went from red back to stark white in an instant. “I think she left through your window, though, ‘cause she didn’t leave through the front door and you were alone when you came out of your room.”
Now Yang’s face fell into her hands. “Oh sweet Light,” she whispered.
“Well I’m, like, really confused now,” Ruby said, “and you still haven’t answered my question.”
Yang looked up fearfully. “What question?”
“What’s a porno?”
“I gotta go, uh, powder my nose or some shit,” Yang declared. She moved to push her chair back from the table, but it jerked and stopped. She looked down at something between herself and Blake that Weiss couldn’t see because the table blocked her view. She leaned over.
Blake had hooked her foot around one of the chair legs to keep Yang from leaving. She had an impish grin on.
“You spent two hours today telling me all about how you’d helped raise your sister and how you’re ‘basically already a parent,” she said, air quoting the last bit. “So…–” she jerked her head towards Ruby “–parent.” She grinned mischievously.
“Yang’s not my parent! She’s too ridiculous!”
“I will come over there and noogie you.”
“See?” Ruby gestured at Yang with an upturned palm. “What kinda parent threatens their innocent child with noogies?!”
“Innocent?” Yang asked dubiously.
“Isn’t this entire conversation stemming from the basis of Ruby’s innocence?” Weiss asked, hoping the tiny bit of humor would be eno–
Blake shot her a chilling glare.
Weiss swallowed. She was starting to get mad. She glared back until Blake looked away.
Yang seemed to have forgotten to be mad at Weiss, though, because she huffed and slumped in her seat. “I guesssss.”
Ruby sighed. “I’m so confu–Weiss, do you know what they’re talking about?”
“Yes,” she replied automatically, still trying to wrestle through her stewing anger at being treated this way when she’d done nothing wrong.
“… Well can you explain it to me?”
“Huh, what?” Weiss finally pulled her attention back to her partner.
Ruby blinked at her. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“Oh.” She glanced over at Yang, who was still slumped down at looking between Weiss and Ruby apprehensively. “Well–”
“Here is your water,” the waitress announced, placing a clear glass in front of Weiss. Weiss silently thanked the Light for the interruption. “And your…” Amethyst leaned into Ruby and whispered, “orange soda.”
Ruby breathed in an exaggerated gasp. “Thanks!” She unwrapped her straw, stuck it in her cup, and then inhaled a huge gulp of soda.
“Aaagh!” she squealed, squeezing her eyes shut. “So fizzy!”
Amethyst raised an eyebrow at her, then set a plate of podded soybeans in the middle of the table. “And your edamame,” she declared. “You guys decide what you want to eat for your entrees?”
‘Oh, right.’ With the terribly awkward conversation going on, Weiss had completely forgotten to look at the menu.
“Not yet,” she answered.
Ruby shook her head quickly and opened up her own menu, taking another huge gulp of soda and letting out a loud “aaaaah!”
“I’d like the dinner plate three,” Blake told the waitress.
“Mkay. Did you want to Vacuo rolls spicy or mild?”
“Mmm,” Blake hummed, deliberating. She glanced at Yang, who raised an eyebrow at her. “Ah, what the heck. Spicy.” She handed her menu to Amethyst.
“Mmmkay. And you?”
Yang also handed her menu over. “Dragon’s rage rice bowl, please.”
“Chicken or beef?”
“Beef. And that’s spicy, right?”
Amethyst’s eyes flashed wide a bit. “Very.”
“Nice,” Yang said with a nod.
“Need me to come back?” the waitress asked Weiss.
Weiss glanced at the menu one last time. “No. Dinner plate five, please.”
Amethyst nodded and jotted down the order, then turned to Ruby.
Ruby was scanning down the menu, lips moving slightly as she read the words. “I’ll get the one Blake got!” she finally proclaimed.
The waitress looked at the other three girls, not sure which one was Blake.
“Dinner plate three,” Blake clarified.
“Ah. Thank you. Spicy or mild Vacuo rolls?”
Amethyst made a mark and snapped her notebook closed. “Alright! I’ll have your dinner out shortly.”
The three older girls all waited, breath held, to see where Ruby would pick up the conversation.
“Have you guys ever wondered how weird it is that orange soda can somehow taste exactly like oranges and not anything like oranges at the same time?” Ruby asked, taking another big gulp. “Oh, by the way, Blake!” she blurted, not even waiting for a response. “If you’re looking for a bookstore, we passed by one while we were shopping. ‘Tukson’s Book Trade.’ It said it was ‘home to every book under the sun’ on the window.”
“That sounds promising,” Blake sighed, clearly relieved Ruby got distracted.
“What if there’s a book that was written, like, underground?” Yang asked.
Ruby gasped. “Like a drow book?”
Yang blinked at her. “Yes, Ruby. Like a drow book.”
“A what book?” Weiss asked, no longer following.
With a little smile, Ruby explained, “Drow are elves that live in the Underdark, silly.”
“Ermahgersh, Weiss! Have you never played Dungeons and Duststorms?!”
Weiss frowned. “That dice game?”
The wide-eyed stare Ruby gave her made Weiss wonder if she’d suddenly sprouted a second head. “It’s a tabletop role-playing game, Weiss!” Ruby corrected. “You get together with your friends and one of you is the dungeon master that decides what happens and everybody else plays awesome fantasy characters they made and you beat bad guys and slay monsters and find treasure and stuff! How have you never played it?!”
Weiss recoiled slightly. “I don’t have ffffff….” She trailed off as she realized what she’d been about to say.
Ruby realized it too. She scooted her chair over–noisily–and gave Weiss’ arm a hug. “Well you have at least three friends you can play it with now.”
Weiss chanced a glance at Blake, who was staring blankly at her across the table, somehow still managing to look hostile.
Two friends at most.
She glanced at Yang, who had her eyes narrowed warily, darting back and forth between Weiss and Blake.
Maybe only one friend.
She nodded instead of voicing her doubts. “Thanks, Ruby. But we’re already monster slayers in real life. Why would I need to play a game for that?”
“Whooooa, that’s truuue!” Ruby gasped. She looked around at the girls at the table. “Yang is like our fighter–”
“Barbarian,” Yang corrected.
“Oh, yeah!” She giggled. “I would like to rage,” she said in a low(er) voice, trying to sound strong and masculine or something, but it mostly just sounded squeaky and cute. She continued in a normal voice, “And Blake is our rogue!”
Blake shrugged. “Sure.” She started eating some of her appetizer.
“And Weiss is our sorcerer!”
“Eh,” Yang grunted.
“Wizard?” Ruby tried again.
Weiss wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to that.
“And I’d be… I’d be… uh.”
“Ranger?” Yang suggested, grabbing a soybean pod and popping part of it into her mouth, pressing out one of the beans inside with her teeth.
Yang shrugged. “You’re a super sniper.”
“But I also slash things really good!”
“Well,” Weiss corrected instinctively.
“But I also slash things really well!” Ruby tried again, reaching out for an edamame of her own.
“I mean, rangers aren’t terrible in melee combat,” Yang argued. “And, like, realm walker rangers can teleport between attacks. It would be like you using your semblance.”
“Truuuuue, that’s awesome! Team RWBY, adventuring party extraordinaires!”
She grabbed another beanpod, and Weiss reached out to do the same.
Weiss froze, hand over the plate, and looked up to find Blake glaring at her again.
“What? I’m not allowed to eat food I’m paying for?” Weiss demanded, feeling her temper start to crack.
“Who said you’re paying for this? Yang and I are splitting it.”
Weiss frowned. “But… but this dinner is my treat for the team. That’s what I–”
“I don’t want any treats from you,” Blake sneered.
“Hey! Blaaaake!” Ruby half yelled, half whined.
Temper flared. “Fine,” Weiss shot back. “You–ha–”
She couldn’t form a sentence again. Why did this always happen when she got emotional?
“Pay for yourself from now on then,” she finally growled.
Blake rolled her eyes, almost vicious with the motion. “I’ve been taking care of myself all my life, Schnee.” Weiss balled her fists. “I don’t need and never asked for your money.” She smirked. “Must be weird for you.”
Weiss moved to leave when Ruby’s tiny hand clamped around her wrist and pulled her back down into her seat.
“Hey! That’s enough!” Ruby said loudly. “Weiss, no running away. Blake, stop being a butt! What the frickity frack is going on?!”
“I’m not the butt here,” Blake responded, glaring eyes not leaving Weiss’.
“Weiss isn’t being a butt!” Ruby protested. “Weiss is awesome and super nice and both of you need to calm down!”
Weiss was still struggling to find words, and wasn’t able to get a word in before Blake kept up her vicious verbal onslaught.
“She’s only being nice to you because you’re not a faunus, Ruby. I guarantee you if you had cat ears or a fox tail or chameleon skin or anything like that, she’d be absolutely horrible to you.”
“I–but–” Ruby glanced at Weiss, expression torn. “But that doesn’t make any sense,” she protested quietly.
“No, it doesn’t,” Blake agreed.
“Ruby,” Yang said firmly. When her sister looked over, she slowly shook her head.
Weiss’ heart fell.
“Nooo,” Ruby whined. “Come on, Yang, not you too. We’re all supposed to be a team! Not fighting over… whatever this is.”
“This is simple, Ruby,” Blake said flatly. “Weiss is a racist.”
“I’m not a racist.”
“I’m just educated.”
“Guys, stop!” Ruby cut in. She let go of Weiss’ wrist and scooted her chair back to the midpoint between Weiss and Blake. “Weiss, not all faunus are bad. I’ve met a lot of awesome, nice ones. Blake, stop insulting Weiss and just talk! She just hasn’t gotten to know any nice faunus before! Don’t hate her, help her!”
A tense silence fell over the table. Weiss and Blake both kept glaring at each other, but then Blake frowned and looked away.
Did Weiss win? Was she trying to win? Was this a fight that had a winner and loser?
She glanced at Yang, who was regarding Ruby, eyebrows raised, either surprised or impressed or both. Ruby looked back at her, worried and unsure.
‘Was that okay?’ she mouthed to her older sister.
Yang shrugged. “How ‘bout we put this drama on hold for a bit and enjoy our dinner together, yeah?” she suggested. “I told Blake I’d take her clubbing tonight and I don’t want to go dancing with someone that’s in a pissy mood.”
Blake glowered at her partner, but Yang just shrugged innocently.
“Fine,” Blake huffed.
“Fine,” Weiss agreed.
“Woohoo!” Ruby chirped. “We’re all friends again!”
Weiss and Blake continued to glare at each other.